Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sun Cities of the Ancient World

Great Hypostyle Hall within the Karnak temple complex

Alice C. Linsley

Shrine cities of the ancient world were built near rivers and lakes and on elevated sites to avoid flooding. At the center of these royal cities were the temple, the palace, housing for priests, and quarters for the royal guard. The temple typically was aligned to the solar arc and was called O'piru, which means "house of the Sun."

The priests who served at the ancient shrine cities were called 'apiru, ha'piru or Ha'biru. The English word Hebrew is a variant of Ha'biru. Abraham is called "Hebrew" (Ha'biru) in Genesis 14:13. The Harris papyrus speaks of 'apriu of Re at Heliopolis, the shrine of the Sun. Plato, who studied under a Horite priest at Memphis for thirteen years, wrote "Tell me of the God of On, which was, is and shall be.

The people who lived at On called it Iunu, which means "place of pillars." There were many pillars bearing inscriptions to the high king, to the Creator Re, and to his son Horus. Some pillars depicted great victories in war and details of treaties. 

It was common for pillars to be inscribed in memory of holy ancestors, as stained glass windows in churches are dedicated to "pillars" of the congregation. The entrance pillars of Solomon's temple were called Boaz and Joktan. Boaz was Solomon's holy ancestor on his father's side and Joktan was a holy ancestor on his side.

John Ogutu notes that in his Nilotic language of Luo, "O'mbiru, obiru refers to a small house built like a shrine or as a symbol among the Luo. A man who died before he could built his house would have the mourners erect one before his burial." The O'piru was a place where loved ones were memorialized.

According to Genesis 41:45, Joseph married into the royal priest family of Heliopolis. Study of the Heliopolitan cosmogony makes it apparent that Heliopolis was conceived as the sacred center of the primeval ocean, called Nun. The many pillars of the temple symbolized the connection between the waters below and the waters above (Gen. 1:7). Being a "he was a son of Nun (Numbers 11:28), Joshua likely belonged to a Ha'biru clan associated with On. 

The Prestige of Biblical On

Biblical On was perhaps the most prestigious shrine city of the ancient world. It was the geodetic center of Egypt. On was known for the purity of life of its priests. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.” 

The Habiru priest purified himself before he entered the temple. His purification involved fasting, abstinence from sexual relations and alcohol, ritual bathing, and an intense period of prayer. Korah, Moses' half-brother, was a priest according to Numbers 16:17,18. His name means "shaved one." Habiru priests shaved their heads and bodies as part of the purification ritual.

Heliopolis means "city of the Sun" and there were other such cities dedicated to the Creator whose emblem was the sun. The shrine city of Baalbek in Lebanon, with its massive stones, aligned to On (see map above). The pyramids at Giza, Abusir and Saqqara were aligned to the obelisk at On. 

King Tut established another Heliopolis at Thebes. The temple of Thebes was called "Heliopolis of the South." Thebes was the spiritual center of  Upper Egypt, and rivaled the importance of Heliopolis in the North.

Tutankhamun's cartouche bears the words heqa-iunu-shema, which is usually rendered "Ruler of On of the South." Heqa refers to the sceptre or shepherd's crook of the Egyptian rulers. Shema or ta-shema refers to Upper Egypt, the narrow valley extending south of Memphis to Abu on the First Cataract in Nubia. King Tut's sacred center was Thebes, between Memphis and Abu.

Herodutus reported that it took nine days to sail from Heliopolis to Thebes, Tutankhamun's shrine city. By relocating his court to Thebes, Tutankhamun was attempting to regain the glory of his forefathers at a time of Egypt's decline.

Related reading: Ancient Sun Temple Discovered in Cairo Suburb; The Unveiling of Joseph; The Shrine City of Nekhen; The High Places; Solar Symbolism of the Proto-Gospel

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Script of Abraham's Territory

Alice C. Linsley

Readers have asked about the language Abraham spoke. Before we can answer that, we must identify Abraham as Hebrew (Habiru) and a Horite ruler. Some Horite rulers are listed in Genesis 36. They ruled over ancient Edom, called "Idumea" by the Greeks.

Abraham's territory was in this region. His territory extended between the settlements of this two wives, Sarah and Keturah. Sarah resided in Hebron and Keturah in the region of Beersheba to the south. The settlements mark the northern and southern boundaries of Abraham's territory.

The Horites were a caste of royal priests in the service of the ancient kingdom builders (the "mighty men of old"). Horite Hebrew (Habiru) were in Africa, Arabia, India, southern Europe, and other parts of the Levant. Some Horite clans were skilled in medicine and some were known for astronomy. Others made a name for themselves as stone masons or metal workers. Some served as purification priests and some offered sacrifices. Some served as scribes who kept royal accounts of tribute owed and payed. Horite priests served at temples along the water ways. They boarded ships to measure cargo and collect taxes. These royal scribes were well versed in the different scripts of the ruler's realm.

One such script was Akkadian, though this was a relatively archaic script by 2000 BC. Here is a timeline that we need to consider. Note that Akkadian was probably not spoken by Abraham though he or his wise men may have read ancient Akkadian texts. Some languages continue to be read long after they are no longer spoken. Biblical Hebrew and Latin are examples.

