When we encounter images, on cuneiform tablets, on stele, these remnants of ancient civilizations, it is easy for the modern mind to bring our own meaning, our own experience.
Maybe we see this thing, that thing… spaceship, helicopter, modern chisel marks on ancient stones, and there we are down the rabbit hole of ancient conspiracies and secret lost civilizations.
These tall tales that draw the curious towards this video, or that book, and to many who are drawn to ancient things, it can seem tantalizing, and sometimes are sucked in by the blarney bait – what mystery tis this? Ancient aliens?
Down those historical rabbit holes I have been a time or three, certainly, I by no means lap up the theories as gospel, speculative as they are. Yet, I too am curious. I, too, want to see what fact or fable may be hidden in plain sight.
Generally, I’m skeptical by nature, though I suppose a curious skeptic. I am never one to throw something aside entirely just because it doesn’t fit the current theory of the majority of folks who care about this sort of stuff, still, ye take it with a grain of salt.
Such transpired recently, whilst out hunting the snark, poking around the late Bronze Age, I skipped back a bit and happened upon a few vids of the more ancient civilizations, of Assyrians, and way back in time to those mysterious Sumerians.
Holy moly, and are there some conspiracy clickbaiters, pandering to thee of mystical Shining Ones, The Watchers, The Nephilim – the Anunnaki – flying in from some nefarious once and future planet, these mighty long-lived aliens of the deep dark past that… em… created man?
Something like that. You know the ones. Alien craft on Egyptian artifacts, ancient texts revealing mysterious beings that walked the earth way back in the long ago, those that lived thousands and thousands of years long ago, the REAL creators I guess of this once advanced civilization.
Ok, fine. I get it, it’s fun to speculate.
Yet, I think a few out yonder in YouTube lala land, some don’t seem to grasp the mythological mystical nature of the Bible, of ancient tales it retells with a bit of a spin, old tales of these Anunnaki… of most mysterious Sumer, and maybe tales of a race of giants with awesome powers, the 7 sages, or is it 7 guardians, or 7 watchers, An, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna.
I am not going to go and bother to debunk the whole swath, but there is one little otherwise mundane point in particular I personally found interesting; which I believe may make my point, mundane though it may be.
One image that came up quite abit, or images, are of these “handbags” that you see in quite a few ancient reliefs, and not just around ancient lands of the Mediterranean, but all over, including a few in South America. (cue spooky music)
Even I was like…what the…?? Eh? Kinda strange. Very kinda strange.
I mean, why are gods carrying around handbags? What could they possibly need to carry? Their smartphone? Or, er, godphones??
Ok, so I had to know. Seriously.
Yes, couldn’t help myself. I was curious, as they were interesting, and I have never noticed them before.
Maybe I’m strange, but this sort of mystery fascinates me. I think its the story behind the story, the detective work itself you have to do to figure out the what, or the why, or the who of a thing. Often when you go looking for more content on various ancient things, you find the words “it’s ritual”, or lately I’ve read alot of “it’s symbolic of the connection of the earth and the sky”… which is just another way of saying “its ritual”. And I’m like…but what is so significant about that connection? What are they actually saying? Why have they used THOSE elements to tell the visual story?
Often times these things are clouded by mystery, and often the images may document things that don’t exist today… so we have really no idea what they mean, or have access to figuring out what they mean. The knowledge is just sometimes not there anymore to find.
But, sometimes it is. Sometimes… we can speculate, take educated guesses, draw on our own knowledge, or that of others.
And, now, that is the part that clinches, is the educated guesses.
In archaeology, it has really only been in the last few decades that they have been able to dig deeper into most ancient archaeology, pre-pottery, pre-writing, the oldest cultures, throw new tech at the mystery and sometimes unlock that hidden knowledge that is beyond the scope of just a trowl and theories.
Today, various disciplines cooperate and blend their expertise in order to discover the otherwise hidden aspects, the microscopic, those things buried deep under the ground, like the contents of a Voles teeth to date a Neolithic site that otherwise there would be no way to date, Geophysical equipment from the Mining Industry ran across ancient places that produce images otherwise hidden.
