History Podcasts

Horses, Cows and Celestial Creatures at the Dawn of Civilizations

Horses, Cows and Celestial Creatures at the Dawn of Civilizations

When I think of the Aryans of the ancient times, I think of Central Asia, the steppe, a horse culture that could enable their language, Sanskrit to spread, at a gallop, so to speak, westward and south, to form the basis of virtually every European and many subcontinental languages in the millennium before Christ.

Inescapable Equestrian Importance

The domestication of the horse on the steppe was perhaps the principle driving force behind Sanskrit’s spread to the west. Today, both Europe and much of Asia have retained an equestrian culture and indeed, when the Spanish arrived in the Americas they brought with them the horses that would eventually form the backbone of the cultures of both the invaders and the invaded. However, that horse culture never arrived in the subcontinent, in spite of the fact that Sanskrit had, and the people whose language it was are most associated with it, specifically India, in the modern sense of the name’s usage.

Darius I the Great's inscription (the Behistun inscription) The earliest epigraphically attested reference to the word arya occurs in the 6th-century BC Behistun inscription. The arya of the inscription does not signify anything but "Iranian". ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Had the Aryan warriors of the plains of Asia, crossed the mountains of the Hindu Kush and successfully invaded the plains of what would one day become Punjab on horseback, then would not that animal, that beast that they had at one time held so dear that they be buried with it, remain an integral part of Indian culture today? The language remains. The Vedic gods remain. The Vedic texts remain. But where are the horses? Would successful invaders abandon such an advantage?

Upon arrival in the subcontinent, the Aryan clans appear to have adopted the cow as an animal around which their society would be built. Not the horse. The cow became divine and the workhorses became buffaloes, or elephants (also considered to be divine). Were these the creatures that were venerated by the indigenous peoples whose land had been overrun? Was it the spiritual culture of the vanquished that was to conquer the souls of the victors?

Eugène Delacroix's painting of the Roman poet, Ovid, in exile among the Scythians.

Contemporary Civilizations Around the World

At the time that the Aryans are thought to have been migrating south and west, other sophisticated cultures, eclipsing that of the Aryans themselves, existed in other parts of the world. In the Americas, the Mayan people had mapped the firmament, developed a sophisticated calendar and built extraordinary pyramids, it seems without the use of the wheel. Their temple complexes, we are taught, like those of the Incas of the Andean ranges, were built using primitive technologies-at best, and yet the gigantic blocks were placed so precisely, that even after hundreds, sometimes thousands of years of weathering, a cigarette paper could not find a home between them.

  • The True Aryans: Who Were They Really and How Were Their Origins Corrupted?
  • Arkaim: Aryans, Advanced Astronomy and Untold Secrets of a Russian Citadel
  • The Cult of Mithra: Sacred Temples, and Vedic Legends, and Ancient Armenian Understanding

Cusco, Peru, wall with a precisely cut stone of 12 angles. ( CC BY 3.0 )

In North Africa, the Egyptians enjoyed a culture that was thriving, perhaps even declining at the time the Aryans arrived in the northwest frontier of ancient India. They too had developed a civilization that was sophisticated enough to have also accurately mapped their celestial environment and kept good time with their calendar. Few in the world have not heard of the pyramids of Giza or are not able to recognize an image of the Sphinx.

The pyramids of Giza and those at the other sites that run north to south along the Nile valley; Abusir, Saqqara, Dashur, Abu Rawash, Lisht and Meidum , the first true pyramids, were also extraordinary works of engineering; precision cut stones without the tell-tale signs left behind by the chatter of the craftsman’s chisels. The keepers of the ancient traditions of Egypt’s indigenous culture insist that the stone blocks from which monuments and their accompaniments were built, were cut from the rock using sound, therefore cutting as precisely as we may achieve today with a laser. Sound and light technology was available to and understood by the ancient civilizations.

The stepped pyramid at Saqqara. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Contemporaneously with the culture of the Nile, were those of the Euphrates; Sumer and Babylon, circa 4500 BC-1900 BC and 2300 BC-1000 AD respectively. Beyond the similarities in architecture and astronomy, are more subtle likenesses; the high esteem in which the cow was held, a rice-based culture, a priestly caste distinct and more highly regarded than those born into the ruling class and all existing in a climate and terrain very different to the North African and Arabian deserts that we know them to be today.

