Thursday, September 4, 2014

Early Christian Amulet Discovered

A 1,500-year-old papyrus is one of the earliest surviving Christian amulets and was likely worn by an average person. It was re-discovered in the University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library. The text makes reference to the Lord's Supper and was written on the back of a grain tax receipt. Read about the discovery here.

Amulets were worn by early Christians, and this continued a tradition from before the time of Abraham. This article places too much emphasis on the influence of Egyptian magic. Amulets were worn for protection, as Christians today place crosses over doorways and in their cars.

The practice of writing sacred texts on objects was largely a priestly practice. In part, this is because the priests were the only people who knew how to write (scribes). The priests of Abraham's time wrote blessings and curses on the insides of bowls from which they poured out the blessings or curses. This is the significance of the seven bowls of Revelation 16.

This text reflects the Messianic vision and uses a very ancient reference - Christ "our God." The full text of the papyrus reads:

'Fear you all who rule over the earth.

'Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.

'For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.

'Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.'

Dr. Tom McCollough of Centre College (Kentucky) has excavated in Galilee and found many amulets that date to Jesus' time and after. His team excavated at Sepphoris, a sprawling site on top of a large hill in Galilee. There was an amphitheater, a synagogue, a rich collection of mosaics and several nearby villages and roads. Sepphoris is located only 5 miles from Nazareth, northwest across the rolling hills. The influence of Egypt is evident in the mosaic floor of the Nile House in Sepphoris (shown below).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Proto-Saharan Maa Civilization

Dr. Clyde Winters
Here is Dr. Clyde Winters' video on the Proto-Saharan Maa civilization. The images and information are fascinating!

Related reading: Proto-Saharan Pottery Marks; Boats and Cows of the Nilo-Saharans, The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Proto-Saharan Pottery Marks

From archaeological excavations done across the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion, it is clear that there existed a form of writing during the Neolithic period based upon the Thinite script of the Nilo-Saharans (5000-3000 BC). This system of writing consisted of marks made on pottery and the symbols are rather uniform from the Nile to Southern India.

Perhaps the world's oldest known from of writing, the pottery marks have been termed of what some "Proto Saharan" but they also could be termed "Old Nubian." 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

African Stone, Shell and Egg Technologies

65,000 year old ostrich egg shells with geometric designs
demonstrate symbolic communication among paleolithic peoples in Africa

Alice C. Linsley

Africa is archaeologically rich. Artifacts abound and the age of settlements in Sudan has been pushed back to 70,000 years ago. Stone, shell and ostrich eggs were widely used for tools, ornaments and utensils. Ostrich eggs were used to carry water and were decorated. A large cache of ostrich eggshells engraved with geometric designs demonstrates symbolic communication among African hunter-gatherers. The decorated ostrich eggs date to 65,000 years. Such eggshells were placed in the graves of children in Sudan.

Ostrich eggs were used in prehistoric times throughout the Nile valley as perfume containers, bowls for oblutions, and as canteens. Ostrich feathers were worn in the hair of warriors and rulers of ancient Egypt, and the Egyptian goddess Ma'at is shown with an ostrich feather in her hair. She weighed the hearts of the dead to determine who would enter eternal life. Painted ostrich eggs have been found in tombs at Hierakonpolis (Nekhen) and in many graves of children in ancient Nubia. The ostrich represents the Winter Solstice. The ostrich is placed between the Bull (symbol of the Autumnal Equinox) and the Griffin Vulture (symbol of the Spring Equinox) in Elihu's discourse on the transcendence of the Creator in the book of Job.

Dating from 82,000 years ago, these beads are thought to be the oldest in the world.
(Credit: Marian Vanhaeren and Francesco d'Errico / 2007

These 82,000 years perforated shell beads were unearthed by archaeologists in the Cave of Pigeons in Taforalt, north-east Morocco. The cache consisted of 13 shells belonging to the species Nassarius gibbosulus.  Some of shell beads are still covered with red ocher.

The stone tools discovered with the shells were sharp biface points typical of Aterian technology in North Africa. They were probably used as spearheads.

1.8 million stone axes

Artifacts from around 75,000 years ago unearthed from Still Bay at Blombos Cave, South Africa.
a) bifacial foliate point, b) bone tool, c) engraved ochre, d) shell beads, e) engraved bone.
Credit: Christopher Henshilwood

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Land of WaWaT

Nubian incense burner (3200-3000 BC)
Discovered at Qustul, Cemetery L, tomb 24

Alice C. Linsley

The Upper Nile appears to be the point of origin of the features of religion that are associated with Moses and his people. This includes animal sacrifice, the burning of incense, circumcision, ruler-priests, the Holy Name YHWH, and the solar imagery of the Habiru/Hebrews.

