garden e danu
Ancestral Stomping Grounds of Our Mother-loving Mammoth-eating Ancestors
Around 31,000 years ago our Cro Magnon ancestors painted the mammoths of the above left in a cave in Vallon Pont-d'arc, France. 16,000 years later in a cave in the Ural Mountains of Russia, NE of the Caspian Sea, another Cro Magnon ancestor painted the mammoth pictured above right. The map in the center depicts the vast area south of the receeding glacier ice cap where the hunters followed the mammoths, north in summer, south in winter. See the mighty rivers, the Volga, Dnieper, Dniester, Danube and the river that later would be the Baltic Sea, roadways of prehistory, with grasslands and forests inbetween them, full of herds. Here is where the goddess figurines are found today by archeologists. Scientists tell us that in the earth's entire history four great ice ages have come and gone. The most recent ice age has occupied the past four million years. So, all the human race ever knew from the time of its first entrance into Asia was these river pathways and grasslands and the mammoths. Milleniums passed one after another unchanged, human hunter tribes wending their way along well-known river banks, sometimes taking the time to carve the image of a woman from a piece of mammoth ivory along the way. It's awesome to think of all the thousands and thousands of years that passed where humans and mammoths shared the same world together.
About 18.000 years ago the icecap began to melt and withdraw from the great masses of land it had held for so many eons. The receeding icecap fed the rivers. The rivers in turn created and filled the huge freshwater lake in the center of the map above, and from here the waters flowed into the sea. The confluence of the main rivers was this amazing lake, a veritable Disneyland, an incredible Eden, for hunters such as our ancestors. For it is here the winter herds would bring them. What a wonderful place it was! The lands to the west of the lake were full of thousands of hot springs for wonderful bathing and relaxing and dreaming and story telling. All around them the winter herds of every kind of creature -- so full that hunting was never difficult. And the land abounded in vegetables and fruit. The Carpathian mountains around the Tisza river were rich in obsidian and flint for stone axes and blades. And in the land south of the lake there were great quantities of salt and volcanic obsidian. From about 12,000 BC onward the wandering tribes of hunters began to settle into continuous communities in the lands around the lake.
There was another reason the great clans of mammoth hunters were beginning to settle into one place: The woolly mammoths were becoming extinct. There was less and less reason to remain on the move following the herds north in the spring and south in the autumn. With each passing generation there were fewer and fewer mammoths. The reason for their disappearance were that humans were evolving into perfect predators. The woolly mammoths shed their wool once a year leaving the two foot long strands in piles against trees and among shrubs and brush. Humans covered themselves with pieces of this abundant wool and stealthily crept up on herds. (Thousands of years of such mammoth hair covering no doubt evolved into the first clothing.) The Siberian mammoth was smaller than the modern elephant, about nine foot tall at the shoulders. Covered in mammoth wool the hunters would appear the size of young mammoths and could get very close to their prey. In every way the human's hunting skills more refined and their blades and axes became sharper. They worked as teams better than ever before and there were more humans than ever before, all searching for mammoth steaks. The climate also played a part in the demise of the mammoths that lived in the vast Siberian lands to the northeast. When mammoths roamed Siberia there was no permafrost as there is today. Because the glaciers sucked up all the moisture in the air and the ground did not freeze. This made the subarctic steppes a land of rich food supplies, grasses and vegetables for human and mammoth alike. But as the glaciers receeded the climate changed.
|By 10,000 BC the permafrost began to set in and far less food grew on the year-round frozen earth for the voracious eaters to consume. With the dwindling numbers of woolly mammoths migrating along the rivers with the seasons the hunters had no reason to wander anymore either, at least not on the scale of the past. The warming climate had on the other hand enrichened lands to the south with legumes and fruit trees. Oak forests spread upon the earth and in particular along the Levant which was not dry and barren as it is today but was covered with rich vegetation as were all the Mediterranian coastal plains. Here we find the first examples of the transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic, that is from wandering tribes of hunters and gatherers to the new age of farming and the domestication of animals.|
The Natufians of the fertile Lavant were the earliest people to arrange their lives around the gathering of wild cereals and storing them for future use. Yet they had not entirely left their wandering ways. Seasonally Natufian hunters followed herds of deer between Anatolia and along the eastern Mediterannean coast. They congregated in caves and on hill tops and in open air areas that were rich in wild cattle and roe deer and fish.
