Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Bull's Head in Antiquity


Alice C. Linsley


Among the Nilotic and Proto-Saharan cattle herders the cow and bull were sacred animals. As these peoples dispersed across the Levant and Asia Minor their religious symbols went with them. Bull heads have been found at the pan graves of the Beja. The Beja or Medjayu buried their dead in distinctive circular "pan graves" which they marked with the decorated skulls of bulls, gazelles and goats. These have been found in cemeteries of Upper Egypt and Lower Nubia beginning in the Second Intermediate Period. (Source: Sudan, 2000–1000 B.C., Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Beja brought gold to Egypt from mines deep in the heartland of Nubia and Kush. They were a caste of metal-working priests, such as Harun (Aaron), which is why they are assocaited with the Habiru (Hebrew priests) and the Brahmin (Vedic priests). Linguist Penelope Aubin notes, "In Demotic sources they are called Brhm while in classical sources they are the Blemmyes, ancestors of the modern Beja."

The bull's head is found also at Roman-period graves in Palestine, such as that found on this altar at Ashqelon.



On 17 May 2010, during excavation for a new hospital emergency room in the city of Ashqelon, a 24-inch-high granite structure was discovered. It dates to the time of Jesus and is adorned with carvings of three bull heads, ribbons, and laurel wreaths.

According to Yigal Israel, chief archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority in Ashqelon, the structure is a pagan altar where there was once a pagan cemetery. The cemetery where the altar was found served Ashqelon's pagan population. Israel said that altars were "found everywhere, in cemeteries, in town squares, and also in temples."

Ashqelon is one of the oldest port cities in the Holy Land. It was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period, which began around 10,000 B.C. The structure dates to the time of the Roman occupation of the city and is believed to represent Pagan belief and funerary practices.  It is also possible that the bull's head image comes from before the Roman Period as Ashqelon was influenced from ancient times by Egyptian theology.

The curve of the Apis bull's horns form the lower rim of the Sun. This is why the Apis bull often appears with the Sun over its head.  At Ashqelon this idea was portrayed later by the sign of Tanit.  The sign shows the upraised arms with the Sun resting at the top of the cosmic pyramid.


The sign of Tanit, like the bull's head, is found on funerary monuments in Carthage, as show below.


The sign of Tanit is associated with goddess worship and the sacrifice of infants, both demonically inspired and condemned by the Prophets. Plutarch (ca. 46–120 AD) mentions the practice, as do Tertullian, Orosius and Diodorus Siculus. The Hebrew Bible indicates that some Canaanites sacrificed children at places called Tophet ("roasting place"). This was the meaning of the expression "to pass though the fire".  Abraham's binding of Isaac on the altar at Moriah doesn't fit this practice which suggests that it has a different context.


Bulls and Calves in Canaanite Religion
Golden calves and bull figurines have been found in different parts of the Holy Land. These date between 2000-1000 BC. One is on exhibit at the Museum of Israel in Jerusalem.  It was discovered near an ancient road with massive pavement running north-south between Dothan and Tizah. This area of the road near Dothan had many wells and cisterns to water the caravans that traveled to and from Egypt. Joseph was sold by his brothers to one of these caravans.

In 1990, Harvard University archeologists excavating Canaanite ruins surrounding the port of Ashkelon unearthed a golden calf dating from 2000 B.C.

The oldest know use of the bull's head in religious symbolism was found at the Egyptian shrines at Memphis  and Heliopolis.  There the bull's head represented Ptah, the creator of the world and all that is in it. He is not created, but simply is.

Horus, called the "son" of God, was often shown with upraised arms and this image of Ptah over his head.  Note also the Sun image.


This image later came to be associated with Zeus, the first of all the gods, which is why it appears on the cemetary altar found at Ashqelon.

Left:  Apis bull with Sun resting on its horns.  The sun was the emblem of the Creator among Abraham's Proto-Saharan ancestors. The Proto-Saharans venerated cattle and left behind engraving of bulls and oxen with solar disc between their horns. This image was associated with Hathor, the Virgin Queen whose son was Horus.

The bull's head also appears on ancient monuments and structures in India where the symbol was taken by the Sudra who went there from the Upper Nile region that is today called Sudan.

Right: Found at Mohenjo-daro. A deity seated with a stylized bull's head over him.

The bull's head is associated with Dravidian temples in Pakistan and southern India. The Dravidians and the Sudra are related, both classified as Sudoid.  These people likely carried their religious ideas from Africa to Pakistan, India, Nepal and the Maldives.  These were the founders of the temples of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa where many bulls have been found. The bull appears to have been the sacred totem of these ancient religious centers with their river shrines.

The spread of religious ideas and practices from Africa is due in part to the great Kushite kingdom builders like Nimrod, the son of Kush.  He is said to have had two sons: Hun and Magor.  Biblical Nimrod is said to have had twin sons or two first-born sons: Hunor and Magor. They were the patriarchs of the Hunogurs and Magyars (Hungarians). They are also said to be “sons” (descendents) of Japheth. So what would this look like when diagramed?


            ∆ Japheth                 ∆ Ham
            ∆ Magog                  ∆ Kush
                                         Nimrod
            O           =                ∆             =          O Nimrod's half-sister
                          ∆                               ∆
                     Magog                         Hunor


Here we again note the practice of Afro-Asiatic rulers having two wives.  One wife was Nimrod's half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham) and the other was a patrilineal parallel cousin (as was Keturah to Abraham).  The cousin bride named her first-born son after her father, as has been seen in analysis of the cousin bride's naming prerogative.

Evidence in support of the Nimrod-Magyar connection is found in carvings, paintings and reliefs such as this found in Hungary. Note the characteristic symbols of the ancient Afro-Asiatics: a Tree of Life, the Sun, and cattle with horns.




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