Dolmen, long barrow, passage grave, wedge tomb,
They think that the dolmen and the long-barrow can be dated from ca 4000 BC onward. The dolmen consists usually of three stones with a big stone as roof. Since they have found bones in the middle they think the purpose was to be a place where they left the corpse and let nature do the rest.
Megalith Age, god-table, bear game, aesir, vanir, Three Maiden. Malta, calendar, cupmark, petroglyphs, crossed circle, dolmen, long barrow, passage grave, cultivators' law, Isis dagger, double axe, Inanna, resurrection, Animal Round, Eridu, Abzu, Enki,Part 1 standing stones … Introduction, Standing stone, Ansur, Stone row, Stony circle, Carnac, Danish stone rows, Gavrinis, The Vi, Cultural stones
Part 2 |4th millennium ideas | Dolmen and long barrow | Passage grave | Ground grooves | Wedge tomb/slab cist | Mound | Stony ship | Small stone ship | Inanna myth | Survey calendar | indexST| indexTE| home | Part 3 Doom ring - thing …Doom ring, Stones in Exodus, Altarstone, Footstool, Thingstone Part 4 Olympos of Nordal | Links to: Inanna myth | Isis myth | Myth of resurrection
Dolmen and long barrow
Dolmen at Haga Bohuslaen Sweden
The trade mark for Megalith Age is the dolmen. Many dolmens look much like a god-table. Maybe it was the idea of "Table for deities" since we see the growing virtual world in the sky. The gods were giants and humankind was the "legs for deities". Have a look at Orion or the Bearwatcher and you see the real giants. The dolmen would be a suitable table for the New Moon mare as they called her less than two thousand years ago. In Sumer Inanna sat at the god-table in face of Leo. That must be around midsummer after the harvest so she got fresh beer
In Portugal people found much natural slabs and we find the biggest and most beautiful tables there. But thanking gods was not the use and the most important ritual were forecasting what was going to happen. In north-east Ireland there is a dolmen called Proleek. The word means "before the flow corner" understood as "goping beneath". In the Bronze Age symbolism they marked LEAK or LEEK with a twig and the same we see on Akkadian seals from around 2000 BC. It was surely the same idea as when the Egyptians made a dummy of Osisris and set up the djed-pillar "on half" and rose it when the corn was growing. Maybe it is the Little Hans celebration in beginning of May in Denmark.
Still we have several variants depending on origin and time. In Scandinavia we have few signs of Ereshkigal that must be the big cupmark showing "Mother Earth is ready/ open" but at least a dozen figurative images of Inanna. In general there is much confusion about the sisters. The original symbols were the oriental "lying" new moon for Inanna and the rosette for Ereshkigal that was her incarnation as the Morning Star later Venus.
In late Bronze Age symbolism Inanna took over entirely and in Babylon the idol was called Ishtar and Astarte in Levant and Egypt. In Sumer we know her from the myths and that they had an important symbol "the gate to Underworld". They have found some symbolic gate in clay that surely symbolises that.
The Sumerians were careful like our layers when they defined things. Our world is above surface. To brake the surface and come down to the River of Underworld we need to break three locks, which means precisely what farmers still today do when they prepare the soil so the seed will be on the right wet dept to get rooted.
They also cut reality in moments easier to see and plan what is happening. They started with themselves as for instance Motherhood divided in the intercourse … the womb … the pregnancy … the birth with three assisting ladies … and then came the nurse.
These rock-carvings are on a stone from Zealand Denmark. The lower part is similar to a Sumerian seal except that the lying Ereshkigal is missing. Surely the cupmark between the legs of Inanna symbolises Ereshkigal since in the myth Inanna leave the seed to Ereshkigal, the Great to give Birth
The other symbolic use of the dolmen seems to be as the symbolic gate to Underworld. In Swedish the word is DA-US with the old syllables and then it means "opening to the other side". The dolmen was also used for burial or the corpses were left there for the flesh to disappear. We know from later times that sowing ritual and burial was almost the same ritual. That was natural once they thought about resurrection and afterlife. Then burial was just like a sowing…. See alsoThe Vi
The dolmen as gate to Underworld was foregoing the cairns and passage graves, which could be used as Underworld temples with the wane moon as lead. Some of the dolmens are covered with a mound for another shape and use of the dolmen. We have a few examples that their language used the expression "otherworld and it is also the use of past and present tenses. "Another world" expresses the space tense to point out differences in culture between my own "midgaard" and the strange "outgaard".