Food spoiled fast in heat. There would have been no way for early man to become sedentary without learning how to preserve foods to carry him through hard times. The Natufians learned that salt keeps meat from spoiling. But salt was not everywhere available, and those rare natural places in the earth where large salt deposits may be found became the centers of early man's first permanent abodes. Salt came to have a value like gold and early salt reserves were as precious as gold. The locations of natural salt became regular places tribes returned to again and again. Catal Huyuk is located on the southern edge of a great salt depression and to the north is Tuz Golu, a salt lake. The area around ancient Jericho is rich in natural salt. For untold milleniums in the springtime migratory tribes followed the herds north from the area around Jericho up to Anatolia, from one great area of salt to another, and in the end of summer they left Anatolia and returned to Jericho. 12,000 years ago the very first manmade stone walls on earth were created in Jericho to hold supplies of salt, private hordes that wandering tribes collected for their own use. Among the first people to live sedentary lifestyles may have been elderly or injured members of the tribes who were too feeble to follow the seasonal migrations of the herds. These people, with more and more of their kindred, remained in the stone parimeters, guarded the salt stores, and claimed with their permanent presence the saltsite for their clan. The stone walls became stone bins, and the stone bins in turn became storehouses, and the storehouses became the ancient walled cities of Catal Huyuk and Jericho.
An even older resource equally as important as salt to these people was obsidian, the volcanic material which made for blades sharper than modern surgeon's scalples. The greatest source for obsidian was the base of Hasan Dag volcano which was visible from Catal Huyuk. This valuable stone became the source of perhaps the most significant trading that went on in the upper paleolithic and neolithic. Just as the first walls seem to have been formed in Jericho as a means of safeguarding stores of salt for trading purposes the first walls near Hasan Dag were probably formed to storehouse the valuable obsidian. The Hasan Dag stone was traded to the Lavant for lumber and Dead Sea bitumen.
Obsidian was a stone that required priests and priestesses. Because the obsidian blades and spearpoints must bear sacred incantations to insure their swiftness and true flight to bring down the kill, and to keep the hunter from harm. Half of all the buildings in Catal Huyuk were shrines. Not only was Catal Huyuk a major trade center but more importantly it was a religious center.
7000 people lived in Catal Huyuk at its peak. Carbon dating places the occupation of Catal Huyuk between the years of 7250 BC and 5600 BC. They cultivated three types of wheat and one of barley. They had domesticated cattle and goats. They hunted the abundant deer and wild cattle. In fact sustenance was so easy for the people that they were able to devote great amounts of time to their art and religion.
Marija Gimbutas in her book THE CIVILIZATION OF THE GODDESS says on page 8: It is clearly evident that the practice of religion was integrated into peoples daily lives. Temples were found within the area of habitation in houses similar to those in which people lived. From 300 excavated rooms 88 had painted walls. Each painting was from 12 to 18 meters long.
There were sculptures and statues too including one of the Great Mother, Kubaba, later known as Cybele, giving birth. All the art in Catal Huyuk follows this theme. Marija Gimbutas continues:
Burials of women painted with ochre were found under the floors of temples and under wall paintings. The rich burial of a woman interred with three tusked lower jaws of wild boars arranged around her head was found under the largest temple. The largest painting which it contained portrayed a town (presumably Catal Huyuk) with a volcano erupting behind it. The size of both the temple and the wall painting as well as the unusual symbolic grave items suggests that this woman had a respected position in the society, perhaps as a priestess-queen.
Here in this first city of the world, on a vast prairie beside the active Hasan Dag volcano there existed a matristic and religious and art-loving people. On the left we see the sculpture of the Great Mother of Catal Huyuk seated with a tame lion on either side. She was sacred woman, the Great Mother of Nature, and the tamer and civilizer of the world as well.
