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Armenia Caucasus Indo-Europeans

Areal Typology of Proto-Indo-European: The Case for Caucasian Connections













Early contacts between Proto-Indo-European (PIE) and the languages of the Caucasus seems to have taken place. Proto-Indo-European is related to the West Asian autosomal component.  This component occurs at a a level  greater than 50% level in modern North Caucasian speakers, is absent in Europe prior to 5,000 years ago, and occurs at levels greater or equal to 10% in most present-day Indo-European speakers from Europe.
Although we were not able to find certain proofs of lexical borrowing between PIE and North Caucasian, there are a few undeniable areal-typological parallels in phonology and grammar. Some features generally attributed to PIE are not found in the majority of languages of North and Northeastern Eurasia, while they are common, or universally present, in the languages of the Caucasus (especially North Caucasus). Those features include the high consonant-to-vowel ratio, tonal accent, number suppletion in personal pronouns, the presence of gender and the morphological optative and, possibly, the presence of glottalized consonants and ergativity.
Experts on Indo-European languages agree that the Proto-Indo-European divisions took place 4000 years BC into separate branches that pursued independent paths of linguistic evolution. Similarly, around 3500 BC, the Proto-Armenian tribes — whether European in origin (the Thraco-Phyrigian theory firmly held by Western scholars,) or Asian (Aryan/Indigenous/Asian) — developed an economic structure in the geographical space that became to be known as the Armenian plateau, based on agriculture, metal working and animal husbandry.
Recent archeological evidence in Armenia confirms several agreements between this civilization and Indo-European culture. It is almost a certainty to presume that this led to the creation of a distinct identity and culture that was separate from the other human groupings in Asia Minor and Upper Mesopotamia.
For linguists, very often, beginnings are problematical and sometimes exploratory approaches, since even a beginning must have a history–a past that prepared its way. Occasionally, scientific approaches to determine the origins or the beginnings of ancient languages are highly speculative.
Determining the origins of a language requires a paradigm and framework. The paradigm in the case of the Armenian language is the assumption that it belongs to a family of over 100 languages, collectively described as Indo-European that share the same origin. The framework for this assumption is the analysis of the words and the sounds of the languages that share an Indo-European heritage.
The study of a language to determine its origins and evolution deals primarily with its oral characteristics, and most contemporary linguists work under the belief that spoken language is more fundamental, and thus more important to study than written language. Thus, Armenian is considered to be mainly an offshoot of the Indo-Hittite group of languages. The consensus among linguists who accept the affiliation of the Armenian Language with the other languages of the Indo-European family is that it constitutes an independent branch within the group.
Nowadays the language of the Armenian people has a rich vocabulary. Centuries-long Persian rule added a lot of Persian words to the language. The spread of Christianity imported numerous words from Syriac and Greek. French words were borrowed during the Crusades. And for the long time of the oppression of the Ottoman Empire a part of Turkish words penetrated into the Armenian vocabulary. Taking that into account, there are eleven thousand routs (nine hundred of them originated from the Indo-European language), seven cases, eight types of declension, five moods, three voices and three persons in the Armenian language.
Within its language family Armenian is considered as one of the ancient written languages. The system of writing in Armenia was created at the end of the 4th century AD, when the Armenian alphabet was invented. That started the process of translating literature from other languages into Armenian. Owing to that we can read the monuments of ancient literature in the Armenian language, and we keep them for the other generations since the originals of those works were lost long ago. The first translator into the Armenian language was the linguist Mesrop Mashtots, who translated the Bible.
At the beginning of the 5th century Armenian literature contained over 40 works written in the Classical Armenian language “Grabar” which had some affinities to such ancient Indo-European languages as Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, as well as to Ancient German and Ancient Slavic. Lexically and grammatically “Grabar” was an independent language which took one of the ancient Armenian dialects as a basis.
The next epoch of the development of the Armenian language fell on the 10th century, when along with “Grabar” a new Middle Armenian language appeared. It became the language of secular works (poetry, books on medicine and agriculture). Gradually Middle Armenian evolved into New Armenian (since the 17th century) spoken by approximately 10 million people all over the world.
The modern Armenian language is split into two standardized literary forms – Western Armenian (with the Constantinople dialect) and Eastern Armenian (with the Ararat dialect). The Eastern Armenian language is used as a standard language by the Armenians living in Armenia, India, and ex-USSR republics. The Western Armenian language is used as a standard language by the Armenians living in the USA, Italy, France, Lebanon, and other countries. The main difference between the Eastern and Western variants is that the first one is the official language of the country since the twenties of the last century.

The Armenian language is justly considered unique. It belongs to the Eastern group of the Indo-European language family and has a number of common points with the Slavic, Indo-Iranian and Baltic languages. The geographic location of the country explains the affinity of the Armenian language to several western and Indo-European languages. Armenian hasn’t become a dead language as, for example, the Latin and Ancient Greek languages of that group. On the contrary, it is going on to develop, expand its lexis and improve its grammar.

Initially, several other suppositions were postulated. European scholars of previous centuries have tried to study and classify this language. Mathurin de la Croze was one of the earliest scholars in the modern era in Europe to seriously study Armenian language but his primary interest was religion. While he qualified the Armenian language version of the Bible as the “mother of all translations” and compiled an impressive dictionary of German-Armenian (circa 1802), he limited his studies to lexicology without going deeper into their origins.
Immediately after the establishment of comparative linguistics by Franz Bopp, Petermann in his Grammatica linguae Armeniacae (Berlin, 1837), on the basis of Armenian etymological data available in Germany at the beginning of 19th century, was able to speculate that Armenian is an Indo-European language.
Nine years later, in 1846, and independent of the work of Petermann, Windischmann, an specialist on Zoroastrian scriptures, published in the Abhandlungen of the Bavarian Academy an excellent treatise about Armenian, and came to the conclusion that Armenian goes back to an older dialect which must have had great similarity with Avesta (the language of Zoroastrian scriptures) and Old Persian, but to which foreign elements had been added much earlier.
But while Pott doubted that Armenian is an Aryan language and only wanted to admit a strong influence of Aryan on Armenian, Diefenbach, on the other hand, observed that this assumption did not suffice to explain the close relationship of Armenian to Indic/Sanskrit and Old Persian, a view which Gosche also adopted in his dissertation: De Ariana linguae gentisque Armeniacae indole (Berlin, 1847).
Three years later, in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, under the title “Vergleichung der armenischen consonanten mit denen des Sanskrit,” de Lagarde compiled a list of 283 Armenian words with their etymological definitions, without going into in greater detail about the character of the language.
In the preface to the second edition of his Comparative Grammar, (1857), Bopp, the pioneer in the field of comparative linguistic studies, designated Armenian as Iranian and attempted, though without success, to explain its inflectional elements.
de Lagarde in his Gesammelten Abhandlungen (1866) asserted that three components are to be distinguished in Armenian: the original basis; an Old Iranian alluvium resting on it; and a similar New Iranian, added after the founding of the Parthian kingdom. Nonetheless, he did not give the distinguishing characteristics of these three layers, and for this reason his opinion has not been taken into further consideration.
Fr. Müller, who since 1861 had busied himself with the etymological and grammatical explanation of Armenian in a series of treatises (Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie), penetrated much more deeply into the essence of the Armenian language, which he interpreted as certainly Iranian.
The Russian linguist Patkanoff followed German orientalists in his summarizing treatise “Über die bildung der armenischen sprache,” which was translated from Russian into French and published in Journal Asiatique (1870). In any case, Müller’s view that Armenian is an offshoot of Iranian was not disproved in its time and was accepted as the prevailing and established theory.
A significant shift from this Persian theory emerged due to the monumental work authored by Heinrich Hübschmann whose extensive research concluded that Armenian stands in the sphere of the Aryan-Balto-Slavic languages and more specifically, between Iranian and Balto-Slavic. His extensive research on the Armenian language had also the merit of validating the existing family tree of the Indo-European languages as well as enhancing the schematics of the classification (of Indo-European languages), since Armenian would be the connecting ring of both parts in the chain of the Aryan/Persian and Balto/European languages, and not merely an independent branch between the two components.
But if Armenian is to be the connecting link/member between Iranian and Balto-Slavic, between Aryan and European, then, Hübschmann concluded, it must have played the role of an intermediary at a time when they were still very similar to one another, a time when evolution had not yet drawn the present sharp boundaries between them and they were still related to one another as dialects.
More recent linguists and experts on the Indo-European languages solidified Hübschmann’s conclusions and further enhanced the research. The Swiss linguist Robert Godel and some of the most prominent linguists or specialists on Indo-European studies (Emile Benveniste, Antoine Meillet and George Dumezil) have also written extensively on different aspects of Armenian etymology and its Indo-European heritage.
Not surprisingly, other theories about the origins of the Armenian language have also been suggested. In a sharp departure from the Indo-European theory, Nikolai Marr advanced the theory of “Japhetic” origins and, based on certain phonetic characteristics of Armenian, together with the Georgian, derived from one common language family, called Japhetic and related to the Semitic family of languages.
There are some who consider also the possibility of the Armenian plateau being the epicenter of the language wave. Recently, new research on this assumption has led to the formulation of the Glottalic theory by Paul Harper and other linguists that is becoming an accepted alternative by many experts on Indo-European languages.
In addition to the dubious theory of Persian origins, Armenian language is often characterized as being closest to Greek. Yet, neither of these attributions, the result of often borrowed information, is seriously validated from a purely philological perspective. The Armenian philologist Hratchia Adjarian has compiled an etymological dictionary of Armenian which compilation contains 11,000 entries of Armenian root words. Of these, the Indo-European component is only 8-9%, loan-words constituting 36% and an overwhelming number of “undetermined” or “uncertain” root words that constitutes more than half the vocabulary.
The significant number of “undetermined” and “uncertain” root words in Armenian (almost 55% of the vocabulary) is a clear demonstration of the elusive nature of the language that defies conventional classification and/or affinities with the neighboring cultures, whether Greek or Persian. It is perhaps more sensical to explore an affinity to the etymological link with the extinct languages (i.e. Hurrian, Hittite, Luwian, Elamite or Urartean) known to have existed in the Armenian Plateau (currently known as Anatolia in Eastern Turkey.)
Within this context, Armenian, with an uninterrupted evolution through time and geographical space, continued to evolve and be enriched by neighboring cultures, as attested by the loan words, and, after the alphabetization of the languages, to be further enhanced by exchanges with distant cultures. Consequently, it is safe to assume that the Armenian language in its current expression has a history of approximately 6000 years.
Perhaps an anecdotal linguistic detour is in order to better understand the nature of Armenian language. The Behistun inscriptions in central Iran of 520 BC are often cited as the first mention of the word Armenia. Subsequently, because of this designation, for many, historians included, the story of “Armenians” begins in the 6th century BC. Yet, this “beginning” is only a superficial and arbitrary conclusion.
The claim of Armenian “beginnings” at the 6thcentury BC overlooks or ignores the fact that the Behistun monument tells the same story, on the same fresco, in three different languages: Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian. It is true that the oldest surviving record of the word “Armenia” is in the Cuneiform/Old Persian text of this monument, yet, the word “Urartu” in the Elamite (a much older language than Old Persian) text is used instead of “Armenia.”
Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog: On Tocharian origins
Armenian hypothesis
Armenian language
Proto-Armenian
Old Armenian
Middle Armenian
Eastern Armenian language
Western Armenian language
Glottalic theory
Graeco-Armenian
Graeco-Aryan
Armenian alphabet
Amaras and Armenian Alphabet

Categories
Haplogroups Indo-Europeans Semitic People

Indo-European and Semitic Languages

Paleoclimate reconstructions have shown that several glacial refugia formed around the Mediterranean and Black Sea during the last glacial period (LGP) that dramatically affected the distribution of the populations of Eurasia and the Middle East. Post-glacial warming, beginning around 12,000 years ago, resulted in population migrations out of those refugia, and drove the Neolithic revolution.
The timing and routes of these migrations and their specific regions of expansion remain elusive. The genetic signals marking the initial settlement following the LPG are also unclear. On the Y chromosome, there is significant regional variation among subhaplogroups of J within the Middle East that are informative about these events.
The J subhaplogroups’ frequencies show substantial variation across the Mediterranean Basin. J subhaplogroups show little organization of their haplotypes by geography, suggesting that diversity evolved primarily within a pool of ancestral populations for a larger part of its history, then post-glacial expansions carried this diversity throughout their modern geographical range.
Coalescence time estimates indicate longer evolution of J haplogroups in northern populations, in agreement with co-ancestry diversity. Population divergence time estimates are recent compared to coalescence times, supporting long evolution times prior to post-glacial expansions.
Our data provide evidence for the timing and differential routes of post glacial repopulation of the region. When combined with archaeological and linguistic evidence, these genetic data allow us to reconstruct the spread of agriculture and the origins of various Neolithic cultures of the Middle East.
The Neolithic expansion has been marked by haplogroups characteristic of the Middle East, with J haplogroups showing geographically differential frequency distributions and haplotype diversities. These results are suggestive of evolution within the Anatolian Peninsula and the Black Sea basin during the LGP, followed by multiple expansions taking distinct routes at different times subsequent to the LGP.
The present day distribution of Y chromosomes bearing the haplogroup J1 M267*G variant has been associated with different episodes of human demographic history, the main one being the diffusion of Islam since the Early Middle Ages.
Phylogenetic analyses depicted a new genetic background consistent with climate-driven demographic dynamics occurring during two key phases of human pre-history: (1) the spatial expansion of hunter gatherers in response to the end of the late Pleistocene cooling phases and (2) the displacement of groups of foragers/herders following the mid-Holocene rainfall retreats across the Sahara and Arabia.

