Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tracing Origins by Comparing Cosmologies

Alice C. Linsley

I've been attempting to understand the cultural context of Genesis for over 30 years. It is important to understand what the material meant to the people who are named in Genesis so that we do not misinterpret and misrepresent their worldview.  Their worldview was passed to the Jews and then to Christians. Before we can identify a people called "Jews" Abraham's Kushite ancestors were sharing your worldview with peoples from the Sahara to Cambodia, and even Japan.

What are the distinctive characteristics of the worldview of Abraham's ancestors? It is a question that deserves closer investigation.

Using the genealogical data, I have identified Abraham's ancestors as originating in Africa.  Genesis tells us that they were Kushites. But Genesis 4 and 5 suggest that earlier ancestors came from the region of Northern Nigeria and Lake Chad. Nok, Kano and Bor-No (land of Noah) are in Nigeria and Nubia and Kush were Nilotic civilizations that included Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. There is also the genetic marker of the Nubians of the Nile which indicates that they migrated from further south in Africa. This supported a long-standing suspicion on mine and stirred me to investigate cosmologies that might link rulers of west central, eastern and sub-equatorial Africa.

The spread of ideas required contact between peoples. The widespread nature of the cosmology of Abraham's ancestors from Africa to southern India can be explained only by the movement of people. The Genesis genealogical data indicates that Abraham's ancestors were rulers of territories in Nigeria and Sudan. These rulers and their priestly lines intermarried in a unique pattern.  Genetic research that shows that the ancient Nubians migrated to Sudan from southern Africa. They continued their migration all the way to southern India where they are called the "Sudra." [2] They spread the cosmological ideas that we term "biblical." In a sense, they were the first missionaries.

What are the most fundamental elements of their cosmology?  The evidence suggest 2 things:  crosses and blood [3]. Let us look are 3 specimens that would support this view.

Specimen 1:  80,000 year old iron ore ochre plague from the Blombos Cave (southern Africa) carved with geometric patterns. [4] This symbolic artifact has xxx shape crosses around the rim. Lithic industries of the African Middle Stone Age have been found in a handful of caves in South Africa. 

The red ochre came from mines that were in operation between 80,000 to 100,000 years ago in the Lebombo Mountains. We are not speaking here of small hallows in the earth, but of major mining operations.

“One of the largest sites evidenced the removal of a million kilos of ore. At another site half a million stone-digging tools were found, all showing considerable wear. All of the sites in fact produced thousands of tools and involved the removal of large quantities of ore; and while some were open quarries, others had true mining tunnels.” (From here.)

What was the significance of this red ore that was ground to powder and used to paint ritual objects and to bury dead rulers? It is generally agreed that the red ochre was a symbol of blood, the liquid of life. Stan Gooch explains:

Everyone, both heretic and orthodox, and including the present-day users of ochre themselves, agree that it represents blood. A very common interpretation, and one that we can readily accept here, is that just as a new baby comes into the world covered with blood, so the corpse must also be covered with blood to facilitate, or perhaps cause, the re-birth of the deceased in the spirit world beyond. Birth blood is therefore one very probable meaning.

A further significance (borne out also by much other evidence) is given by the Unthippa aboriginal women. They say that their own female ancestors once caused large quantities of blood to flow from their vulvas, which then formed the deposits of red ochre found throughout the world. So we can say that red ochre also represents menstrual blood: in both cases therefore female blood connected with the birth process. (We shall later be able to be even more precise and say that ochre is the menstrual blood of the Moon Mother; or more properly, the placental blood which covered the Earth when She gave birth to it.)"

The priesthood emerges out of this primeval perception of blood as the substance of life and a substance which can both pollute and purify. The Hebrew root "thr" = to be pure, corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm "toro" = clean, and to the Tamil "tiru" = holy. All are related to the proto-Dravidian "tor" = blood. These are cognate languages in the Afro-Asiatic language group and it is from these peoples that we receive the institution of the priesthood.

It appears that the cosmological concern with crosses and blood was carried into the Nile region by people migrating from southern Africa. DNA analysis in ancient Nubians supports the existence of gene flow between sub-Sahara and North Africa in the Nile valley. [5]

Specimen 2:  The Phoenician Alphabet.  Note that the Tau is a cross within a sphere. The Tau often serves as a symbol of the Cross in Christianity.