Old customs in bear hunting/ game has been saved to our time as folk memory but also in the Karelian epos Kalevala. The hunting was "another world" and women and children were not allowed into that. When the hunters left the village women and children had to look after them through a ring and the same was case when the hunters came home. A normal gift to the new-born girl was a silver ring, while the boy got a little bow and arrow.
The symbol act was pedagogic to teach the youngsters that Bear hunting is very dangerous once the bear is teased. In later times they warned children for the Naeck or the river spirit that could take people. Sometimes the child believes but a few would try in spite of all warnings and ugly figures people warn them for. Some children get more exited.
From the Karelian law we know that they cut a string of turf and lifted it up. Then the brothers crawled under it to seal blood brotherhood. The same custom was in use when they married man with Mother Earth when he bought land and surely in other connections too. The meaning of the symbol act is that the assembly around should remember what happened if anyone questioned it later.
The Ravlunda dolmen from Skaane with a squared stone fence
In Denmark there are some squared fence from the time and they seem to have been place for a temple maybe build of wood. We have also the Ionian custom with outdoor temples in Bronze Age consisting of picture stones guarding the ritual place. In some places we can expect that the stones were selected to represent some idols or ideas. In other cases they could have been used for astronomic observations.
With all these small bits of facts it is obvious that we can expect several kinds of ritual implying underground temple as a part of the ritual. The dolmen is usually so small that it can only be a symbolic "going beneath" while the bigger cairns and passage graves could have been used for rituals underground. However not all temples have been of that kind.
The Scandinavian Edda epos tells about aesir as those with and vanir are those without that ding. The aesir were first-comers on the agenda with their cattle to the land with people harvesting nature directly and then before 4000 BC. But they made an agreement with the late-coming vanirs in ca 4th millennium. We see that some village must have been living in "brotherhood", while there have also been single villages.
We have also to take into account that villages with animals as industry did not need an underground temple and ritual act of "going beneath". For them the dolmen was just a place for spring ritual and maybe some at the harvest too and for funerals maybe. They harvested hey and also leafs as we se from some placket showing goats eating leafs from a tree. Leafs were used as food until our days when it was mostly "poor mans hey". The cattle have to be used to that kind of food.
Danish dolmen on a long barrow
At Jutland are a couple of stony enclosures from the early agriculture. One of them is Barkær, Djursland that is an early ritual place with rooms for 52 pickaxe and nothing else. It seems that the meaning on that they literally pointed out that they needed food for 52 weeks. We may say that the pickaxes symbolised gods that needed food, but at the same time the people got their food.
We see a lot of pedagogic symbolism that they taught themselves to plan their year. We can compare this to some picture stones from the Alps with pickaxes or daggers for seven months. But the number 52 maybe indicate that they planned for the entire year.
In this case we see only that they cared for the "child" or corn to come. There is no sign of planning for afterlife and the idea of resurrection, since that implies that you need some food on the journey. The idea that the soul fly to heaven seems to be very old, since they have found a wing from a bird in some 10000-year-old grave. Even the Neanthertals seem to have thought that way.
The early province laws contends some directives as for instance how much seed they should sow, i.e. 120 kilos for a normal two person family. We also learn how they calculated how much food they needed for being on sails the summer period.
There are also signs that they saw that mankind is born out of Mother Earth and the corpse was then given back to her en the same way as we see ritual burials of bears. The bear was the ritual animal and "King of the Forest" and used as symbol for the entity.
We cannot draw general conclusions from lake dwellers of which we have some in the Alps and at Alvastra East Gautland Sweden. Still it is interesting to note these specialist since they used the double axe in their rituals around 3000 BC at Alvastra
In fact 11 % of the Swedish finds 40 double axes are found at Alvastra and maybe lake dweller is a wrong word. It seems that the building in the lake was used only in summer for feast and ritual. It is big with 100 fireplaces in the area of 1000 metres square. It must have been a feast place for a big area and maybe bigger than the two settlements in the neighbourhood and the 18 rooms in the building.
The moss has saved the remains and artefacts so it gives a good picture of the great variety of food they used from hunting, fishing, gathering, cattle and agriculture. There is also find of three kinds of seed. Here the most interesting part is the double axe and the ritual place with one double axe standing besides a stone with the edges up and down. That ritual pose I see as "cutting out the living space"
Big passage grave Falkauping West Gautland
West Gautland is the mainland of passage-graves in Sweden and that must have been much like a mission for the idea. In the area of about 1000 kilometres squared there are about 300 left of them. In the town Falkauping there have been 27 within the town. Since they are much concentrated we have to be cautious in making conclusions for the entire Scandinavia from these facts. However in Denmark they are widely spread in spite of the need for stones that may have taken many away.