Genetic structuring of Western Balkan populations has been analyzed in a global context. Comparison of the variation within autosomal and haploid data sets of studied Western Balkan populations revealed their genetic closeness regardless of a genetic system inspected, in particular among the Slavic speakers.
Hence, culturally diverse Western Balkan populations are genetically very similar to each other. Only the Kosovars show slight differences both in the variance of autosomal and uniparentally inherited markers from the other populations of the region, possibly also due to their historically strict patrilineality.
In a more general perspective, our results reveal clear genetic continuity between the Near Eastern and European populations, lending further credence to extensive, likely multiple and possibly bidirectional ancient gene flows between the Near East and Europe, cutting through the Balkans.
The Armenians are responsible for the spread of Haplogroup J, which trace post glacial period expansion from the Armenian Highland into the Middle East and other places. The chronology presented probably assumes the evolutionary mutation rate; also, the lack of haplogroup J in Europe pre-5000 BC. argues for a late expansion.
Out of this population came the two dominant groups of West Eurasian prehistory, the Indo-Europeans and the Semites, their spread associated with a “metallurgical edge” in technology and social complexity during the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age. The latter probably picked their language from a Afro-Asiatic T- or E-bearing population of the southern Levant, as these two haplogroups might link the Proto-Semites with their African Afroasiatic brethren.
J carriers can still be Semites though. In the biblical interpretation Ham’s son Canaan is the one who settled the Levant. Ham and his sons represent Africans. The African lineage that has early presence in the Levant is E-M123. The correlation between one of J1’s specific subclades (namely, P58) and the formation and subsequent expansion of Semitic has been extensively reviewed by geneticists.
Haplogroup J1 is a prevalent Y-chromosome lineage within the Near East. We report the frequency and YSTR diversity data for its major sub-clade (J1e). The overall expansion time estimated from 453 chromosomes is 10 000 years. Moreover, the previously described J1 (DYS388¼13) chromosomes, frequently found in the Caucasus and eastern Anatolian populations, were ancestral to J1e and displayed an expansion time of 9000 years.
For J1e, the Zagros/Taurus mountain region displays the highest haplotype diversity, although the J1e frequency increases toward the peripheral Arabian Peninsula. The southerly pattern of decreasing expansion time estimates is consistent with the serial drift and founder effect processes.
The first such migration is predicted to have occurred at the onset of the Neolithic, and accordingly J1e parallels the establishment of rain-fed agriculture and semi-nomadic herders throughout the Fertile Crescent. Subsequently, J1e lineages might have been involved in episodes of the expansion of pastoralists into arid habitats coinciding with the spread of Arabic and other Semitic-speaking populations.
This fits well with Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures (ca 8,500 to 7,500 BC.), as with the sites of Jericho, Netiv Hagdud, Nahul Oren, Gesher, Dhar’, Jerf al Ahmar, Abu Hureyra, Göbekli Tepe and Chogha Golan, and with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) cultures (7,500 to 6200 BC.), as with the sites of Abu Hureyra, Ain Ghazal, Çatalhöyük, Cayönü Tepesi, Jericho, Shillourokambos and Chogha Golan.
Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Earlier Natufian but shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia. Cultural tendencies of this period differ from that of the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet. In addition the flint tool kit of the period is new and quite disparate from that of the earlier period.
This is the first period in which architectural styles of the southern Levant became primarily rectilinear; earlier typical dwellings were circular, elliptical and occasionally even octagonal. Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period. During this period, one of the main features of houses is evidenced by a thick layer of white clay plaster floors highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone.
It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery. The earliest proto-pottery was White Ware vessels, made from lime and gray ash, built up around baskets before firing, for several centuries around 7000 BC at sites such as Tell Neba’a Faour (Beqaa Valley).
Sites from this period found in the Levant utilizing rectangular floor plans and plastered floor techniques were found at Ain Ghazal, Yiftahel (western Galilee), and Abu Hureyra (Upper Euphrates).
The culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BC., and which lasted for the next two to four centuries. In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of Ghassulian culture.
The 8.2 kiloyear event is the term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6,200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries. Milder than the Younger Dryas cold spell that preceded it, but more severe than the Little Ice Age that would follow, the 8.2 kiloyear cooling was a significant exception to general trends of the Holocene climatic optimum. During the event, atmospheric methane concentration decreased by 80 ppb or 15% emission reduction by cooling and drying at a hemispheric scale.
A rapid cooling around 6200 BCE was first identified by Swiss botanist Heinrich Zoller in 1960, who named the event Misox oscillation (for the Val Mesolcina). It is also known as Finse event in Norway. Bond et al. argued that the origin of the 8.2 kiloyear event is linked to a 1,500-year climate cycle; it correlates with Bond event 5.
The strongest evidence for the event comes from the North Atlantic region; the disruption in climate shows clearly in Greenland ice cores and in sedimentary and other records of the temporal and tropical North Atlantic. It is less evident in ice cores from Antarctica and in South American indices. The effects of the cold snap were global, however, most notably in changes in sea level during the relevant era.
The 8.2 Ka cooling event may have been caused by a large meltwater pulse from the final collapse of the Laurentide ice sheet of northeastern North America—most likely when the glacial lakes Ojibway and Agassiz suddenly drained into the North Atlantic Ocean. The same type of action produced the Missoula floods that created the Channeled scablands of the Columbia River basin.
The meltwater pulse may have affected the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation, reducing northward heat transport in the Atlantic and causing significant circum-North Atlantic cooling.
Estimates of the cooling vary and depend somewhat on the interpretation of the proxy data, but drops of around 1 to 5 °C (1 to 11 °F) have been reported. In Greenland, the event started at 8175 Before Present, and the cooling was 3.3 °C (decadal average) in less than ~20 years, and the coldest period lasted for about 60 years, and the total duration was about 150 years. Further afield, some tropical records report a 3 °C (5 °F) cooling from cores drilled into an ancient coral reef in Indonesia.
The event also caused a global CO2 decline of ~ 25 ppm over ~ 300 years. However, the dating and interpretation of this and other tropical sites are more ambiguous than the North Atlantic sites.
Drier conditions were notable in North Africa, while East Africa suffered five centuries of general drought. In West Asia and especially Mesopotamia, the 8.2ky event was a three-hundred year aridification and cooling episode, which may have provided the natural force for Mesopotamian irrigation agriculture and surplus production that were essential for the earliest class-formation and urban life. However multi-centennial changes around the same period are difficult to link specifically to the approximately 100-year abrupt event as recorded most clearly in the Greenland ice cores.
The initial meltwater pulse has caused between 0.5 and 4 m (1 ft 8 in and 13 ft 1 in) of sea-level rise. Based on estimates of lake volume and decaying ice cap size, values of 0.4–1.2 m (1 ft 4 in–3 ft 10 in) circulate. Based on sea-level data from below modern deltas 2–4 m (6 ft 7 in–13 ft 1 in) of near-instantaneous rise is estimated, recorded superimposed on background ‘normal’ post-glacial sea-level rise.
Meltwater pulse sea level rise was experienced fully at great distance from the release area. Gravity and rebound effects associated to the shifting of watermasses mean that the sea-level fingerprint is smaller in areas closer to the Hudson Bay. The Mississippi delta records ~20%, NW Europe records ~70% and Asia records ~105% of the global averaged amount. The cooling of the 8,200 event was a temporary feature; the sea-level rise of the meltwater pulse was permanent.
In 2003, the Office of Net Assessment at the United States Department of Defense was commissioned to produce a study on the likely and potential effects of a modern climate change. The study, conducted under ONA head Andrew Marshall, modelled its prospective climate change on the 8.2 kiloyear event, precisely because it was the middle alternative between the Younger Dryas and the Little Ice Age.
Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC) period (ca 6200 to 5500 BC.), referring to the terminal Early Neolithic, as with the sites of Hagoshrim and Ain Ghazal.
The 5.9 kiloyear event was one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene Epoch. It occurred around 3900 BC (5,900 years BP), ending the Neolithic Subpluvial and probably initiated the most recent desiccation of the Sahara desert. Thus, it also triggered worldwide migration to river valleys, such as from central North Africa to the Nile valley, which eventually led to the emergence of the first complex, highly organised, state-level societies in the 4th millennium BC. It is associated with the last round of the Sahara pump theory.
A model by Claussen et al. (1999) suggested rapid desertification associated with vegetation-atmosphere interactions following a cooling event, Bond event 4. Bond et al. (1997) identified a North Atlantic cooling episode 5,900 years ago from ice-rafted debris, as well as other such now called Bond events that indicate the existence of a quasiperiodic cycle of Atlantic cooling events, which occur approximately every 1,470 years ± 500 years.
For some reason, all of the earlier of these arid events (including the 8.2 kiloyear event) were followed by recovery, as attested by the wealth of evidence of humid conditions in the Sahara between 10,000 and 6,000 BP. However, it appears that the 5.9 kiloyear event was followed by a partial recovery at best, with accelerated desiccation in the millennium that followed. For example, Cremaschi (1998) describes evidence of rapid aridification in Tadrart Acacus of southwestern Libya, in the form of increased aeolian erosion, sand incursions and the collapse of the roofs of rock shelters. The 5.9 kiloyear event was also recorded as a cold event in the Erhai Lake (China) sediments.
Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BC., partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon domesticated animals, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in the Southern Levant, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.
Also another issue with Arabian pastoralist migration being responsible for J in Africa is that – In Africa where such pastoral settlements are found, the remains are represented by “Negroid” type Africans noted to be the Ancestors of modern Nilo-Saharan and Nilotic types. Neolithic migrations does seem like a better alternative in some parts of Africa.
According to Ryder and Nicholls a unimodal posterior distribution for the age of Proto-Indo-European centred at 6400 BC. with 95% highest posterior density interval equal to 5100–7800 BC. All results agree with the Anatolian hypothesis that the spread of the Indo-European family started around 6000 BC., while none of the analyses agree with the Kurgan theory that the spread started between 4000 and 4500 BC. This in agreement with the work of Gray and Atkinson.
The same authors estimate Semitic languages to be somewhat younger than 3,750 BC. All in all, it’s good to see different researchers using different techniques but coming up with similar solutions. The root of the Semitic tree (the branching of Akkadian) is 2400-3100 BC.
It is increasingly clear that while the Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in the Neolithic Near East, the Proto-Semites followed them by about three thousand years. In the latter case there is also a Y-chromosome marker (J-58) with an apparent age in impeccable agreement with the linguistic evidence, now that the genealogical-“evolutionary” mutation wars seem to have been won.
This also brings into focus the weakness of the argument hypothesizing that the first farmers of northern Syria were Afro-Asiatic speakers like the Semites of the Near Eastern lowlands. Semites come into the picture 5000 years after the onset of the Neolithic, and 3000 years after the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Their relationship with Afroasiatic speakers of Africa make it quite likely that they lived in the south, probably in Arabia, and certainly not in eastern Anatolia or northern Syria.
Indeed, the recent discovery that haplogroup J1*(xP58) is associated with Northeast Caucasian languages, together with the absence or paucity of J1 in most African Afroasiatic speakers suggests that the J-P58 Proto-Semites may be the result of the transfer of an African language on a basically West Asian population. Such a scenario might also explain some of the incorrectly quantified, but nonetheless existent, African genetic components in both Jews and Arabs, as well as the pastoralist/dry-climate J1 associations.
The well-established and prominent theory that PIE Urheimat is in Eastern Anatolia and Armenian Highland is supported by countless scholars from wide disciplines including archaeology, genetics, ethnology, molecular biology, comparative linguistics only to name but a few.
Finds have been conducted by world renowned scholars like Colin Renfrew (pioneered radio carbon dating and the discipline of archaeogenetics), Quentin Atkinson (Oxford University), Russell Gray (Auckland University), Vyacheslav Ivanov (UCLA, honorary member of many academies including the Royal British and Russian Academy of Sciences), Tamaz Gamkrelidze (President of the Georgian Academy of Sciences), Robert Drews (Vanderbilt University), Luigi Lucca Cavalli-Sforza (Stanford University) and many many others.
In fact, the above scholars have pointed out that various disciplines show the strongest evidence in favor of Eastern Anatolia and Armenian Highland as the PIE urheimat, the competing theories such as the “Kurgan theory” and others have significant flaws in terms of multi-disciplinary evidence when it comes to archaeology, genetics or comparative linguistics.
The ancestral element(s) captured by the Dodecad K12b “Caucasus” component may represent the principal element of the ancient Levantines and Mesopotamians. At least, in my opinion, as far back as the 1st millennium BCE. I believe this to be a possibility because even in the extreme SW Levant (not far from the Asian/African continental divide), the “Caucasus” component remains significant.
The shared paternal lineages observed today between Armenians and Assyrians, such as R-M269 and J1*, converge, perhaps, 2000-4000 years ago. With the caveat, of course, that predictions based on STR markers may lack significant precision.
If we exclude Y-DNA T, Assyrians and Caucasian populations, particularly those of Dagestan, may share a close relationship, as far as the Y chromosome is concerned. Assyrians also show Y chromosome affinities to minority populations of the Levant and Mesopotamia, such as the Syrian Alawites (R-M269), Druze (R-M269 and T), “Babylonian” Jews (T), and Marsh Arabs (J1*).
Certain Arab groups are known to have a marked and most unexpected reduction in the size of the metacone of the maxillary second molars as well as distinctive inter-tooth-group size proportions. These features are not found in the Jarmo teeth. Rather, the Jarmo dentition resembles more the Indo-European type. It also holds a close resemblance to that of the Anatolians.
Non-metric analysis of the permanent and deciduous dentition of the northern Mesopotamian Bronze Age site of Tell Leilan, when compared with similar analysis conducted world wide and in the Near East, reveals a relatively consistent affiliation with Western Eurasian, or Caucasoid populations, although certain traits share affinities to both Western Eurasian and Sunda-Pacific populations.
When it comes to the gap between the “evolutionary” dates and the date for the breakup of Proto-Semitic a recent Bayesian analysis of Semitic languages supports an originin the Levant 3750 BC., and subsequent arrival in the Horn of Africa from Arabia 800 BC.,11 thus providing an indirect support of our phylogenetic clock estimates.
It is important to note that the glottochronological dates yield estimates for the break-up and expansion of the Proto-Semitic language. Proto-Semitic, itself, may have been spoken in a localized linguistic community for millennia before its bifurcation into the East and West Semitic branches.
However, if one rejects the “evolutionary” rate, there is no need to postulate that Proto-Semitic was spoken (but did not disperse) for millennia; indeed, a “static” Proto-Semitic/J-P58 community would be difficult to explain in view of the fact that mobile herding was their main economic activity.
J1 is a Middle Eastern haplogroup, which probably originated in eastern Anatolia, near Lake Van in central Kurdistan. Eastern Anatolia being the region where goats, sheep and cattle were first domesticated in the Middle East, haplogroup J1 is almost certainly linked to the expansion of pastoralist lifestyle throughout the Middle East and Europe. J1 can be divided in two main groups: the J1c3 (P58) subclade, and the other forms of J1 (J1*, J1a, J1b, J1c1 and J1c2).
The diversity of J1 in Arabia peninsula is low compared to further north, in Palestine for instance, which was one of the homelands of Neolithic in West Eurasia and the World. North African J1 is also highly diverse and there is a STR subcluster in J1 (about half of the J1 population) that looks like coalescing in North Africa. All that is best explained within the Epipaleolithic and Neolithic demographic flows, though J1 as such is older than that.
Arabia peninsula has also been demonstrated to have Fertile Crescent-derived lineages in mtDNA (per Abu Amero 2008). All this is logical if you consider the aridity of the region and the fact that it could barely be inhabited at all before the camel was domesticated, which is pretty late.
Haplogroup J1 is a prevalent Y-chromosome lineage within the Near East. According to the frequency and YSTR diversity data for its major sub-clade (J1e) the overall expansion time estimated from 453 chromosomes is 10 000 years. Moreover, the previously described J1 (DYS388=13) chromosomes, frequently found in the Caucasus and eastern Anatolian populations, were ancestral to J1e and displayed an expansion time of 9000 years.
J1c3 (J-P58) is by far the most widespread subclade of J1. It is a typically Semitic haplogroup, making up most of the population of the Arabian peninsula, where it accounts for approximately 40% t 75% of male lineages. J-P58 is also the Cohen Modal Haplotype. Roughly half of all Cohanim belong to the J-P58 subclade. In the Hebrew Bible the common ancestor of all Cohens is identified as Aaron, the brother of Moses.
J1c3 is thought to have expanded from eastern Anatolia to the Levant, Taurus and Zagros mountains and the Arabian peninsula at the end of the last Ice Age (12,000 years ago) with the seasonal migrations of pastoralists. Arabic speakers recolonised the Arabian peninsula in the Bronze Age from the north-west of the peninsula, close to modern Jordan. The rise of Islam in the 7th century CE played a major part in the re-expansion of J1c3 from Arabia throughout the Middle East, as well as to North Africa, and to a lower extent to Sicily and southern Spain.
Other subclades of J1 are less well studied due to their much lower frequencies. Most of the J1 in the Caucasus, Anatolia and Europe is of the non-J1c3 variety. Other types of J1 most probably spread to Europe during the Neolithic. J1 is particularly common in mountainous regions of Europe (with the notable exception of the Alps and the Carpathians), like Greece, Albania, Italy, central France, and the most rugged parts of Iberia (Asturias, Cantabria, Castile-La Mancha) as well as those with the highest density of Neolithic settlements (Portugal and Andalusia).
Like haplogroup G, J1 might have been of the principal lineages to bring domesticated animals to Europe. Both G and J1 reach their maximal frequencies in the Caucasus, some ethnic groups being almost exclusively J1 (Kubachi, Kaitak, Dargins), while others have extremely high levels of G (Shapsugs, North Ossetians). Most of the ethnic groups in the North Caucasus have between 20 and 40% of each haplogroup, which are by far their two dominant haplogroups. In the South Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan), haplogroup J2 comes into the admixture and is in fact slightly higher than either J1 or G.
For J1e, the Zagros/Taurus mountain region displays the highest haplotype diversity, although the J1e frequency increases toward the peripheral Arabian Peninsula. The southerly pattern of decreasing expansion time estimates is consistent with the serial drift and founder effect processes.
The first such migration is predicted to have occurred at the onset of the Neolithic, and accordingly J1e parallels the establishment of rain-fed agriculture and semi-nomadic herders throughout the Fertile Crescent. Subsequently, J1e lineages might have been involved in episodes of the expansion of pastoralists into arid habitats coinciding with the spread of Arabic and other Semitic-speaking populations.
Haplogroup J1 is a prevalent Y-chromosome lineage within the Near East. We report the frequency and YSTR diversity data for its major sub-clade (J1e). The overall expansion time estimated from 453 chromosomes is 10 000 years. Moreover, the previously described J1 (DYS388=13) chromosomes, frequently found in the Caucasus and eastern Anatolian populations, were ancestral to J1e and displayed an expansion time of 9000 years.
For J1e, the Zagros/Taurus mountain region displays the highest haplotype diversity, although the J1e frequency increases toward the peripheral Arabian Peninsula. The southerly pattern of decreasing expansion time estimates is consistent with the serial drift and founder effect processes.
The first such migration is predicted to have occurred at the onset of the Neolithic, and accordingly J1e parallels the establishment of rain-fed agriculture and semi-nomadic herders throughout the Fertile Crescent. Subsequently, J1e lineages might have been involved in episodes of the expansion of pastoralists into arid habitats coinciding with the spread of Arabic and other Semitic-speaking populations.
The timing and geographical distribution of J1e is representative of a demic expansion of agriculturalists and herder–hunters from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B to the late Neolithic era. The higher variances observed in Oman, Yemen and Ethiopia suggest either sampling variability and/or demographic complexity associated with multiple founders and multiple migrations.
The presence of a large frequency of undifferentiated J*(xJ1, J2) chromosomes in Soqotra suggests that the Arabian peninsula possessed such chromosomes, which now have a marginal status throughout the Middle East. The early steppe desert herders of 6000-7000 BC. possessed J* chromosomes, while J1 arose in the Middle East, and its subclade J-P58 experienced rapid growth associated with the breakup and expansion of Semitic languages in the 4th millennium BC.
The J-P58 bearing Proto-Semites emerge in the 4th millennium BC., out of a general J1 Middle Eastern background, just as their TMRCA suggests. They begin to expand at that time, and emerge in the historical record 1-2 thousand years later in both their Eastern (Akkadian) and, later, Western (Aramaic and Canaanite) forms.
The Berbers are the indigenous populationof north-west Africa. Although their Y-DNA is almost perfectly homogenous, belonging to haplogroup E-M81, Berber maternal lineages show a much greater diversity, as well as regional disparity. At least half (and up to 90% in some regions) of the Berbers belong to some Eurasian lineages, such as H, HV, R0, J, T, U, K, N1, N2, and X2, mostly of Middle or Near Eastern origin. 5 to 45% of the Berbers will have sub-Saharan mtDNA (L0, L1, L2, L3, L4, L5). There are only three native North African lineages, U6, X1 and M1, representing 0 to 35% of the people depending on the region.
Haplogroup U6 has been observed from the Iberia and the Canary Islands to Senegal in the West, and from Syria to Ethiopia and Kenya in the East. It is also found at low density in Europe, though mostly limited to Iberia. Approximately 10% of all North Africans belong to this lineage.
Ryder and Nicholls: Proto-Indo-European 8,400 years old
Nicholls and Ryder: Semitic 4.4-5.1 thousand years before present
The emergence and dispersal of haplogroup J-P58 (aka J1e)
Y-chromosomal Aaron

Categories
Caucasus Indo-Europeans

The Origin of the Kurgan Culture

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Oleg being mourned by his warriors, an 1899 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov. This burial rite, with the funerary tumulus, is typical of both Scandinavian and Eurasian nomadic customs.

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The Spread of the Indo-European Languages


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Kurgan

The Origin of the Kurgan Culture (Marija Gimbutas)

Sredny Stog Stage of Kurgan Culture (J.R Mallory)

Kurgan hypothesis

 