Absence of the Horse

In none of the civilizations mentioned above does the horse play a significant role at all. Of the hundreds of deities of Sumer and Babylon, the horse goddess, Silili, is mentioned only once in the Epic of Gilgamesh, recorded on the sixth tablet (line 57), of the seven on which it was originally written, in Sumerian cuneiform, some 2000 BC. Neither does the horse appear in the spiritual consciousness of the early Egyptians, indeed the horse was not introduced there until 1600 BC when the Greek speaking Hyksos people invaded them.

The Harappan civilization, of the Indus Valley , perhaps the most ancient of all of those that are known to us, that flourished sometime between 4000 BC and 1500 BC, shows no signs of horses until about 2100 BC, to which point in time, an equine skeleton found in an excavation, Surkotada, at Rapar Taluka, in the Kutch district of Gujarat, has been dated. The site had been discovered by Dr JP Joshi in 1964 and further work with his colleague, Dr Sharma, has unearthed more skeletons that date from between 2100 BC and1700 BC. These dates fall within the time frame that it is widely accepted by scholars as being the era during which the Aryan migrations began, bringing with them an established culture on the backs of their horses.

Needless to say, other artifacts were reacquainted with the stare of the human eye, that shed evermore light on who the Harappan’s were, who they traded with, were influenced by, who they themselves influenced and perhaps, where they had come from, including copper seals almost identical to those found on Egyptian tablets. How had their civilization emerged from next to nothing until reaching its zenith, around 3000 BC, by which point the population had constructed the most technically sophisticated city in the world at Mohenjodaro?

Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, with the Great Bath in the foreground and the Buddhist Stupa in the background. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )


Sir John Marshall, the British born Director General of the Archeological Survey of India between 1902 and 1928, was convinced that his work at the former cities of Harappa and Mahenjodaro had demonstrated that the Indus civilization pre-dated that of Sumer and that the Sumerian had grown out of the Harappan. Although the script used by the Indus Valley civilization has yet to be deciphered, the cuneiform script of the Sumerians has, and curiously, one of the artifacts uncovered and understood is a text, Temple Hymn 31, dated to 2300 BC that reads:

Ombi-in isaiba amar sootiya”

He who recites this mantra sound Om

Lights up (with radiance)

As the simplified translation infers, the mantra begins with syllable / sound (Om) and ends with the word that the Sumerians used to describe light, illumination, radiance - ‘ sootiya’. The Tamils of south India, whose ongoing culture and language were contemporaneous with those that have been mentioned until now, also used the word ‘sootiya’ to mean light, illumination and radiance. Thus it begins with sound and ends in light. This connection between the Tamil language, the oldest of the Dravidian (non-Aryan) languages of the sub-continent and the known cuneiform and hieroglyphic languages of the ancient world, is perhaps the most revealing of a common culture that has been lost to the inevitable changes of time.

  • Bronze Age Indus Valley Civilization: The Spirit of Saraswathi
  • Decoding the mysterious ancient Indus Valley script will shed light on powerful ancient civilization
  • The Indus Valley Civilization: An ornamented past, revealed in 5,000-year-old artifacts and jewelry

So-called "Priest King" statue, Mohenjo-daro, late Mature Harappan period, National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan . ( CC BY-SA 1.0 )

The idea that the Egyptian, Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations were connected is not a new one. For centuries Europeans have speculated and hypothesized that this was the logical development, through time, in that small part of the world. Some too, that the Indian had given rise to the Egyptian. The Egyptians themselves believed that they had, or their culture had, originated in the land that was known by them as Pant, and believed by scholars of the subject, to mean the western facing Malabar coast of the southern Indian peninsula. This aligns with their description of their ancestral homeland in every detail of flora, fauna, geography and climate.

If people from the south of India had colonized Africa, presumably arriving at what we call, ‘the horn’ of that magnificent landmass, then those people would have been Dravidian people, keepers of the knowledge of their ancient ancestors, one of whom today, has flowing through his veins, the oldest, non-African DNA yet to be discovered.

Earlier Artists

At the time that Britain was being re-populated by migrants from the European continent to which it was still attached, pastoral peoples grazed their cattle across the temperate savannah lands that occupied the vast area that we now know as the Sahara and into the Levant, Mesopotamia and peninsular Arabia, (that was less of a peninsula at that time, like people, continental plates move!).