For pictures from Europe I recommend this site:
You can visit megaliths and megalithic sites in many countries, not only UK, Ireland and France but also megaliths of Portugal, Spain megaliths, monuments in Germany, Sweden, Belgia, Malta, Russian Megaliths and others.
In many cases the view today could be a mix of dolmen, long-barrow and passage graves in the same way as in my early home parish. There was a pair of long barrows in angle with only about 20-metre space between them. Both are maybe 70 metres long. The one oriented N - S is low with a lot of stones and maybe remains after a dolmen and nowadays there grow some old birch and bushes there.
The other is oriented E -W and it is fairly high maybe two metres with big stones fencing here and there. In the east end are two opposite passage graves in the heel with the gateways to south and north. Inside there are galleries for the bones and nothing else today. There are also some old spruces and birches on the long barrow.
In a landscape without trees this was like heaven for children and our first climbing trees were there. It were our best playing places, "There is Huha-men there say may mama", my lass told, when I wanted to pay a visit inside. I was the brave that dared to step inside in spite of nettles guarding the gateway three metres long. I think they have been there for more than five thousand years re-circulating the nutrition from the arval meals in front of the passage grave.
In general we know they have been used for funerals and that in many places they have eaten at arval in front of and in the graves and they have found TRB-pottery. The use continued 1000 years later in the wedge tombs/ slab-cists as an example shows here on Dal. In other places in Europé the use seems to have gone on for longer time.
4th millennium ideas
Lanyon Quoit a table for giants from Cornwall England and it is more than thousand years older than the first pyramid. In Sumer Inanna sat at the table in face of Leo and had a beer.
In the essay about Gavrinis Carnac Bretagne I have analysed the underground temple that look much as the passage grave. That means generally a corridor/ passage to the inner room if any and that could be of different seizes and shape. Archaeologists make categories of them but as idea it is the same. In Bretagne much of the carvings are non-figurative telling about a period of uncertainty about the abstractions and ideas. The symbolism shows many circles, bows, wedges and strokes, which I associate all to the practical astronomy.
The big underground temples at Ireland Newgrange, Dowth and Knowth are much like a parallel to Carnac and in some cases more developed. Enough to state that they are temples to celebrate the solstices and the lunar year and its feasts. The symbolism is in general abstract. In New Grange we have the sure sign of trinity, but what does it symbolise? I would at that stage associate them to the Three Maiden or the midwives of human and nature fertility. We see them later in rock-carvings and they are the asterisms Virgo, Libra and Scorpio. The snake or Hydra is the womb of earth in heavenly symbolism about fertility in nature.
In the caves of Carnac we find decorated stones with idols of the time. There is "the little clothed child", which I see as an urge to man that she needs clothes. The same "clothed" we find in Spain as figurines, in northern Italy as statues and in early Troy as figurines. For me it is the clue and kernel of humanity to care for the little one whether it is of mankind or vegetables.
It is easier to generalise if we describe the idols after their character. I connect the symbolism at Carnac with the idols at Malta "the sleeping", "the pregnant", "the clothed", "the nurse", "the underground ear" and the herd. I guess that people analysed these stages of life to get hold of what to do in every case. There is also the snake, the three of life, the running spiral in and out ad eternity. They are simple symbols to which we can find explanations in the rich Sumerian myths. We have much evidence of culture flow from in the area of Far East, Europe and to the North, so in general we can try using what we get from these places.
We can also determine that the idea is "to go beneath". In Egypt the new fertile year ritual began at midwinter. However as a whole if the monuments are oriented after solstices it is more often that the Midsummer direction was the sight. The Egyptian calendar was divided so Hathor the cow goddess ruled during winter and inundation. Some industry was then mining in the nearby mountains.
In Scandinavian there is a natural sailing season and winter dwelling. The sailing was for the youngsters and experienced sailors/ traders. The rest stayed at home and harvested nature. On the rock-carvings we se that they planed only for seven summer moons in general.
From 4th millennium there are vase paintings and rock carvings showing that they used the boat/ ship as symbol of time and season. The year symbolism was developed when we get more evidence from the first dynasties around 3000 BC when the pharaoh was Horus = Yearman and ritual leader. … seeboats and macehead
From third millennium we know for sure that the Egyptians saw no difference between rituals in spring for sowing and a funeral. The myth of resurrection was well established with the pyramids as great monuments, however they seldom mention the valley temples and that the movement was between the valley and the hill/ pole. The texts tell us that the KA-soul flies to Orion while the BA soul stays in the grave. In the vegetative thinking the corpse or shell stayed in Underworld and the germ rose toward heavens.