The sphere with the cross could represent the precession of the equinoxes. This would have been observed by primitive peoples who studied the heavens carefully. For Plato, the "perfect year" is marked by the return of the planets and the fixed stars to their original positions.
He wrote: "And so people are all but ignorant of the fact that time really is the wanderings of these bodies, bewilderingly numerous as they are and astonishingly variegated. It is none the less possible, however, to discern that the perfect number of time brings to completion the perfect year at that moment when the relative speeds of all eight periods have been completed together and, measured by the circle of the Same that moves uniformly, have achieved their consummation."

The cycle takes between 25,000-28,000 years to complete and is called a "Great Year." According to Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend there are over 200 myths from ancient cultures that refer to a Great Year.

Specimen 3:  Note the movement of the vernal points, called the "precession of the equinoxes."

The changing relationship between the moving vernal axis and the fixed galactic axis creates the cycle of earth's precessional cross. When the vernal point (VP) resides at the 3/4 point (270°) in its cycle, the vernal axis is exactly perpendicular to the galactic axis (GEN), creating a perfect cross in the ecliptic. The last time this occurred was July1998 (and since that time, earth's weather patterns have been changing).

The precession of the equinox is observed as the stars moving across the sky at the rate of about 50 arc seconds per year, relative to the equinox. Conventional theory holds that this phenomenon is due to the gravity of the sun and moon acting upon the oblate spheroid of the earth causing the axis to wobble (the lunisolar theory). The alternative binary model holds that most of the observable is due to solar system motion, causing a reorientation of the earth relative to the fixed stars as the solar system gradually curves through space. (Read here about the binary model, and here about the lunisolar model.)

As we consider these 3 specimens we can't help but be struck by the vast time periods.  It is apparently true that "In the beginning God..." and in every age God has communicated concerning His plan of salvation. That's something to ponder.


1. There can be no doubt that Abraham's African ancestors understood themselves to be receiving the Word of God. The concept is found outside the Bible. While the creation stories of Genesis are often likened to the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic, they have much closer affinity to the creation stories of Africa. This is evident in motif and in theological detail. Consider the motif of the generative Word of God whereby all things came into being. The bards of the Bambara Komo Society of Uganda recite this:

The word is total:
it cuts, excoriates
forms, modulates
perturbs, maddens
cures or directly kills
amplifies or reduces.
According to intention
it excites or calms souls.

The phrase "In the beginning was God" is not found in Babylonian prose, but it is found in Africa. The following is a song of the BaMbuti Pygmies:

In the beginning was God
Today is God,
Tomorrow will be God.
Who can make an image of God?
He has no body.
He is as a word which comes out from your mouth,
That word! It is no more,
It is past and still it lives!
So is God.

2. B. Pfaffenberger, Caste in Tamil Culture: the religious foundations of Sudra domination in Tamil Sri Lanka, reviewed in JSTOR, Dec. 1983, pp. 805-806.

3. Humans yearned for the death-defeating benefits of the Pleromic Blood as early as 80,000 years ago. Sophisticated mining operations in the Lebombo Mountains of southern Africa reveal that thousands of workers were extracting red ochre which was ground into powder and used in the burial of nobles in places as distant as Europe. Anthropologists agree that this red powder symbolized blood, and its use in burial represented hope for life after death.

4. Blombos Cave is near the southern Cape shore of the Indian Ocean, about 200 miles of Cape Town, South Africa. Researchers have concluded that the artifacts date to between 70,000-85,000 years.

5. To read the Abstract of Lucotte's study of the Y chromosome haplotypes in Egypt go here. There has been no immigration into the lower Nubia area from Asia according to Lycotte's Y chromosome study. The singular Nubian haplotype would be the expected result of the unique marriage pattern revealed by the Genesis genealogical data.

Related reading: Tracing Ancestry Using Totems; Artifacts of Great Antiquity; Kathu Tool-Making Site; On Blood and the Impulse to Immortality


Elizabeth said...

I am learning so much from your research!
I love the African poems you have quoted here ... why, oh why must those of European ancestry whiten everything??? ... our history, God’s story! Is so much more colorful!

Alice C. Linsley said...

Africa is the point of origin of all humans. Our archaic ancestors came from there. As to European ancestry, that is largely R1b and it also has a point of origin in the Upper Nile and the region of Lake Chad. See the map of the R1b dispersion here:

The poems are lovely!