Categories
Caucasus Indo Aryans Indo-Europeans The Fertile Crescent

The question of the origin of the Indo-Aryans

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The question of the origin of the Indo-Aryans is obviously very difficult, and attempts at tracing their origin use either a type of “geolinguistic trigonometry” to make them fit in the broader context of Indo-European dispersals, or rely on archaeological interpretation of the material culture of sites such as Arkaim or the BMAC.
I have recently proposed that the Indo-Aryans originated in West Asia, roughly in the area between the Caucasus, Armenia and Iran (to the west and south of the Caspian Sea). An alternative hypothesis of Indo-Aryan origins would derive them from the north of the Caspian Sea and ultimately from Northeastern Europe.
My ADMIXTURE experiments so far have provided substantial evidence of the former hypothesis, suggesting that the main Caucasoid component in South Asia is of West Asian origin. According to my theory, the direction of the migrating Indo-Aryans took them north of Balochistan, across the Punjab and into India, from an ultimate source in the Transcaucasus, via Iran, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan.
It is difficult to disentangle different genetic strata in this region, or to assess the importance of Indo-Aryan vs. other population movements. Nonetheless, the South Asian sample points’ position on the PCA map can be explained by a linear regression with a high correlation coefficient of -0.83, so a simple cline between Iranian-like and South Indian-like people seems like a very good model approximation.
A recent linguistic model suggests a first-order split in the Indo-European family between Indo-Iranian and the rest of the family. Such a model might be attractive in the context of the best PIE origins model currently available, as it would derive the Indo-Iranians from an eastward migration from Anatolia, the Anatolian speakers from those who stayed behind near the homeland, and the rest of the Indo-Europeans from those who went to Europe.
Personally, I’m not particularly convinced that this is correct vs. the most commonly held model in which the Anatolian-European split is primary. Hopefully, a combination of genetics and linguistics will help resolve these issues. We should also not forget that the clear vector of West Asian Caucasoid incursions into South Asia detected by both ADMIXTURE and PCA analyses need not have involved a single people or a single time.
It is clear from the figure, that Indo-European (Armenian/Iranian) and Caucasian (Adygei, Georgian, Lezgin) groups of West Asia form a cluster in comparison to both North Europeans and South Asians, and I see no real reason to think that the early Proto-Indo-Europeans were genetically that distinct from their neighbors. So, the Indian Cline was probably formed over thousands of years by dispersals of different kinds of people, speaking different languages, but all sharing the same basic West Asian gene pool.
The Mitanni of Syro-Anatolia have what seems to be Indo-Aryan personal/deity names, as well as numerals in what appears to have been a largerly Hurrian-speaking population. The Kingdom of the Mitanni flourished in the 2nd millennium BC, a time also generally considered to be that of the earliest Indo-Aryan linguistic monument, the Rigveda.
What is most interesting, however, is that Hurrian, like Urartian, are part of the Hurro-Urartian language family, which has been linked by some linguists to Northeast Caucasian.
There is a “Dagestan” genetic component in South Asia and Europe. This component is modal in populations of Dagestan: Dargins from Urkarah, Lezgins, and Kumyks from Stalskoe. Dargins and Lezgins are Northeast Caucasian speakers, and while Kumyks are Turkic, this is probably due to a small East Eurasian component in their ancestry, and it’s a fair guess that they too are natives to the region who underwent language shift.
Surprisingly, this component occurs at a high frequency in some South Asian populations, including Telugu and Tamil Brahmins from South India. These are believed to be descended from Indo-Aryan speakers from North India and to have maintained a genetic distinctiveness vis a vis the native inhabitants of South India.
A relationship between Hurro-Urartian and Northeast Caucasian coupled with the known proximity of Indo-Aryans with Hurrians would immediately supply an explanation for the “Dagestan” component: it might be the legacy of an absorption of Hurrian elements by the ancestors of the Indo-Aryans while the latter were still in the Near East.
By the 2nd millennium BC, the Indo-Aryan element seems to have been well on its way to disappearance in the region, and we find no trace of it after the demise of the Mitanni. A millennium later came the disappearance of Urartian, replaced by various types of Indo-European (such as Armenian and Iranian), and Semitic. We are fortunate that the Indo-Aryans of Syro-Anatolia left traces of their existence before their demise.
The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour. Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria.
Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.
Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix.(Drews:p. 59) He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.
The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.
The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya). The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family.
It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.
Thutmose III of Egypt, also mentions the people of Ermenen in 1446 BC, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.
Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. Nairi was the Assyrian name (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-‘i-ru) for a Hurrian-speaking region in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey.
The word is also used to describe the tribes who lived there, whose ethnic identity is uncertain. Nairi has sometimes been equated with Nihriya, known from Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Urartean sources. Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.
In the early 6th century BC, the UrartianKingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521/0 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenians. Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family.
Armenian shares a number of major innovations with Greek, and some linguists group these two languages together with Phrygian and the Indo-Iranian family into a higher-level subgroup of Indo-European, which is defined by such shared innovations as the augment. More recently, others have proposed a Balkan grouping including Greek, Armenian, Phrygian, and Albanian.
The large percentage of loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.
W. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.
Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages.
Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms. Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergosound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.
Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, theArmenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC. The Phrygian language would also be included.
Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).
Graeco-Armeno-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in theArmenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.
Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armeno-Aryan hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).
In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.
If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. (Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage.
Rather, it is more likely anareal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.)
The Èr people, also known as Èrsh or (in Georgian works) the Hers, are a little-known ancient people inhabiting Northern modern Armenia, and to an extent, small areas of Northeast Turkey, Southern Georgia, and Northwest Azerbaijan. Most of their history is constructed based on archaeological and linguistic (primarily based on placenames, with some elements) data, compared to historical trends in the region and historical writings, such as the Georgian Chronicles or the Armenian Chronicles, as well as a couple notes made by Strabo.
They were a constituent of the state of Urartu, which either incorporated or conquered them during the 8th century BCE. Their relation to the main Urartians (who were probably ethnically separate from them, judging from place names) is unknown. Linguistically, based on placenames, they are thought to have been a Vainnakh people.
The Èrsh language was the language of the Èr or Èrs people. According to placenames, it was a Vainakh language, a kin to the language of the historical Malkh nation, as well as modern Chechen, Ingush and Batsbi, and possibly others.
The capital of the Èrs (which was later turned into a fortress by Urartu) was called Èribuni (later turned into and used as a fortress by the Urartian state). Buni is a from Vainakh root, meaning shelter or home, which was probably around /bun/ (giving rise to the modern Chechen word bun, a cabin, or small house). Hence, Èribuni meant “the home of the Èrs”. It corresponds to modern Yerevan (which was spelled Erivan until relatively recently; van is a common Armenian rendering for the root /bun/).
In the Georgian Chronicles, Leonti Mroveli refers to Lake Sevan as “Lake Ereta”. The name of the Arax is also attributed to the Èrs. It is also called the Yeraskhi. The Armenian name is “Yeraskhadzor” (which Jaimoukha identifies as Èr + khi a Vainakh water body suffix + Armenian dzor gorge).
The Armenian name is “Yeraskhadzor” (which Jaimoukha identifies as Èr + khi a Vainakh water body suffix + Armenian dzor gorge). Interestingly, in close proximity to the South is the “Vainakhchradzor” gorge, perhaps an old home of the Dzurdzuks. During the time of the kingdom of Urartu, there was a northern region near the Yerashkhadzor gorge and a little northwest of Erebuni called “Eriaki”.
Nothing is really known about the people of Eriaki prior to their conquest or interpretation by Urartu, but the probably had lived separately before that. Urartu was originally situated around the Lake Van, but expanded in all directions, including North, probably eventually incorporating or conquering the Èrs.
The Urartians themselves were probably distantly related to the Èrs, in the very least by language, and probably more than just that. They were part of the same language family, the Northeast Caucasian family, and although they were of different branches, the Vainakh branch is thought to be the closest to the Hurro-Urartian branch to which Urartian belongs.
The Vainakh languages are a small family of languages spoken chiefly by the Vainakh peoples, in Russia (Chechnya and Ingushetia), in Georgia, and in the Chechen diaspora (mainly in Europe, Middle East and Central Asia).
The Vainakh languages were historically classified as an independent North-Central Caucasian family, but are now recognized as a branch of the Northeast Caucasian family. They are believed to have split off some 5,000–6,000 years ago.
According to the 19th-century language scholar, Johann Heinrich Hübschmann, the name “Nakhichavan” in Armenian literally means “the place of descent”, a Biblical reference to the descent of Noah’s Ark on the adjacent Mount Ararat. Hübschmann notes, however, that it was not known by that name in antiquity. Instead, he states the present-day name evolved to “Nakhchivan” from “Naxčavan”. The prefix “Naxč” was a name and “avan” is Armenian for “town”. Armenian tradition says that Nakhchivan was founded by Noah, which can relate to the Vai-Nakhs.
Modern historian Suren Yeremyan disputes this assertion, arguing that ancient Armenian tradition placed Nakhichevan’s founding to the year 3669 BC and, in ascribing its establishment to Noah, that it took its present name after the Armenian phrase “Nakhnakan Ichevan”, or “first landing.”
The oldest material culture artifacts found in the region date back to the Neolithic Age. The region was part of the states of Mannae, Urartu and Media. It became part of the Satrapy of Armenia under Achaemenid Persia c. 521 BC. After Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC, various Macedonian generals such as Neoptolemus tried to take control of the region, but ultimately failed and a native Armenian dynasty of Orontids flourished until Armenia was conquered by Antiochus III the Great (ruled 222-187 BC).
In 189 BC, Nakhchivan became part of the new Kingdom of Armenia established by Artaxias I. Within the kingdom, the region of present-day Nakhchivan was part of the Ayrarat, Vaspurakan and Syunik provinces.
According to the early medieval Armenian historian Movses Khorenatsi, from the 3rd to 2nd centuries, the region belonged to the Muratsyan nakharar family but after disputes with central power, King Artavazd I massacred the family and seized the lands and formally attached it to the kingdom. The area’s status as a major trade center allowed it to prosper; as a result, many foreign powers coveted it.
Nakharar (Armenian: naxarar, from Parthian naxvadār “holder of the primacy”) was a hereditary title of the highest order given to houses of the ancient and medieval Armenian nobility.
Medieval Armenia was divided into large estates, which were the property of an enlarged noble family and were ruled by a member of it, to whom the title of Nahapet “chief of the family” or tanuter master of the house was given. Other members of a Nakharar family in their turn ruled over smaller portions of the family estate. Nakharars with greater authority were recognized as ishkhans (princes).
The origin of the Nakharars seems to stretch back to pagan Armenia, who coexisted with the Roman and Parthian Empire, and they are mentioned to have pillaged many pagan temples when Armenia’s conversion to Christianity began under Tiridates III.
The Nakharars survived the fall of the Arshakuni dynasty and the subsequent placement of the Marzban Governor-Generals by Sassanid king, and allowed a great deal of autonomy for the vassal state, up until the attempted conversion of Armenia to Zoroastrianism by Yazdegerd II, in which Vartan Mamikonian led a rebellion, and through the Battle of Vartanantz convinced the Persians that conversion would come at to high a price, eventually leading to the Nvarsak Treaty.
In western Armenia under Byzantine rule, Justinian’s reform removed the martial role of the nakharars, as well as attempting to annex estates from Armenian nobles. The nakharars, angered at their restriction in power, began a full-scale insurrection that had to he quelled through swift military intervention, eventually sparking war with the Sassanids.
Though weakened by numerous invasions and the legal reforms of Kings, the nakharar structure remained virtually unchanged for many centuries and was finally eliminated during the Mongol invasions in the thirteenth century. Certain aspects of the nakharar system remained intact in Armenia until the early 20th century, when the noble class was altogether abolished by the Bolsheviks.
Armenia lies in the highlands surrounding the Biblical mountains of Ararat. The name Armenia was given to the country by the surrounding states, and it is traditionally derived from Armenak or Aram (the great-grandson of Haik’s great-grandson, and another leader who is, according to Armenian tradition, the ancestor of all Armenians).
The native Armenian name for the country is Hayk’. The name in the Middle Ages was extended to Hayastan, by addition of the Iranian suffix -stan (place). The name has traditionally been derived from Hayk, the legendary patriarch of the Armenians and a great-great-grandson of Noah, who according to the 5th century author Moses of Chorene defeated the Babylonian king Bel in 2492 BC, and established his nation in the Ararat region. The further origin of the name is uncertain.
Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa was a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms ofAnatolia, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa. The Hayasa-Azzi confederation was in conflict with the Hittite Empire in the 14th century BC, leading up to the collapse of Hatti around 1290 BC.
Hittite inscriptions deciphered in the 1920s by the Swiss scholar Emil Forrer testify to the existence of a mountain country, the Hayasa and/or the Azzi, lying around Lake Van. Several prominent authorities agree in placing Azzi to the north of Ishuwa. Others see Hayasa and Azzi as identical.
The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis.
The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian). Thus, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1962 posited that the Armenians derive from a migration of Hayasa into Shupria in the 12th century BC.
The mentioning of the name Armenian can only be securely dated to the 6th century BC with the Orontid kings and very little is known specifically about the people of Azzi-Hayasa per se. The most recent edition of Encyclopædia Britannica does not include any articles on Hayasa or Azzi-Hayasa likely due to the paucity of historical documentation about this kingdom’s people.
Britannica’s article on the Armenians confirms that they were descendents of a branch of the Indo-European peoples but makes no assertion that they formed any portion of the population of Azzi-Hayasa.
Some historians find it sound to theorize that after the Phrygian invasion of Hittites the theoretically named Armeno-Phrygians would have settled in Hayasa-Azzi, and merged with the local people, who were possibly already spread within the western regions of Urartu.
After the fall of the latter, and the rise of the Kingdom of Armenia under the Artaxiad dynasty, Hayasan nobility (given they were truly Armenian) would have assumed control of the region and the people would have adopted their language to complete the amalgamation of the proto-Armenians, giving birth to the nation of Armenia as we know it today.
The Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex is at least Indo-Iranian (if not specifically Indo-Aryan) and can be traced to the Syro-Anatolian region. The formation of the BMAC begins in the 3rd millennium BC, and it ends its existence in the 2nd, at around the time when Indo-Aryans are said to have made their appearance in the subcontinent.
Whether we trace it to Anatolia, or, more modestly, to Iran, the likely western origin of the BMAC would almost certainly mean that it could have served as a conduit for the dispersal of the mystery “Dagestan” component to India.
The scenario derives the Indo-Aryans from the Transcaucasus where they pick up the “Dagestan” component, south of the Caspian, to the Oxus River civilization (BMAC) of Turkmenistan, to Afghanistan, and then via the Khyber Pass to Pakistan. The Mitanni are seen as Indo-Aryans who “stayed behind” and became thoroughly Hurrianized in the 2nd millennium BC.
We have one piece of evidence of the association of this component with Indo-Aryans: its presence in Brahmins and absence from low caste and tribal groups. But, there is a different source of evidence that can potentially complete the argument: the non-Indo-European speakers of Pakistan: the Dravidian Brahui and the Burushaski speakers.
My theory predicts that they should have less of this component than Indo-Aryan and Iranian speakers from Pakistan such as Pathans, Sindhi, and Balochi. To test this, I repeated my South Asian experiment, but this time I added these two populations as well. As you can see, the component is minimized in tribals, low castes, and non-Indo-European groups of Pakistan (Burusho and Brahui).
I am not going to bet that all the details presented in this scenario are correct. But, this theory seems to make sense of many different pieces of evidence (such as the presence of Indo-Aryans in the Near East) and to harmonize with the genetic evidence.
Aryan 
Hurrians
Who Were the Hurrians?
Origin of Early Transcaucasian Culture (aka Kura-Araxes culture)
Tell Halaf 
Halaf culture
Hassuna
Shulaveri-Shomu culture
Kura–Araxes culture
Mitanni
Indo-Aryan migration
The Aryan Invasion/Migration Question – Friends of South Asia
A solution to the problem of Indo-Aryan origins
A solution to the problem of Indo-Aryan origins (part 2)

Categories
Caucasus Haplogroups Indo-Europeans

Genes and Languages in the Caucasus, and the Indo-Europeans

Genes and Languages in the Caucasus

A solution to the problem of Indo-Aryan origins

The correspondence seems remarkable; the only major discrepancy is for Iranic (Indo-European) Ossetes who group with NW Caucasians genetically, which makes sense as the Ossetes are probably to a large extent NW Caucasians that underwent a language shift at the influence of the Alans.

I won’t comment on whether such a link exists, but a relationship between Hurro-Urartian and Northeast Caucasian coupled with the known proximity of Indo-Aryans with Hurrians would immediately supply an explanation for the “Dagestan” component: it might be the legacy of an absorption of Hurrian elements by the ancestors of the Indo-Aryans while the latter were still in the Near East.
By the 2nd millennium BC, the Indo-Aryan element seems to have been well on its way to disappearance in the region, and we find no trace of it after the demise of the Mitanni. A millennium later came the disappearance of Urartian, replaced by various types of Indo-European (such as Armenian and Iranian), and Semitic. We are fortunate that the Indo-Aryans of Syro-Anatolia left traces of their existence before their demise.
Categories
Caucasus Indo-Europeans The Fertile Crescent

The Gutians




The Gutians (also Guteans, Guti, Quti, Qurtie, Qurti, Kurti and Kurdu) were a tribe from northern and central ranges of Zagros mountains that overran southern Mesopotamia when the Akkadian empire collapsed in approximately 2154 BC.
The Gutian dynasty came to power in Mesopotamia around 2150 BC., by destabilising Akkad, according to the Sumerian kinglist at the end of the reign of king Ur-Utu (or Lugal-melem) of Uruk. They reigned for perhaps around one century (copies of the kinglist vary between 25 and 124 years; 91 years is often quoted as probable). The dynasty was succeeded by the 3rd dynasty of Ur.
Next to nothing is known about their origins, as no “Gutian” artifacts have surfaced from that time; little information is gleaned from the contemporary sources. Nothing is known of their language either, apart from those Sumerian king names, and that it was distinct from other known languages of the region (such as Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, Hittite and Elamite).
Archaeologists have been unable to identify a single fragment of material culture in Mesopotamia as belonging to the Guti, and the Akkadian (western Semitic) texts contain no loanwords identifiable as Indo-European. Except for their name and their activities as recorded in the Mesopotamian texts, the Guti are all but invisible.
Sumerian sources portray the Gutians as a barbarous, ravenous people from Gutium or Qutium (Sumerian: Gu-tu-um or Gu-ti-um) in the mountains, presumably the central Zagros east of Babylon and north of Elam. The Sumerian king list represents them as ruling over Sumer for a short time after the fall of the Akkadian Empire, and paints a picture of chaos within the Gutian administration.
The Guti appear in Old Babylonian copies of inscriptions ascribed to Lugal-Anne-Mundu (ca. 25th century BC), the most important king of the city-state Adab in Sumer between Telloh and Nippur, as among the nations providing his empire tribute. These inscriptions locate them between Subartu in the north, and Marhashe, also known as Warakshe, a 3rd millennium BC polity situated on the Iranian plateau, and Elam in the south.
Adab was occupied from at least the Early Dynastic period. According to Sumerian text Inanna’s descent to the netherworld, there was a temple of Inanna named E-shar at Adab during the reign of Dumuzid of Uruk. In another text in the same series, Dumuzid’s dream, Dumuzid of Uruk is toppled from his opulence by a hungry mob composed of men from the major cities of Sumer, including Adab.
Hammurabi of Babylonia (c. 1792 BC to 1750), the sixth king of Babylon of the First Babylonian Dynasty, celebrated his 30th year: “Year Hammurabi the king, the mighty, the beloved of Marduk, drove away with the supreme power of the great gods the army of Elam who had gathered from the border of Marhashi, Subartu, Gutium, Tupliash (Eshnunna) and Malgium who had come up in multitudes, and having defeated them in one campaign, he (Hammurabi) secured the foundations of Sumer and Akkad.”
Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. It was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris attested from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC).
Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.
The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.
Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.
It is known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.
There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.
Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.
The Gutians were a prominent nomadic tribe who lived in the Zagros mountains in the time of the Akkadian Empire. Sargon the Great also mentions them among his subject lands, listing them between Lullubi, a group of tribes during the 3rd millennium BC, from a region known as Lulubum, now the Sharazor plain of the Zagros Mountains of modern Iran, Armanu and Akkad to the north, and the Sumerian city-states Nikku and Der to the south.
The epic Cuthaean Legend of Naram-Sin of a later millennium mentions Gutium among the lands around Mesopotamia raided by Annubanini of Lulubum during Naram-Sin’s reign in Akkad.
Lullubum appears in historical times as one of the lands Sargon the Great subjugated within his Akkadian Empire, along with the neighboring province of Gutium to the south. Sargon’s grandson Naram Sin defeated the Lullubi and their king Satuni, and had his famous victory stele made in commemoration. After the Akkadian Empire fell to the Gutians, the Lullubians rebelled against the Gutian king Erridupizir, according to the latter’s inscriptions.
Following the Gutian period, the Neo-Sumerian (Ur-III) ruler Shulgi is said to have raided Lullubi at least 9 times; by the time of Amar-Sin, Lullubians formed a contingent in the military of Ur, suggesting that the region was then under Neo-Sumerian control.
Another famous rock carving depicting the Lullubian king Anubanini with the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar, captives in tow, is now thought to date to the Ur-III period; however, a later Babylonian legendary retelling of the exploits of Sargon the Great mentions Anubanini as one of his opponents.
Contemporary year-names for Shar-kali-sharri of Akkad indicate that in one unknown year of his reign, he captured Sharlag king of Gutium, while in another year, “the yoke was imposed on Gutium”.
As Akkadian might went into a decline, the Gutians began to practice hit-and-run tactics on Mesopotamia; they would be long gone by the time forces could arrive to deal with the situation. Their raids crippled the economy of Sumer. Travel became unsafe, as did work in the fields, resulting in famine.
The Gutians eventually overran Akkad, and as the King List tells us, their army also subdued Uruk for hegemony of Sumer — although it seems that autonomous rulers soon arose again in a number of city-states, notably Gudea of Lagash.
The Gutians also seem to have briefly overrun Elam at the close of Kutik-Inshushinak’s reign, around the same time. and in an inscribed statue of Gutian king Erridupizir at Nippur, in imitation of his Akkadian predecessors, he assumes the title “King of Gutium, King of the Four Quarters”.
According to the Sumerian king list, “In the army of Gutium, at first no king was famous; they were their own kings and ruled thus for 3 years.” The Weidner Chronicle, of some 1500 years later, portrays the Gutian kings as uncultured and uncouth:
“Naram-Sin destroyed the people of Babylon, so twice Marduk summoned the forces of Gutium against him. Marduk gave his kingship to the Gutian force. The Gutians were unhappy people unaware how to revere the gods, ignorant of the right cultic practices.
Utu-hengal, the fisherman, caught a fish at the edge of the sea for an offering. That fish should not be offered to another god until it had been offered to Marduk, but the Gutians took the boiled fish from his hand before it was offered, so by his august command, Marduk removed the Gutian force from the rule of his land and gave it to Utu-hengal.”
The Sumerian ruler Utu-hengal of Uruk is similarly credited on the King List with defeating the Gutian ruler Tirigan, and removing the Guti from the country (ca. 2050 BC). Following this, Ur-Nammu of Ur had their homeland of Gutium devastated, though according to one lengthy Sumerian poem, he died in battle with the Gutians, after having been abandoned by his own army.
In the first millennium BC, the term “Gutium” was used to refer to the region between the Zagros and the Tigris, also known as western Media. All tribes to the east and northeast who often had hostile relations with the peoples of lowland Mesopotamia, were referred to as Gutian or Guti.
Assyrian royal annals use the term Gutians to refer to Iranian populations otherwise known as Medes or Mannaeans; and as late as the reign of Cyrus the Great of Persia, the famous general Gubaru (Gobryas) was described as the “governor of Gutium”.
The Gutian language (Qutian) was spoken by the Gutian people. Nothing is known about the language except its existence and a list of Gutian ruler names in the Sumerian king list. The existence is attested by a list of languages spoken in the region, found in a clay tablet from the Middle Babylonian period presumably originating from the city of Emar, which also lists Akkadian, Amorite, Sutean, “Subarean” (Hurrian), and Elamite. There is also record of “an interpreter for the Gutean language” at Adab.
The Gutian king names from the Sumerian list are Inkishush, Zarlagab, Shulme (or Yarlagash), Silulumesh (or Silulu), Inimabakesh (Duga), Igeshaush (or Ilu-An), Yarlagab, Ibate, Kurum, Apilkin, La-erabum, Irarum, Ibranum, Hablum, Puzur-Suen, Yarlaganda, Si-um and Tirigan.
Based on these names, some scholars claim that the Gutian language was neither Semitic nor Indo-European, and was unrelated to the languages spoken around it. However, according to Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov, Gutian language was close to Tocharian languages of the Indo-European family.
The specialist on Iranian, W. B. Henning, who had worked for many years on the problem of the name of Tocharians, suggested in a posthumous article that their early ancestors were Gutians who had invaded Mesopotamia in ca. 2350—2200 BC. This hypothesis would place the ancestors of the Tocharians in the “right spot”: virtually all of their Caucasoid Y-chromosome gene pool could be explained with an origin in north Iran.
The historical Guti have been regarded by some as among the ancestors of the Kurds, including by the modern Kurds themselves. However, the term Guti had by late antiquity become a “catch all” term to describe all tribal peoples in the Zagros region, and according to J.P. Mallory, the original Gutians precede the arrival of Indo-Iranian peoples (of which the Kurds are one) by some 1500 years.
In the late 19th-century, Assyriologist Julius Oppert sought to connect the Gutians of remote antiquity with the later Gutones (Goths), whom Ptolemy in 150 AD had known as the Guti, a tribe of Scandia. Oppert’s theory on this connection is not shared by many scholars today, in the absence of further evidence.
On Tocharian origins

Categories
Armenia Caucasus Indo-Europeans

Origins, Homelands and Migrations: Situating the Kura-Araxes Early Transcaucasian ‘Culture’ within the History of Bronze Age Eurasia





The Copper Age of the Caucasus or, more precisely, the immediately pre-Maikop and pre-Kura-Araxes horizons of, respectively, the northern and southern Caucasus appears remarkably impoverished relative to Chalcolithic developments farther south in northern Mesopotamia or even more to the spectacular Cucuteni-Tripol’ye complexes and related cultures in southeastern Europe during the 6th through the first half of the 4th millennium BC.
Even more striking is the underdevelopment of the northwestern Caucasus prior to the emergence of the famous Maikop culture, which most specialists now date as beginning at least towards the middle of the 4th millennium, if not earlier, to the end of the first quarter of the 4th millennium.

