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Scythian religion refers to the mythology, ritual practices and beliefs of the Scythians, an ancient Iranian people who dominated Central Asia and the Pontic-Caspian steppe in Eastern Europe throughout Classical Antiquity. What little is known of the religion is drawn from the work of the 5th century Greek historian and ethnographer Herodotus. Scythian religion is assumed to have been related to the earlier Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, and to have influenced later Slavic, Hungarian and Turkic mythologies, as well as some contemporary Eastern Iranian and Ossetian traditions.
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum | Bush-Reisinger Museum | Arthur M. Sackler Museum
Worship of Cybele, or Magna Mater (the Great Mother), extends back thousands of years in Anatolia. The Senate voted to have her cult brought to Rome in the late 3rd century BCE in response to a prophecy that she would aid Rome in its war against Carthage. Although typically accompanied by lions and carrying a drum, here she is identified by her crown and gesture of offering.
Identification and Creation Object Number 1993.233 Title Plaque of the Goddess Cybele Classification Plaques Work Type plaque Date 2nd-3rd century CE Places Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe Period Roman Imperial period, Middle Culture Roman Persistent Link https://hvrd.art/o/303850 Location Level 3, Room 3700, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art, Roman Art
View this object's location on our interactive map Physical Descriptions Medium Leaded bronze Technique Cast, lost-wax process Dimensions 10.3 x 9.3 x 1.2 cm (4 1/16 x 3 11/16 x 1/2 in.) Technical Details
Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Bronze:
Cu, 79.35 Sn, 7.5 Pb, 12.77 Zn, 0.009 Fe, 0.09 Ni, 0.06 Ag, 0.05 Sb, 0.06 As, 0.12 Bi, less than 0.025 Co, less than 0.005 Au, less than 0.01 Cd, less than 0.001
Technical Observations: The patina features cuprite under green corrosion products, which cover much of the surface. The golden-hued metallic areas were possibly exposed through the process of wear. The object is structurally sound. The nose is abraded and flattened, and some areas may have been chemically cleaned. The back is concealed by a waxy, clay-like material that lies over the patina.
The plaque is a solid cast and was made in one piece. The wax model was produced from a mold and reworked before casting. The griffin protomes on the headdress were enhanced in the metal with round punch marks. The hair was also textured with a pointed, round-tipped tool. Some other details may also have been further finished in the metal. There is no evidence of how the plaque might have fastened to a bigger ensemble. The incuse figure on the reverse is largely concealed by accretions. It is not possible to say much about how it was made without further removing material.
Francesca G. Bewer (submitted 2001)
Provenance Private collection, Netherlands, (by 1983), sold to [Royal Athena Galleries, New York, NY, November 14, 1983], sold to Max Falk, New York, NY, (1983-1993), gift to Harvard University Art Museums, 1993. Acquisition and Rights Credit Line Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Max Falk in honor of Professor David Gordon Mitten Accession Year 1993 Object Number 1993.233 Division Asian and Mediterranean Art Contact [email protected] The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request. Descriptions
Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
On this parabolic relief plaque the goddess Cybele is depicted frontally with her hands cupping her breasts. The relief is thinnest at the edges and thickest at the center, near the goddess’s hands. Cybele is veiled, and her headdress is decorated with six griffin protomes. Her hair, visible beneath the veil, is pulled up from her face, and three long and tightly coiled locks fall on either shoulder. She wears a mantle over a peplos and a bracelet on each wrist. Three to four digits on each hand are depicted. A raised linear border encircles the plaque. There is a band with alternating rosettes and lotuses on the bottom. The main campus is bordered on the bottom side by a raised bar and around the curved area by an egg-and-dart pattern. On the upper portion of the back is an incuse or incised circle. Within the circle is a nude female, torso turned frontally and legs to the right in profile, riding a horned animal, perhaps a goat, to the left, rendered in incuse.
Given the plaque’s thickness, M. Y. Treister considered it to have been a matrix, over which thin metal would have been hammered to take the shape of the relief (1). The embossed plaque that was created could be used as a votive or for decoration. A thin parabolic silver sheet with a similar depiction of the goddess, wearing a modius (calythos) but within a parabola and holding her breasts, from the Kerameikos Museum, Athens, inv. no. M 362, could have been made on a matrix like this one (2), as could have a gold repoussé fragment in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, inv. no. AO 2066 (3). A rectangular bronze matrix in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 20.2.24, bears several scenes related to Cybele in intaglio on both sides, some divided into discrete units by architectural elements or geometric borders. One of these scenes is a depiction of a bust and torso of Cybele, hands cupping her breasts, within a parabolic border that is very similar to the Athens and Paris examples and iconographically related to the Harvard plaque (4). H. Seyrig compares the Louvre example with a more elaborate plaque in plaster of similar form depicting the goddess making the same gesture in Cairo (5). Plaques like the Harvard, New York, and Cairo examples could have been used as matrixes or models in the creation of the thin repoussé appliques for decorative or votive purposes (6).
1. Id., “A Bronze Matrix in the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University and the Genesis of 2nd-3rd century AD Matrices in the Balkans,” Hammering Techniques in Greek and Roman Jewellery and Toreutics, Colloquia Pontica 8 (Leiden, 2001) 349-54, fig. 121.