B.C. 3800-3000 - Nekhen flourished on the Nile, the oldest known site of Horite worship
B.C. 2490-2415 - Noah, lived in the region of Lake Chad when the Sahara experienced a wet period.
B.C. 2438-2363 - Ham, son of Noah
B.C. 2417-2342 - Kush, son of Ham; father of Nimrod and Ramah
B.C. 2290-2215 - Nimrod, ruler in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley
B.C. 2238-2163 - Arpacshad, son by Asshur's daughter
B.C. 2217-2042 - Salah, likely Arpacshad's son by his sister-wife.
B.C. 2196-2121 - Eber, likely Salah's son by his sister-wife.
B.C. 2175-2100 - Peleg, Eber's son. Peleg's brother was Joktan
B.C. 2154-2079 - Reu
B.C. 2133-2058 - Serug, Reu's son.
B.C. 2112-2037 - Nahor, Serug's son
B.C. 2091-2016 - Terah, Nahor's son
B.C. 2039-1964 - Abraham, Terah's son
B.C. 1987-1912 - Joktan, Abraham's firstborn son by his cousin bride, Keturah.

In Abraham's time (c. 2050) and territory between Hebron and Beersheba, the script used resembled Egyptian hieroglyphics. Many Hebrew letters - dating to about 500 years later - closely resemble the Middle Egyptian signs.

This aligns with Sir Alan H. Gardiner's findings. He concluded in 1916 that the Sinaitic signs were derived from Egyptian Hieroglyphic signs based upon their acrophonic valueGardiner’s research established a relationship between the Sinaitic signs and the North Semitic alphabet. So it appears that the Egyptian signs were the basis of a variety of related scripts used from the Nile to the Tigris-Euphrates valley.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Another Way to Read Scripture

Alice C Linsley

Reading Scripture through the lens of cultural anthropology is rigorous because no assumption can stand untested, and no assertion can be made without data. This approach is distinctly different from the traditional approaches to the Bible termed "exegesis" and "eisegesis."

Exegesis draws meaning out of the text and eisegesis involves reading a personal meaning into the text. This explanation is simplistic, but it expresses the difference between reading the Bible in a scholarly way and reading for personal devotions. Both have a place in the Christian life and there are problems with both approaches. 

Sloppy exegesis leads to misrepresentation of the Biblical material and misguided sermons. Private interpretations should not be proposed as true for the Church, especially if they run counter to Church Tradition and the Scriptures themselves.

We should employ the tools of cultural anthropology to test assumptions and to discover the data that clarifies context. If we seek to understand the Bible rather than use the Bible to support an agenda, we will find the approach of Biblical Anthropology helpful. 

I invite you to learn more by visiting The Bible and Anthropology Forum where we practice the reading of Scripture through the lens of cultural anthropology. Learn to read the Bible through the lens of cultural anthropology and you will never read it the same way again!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Archaic and Ancient Symbols of Authority

Alice C. Linsley

Royal priests in the archaic world dispersed widely in service of kingdom builders. Images of these priests have been found at the oldest known temples. The images show the priests wearing leopards skins as a sign of their priestly authority. Here are two such images.

Iunmutef priest, Egypt
Priest image found at 
Gobekli Tepe

Iron beads were a symbol of royal and priestly authority and these were worn by priests and warriors. Naqada settlements have yielded decorated pottery, clay figurines and objects made of ivory and iron, as well as alien materials like lapis lazuli, indicating external trade. The civilization advanced due to irrigation, trade, political alliances along kinship lines, and the earliest writing. Here Egyptologist Wainwright discovered meteoritic iron beads, the earliest known artifacts of iron.

The Naqada culture (c. 6000-4000 BC) included the sites of el Badari, Nekhen (Hierakonopolis), Qau, and Gerzeh, where Egyptologist Wainwright discovered meteoritic iron beads, the earliest known artifacts of iron. Stone tools dating to 12,000 years have also been found in the area, revealing a long established human population. The Horite Hebrew shrine city of Nekhen was thriving 5000 years ago. Some paintings found here show figures wearing what appear to be iron beads around their necks.

The ancient Egyptian word for meteroric iron - bja (metal from heaven), and they were metalworkers. Beja corresponds to the Sanskrit word bija, meaning semen or seed. Meteoritic iron was used in the fabrication of iron beads in Nubia about 6000 years ago. These beads may have been perceived as seeds from heaven which brought divine power to the wearer. Meteoritic iron was used in the fabrication of crooks and flails, the symbols of the Egyptian and Kushite pharaohs. These symbols were believed to give the ruler powers from heaven.

The ancient Egyptian rulers accessorized with meteorites. The material was associated with divine power. King Tut's dagger had a tip made of meteoritic iron. The dagger, found in 192, also had a gold sheath.

king-tuts-daggerPhoto: Courtesy Daniela Comelli et al.
Commonly, iron artifacts are found in the graves of rulers. Diane Johnson says, "Iron was very strongly associated with royalty and power." The ancient Egyptians had a hieroglyphic sign for “iron from the sky" by the 13th century BC.