Since we see the sowing myth in our rock-carvings and other ritual signs we can be pretty sure that the passage graves are manifestos of resurrection. The natural cycle is very strong and we all feel it in our bones. Once they saw that growing seed was like resurrection they thought that even mankind could resurrect. It became natural to include food with the same reason as they used fertiliser. Since they saw it as a journey along the River of Underworld some other gifts could be good. There are finds of amulets and some in double axe shape in passage graves.
Among the finds we have the real double-axe as symbol for cutting out a space in two directions and make it sacred. Maybe it also symbolised the two moon bows of crescent and vane moon. In south they are "cutting" downward and upward.
With this follow that mankind claimed the soil. They include the celestial sphere in their thinking since they painted a structure and made asterisms idols in their myths. They are not all oriented after celestial events so the myth was only the main issue.
That does not necessarily mean they include the universe in their thinking. The asterisms were only the framework with virtual idols. They did not see the deep universe. Their imagination was the abstracted pictures with universe as background. They used these idols / archetypes for the moments of work they were going to do in the season. In our technical language it was just like RAM-memory.
The night sky became a common virtual brain and that is surely our real common Indo-European heritage. The main idea was Time and Calendar with the idols as icons for what should happen in the year. They were of course depending on the natural re-circulation and resurrection and maybe they believed that mankind could re-circulate.
In Danish passage graves they have found a few sure rock-carvings inside the grave. That proves that it was a custom at that time. Science always demands for sure prove so that other possibilities and later additions can be excluded. The normal is some cupmarks and maybe one or two crossed circle. The logic meaning of a cupmark is to go beyond/beneath in this case. Then the meaning is to get the soul into eternity in the same way was as we write names on tombstones today. We see the knocking into stone even on picture stones from Gotland about 700 AD.
The winter quarters have double lines that normally means "the other side/part". First quarter in season has the empty boat to be filled in Egyptian style
On the cover stones of the passage graves there are in many places cupmarks and sometimes ships and crossed circles too in petroglyphs. The crossed circle is interpreted KA in some syllable language and it means GO and understood as "going time" or the sun as watch. The symbol circle and crossed circle was used for a year, a season/ half-years and for quarter of a year depending on local custom. The ships may also be "going time" or maybe rather season. Negative line is underground according to the logic and double strokes is the other half. Normally every symbol has only one meaning. However the period of carvings is so long that exceptions may occur.
The crossed circle became later clearly symbol of four seasons and then time and sun is of course understood behind. Some maybe explains the crossed circle as symbol for the sun. However there are often two of them and I have never seen two suns at a time, neither a cross on the sun. Such use of words leads to virtual animated language with no connection to practical life. Hard to believe that shamanism, cult and such things could be applied to the society with World Order and archetypes for daily life.
Hard to believe in sun cult and that every circle on the rocks and even other symbols should be evidence. For cult priesthood is needed and Europe was not that crowded. People needed practical advises and myths to grow seed and vegetables. They needed the calendar to plan their time. That is why TIME was the only real "cult" as it is in our days also. Sun cult seems to be a very primitive theory made at some academy with no contact with reality of those days … then I talk about generalised ideas and pretending what life must have been. Even today we have sects among us.
It is possible that spring and autumn ritual besides funerals were celebrated around the grave or maybe sacred "temple". We should leave open for different use locally. The autumn ritual may have "buried the season and year" since the harvest had to be stored so they needed the idea of storing. In our language we have the memory that they counted "harvests" and thought in space-time.
On Ireland they think that the passage graves were used until Iron Age. For Scandinavia I have no material, but it would be natural that once they had done the big work they would use a temple as long as possible. For instance at Gotland and at Kinnekulle West Gautland they practised the grinding ritual for around thousand years the entire third millennium. Maybe that was only a local fashion. Later in Scandinavia we have in places the new fashion of slab-cist from around 2300 BC. Hard to say if it took over or maybe new settlements were using the novelty.
In Denmark there are a few remains that tell about other fashions in late Stone Age such as:
At Herrup near Hobro Jutland there has been a temple made of wood. Size of the temple was a hall 6 x 6 metres with an open hall in front of half the size. Much the same we know from the early big cultures. In the temple have been 27 ceramic pots that make us think of the moon cycle. Maybe they celebrated the moon phases every moon. Other small artefacts date it to late Stone Age.
At Foulum near Viborg Jutland has also been a wooden temple in size 5 x 4,2 metres and only finds of ceramic supposed for offers only.