2. Treister 2001 (supra 1) 350, fig. 50.
3. Lexicon Iconograpicum Mythologiae Classicae Astarte no. 4c. Many goddesses of the Near East have similar iconography, often related to the great goddess (Magna Mater or Cybele) wearing a mural crown or modius and accompanied by lions.
4. See E. D. Reeder, “The Mother of the Gods and a Hellenistic Bronze Matrix,” American Journal of Archaeology 91.3 (1987): 423-40.
5. See id., “Antiquités syriennes,” Syria 36.1-2 (1959): 38-89, esp. 57-58, pl. 11.3-4.
6. See Treister 2001 (supra 1). See also the representation of an Archigallus (high priest) of Cybele, wearing a wreath decorated by circular medallions and a relief-plaque pendant in LIMC Kybele no. 130.
Michail Yu Treister, Hammering Techniques in Greek and Roman Jewellery and Toreutics, ed. James Hargrave (Leiden Boston, 2001), p. 349-54, fig. 121.
32Q: 3700 Roman, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050
This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at [email protected]
Goddess Astarte Votive Plaque - History
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Related search topics: ancient Hittite artifacts for sale, ancient Hittite artifact, Syrio-Hittite history, Hatusha antique relic, Hittite Kadesh artifacts, Los Angeles California, ancient artifacts dealer Los Angeles
Ancient Hittite bronze stamp-seal, c. 1700-1500 BC.
Fantastic tri-lobed design with etched floral design of swirls and dots on base. The shaft of the piece has multiple etched-ring "grips" and the elongated top is holed-through for wearing. This was a personal seal, or signet (as in "signature") so it makes sense that the owner would keep it close to the heart. Nice olive-green patina with some original earthen encrustation. Measures 28 mm (1 1/8") tall. ref: Van der Osten, Collection Hans Von Aulock, p. 138, 86-88 for similar type. A great piece!. #6051x2: $299 SOLD
Incredible and large Hittite terracotta chariot, late 3rd Millennium BC, with loops at the front for attachment to model horses. 4 1/2" (11.4 cm) tall. Missing the wheels and axle which would have been made of wood in antiquity, long since turned to dust. Repaired at center but a rare and interesting piece! Ex Los Angeles private collection. #0611175: $699 SOLD
Hittite terracotta "serpent" head, Anatolia, c. 1400–1200 BC. Has two eyes, each with green ceramic inlay, now somewhat faded. Original part of a larger composition and a very interesting piece! H: 2 3/4" (6.9 cm). Mounted on base. Ex Northern California museum deaccession. #0910155: $425 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1200 - 1000 BC. Terracotta head of Astarte. In great style, with pointed headdress and large eyes, the facial features bird-like and extremely well executed. H: 2" (5.2cm). Mounted on an antique circular metal base. Ex Wiltshire, UK private collection: From the estate of Amold Walter Lawrence, 1900-1991, younger brother of TE Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") . Historian who participated in, among others, the excavation of UR. Collected prior to WWII. #AP2137: $399 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1200 – 1000 BC. Fine terracotta head of Astarte, wearing a tall headdress, her eye large and circular, three holes through either side of the head for the attachment of hair in some other substance such as cord or straw. Traces of the fingerprints of the ancient maker still visible on the edges! H: 1 4/5 in (4.6cm). Old metal base. Ex Wiltshire, UK private collection: From the estate of Amold Walter Lawrence, 1900-1991, younger brother of TE Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") . Historian who participated in, among others, the excavation of UR. Collected prior to WWII. #AP2154: $399 SOLD
Hittite, c. 2000 - 1500 BC. Great Syrio-Hittite terracotta figure of a man, with beard! Nicely detailed with expressive features. H: 55 mm (2 3/16"). Missing the hands and legs, but still an attractive little piece. ex-Philadelphia, PA collection. #AP2114: $199 SOLD
Hittite, c. 2000 - 1500 BC. Great Hittite terracotta head of Astarte. With large angular nose, huge round eyes and a pointed headdress. H: 2 in (5.2cm). Mounted on antique base. Ex-old West Sussex, UK private collection. #AP2144: $250 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1st Millennium BC. A charming terracotta bull whistle! Depicted with long horns, wide, open mouth and incised eyes and nostrils. The back of the animal forming the mouth of the whistle. H: 2 1/2" (6.5cm), L: 2 7/8" (7.4cm). Repaired from 2 pieces. Great stylyzed form! It is a charming little piece. Ex New Jersey private antiquities collection. #AP2136: $399 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1200 - 1000 BC. Nice Syro-Hittite terracotta Astarte figurine. The columnar body with flared base, the features bird-like with wide, circular eyes, prominent nose, tall pointed headdress, beaded collar hands on breasts. H: 4 5/8" (11.5cm). Dark brown encrustation and mineral deposits. Ex collection of Prof. Alan Pasch, Maryland. #AP2471: $525 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1200 - 800 BC. Cute Syro-Hittite terracotta bull figurine. With detailed head - large eyes and curled horns, the body stocky with tapered legs. 3 x 2 in (7.6 x 5 cm). Light deposits and a nice example! Ex Seattle, WA private collection. #AP2452: $325 SOLD
