Friday, April 19, 2019

Mongolian Lexicon

Alice C. Linsley

This short list of Mongolian words will be helpful to Biblical Anthropologists seeking linguistic connections between the Central Asian populations and biblical populations. It is best used alongside the Hungarian Lexicon, the Ancient Egyptian Lexicon, and the Akkadian Lexicon.

achor - towel
ado - horse herd
aduu - horse
agui - cave
airag - mare's milk
alchaã - shelter, hut, booth
altan - golden
amche - physician
arag - wine

baatar - hero
boroo - rain
buqa - stud bull

chono - wolf
chuluun - stone

gal - fire
gerel - light
ger - home, tent (ghar - home in Urdu/Hindi)
gobi - desert
gol - river
golomt - hearth

halkhazug - gown
hün - adult male, man
hünij - human being

ild - Mongolian scimitar, sabre
ikh - great

khöndii - valley, large gorge
khoomii - diphonic throat song in which the singer produces 2 separate lines simultaneously
kurultai - a political or military council (khur - to assemble, to discuss)

magtaal - ode
mergen - wise
mogoi - snake
mod - tree
möngön - silver
mori - horse
mörön - large river

naranu gerel - sunlight
nar/naran - the Sun
nokhoi - dog

od - star
ödör - day
ols - rope
ordo - the central tent of a leader, a seat of honor
ovoo - sacred stone heap (Variants: oboo and obo)

quduã - water well

salhi - wind
sar - the Moon
shuvuu - bird
sogchas - Mongolian dress
sogjil - ear ring
sogzha - hat
šönö - night

takhilch - preserver of Tradition, caretaker
temegen - camel
temur - iron
terigün - head
tenger - sky
Tengri - High God
tsas - snow
tuãul - calf

üker - cattle, cow, bull, ox,
umusu - socks
ünijen - milk cow
us/usny - water
uul - mountain

Monday, April 8, 2019

Biblical Populations and Akkadian

How spoken Akkadian may have sounded.

Alice C. Linsley

The Indian scholar, Malati J. Shendge, has concluded that the language of the Harappans of the Indus Valley was Akkadian. Shendge believes that the language of the Harappan civilization is reflected in the Asuras. She says, "The earlier works and other details mentioned in the context of the Asuras prove that the Harappan language was related to their Iraqi counterparts." (From here.)

Among the cognates in Sanskrit and Akkadian are the names of gods and priests; words for parts of the body, the horse, and household and temple furnishings.

Ajay Pratap Singh has written, "Comparisons of Akkadian and Sanskrit words yielded at least 400 words in both languages with comparable phonetic and semantic similarities. Thus Sanskrit has, in fact, descended from Akkadian."

Support for this view comes from Harappan artifacts that are similar to those of the ancient Nile. A connection between the two riverine civilizations is made in Genesis 10 where we are told that Nimrod, a Kushite kingdom builder, ruled where Akkadian was the language of the empire.

The Bible scholar, E.A. Speiser, found that names taken to be Indo-European were often labeled "Hurrian" and were later identified as Akkadian.

Hurrian or Horite names in ancient documents does not mean that there was a Hurrian or Horite language. The Horites were widely dispersed and spoke the languages of the people among whom they lived. Today scholars use terms like Ugaritic-Hurrian, Hurro-Urartian and Hurro-Akkadian, or Canaano-Akkadian.

Ugaritic-Hurrian shares many letters with Hebrew and is also read from left to right. This Ugarit alphabet chart shows the Ugarit letters in order. There are eight additional letters in the Ugarit alphabet that are not in the Hebrew alphabet, two of which are vowels. The tablet is missing the 13th, 14th, and 25th letters, which appear to have been broken off the right end of the tablet.

According to this study, "Ugaritic-Hurrian matches the initial stage of intermingling, Hurro-Akkadian reflects gradually more intense blending, and Canaano-Akkadian corresponds to the phase of a profound fusion of the two source codes."

This view of the emergence sequence aligns with the view of Sholmo Izre'el (Tel Aviv University) He writes, "To my mind, the best term used so far for indicating the nature of Canaano-Akkadian is mixed language. While not attempting a definition of the term, Bakker and Mous do see similarities between the languages described in their collection Mixed Languages (1994). They do, however, propose the term language intertwining ‘for the process forming mixed language showing a combination of the grammatical system (phonology, morphology, syntax) of one language with the lexicon of another language’ (Bakker and Mous 1994: 4-5).”