In Europe we usually compare us as a little brother to Sumer and Egypt and India is almost forgotten as equal source to the early ritual culture. Even Greece and Rome are "high culture" to us north of the Alps. For some reason TV is only interested in Middle Kingdom in Egypt and with a few revival on Greece and Rome. Normal measures used on culture are gold, big, stones, power and chieftains. When searching ideas such things do not tell much about how it all began. We are indoctrinated that culture should look in a certain way with much stuff and of course gold. In reality the real measure is sustainability and that the culture follows the local needs.
If we want to go back from Middle Kingdom there are some great pyramids to compare with a millennium before. But further a millennium back there is not much in Sumer and Egypt and part of the cause is that they used mud bricks and wood in the beginning. The Nile has maybe taken some land too. In Europe we have many megaliths and other stuff from fourth millennium BC and some of the style is maybe a millennium older than that.
European early Megalith Age is unique and if we add the buildings on Malta it is easy to believe that culture was born in Europe if we look at visible remains. Knowth, Dowth, New Grange and Gavrinis seem to be more like temples than graves however locally the passage graves were surely used as both wane moon temple and grave. But then we should add the similarity in the temples with several rooms of Skara Brae in Scotland.
Also in the Indus culture we find the three-leaf structure. There seem be a cultural line from Ireland to India. That means to remember the megaliths in North Africa, Sahara and the Levant. We know that the Sumerians were in Sinai digging for turquoise. E. Anati has found many megaliths and at least one moon temple in Har Karkom. When we analyse Bronze Age the Bible is a good source besides Ugarit texts and some from Egypt. Sumer is outstanding when it comes to understanding European Stone Age culture.
This dolmen is from Malabar southern India
In Sumer and Egypt we know that the culture was consistent for millenniums. Then we can ask if we can draw the ideas we know from third millennium back a millennium or two and get help in solving the ideas of fourth millennium. In Europe we have the speechless stony formations and we have to go to Sumer for texts and explanations.
In the beginning of archaeology pottery was a very useful artefact since it could be dated relatively. Still it is a good method but now we have also C14 and dendo-chronology as versatile means for more exact dating in many cases. Under my 50 years of interest many dating have been altered with 200 - 500 years due to better dating methods.
Still it is only a fraction of time compares with 6000 years adaptation. I rather use the term adaptation than evolution that is biased. We only know that people adapted their culture and living to local conditions at every time. Nowadays we see that maybe our culture is not the sustainable one.
Style, figurative art and texts are means when we try to understand the ideas and what was important for the people. People always show their thoughts when they do artistic work even when it is more or less outside their consciousness and just creative work. It is like a fingerprint of the local culture or show how cultures are spread. Our ideas are born out of known things and that is up to laws of nature that "nothing is born out of nothing" so to speak.
They think that the domesticated animals were introduced maybe a millennium earlier than agriculture into Europe. Like the herds before even the cultivators were intruders in land of people living on nature by hunting, fishing and gathering. Yet we do not know much about growing vegetables those days. In the French and Spanish caves more than 10000 years ago are some small symbols that surely are about plants and fertility in nature. Archaeology has made artificial categories and qualities out of these ways of living. But all rural methods were based on harvesting nature and in many placed the mixed methods were used until 20th century and the monoculture.
To me it is unnecessary categorising when we talk about hunter-gatherers and other industries living on nature. They all use and live on nature so why set higher and lower values to these industries … it is just rubbish. The primitive mind is in our values since we are the generation that destroys nature.
Ritual weapons were born to defend the organised society. For the herds, gatherers and others using nature as source, agriculture was a newcomer demanding for protected space. It is logical but we also se it in rock-carvings. In our time we maybe expect fights for land, but since there was plenty of land it looks more like a treaty between newcomers and the former inhabitants. In fact if living on pure agriculture a family needed relatively little space but in chosen places.
Cultivator's lawin Val Camonica Italy
Still for instance a picture stone in Val Camonica reminds us that the four-legged thieves were a problem … I remember that cows rather eat seed when grass is short in summer and it is hard to catch them in a field with wheat. Some rock-paintings from Spain show that two and four legged thieves could be a problem.
In Scandinavia the first clear ritual weapon is the double axe. Many of them are in a shape and finish so that they could not have been used in practical work … maybe as a club. They are found as amulets too in passage graves. We can note the same symbol/ amulet at Troy and in the Indus culture at the same time.
The shape is showing which topic it protects. They sang about the double axe in Sumer during third millennium but we have finds from fourth millennium. Still the idea is surely the same and the shape seems to symbolise the faces of the Moon. Some pictures show that one edge is negative meaning "under surface". In southern cultures the new moon is as bow upward while the vane moon is "lying".