River valleys had always been ancient pathways for mesolithic peoples who followed herds with the seasons. Another ancient route in continual use was the Danube river to the Rhine river which they followed to the sea, and from the sea the same wanderers in turn made the trip east and arrived at the great freshwater Euxine Lake and south into Anatolia to Catal Huyuk. We know this is so because a high percentage of the skulls unearthed at Catal Huyuk are of a type that come from western Europe.
|Travel between the Danube and Catal Huyuk
was easy in that age with no Bosporus channel to cross.
To the west of the Euxine Lake along the great rivers that flowed into it, significant mesolithic cultures formed to gather the abundant fish and mullosks. Marshlands were thick with birds and their eggs were everywhere. There was no starvation in such a rich world. Archeologists today study these early neolithic communities and give them names: Hamangia, Karanova, Vinca, Tisza, Dniester-Bug, Dneiper-Donets, Lengyel -- digging down into their middens and firepits layer upon layer to discover continuous communities of the same people living in the same place generations upon generations for many centuries and sometimes milleniums.
|Thermal hotsprings have always been sacred places to the human race -- hot water bubbling out of the earth, even in winter, surrounded by greenery, sacred oases of beauty and life. Surely nothing in nature more resembles the womb of creation. If you have never relaxed in a natural hotsprings you can not possibly understand what I am saying.||But to those of you who have, you know what I mean. The feeling is incredible and it must occur to everyone. The mysterious hot water percolating up from the subteranian depths of Mother earth and there you sit, in very warm water, surrounded by lush greenery, birds singing in trees, forest animals approaching at times if you are very quiet. Wilderness hot springs awaken the creature senses of the human spirit, put a person in tune with his or her most ancient roots.|
Great sharing occurs at natural wilderness springs. For there are not separate springs for each person. Every person must share the treasure with others: the melting pot, --the place where everyone of all walks and languages and races comes and strips out of their clothes and gets into the pool with the others, and feels so other-worldly wonderful, lays back and looks at the blue sky or the starry night, and feels so blessed. The Womb that is the hotsprings. The people of hot springs consider them sacred places. These are universal hotsprings feelings.
The area to the west of the Black Sea now known as Romania has around 3000 natural hotsprings. And further west along the Danube in the land we now call Hungary there are another thousand natural hotsprings. Here in this veritable garden of Eden more than 7,000 years ago the most intelligent cultures of the ancient world came into existance -- the Cucuteni, Lengyel, Karanova, Tisza, Vinca and others.
|The vulva stone on the left was found on an altar in Lepenski Vir where it has sat for 8000 years waiting for us. The image on the right, the goddess of Lepenski Vir was found on the same altar. Lepenski Vir is an archeological site located on the banks of the Danube river in Yugoslavia. Extensive radiocarbon dating shows that the Lepenski Vir site was occupied between about 6000 BC and 4560 BC -- For well over a thousand years these people lived in this place -- a prehistoric town a few feet from the Danube river, a place with many altars. The heart of their devotions was the womb of the universe.||
|Notice how much the Goddess of Lepenski Vir resembles the Sheila-na-gig of Ireland. Though many milleniums pass between the creation of these two images.||But that is not so hard to understand when you stop and think that the wanderers of the river Danube followed it to Ireland -- and brought their minds with them of course.|
|The pre-flood civilizations used symbols to
convey meanings. They decorated their pottery with these first symbols of their beliefs --
thousands of years before the Sumerians. These ancient symbols communicated meanings that
were understood by all the Black Sea cultures.
The vase on the right, covered with these early symbols, dates from the Tisza culture, west of the Black Sea -- 4800 BC. Marco Merlini has created an excellent website dedicated to the prehistoric Balkan-Danube Script. Clicking on the left-hand image will take you to his article with excellent illustrations by Daniela Bulgarelli. Clicking on the right-hand image will take you to the Prehistory Knowledge website with its great articles about the ancient script.
|Click on the image of the Catal Huyuk dagger to read an excellent article about the Religion of Catal Huyuk by William Carl Eichman...|
Go on to the next chapter: the great deluge