Hurro-Urartian developed in the Taurus Mountains and is similar to old Armenian.

The map shows where the Hurro-Urartian dialects were spoken.

Arabic speakers note a similarity between some words in modern Assyrian and ancient Akkadian. A list is provided here.

Related reading: Akkadian Lexicon

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Were the Tarim Mummies Afro-Eurasians?

Alice C. Linsley

The mummies of the Tarim Basin in Western China have been the topic of much speculation. It is believed that they moved into the Tarim region from Europe, but it is also possible that their ancestors moved out of the Nile Valley. The Tarim mummies are likely related to the peoples of the Afro-European Haplogroup R1.

The first mummies were unearthed at Qizilchoqa, or Red Hillock. Some were found at Urumchi (Urumqi) in the Tian Shan Mountains (Mountains of the High God) near the border with Kazakhstan. Another mummy found near Subashi, 310 miles west of Qizilchoqa, was that of a man who had undergone a surgical operation on his neck. The incision was closed with horsehair sutures.

At Subashi, a woman's body was found wearing a two-foot black felt peaked hat with a flat brim like that worn by the Saka. In 1970, just over China's western border in Kazakhstan, the grave of a man from the same period yielded a two-foot conical hat studded with gold-leaf decorations.

Saka with peaked hat

The hat on the statute above resembles the peaked cap on this 1.5-inch-high, 15th-century B.C. gold pendant found at Hattusa in Turkey. Hattusa was a Hittite shrine city. The Hittites of Mamre recognized Abraham as a kinsman, calling him "a great prince among us." (Genesis 23)

The dating of the Tarim mummies ranges from c.2000 BC to c.500 BC. The Tarim Basin was once dotted with lakes and rivers, but the water has largely disappeared. Today the Taklimakan region is a wind swept desert with the Tian Shan range to the north, the Kunlun mountains to the south, and the Qilian mountains to the east.

Before the arrival of the Han Chinese, Western China was occupied by people with features that included round eyes, light brown hair, blonde hair, red beards, and blue eyes. Their features are like those of mummies found at Nekhen on the Nile.

In one burial site archaeologists found a wood model of a mummy in a carved boat. This may be similar to the solar barque of the ancient Nilotes that was believed to carry the dead to immortality. Tarim temples were decorated with solar images consistent with the solar symbolism of the R1b Nilotes for whom the Sun was the emblem of the Creator.

Early expeditions to the Tarim Basin led to the discovery of texts written in seventeen different languages. Linguists believe that languages of the Tarim mummies were Khotanese Saka and Tocharian A and B. János Harmatta pointed out that the Khotanese Saka language is very similar to the Bactrian language as outlined in his analysis of the Dasht-e-Nawur inscriptions.

This chart compares Saka and Tocharian B with Latin and English. All these languages derive from a common Proto-Indo-European (PIE) source.

Linguists note that Tocharian has more in common with the western Indo-European languages than with the eastern Indo-European languages.

The Kushan Yuezhi, also called Saka, called themselves Visha or the Vijaya. This is sometimes rendered as "traders" or "tribes" though the word refers to their two ruling royal houses, as in vijana, the splitting of wisdom. The honorific title "Pharaoh" originates in the term pr-aa, which means "great house." In Vedic tradition, pra-jna means "wisdom of the great house." The words have multiple related meanings (polysemic). In Vedic tradition the a-laya-vijña-na is the seed of the receptacle-world, but literally it means the receptacle of the seed, as in vagina, symbolized originally by the pictograph V.

The Kushan high king called himself "son of heaven" or the “son" of God (Tian), as did the rulers of the Nile.

The Yuezhi Kushan spoke Tocharian and are sometimes referred to as Tochara. They were organized into five clans and the clan chiefs were called Yabgu. Note the initial solar cradle Y. It designates a divinely appointed ruler (deified "son" of God), which is why it appears in the Hebrew names of many biblical rulers: Yaqtan (Joktan); Yishmael (Ishmael); Yishbak; Yitzak (Isaac); Yacob (Jacob); Yosef (Joseph); Yetro (Jethro); Yeshai (Jesse), Yonah (Jonah), and Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus).

Saka Yuezhi warrior

Among the Nilotes the solar orb rested in the horns of bulls. Among the Saka the solar orb often rested in the antlers of deer. This is bronze standard, with it solar imagery, has a stag and two bulls. It was found at Alaca Höyük and dates to about 1900 BC.