Syrio-Hittite, c. 2100 - 1800 BC
A fantastic Syrio-Hittite terracotta idol. Wide expressive eyes, wearing a hat or cap, with two well-executed arms on stomach, each with 5 detailed fingers. Minor restoration at the waist - hardly noticeable. Stands 142 mm (5 1/2") tall. A masterpiece! #271045: $599 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1180 - 700 BC. Very large and attractive Syro-Hittite ceramic 'Astarte' figure. Flat-backed and depicting a female wearing a low headdress and several collars, her hands over her breasts. Her facial features are nicely rendered with large eyes, a large, thin-bridged nose and pursed lips, her hair stylized into a knob at back with incised detail. Huge 9 1/4" (23.5 cm). Intact, earthen deposits throughout. Ex Dr. Galen Hansen collection, San Diego. Much nicer than photo! #AP2014: $799 SOLD
Hittite bronze votive figure. Anatolia, c. 1500 - 1000 BC. Extraordinary and rare piece, with wide head and large ears and eyes, node pointed. The legs are together and extending into the mounting tang, arms at side with hands forward. H: 3 1/4" (8.3 cm). Some minor losses to hands but nicely patinated. Ex old New Jersey private collection. #0609111: $450 SOLD
Hittite, c. 2000 - 1500 BC. Excellent Syro-Hittite two-wheel model chariot. The tall back is topped with open-work arches, the front with attachment point for the harness gear, the rider would stand in the middle. 3 1/2" x 2 1/4" (88 x 58 mm). Wheels re-set on modern metal rod. Back repaired in one place, otherwise intact! An attractive example with light deposits. ex-Ancient World Art, 1991 Philadelphia, PA collection. #AP2110: $750 SOLD
Hittite, c. 2000 - 1500 BC. Small Syro-Hittite two-wheel model chariot. The tall back is topped with open-work arches, the front with attachment point for the harness gear, the rider would stand in the middle. Holes below where the wheels' axle would have been mounted. Repaired from 2 pieces. Traces of black painted details still visible. H: 57 mm (2 3/8"). ex-Philadelphia, PA collection. #AP2113: $199 SOLD
Hittite terracotta head, Anatolia, c. 1400–1200 BC. Has two large eyes, disk-shaped form with narrow 'neck', with stylized human features on the front of the disk, applied as a well as impressed design. Originally part of a large vessel and quite interesting! Mounted on base. Stands 2 3/4" (73 mm) tall. Ex E. J. Gold collection Ex J. L. Malter auctions Northern California museum deaccession. Terrible photo. #A131721: $375 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1000 - 600 BC. A cute terracotta figure of a horse.
With wide flat body with central ridge, peg feet and pinched tail, the head is simply modeled with erect ears. H: 3 1/2" (8.6cm),
L: 4 1/2" (11.6cm). Earthen deposits. Ex New Jersey private antiquities collection. #AP2145: $325 SOLD
Hittite, c. 3rd Millennium BC. Great large black-green serpentine cylinder seal. Engraved with an extremely enigmatic scene depicting Figures? or animals? Nice stone, light deposits. L 3.11cm (1 3/16”). Very interesting! Ex California Museum of Ancient Art De-Accession (Inv. #CS4802), acquired in 1989. Comes with museum-quality rollout. Rare! #AP2214: $475 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1500 - 1000 BC. Cute little Syro-Hittite terracotta goat figurine. Hand-modeled and very cute! L: 1 1/2" (3.7 cm). Well-preserved with light deposits. Ex London, UK private collection acquired in the 1970's-80's. #AP2470: $150 SOLD
Hittite, Anatolia, c. 1200 – 1000 BC. Nice terracotta head of an animal, from a large pottery vessel. The head disk-shaped with applied circular eyes, alert ears and central ridge stamped with a solar device. Measures 2 1/4" x 2 1/8" x 1 7/8" (5.7 x 5.4 x 4.8 cm). Light mineral deposits. Mounted on a lucite base. Ex-J. Rilling private collection, Orange County, CA. Nice! #AP2278: $350 SOLD
Ancient Hittite, c. 3rd - 2nd millennium BC. Interesting terracotta votive stele. Depicts a male deity standing to right on a platform between two stylized trees or altar, mount hole at the bottom. H: 4 3/4" (12.1 cm). Some losses to top and base. Very interesting! Ex Orange County, CA private collection. #A11230-1: $350 SOLD
Fantastic and huge Syrio-Hittite votive sculpture of the goddess Astarte. Northern Syria, c. 2100-1600 BC. The figure is quite tall, with bird-like features, low headdress and double collar, both hand held to the sides of her chest. Repaired at neck and midsection, otherwise a handsome example with good old provenance. 7/8" (22.5 cm) tall! Ex Cecil Best collection, London (1882-1973). #0211183: $ 725 SOLD
Hittite, c. 2000 - 1500 BC. Nice Syrio-Hittite terracotta Astarte idol. Depicted with columnar body and short arms, wearing a low, domed headdress and wide collar and necklace. The facial features are bird-like with wide, flat eyes and large, angular nose. H: 6" (152 mm). A nice example, repaired at knees, earthen and mineral deposits throughout. Ex Midwest USA private collection. #AH2073: $525 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1200 – 1000 BC. A cute terracotta figure of a horse. Of simple form with wide flat body, tapered legs and implied tail, the ears are vertical and alert. L: 4 1/4" (10.9cm). Nice light reddish color, mineral deposits throughout. Traces of the fingerprints of the maker still visible in areas. Ex New Jersey private collection. #AP2135: $399 SOLD