Of special interest is ancient Nubia between c. 3100 and 2300 B.C. This region was called by different names. The ancient Egyptians called the land south of the first Nile cataract "Ta-neh-su." In Tanehsu, they called the land between the first and second cataracts, Wawat. It was described as a region rich in gold. It may correspond to the Biblical description of the land of Ha-vilah. In 2007, archaeologists from the Oriental Institute discovered a 4000 year gold-processing center along the Nile in the region of Wawat. The site is called Hosh el-Guruf. More than 55 grinding stones made of granite-like gneiss were found at the site. The ore was ground to recover the gold and water from the Nile was used to separate the flakes from the particle residue.

Geoff Emberling, Director of the Oriental Institute Museum and a co-leader of the expedition that discovered the gold working operation at Hosh el-Guruf, reported that his team also discovered a cemetery at nearby al-Widay with high-status pottery vessels that appear to have been made at Kerma, about 225 miles away. Wi means mummy in ancient Egyptian. The earliest mummification took place among the Saharans who discovered that the

The al-Widay cemetery included 90 closely packed stone circles. The covered shafts were circular and lined with stones, a typical feature of the Pan Graves of Proto-Saharan nobility. Pan Grave cemeteries have been found at a number of sites in Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia. These graves are associated with the Beja, an ancient metal working people of the Sahara. The Egyptians called them "Medja-yu." They brought gold to Egypt from mines deep in the heartland of Nubia. At the Temple at Dendur in Nubia the sons of a local Beja chieftain, Pedisi and Pihor, are honored. Ped-isi refers to Hathor who was later called Isis, and Pi-hor refers to Horus.

Kerma was one of the most important centers of ancient Nubia. In a royal cemetery to the east of Kerma, four massive grave tumuli were discovered. They contained several hundred human remains and were surrounded by thousands of cattle skulls. This was a common burial practice among to the Nilo-Saharan cattle people, often referred to as the C-Group Culture (2300-1550 B.C.). C-Group cemeteries ranged from Heliopolis (Biblical On) to Ethiopia.

Wawat clearly had a long history of occupancy by Nilo-Saharan peoples. It appears to be the region of Nubia's trade with the Upper Nile and the Sahara. They traded incense, copper, gold, shell artifacts, semiprecious stones, and perhaps Nubian beer which was laced with tetracycline.

Wawat and the Pharaohs

In 2300 B.C., the peoples living between the first and second cataracts were under different rulers. The territories were called Irtjet, Setju, Medja, and Wawat. Later all of the land between the first and the second cataracts was called Wawat. The kingdoms of Irtjet and Setju were brought under Wawat's ruler and Wawat became the center of government for that region of the Nile. Under Pepi II, pharaoh of the 6th Dynasty, Pepinakhte Hekiab led a campaign against Wawat and Irtjet, with an army of 20,000 with the determination to "hack up Wawat.” A reported 17,000 prisoners were taken and Pepinakhte compelled the "two rulers of Wawat and Irtjet" to travel to Memphis and pay homage to Pharaoh. From the 12th Dynasty to Ptolemaic times the whole of Lower Nubia was called Wawat.

Old Kingdom texts (2980–2475 B.C.) mention Yam in connection to Wawat. Harkhuf', the governor of Aswan, made several journeys to Yam, according to his autobiography. His journey involved sailing and traveling by donkey, which suggests that Yam was in a more desert area of Upper Nubia, probably toward the hills. On Harhuf's third trip to Yam, three hundred donkeys were brought back to Egypt.The inscription on Harkhuf's tomb explains: "The majesty of Mernere my lord, sent me, together with my father, the sole companion, and ritual priest Iry, to Yam, in order to explore a road to this country. I did it in only seven months."

Harkhuf headed four expeditions to Upper Nubia and Yam in the reigns of Merenre and Pepi II. Harkhuf traveled by land across the hill country of Irtjet northwards, and in his travels he was dependent upon the troops of Yam who accompanied him. On one of these ventures he captured a pygmy, though he is called a "dwarf" in Breasted's translation. An excited young pharaoh promised Harkhuf that he would be greatly rewarded if the pygmy were brought back alive. This letter was preserved as a lengthy inscription on Harkhuf's tomb:

Come northward to the court immediately; [...] thou shalt bring this dwarf with thee, which thou bringest living, prosperous and healthy from the land of spirits, for the dances of the god, to rejoice and [gladden] the heart of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare, who lives forever. When he goes down with thee into the vessel, appoint excellent people, who shall be beside him on each side of the vessel; take care lest he fall into the water. When he sleeps at night appoint excellent people, who shall sleep beside him in his tent, inspect ten times a night. My majesty desires to see this dwarf more than the gifts of Sinai and of Punt. If thou arrivest at court this dwarf being with thee alive, prosperous and healthy, my majesty will do for thee a greater thing than that which was done for the treasurer of the god Burded in the time of Isesi, according to the heart's desire of my majesty to see the dwarf. (James Henry Breasted Ancient Records of Egypt, Part I 328ff)

Yam:  Place of water rituals

Yam's central shrine city was at Kerma on the frontier between Irtjet and Setju. Kerma was likely the location of the "house of the ruler of Irtjet and Setju" mentioned in Harkhuf’s autobiography, and the ruler resided near the temple. Excavations at Kerma have uncovered a walled town surrounding a monumental mud-brick temple. Clearly Kerma was a place of rituals that included water purification and blessings.