The territory of the Yuezhi Kushan was about two thousand miles north of India. The land is at a high altitude with a dry climate, though it was once wet. The people were known for their skill at archery and horsemanship. Here is an image of one of the Tarim Mummies (1000 BC). Note the solar horse in his cheek.

The skin tone of the Kushan was reddish like that of the rulers of Nekhen on the Nile, the oldest know site of Horite Hebrew worship.

 The relationship of the Kushan and the Nilotic Kushites has been explored here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Mysterious Natufians

Natufian territory
Alice C. Linsley

The Natufian populations of the ancient world are fascinating and mysterious. They are known for stone structures, organized settlements, red ochre burial, and the domestication of the dog.

The Natufians appear to be an "out-of-Africa" population. They are an early biblical population in that their area included parts of Western Egypt (Fayoum Oasis), Mount Carmel, Jericho and Bethlehem, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago.

When the Natufians lived in the Levant it received sufficient precipitation to sustain crops and orchards. During the African Aqualithic, there were abundant wadis, salt marshes, peat swamps, and lakes in the region extending from the Nile to the Jordan Valley. Core samples taken in the Hula Basin reveal a warm and wet climate during the time the Natufians flourished in this area. This explains the abundance of tortoise shells found at Natufian burial sites.

They practiced naak, the ritual removal of teeth, a culture trait of Nilotic peoples. Among the Nilotic Luo initiation involves the removal of six front teeth using the tip of a spear. This practice, called naak, persists in some Luo clans, especially in Africanized Churches in Luoland, such as the Legio Maria sect.

Natufian territory is in the heartland of biblical Eden which extended from the Upper Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, according to Genesis 2:10-14.

A small Natufian sculpture representing sexual intercourse was found in a cave near Bethlehem. It dates to 11,000 years. Bethlehem has along association with the biblical Horite Hebrew.

Bethlehem is associated with the Horite Hebrew in I Chronicles 4:4 which names Hur (Hor) as the "father of Bethlehem." Rahab of Jericho was the wife of Salmon, the son of Hur (Horite). Salmon is called the "father of Bethlehem" in 1 Chronicles 2:54. Rahab was the grandmother of Boaz who married Ruth. Salmon is a Horite Hebrew name associated with Bethlehem in 1 Chronicles 2:51

The British archaeologist Dorothy Garrod (1932) coined the term "Natufian" while studying remains from the Shuqba cave at Wadi an-Natuf in Palestine. The term is derived from the place, but Natufian ceramics and stone work have been found in many locations ranging from Turkey to the Sinai. She considered the Natufians to be the first agriculturalists based on the presence of sickles to harvest the grains and mortars and pestles to process it.

However, since Garrod's time earlier sickles have been found at Ohalo II, an Upper Paleolithic encampment on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (23,000 BC). At Ohalo II, archaeologists also found wooden objects on brush-hut floors. They include a bark plank, pencil-shaped specimens with longitudinal shavings that may have been decorative or symbolic, and an incised wooden object that is identical in size and incision pattern to a gazelle bone implement found in a grave.

The Natufians in Jordan were baking bread 14,500 years ago. Their diet consisted of meat and plants. The bread was made from wild cereals such as barley, einkorn or oats, and tubers from an aquatic papyrus relative. These were ground into flour and baked in round fire pits made from flat basalt stones, and were located in the middle of huts.

Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA Christopher Ehret notes that the intensive use of plants among the Natufians was first found in Africa, as a precursor to the development of farming in the Fertile Crescent. (Ehret, The Civilizations of Africa: A History to 1800. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2002)

The British archaeologist Graeme Barker explains: "the similarities in the respective archaeological records of the Natufian culture of the Levant and of contemporary foragers in coastal North Africa across the late Pleistocene and early Holocene boundary". (Barker G, Transitions to farming and pastoralism in North Africa, in Bellwood P, Renfrew C 2002, Examining the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis, pp 151–161.)

Harvard Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology Ofer Bar-Yosef cites the microburin technique and “microlithic forms such as arched backed bladelets and La Mouillah points" as well as the parthenocarpic figs found in Natufian territory originated in the Sudan. (Bar-Yosef O., Pleistocene connections between Africa and South West Asia: an archaeological perspective. The African Archaeological Review; Chapter 5, pg 29-38; Kislev ME, Hartmann A, Bar-Yosef O, Early domesticated fig in the Jordan Valley. Nature 312:1372–1374.)