Such underdevelopment in Chalcolithic times, of course, contrasts sharply with what occurred during the Early Bronze Age when the Caucasus became one of the main suppliers of arsenical copper/bronzes to the peoples of the steppes, particularly to the Pit (Yamnaya) and Catacomb Grave cultural communities, and to Near Eastern cultivators farther south.
The northern Caucasus from Maikop times through the Middle Bronze period may have functioned as the critical intermediary for receiving metals, many of which may have originated in the southern Caucasus, and for producing and transshipping arsenic copper/bronze artefacts to the steppes.
Clearly a major shift in interregional relations occurred initially sometime around the second quarter to middle of the 4th millennium BCE that brought the Caucasus onto the main stage of developments encompassing both the steppes to the north and the mixed agricultural/herding and settled agricultural regions of the Ancient Near East to the south.

The emergence and development of the Maikop culture-historical community must ultimately be related to the subsequent advent of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community. While these broadly defined Early Bronze archaeological cultures represent distinct formations in terms of most features of their material remains (architecture, subsistence economy, burial practices, etc.), they nevertheless formed integral parts of the same overarching system, a field of shared technologies that partially define what the Russian archaeologist Chernykh has termed the “Circumpontic Metallurgical Province”.
The Maikop parallels with northern Mesopotamia or, more broadly, with the Ancient Near East, and the seemingly consistent and growing number of calibrated radiocarbon determinations not only more securely date the ‘Maikop phenomenon’, but also suggest some connections—albeit hard to specify—with larger historical processes, such as the northern Mesopotamian incursion into the Caucasus and then the later so-called ‘Uruk expansion’ north along the Upper Euphrates into eastern Anatolia.
Pre-Kura-Araxes/Late Chalcolithic materials uncovered from the settlement of Boyuk Kesik and the kurgan necropolis of Soyuq Bulaq in northwestern Azerbaijan, and materials from a pre-Kura-Araxes kurgan, Kavtiskhevi, in central Georgia, can be related to remains from the metal-working Late Chalcolithic site of Leilatepe on the Karabakh steppe near Agdam and from the earliest level at the multi-period site of Berikldeebi in Kvemo Kartli. They reveal the presence of early 4th millennium raised burial mounds or kurgans in the southern Caucasus.
Similarly, likens chaff-faced wares collected at Hanago in the Sürmeli Plain and Astepe and Colpan in the eastern Lake Van district in northeastern Turkey are similar with those found at the sites mentioned above and relates these to similar wares (Amuq E/F) found south of the Taurus Mountains in northern Mesopotamia.
These resemblances is interpreted as representing an intrusion of north Mesopotamian immigrants, if not colonists, into the southern Caucasus prior to the well-known ‘Uruk expansion’ north along the Upper Euphrates River. Their arrival is seen as roughly contemporaneous with the seemingly sudden emergence of the Maikop culture of the northwestern Caucasus with its wealth of metal vessels, tools, ornaments and weapons.
The latter, however, is not interpreted as a direct consequence of this northern Mesopotamian incursion into the highlands, but is viewed as also somehow related to the collapse of the earlier Southeast European hearth of metallurgical activity or the so-called Carpatho-Balkan Metallurgical Province.
The new high dating of the Maikop culture essentially signifies that there is no chronological hiatus separating the collapse of the Chalcolithic Balkan centre of metallurgical production and the appearance of Maikop and the sudden explosion of Caucasian metallurgical production and use of arsenical copper/bronzes. More than forty calibrated radiocarbon dates on Maikop and related materials now support this high chronology; and the revised dating for the Maikop culture means that the earliest kurgans occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes.
The calibrated radiocarbon dates suggest that the Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and what now appears to be the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes.

Roughly 150 Maikop burial complexes have been excavated, while there are only ca. 30–40 known Maikop settlements (or even fewer, cf. Korenevskii 2001), only a handful of which have been substantially excavated. The mortuary assemblage to settlement ratio for Maikop remains is heavily weighted towards the former, and this situation is almost the opposite of what is known for the Early Bronze Kura-Araxes culture-historical community of Transcaucasia to the south, which probably begins slightly later towards the middle or third quarter of the 4th millennium. Hundreds of Kura-Araxes settlements have been found, scores of which have been excavated, while very few Kura-Araxes cemeteries have been located and investigated.
It is primarily this difference in the nature of the archaeological evidence that explains the apparent greater wealth of the Maikop metals relative to that of the Kura-Araxes culture. Both areas were working – and probably producing – metals on a large scale, though there are more metal artefacts from the Maikop culture just because more rich ‘royal’ kurgans have been uncovered.
Kurgan burials are not characteristic of northern Mesopotamia, but at least eight Chalcolithic and presumably pre-Maikop kurgans have been excavated in the central northern Caucasus and in the Kuban area. Early kurgans with Maikop or Maikop-related materials also appear on the Middle and Lower Don on sites of the so-called Konstantinovka culture, some materials of which, such as characteristic asymmetric flint arrowheads, show clear parallels with Maikop remains.
Two early pre-Pit-Grave kurgan burials with the actual remains of wooden wheels have been found respectively in the Lower Don (Koldyri, burial 7, kurgan 14) and Kuban (Starokorsun, burial 18, kurgan 2) areas. Their appearance in these latter areas is due to “the migration or re-settlement of groups from the agricultural population” farther west.
The latter burial, which also contained the remains of a wagon with wooden wheels (ca. 60 cm in diameter), has been attributed to the “early Novosvobodnaya” phase of the Maikop culture, and the partial remains of a similar wheeled cart were found in a kurgan at Tsagan-nur in Kalmykia to the northeast that also apparently contained Maikop-related materials.
Such vehicles are among the earliest known examples of wheeled transport. Maikop-related peoples may also have moved into northwestern Iran. Six of eleven surveyed kurgans, collectively referred to as Sé Girdan, which were excavated in 1968 and 1970, were laid out in a straight row running northwest to southeast and situated roughly west–southwest of the southwestern corner of Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran. They have been redated to the second half of the 4th millennium on parallels with Maikop remains from the northwestern Caucasus.It is suggested that Maikop-related peoples from the northwestern Caucasus entered northwestern Iran during the second half of the 4th millennium BCE or essentially prior to the expansion of Early Transcaucasian/Kura-Araxes peoples into northwestern Iran towards the end of the 4th millennium.The parallels cited include aspects of the construction of the kurgans, such as the off-centre location of the principal tomb, pebble floors and outer encircling stone revetments, and close similarities in arsenical copper/bronze artefacts, characteristic of the Caucasian Early Bronze Age, such as socketed axes with bent butts and blades with curved bases, some of which resemble those from the original ‘royal’ Maikop kurgan and from the Jrashen (or Priyerevanskii) hoard near Yerevan, Armenia.
This latter collection of heavily worn and new metal tools, including pickaxes and adzes, may document the long-distance exchange of finished arsenical copper/bronzes with high nickel content, but it also underscores the similarity of highly functional metal tools and weapons shared by the distinct but interconnected Maikop and Kura-Araxes culture-historical communities.
The ‘homeland’ (itself a very problematic concept) of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community is difficult to pinpoint precisely, a fact that may suggest that there is no single well-demarcated area of origin, but multiple interacting areas including northeastern Anatolia as far as the Erzurum area, the catchment area drained by the Upper Middle Kura and Araxes Rivers in Transcaucasia and the Caspian corridor and adjacent mountainous regions of northeastern Azerbaijan and southeastern Daghestan. While broadly (and somewhat imprecisely) defined, these regions constitute on present evidence the original core area out of which the Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ emerged.
Kura-Araxes materials found in other areas are primarily intrusive in the local sequences. Indeed, many, but not all, sites in the Malatya area along the Upper Euphrates drainage of eastern Anatolia (e.g., Norsun-tepe, Arslantepe) and western Iran (e.g., Yanik Tepe, Godin Tepe) exhibit – albeit with some overlap – a relatively sharp break in material remains, including new forms of architecture and domestic dwellings, and such changes support the interpretation of a subsequent spread or dispersal from this broadly defined core area in the north to the southwest and southeast.
The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.

The term ‘Kura-Araxes’ were coined to describe the very recognizable black- and red-burnished, hand-made ceramics now attributed to the ‘Kura-Araxes’ or, in the Western literature, ‘Early Transcaucasian’ (ETC). This because at that time all the sites with these materials, particularly the very diagnostic ceramics, which were known at that time, were found in the greater catchment areas of the Kura and Araxes basins.
We now know that these materials, first discovered at places like in the Gyandzha region of Azerbaijan and at the site of Shengavit now in Yerevan and often found in the lowest levels of many later Bronze Age sites, is distributed far beyond Transcaucasia itself, spreading at some point southeast along the eastern slopes of the Zagros at least as far as west central Iran (e.g., at the Godin IV settlement) and into eastern Gilan province of northern Iran and onto the central Iranian Plateau and also southwest across northeastern Anatolia at least as far as the Amuq Plain and into northern Israel during the Early Bronze III period.
Sometime around the middle of the 4th millennium BCE or slightly subsequent to the initial appearance of the Maikop culture of the NW Caucasus, settlements containing proto-Kura-Araxes or early Kura-Araxes materials first appear across a broad area that stretches from the Caspian littoral of the northeastern Caucasus in the north to the Erzurum region of the Anatolian Plateau in the west. For simplicity’s sake these roughly simultaneous developments across this broad area is considered as representing the beginnings of the Early Bronze Age or the initial stages of development of the Kura-Araxes/Early Transcaucasian culture.
The internal periodization of the Kura-Araxes ‘phenomenon’ within Transcaucasia has been worked out by several scholars, and are generally divided into four sub-periods (EBI–IV), extending from ca. 3500 – 2300 BCE, even if it still must be emphasized that much guesswork is involved and that the internal sequence requires additional refinement and corroboration.
The Kura-Araxes culture seems to have emerged in different places—northeastern Anatolia, the broad area of the southern Caucasus drained by the Upper and Middle reaches of the Kura and Araxes Rivers and the adjacent region of northwestern Iran, and the Caspian coastal corridor and contiguous mountainous regions of northeastern Azerbaijan and southeastern Daghestan—exhibiting different regional features at approximately the same time, towards the middle of the 4th millennium BCE.
Kura-Araxes sites are found throughout all areas of Transcaucasia, except for the sub-tropical Colchidean basin of western Georgia, and are located in markedly different environments at different altitudes, including burial sites even in the valleys of the high Central Caucasus Range, such as at Giorgitsminda and at Mutso, on the border between Georgia and Chechnya in Pirikita Khevsureti (Gogochuri and Ghlonti 2003); Kura-Araxes settlements high in the Great Caucasus Range have also been documented at Shatili, Vakissopeli and Sviana-rostiaanebi, and this last settlement is also supposed to contain later Bedeni and Trialeti-like materials (Gogochuri, personal communication). Not surprisingly, settlement sites found high in the Great and Lesser Caucasus Ranges or on highland plateaus typically contain stone architecture and have relatively thin cultural deposits (sometimes barely exceeding 1 m).
Sites farther south on the fertile Ararat Plain of southern Armenia and Nakhicevan or in the eastern piedmont between the Guru and Kandalan Rivers in southeastern Azerbaijan (at Garakapektepe) or even farther south in northwestern Iran (e.g., Geoy Tepe, Yanik Tepe and Tappeh Gijlar) or in eastern Anatolia (e.g., Pulur [10 m] and Karaz [9 m]) are often multi-period tells formed by the decomposition of mudbrick architecture with very thick cultural deposits, at times exceeding 10 m (at Tappeh Gijlar, for example, which is located west of Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran, the unmixed Kura-Araxes levels [period B] are nearly 11 m thick).
It is very difficult to correlate precisely such differently formed settlements. Thus, it is suggested that the initial dispersal of the Kura-Araxes culture is to be found in “the flatlands of the southern Caucasus” (i.e., on the Ararat Plain and farther east in the interfluve between the Guru and Kandalan Rivers of southeastern Azerbaijan) and that it was a movement from these plains into the highlands, associated ultimately with a more productive agricultural economy and consequent population increase.
Regions immediately adjacent to the southern Caucasus (i.e., to the south and west of the Middle Araxes River or northeastern Anatolia and farther to the north and east into southeastern Daghestan) should also be seen as part of the formative area for this culture.
Possibly, but the reverse process could also be argued on the basis of the archaeological evidence (earliest sites possibly located in Shida Kartli or even in higher areas) and is more consistent with the historical pattern of mountain valleys becoming overcrowded and sending their surplus population down onto the plains. For example, the Ossetians are known to have moved down from both sides of the Greater Caucasus and into the broader valleys of central Georgia during relatively recent historical times. Current evidence does not allow us to resolve this problem.
The postulated movement over time of surplus populations from the restricted mountain valleys onto the plains is consistent with the original local formations of this culture – quite literally, northeastern Anatolia and in the high Caucasus mountains, and such movements in search of more arable land may constitute one of the mechanisms driving the peoples out of Transcaucasia and southeast into Iran and farther southwest into the Upper Euphrates basin and beyond.
To add further ambiguity to the situation, while some areas exhibit a break in material culture remains, others, such as Sos Höyük near Erzurum, show continuity from its earliest so-called Late Chalcolithic level into later Early and Middle Bronze times. While never densely occupied with Early Bronze remains, the Erzurum region in northeastern Anatolia may lie within the original formative region of the Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’, and, consequently as such, did not experience the later dispersal or intrusion of Kura-Araxes peoples into other areas of northeastern Anatolia, such as into the Malatya region (e.g., Norşun-tepe, Arslantepe, etc.).
The characteristic red-and-black burnished wares, one of the hallmark features of Kura-Araxes material remains, may actually have originated at some sites beyond the catchment basins of the Kura and Araxes in today’s northeasternmost Anatolia and subsequently spread east into Transcaucasia as conventionally defined.
There seems to have been fairly rapid intra- and inter-cultural communication among these different contiguous regions, leading relatively quickly to the emergence of a recognizable Kura-Araxes koine or broadly defined ‘cultural-historical community’.
Even within this broadly defined area, some thicker multi-period tells that contain earlier pre-Kura-Araxes Chalcolithic levels show a gap or period of abandonment between the latest Chalcolithic and earliest Kura-Araxes occupations (e.g., at Kyul’tepe I in Nakhicevan), and other multi-period tells with thick Kura-Araxes deposits (e.g., Dzhraovit and Metsamor on the Ararat Plain or Garakepektepe in Azerbaijan) are inadequately published and work on them has only preliminarily, if at all, plumbed the earliest Kura-Araxes levels. That is, we know little about the beginnings of these latter settlements.
Problems of interpretation are further exacerbated by the distinct regional variants of this ‘culture-historical community’. This pronounced regional diversity may, of course, also be explained in part chronologically and suggests that this ‘culture-historical community’ was quite heterogeneous, never representing a single unity or polity.
Some Kura-Araxes sites are located near steep ravines or in fairly inaccessible settings (e.g., Garni), and some (e.g., Shengavit, Mokhra-Blur) appear to have been fortified or located on naturally protected promontories or terraces (e.g., at Kvatskhelebi in Shida Kartli), though it must be emphasized that the dating of such fortifications to the Kura-Araxes occupation has not been established in all the claimed cases.

Many sites, including those most carefully excavated, such as Karnut in northwestern Armenia, were not fortified but represent simple open villages with separate or clustered one-room houses with central hearths, often set at the southern foot or along the lower slope of a local large hill (e.g., the sites of Satkhe and Amagleba in southern Georgia).
Certainly most Kura-Araxes settlements and their accompanying materials in the southern Caucasus exhibit far less emphasis on militarism and defence, reflective of politically insecure and unstable times, than is characteristic for the later Transcaucasian Late Early and Middle Bronze and, particularly, Late Bronze/Early Iron periods (from the second half of the 3rd through the beginnings of the 1st millennium BCE).
Our understanding of the Kura-Araxes ‘phenomenon’ is incomplete, and surprises, like still await us. It is also possible that much larger Kura-Araxes settlements lie buried beneath more massive Late Bronze and Early Iron deposits (e.g., possibly at Metsamor). Based on the currently available published evidence, however, most Kura-Araxes settlements in Transcaucasia are small (rarely exceeding 5 ha in size) and show very little evidence of internal social differentiation. The dwellings in the largest sites, such as Arich (12 ha) on the southern edge of the Shirak Plain in northwestern Armenia or Amiranis-Gora (ca. 4 ha) near Akhaltsikhe in southern Georgia, a site which shows evidence of deliberate terracing, are quite dispersed, not densely packed together.
At most, some Kura-Araxes settlements can be considered fortified towns, but not cities, and such towns do not constitute evidence for a sharply differentiated three-tiered settlement hierarchy. Thus, for example, the Early Bronze occupation at the site of Arich, which is located on a naturally fortified promontory drained by a stream flowing down from the northwestern slope of Mt. Aragats, is surrounded by Late Bronze/Early Iron dwellings and burials and even later (Classical?) fortifications that cover the ca. 12 ha area of the site. It is very difficult to estimate the extent and density of its Kura-Araxes occupation.
Possibly, the largest and most impressively fortified Kura-Araxes town (excepting the major Khirbet Kerak settlements of northern Israel [e.g., Bet Yeraḥ]) is the ca. 15 ha site of Ravaz, which is located southwest of Maku in northwesternmost Iran; its well-built fortification wall with rounded towers separates a densely populated acropolis or core area on a raised promontory from a more sparsely settled lower town. The comparable or even larger Kura- Araxes settlements may lie buried beneath later deposits on multi-period tells, such as Dvin, that are found on the fertile Ararat Plain of southern Armenia, though again, even in such cases, it is unlikely that these buried settlements, which are located presumably in the Kura-Araxes ‘heartland’, could be characterized as real urban centres or cities.
Although the mortuary evidence is fragmentary and unexpected discoveries, like the rich burial at Arslantepe, may occur and alter our understanding, the currently available record does not suggest that the Kura-Araxes societies in Transcaucasia at least were torn apart by internal social divisions. In this sense, the Kura-Araxes materials contrast strongly with those of the Maikop culture to the north or with what appears in the southern Caucasus during the immediately succeeding late Early Bronze period or the time of the monumental ‘chiefly’/‘royal’ kurgans. Individual flat-grave burials have been excavated both within settlements and in cemeteries outside the settlements, as well as small kurgans or barrows associated with or in immediate proximity to Kura-Araxes settlements (e.g., at Satkhe in Djavakheti, cf. Kohl, Carson, Edens and Pearce 1993).
None of these southern Caucasian Kura-Araxes burials has yielded evidence for an accumulation of wealth comparable with that seen in the burial at Arslantepe or in those of the Maikop culture-historical community of the northwestern Caucasus.
The available evidence does unequivocally show that all areas of Transcaucasia (excepting the distinct region of western Georgia bordering the Black Sea) were occupied during the initial Early Bronze period in the second half of the 4th millennium. Kura-Araxes settlements, now numbering in the hundreds (Kushnareva 1997: 44), are found throughout the region, even at very high altitudes, suggesting possibly seasonal occupations and some form of transhumance, and their association with terraced agriculture in some mountainous areas seems well-established. These ‘peoples of the hills’ knew how to adapt to different altitudinal zones, settling in high mountain valleys, on broad volcanic uplands or on lower-lying fertile plains.
Given their occupation of these different altitudinal zones, it is not surprising that the materials used in the construction of their houses varies from stone and wattle-and-daub with wooden post structures in the intermontane valleys and higher plateaus to circular and sub-rectangular mudbrick structures sometimes with stone foundations in the lower plains. We know that they herded sheep and goats and, to a lesser extent, cattle and it is hypothesized that some flocks may have been driven to higher pastures during the summer by transhumant pastoralists as occurs today on the passes into and on the plateaus of Djavakheti from the Adzhari and Imereti regions.
The incredible profusion of small Kura-Araxes settlements throughout Transcaucasia and northeastern Anatolia may reflect both population increases over time and the periodic settlement of new areas suggestive of a form of extensive shifting cultivation, an interpretation consistent with the apparent sudden abandonment of several Kura-Araxes settlements. Kura-Araxes houses, such as those uncovered at Karnut on the Shirak Plain of northwestern Armenia, often contain large complete artefacts, such as storage jars and the characteristic, distinctly modeled andirons or figured portable hearth supports. It appears almost as if the people had planned to return to the settlements that they had mysteriously and suddenly left.
Whether it was the search for more arable land to support their burgeoning populations and/or their displacement with the arrival of new groups from the north with four-wheeled, ox-driven wagons, the Kura-Araxes peoples moved over some extended period beginning towards the end of the 4th millennium far to the southwest across the Anatolian Plateau to the Amuq Plain and beyond to northern Israel and to the southeast into northern Iran and along the Zagros Mountains and into eastern Gilan Province south of the Caspian Sea and onto the Iranian Plateau as least as far as Qazvin.
This spread of ‘Early Transcaucasian’ settlements has long fascinated archaeologists, many of them speculating on the ethnic/linguistic identity of these migrants and interpreting them as ancestral to Hurrians or Hittites or other later historically attested peoples. The question of the spread or migration of Kura-Araxes related peoples remains inadequately investigated.

