Monday, February 5, 2018

Twin Cities of the Ancient World


Tomb painting at Nekhen


Many of the cities of the ancient world were royal cities with shrines, temples, palaces, and treasuries. These edifices of stone were characterized by many columns or pillars. The glyph for pillar looks like the letter i.

The shrine cities were built along the ancient waterways and the cargo that moved along the rivers was taxed. To insure that no ships passed the royal cities without paying the required tribute, the rulers built twin cities on opposite sides of the river.

On the Nile there were the twin cities of Nekhen and Nekheb (Elkab). These were built on the opposite sides of the river. The tomb of Horemkhawef in Nekhen and the tomb of Sobeknakht in Elkab were painted by the same artist. Hormose, the chief priest of Nekhen, requested material goods from the temple at Nekheb for use at the temple at Nekhen. The Greeks called the shrine of Nekhen "Hierakonpolis," which means "city of priests." 

Nekhen is called the Falcon City, as the falcon was the animal totem of Horus, the son of the Creator God Ra. Votive offerings at the Nekhen temple were ten times larger than the normal mace heads and bowls found elsewhere, suggesting that this was a very prestigious shrine. Horite Habiru (Hebrew) priests placed invocations to Horus at the summit of the fortress as the sun rose.

Nekhen was a major city on the Nile, with an estimated population of 20,000. It was a bustling city with markets, breweries and fishing. The city stretched nearly 3 miles along the edge of the Nile floodplain. At Nekhen we find all the evidences of an advanced civilization in the Nile Valley before the emergence of Egypt. These features include city building, written communication, hierarchical social structure, ritual burial, ship building, river trade, and complex religious expressions.

Renée Friedman, who has direct knowledge of the excavations at Nekhen, has written that the "evidence of industrial production, temples, masks, mummies, and funerary architecture as early as 3500 B.C. is placing Hierakonpolis at the forefront of traditions and practices that would come to typify Egyptian culture centuries later. These discoveries may have knocked Narmer and his palette off their historical pedestal, but they confirm the central role the city played in the long development of Egyptian civilization. It is little wonder that for millennia the deified early kings of Hierakonpolis, called the Souls of Nekhen, were honored guests at the coronations and funerals of all pharaohs."

Nekhen and Nekheb are the oldest known Horite Hebrew shrine cities, dating to about 3600 BC. The Nekhen News (p. 7) reports, "The vast majority of hair samples discovered at Nekhen were cynotrichous (Caucasian) in type as opposed to heliotrichous (Negroid)."

One of the more intriguing discoveries at Nekhen was the recovery of an almost complete beard in association with the redheaded man in Burial no. 79. The facial hair of the man in Burial no. 79 had been trimmed with a sharp blade. The presence of long wavy natural red hair and a full beard suggests that this individual may be of the same ethnicity as the red haired Ur-David mummy (1900 BC) buried in a pyramid in the Tarum Valley of China. There may also be a relationship to the red-haired Amurru (Amorites?) who lived at the northern border of Egypt's ancient empire.



The map shows the location of Antioch/Hatay on the Orontes. Antioch's location was designated Anti-Meroe, or opposite Meroe on ancient maps. Apparently, Meroe (io) and Anti-Meroe (antiok) were twin cities.


Twin cities on the Orontes River

The ancient Egyptians were excellent sailors and built sea-worthy ships. They controlled commerce on the Nile and the Orontes. The Orontes was also called the Draco, or the Asi. It was the chief river of the Levant, and had sufficient depth for sail boats to come up the river from the Mediterranean. This was aided by the north-flowing currents.

Meroe was the farthest outpost of the Egyptian Empire and at its peak the city would have had Amurru. Amurru is the name of the northernmost district of Egypt's empire and it included the coastal region from Ugarit to Byblos. The Orontes marked the northern boundary of Amur-ru. Meroe on the Orontes likely was one of the northern-most Egyptian outposts.

It is interesting that the Amurru are described as having the same physical traits as the mummified ruler buried of Nekhen. According to the Assyriologist Archibald Sayce: "The Amorites… were a tall, handsome people, with white skins, blue eyes and reddish hair..." (The Hittites, 1889). Tomb No. 34 at Thebes, belonging to the Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1550-c. 1292), illustrates a bearded Amorite chief with fair skin and red-brown hair.

Meroe and Antioch were twin settlements when the Orontes River was under Egyptian control. Meroe was an ancient Egyptian settlement on Mount Silpius. The shrine city of Meroe was called IO. Many shrine cities were identified with the I (i) which presents a pillar or column. The ancient shrine cities were characterized by many columns. Some were called Ianna or Iunu. 

The royal city of Heliopolis on the Nile was called “Iunu” (iunu) which means "place of pillars." In the book of Genesis this city is called On. Joseph married the daughter of the priest of On. Here is the hieroglyph for the shrine city of On/iunu on the Nile:




Across from Meroe (IO) was Ant-IO (Antioch), also called Anti-Meroe. The i represents a pillar and the O is a solar symbol of the Creator. On ancient maps the location of Antioch is designated Anti-Meroe, meaning opposite Meroe.

Meroe on the Orontes was a high place about 1600 years before Antioch (Antakya, Hatay) became a Greek city in 307 BC. Antioch became the more important city, with 500,000 inhabitants by the 2nd century AD. It was in Antioch that the followers of Jesus Messiah were first called "Christians."

The Meroe on the Orontes, called IO (Iunna/Iunu/Iwnw), was about 2200 miles from the shrine city of Meroe on the Nile.


Related reading: The Shrine City of Nekhen; Why Nekhen is Anthropologically Significant; The Ancient Egyptians Were Seafaring; Sun Cities of the Ancient World

2 comments:

  1. This is very interesting. Especially since in Greek mythology IO was the ancestor of Greek heroes such as Cadmus, who left Egypt and established Thebes in Greece, Perseus, Danaus who was a king of Egypt, Heracles etc. Perhaps Iunu/IO is their origin? Also, perhaps you can tie in the connection of the name Meroe in ancient Kush.

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  2. Wonderful observation, Bliss. Yes, the Meroe on the Orontes is a Kushite high place, fortified shrine city, like the Meroe on the Nile. IO are not letters. This designates a pillar overshadowed by the Sun, and refers to a sacred place, like a shrine or a temple.

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