The answer's comets, now what's the question?




This collage shows known depictions of comets from around the world across at least two millennia.
I argue in Prehistory Decoded that much of ancient and modern myth and religion is inspired by comets and their destructive effects. So comet symbolism should be everywhere. But where is it?

Below is a collage of suggestions. Maybe some are right, and some are wrong. What do you think?


From top left we have; 'hand' paintings from Catalhoyuk (thanks Ron!), stone plaquette from Gobekli Tepe, Teshub sculpture from Aleppo museum, Jewish Menorah, Shiva statuette, carvings in the roof of a dolmen in the Golan Heights (thanks James!), belt buckle on Pillar 18 at Gobekli Tepe, 'axes' carved into Stonehenge (thanks Ron, again), Inanna symbol from Mesopotamia, Ubaid 'keyhole' building, Apis bull from Ancient Egypt, and menat counterpoise from Ancient Egypt.

Comments

  1. Tridents are especially interesting, as they are unknown as a weapon of war, and even of combat outside of gladiatorial conquests. Yet we find them constantly depicted in the hands of gods. I cannot come up with a better explanation for their ubiquity than their correlation with the comet imagery you have cataloged.

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    1. That's interesting. I think the traditional explanation for Poseidon's trident is that it is useful for catching fish - the three prongs make up for refraction by the water surface I suppose. But as you say, the trident is ubiquitous for 'storm' gods, not just Poseidon. Moreover, storm gods are normally associated with serpent-killing, not fish hunting. I think the trident shape was chosen both because it is actually quite a good symbolic representation of a comet, but also perhaps because a trident would be useful for killing snakes. So a comet god killing the cosmic chaos serpent with a trident makes sense.

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  2. I never associated the Menorah with comets, but literary imagry of Passover is surely comet based, and the temple menorah has SEVEN branches, hmmm.
    I find it interesting that many of the Mesopotamian/Levantine storm gods are multi headed sea serpents.
    Seven even figures into Native American mythos, and I believe it has its origins with Native Californians.
    The Southern Miwok have a tale of the Seven great chiefs who sheltered with their people, in seven caves in the Sierra Nevada mtns, from the World Fire and Flood.
    I know the location and have been to, but not inside one of the caves.
    A version of this tale is the Aztec creation mythos of the Seven Caves of Creation, Chicomoztoc, and then there are the Seven Giants of Aztec lore, the Quinameztin.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, seven is a significant number across the whole world. For some it is lucky, for others it is unlucky. But it is significant for almost everyone. It even appears at Gobekli Tepe in several places. Alistair Coombs has a theory about it, so I'll leave it to him to explain. It's astronomical, of course.

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  3. Martin,
    I just learned that the cenote, know as Hoyo Negro, in the Yucatan, that held the remains of the 12kyo teenage girl called Naia, has seven chambers with sacrificial offerings.

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  4. the seven chakra energy centres ?

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