Related reading: Natufian Culture, The Ritual Removal of Teeth; Natufian Culture and the Origin of the Neolithic in the Levant

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Ritual Removal of Teeth

Alice C. Linsley

In 1966, a Danish dentist found that the Acholi people living near the Sudanese border were  dislodging their infants’ canine teeth. Traditionally, Nilotic cattle herders extracted two to eight maxillary/mandibular incisors and/or canines. This was done to both boys and girls between the ages of seven and ten.

This painful procedure - called "naak" - is part of a rite of passage that occurs during the dry season. The primitive practice involves extracting the canines from the jaw with a piece of iron, and the lower incisors are removed with a fish hook.

Naak is widespread in the more rural areas of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, but the practice varies from group to group. The Nuer of South Sudan remove the teeth shortly after birth. Likewise, in rural Uganda and Kenya the teeth are often extracted soon after birth. Among the Nilotic Luo initiation involves the removal of six front teeth using the tip of a spear. The practice persists in some Luo clans, especially in Africanized Churches in Luoland, such as the Legio Maria sect.

This Sudanese man's teeth were extracted at age 10.
The reason for the extraction was never explained to him.

People interviewed who underwent the ritual remember being frightened and recall the pain of having the teeth or tooth buds removed. They were given different reasons for why it was done. Some thought removing the teeth would prevent diarrhea. Some believe this is done to enable a person to be fed in the event of lockjaw (tetanus).

Because it was undesirable to cry during the procedure, in which they used fishing knives to remove the teeth, girls went first. Tribesmen told the boys that if the girls didn't cry, then the boys couldn't cry either, said Santino Deng, a Sudanese refugee.

"You were happy if you endured the pain," Ajak said. "People would consider you were a man."

The Sudanese government has been dissuading people from removing teeth for health reasons, but some tribal groups still engage in the practice.

The practice of naak is very ancient, so much so that practitioners today do not know why it is done.  Frazer believed that this practice derived from recognition of the durability of the tooth in the skull after death, and thus the practice served as a statement about the afterlife. 

Natufian Territory

The early Australians apparently practiced tooth removal. The Lake Nitchie male (buried c.6800 years ago) was buried with red ochre and was missed two front teeth. The antiquity of ritual tooth removal is verified by the discovery that naak was practiced by the Natufian populations (12,000 to 7,500 BC).

It appears that tooth extraction was a rite of passage similar to circumcision and that both were performed at ritual sites such as Tell Gezer in Israel (shown above), a site marked by a circle of standing stones. The word "kar" refers to a high sanctuary where sacrifices were offered. Karnak on the Nile and Carnak in Brittany are examples. A Luo informant believes that Kar-naak means "place of ritual." Among the Nilotic Luo, kar specifies a place with boundaries such as mud ramparts or stone fortifications.

In Dravidian, car means "sheltered together" and kari refers to a river. In Manding, kara means "to assemble."  In Sumerian, é-kur refers to a mountain house, a pyramid, or an elevated temple. In Akkadian, a ruined high place was called karmu. There is a connection between karmu (ruin) and the Magyar/Hungarian word hamu (ashes).

Since the kar were places of burnt offering where ashes were used to purify (lustration), the term kar is often associated with charcoal and soot. The Turkish kara means "black." In Magyar/Hungarian, the word korom refers to soot, as does the Korean word kurim.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Religious Impulse Among Archaic Populations

6500 year shard found at elevated site in Bellinzona, Switzerland.

Alice C. Linsley

There is a common misconception that religious practices first emerged when humans became more sedentary and began to farm. The prehistoric images painted on the walls of rock shelters suggests that this is not the case. These have a religious quality and many anthropologists believe them rock shelters to be have been places of religious ritual.

There are 10,000 year temples at high elevations like Gobekli Tepe and Çatalhöyük. At Çatalhöyük the priests wore leopard skins as did the priests of the ancient Upper Nile. These archaic sites indicate organized religion with priests and rituals involving astronomy and the cycle of the seasons. In the Bible these mountain shrines and temples are called "the high places." 

7000-6000 years settlements in the Alps were contemporaneous with settlements in the Carpathian mountains and with Europe's oldest city in Bulgaria. At the same time, Galilee received immigrants from the Zagros mountains.