Calibrated radiocarbon dates are beginning to yield a consistent picture for the timing of this dispersal. The relevant VIB period (though Kura-Araxes ceramics first appear earlier in Period VII) at the extensively excavated site of Arslantepe near Malatya dates ca. 2900–2700 BCE. This date essentially coincides with the appearance of Kura-Araxes materials from neighbouring sites such as Norsuntepe.
Related Khirbet-Kerak materials from northern Israel have been dated roughly from 2700–2450 BC (Miroschedji 2000: 258), suggesting an initial dispersal into the Upper Euphrates basin at the very beginning of the 3rd millennium (and after the collapse of the Uruk expansion), followed by a subsequent movement to the southwest in the second quarter of the 3rd millennium.
The overall pattern seems reasonably clear: an initial spread across eastern Anatolia to the Upper Euphrates basin at the very end of the 4th and beginning of the 3rd millennium followed by a relatively rapid diffusion (during the course of a century or so?) farther southwest, ultimately to the eastern Mediterranean coast.
Sites in the Urmia basin of northwestern Iran with relevant materials (e.g., Geoy Tepe and Yanik Tepe) seem to have been occupied already in the last centuries of the 4th millennium. ‘Early Transcaucasian’ materials appear to be intrusive in this region as well; i.e., they represent a break with earlier Chalcolithic remains on these sites, but this movement appears to predate the spread into the Upper Euphrates area.
One can only speculate that the lack of an Uruk presence in northwestern Iran may have facilitated this earlier movement from the southern Caucasus to the southeast. Their spread farther south into central-western Iran occurred later, though precisely how much later is still unclear.
These ‘peoples of the hills’ seem to have consciously avoided certain regions, including large settled areas on the northern Mesopotamian Plain. Less than a handful of Kura-Araxes sherds, for example, have been found at Tell Brak (J. Oates, personal communication).
Movements across the Anatolian Plateau and into northern Mesopotamia and regions farther west were undoubtedly very complex and involved more than just these dispersals from Transcaucasia. Other groups may have crossed the Caucasus from the northwest and then intermingled with both the local peoples and the Transcaucasians with whom they came into contact. A chain reaction was set in motion with incoming groups successively displacing one another.

There also remained relatively empty places that the southern Caucasians could easily settle. They possibly destroyed or overran some settlements, while they avoided or left others alone, presumably because the polities that occupied them were more powerful.
While our knowledge of the distribution of the sites containing Kura-Araxes materials is obviously dependent upon the nature and extent of the surveys conducted throughout these different regions, which manifestly are not commensurate with one another, it also seems clear that not all contiguous zones were equally affected by these dispersals.
The spread was not continuous and there are clear gaps in the distribution of sites containing these materials, such as the dense concentration of Early Transcaucasian sites in the Malatya region of eastern Anatolia or the gap in known sites with Early Transcaucasian/Khirbet Kerak ceramics in Syria and Lebanon between the Amuq Plain and northern Israel, a break possibly to be explained by coastal rather than overland contacts and movements of peoples.
Despite the uneven coverage, these gaps to some extent must reflect the historical reality that the newcomers from the north only occupied certain selected regions. It is also obvious that for the most part these dispersals do not represent armed military invasions and that the movements involved considerable assimilation with pre-existing local traditions, exacerbating the archaeologists’ task of recognizing them. Populations expanded and intermingled with one another. In these processes, social structures obviously must have changed.
It is an archaeological truism today to note that pottery styles do not equate with peoples, and the temptation to do so must be resisted. Nevertheless, the very frequency of distinctive, seemingly intrusive ceramics and other items of material culture, such as the highly specific figured andirons, suggest that this phenomenon, however short-lived, must have been reasonably substantial.
It is unclear what was driving these dispersals. Possibly, the peoples involved were in search of new sources of metal in Jordan or, more convincingly, in Cyprus (cf. the recently excavated, Kura-Araxes-like hearth stands and evidence for migrants from southwestern Anatolia at the Early Bronze Age site of Marki Alonia.
The settlers from Transcaucasia were skilled metallurgists, but why leave a metalliferous region like the Caucasus for unknown sources? Moreover, Khirbet Kerak materials are not found in the metal-bearing Wadi Feinan area south of the Dead Sea. Perhaps they were simply in search of more and better arable land with natural population increases, replicating on a much larger scale the movements from the highlands to the plains that may have characterized the initial spread of Kura-Araxes settlements within Transcaucasia?
Another factor may also have been at work: people were not only moving south out of the Caucasus, but also may have been moving into Transcaucasia from the north—at least at some point during the first half or towards the middle of the 3rd millennium (see the new calibrated dates for the ‘early kurgan cultures’ of Transcaucasia). It is hard to distinguish cause from effect here: did peoples move into the rich Alazani and Kura Valleys because others had moved out or were the Kura-Araxes peoples moving south due to the incursions of more mobile peoples from farther north?
Traditionally, Early Bronze materials from the Caspian coastal plain have been interpreted as a relatively late and northernmost manifestation or regional ‘variant’ of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community. This view needs to be totally reconceptualized.
Recent excavations at the Kura-Araxes related site of Velikent in southeastern Daghestan north of Derbent have documented that it was initially occupied ca. 3600–3500 BCE or just subsequent to the initial appearance of the early Maikop culture in the northwestern Caucasus.
The Daghestan ‘variant’ of the Kura-Araxes cultural tradition contains specific distinctive features related, on the one hand, to local Chalcolithic developments in mountainous Daghestan immediately to the west and, on the other, to Maikop remains to the northwest and to materials found even farther north on the western Eurasian steppes, particularly in terms of metals and polished stone weapons, such as shaft-hole axe/hammers (battle-axes) and perforated mace heads.
The architecture on Early Bronze Caspian coastal plain sites varies from circular mudbrick freestanding architecture (e.g., at Serker-tepe in northeastern Azerbaijan) to deeply dug oval and circular pit-houses and even sunken, multi-roomed public structures.
There is practically no earlier evidence for Chalcolithic sites on the Caspian littoral plain, as there is in the mountains, suggesting that the coastal plain was first settled during the middle of the 4th millennium BCE (Fig. 5) or slightly later than early Maikop sites to the northwest and roughly contemporaneous with the initial appearance of Kura-Araxes sites in Transcaucasia to the south.
The different components or regional variants of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community seem to emerge simultaneously at a time that roughly coincides with the so-called Uruk expansion up the Euphrates and onto the eastern Anatolian Plateau.
The Early Bronze Age site of Velikent was occupied from the mid-4th to the early 2nd millennium BCE (or ca. 3600–1900 BCE as based on a series of calibrated radiocarbon determinations). Its cultural remains, which consist of separate burial and settlement areas set on the top of five natural clay terraces formed by a transgression of the Caspian Sea, extend discontinuously over more than 30 ha. Some of the features connect the steppe world to the north with the sown agricultural world to the south.
Excavations at the type-site of Velikent have been the most extensive and have yielded the most materials, particularly from its collective catacomb burials where hundreds of metal and polished stone objects and complete ceramic vessels have been recovered. Large circular dwellings with internal features such as hearths and benches and made of dried mudbricks, some of which were occasionally fired, characterized the earliest building horizon.
Subsequently, the architectural tradition changed, and deeply dug pit-houses became the norm. An even later multi-roomed building, which had been extensively burned, was excavated above a series of these deep circular pit-houses, though the rooms of this building, which were reinforced with wooden posts, flat river boulders and even columns of stones set on top of one another reinforcing the corners, were dug down into the natural clay terrace and not built-up as in the first building horizon. This multi-roomed burned building was not a domestic structure but served some public function, possibly associated with ceramic production and storage.
Thus, there was a very significant shift in building traditions not long after Velikent had been initially settled. The earliest horizon has numerous parallels with Kura-Araxes materials from sites to the south, while the later levels, which are deeply dug down from the surface, may reflect more northern influences as well as represent a unique local adaptation to the dense clay terraces into which they were dug and into which they also dug their collective catacomb-shaped burials. The forms of the tombs with their attached entrance pits closely resemble or even consciously emulate the deeply sunken circular pit-house dwellings.
Most significantly, the initial settlers at the site arrived with metal working skills, since arsenical copper/bronzes and ceramic molds for casting objects appear in the earliest levels. They also initially produced very fine, highly fired ceramics with impressed designs that may have been finished on a slow wheel.
These ‘high-quality’ wares, which constitute ca. 10% of the total ceramic assemblage in the early levels, are also found on other sites to the south on the coastal plain of northeastern Azerbaijan and to the west in Chechnya, though their quality of manufacture suggests possibly a connection with northern Mesopotamia (perhaps related to the earlier incursion of settlers from the south?).
These ‘high-quality’ wares were not found in the multi-roomed building or in the latest excavated pit houses on the northern settlement mound at Velikent; i.e., they disappear at some point during the later 3rd millennium occupational sequence at the site.
Several collective catacomb-shaped tombs have been excavated at Velikent that have yielded a wealth of material remains, such as hundreds of complete ceramic vessels, arsenical copper/bronze (and tin-bronze) ornaments, and tools and weapons, and the polished and perforated stone mace heads and hammer axes (or battle-axes).
Radiocarbon dates and typological parallels with other materials suggest that the tombs thus far uncovered are somewhat later in date, possibly beginning in the second quarter of the 3rd millennium BCE. A few highly burnished, occasionally incised vessels and fragments have been recovered from these collective tombs that closely resemble so-called Bedeni vessels found in the large early pre-Trialeti kurgans in the Kakheti and Kvemo Kartli regions of eastern Georgia.
Wheeled wagons, driven by oxen, first are found in Transcaucasia in these Bedeni kurgans, though, as previously mentioned, a few Maikop-related kurgans with wheeled wagons have been found north of the Caucasus and probably date somewhat earlier to late 4th millennium times.
Other parallels can be drawn between materials from Velikent-related sites on the Caspian coastal plain and those from the early monumental Transcaucasian kurgans to the south and to those from kurgans found in the steppes immediately north of the Great Caucasus Range. Thus, a stone battle-axe of a type common in the northern Caucasus and southern Russia was found in one of the Martkopi kurgans, as were gold spiral pendants presumably worn about the temples or in the hair, pear-shaped ground marble mace-heads, and perforated animal-toothed pendants. Very similar materials are found in the collective catacomb tombs at Velikent, and the stone battle-axes are also very typical of the Bronze Age Novotitorovskaya culture (3300–2700 BC) remains in the Kuban region of the northwestern Caucasus.
Novotitorovka culture was immediately to the north of and largely overlapping portions of the Maykop culture facing the Sea of Azov, running from the Kerch Strait eastwards, almost to the Caspian, roughly coterminous with the modern Krasnodar Krai region of Russia. It is distinguished by its burials, particularly by the presence of wagons in them and its own distinct pottery, as well as a richer collection of metal objects than those found in adjacent cultures, as is to be expected considering its relationship to the Maykop culture. It is grouped with the larger Indo-European Yamna culture complex, and in common with it, the economy was semi-nomadic pastoralism mixed with some agriculture.
Most significant, of course, is the parallel appearance of oxen-driven wooden wagons in Novotitorovskaya kurgans and, more generally, in kurgans on the western Eurasian steppes from Novosvobodnaya, Pit-Grave (Yamna culture) of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe), Early Catacomb occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine, Kemi-Oba at the northwest face of the Sea of Azov, the lower Bug and Dnieper Rivers and the Crimea, and other related culture sites north of the Great Caucasus Range and in the large monumental kurgans of the Late Early Bedeni and Middle Bronze Trialeti-related cultures in the southern Caucasus.
The remains of more than 250 wagons have been excavated in kurgans from the Kuban area of the northwestern Caucasus and across the southeastern European steppes, 115 of them to be attributed to the Novotitorovskaya culture of the former region.
The parallel appearance of similarly constructed wagons on both sides of the Caucasus cannot be coincidental but must be historically related, possibly representing the continuous movement of cattle herders north to south along the Caspian corridor or coastal plain to circumvent the Great Caucasus Range. The earliest remains in Eastern Europe of a wheeled cart were found in the “Storozhova mohyla” kurgan (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine) associated with the Yamna culture.
One cannot also fail to observe the nearly simultaneous appearance of such oxen-driven wagons in the ‘royal’ tombs of southern Mesopotamia (e.g., at Ur), tombs that contain striking parallels in precious jewelry and bronze weapons with remains from the southern Caucasus.
The societies responsible for the construction of the large late Early and Middle Bronze kurgans in Transcaucasia were not egalitarian but must have been ruled by a paramount leader or chief who was capable of waging war and amassing labour on a significant scale to raise these monumental mortuary mounds.
The number of known settlements decreased dramatically from the earlier time of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community, and the later Middle Bronze settlements that have been excavated, such as at Uzerlik-Tepe, were heavily fortified, safely encircled behind massive stone walls, again reflecting unsettled, perpetually bellicose conditions.
It is thought, though not yet conclusively demonstrated, that the earliest fortresses with cyclopean stone architecture, which typically are located in steep or relatively inaccessible locations, such as the citadel of Schaori on top of a steep peak overlooking the western shore of Lake Paravani in Djavakheti, may first date to the Middle Bronze Age. Later, during the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age, such citadels become a characteristic, if not dominant, feature of the Transcaucasian landscape.

The emergence and subsequent dispersal of the Kura-Araxes/ETC ‘culture-historical community’ seems to be situated in a broader chronological and geographical context that reveals historical connections and developments over a broad area stretching from the southern Russian steppes to the southern Levant.
It seems that their sudden emergence and more gradual disappearance in the northeastern and southern Caucasus in terms of larger developments is associated with movements of peoples south to north (e.g., the Uruk expansion) and north to south (e.g., cattle herders with oxen-driven wheeled wagons, traversing the Caspian coastal plain and burying their leaders in monumental kurgans with rich mortuary remains). Current evidence allows us to sketch such processes only cursorily, not paint them in precise detail. The archaeological record is cumulative, and new discoveries will both complicate and clarify our understanding of this diverse, archaeologically defined ‘phenomenon’.
New evidence from Iran seems to support the further dispersal of Kura-Araxes folks east across the central Iranian Plateau and into the thickly wooded province of Gilan south of the Caspian Sea. Kura-Araxes/ETC sherds have been collected from the sites of Diarjan, Doranabad and Qoli Davis.
Some of these collected sherds, particularly those incised and even occasionally inlaid, seem to resemble most closely those from the Godin IV settlement, and perhaps ultimately they will help define an eastern or distinctively Iranian regional variant of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community.
These materials are not far removed spatially from those recovered from another area with its own distinct grey ware ceramic tradition, incorporating Damghan (Tepe Hissar), the Gorgan Plain (Shah Tepe, Tureng Tepe and countless other sites), and the Sumbar Valley of southwestern Turkmenistan (the Parkhai Cemeteries).
Materials, that were nestled in the Kopet Dagh Mountains of the Upper Sumbar Valley, the Sumbar River being a right bank tributary of the Atrek that runs essentially parallel to the Gorgan River, both of which flow into the southeastern corner of the Caspian, particularly ceramics, from the Late Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Parkhai II Cemetery of southwestern Turkmenistan clearly relate both to materials excavated on sites, such as Ak-depe and Kara-depe, in the Kopet Dagh piedmont farther to the northeast, and to sites on the Gorgan Plain, such as Shah Tepe, and on the north-central Iranian Plateau, such as Tepe Hissar, which are located southwest of the Sumbar Valley.
The most distinctive and striking ceramics from the Parkhai II Cemetery consist of highly burnished, sharply carinated biconical grey ware bowls that can be paralleled on these sites located farther northeast and southwest and clearly relate to the development of the northeastern Iranian grey ware tradition.
More distant parallels can also be detected with materials from Transcaucasia and the western Caspian littoral plain: the collective tombs from the Parkhai II Cemetery resemble the catacomb tombs from Velikent in that they represent collective tombs that were periodically opened from a separate entry chamber to the side of the principal vault and were reused with earlier burials pushed to the side of the chamber for the most recently interred individual.
Numerous double spiral-headed toggle pins were found at Parkhai II and these have a broad spatial and possibly temporal distribution, which also includes Transcaucasia (though they are not found at Velikent). The burnished carinated bowls remotely resemble the metallic-like Bedeni vessels that are rarely encountered at Velikent but that are characteristic of the Bedeni early monumental kurgans from the southern Caucasus.
It seems that there were a mid-3rd millennium movement from the Caucasus across northern Iran into southwestern Turkmenistan. The parallels seem to be too specific and numerous to be totally fortuitous. The Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ or, more ambiguously, ‘phenomenon’, clearly emerged and developed in a much larger inter-connected world.
Origins, Homelands and Migrations: Situating the Kura-Araxes Early Transcaucasian ‘Culture’ within the History of Bronze Age Eurasia
Bet Yerah, Aparan III and Karnut I: Preliminary Observations on Kura-Araxes Homeland and Diaspora Ceramic Technologies

Categories
Armenia Caucasus Indo Aryans Indo-Europeans

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture


The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.
The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.
The earliest kurgans occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b). The Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).
The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.
The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.
Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.
Origin of Early Transcaucasian Culture (aka Kura-Araxes culture)

Categories
Armenia Christianity Indo Aryans Indo-Europeans Religion The Fertile Crescent

Inanna – Atar – the God of the Covenant (treaty, agreement, promise)

Place of origin – Haplogroup J1/J2

In human genetics, Haplogroup J-M172 [Phylogenetics 1] is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subclade (branch) of haplogroup J-P209.[Phylogenetics 2] J-M172 can be classified as Mediterranean/Aegean (Di Giacomo, 2004), Greco-Anatolian, Mesopotamian and/or Caucasian and is linked to the earliest indigenous populations of Anatolia and the Aegean. It was carried by Bronze Age immigrants to Europe, and ultimately descends from the Cro-Magnon population (IJ-M429 Y-DNA) within the region spanning eastern Turkey and Persia around 35,000 years ago.
The precise region of origin for haplogroup J-M172 remains a topic of discussion. However, at least within a European context, Anatolia and the Aegean seem to be source regions, with Hg J2 having perhaps arisen in the Levant (Di Giacomo 2004) / Middle East (Semino 2004) with the development of agriculture. As to the timing of its spread into Europe, Di Giacomo points to events which post-date the Neolithic, in particular the demographic floruit associated with the rise of the Ancient Greek world.
Semino et al. derived older age estimates for overall J2 (having used the Zhivitovksy method c.f. Di Giacomo), postulating its initial spread with Neolithic farmers from the Near East. However, its subclade distribution, showing localized peaks in the Southern Balkans, southern Italy, north/ central Italy and the Caucasus, does not conform to a single ‘wave-of-advance’ scenario, betraying a number of still poorly understood post-Neolithic processes which created its current pattern. Like Di Giacomo, the Bronze Age southern Balkans was suggested to have been an important vector of spread.
Haplogroup J-M172 is found mainly in the Fertile Crescent, the Caucasus (Nasidze 2003), Anatolia, the Balkans, Italy, the Mediterranean littoral, and the Iranian plateau(Semino 2004).
J-M172 is found at very high frequencies in certain peoples of the Caucasus: among the Ingush 87.4% (Balanovsky 2011), Chechens 55.2% (Balanovsky 2011), Georgians 21%-72%, (Wells 2001), Azeris 24% (Di Giacomo 2004)-48%, (Wells 2001) Abkhaz 25%, (Nasidze 2004) Balkars 24% (Battaglia 2008), Ossetians 24% (Nasidze 2004), Armenians 21% (Wells 2001)-24% (Nasidze 2004), Circassians 21.8% (Balanovsky 2011), and other groups ( Nasidze 2004 and Nasidze 2003).
Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. Its present geographic distribution argue in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent. This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant (which appears to be linked rather to haplogroups G2 and E1b1b). A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy, notably copper working (from the Lower Danube valley, central Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia), and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations.
Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.
There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).
The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions). The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation. Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.
In Genetic genealogy and human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J-M267, also commonly known as Haplogroup J1 is a subclade (branch) of Y-DNA haplogroup J-P209, (commonly known as Haplogroup J) along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J-M172 (commonly known as Haplogroup J2). (All these haplogroups have had other historical names listed below.[Phylogenetics 1][Phylogenetics 2])
Men from this lineage share a common paternal ancestor, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to as M267, which was announced in (Cinnioğlu 2004). This haplogroup is found today in significant frequencies in many areas in order near the Middle East, and parts of the Caucasus, Sudan and the Horn of Africa. It is also found in high frequencies in parts of North Africa and amongst Jewish groups, especially those with Cohen surnames. It can also be found much less commonly, but still occasionally in significant amounts, in Europe and as far east as Central Asia.
Since the discovery of haplogroup J-P209 it has generally been recognized that it shows signs of having originated in or near West Asia. The frequency and diversity of both its major branches, J-M267 and J-M172, in that region makes them candidates as genetic markers of the spread of farming technology during the Neolithic, which is proposed to have had a major impact upon human populations.
The P58 marker which defines subgroup J-P58 was announced in (Karafet 2008), but had been announced earlier under the name Page08 in (Repping 2006 and called that again in Chiaroni 2011). It is very prevalent in many areas where J-M267 is common, especially in parts of North Africa and throughout the Arabian peninsula. It also makes up approximately 70% of the J-M267 among the Amhara of Ethiopia. Notably, it is not common among the J-M267 populations in the Caucasus.
Chiaroni 2009 proposed that J-P58 (that they refer to as J1e) might have first dispersed during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, “from a geographical zone, including northeast Syria, northern Iraq and eastern Turkey toward Mediterranean Anatolia, Ismaili from southern Syria, Jordan, Palestine and northern Egypt.” They further propose that the Zarzian material culture may be ancestral. They also propose that this movement of people may also be linked to the dispersal of Semitic languages by hunter-herders, who moved into arid areas during periods known to have had low rainfall. Thus, while other haplogroups including J-M172 moved out of the area with agriculturalists who followed the rainfall, populations carrying J-M267 remained with their flocks (King 2002 and Chiaroni 2008).
According to this scenario, after the initial neolithic expansion involving Semitic languages, which possibly reached as far as Yemen, a more recent dispersal occurred during the Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age (approximately 3000–5000 BCE), and this involved the branch of Semitic which leads to the Arabic language. The authors propose that this involved a spread of some J-P58 from the direction of Syria towards Arab populations of the Arabian Peninsula and Negev.