Hittite, c. 2000 - 1500 BC. Nice Syrio-Hittite terracotta head from an Asharte idol. H: 33 mm (1 5/16"). ex-old Philadelphia, PA collection. #AP2115: $125 SOLD
Hittite, c. 2000 - 1500 BC. Nice Syrio-Hittite terracotta Asharte idol. With columnar body and both hands on breast, the facial features are bird-like with wide circular eyes and large angular nose. The figure wears a tall headdress decorated with two wide disks and a thick double collar. H: 6 7/8" (17.5 cm). Incredible detail! Repaired at waist. Ex Los Angeles collection Ex Jerusalem, Israel Gallery. #AP2123: $650 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1500 - 1000 BC. Cute little Syro-Hittite terracotta bull figurine. Hand-modeled and very cute! L: 1 1/4" (3 cm). Well-preserved with light deposits. Ex London, UK private collection acquired in the 1970's-80's. #AP2469: $150 SOLD
Hittite, c. 1200 - 1000 BC. Great Syro-Hittite terracotta double-headed Astarte figurine. Both heads sharing the thick, columnar body and with shorts arms, each hand on the chest. The facial features are stylized with exaggerated noses and ears, one head wearing a collar and the fact it is slightly smaller and lower than the other indicates this probably a couple, a man and a woman. H: 3" (7.6 cm). Light surface deposits and mounted on old wood base (entire piece stands 4 1/4” (10.8 cm). Ex Christies, Dec. 13, 1980, Lot 5. #AP2468: $550 SOLD
Hittite, c. mid-2nd Millennium BC. Large black steatite spout in the form of a lion's foreparts. With nicely incised detail and decorative dot-in-circular motif on the bottom. On the bottom side is a hole drilled through the corner, perhaps for the suspension of another object. Some surface wear from use and deposits within the recesses. Ex-East Coast private collection ex-California Museum of Ancient Art, de-accession. #AP2242: $650 SOLD
Missing: Fierce, Powerful Goddess
Very little is known about the spiritual beliefs of the people from Catalhoyuk, but the figurine, one of many like it found at the site leads to some interesting possibilities. She is enormously fat, like the Venus figurines (See earlier post on the Venus Figurines) but she does not look like a victim. She sits on a throne flanked by lions, two symbols of power. James Melhart, who excavated the site in the 1950s and 60s, claimed this figure and many others like it found at the site, carved from marble, limestone, basalt, alabaster, and clay, represented an Earth Mother deity. However, Ian Hodder, who worked on the site in 2004 and 2005, claimed “in fact there is very little evidence of a mother goddess.”
The map below shows the major settlements in the ancient Near East, including those mentioned in this post. (Map courtesy of Resources for History Teachers)
Al-Uzza, Al-Jauza, Al-Jabar
“What’s in a name?” Lots, as it turns out.
The constellation we know as Orion the Hunter was known to ancient Arabic astronomers as al-Jauza, a feminine form meaning the Central One. In ancient illustrations of the constellation, al-Jauza is clearly a woman. However, the name later changed to al-Jabar, a masculine form meaning “The Giant.” When the Greeks named the constellation, it became Orion the Hunter. However, echoes of the past remain in the star names, including Betelgeuse (“Bet-al-Jauza,” translated as the armpit of the Central One, the hand of the Central One, or the house of the Central One, depending on which scholar’s work you’re reading).
The ancient Arabic goddess called al-Uzza, meaning “The Mightiest One” or “The Strong,” was associated with both fertility and war. She was worshipped, along with Hubal (the chief of the gods) as well as Manat (goddess of fate) and Al-lat (goddess of the Underworld) at many important sites between Medina and Mecca, including the Kaaba, though all shrines, statues, and other evidence of their worship have been destroyed.
Inanna, Queen of Heaven, Goddess of Love, War, Fertility, and Lust
Sumeria – present day Iraq main temple in Uruk, 6,000 years ago
The most powerful Sumerian goddess was Inanna, who may have been borrowed from an even earlier mother goddess figure. But Inanna was no loving mother figure. Often pictured standing on the backs of two lionesses, she was associated with both sex and war. It was said she could stir up confusion and discord. According to one story, a bully who drank blood and ate the flesh of his victims terrified the residents of Uruk until one of Inanna’s men defeated him, hitting him with an axe. The villain then begged forgiveness of Inanna, promising to praise her and make offerings at her temple in Uruk.
Her planet was Venus, the Morning and Evening Star, famous for its brilliant appearance in the western twilight sky, followed by its disappearance into the Underworld and reappearance in the eastern pre-dawn sky.