The crook was another symbol of authority. The prehistoric painting below was found in Sudan. It shows warriors carrying crooks and flails.

These are the symbols of Egyptian rulers. Here is an image of King Tut's crook and flail.

Related reading: Iron Seeds From Heaven; Gerzeh: A Prehistoric Egyptian Meteorite; Nilo-Saharan and Saharo-Nubian Populations; The Shrine City of Nekhen

Saturday, February 25, 2017

New FB Group Explores the Bible and Anthropology

Learn to read the Bible through the lens of cultural anthropology and you will never read it the same way again.

Biblical anthropology is being discussed at a new Facebook group, The Bible and Anthropology. This international forum shares ideas, insights, discoveries, images, and documents that help the members gain a deeper understanding of the Bible through application of cultural anthropology. Anthropology degrees are not a prerequisite for participation!

Consider joining the group. Share what you experience where you live and how the experience relates to Scripture. Help advance the scientific field of Biblical Anthropology. The objective is to share and learn from each other.

Related reading: Support Biblical Anthropology ResearchWhy Biblical Anthropology?Haplogroups of Interest to Biblical AnthropologistsBiblical Anthropology, the Science...not speculative theologyUsing the Bible to Test HypothesesContextual Incongruities in Genesis

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Nubian Moiety

Alice C. Linsley

A moiety is a descent group that coexists with only one other descent group within a society. Each of two groups into which a people is divided has a responsibility to the other group. Moieties are found among the Australian Aborigines, some American Natives, and the red and black Nubians of the Biblical world. Matrilineal moieties traced kinship along the mother's line. Patrilineal moieties trace kinship along the father's line.

Diagram of moieties and their relationship to clans and phratries

A society may be divided into two unilineal descent groups that serve to protect and balance each other. Such groups are called moieties. An example from the ancient world is the moiety of the red and black Nubians.

The red and black Nubians in the image above were captured by the Egyptians. They appear to be people of high tank since they are wearing the leopard skins traditionally worn by rulers, priests and chiefs. The fact that both red and black were taken captive indicates that they fought together against the Egyptians.

The individual's identity within the moiety determines who they may marry. It appears that each group in the ancient Nubian moiety married according to skin tone. Yet the two groups likely claimed descent from a common male ancestor.

Even among the red and black Nubians there was a range of skin tone. These red Nubian warriors are an example. Their wavy black hair and feathers resemble the Nabatean warriors of Petra in Edom. The Edomites were known to have a reddish skin tone. Esau is described as red and hairy in Genesis 25:25.  Also, David is described as having a red skin tone.

Nubian warriors
Moieties usually consist of a few thousand people in each group. The clans within the moieties often function in specialized teams such a metal workers, warriors, tanners and potters. The reciprocal nature of their relationship encourages barter and exchange of services.

The Nubians appear to be in the R1b Haplogroup, which indicates that they are related to Noah and the rulers listed in Genesis 4, 5, ll, 25, and 36. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Canaanite Y and the Phaistos Disk

Phaistos Disk, side B

The Phaistos Disk is about 6 inches in diameter and contains 45 different symbols stamped in a spiral formation on both sides. The disk was discovered in 1908 in an early second millennium B.C. Minoan palace at Phaistos on Crete.

Brent Davis, Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Classics and Archaeology at the University of Melbourne, believes that the lack of other finds like this, apart from the Arkalokhori axe, makes attempts to decipher the disk unreliable. He explains, "Decipherment requires a corpus consisting of thousands and thousands of signs—because only with such a large corpus can we ascertain the meanings of words without guesswork."

In February 2014, Gareth Owens presented a summary of his research with collaborator John Coleman, a phonetics specialist at Oxford University. They claimed to have deciphered more than 90% of the signs on the Phaistos Disk. They concluded that the disk presents a prayer dedicated to a goddess.

The Canaanite Y appears 8 times on the disk. The prevalence of the Y suggests a link to the religious tradition of Hathor, the archetype of the Virgin Mary among Abraham's Horite Habiru ancestors. Hathor wore the horns as a crown symbolizing her appointment by divine overshadowing (cf. Gabriel's explanation to Mary in Luke 1).

The Canaanite Y represents the horns of the bull or the long-horned cow. Stone horns, called "Horns of Consecration" by Sir Arthur Evans, have been found at 7 sites on Crete. Below is a photo of the horns at the central court (north-facing door) at Knossos. Image this as a solar cradle aligned with the solar arc and probably the star Sirius.

Stone horns dating to Middle Minoan III c. 1750-1550 B.C.

The bull horn imagery is found at some of the world's oldest temples in Turkey, such as Catal Huyuk, Göbeklitepe, and Hattusa. The west wall of the Yazilikaya shrine at Hattusa is adorned with a relief of great significance (shown below). It shows the divine appointment of a woman by the overshadowing of the Sun and the divine appointment of a ruler as one who wears the horns as a solar cradle.