Mother Goddess

Mother goddess is a term used to refer to a goddess who represents motherhood, fertility, creation, or who embodies the bounty of the Earth. When equated with the Earth or the natural world such goddesses are sometimes referred to as Mother Earth or as the Earth Mother.
Many different goddesses have represented motherhood in one way or another, and some have been associated with the birth of humanity as a whole. Others have represented the fertility of the earth.
Numerous female figurines from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in Anatolia have been interpreted as evidence of a mother-goddess cult, c.7500 BC. James Mellaart, who led excavation at the site in the 1960s, suggests that the figures represent a Great goddess, who headed the pantheon of an essentially matriarchal culture. A seated female figure, flanked by what Mellart describes as lionesses, was found in a grain-bin; she may have intended to protect the harvest and grain.
Reports of more recent excavations at Çatalhöyük conclude that overall, the site offers no unequivocal evidence of matriarchal culture or a dominant Great Goddess; the balance of male and female power appears to have been equal. The seated or enthroned goddess-like figure flanked by lionesses, has been suggested as a prototype Cybele, a leading deity and Mother Goddess of later Anatolian states.
In the Aegean, Anatolian, and ancient Near Eastern culture zones, Cybele, the primordial deity Gaia, and Rhea were worshiped as Mother goddesses. In Mycenae the great goddess often was represented by a column.
Ninsun is the Mother Goddess in general Mesopotamian mythology. She is Asherah in Canaan and `Ashtart in Syria. The Sumerians wrote erotic poetry about their mother goddess Ninhursag.
James Frazer (author of The Golden Bough) and others (such as Jane Ellen Harrison, Robert Graves and Marija Gimbutas) advance the idea that goddess worship in ancient Europe and the Aegean was descended from Pre-Indo-European neolithic matriarchies.
Gimbutas argued that the thousands of female images from Old Europe (archaeology) represented a number of different groups of goddess symbolism, notably a “bird and snake” group associated with water, an “earth mother” group associated with birth, and a “stiff nude” group associated with death, as well as other groups.
Gimbutas maintained that the “earth mother” group continues the paleolithic figural tradition, and that traces of these figural traditions may be found in goddesses of the historical period. According to Gimbutas’ Kurgan Hypothesis, Old European cultures were disrupted by expansion of Indo-European speakers from southern Siberia.
From 5500 to 2750 BC the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture flourished in the region of modern-day Romania, Moldova, and southwestern Ukraine, leaving behind ruins of settlements of as many as 15,000 residents who practiced agriculture and domesticated livestock. They also left behind many ceramic remains of pottery and clay figurines. Some of these figurines appear to represent the mother goddess (see images in this article).

Inanna

Inanna is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. Inanna can be considered the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.
Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).
Inanna was associated with the celestial planet Venus. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.
According to one story, Inanna tricked the god of culture, Enki, who was worshipped in the city of Eridu, into giving her the Mes. The Mes were documents or tablets which were blueprints to civilization. They represented everything from abstract notions like Victory and Counsel and Truth to technologies like weaving to writing to social constructs like law, priestly offices, kingship, and even prostitution. They granted power over, or possibly existence to, all the aspects of civilization (both positive and negative).
Inanna traveled to Enki’s city Eridu, and by getting him drunk, she got him to give her hundreds of Mes, which she took to her city of Uruk. Later, when sober, Enki sent mighty Abgallu (sea monsters, from ab, sea or lake + gal, big + lu, man) to stop her boat as it sailed the Euphrates and retrieve his gifts, but she escaped with the Mes and brought them to her city. This story may represent the historic transfer of power from Eridu to Uruk.
In his connections with Inanna, Enki shows other aspects of his non-Patriarchal nature. The myth Enki and Inanna tells the story of the young goddess of the É-anna temple of Uruk, who visits the senior god of Eridu, and is entertained by him in a feast. The seductive god plies her with beer, and the young goddess maintains her virtue, whilst Enki proceeds to get drunk. In generosity he gives her all the gifts of his Me, the gifts of civilized life. Next morning, with a hangover, he asks his servant Isimud for his Me, only to be informed that he has given them to Inanna. Upset at his actions, he sends Galla demons to recover them. Inanna escapes her pursuers and arrives safely back at the quay at Uruk. Enki realises that he has been tricked in his hubris and accepts a peace treaty forever with Uruk.
Politically, this myth would seem to indicate events of an early period when political authority passed from Enki’s city of Eridu to Inanna’s city of Uruk.

Hurrians

Inanna’s name derives from Queen of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-anna). The cuneiform sign of Inanna however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin) and sky (Sumerian: an). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk), and the unnamed king of Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia).
Because it gives a Sumerian account of the “confusion of tongues”, and also involves Enmerkar constructing ziggurats at Eridu and Uruk, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.
The land of Subartu or Subar is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit. It was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified.
From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.
The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.
Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), -which has been identified with Aleppo-, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.
Three of the 14th century BC Amarna letters, Akkadian cuneiform correspondence found in Egypt, mention Subari as a toponym. All are addressed to Akenaten; in two (EA 108 and 109), Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos, complains that Abdi-Ashirta, ruler of Amurru, had sold captives to Subari, while another (EA 100), from the city of Irqata, also alludes to having transferred captured goods to Subari.
There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadrezzar II and Nabonidus), Subartu was used as a generic term for Assyria. The term was still current under Cambyses II, who mentions Subarian captives.
Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.
Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. A “possible reflex” has been suggested in Sanskrit Āraṭṭa or Arāṭṭa mentioned in the Mahabharata and other texts.
The goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of Uruk pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic.
Enmerkar wants Aratta to submit to Uruk, bring stones down from the mountain, craft gold, silver and lapis lazuli, and send them, along with “kugmea” ore to Uruk to build a temple. Inana bids him send a messenger to Aratta, who ascends and descends the “Zubi” mountains, and crosses Susa, Anshan, and “five, six, seven” mountains before approaching Aratta.
Aratta in turn wants grain in exchange. However Inana transfers her allegiance to Uruk, and the grain gains the favor of Aratta’s people for Uruk, so the lord of Aratta challenges Enmerkar to send a champion to fight his champion. Then the god Ishkur makes Aratta’s crops grow.
Urkesh or Urkish is a tell, or settlement mound, located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. It was founded during the fourth millennium BC possibly by the Hurrians on a site which appears to have been inhabited previously for a few centuries.
The genealogy and identity of Urkesh’s rulers is largely unknown, but the following names have been identified as being those of the city-state’s kings. The first three known kings (only two of whom are known by name) bore the Hurrian title endan.
EN is the Sumerian cuneiform for “lord” or “priest”. Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state’s patron-deity – a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk.
ENSI (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal (King/Emperor).
They held most political power in Sumerian city states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).[5] In the city state of Ashur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title énsi, while the patron deity was regarded as šarrum (“King”).
Sumer (approximately “land of the civilized kings” or “native land”) was an ancient civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Although the earliest historical records in the region do not go back much further than ca. 2900 BC, modern historians have asserted that Sumer was first permanently settled between ca. 4500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who may or may not have spoken the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc. as evidence).
These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria). The Ubaidians were the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.
However, some scholars such as Piotr Michalowski and Gerd Steiner, contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the east Arabian littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.
Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians (who spoke a Language Isolate) and the Semitic Akkadian speakers, which included widespread bilingualism. The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a sprachbund. Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (short chronology), but Sumerian continued as a sacred language.
The Sumerians were a non-Semitic people, and spoke a language isolate; a number of linguists believed they could detect a substrate language beneath Sumerian, names of some of Sumer’s major cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier inhabitants. However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the Early Ubaid period (5300 – 4700 BC C-14) settlements in southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.
It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there. The Ubaid pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami Transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.
The connection is most clearly seen at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where 8 levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware. Farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.
Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral. The Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the people of Dilmun, associated with Bahrein in the Persian Gulf. Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the Ice Age.
The Hurrians were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian, and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border (Al Hasakah Governorate) and Turkey. The Excavations have shown that this site houses the remains of one of the world’s oldest known cities, leading scholars to believe that cities in this part of the world emerged much earlier than previously thought.
Traditionally, the origins of urban developments in this part of the world have been sought in the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC many of the famous Mesopotamian cities such as Ur and Uruk emerged, giving this region the attributes of “Cradle of Civilization” and “Heartland of Cities.” Following the discoveries at Hamoukar, this definition may have to extended further up the Tigris River to include that part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.
The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.
Knowledge of Hurrian culture relies on archaeological excavations at sites such as Nuzi and Alalakh as well as on cuneiform tablets, primarily from Hattusa (Boghazköy), the capital of the Hittites, whose civilization was greatly influenced by the Hurrians. Tablets from Nuzi, Alalakh, and other cities with Hurrian populations (as shown by personal names) reveal Hurrian cultural features even though they were written in Akkadian. Hurrian cylinder seals were carefully carved and often portrayed mythological motifs. They are a key to the understanding of Hurrian culture and history.
The Khabur River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-‘Ayn are the river’s main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area.
From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrah.
Since the 1930s, numerous archaeological excavations and surveys have been carried out in the Khabur Valley, indicating that the region has been occupied since the Lower Palaeolithic period.[4] Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan, Tell Mashnaqa, Tell Mozan and Tell Barri.
Sumeru (Sanskrit) or Sineru (Pāli) or Kangrinboqe is the name of the central world-mountain in Buddhist cosmology. Etymologically, the proper name of the mountain is Meru (Pāli Neru), to which is added the approbatory prefix su-, resulting in the meaning “excellent Meru” or “wonderful Meru”. The concept of Sumeru is closely related to the Hindu mythological concept of a central world mountain, called Meru, but differs from the Hindu concept in several particulars.

Flood Myth

A flood myth or deluge myth is a symbolic narrative in which a great flood is sent by a deity, or deities, to destroy civilization in an act of divine retribution. Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primeval waters found in certain creation myths, as the flood waters are described as a measure for the cleansing of humanity, in preparation for rebirth. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero, who strives to ensure this rebirth.
The flood myth motif is widespread among many cultures as seen in the Mesopotamian flood stories, the Puranas, Deucalion in Greek mythology, the Genesis flood narrative, and in the lore of the K’iche’ and Maya peoples of Central America, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa tribe of Native Americans in North America, and the Muisca people in South America.
According to Sumerian mythology, Enki also assisted humanity to survive the Deluge designed to kill them. This is one of the oldest of the surviving Middle Eastern Deluge myths.
In the later Legend of Atrahasis, Enlil, the king of the gods, sets out to eliminate humanity, whose noise is disturbing his rest. He successively sends drought, famine and plague to eliminate humanity, but Enki thwarts his half-brother’s plans by teaching Atrahasis how to counter these threats.
Each time, Atrahasis asks the population to abandon worship of all gods, except the one responsible for the calamity, and this seems to shame them into relenting. Humans, however, proliferate a fourth time.
Enraged, Enlil convenes a Council of Deities and gets them to promise not to tell humankind that he plans their total annihilation. Enki does not tell Atrahasis directly, but speaks to him in secret via a reed wall. He instructs Atrahasis to build a boat in order to rescue his family and other living creatures from the coming deluge. After the seven-day Deluge, the flood hero frees a swallow, a raven and a dove in an effort to find if the flood waters have receded. Upon landing, a sacrifice is made to the gods. Enlil is angry his will has been thwarted yet again, and Enki is named as the culprit. Enki explains that Enlil is unfair to punish the guiltless, and the gods institute measures to ensure that humanity does not become too populous in the future.
In some Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to a progenitor of humanity. According to these traditions, the current time period is ruled by the seventh Manu called the Vaivasvata Manu, the son of Vivasvân and his wife Sanjnâ.
Vaivasvata Manu, whose original name was Satyavrata, is the 7th Manu and considered the first king to rule this earth, who saved humanity from the great flood — after being warned of it by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, who had also advised him to build a giant boat. The story is mentioned in early Hindu scriptures such as the Satapatha Brahmana, and it has often been compared with the popular traditions of a Great Deluge from other cultures around the world, particularly that of Noah’s Ark. Because Manu was believed to be absolutely honest, he was initially known as Satyavrata (“One with the oath of truth”). Vaivasvata Manu ruled as King Manu. His wife was Sraddha.

Covenant

A covenant, in its most general sense and historical sense, is a solemn promise to engage in or refrain from a specified action. Under historical English common law a covenant was distinguished from an ordinary contract by the presence of a seal. Because the presence of a seal indicated an unusual solemnity in the promises made in a covenant, the common law would enforce a covenant even in the absence of consideration. In United States contract law, an implied covenant of good faith is presumed.
A covenant is a type of contract in which the covenantor makes a promise to a covenantee to do (affirmative covenant) or not do some action (negative covenant). In real property law, the term real covenants is used for conditions tied to the use of land. A “covenant running with the land”, also imposes duties or restrictions upon the use of that land regardless of the owner. Restrictive covenants are somewhat similar to easements and equitable servitudes, leading to some discussion about whether these concepts should be unified; the Restatement (Third) of Property takes steps to merge these concepts as servitudes. Real covenant law in the United States has been referred to as an “unspeakable quagmire” by one court.
Covenants for title are covenants which come with a deed or title to the property, in which the grantor of the title makes certain guarantees to the grantee. Non-compete clauses in the United States are also called restrictive covenants.
The religious concept of a covenant is central to the Abrahamic religions and derived from the biblical covenants, notably the Abrahamic covenant. It is a formal alliance or agreement made by God with that religious community or with humanity in general.
A covenant may also refer to an agreement between members of a congregation to work together according to the precepts of their religion. In Indo-Iranian religious tradition, Mithra-Mitra is the hypostasis of covenant, and hence keeper and protector of moral, social and interpersonal relationships, including love and friendship. In living Zoroastrianism, which is one of the two primary developments of Indo-Iranian religious tradition, Mithra is by extension a judge, protecting agreements by ensuring that individuals who break one do not enter Heaven.
A biblical covenant is a religious covenant that is described in the Bible. All Abrahamic religions consider biblical covenants important. Of these covenants, the Noahic Covenant is unique in applying to all humanity, while the other covenants are principally agreements made between God and the biblical Israelites and their proselytes. Jeremiah 31:30–33 also mentions “a new covenant” that God would establish with Israel and Judah.
The New Covenant is a biblical interpretation originally derived from a phrase in the Book of Jeremiah, in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is often thought of as an eschatological Messianic Age or world to come and is related to the biblical concept of the Kingdom of God.
Generally, Christians believe that the New Covenant was instituted at the Last Supper as part of the Eucharist, which in the Gospel of John includes the New Commandment. There are several Christian eschatologies that further define the New Covenant, as an example an inaugurated eschatology defines and describes the New Covenant as an ongoing relationship between Christian believers and God that will be in full fruition after the Second Coming of Christ; that is, it will not only be in full fruition in believing hearts, but in the future external world as well. The connection between the Blood of Christ and the New Covenant is seen in most modern English translations of the New Testament with the saying: “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”.
Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the Blood of Christ shed at his crucifixion is the required blood of the covenant. As with all covenants between God and man described in the Bible, the New Covenant is considered “a bond in blood sovereignly administered by God.” It has been theorized that the New Covenant is the Law of Christ as spoken during his Sermon on the Mount.
Christians believe this new covenant to be the “replacement” or “final fulfilment” of the Old Covenant described in the Old Testament or as existing alongside it in dual covenant theology.
Noah’s Thanksoffering (c.1803) by Joseph Anton Koch. Noah builds an altar to the Lord after being delivered from the Flood; God sends the rainbow as a sign of his covenant.
The Noahic covenant [Gen 9:8-17] applies to all of humanity and to all living creatures. In this covenant, God promises never again to destroy all life on Earth by flood[9:11] and creates the rainbow as the sign of this “everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth”.[9:12-17]
God makes a pledge of commitment to Noah in Genesis 9:1–17. The priestly (Elohim) version takes the form of a covenant arrangement. This is the first explicit act of a covenant in the Hebrew Bible and is used seven times in this episode. God commits to continue both human and animal life and vows to never again use a second deluge against humanity. The covenant is sealed with the sign of a rainbow, after a storm, as a reminder.
God blesses Noah and his sons using the same language as the priestly source of the Genesis creation narrative, “Be fruitful and increase and fill the earth.” Before the flood, animals and humans coexisted in a realm of peace only knowing a vegetarian diet. After the flood, God maintained that mankind would be in charge over the animals, granting that they may be eaten for food under the condition that their blood be removed. God set these purity rules well before any transaction with Ancient Israel, effectively not confining such precedence solely to the Jewish faith. Human life receives special divine sanction because humanity is in the image of Elohim.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the covenant of the pieces or covenant between the parts was a seminal event in the life of the biblical Patriarch. In this event God revealed himself to Abraham and made a covenant with him (in the site known nowadays as Mount Betarim), in which God announced to Abraham that his descendants would eventually inherit the Land of Israel. This was the first of a series of covenants made between God and the Patriarchs.
The Abrahamic covenant found in Genesis 12-17 is known as the Brit bein HaBetarim, the “Covenant Between the Parts” in Hebrew, and is the basis for brit milah (covenant of circumcision) in Judaism. The covenant was for Abraham and his seed, or offspring, both of natural birth and adoption.
The Ark of the Covenant, also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in the Book of Exodus as containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed. According to some traditional interpretations of the Book of Exodus, Book of Numbers, and the Letter to the Hebrews the Ark also contained Aaron’s rod, a jar of manna and the first Torah scroll as written by Moses; however, the first of the Books of Kings says that at the time of King Solomon, the Ark contained only the two Tablets of the Law. According to the Book of Exodus, the Ark was built at the command of God, in accordance with the instructions given to Moses on Mount Sinai. God was said to have communicated with Moses “from between the two cherubim” on the Ark’s cover.
In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, the Blessed Virgin Mary is sometimes allegorically referred to as the Ark of the Covenant, in that she bore Jesus Christ in similarity to the original tangible contents of the Ark, as cited in the Book of Revelation and (in Roman Catholicism) the Litany of Loreto.
In Judaism, the Seven Laws of Noah, or the Noahide Laws, are a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the “children of Noah” – that is, all of humanity.
According to Judaism, any non-Jew who adheres to these laws is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the World to Come, the final reward of the righteous. Adherents are often called “B’nei Noach” (Children of Noah) or “Noahides,”and may sometimes network in Jewish synagogues.
The Noahide laws comprise the six commandments which were given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, according to the Talmud’s interpretation of Gen 2:16, and a seventh precept, which was added after the Flood of Noah. According to Judaism, the 613 commandments given in the written Torah, as well as their explanations and applications discussed in the oral Torah, are applicable to the Jews only, and non-Jews are bound only to observe the seven Noahide laws.