Ishtar, Queen of the Night, Goddess of Love, Fertility, and War
Akkad – center in city of Uruk, 4,300 years ago,
Sumeria – Uruk, in present-day Iraq
Assyria – Nineveh and Ashur, in present-day Iraq
The Akkadian Empire absorbed almost all of the land drained by the Tigres and Euphrates Rivers about 4,300 years ago, putting both the Semites and Sumerians under Akkadian rule and enforcing the Akkadian language. After the fall of the empire 140 years later, two main groups emerged: Assyria in the north and Babylonia in the south.
Ishtar was simply a later version of Inanna. She was an unpredictable goddess of love, fertility, sex, and war. She was incredibly powerful, capable of creating and destroying. While she was praised as the creator of the human race, provider of continuing sustenance, and giver of arts and culture, she also had quite a reputation as a cruel lover, often killing her partners. Like Inanna, she was associated with lions, often pictured standing on the backs of two lionesses. Venus, particularly as the Evening Star, was her planet. In the terra cotta plaque of her that is now located in the Louvre (pictured), she is also flanked by owls, an indication of her position as Queen of the Night. Her temple at Tell Bank in present-day Syria contained thousands of figurines of staring owls that were able to “see” justice.
Both Inanna and Ishtar were often portrayed with horns on their heads representing the crescent moon.
Astarte, Queen of Heaven, Goddess of Fertility, Sexuality, and War
Phoenicia – centers in Tyre and Byblos, 3000 – 5000 years ago
Astarte is the Phoenician version of Ishtar. Since the Phoenicians were great sailors and traders, they spread the cult of Astarte throughout the eastern Mediterranean from the early Bronze Age to classical times, when the Greeks made her into Aphrodite and the Romans made her into Venus. While these goddesses kept her sexuality and capriciousness, they downplayed the warlike aspects of Astarte.
Astarte’s symbols are the lion, horse, sphinx, and dove. The statue of the Lady of Galera in Spain (left) shows Astarte flanked by sphinxes. Her statue now housed in the Louvre (pictured) shows her naked except for her necklace and long earrings, with blazing eyes and a blazing navel. The crescent moon on her head looks like horns. In Phoenicia, she was sometimes portrayed leaning forward at the bow of a ship, becoming the original for the figureheads on many later boats.
Astarte appears in Egypt as a warrior goddess, often conflated with the lion-headed goddess Sekmet and with Isis.
She appears in the Bible as Ashtoreth, combining Astarte with bosheth (abomination), who is condemned as a female demon of lust.
Sekhmet – Powerful One, The Destroyer, Lady of Terror, Eye of Ra, One Before Whom Evil Trembles, Lady of Life, Protector of Pharaohs
Centers – Memphis and later Thebes, Ancient Egypt
Depicted as a lioness or a woman with a lion’s head, Sekhmet (also Sekmet), daughter of the sun god Ra, was one of the oldest deities in the Egyptian pantheon. Nothing soft about this lady her hot breath was said to create the desert. When Ra felt that humans had failed to live correctly, he sent Sekmet as his avenger. She killed so many people that Ra tried to stop her, but her blood-lust drove her to more killings. Finally, Ra poured thousands of gallons of pomegranate-stained beer in her path. Thinking it was blood, she drank it until she passed out and the killing stopped. In her honor, public drinking festivals were held each year, which might be one reason her cult lasted 3000 years.
Since she was associated with lions, tame lions were often kept in her temples.
Later on, Sekhmet’s image changed when she was merged with Hathor, particularly at the Temple to Sekhmet-Hathor at Kom-el-Hin. Hathor was the mother goddess, pictured as a sacred cow or a woman with cow’s horns on her head. Unlike the warlike Sekmet, Hathor was associated with joy, sex, music, dance, pregnancy, and birth. The combined figure was known as “Destroyer of Rebellion,” “Mighty One of Enchantment.”
Tanit – Virginal Mother, Fertility Goddess, Goddess of War
Center – Carthage, present-day Tunisia, on the Mediterranean coast across from Sicily
Tanit was the Carthaginian version of Astarte, worshipped from Malta to Gades (Cadis) on the coast of Spain. She is usually pictured with a lion’s head.
Many of these goddesses obviously share some characteristics. It’s easy to see the shared qualities of Inanna, Ishtar, Astarte, Sekmet, Ariadne (Crete), Neith (Lybia), Asherah (Hittite), and Anat (Assyria).
In all of these, she shares heavenly titles such as Goddess of the Heavenly Upperworld, Lady of Heaven, Queen of Heaven, Ruler of Heavens, Shining One, and the Torch of Heaven. To recognize her fierce qualities, she was referred to as Goddess of War, Lady of Victory, Lady of Sorrows and Battles. She was also Goddess of Love and Goddess of the Evening.
However, as the goddess morphed over time, her warlike qualities began to disappear.
Ba’alat Gebal – Goddess of love, Goddess of Byblos
Center – Byblos, Phoenicia, Temple built 4700 years ago
As the Greeks made Astarte into Aphrodite, she became the love goddess, a physical beauty. The first century AD statue of Ba’alat Gebal now housed in the Louvre, shows the transition. The Phoenician goddess stands in a classical Greek pose. Her symbol is no longer the lion but the dove, included in her headdress, which also includes a sun disk, a symbol of the Egyptian goddess Isis. She retains two feathers in her headdress, reminiscent of Astarte.