We have only few signs of the "Isis dagger" in our Scandinavian rock-carvings. But in the Alps we see that for them the dagger was what the double axe was for Scandinavians as early as in 4th millennium. Maybe we should see the knob and crescent as wane and new moon on the axe. On the dagger there is often a crescent at the handle of the dagger, as the new moon while the wedge shaped blade is the wane moon and "going beneath"?
Double axe hybrid from Dal and prefabricate boat axe from Skaane
There was no standard so for instance in the presentation of Oscar Montelius we see a great variety of shapes among 60 axes he shows. That covers naturally a long period and finds in entire Sweden. We also see that the model gradually become boat-shaped or a hybrid of that. The left axe is from Dal and we have one boat axe that surely is made locally while others are made "professionally" and bought somewhere.
Originally it surely was the phases of the moon and the "She steps down"-symbol … see theInanna myth. I have simplified it to the myth of the Sumerian town Uruk where Inanna was head idol. She is spread all over Europe. The Babylonian myth about Ishtar is similar. Sometimes it is confusing since in the original myth Inanna is in pair with Ereshkigal, the great to give birth in Underworld. But both seem to have an incarnation in the sky. So Inanna's symbol is the new moon and Ereshkigal's is the rosette for the Morning/ Evening Star later called Venus/ Aphrodite. In later writing they have forgot Ereshkigal and talk only about Inanna/ Ishtar. In any case they symbolise the life-giving flow of water in different stages.
In the Alps they mounted the dagger on a shaft to be a pickaxe suitable for agriculture and nothing else. In a few places they have 6 - 8 daggers in a group likewise as in the Scandinavian in rock-carvings. They often symbolise seven summer moons with a human figure. The word for "man" is the same as moon in for instance Latin with the root LU = man from Sumer. Maybe the dagger also was symbol of vane moon and "going beneath". In Aosta Italian Alps the funeral place have dagger shape and they found ritual ploughing as ritual. However there is no sign of agriculture on the site and so the metallurgists used the same funeral ritual as the growers.
Maybe symbolism like this is odd for us. Their problem was to get hold of the fertility cycle in nature tied to the year. Another problem was to learn planning for a year so that their stores would be sufficient. To remember everything from year to year they made the manifestations in boulders and not only in West Europe. Other industries relied on that they could get from nature what they needed the entire year, however they had to "harvest" when it was the best time. The big animals are fat in autumn. They must learn to store things. In Sumerian texts they tell that the fox Kiel taught them that.
I think their symbolism was ingenious since I know agriculture and nature. There is nothing spiritual and magic in all this. Why should there be? If there is any cosmology then it is rain and sunshine used by mankind at the right time. Whenever mankind needs to picture the unknown he must use the known. They needed to picture the year and the shorter period of a moon. They needed to picture the resurrection of plants and used the human behaviour as model. They pictured the watering and fertilizer as eunuchs and they animated agriculture as sexual intercourse and pregnancy and mixed it with the fact that seed seemingly resurrect.
Sowing was animated as sexual intercourse between sun/ man and soil/ woman. In the myth we have the dual of the idols that do the things first and then mankind repeat. It is the natural split between idea and work. They symbolised rain with the moon and Watergate. We hardly realise that we use a virtual world and memory when we think and plan our living. We know that part of their memory was painted in the sky and manifested in the stony monuments. Thinking is much like playing a boll against a wall. In the long time it is good to have a stable memory.
In Sumer/ Mesopotamia it rains only around 200 millimetres a year. Their rituals in agriculture were surely older than the inundation culture so thinking about rain needed for a good harvest was natural. They became rainmakers and studied the water flow in relation to the moon cycle. They surely followed the cycle of the moon and the rains and planned their agriculture after that. It is typical that in India they have the heavy monsoon and they use the big Dragon as symbol instead of the Rain Lady with a thunderbolt. Indians both love and hate the Monsoon.
Asko Parpola has analysed Indus symbolism and find that probably three stones symbolise a fireplace. This fireplace is the female fork, while we in old symbolism in Scandinavia see it as a wet meadow. But we know also that they sometimes used inverted symbolism … sometimes we do the same. Some people mean that making love is dead, while in nature it aims at new life. Symbolism and poetry are never standardised and need the open mind … Here it is necessary to mention at that time India was a part of the Old World. However a different climate caused different symbolism in many ways depending on the monsoon perhaps.
When we study ancient myths it is always like chaos since many thousand years of myths and versions are mixed. The worst cases are Mesopotamia where Sumerian and Babylonian names are mixed and in Egypt the Greeks have given us Greek names on the former Egyptian culture. It is difficult to get any sense out of it without tying it to reality. That is why I select only a few understandable myths as base for my essays.