The Nile is called yam, meaning "sea" in various Biblical references (Job 41:31; Na 3:8; Isa 18:2). Yam is comprised on two ancient lexemes: Y and M. The Y is the Y solar cradle, indicating divine appointment or anointing by the overshadowing of the sun, Ra's emblem. The form represents the long horns of the Saharo-Nubian cattle. These were venerated as the animal totem of Hathor-Meri, the mother of Horus. She is shown with the Y crown cradling the solar orb. Hathor was venerated at Yam, where her plant totem was the "southern sycamore," a type of fig tree.

The M also represents the concept of water. In ancient Egyptian mw or mu means water. YM suggests a place of anointed waters or a place of water rituals associated with the Horites, devotees of Ra, Horus and Hathor.

3200-3000 B.C. incense burner from Qustul in Wawat. It shows Nilo-Saharan boats, 
a ruler wearing the white crown (Wrrt or Hedjet) of the Upper Nile, and the falcon totem of Horus

W is an ancient lexeme indicating a number of related ideas: Nile waters (wadj - green), purification (w'b.t), priest (wab), waves, effects of sun (w) and moon (warih), wandering or meandering, etc. The T is another ancient lexeme that speaks of crossing from one side to another, the solar arc, and the rising of the sun, or a bnbn, or a sacred pillar. The Egyptian word for the rising sun is wbn. The white crown of the Upper Nile was called the wrrt crown. Wrt means "great one." Wawat suggests a natural place for people to cross the Nile. The region was a place of commerce along ancient trade routes controlled by the authorities of the Nile shrines.

The Divine Name found on the sacrificial altar at the Almaqah temple in the Ethiopian Highlands bears a 7th century B.C. inscription with the name of Yeha (YH).This temple was constructed on the ruins of an earlier Nubian structure. As this was a mountain shrine with an elevation well above the Nile floodplain there is no W as in the Divine Name. The W was a symbol for the Nile waters.

Abraham's Nubian Ancestors

The intermarriage of the Horite ruler-priest lines appears to be unbroken from the Genesis kings to the time of Jesus. This endogamous pattern suggests that the Horites were a caste, rather than an ethnic group. Abraham's Nubian ancestors are called "Kushite" in the Bible. However, the term is anachronistic since many of these ancestors lived before the time of Kush, Noah's grandson.

The  term "Kushite" must be understood to include many peoples: red Nubians, black Nubians, Nilo-Saharan peoples, Bedja, Anu, and Horites. Wenis (who reigned from 2356 to 2323 B.C.) recruited five different Nubian peoples when he assembled Pepi I's army for the military campaign to Canaan.

Archaeological, linguistic, and DNA studies indicate that the Nilo-Saharan peoples dispersed widely, and it is safe to say that many originated in the region of Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) in Sudan and Wawat in Nubia.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Biblical Anthropology Corrects False Impressions

"Genesis in Anthropological Perspective" demonstrates how application of cultural anthropology to the Biblical text helps to correct false impressions and distorted interpretations. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Priests of Midian

Alice C. Linsley

Abraham and his people were Habiru (Hebrew), the oldest known caste of royal priests. They are sometimes called Hapiru or Opiru in ancient texts. They were the mighty men of old who built kingdoms and spread their religious beliefs and practices widely. They were skilled in war, metal work, astronomy, writing and animal husbandry. Among them were the clans of Ar who today are called "Arabs." Originally the word designated a caste of scribes. Ar-ab means “father is scribe” or "scribal tribe."

The Arkites and the Arvadites are among the clans of Ar. They represent a two-clan confederation. The word “Arvadites” refers to residents of the Mediterranean island-city of Arvad (Arpah or Arphad in other ancient sources). Arvad is an extremely ancient city. Before the Phoenicians, it was populated seasonally by peoples passing from north Africa to Asia. Some of these were Netufians (Luo).