Hathor – Celestial Cow, Personification of the Milky Way, Lady of Stars, Mother of Mothers
Isis – Nurturing mother, Patroness of Nature and Magic
Hathor, the Celestial Cow, was an ancient Egyptian goddess probably morphed from Bat. She is shown early on as a full cow with a sun disk between her horns. Later, she appeared as a woman with a sun disk between cow horns (pictured, right). She was the patron of music, dance, and sexual delight, also associated with cosmetics and incense.
In many ways, Isis absorbed the qualities of Hathor but added the dimension of loving wife and mother. As mother of the falcon-headed god Horus, she is often pictured holding or suckling the infant (pictured, left).
The fierce goddess, the lady of terror, has gradually disappeared.
With the rise of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the goddesses disappeared almost completely. The name Queen of Heaven was applied to Mary, the virginal mother of Jesus wearing a mantle of stars, often pictured holding or suckling the infant Jesus. In Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe continued the heritage of the Aztec Mother Earth goddess Tonantzin. However, the Reformation downplayed the role of Mary and outlawed statues of her or the saints as idolatry in Protestant churches.
The sea is still referred to as female though the figurehead on boats has disappeared. The terms Mother Earth and Mother Nature survive though in most uses they engender none of their original respect.
Many of the areas where the goddess cults once flourished now practice extensive discrimination against women that has become accepted as part of the culture.
I miss the fierce goddesses. I wander through the local toy store, looking at endless rows of pink Barbies looking like so many perky prostitutes, and wonder what happened.
Sources and interesting reading:
“Ancient Near East,” courses.cit.cornell.edu
“Arabic in the Sky,” Saudi Aranco World, September/October 2010
Cross, Fran Moore. Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the Religion of Israel. Harvard University Press, 2009.
Map of the Ancient Near East During the Amarna Period, www.ancient.eu.com/image/171
Map of the Oriental Empires about 600 BC, www.hopeofIsrael.org
Palestine History: From pre-Bible to the Old Testament, http:/www.israel-a-history-of.com/palestine-history.html
“Phoenicia Trade Routes” map from “Phoenicians,” Wikipedia
Stuckley, Johanna H. “Goddess Astarte: Goddess of Fertility, Beauty, War, and Love” http://www.matrifocus.com IMB04/spotlight.htm
al-Sufi, Kitab suwar al-kawakib (The Constellations), 903 – 986 AD, World Digital Library
Because of the association between knots and magical power, a symbol of Isis was the tiet/tyet (meaning welfare/life), also called the Knot of Isis, Buckle of Isis, or the Blood of Isis. The tiet in many respects resembles an ankh, except that its arms curve down, and in all these cases seems to represent the idea of eternal life/resurrection. The meaning of Blood of Isis is more obscured, but the tyet was often used as a funerary amulet made of red wood, stone, or glass, so this may have simply been a description of its appearance.
The star Spica (sometimes called Lute Bearer), and the constellation which roughly corresponded to the modern Virgo, appeared at a time of year associated with the harvest of wheat and grain, and thus with fertility gods and goddesses. Consequently they were associated with Hathor, and hence with Isis through her later conflation with Hathor. Isis also assimilated Sopdet, the personification of Sirius, since Sopdet, rising just before the flooding of the Nile, was seen as a bringer of fertility, and so had been identified with Hathor. Sopdet still retained an element of distinct identity, however, as Sirius was quite visibly a star and not living in the underworld (Isis being the wife of Osiris, king of the underworld).
- She who gives birth to heaven and earth,
- She who knows the orphan,
- She who knows the widow,
- She who seeks justice for the poor,
- She who seeks shelter for the weak
- Queen of Heaven,
- Mother of the Gods,
- The One Who is All,
- Lady of Green Crops,
- The Brilliant One in the Sky,
- Star of the Sea,
- Great Lady of Magic,
- Mistress of the House of Life,
- She Who Knows How To Make Right Use of the Heart,
- Light-Giver of Heaven,
- Lady of the Words of Power,
- Moon Shining Over the Sea.
In art, originally Isis was pictured as a woman wearing a long sheath dress and crowned with the hieroglyphic sign for a throne, sometimes holding a lotus, as a sycamore tree. After her assimilation of Hathor, Isis's headdress is replaced with that of Hathor: the horns of a cow on her head, and the solar disc between them. She was also sometimes symbolised by a cow, or a cow's head. Usually, she was depicted with her son, the great god Horus, with a crown and a vulture, and sometimes as a kite bird flying above Osiris's body.
Isis is most often seen holding only the generic ankh sign and a simple staff, but is sometimes seen with Hathor's attributes, the sacred sistrum rattle and the fertility bearing menat necklace.
Etymology [ edit | edit source ]
Fragment of a stone plaque from the temple of Inanna at Nippur showing a Sumerian goddess, possibly Inanna (c. 2500 BC)
Ashtar, may be a derivative of the name Astaroth. The name takes its roots from the 2nd millennium BCE Phoenician goddess Astarte, an equivalent of the Babylonian Ištar, and the earlier Sumerian Inanna. She is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the forms Ashtoreth (singular) and Ashtaroth (plural, in reference to multiple statues of her).
The ancient Moabites worshipped Ashtar-Chemosh. She is mentioned on the Mesha Stele as a female counterpart to Chemosh. She may be identical with Astarte.