Later developments

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.
Ishtar was the goddess of love, war, fertility, and sexuality. She was the daughter of Ninurta. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil). Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”.
Astarte (“Astártē”) is the Greek name of the Mesopotamian (i.e. Assyrian, Akkadian, Babylonian) Semitic goddess Ishtar known throughout the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean from the early Bronze Age to Classical times. It is one of a number of names associated with the chief goddess or female divinity of those peoples.
She is found as Ugaritic (ʻṯtrt, “ʻAṯtart” or “ʻAthtart”); in Phoenician as, (ʻštrt, “Ashtart”); in Hebrew (Ashtoret, singular, or Ashtarot, plural); and appears originally in Akkadian as D, the grammatically masculine name of the goddess Ishtar; the form Astartu is used to describe her age. The name appears also in Etruscan as Uni-Astre (Pyrgi Tablets), Ishtar or Ashtart.
Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. She has been known as the deified evening star.
Astarte (Ishtar) was accepted by the Greeks under the name of Aphrodite or, alternatively, Artemis. The island of Cyprus, one of Astarte’s greatest faith centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite’s most common byname.
Other major centers of Astarte’s worship were the Phoenician city states of Sidon, Tyre, and Byblos. Other faith centers were Cythera, Malta, and Eryx in Sicily from which she became known to the Romans as Venus Erycina. A bilingual inscription on the Pyrgi Tablets dating to about 500 BC found near Caere in Etruria equates Astarte with Etruscan Uni-Astre that is, Juno. At Carthage Astarte was worshipped alongside the goddess Tanit.
The Aramean goddess Atargatis (Semitic form ʻAtarʻatah) may originally have been equated with Astarte, but the first element of the name Atargatis appears to be related to the Ugaritic form of Asherah’s name: Athirat.
Attar (also known as Athtar, Astar, and Ashtar) is the god of the morning star in western Semitic mythology. In Canaanite legend, he attempts to usurp the throne of the dead god Baal but proves inadequate. In semi-arid regions of western Asia he was sometimes worshipped as a rain god. His female counterpart is the Phoenician Astarte. In more southerly regions he is probably known as Dhu-Samani.
Attar was worshipped in Southern Arabia in pre-Islamic times. A god of war, he was often referred to as “He who is Bold in Battle”. One of his symbols was the spear-point and the antelope was his sacred animal. He had power over Venus, the morning star, and was believed to provide humankind with water.
In Zoroastrian mythology, Atar is one of the Yazatas and the spirit of fire. He is also called Adar, Atash, Atesh, or Adur. Referred to as “The Son of Ahura Mazda” in the Avesta, he was created to fight the dragon Azhi Dahaka created by Ahriman to destroy the universe. The 9th day of the month and 9th month of the year is named for him in the Zoroastrian calendar.
According to Ugarit tablets however, Atar is the son of El and Aserah, known as The Terrible. In Phoenician lore, he attempted to rule the world for a time after the killing of Baal by Mot but was unsuccessful.
In Southern Arabia, Attar (Athar) is a pre-Islamic god of war, but also a giver of water. He was often referred to as “He who is Bold in Battle.” One of his symbols is the spear-point, and his sacred animal is the antelope. He may be equated with Atter of the northern Semites, the god of war whose planet was Venus and whose female counterpart was Attar. Atter may also be equated with Shahar (Sahar), a moon good of the northern and southern Semites.
ATAR, or Agni, is a Hindu/Persian god, the God of fire and purification. Agni became the god Atar under Zoroasterism, a religion where all the old Vedic Gods found worshippers under new names. Varuna became Ahura Mazda or simply, Ormazd, the ruler of the Persian Gods in Zoroasterism.
Atar possesses the conventional attributes of the Persian Gods. He has superhuman strength (possibly Class 50), stamina, resistance to injury and various skills mystical in nature. He may be able to control fire, but he has yet to demonstrate the full range of his power. According to his worshippers, he could purify objects be eating them. He can also cross between various dimensions because he was supposed to guide the cremated dead to the afterlife.
In Hindu-Persian Myth Agni is the son of Dyaus, the sky-god, and Prithivi, the earth-goddess. Very little is known about his role or his character except he was one of the most important gods of the early Vedic Pantheon. He presided over sacrificial flames and guided the spirits of the cremated dead to the underworld to await their next life. As the Rakshasas led by Ravanna supplanted the Vedic gods, Agni protected the monkey-god Hanuman and led him to safety even as he himself was forced into the role of cook before the demons.
The god Vishnu subsequently led the Vedic gods to conquer the Rakshasas as the Vedic Gods were replaced by the religion of Hinduism.
Atar, however, lost his son, the war-god, Kartikkeya, to Skanda, the son of Shiva, who was god of war in the Hindu Pantheon. Skanda assumed his predecessor’s identity and took over many of his aspects. He is also credited with slaying Azhi Dahaka, one of the Asuras. Guilty for many undefined defiances against the gods, Dahaka was chained to a mountain by Atar.
Asha Vahishta’s association with atar is carried forward in the post-Gathic texts, and they are often mentioned together. In Zoroastrian cosmogony, each of the Amesha Spentas represents one aspect of creation and one of seven primordial elements that in Zoroastrian tradition are the basis of that creation. In this matrix, aša/arta is the origin of fire, Avestan atar, which permeates through all Creation. The correspondence then is that aša/arta “penetrates all ethical life, as fire penetrates all physical being.”
Asha (aša) is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism.” The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.”
The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’. For other connotations, see meaning below.
Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.[a]
The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius» of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”. The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht.
In the Gathas, the oldest texts of Zoroastrianism and thought to have been composed by the prophet himself, it is seldom possible to distinguish between moral principle and the divinity. Later texts consistently use the ‘Best’ epithet when speaking of the Amesha Spenta, only once in the Gathas is ‘best’ an adjective of aša/arta.
Avestan aša and its Vedic equivalent ṛtá both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *ṛtá- “truth”, which in turn continues Proto-Indo-European *h2r-to- “properly joined, right, true”, from the root *h2ar. The word is attested in Old Persian as arta.

Mithra

*Mitra (Proto-Indo-Iranian, nominative *Mitras) was an important Indo-Iranian divinity. Following the prehistoric cultural split of Indo-Aryan and Iranian cultures, names descended from *mitra were used for the following religious entities:

  • Mitra (Vedic) (Sanskrit Mitrá-, Mitráḥ), a deity who appears frequently in the ancient Sanskrit text of the Rigveda
  • Mithra (Avestan Miθra-, Miθrō), a yazata mentioned in the Zoroastrian sacred scripture of the Avesta, whose New Persian equivalent is Mīhr / Mehr
  • Maitreya, a bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure Dharma
  • Mithras, the principal figure of the Greco-Roman religion of Mithraism
  • Mitra (surname), an Indian family name and surname found mostly amongst Bengalis.

Both Vedic Mitra and Avestan Mithra derive from an Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra-, generally reconstructed to have meant “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise.” This meaning is preserved in Avestan miθra “covenant.” In Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages, mitra means “friend,” one of the aspects of binding[disambiguation needed] and alliance
The Indo-Iranian reconstruction is attributed to Christian Bartholomae, and was subsequently refined by A. Meillet (1907), who suggested derivation from the Proto-Indo-European root *mei “to exchange.”
A suggested alternative derivation was *meh “to measure” (Gray 1929). Pokorny (IEW 1959) refined Meillet’s *mei as “to bind.” Combining the root *mei with the “tool suffix” -tra- “that which [causes] …” (also found in man-tra-, “that which causes to think”), then literally means “that which binds,” and thus “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise, oath” etc. Pokorny’s interpretation also supports “to fasten, strengthen”, which may be found in Latin moenia “city wall, fortification”, and in an antonymic form, Old English (ge)maere “border, boundary-post”.
Meillet and Pokorny’s “contract” did however have its detractors. Lentz (1964, 1970) refused to accept abstract “contract” for so exalted a divinity and preferred the more religious “piety.” Because present-day Sanskrit mitra means “friend,” and New Persian mihr means “love” or “friendship,” Gonda (1972, 1973) insisted on a Vedic meaning of “friend, friendship,” not “contract”.
Mitanni (Mi-ta-an-ni, also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) or Hanigalbat (Assyrian Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) was an Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC. Founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing a predominately Hurrian population, Mitanni came to be a regional power after the Hittite destruction of Amorite Babylon and a series of ineffectual Assyrian kings created a power vacuum in Mesopotamia.
Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni exhibit close similarities to Indo-Aryan, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion. In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, the deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya (Ashvins) are invoked.
At the beginning of its history, Mitanni’s major rival was Egypt under the Thutmosids. Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) mentioned the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.
The name Armenian was firstly recorded on an inscription which mentions Armani together with Ebla, from territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC, identified with the Syrian city of Aleppo. To this day the Assyrians still refer to the Armenians by the name Armani. The word is also thought to be related to the Mannaeans and to the biblical Minni.
Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus. The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Armani to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.
However, with the ascent of the Hittite empire, Mitanni and Egypt made an alliance to protect their mutual interests from the threat of Hittite domination. At the height of its power, during the 14th century BC, Mitanni had outposts centered around its capital, Washukanni, whose location has been determined by archaeologists to be on the headwaters of the Khabur River. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.
In the time of Ashur-nirari III (ca. 1200 BC, the beginning Bronze Age collapse), the Phrygians and others invaded and destroyed the Hittite Empire, already weakened by defeats against Assyria. Some parts of Assyrian ruled Hanilgalbat was temporarily lost to the Phrygians also, however the Assyrians defeated the Phrygians and regained these colonies . The Hurrians still held Katmuhu and Paphu. In the transitional period to the Early Iron Age, Mitanni was settled by invading Semitic Aramaean tribes.
Within a few centuries of the fall of Washshukanni to Assyria, Mitanni became fully Assyrianized and linguistically Aramaized, and use of the Hurrian language began to be discouraged throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, Urartean, a dialect closely related to Hurrian seems to have survived in the new state of Urartu, in the mountainous areas to the north. In the 10th to 9th century BC inscriptions of Adad-nirari II and Shalmaneser III, Hanigalbat is still used as a geographical term.
Chaldea or Chaldæa (Akkadian: māt Ḫaldu, Aramaic: Kaldo) was a marshy land located in south eastern Mesopotamia which came to rule Babylon briefly. Tribes of Semitic settlers who arrived in the region from the 10th century BC became known as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees.
Though belonging to the same Semitic ethnic group, they are to be differentiated from the Aramean stock; and the Assyrian king Sennacherib, for example, is careful in his inscriptions to distinguish them. When they came to possess the whole of southern Mesopotamia, the name “Chaldean” became synonymous with “Babylonian”, particularly to the Greeks and Jews.
The language used by the Chaldeans was the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, the same Semitic language, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as Assyrian Akkadian. In late periods both the Babylonian and Assyrian dialects of Akkadian ceased to be spoken, and Aramaic took its place across Mesopotamia, and remains the mother tongue of the Assyrian (also known as Chaldo-Assyrian) Christians of Iraq and its surrounds to this day. One form of this widespread language is used in Daniel and Ezra, but the use of the name “Chaldee” to describe it, first introduced by Jerome, is incorrect and a misnomer.
The origin of the Arameans remains uncertain, with limited mention of Arameans in Mesopotamian inscriptions supplemented by a few descriptive incidents associated with Rebekah from Aram-Naharaim in the book of Genesis in the Bible.
The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (ca. 2300 BC). One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured “Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me” (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains.
Other early references to a place or people of “Aram” have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC). There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between these places, or if the Aramu were actually Arameans; the earliest undisputed mention of Arameans as a people appears in the inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser I (c. 1100 BC).
For the first time, an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) refers to the “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” (Ahlame Armaia) and shortly after, the Ahlamû rapidly disappear from Assyrian annals, to be replaced by the Aramaeans (Aramu, Arimi). “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” would consider the Arameans as an important and in time dominant faction of the Ahlamû tribes, however it is possible that the two peoples had nothing in common, but operated in the same area. It is conceivable that the name “Aramaeans” was a more accurate form of the earlier ethnonym Martu (Amorites, westerners) in the Assyrian tablets.
The Arameans conquered, during the 11th and the 10th centuries, Sam’al (Zenjirli), also known as Yaudi, the region from Arpad to Aleppo which they renamed Bît-Agushi, and Til Barsip, which became the chief town of Bît-Adini, also known as Beth Eden.
At the same time, Arameans moved to the east of the Euphrates, where they settled in such numbers that the whole region became known as Aram-Naharaim or “Aram of the two rivers”. One of their earliest kingdoms in Mesopotamia was Bît-bahiâni (Tell Halaf).
North of Sam’al was the Arameans state of Bit-Gabari, sandwiched between the Neo-Hittite states of Carchemish, Gurgum, Tabal, Khattina and Unqi. Whilst these later states maintained a Neo-Hittite hieroglyphic for official communication, it would seem that the population of these small states was progressively Aramaeanised.
Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence.
It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu.
Scholars such as Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi. Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century B.C. as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term “land of Nairi””.
Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia. Shubria was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia.
Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.
The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.
There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadrezzar II and Nabonidus), Subartu was used as a generic term for Assyria. The term was still current under Cambyses II, who mentions Subarian captives.
In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty.
In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521/0 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.
The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.
Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”, or “Hurrians”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.
Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. The name Mitanni is first found in the “memoirs” of the Syrian wars (ca. 1480 BC) of the official astronomer and clockmaker Amememhet, who returned from the “foreign country called Me-ta-ni” at the time of Thutmose I.
The expedition to the Naharina announced by Thutmosis I at the beginning of his reign may have actually taken place during the long previous reign of Amenhotep I Helck believes that this was the expedition mentioned by Amenhotep II.
Their chief festival was the celebration of the solstice (vishuva) which was common in most cultures in the ancient world. The Mitanni warriors were called marya, the term for warrior in Sanskrit as well; note mišta-nnu (= miẓḍha,~ Sanskrit mīḍha) “payment (for catching a fugitive)”.
The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.
The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites. The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.
Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi. Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix.(Drews:p. 59) He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

The Aryan Homeland

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread to Georgia by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.
The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.
The earliest kurgans occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b). The Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).
The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.
The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.
Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.
Haplogroup J-M267
Haplogroup J-M172
Haplogroup J-P209
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA) – Eupedia
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA) – Eupedia
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Shulaveri-Shomu culture
Kura–Araxes culture
Mitanni
Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni
The Indo-European Elements In Hurrian
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Christianity Indo-Europeans Religion The Fertile Crescent The Story of Man

History of Man: The Germans, the Hindus and the Sumerians

History of Man

The Germans

The term man (from Proto-Germanic *mannaz or *manwaz “man, person”) and words derived from it can designate any or even all of the human race regardless of their sex or age. The word developed into Old English man, mann meaning primarily “adult male human” but secondarily capable of designating a person of unspecified gender, “someone, one” or humanity at large (see also German Mann, Old Norse maðr, Gothic manna “man”). More restricted English terms for an adult male were wer (cognate: Latin vir; survives as the first element in “werewolf”) and guma (cognate: Latin homo; survives as the second element in “bridegroom”).
However, Man in traditional usage refers to the species, to humanity as a whole. Equating the term for the male with the whole species is commonly occurring in other languages (e.g. French l’Homme), particularly in traditional registers, but not uniformly even within language groups.
For example, the German equivalent of “Man” is “Mensch” which is male grammatically (itself a possible expression of the tradition as this is an exception to normal morphology which would have Mensch neuter) but refers to a general person not a male one. The usage persists in all registers of English although it has an old-fashioned tone.
In Old English the words wer and wīf (and wīfmann) were used to refer to “a man” and “a woman” respectively, while mann had the primary meaning of “adult male human” but could also be used for gender neutral purposes (as is the case with modern German man, corresponding to the pronoun in the English utterance “one does what one must”).
In the late twentieth century, the generic meaning of “man” declined (but is also continued in compounds “mankind”, “everyman”, “no-man”, etc.). The same thing has happened to the Latin word homo: in most of the Romance languages, homme, uomo, om, hombre, homem have come to refer mainly to males, with a residual generic meaning.
*Mannaz or *Manwaz is also the Proto-Germanic reconstructed name of the m-rune ᛗ. It is derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *man- (see Sanskrit/Avestan manu-, Slavic mǫž “man, male”). In Hindu mythology, Manu is a title accorded the progenitor of humankind. The Slavic forms (Russian muzh “man, male” etc.) are derived from a suffixed stem *man-gyo-. *Manus in Indo-European mythology was the first man, see Mannus, Manu (Hinduism).
Mannus is a Germanic mythological figure attested by the 1st century AD Roman historian Tacitus in his work Germania. According to Tacitus, Mannus is the son of Tuisto and the progenitor of the three Germanic tribes Ingaevones, Herminones and Istvaeones.
The names of the three sons of Mannus can be extrapolated as Ingui, Irmin, and Istaev aka Iscio. In the Eddas we find the name Yngvi applied to the god FreyR, while the same source lists Jormun (the Old Norse cognate of Irmin) as a byname of Odin’s. Widukind of Corvey further identifies the deity associated with the Saxon Irminsul as Hermin, that is, Hermes, but worshipped as Mars.
Tacitus (Germania, chapter 2): “In ancient lays, their only type of historical tradition, they celebrate Tuisto, a god brought forth from the earth. They attribute to him a son, Mannus, the source and founder of their people, and to Mannus three sons, from whose names those nearest the Ocean are called Ingvaeones, those in the middle Herminones, and the rest Isvaeones. Some people, inasmuch as antiquity gives free rein to speculation, maintain that there were more sons born from the god and hence more tribal designations—Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii—and that those names are genuine and ancient.”
The name of this deity or mythological ancestor means human or man (i.e. Homo sapiens). It is thought to stem from the same root as the name of the figure Manu in Hindu tradition, who is held to be the progenitor of humanity, first holy king to rule this earth who saves mankind, the Vedas and the priesthood from the universal flood.
In the Eddas, Mannus seems to most closely resemble Heimdall (World’s Brightness). In the opening passage of the Voluspa, men are referred to as being Heimdall’s kin, while in the poem Rigsthula he is shown uniting each of the hierarchal ranks in siblinghood. Furthermore, while Mannus is remembered as being the father of both Odin and Frey, Heimdall is remembered as being one of the Aesir, but also to have qualities directly linked to the Vanir and to exist in a close paternal relationship to Freyja.
In Eddaic Creation, Mannus occupies the same stead as Borr, ie. a god (Tuisto, Buri), begets a god (Mannus, Borr), begets a trio of brother gods (Ing-Irmin-Istaev, Odin-Vili-Ve).

The Hindus

Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent, particularly of India and Nepal. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Smartism among numerous other traditions. Among other practices and philosophies, Hinduism includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of “daily morality” based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a categorisation of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs.
Hinduism consists of many diverse traditions and has no single founder. Among its direct roots is the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India. As such, Hinduism is often called the “oldest living religion” or the “oldest living major religion” in the world. Since Vedic times, a process of Sanskritization has been taking place, in which “people from many strata of society throughout the subcontinent tended to adapt their religious and social life to Brahmanic norms”.
Hindu texts are classified into Śruti (“revealed”) and Smriti (“remembered”). These texts discuss theology, philosophy, mythology, Vedic yajna and agamic rituals and temple building, among other topics. Major scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, Manusmriti, Bhagavad Gita and Agamas.
The earliest evidence for prehistoric religion in India date back to the late Neolithic in the early Harappan period (5500–2600 BCE). The beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era (1500–500 BCE) are called the “historical Vedic religion”.
The Vedic religion is an off-shoot from the Proto-Indo-European religion. The oldest Veda is the Rigveda, dated to 1700 – 4000 BCE or older. The Vedas centre on the worship of deities such as Indra, Varuna and Agni, and on the Soma ritual. Fire-sacrifices, called yajña are performed by chanting Vedic mantras but no temples or idols are known.
Vishnu is a popular Hindu deity and is portrayed as Supreme Being in Vaishnavism and as Purushottama or Supreme Purusha in ancient sacred texts like the Bhagavad Gita. Vishnu is also known as Narayana and Hari.
The Vishnu Sahasranama declares Vishnu as Paramatman (supreme soul) and Parameshwara (supreme God). It describes Vishnu as the all-pervading essence of all beings, the master of—and beyond—the past, present and future, the creator and destroyer of all existences, one who supports, preserves, sustains and governs the universe and originates and develops all elements within.
Vishnu is also venerated as Mukunda, which means Supreme God who is the giver of mukti or moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirths) to his devotees or the worthy ones who deserve salvation from the material world.
The Trimurti (three forms) is a concept in Hinduism “in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer or preserver, and Shiva the destroyer or transformer.” These three deities have also been called “the Hindu triad” or the “Great Trinity”, all having the same meaning of three in One. Of the three members of the Trimurti, the Bhagavata Purana, which espouses the Vaishnavite viewpoint, claims that the greatest benefit can be had from worshipping Vishnu.
In some Hindu traditions, Manu is a title accorded to a progenitor of humanity. The current period is ruled by the 7th Manu called the Vaivasvata Manu, the son of Vivasvân and his wife Sanjnâ. Vaivasvata Manu, who ruled as King Manu, is considered the first king to rule this earth. His wife was Sraddha. Because Manu was believed to be absolutely honest, he was initially known as Satyavrata (“One with the oath of truth”).
According to tradition, Manava Grihyasutra, Manava Sulbasutra and Manava Dharmashastra (Manusmriti or rules of Manu) texts are ascribed to Svayambhuva Manu. Manusmriti is considered by some Hindus to be the law laid down for Hindus and is seen as the most important and earliest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism.
At the same time it is a Smriti, so whenever there is a conflict between what is mentioned in it and that mentioned in sruti (Vedas and Upanishads) the latter is considered to be correct as it holds higher spiritual authority.
In Theosophy, the “Vaivasvatu Manu” is one of the most important beings at the highest levels of Initiation of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, along with Sanat Kumara, Gautama Buddha, Maitreya, the Maha Chohan, and Djwal Khul. According to Theosophy, each root race has its own Manu which physically incarnates in an advanced body of an individual of the old root race and physically progenerates with a suitable female partner the first individuals of the new root race.