The Arvadites had close ties to the Egyptians and paid tribute to the Kushite Pharaohs for protection from the Assyrians. The Kushite Pharaoh Tahar-qo called the land of Canaan and Syria “Khor” which is a compound of K for Kush and Hor for Horus. Kash, Kwash, Akwanski and Kush are cognates referring to the First People, whose rulers were considered deified ancestors. They are said to have ruled the ancient world for 7000 years. In a message sent to the King of Tyre Tahar-qo wrote, “Oh Amun, what I did in the land of Nubia, let [ … … ], let me do it with your tribute (inw) of Khor (Syria-Palestine) which has been turned aside from you.” (Dan'el Kahn, p. 115)

In 2010, the 4400 year old tomb of a Kushite priest was found at Giza. The tomb belongs to a priest named Rudj-Ka (or Rwd-Ka) and dates to the 5th Dynasty, between 2465 and 2323 B.C.

The root of the names Arkite and Arvadite is AR and its origin is Proto-Saharan. Among the Igbo of Nigeria, the scribe clans were called Ar or Aro. The earliest known writing originated in Canaan among the coastline peoples of the Red Sea and Phoenicia. The Arabic word for throne is aarsh/ash and likely related to the scribal function attached to rulers. The Egyptian Asa-ar means the Serpent of Asa. Asa is a very ancient name for God. It appears in the Hebrew names of many rulers in Israel. The peoples living in Arvad, Tyre and Sidon employed serpent imagery in their temples. Among the Igbo even today there is a belief that the great serpent is a symbol for Christ (cf. Num. 21:9 - "Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived." Also John 3:14 - "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up.")

Some Arabs are traced through Yaqtan the Elder, Abraham's father-in-law  (Gen. 10:25-30; Gen. 25)
Other are listed among the Kushites who originated in the Nile Valley. The Horites practiced endogamy so their lines intermarried exclusively. This means that the lines of Cain and Seth (Gen. 4 and 5) intermarried. The lines of Ham and Shem (Gen. 10 and 11) intermarried. The lines of Abraham and Nahor intermarried (Gen. 20:22-25; 1 Chron. 27:17; 1 Chron. 26:30; Num. 34:24)

Abraham had nine sons, according to the Septuagint. Here is a list of sons:

Sarah, daughter of Terah (Gen. 20:12)
Yitzak (Issac)

In the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern, the proper heir was the first born son of the half-sister wife. Sarah was Abraham's half-sister, but she was barren. Thus Abraham complained to the Lord, "O Lord God, what can you give me seeing that I shall die accursed, and the steward of my household is Dam-Mesek Eliezer?" (Genesis 15:2)

God promised Abraham that Sarah would bring forth a son. In providing a son according to the divine promise, God overthrew the curse. Behold the pattern concerning Jesus Christ, the promised Son who overthrows the Curse!

Hagar the Egyptian (Gen. 25:13-18)
Yismael (Ishmael) was Egyptian, since ethnicity was traced through the mother and Hagar was Egyptian. Tracing ethnicity through the mother rather than the father is still required to establish Jewish identity today. This pattern is recognized in Egypt as well, which is why the Egyptian government has made it illegal for Egyptian men to marry Jewish women.

Ishmael was not Abraham's first born son. His first born son was Yaqtan (Joktan). See below.

Keturah, daughter of Joktan the Elder (Gen. 25)
Joktan – Keturah’s firstborn son

These are the priest lines of Midian. They are related to the Horite rulers of Edom (Gen. 36). Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, is a descendant of Midian.

The Midianites competed for land with the Amorites. The terms “Amorites” and "Canaanites" are synonymous in Genesis 15:15-16 and Joshua 24:15, 18. The Amorites were the Am-Ar, meaning the people/tribe of Ar. They are called the Aro among the people living at the confluence of the Benue and Niger Rivers in Nigeria. Some migrated to this well-watered region before the time of Abraham. The late Nigerian historian, Dr. Catherine Acholonu, believed that the Amorites were a caste of scribes.

Masek (Possibly Keturah's handmaid)
Eliezar (not of Damascus, but dam-Masek, meaning son of Masek)

Today some Mahra/Masek are semi-nomadic and others are settled in small semi-fortified villages where they farm and raise chickens for eggs and goats for milk. They are known to aggressively defend their territories and water sources and are regarded as belonging to the warrior caste. Their chiefs control the goods and persons who pass through their lands.

The Mahra/Masek are an endogamous tribe, meaning that they marry within their kinship circle. Most men have only one wife, but the chief may have more than one. Children receive inheritances patrilineally, with the first-born son receiving the lion's share. Young girls are valued for childbearing and for the bonding of families through marriage. This was especially true in Abraham's time for both wives and concubines.

Related reading: Abraham's Two Concubines; Who Was Jethro?; The Lines of Ham and Shem Intermarried; Symbols of Authority Linked to Cain and Seth; The Genesis King Lists; Abraham's Nephews and Niece