Astarte is identified with the planet Venus, the morning and evening star.
The Statue of Liberty is an Asherah Pole
Today I am going to reveal to you a new conspiracy concerning the Statue of Liberty. I have been reading Rob Skiba’s book Babylon Rising. The Babylon Rising book is teaching me about occult symbolism in America. I must admit I had a rather naive opinion of the American Founding Fathers before reading this book. Basically I erroneously assumed that since Mr. Adam Weishaupt is credited with establishing the Illuminati around 1776 that there was not enough time for the Illuminati to influence the early USA Founding Fathers. Silly me. Freemasonry itself traces its roots back to Ancient Babylon!
After reading Babylon Rising I have a much better understanding of what happened in early America. This got me thinking about symbols of America. I have some unique things to say about the Statue of Liberty. Also I have a brand new conspiracy to share with you about it.
A background on the history of the Statue of Liberty …
The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor in New York City, in the United States. The copper statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, a French sculptor, was built by Gustave Eiffel and dedicated on October 28, 1886. It was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. – Statue of Liberty Wikipedia
The project is traced to a mid-1865 conversation between Édouard René de Laboulaye, a staunch abolitionist and Frédéric Bartholdi, a sculptor who was inspired by an 1855 visit to Egypt and admired the colossal statues on the facade of the Abu Simbel temples. – Statue of Liberty Wikipedia
Bartholdi and Laboulaye considered how best to express the idea of American liberty. In early American history, two female figures were frequently used as cultural symbols of the nation. One of these symbols, the personified Columbia, was seen as an embodiment of the United States. – Statue of Liberty Wikipedia
The other significant female icon in American culture was a representation of Liberty, derived from Libertas, the goddess of freedom widely worshipped in ancient Rome. – Statue of Liberty Wikipedia
These quotes on the Statue of Liberty Wikipedia page are insightful. But they do not tell the entire story. You see Libertas wasn’t just worshiped in Rome. She found her way onto The Great Seal of France in 1848. Also known as Marianne.
Now Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi was a French artist. He was a Freemason who loved Egyptian monuments. This is not according to me. It is according to the official park service page!
The original design of “Liberty Enlightening the World” wasn’t even intended for the United States. The original design was for a colossal statue of a woman holding a torch in Egypt – but it got turned down. Many people know these things. Here are things most people do not know.
The Libertas goddess explanation is provided as “factual” on the official Statue of Liberty Wikipedia Page. For sure it is an abomination to Christians. I am specifically reminded of Leviticus 26:1. There are many more Bible passages concerning this. I encourage you to learn what paganism is so that you can identify it when you see it.
Speaking of paganism – have you ever tried a google image search for “Hecate” or “Hekate” or “Hecate figurine” or “Hekate art”? I suggest you do. The spikes on the tiara. The torch. Ladies and gentlemen the Statue of Liberty looks like Hekate the goddess of witchcraft. Do you know how very few Americans know this? Now you do.
If the Statue of Liberty looking like the Ancient Greek Witch Queen isn’t earth shattering enough for you then don’t worry there is much more. Are you familiar with the ancient goddess Semiramis aka Ishtar? She was queen of Ancient Babylon. That is a key connection I will make in this post. If I can make that connection from Statue of Liberty to Ishtar then I can show you a wild conspiracy.
To start down that path I have heard it said that Cicero of Rome called Libertas the “Mother of Harlots”. This is significant because the “Mother of Harlots” is a direct quote in the Bible from Revelation 17:5 referring to Babylon …
And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. – Revelation 17:5 KJV
This would be a strong connection between Lady Liberty and the Mother of Harlots. However I am having a hard time finding the exact text where Cicero says this. I need more proof. I found more proof at the Ishtar Gate …
The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BCE by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city. It was excavated in the early 20th century and a reconstruction using original bricks is now shown in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin. – Ishtar Gate Wikipedia
The Ishtar Gate helps me establish a better correlation to Ishtar. Consider the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island is considered “The Gateway to America”. Ishtar Gate? Gateway to America? Pay attention to the pedestal on which Lady Liberty rests. That is a key to understanding. Have a look at a painting of the Ishtar Gate to hammer this home. Hint. Look on the wall …
There is more. Do you recognize “The New Colossus” poem?
“The New Colossus” is a sonnet that American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level. – The New Colossus Wikipedia Page
Now the “old” Colossus was the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was a giant statue of the Greek god Helios aka a pagan god. This further reinforces that the Statue of Liberty is a pagan goddess statue.
Circle back to Emma Lazarus. Do you know any of the other poems by Emma Lazarus? I do. Her last poem is entitled “By the Waters of Babylon”. Please note the obvious that the Statue of Liberty is by the waters. Is Emma – the person who helped fund raise for the statue’s completion – calling America Babylon? Emma is known as a faithful Jew in many historical references. What faithful Jew writes a fund raiser to erect a giant pagan goddess statue? A very confused one to say the least.
At this point if I have linked Lady Liberty to Babylon to Ishtar to your satisfaction then we can link her to Astarte. Consider the Astarte Wikipedia Page. It tells us Astarte is the Hellenized version of the goddess Ishtar. In plain English they are the same goddess.