Stuff like that is what is bringing history forward, and showing us things that we may not have seen. Things that other disciplines can identify and understand, but which even the most astute and experienced archaeologist has really no expertise, as it is just not in their own wheelhouse.
Now, first off, not all things in mythical stories, ancient legends, not all of them are based on anything but imagination and community morals and values personified in order to tell ye a tale round the fire long ago and far away to warm the soul.
Yet, even still, there are sometimes, in some tales, the telltale signs of bits that are from something real, may offer tantalizing glimpses, though brief, provide wisps of truth, historical clues if you will.
And so for the historical conspiratorial bunch, the ones who like to make a great noise over these figures they call Anunnuki, what are these… metrosexuals? Aliens with handbags?
In fact, no, they are not. Know what they are?
Yes, those are buckets. And in fact, when I saw them I wondered that myself.
In some of these images you can clearly see the rings that attach the handle, and to anyone whose maybe watched way way way way way too many episodes of the British archaeology show Time Team over the years, ahem, that kind of looked familiar, and so I went hunting.
So… what would they need a bucket for? Why are gods carrying buckets?
To water the plants, silly.
And that thing in his hand? Not a pinecone, least I don’t think so. I think in fact that is a male seed head of a Date Palm. In some of the images of these reliefs you can see the details, and it may be a pine cone, but it makes more sense that it’s the Male flower of a Date Palm.
So, after a little digging around I learned that Date Palms in cultivation would need to be hand pollinated. Which is to say, they would have to manually spread the pollen sacs of the male stamen directly with the female, in order to ensure fruit.
Dates for good reason were considered sacred, and is no doubt the Tree of Life that’s often depicted in many of these reliefs… a stylized image of a Date Palm Orchard. They were a valuable resource.
The trunks of these Palms provided wood for furniture, the midribs of leaves supplied material for crates and furniture. The Leaflets for baskets, the leaf bases for fuel, fruit stalks for rope and fuel, the fibre for cordage and packing material. The seeds were sometimes ground and used as stock feed. Other uses were for syrup, alcohol, vinegar and a strong liquor derived from the fruit. The sap was used as a beverage as well, either fresh, or fermented – using the older trees that were past peak fruiting. Then, once they were cut down, the tender terminal buds were eaten as a salad.
So, it is fairly safe to theorize that these images are of the gods approaching the sacred tree of life (orchard) with buckets of water, and the seed head symbolizes tending to the Date Palms, symbolic of their gratefulness to the gods for both the knowledge, and the gift of the Palms themselves.
I guess kind of a … AMEN, Hallelujah, hear ye, hear ye, lets all go drink us some Date Palm wine and thank the gods for their bounty.
It is one of those instances that our modern mindset, for those of us who did not grow up on a farm, or a greenhouse for that matter, for non-gardeners, these images would seem foreign, strange.
Yet, once put into the proper context, it is easier to catch a glimpse back in time, to see the mindset of these ancient peoples, and what these images depicted, what these gods represented to them, what their purpose was, what significance they placed in them. The wisdom the images shared with future generations, the knowledge of tending to this valuable resource, passed down to future generations to acknowledge, and continue, rely on, cherish, and thank the gods for.
As well, a reminder, that when we are looking at these images, that those who created them had a much closer connection to the natural world than we do. They saw that world on foot, all around them, was never that far away. It fed them, dressed them, it made weapons of war, and houses to sleep in, furniture to sit on, and all the little things that they would rely on day to day.
Our god is this invisible thing somewhere out there. Their gods were beside them, in the field of wheat, in the pasture, on the mountain whilst they tend to their flock, or beside them in the orchard as they tend that tree that makes their life easier.
In the ancient world there was magic, the mystical, certainly, all around them. Perspective is important.
Yet, sometimes perhaps we just see the mundanity of the images, and miss what those seemingly mundane details are telling us.
So, yeah, we can safely surmise the gods are probably not carrying magic dust. Instead, these images depict the very real lives of many of those who would have seen these depictions, and understood immediately what they meant, what the message was behind the medium.
“Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.”
― Charles de Lint, Moonheart