Often science seeks for spirituality rather than for normal practical life. I have no crystal globe and I do not know what our ancestors thought neither I know much about their practical rituals in detail. However the Sumerian songs tell us much. The only thing I can point out is the skeleton of ideas that must have been to get food on table. I also see the ingenuity of their poetic language and dynamic examples easy to understand once we know what is the topic.
My Law of Relativity in Archaeology says that all dating is relative to our present knowledge and to archaeologists setting their world pole where they are researching. Nowadays in public the Egyptian archaeologists try to tell that all began there and that everything was invented there. Much of it is because Discovery Channel and National Geographic find it easy to work there, I think. Maybe they should let some questions open and skip the non-scientific valuing in high and low culture and such things.
Let us state that there are many finds of agriculture and ritual monuments are found in Egypt, Sumer and Europe from fifth millennium. However even then they had their own prehistory. As it seems now the culture of Anatolia is 2000 to 4000 years older than the earliest known Egyptian culture. I find it amazing when I see signs of very old culture in the present Turkish local culture despite that we are told that the Turks invaded Anatolia less than thousand years ago. The kilim-pattern we see on the walls in temples of Catal Hüyük around 9000 years ago. We see it in Turkish carpets nowadays.
Lately they have excavated Gobekli Tepe in Syria. It is an amazing 11000-year-old temple with big pillars engraved with some of the animals from the Animal Round. They indicate they followed sun and moon and used theLingua Franca of Middle East already then.
Often our knowledge is depending on the digging activity. In general we know little of archaeology in the rest of the world. It is much like in Sweden that our archaeology concerns Auland, Gotland and Skaane and the rest are just a white spot.
The Dane A P Madsen draw this in 1868. It is a long barrow with a dolmen and some stone that maybe is a table or altar.
The fence shows the idea of a special law room or space and it was an early sample of the cultivators' law space/ room. In this case it is also sanctified place for rituals …see also under The Vi. At the same time it was a pedagogic example how to create special space in the common land. The cultivators needed fenced fields and supreme right in it. It is a qualified guess that they introduced the idea.
In our province law the legal language use "law room/space" and the different codes are called "beam" as if they thought it as physical code rooms divided by wooden beams. Again it is a question about picturing abstract unknown things with known things. Wider they used the term law room even for the different classes in society, i.e. peasants, towns and the upper class of traders and industries. Even occasional market places were fenced in as separate law room.
Danish long barrows would not have survived without the big stones and rather a big mound too. Madsen's long barrow has the dolmen in one part and that seem to be the inlet or womb of Mother Earth or whatever name we give her. In some Sumerian texts her name is Ereshkigal "The Great Earth to give birth" and she was the twin sister of Inanna the New Moon and rain. The Sumerian myths are not consequent or we do not have the entire picture but surely Utu/ Shamash the Sun and warmth was an important part in the early myth.
In Danish the word "er" (is) is the "present flow" or flow of time. In German the word "Erde" is "earth" so in language we seem to be near the Sumerians and this is not the only example. Even words like Enki and Ensi are near the Scandinavian tongue. Enki "the first on earth" and Ensi "the first" and the latter is the same in Finnish.
Enki, the first on Earth and symbols of Gemini and Cancer engraved on an amulet found in deepest layer and underground temple of Eridu the city of Enki.
History is a process with slow moments in some issues and jumps in others. The animal round was not finished at once. The amulet of Enki was for me the missing link since it contends three asterisms on the Animal Round. They are Orion, Gemini and Cancer in early Sumerian symbolism…see more on Sumer.
Better known parts are four asterisms of Goatfish, Aquarius, Iku/ Ekur/ temple (Pegasus) and Aries normally seen only as Goatfish. It is the inundation period when mankind lives on the goat, sheep, fish and the grain store. The other part contends five asterisms from Leo to the Tab of Scorpio. That is the season for agriculture and it looks like "Virgin on a horse" until we discover all the parts.
We can date this to the earliest layer of Eridu in Sumer fifth millennium where they have found Abzu the underground temple of Enki in which there have been heavy fish offering to the Fishman. The odd figure is also seen in small figurines from Balkan. According to the myth the Fishman brought laws and culture to Eridu and the other Sumerian cities got their laws from Eridu. We have Inanna of Uruk another Sumerian town and she lured the laws of Enki at the beer table.