I have now traversed the goddess heirarchy from Libertas all the way back to Astarte. Now I can show you a wild conspiracy that traces all the way back to Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.
If you look up the word “grove” in e-sword (e-sword is free software that provides Hebrew definitions of words found in the KJV Bible) you will find that in the KJV the word “grove” means “Asherah or Astarte – a Phoenician goddess – also an image of the same”.
In the NIV version of the Bible the word “grove” is translated slightly different on occasions. It is sometimes translated as what is called an “Asherah pole”.
I now propose that the Statue of Liberty is a giant Asherah pole as described as an abomination in the Old Testament.
Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the LORD your God – Deuteronomy 16:21 NIV
He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. – 2 Kings 23:6 NIV
I prefer the KJV Bible but there are times the NIV version is very useful! If you look at the Statue of Liberty you will notice that near her feet the robe resembles a tree trunk. The statue appears such that she totally *could* be carved out of a single (yet giant) tree. Even the angle at which she holds the torch is extraordinarily parallel – much like a pole. From torch to toe the Statue of Liberty resembles a pole.
I understand she isn’t made of wood. She is a symbol of many occult things and many ancient goddesses and no Christian things. If she is an Asherah pole it is some of the largest news in American history. Realize that in the Old Testament – specifically 1 Kings and 2 Kings – that Kings are judged by their decision to build Asherah Poles or raze them to the ground. This is literally monumental news.
In conclusion I will say this. Let us talk politics for a moment. If the President of the United States is a true Christian he or she will start calling for the demolition of occult monuments like the Statue of Liberty. Paganism was pitched to us as patriotism in so many ways.
Please feel free to leave comments. I appreciate the feedback.
Bal, Mieke. Anti-Covenant: Counter-Reading Women’s Lives in the Hebrew Bible (Library Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies). Decatur: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989. Print.
While there is evidence that the Jews had, at one point or another, worshipped other deities, I don't think one can claim that the people as a whole were anything other than a Monotheistic people. There are hundreds of stories of the Jews turning away from their god or following other gods or idols only to be either subtley or directly brought back to the god of their fathers.
The leader of the people was always someone who followed their God as lined out through both the written language and the oral tradition.
At some point, doesn't everyone have a crisis of faith in their lives and seek out their own truth or faith before being directed either internally or externally toward something they will absorb into their self conecept? To assume that any culture that has ever existed has not had several groups among them deviate from the cultural focus is to not understand human nature. Even today we see this as radical islamists deviate from the teachings of the Q'uran in order to pursue martyrdom and war. Yet we cannot claim those people as representatives of their faith or their people because they are acting outside the guidance of both. The same can be said of the Hebrews.
Thank you Tyler for replying. I appreciate the feedback.
I love that you looked into other deities that the Hebrews worshiped. All over the old testament are records of the Jewish folks turning away from Yahweh until a prophet rose up and led them back. Up until recently, America has been considered a Christian nation, but there have always been other religions serving other gods here. I believe that this is the same with the children of Israel. Great food for thought.
Thank you for your reply I really appreciate your comment.
Thanks for the research employed to provide this information! I also appreciate the inclusion of the Bibliography! The text with adjoining picture composition is effective - it's good to see a historical depiction with the data.
I think many monotheistic cultures (mostly those who acknowledge one male god) have groups who try to incorporate the female, or the family, into the belief system. Why? Probably because it helps bridge a gap between the divine and the mortal - deities are easier to understand, to love, and to obey when their people feel that they are sympathic to their own situations and are similar in some of these ways.
Thanks for a good discussion!
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Artistic licence or why i trust no one
Where academic research into iconography and art history finds its expression. Otherwise being an outlet for various rants about misrepresenting and rewriting of ancient Near Eastern text and image in modern western scholarship and media.
Modern crimes against ancient goddesses
1) The ivory lid from Ugarit
This one is actually just a nice little homage copy of the original plaque, no major errors or cavalier changes. She is again a Late Bronze Age hybrid piece with this time Levantine and Egyptian characteristics. She is from a city and time frame when the Levant was under Egyptian rule, so a fusion goddess makes perfect sense… Again, nothing particularly Mesopotamian to see here.
I would leave it alone, but for Wikipedia having the gall to call it the original plaque. And naturally it is used by cheerful pop-history (Mr P’s Mythopedia), conspiracy theory (Mesopotamian Gods and Kings) and neo-pagan sites as the real object. Yet again, you can basically pick any high profile Near Eastern goddess and she will be called this, even though actual experts are still arguing over whether she is Anath, Qudshu or Astarte.
It is again used on various Mesopotamian history pages as the real deal. I particularly enjoyed the caption on Mesopotamian Gods and Kings: ‘Inanna with liberty torch’. Not only is she described as an alien nephilim giant, but she was also the goddess of liberty… because, wait for it. the badly copied sceptre is really a torch like the American statue of liberty holds… cue eye roll.
On the upside it is a copy of a Mesopotamian goddess.
Fitzwilliam Minoan forgery
Sitchin’s rocket in the tomb of Amenhotep-Huy
Painting of the west wall in the tomb of Huy by Charles K. Wilkinson (1920s), Image © Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. If yo.