The Deluge

The Deluge Myth is a common theme in mythologies all over the Mediterranean, the Near East, and Pacific Asia, and India is no exception. The story is mentioned in early Hindu scriptures such as the Satapatha Brahmana, belonging to the latest part of the Brahmana period of Vedic Sanskrit (i.e. roughly the 8th to 6th centuries BC, Iron Age India, and it has often been compared with the popular traditions of a Great Deluge from other cultures around the world, particularly that of Noah’s Ark.
Vaivasvata Manu is considered the one saved humanity from the great flood – after being warned of it by the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, who had also advised him to build a giant boat. According to the Matsya Purana, a composite work dated to c. 250–500 CE., the Matsya Avatar of Vishnu is believed to have appeared initially as a Shaphari (a small carp), to King Manu, the then King of Kumari Kandam, while he washed his hands in a river. This river was supposed to have been flowing down the Malaya Mountains in his land of Dravida.
The little Fish approached him and swam into his hands. Its name was Matsya, and though Manu didn’t realize this, it was an avatar of Vishnu. The fish asks Manu to protect him from the larger fish that want to eat him, and promises to save his protector from a predicted flood. Out of compassion, Manu put it in a water jar, and once it’s large enough to survive on its own, he releases back into the ocean.
It kept growing bigger and bigger, until King Manu first put Him in a bigger pitcher, and then deposited Him in a well. When the well also proved insufficient for the ever-growing Fish, the King placed Him in a tank (reservoir), that was two yojanas (16 miles) in height above the surface and on land, as much in length, and a yojana (8 miles) in breadth. As it grew further King Manu had to put the fish in a river, and when even the river proved insufficient he placed it in the ocean, after which it nearly filled the vast expanse of the great ocean.
It was then that He (Lord Matsya), revealing Himself, informed the King of an all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. Manu built a huge boat which housed his family, 9 types of seeds, and animals to repopulate the earth, after the deluge would end and the oceans and seas would recede. At the time of deluge, Vishnu appeared as a horned fish and Shesha appeared as a rope, with which Manu fastened the boat to horn of the fish for protection against the rising waters and waves. The fish took Manu to a mountaintop, where he chilled out until the flood ended, when he strolled back down to earth to begin the task of repopulating humanity.
According to the Matsya Purana, his boat was perched after the deluge on the top of the Malaya Mountains This narrative is to an extent similar to other deluge stories, like those of Utnapishtim from ancient Sumerian Mythology, and the story of Noah’s ark from the Bible and the Qur’an.
The southern bank of river Gundar, 12 kms off Aruppukkottai, a town and a municipality in Virudhunagar district in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, hides history which dates back to the microlithic age, roughly 4,000 years ago. In the village Thiruchuli by the river bank there is a 7 century A.D Shiva temple. It is one among the 14 sanctified Shaiva temples in the Pandya country boasting of a garbhagriha, arthamandapam, mahamandapam and a sabha mandapam.
Thirumeninathaswamy alias Boominatha Swamy with his consort Thunai Malai Amman was enshrined in this well patronized temple of the past. According to a legend, a deluge occurred at the end of Dwapara Yuga. The king prayed to the Almighty to save his country. Answering his prayers, the God made a hole with his trident that sucked away the flood, hence the name Thiruchuli.
As a record, on the north of Thirumeninathar temple is another Shiva shrine known as Pralaya Vindangar. Vanamaiyan Kuthiraikarai Kattiya Thumbichi Nayak (1562-1573 AD) had constructed the shrine for Lord Pralaya Vindangar. A big tank named ‘Kavvai kadal’ is situated in front of the temple. It had the privilege of being mentioned by Sundaramoorthy Nayanar in his Thevaram hymns as ‘Oli punari.’
Namma Madurai: The birth place of a modern saint and a 7th century temple make Thiruchuli famous

The Sumerians

Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic, thereby accepting the existence of many different deities, both male and female, though it was also henotheistic, with certain gods being viewed as superior to others by their specific devotees. These devotees were often from a particular city or city-state that held that deity as its patron deity, for instance the god Enki was often associated with the city of Eridu, and the god Marduk was associated with Babylon.
Eridu, which in Sumerian mythology, is said to be one of the five cities built before the Deluge occurred, appears to be the earliest settlement in the region, founded ca. 5400 BC, close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates River. Because of accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq.
Enki is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer).
It is, however, as the third figure in the triad (the two other members of which were Anu, a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions, and Enlil,the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets ) that Enki acquires his permanent place in the pantheon. To him was assigned the control of the watery element, and in this capacity he becomes the shar apsi; i.e. king of the Apsu or “the deep”.
Enki and later Ea were apparently depicted, sometimes, like Adam, as a man covered with the skin of a fish, and this representation, as likewise the name of his main temple E-apsu, “house of the watery deep” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters””), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu, points decidedly to his original character as a god of the waters (see Oannes). Around the excavation of the 18 shrines found on the spot, thousands of carp bones were found, consumed possibly in feasts to the god.
Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, very similar to the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp. His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.
Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.
Of his cult at Eridu, which goes back to the oldest period of Mesopotamian history, nothing definite is known except that his temple was also associated with Ninhursag’s temple which was called Esaggila, “the lofty head house” (E, house, sag, head, ila, high; or Akkadian goddess = Ila), a name shared with Marduk’s temple in Babylon, pointing to a staged tower or ziggurat (as with the temple of Enlil at Nippur, which was known as E-kur (kur, hill)), and that incantations, involving ceremonial rites in which water as a sacred element played a prominent part, formed a feature of his worship.
This seems also implicated in the epic of the hieros gamos or sacred marriage of Enki and Ninhursag, which seems an etiological myth of the fertilisation of the dry ground by the coming of irrigation water (from Sumerian a, ab, water or semen).
The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread from there throughout the Middle East. It is believed to remain today as the sacred pool at Mosques, or as the holy water font in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.
A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.
Myths in which Ea figures prominently have been found in Assurbanipal’s library, and in the Hattusas archive in Hittite Anatolia. As Ea, Enki had a wide influence outside of Sumer, being equated with El (at Ugarit) and possibly Yah (at Ebla) in the Canaanite ‘ilhm pantheon, he is also found in Hurrian and Hittite mythology, as a god of contracts, and is particularly favourable to humankind.
The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.
The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.
Enki and later Ea were apparently depicted, sometimes, like Adam, as a man covered with the skin of a fish, and this representation, as likewise the name of his temple E-apsu, “house of the watery deep”, points decidedly to his original character as a god of the waters (see Oannes). Around the excavation of the 18 shrines found on the spot, thousands of carp bones were found, consumed possibly in feasts to the god.
In Sumerian mythology, a me (Sumerian, conventionally pronounced [mɛ]) or ñe [ŋɛ] or parşu (Akkadian, [parsˤu]) is one of the decrees of the gods foundational to those social institutions, religious practices, technologies, behaviors, mores, and human conditions that make civilization, as the Sumerians understood it, possible. They are fundamental to the Sumerian understanding of the relationship between humanity and the gods.
The mes were originally collected by Enlil and then handed over to the guardianship of Enki who was to broker them out to the various Sumerian centers beginning with his own city of Eridu and continuing with Ur, an important Sumerian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia, Meluhha, identified with the Harappan Civilization on the basis of the extensive evidence of trading contacts between Sumer and this region, and Dilmun, a Persian Gulf civilization which traded with Mesopotamian civilizations, the current scholarly consensus is that Dilmun encompassed Bahrain, Failaka, Kuwait and the adjacent eastern Arabia coast in the Persian Gulf. This is described in the poem, “Enki and the World Order” which also details how he parcels out responsibility for various crafts and natural phenomena to the lesser gods.
After six generations of Gods, in the Babylonian “Enuma Elish”, in the seventh generation, (Akkadian “shapattu” or sabath), the younger Igigi Gods, the sons and daughters of Enlil and Ninlil, go on strike and refuse their duties of keeping the creation working. Abzu God of fresh water, co-creator of the cosmos, threatens to destroy the world with his waters, and the Gods gather in terror.
Enki promises to help and puts Abzu to sleep, confining him in irrigation canals and places him in the Kur, beneath his city of Eridu. But then, with the universe still threatened, Tiamat, with the imprisonment of her husband and consort Abzu and at the prompting of her son and vizier Kingu, decides to take back the creation herself.
The Gods gather again in terror and turn to Enki for help, but Enki who harnessed Abzu, Tiamat’s consort, for irrigation refuses to get involved. The gods then seek help elsewhere, and the patriarchal Enlil, their father, God of Nippur, promises to solve the problem if they make him King of the Gods. In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur.
After dispatching Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat (similar in some respects to how Elohim moves his breath (ruach) over the “face of the deep” or “Tehom”, in Genesis 1:2) and reconstructing the heavens with the arch of her ribs (i.e. her “life”), Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.
But there is still the problem of “who will keep the cosmos working”. Enki, who might have otherwise come to their aid, is lying in a deep sleep and fails to hear their cries. His mother Nammu (creatrix also of Abzu and Tiamat) “brings the tears of the gods” before Enki and says: Oh my son, arise from thy bed, from thy (slumber), work what is wise, Fashion servants for the Gods, may they produce their (bread?).
Enki then advises that they create a servant of the Gods, humankind, out of clay and blood. Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu, and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa. Enki assembles a team of divinities to help him, creating a host of “good and princely fashioners”.
Adapa, the first man fashioned, later goes and acts as the advisor to the King of Eridu, when in the Sumerian Kinglist, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu”.
Adapa, the first of the Mesopotamian seven sages, was a mythical figure who unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. The story is first attested in the Kassite period (14th century BC), in fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna, and from Assur, of the late second millennium BC.
Mesopotamian myth tells of seven antediluvian sages, who were sent by Ea, the wise god of Eridu, to bring the arts of civilisation to humankind. The first of these, Adapa, also known as Uan, the name given as Oannes by Berossus, introduced the practice of the correct rites of religious observance as priest of the E’Apsu temple, at Eridu.
The sages are described in Mesopotamian literature as ‘pure parādu-fish, probably carp, whose bones are found associated with the earliest shrine, and still kept as a holy duty in the precincts of Near Eastern mosques and monasteries.
The word Abgallu, sage (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = man, Sumerian) survived into Nabatean times, around the time of Christ, as apkallum, used to describe the profession of a certain kind of priest.
Adapa as a fisherman was iconographically portrayed as a fish-man composite. He was a mortal man from a godly lineage, a son of Ea (Enki in Sumerian), the god of wisdom and of the ancient city of Eridu, who brought the arts of civilization to that city (from Dilmun, according to some versions).
Adapa broke the wings of Ninlil the South Wind, who had overturned his fishing boat, and was called to account before Anu. Ea, his patron god, warned him to apologize humbly for his actions, but not to partake of food or drink while he was in heaven, as it would be the food of death. Anu, impressed by Adapa’s sincerity, offered instead the food of immortality, but Adapa heeded Ea’s advice, refused, and thus missed the chance for immortality that would have been his.
Vague parallels can be drawn to the story of Genesis, where Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden by Yahweh, after they ate from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus gaining death. Parallels are also apparent (to an even greater degree) with the story of Persephone visiting Hades, who was warned to take nothing from that kingdom. Stephanie Galley writes “From Erra and Ishum” we know that all the sages were banished … because they angered the gods, and went back to the Apsu, where Ea lived, and … the story … ended with Adapa’s banishment” p. 182.
Adapa is often identified as advisor to the mythical first (antediluvian) king of Eridu, Alulim. In addition to his advisory duties, he served as a priest and exorcist, and upon his death took his place among the Seven Sages or Apkallū. (Apkallu, “sage”, comes from Sumerian AB.GAL.LU (Ab=water, Gal=Great Lu=Man) a reference to Adapa, the first sage’s association with water.)
Oannes was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BCE to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man. He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences.
The name “Oannes” was once conjectured to be derived from that of the ancient Babylonian god Ea, but it is now known that the name is the Greek form of the Babylonian Uanna (or Uan) a name used for Adapa in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Assyrian texts attempt to connect the word to the Akkadian for a craftsman ummanu but this is merely a pun.
Iosif Shklovsky and Carl Sagan cited tales of Oannes as deserving closer scrutiny as a possible instance of paleocontact due to its consistency and detail.

The Deluge

According to Sumerian mythology, Enki also assisted humanity to survive the Deluge designed to kill them. In the later Legend of Atrahasis, Enlil, the king of the gods, sets out to eliminate humanity, whose noise is disturbing his rest. He successively sends drought, famine and plague to eliminate humanity, but Enki thwarts his half-brother’s plans by teaching Atrahasis how to counter these threats. Each time, Atrahasis asks the population to abandon worship of all gods, except the one responsible for the calamity, and this seems to shame them into relenting.
Humans, however, proliferate a fourth time. Enraged, Enlil convenes a Council of Deities and gets them to promise not to tell humankind that he plans their total annihilation. Enki does not tell Atrahasis directly, but speaks to him in secret via a reed wall. He instructs Atrahasis to build a boat in order to rescue his family and other living creatures from the coming deluge.
After the seven-day Deluge, the flood hero frees a swallow, a raven and a dove in an effort to find if the flood waters have receded. Upon landing, a sacrifice is made to the gods. Enlil is angry his will has been thwarted yet again, and Enki is named as the culprit. Enki explains that Enlil is unfair to punish the guiltless, and the gods institute measures to ensure that humanity does not become too populous in the future. This is one of the oldest of the surviving Middle Eastern Deluge myths.
The earliest record of the Sumerian creation and flood is found on a single fragmentary tablet excavated in Nippur, sometimes called the Eridu Genesis. It is written in the Sumerian language and dated to around 1600 BC during the first Babylonian dynasty, where the language of writing and administration was still Sumerian. Other Sumerian creation myths from around this date are called the Barton Cylinder, the Debate between sheep and grain and the Debate between Winter and Summer, also found at Nippur.
The Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from Mesopotamia, is amongst the earliest surviving works of literature. The literary history of Gilgamesh begins with five independent Sumerian poems about ‘Bilgamesh’ (Sumerian for Gilgamesh), king of Uruk. Four of these were used as source material for a combined epic in Akkadian. This first combined epic, known as the “Old Babylonian” version, dates to the 18th century BC and is titled after its incipit, Shūtur eli sharrī (“Surpassing All Other Kings”).
Atra-Hasis (“exceedingly wise”) is the protagonist of an 18th century BC Akkadian epic recorded in various versions on clay tablets. The Atra-Hasis tablets include both a creation myth and a flood account, which is one of three surviving Babylonian deluge stories. The name “Atra-Hasis” also appears on one of the Sumerian king lists as king of Shuruppak in the times before a flood.
Two flood myths with many similarities to the Sumerian story are the Utnapishtim episode in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Genesis flood narrative found in the Bible. The ancient Greeks have two very similar floods legends they are the Deucalion and The great Flood in Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid.
In the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension, Ziusudra, or Zin-Suddu of Shuruppak is recorded as having reigned as both king and gudug priest for 10 sars, or periods of 3,600. In this version, Ziusudra inherited rulership from his father Šuruppak (written SU.KUR.LAM) who ruled for 10 sars. The line following Ziusudra in WB-62 reads: Then the flood swept over. The next line reads: After the flood swept over, kingship descended from heaven; the kingship was in Kish.
The city of Kish flourished in the Early Dynastic period soon after an archaeologically attested river flood in Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq) and various other Sumerian cities. This flood has been radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BCE. Polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3000–2900 BCE) was discovered immediately below the Shuruppak flood stratum, and the Jemdet Nasr period immediately preceded the Early Dynastic I period.
The significance of Ziusudra’s name appearing on the WB-62 king list is that it links the flood mentioned in the three surviving Babylonian deluge epics of Ziusudra (Eridu Genesis), Utnapishtim (Epic of Gilgamesh), and Atrahasis (Epic of Atrahasis) to river flood sediments in Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish et al. that have been radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BC. This has led some scholars to conclude that the flood hero was king of Shuruppak at the end of the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3000–2900) which ended with the river flood of 2900 BC.
Ziusudra being a king from Shuruppak is supported by the Gilgamesh XI tablet (see below) making reference to Utnapishtim (Akkadian translation of the Sumerian name Ziusudra) with the epithet “man of Shuruppak” at line 23.
A Sumerian document known as The Instructions of Shuruppak dated by Kramer to about 2500 BC, refers in a later version to Ziusudra. Kramer concluded that “Ziusudra had become a venerable figure in literary tradition by the middle of the third millennium BC.”

The Deluge – In Greece

Greek mythology describes three floods, the flood of Ogyges, the flood of Deucalion, and the flood of Dardanus. Two of the Greek Ages of Man concluded with a flood: The Ogygian Deluge ended the Silver Age, and the flood of Deucalion ended the First Bronze Age (Heroic age). In addition to these floods, Greek mythology says the world was also periodically destroyed by fire.
In Greek mythology, Deucalion was a son of Prometheus; ancient sources name his mother as Clymene, Hesione, or Pronoia. The Deucalion legend as told by the Bibliotheca has some similarity to other deluge myths such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the story of Noah’s Ark.
According to the Theogony of the Bibliotheca, Prometheus moulded men out of water and earth and gave them fire which, unknown to Zeus, he had hidden in a stalk of fennel. When Zeus learned of it, he ordered Hephaestus to nail Prometheus to Mount Caucasus, a Scythian mountain.
Prometheus was nailed to the mountain and kept bound for many years. Every day an eagle swooped on him and devoured the lobes of his liver, which grew by night. That was the penalty that Prometheus paid for the theft of fire until Hercules afterwards released him.
Prometheus had a son Deucalion. He, reigning in the regions about Phthia, married Pyrrha, the daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora, the first woman fashioned by the gods.
The anger of Zeus was ignited by the hubris of the Pelasgians, so he decided to put an end to the Bronze Age. Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus, who was appalled by this savage offering. Zeus unleashed a deluge, so that the rivers ran in torrents and the sea flooded the coastal plain, engulfed the foothills with spray, and washed everything clean.
Deucalion, with the aid of his father, the titan Prometheus, who advised his son Deucalion to build a chest, was saved from this deluge by building a chest (that is, a “box”). Like the Biblical Noah and the Mesopotamian counterpart Utnapishtim, he uses his device to survive the deluge with his wife, Pyrrha. Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, after floating in the chest for nine days and nights, landed on Parnassus.
All other men perished except for a few who escaped to high mountains. The mountains in Thessaly were parted, and all the world beyond the Isthmus and Peloponnese was overwhelmed. An older version of the story told by Hellanicus has Deucalion’s “ark” landing on Mount Othrys in Thessaly. Another account has him landing on a peak, probably Phouka, in Argolis, later called Nemea.
When the rains ceased, he sacrificed to Zeus. Then, at the bidding of Zeus, he threw stones behind him, and they became men, and the stones Pyrrha threw became women.
The Bibliotheca gives this as an etymology for Greek Laos “people” as derived from laas “stone”. The Megarians told that Megarus, son of Zeus and a Sithnid nymph, escaped Deucalion’s flood by swimming to the top of Mount Gerania, guided by the cries of cranes.
For some time during the Middle Ages, many European Christian scholars continued to accept Greek mythical history at face value, thus asserting that Deucalion’s flood was a regional flood, that occurred a few centuries later than the global one survived by Noah’s family.
On the basis of the archaeological stele known as the Parian Chronicle, Deucalion’s Flood was usually fixed as occurring sometime around c. 1528 BC. Deucalion’s flood may be dated in the chronology of Saint Jerome to c. 1460 BC. According to Augustine of Hippo (City of God XVIII,8,10,&11), Deucalion and his father Prometheus were contemporaries of Moses. According to Clement of Alexandria in his Stromata, “…in the time of Crotopus occurred the burning of Phaethon, and the deluges of Deucalion.”
The flood of Dardanus has the same basic story line. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Dardanus left Pheneus in Arcadia to colonize a land in the North-East Aegean Sea. When the Dardanus’ deluge occurred, the land was flooded and the mountain where he and his family survived formed the island of Samothrace.
Dardanus left Samothrace on an inflated skin to the opposite shores of Asia Minor and settled on Mount Ida. Due to the fear of another flood, they refrained from building a city and lived in the open for fifty years. His grandson Tros eventually moved from the highlands down to a large plain, on a hill that had many rivers flowing down from Ida above. There he built a city, which was named Troy after him.