- 1 month ago
A quick look at: Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility and rain, whom is known at Ugarit as “the Rider of Clouds” -which is where this artifact of him was found.
Baal is actually a title meaning master or lord. There was a large number of local Baals, such as Baal-hamon (Cant 8:11), Baal-gad (Josh 11:17), and Baal-zephon (Exod 14:2).
Of these Baals was the “Great Baal,” or “the Rider of Clouds.” Baal was the son of El (the Father of the gods) and brother of Yam-Nahar (god of the rivers and seas). He is a fertility god, who represents the beneficial aspects of water as rain. Baal worship likely included a number of rituals, such as a ritual dance which involved participants limping around the altar (1 Kgs 18:26).
According to Ugaritic texts there were two stories which played a particularly significant role in shaping Canaanite thought about Baal:
These were the stories of Baal and Yamm, the Sea, and Baal and Mot, Death. In these accounts Baal is featured as a god who faced extremely powerful destructive forces, confronted the challenge at hand, appeared to be near defeat at the heart of the confrontation, but in the end emerged victorious.
The story of Baal’s encounter with the dragon, Yamm, highlights Baal’s role as a god who confronted and defeated the monster who was the source of chaos. […] The story of Baal’s encounter with Mot, Death, highlights Baal’s role as a god of fertility. The story features the cycle the Canaanites believed Baal passed through each year. In the encounter Baal was defeated by Mot, sent to the underworld -the realm of the dead- and eventually reappeared victorious over Mot. (Mills & Bullard 1990)
The shown artifact is courtesy & currently located at the Louvre, France. Bronze, dates to the 14th-12th centuries BCE, and was found in Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit). Photo taken by Jastrow. When writing up this post the Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (1990) by Watson E. Mills & Roger Aubrey Bullard was of great use.
- 2 months ago
The Temple of Seti I at Abydos, Egypt.
This temple consists of seven sanctuaries lined up in a row, each of which are dedicated to a different deity (the southernmost of these honours 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Seti I himself). The purpose for the construction of this building was to act as a funerary shrine for Seti I, as confirmed by the name of the building: "The house of millions of years of the King Men-Ma’at-Re [Seti I], who is contented at Abydos." Although he was actually buried in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes, Seti followed the royal tradition of constructing a second funerary complex at Abydos -the cult centre of the Egyptian god Osiris.
The bas-reliefs of this temple are some of the best persevered from ancient Egypt, and many retain the original paint work. A classical, traditional style is evoked by the raised relief decoration carved under Seti I on fine white limestone.
From north to south, the temple is dedicated to the following Egyptian deities: Horus, Isis, Osiris, Amen-Re, Re-Horakhty, and Ptah. Seti restoring the worship of the traditional gods of Egypt after the Amarna period could explain this combined dedication. The aftermath of the Amarna period is also reflected in the "king’s gallery". This is a rather selective list of legitimate pharaohs from Egyptian history, with the names of Akhenaten, Smenkhkare and Tutankhamen excluded -as though erasing their reigns from recorded history.
The first photo was taken by Irene Soto, and the rest by Kyera Giannini, all courtesy the New York University Institute for the Study of the Ancient World via Flickr. When writing up this post, Kathryn A. Bard’s Encyclopaedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt (2005) was of use.
- 2 months ago
The Babylonian king Hammurabi, as shown standing next to Mesopotamian deity Shamash on the Law Code of Hammurabi. This scene portrays the king receiving his investiture.
Following the collapse of the Third Dynasty of Ur around 2000 BC, Mesopotamia was split into a number of small city states. Of these was Babylon, which rose to importance for the first time under Amorite ruler Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).
For the first twenty-eight years of his reign, Hammurabi governed his small kingdom and built up alliances. From 1764 he defeated the king of Elam in south-western Iran, and during the next two years conquered the most powerful states to the south and west. Finally, in 1761, he turned his attention to Upper Mesopotamia and his former ally Mari.
During the last ten years of his reign Hammurabi concentrated on the administration of his huge empire. After his death in 1750 BC his empire fragmented, and in 1595 BC Babylon was captured by the Hittites from central Turkey.
One particularly notable archaeological find dating from his reign is the Law Code of Hammurabi (see the full artifact here). This stele was erected by Hammurabi during the 18th century BC, dates back earlier than even the Biblical laws, and is the most complete legal compendium of Antiquity. This remarkable artifact is significant not just for its legal content, but also for what light it sheds on the economy, religion, society, and history of this period.