The temple was underground and with access to the Persian Gulf. As such it has the idea of "going beneath". The Inanna first-time-myth contends also the journey of Inanna to her sister Ereshkigal understood to give birth to seed and vegetables. In the logic reasoning something has to be left in underground (the root and shell of seed) to get something back. Inanna let her husband the herd Dumuzi be the offer since he was delivering fertiliser. Inanna was the leader of Uruk and leaders do only the first-time-act. The symbolic colour of being underground is blue or green and they have the Green Lady in Egypt. It is often that Egypt has some opposite symbolism but the same idea.
We see the original ideas of underground temple and going beneath in early Sumerian symbolism. I have not yet found any text line about the pillar, but in Egyptian symbolism is early use of standards or a standing pole with some symbol on top. The "embracing" symbol means the marriage of the "birth-giving Mights" Sun warmth, Moon rain and Earth soil and fertiliser. Later it became the DJED-pillar they rose once the seed was growing.
Engraving showing the vegetative season on Sumerian claim stones found also in the Nile Delta
Then the animal round was divided in three by the time of 5 + 4 + 3 months and it is not the symmetric division we see in later presentations. The Goatfish and the cultivating lady are found on border stones kudurru. In the inundation agriculture they had to set up border stones for the season and maybe they also did it in other places as an agreement with herds. Some are found also in the Nile Delta shoving presence of Sumerians there and other small artefacts tell about that too. Then it is easiest to say that Sumerians and Egyptians invented the Animal Round which we call zodiac.
Later illustration show that the Sumerian ritual year begins with an idol with two faces meaning that the he stands in the gateway between years. The Romans called him Janus. Sumerian name is Utu and the Babylonian is Shamash. Both names could be read in the same way from either direction. Utu was also used as name of the sun maybe because it was newborn every year.
Then it is obvious that the New Age and first ritual year including the Animal Round is configured after this starting point. Due to precession the New Age/ Ritual Age began around 4200 BC. That means the canonical World Order understood in calendar and myths. The morning sun at spring equinox rose in east in a fix-star at toe of Gemini, since asterism/ incarnation of Utu was Gemini.
It seems that the agriculture part of the Animal Round must have been invented at a place near a river like the Nile or the Mesopotamian big rivers. In Egypt they were cultivating in the "dry river". The Water-snake in sky is the virtual river and along it water is running in from Cancer. That asterism was in late symbolism a pole and sometimes a bird on it. There is Crater symbol of watering. In Egypt they had three Crows under the Virgin, which in Sumer was symbol of putting seed in soil. The Crow was symbol of the pick and three of them is the noun "picking" in old symbolism. The rest Libra and Scorpio are the growing and harvest season.
The French tell that they have dated some dolmen, cairn and standing stone to around 4500. It would only be natural that the ideas are older than the organisation into a new order. In fact there is an artefacts with some interesting signs probably from the cave age 30000 - 10000 BC in Isturitz France. The symbols are a single spiral, a double spiral and a single spiral coming from a negative footprint. Similar could be found in Skaane Sweden on a rock. The footprint with the spiral indicates "flow into earth".
Naturally our ancestors knew about the biological mechanic, but when they "write it down" normally it is more than just knowledge. It is a sign that they used the idea in their life and then as a calendar or season symbol. In folk memory it was a certain time when the water was "fresh again" around Candlemas. It was a sign that mouldering was over and new vegetative life was working as a biological filter and the oxygen was back.
In Anatolia we see the continuity from 7000 BC to last millennium. There are the domesticated animal and even some bird and man in symbolism that may be connected to the night sky. The most imposing is the statue of a woman giving birth and with leopards guarding on each side. The same composition we see in last millennium BC with a male of course at throne. The composition is around the asterism Virgo and two lions flanking, We see that also in the Egyptian night sky, however the Leo was made a tame sphinx in late days.
In Sumer and Egypt they had no local stones to speak about. Late finds show that they surely build temples in wood and in some cases the Nile have taken them in time. In Europe are plenty of stones so we have the remains showing that the first ritual stones in shape of dolmen and standing stone were born in the middle of fifth millennium … according to the knowledge we have today.
The building was intensified in fourth millennium and it seems that many stone rows were made then. It was also heydays of the passage graves made for catching the midwinter sun and maybe other important dates. It was a time when practical astronomy was connected with rituals of the year. Such things have to be done locally since the night sky varies and also the climate is an important fact. Later it seems that ritual sometimes overshadowed practice so that southern rituals were imported as such.
I suggest that they were investigating the correlation between night sky, the ecliptic and the moon behaviour then. The result was the synchronisation which was finished around 3100 BC. At that time we see the rise of cultures in Sumer, Indus, Egypt and maybe America since the Maya calendar origins from that date. Then spring equinox was in Capella/Ox and opposite Antares in Scorpio and they became a new fix-point in the star-map of the world