This is a photo of a mountain fortification in Bellinzona, Switzerland where 6500 year artifacts have been found. 

Around 70,000 years ago people living in Southern Africa carved a python out of the side of a cliff and conducted religious ceremonies there. At the back of the Botswana cave was a chamber believed to be a sacred site because there were no signs of animal bones, tools or cooking fires such as those found in South Africa's Blombos Cave of a similar age.

Another phenomena that indicates religious impulse is the 90,000+ years of burial in red ochre, a symbol of blood. This appears to express the hope of life after death. As it says in the Bible: "Life is in the blood."

From the perspective of anthropology, the deep time record of human activity is evident in the vast number of objects made and used by humans. The religious nature of ritual burial is another example of the depth of human existence. Consider these examples:

100,000 years ago - Burial of humans in red ochre at Qafzeh Cave in what is today Israel. Evidence of human habitation in the area of Bethlehem between 100,000-10,000 BC) is well-attested along the north side of Wadi Khareitun where there are three caves: Iraq al-Ahmar, Umm Qal’a, and Umm Qatafa. These caves were homes in a wooded landscape overlooking a river. At Umm Qatafa archaeologists have found the earliest evidence of the domestic use of fire in Palestine.

50,000 years ago - A small boy buried with a seashell pendant and covered in red ochre

45,000 years ago - A man buried at La Chapelle-aux-Saints in southern France in red ochre

35,000 years ago - Male buried in red ochre in Paviland Cave, Wales

32,000 years ago - Four bodies buried in red ochre at Sungir in Russia.

23,000 years ago - The "Fox Lady" of Doini Vestonice, Czechoslovakia, buried in red ochre

20,000 years ago - A thirty-year-old man buried in Bavaria surrounded by mammoth tusks and submerged in red ochre.

Australian burial sites dating to about 20,000 years reveal pink staining of the soil around the skeleton, indicating that red ochre had been sprinkled over the body. The remains of an adult male found at Lake Mungo in southeastern Australia were copiously sprinkled with red ochre.

19,000 years ago - Lady of El Mirón cave in northern Spain was buried in red ochre. She died around the age of 35.

11,000 years ago - A man and woman were buried with a dog in the area of Bonn-Oberkassel, Germany. The corpses were covered with red ochre.

7000 years ago -Two skeletons buried in red ochre found at La Braña-Arintero cave in the Cantabrian Mountains of Spain

6800 years ago - The Lake Nitchie male was buried with red ochre and was missed two front teeth (ritual removal?).

5000 years ago - Two flexed burials were found in Mehrgarh, Pakistan with a covering of red ochre on the bodies

There is no doubt that humans have had a religious impulse from the beginning. It appears to express an awareness of our mortality and a hope for life after death.

Friday, February 22, 2019

The Ancient Antecedents of Ash Wednesday

Alice C. Linsley

The association of ashes with sacrifice at the archaic places of worship is well attested. The oldest places of worship were at elevated sites near permanent water sources. The Bible refers to these as the "high places." Burnt offerings were made at these sites and the ashes were used to purify (lustration). In Numbers 9:19, we read how the ashes of the sacrificed red heifer were used for "water of lustration." This explains why there is a linguistic relationship between the ancient word for high place and words for ashes or charcoal.

The word kar refers to a fortified site with a temple or shrine tended by priests. Karnak on the Nile and Carnak in Brittany are examples. In Dravidian, car means "sheltered together" and kari refers to a river. In Manding, kara means "to assemble." Among the Nilotic Luo, kar specifies a place with boundaries such as mud ramparts or stone fortifications. In Sumerian, é-kur refers to a mountain house, a pyramid, or an elevated temple. In Akkadian, a ruined high place was called karmu. There is a connection between karmu (ruin) and the Magyar/Hungarian word hamu (ashes).

Since the kar were places of burnt offering where ashes were used to purify, the term kar is often associated with charcoal and soot. The Turkish kara means "black." In Magyar/Hungarian, the word korom refers to soot, as does the Korean word kurim.

In the biblical literature we find many figures offering burnt sacrifice on mountains. The practice is older than Judaism. It seems to have pertained to a royal caste of sacrificing priests who were known as Habiru in ancient texts. In English Bibles Habiru is rendered as "Hebrew."

In our time, Ash Wednesday points participants to our mortality and to the hope of bodily resurrection. That hope comes through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Messiah who offered himself on a high hill shaped like a skull.