Here are some examples of the laws (Harper translation):
- 14. If a man steal a man’s son, who is a minor, he shall be put to death.
- 54. If he be not able to restore the grain, they shall sell him and his goods, and the farmer whose grain the water has carried away shall share (the results of the sale).
- 127. If a man point the finger at a priestess or the wife of another and cannot justify it, they shall drag that man before the judges and they shall brand his forehead.
- 173. If that woman bear children to her later husband into whose house she has entered and later on that woman die, the former and the later children shall divide her dowry.
- 240. If a boat under way strike a ferryboat (or, boat at anchor), and sink it, the owner of the boat whose boat was sunk shall make declaration in the presence of god of everything that was lost in his boat and (the owner) of (the vessel) under way which sank the ferryboat shall replace his boat and whatever was lost.
- 282. If a male slave say to his master: “Thou art not my master,” his master shall prove him to be his slave and shall cut off his ear.
- 2 months ago
Ceramic Lion Vessels (photos 1 & 3), and a Grotesque Ceramic Lion (2nd photo). The Temple at Nuzi. Yorghan Tepe, Stratum II, Temple A.
The Temple at Nuzi was rebuilt six times after its initial construction at the beginning of the second millennium BC. The excavators gave each of these reconstructions a letter designation from A to G. […] Temple A, the latest temple in the sequence, was ransacked and destroyed with the rest of Stratum II in the 14th century BC.
Courtesy & currently located at the Semitic Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Photos taken by B. Kelly.
- 2 months ago
- 2 months ago
A 35,000-year-old piece of carved bone found on Timor, an island between Java and Papua New Guinea, indicates that complex hunting weapons were manufactured much earlier than previously thought in Australasia.
A team led by archaeologist Sue O’Connor of Australian National University in Canberra has unearthed, in a project that began in 2000, what it regards as the broken butt of a bone harpoon point. Three closely spaced notches were carved on each side of the artifact, above a shaft that tapers to a rounded bottom. Read more.
- 2 months ago
I’m hard at work today on a pretty awesome if-I-do-say-so-myself script for the YouTubes, and I learned something neat. As you probably already know, at least if you’ve ever looked at a periodic table, Iron gets its symbol Fe from its Latin name “ferrum”. That’s not what I learned.
But what you might not know (I didn’t) is that “iron” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word which definition traces back to “holy metal”. Why? Because the earliest samples of pure iron collected by ancient humans, Egyptian beads dating back to 3500 BC, were collected directly from meteorites.
It’s only natural that they viewed this metal as a gift from the gods!
(image of meteoric iron via Wikipedia)
- 2 months ago
A quick look at: Gezer, one of the main Canaanite cities of pre-Israelite Palestine.
First of all, a little historical context:
During the Middle Bronze Age, ca. 2000-1500 B.C.E., Gezer grew into one of the most massively fortified Canaanite sites in Palestine. […] This period was brought to an end ca. 1482 B.C.E. in a violent destruction, no doubt to be attributed to Pharaoh Thutmosis III. […] A decline in the 13th century B.C.E. was followed by a localized destruction, probably the work of Pharaoh Merneptah […] According to both archaeology and the Biblical tradition (cf. Josh 10:31-33) Gezer was not destroyed in the Israelite conquest. There are at least five levels on the summit that reflects continued Canaanite occupation, plus incursions of Philistines, in the 12th and 11th centuries B.C.E.W. Mills, R. Bullard, Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, Mercer University Press, 1990.
The Standing Stones at Gezer are shown in the first image. The meaning and function of these stones are debated; popular explanations include the suggestions that they represented other cities who owed tribute to Gezer or represented Canaanite deities. In the third photo is the six-chambered gate at Tel Gezer -the fortification of Gezer has been attributed to Solomon in biblical texts.
Shown in the second photo is a reproduction of the Gezer calendar. Discovered in 1908, this calendar is one of the oldest surviving Hebrew texts, and provides us with key information about the ancient Israel agricultural cycle. Scholars have suggested that this calendar could have been a schoolboy’s memory exercise, or the text of a popular children’s/ folk song. The calendar reads the following (via: Michael D. Coogan, A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament, Oxford University Press, 2009):
- Two months gathering (September, October)
- Two months planting (November, December)
- Two months late sowing (January, February)
- One month cutting flax (March)
- One month reaping barley (April)
- One month reaping and measuring grain (May)
- Two months pruning (June, July)
- One month summer fruit (August)
The original tablet is currently displayed at the Museum of the Ancient Orient, Turkey.
Photos courtesy & taken by Ian Scott.