They depicted their lives in the art with which they decorated the places in which they stayed. Three dimensional figures that were not drawn by Europeans until into the middle ages. Early Byzantine depictions of Christ are in two dimensions, lacking both the depth and the sophistication of those who had etched and sketched in the millennia that had gone before - artists who had so graphically captured every muscle and sinew, hair and tissue of the creatures that they shared their space with, that today, after the passing of thousands of years and being blasted by billions of grains of sand, they are still often as vivid as a photograph.

Egyptian Reverence of the Cow

Buried deep under generations of naturally accumulated sand, were recently uncovered in the Egyptian desert, altars, each of them made to their own fashion. Three of them. Each used until abandoned to the ever advancing and deepening desert, and replaced by the next and another, until ultimately being drowned and lost beneath the waves of sand to await rediscovery.

The most recently placed stone altar is known as the ‘cow stone’ for it’s clear resemblance to the same animal and had been put there deliberately, before the first ruler appears on the Egyptian list of kings, before the dawn of that civilization. It is also clear from modern aerial photographs and computer mapping, that the Nile was 200 miles to the west of its present-day channel, as it flows into Egypt from the Sudan, far into where the modern-day sand dunes have colonized and settled.

Hathor, Mother Cow

The cow had found her place among the deities of the later Egyptians too, the goddess Plater was depicted as a cow, as was Hathor; one of the most ancient of deities; considered to be the mother, of the sun and the moon, the east and the west; a goddess of fertility and joyfulness, she was depicted with a horned cow’s head.

A triad statue depicting the Hare Nome goddess, the goddess Hathor, and the pharaoh Mekaura. circa 2548-2530 B.C. ( CC BY 3.0 ) Sculpture of Hathor as a cow, with all of her symbols, the sun disk, the cobra, as well as her necklace and crown. ( CC BY-SA 2.5 )

From the earliest inscriptions of the old kingdom, circa 3000 BC, until a temple was begun to be constructed in her honor from 237 BC (during the Ptolemaic dynasty), Hathor was held in the hearts of the people with great affection, as many female, ‘mothering’ goddesses are, wherever in the world they are worshipped. She pre-dated the gods that we are more familiar with, Isis (who she’d later be associated with), Osiris and Ra, indeed she gave birth to them as it was she who was the primordial force that brought our world into being, much as Indra, among the Vedic gods was before being displaced by Vishnu, Shiva and their families in the Hindu pantheon.

Hathor, ancient Egyptian goddess. Hathor is depicted in many forms, most commonly as a woman with cow-horns and sun disk. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 )/ Hathor in the form of a divine cow. Around the neck is a hathor-emblem and a sun disk rests between the horns. ( CC BY-SA 4.0 ).

In her incarnation as Heset she appears as a white cow and is associated with the divine cow of the primordial age, Mehe-Heret who brought forth the rains that gave rise to the river Nile and whose name translates as ‘great flood’. The cow was also associated with light, both in Egypt and India. In the former civilization, the association was with light from the sky, and in the latter, the early Hindu storytellers identified the sun god, Indra, as a cow and the word cow itself could also be used to mean, a ‘ray of illumination’, or light. In Sumer and Babylon, she was identified with Ninsumun, the mother of the hero of Gilgamesh, and whose name means, ‘wild cow’, in Sumerian.

Widespread Pre-Aryan Civilizations

In the seventh century AD, Saint Isidore of Seville, wrote in his encyclopaedia of knowledge, Etymologiae (IX,2.128) of Ethiopians, that ‘they came in ancient times from the River Indus, established themselves in Egypt between the Nile and the sea’. From the Horn of Africa they spread up the Nile valley. Modern researchers of linguistics understand that the languages of this part of Africa and all those that are spoken to the north and west, are Afro-Asiatic, not indigenous to the continent. Furthermore, research into the genetics of North Africans reveals that what Saint Isidore had written about 1400 years ago, based on the wisdom of long forgotten ancient chroniclers, is not so far from the mark.

There is evidence that suggests that people of Dravidian stock arrived in east Africa, bringing their language and culture, each of which over time has metamorphosed, giving the ancient civilizations that we have come to know their culture. It was from the Afro-Asiatic language group that the Semitic languages evolved, the spoken and written languages of today’s North Africa and the Middle East, Arabic and Hebrew among others.

By the time that the Aryans had arrived on horseback in India, many of the ancient world’s civilizations and the languages spoken there, had been extinguished, their knowledge lost, remaining only to be debated by interested minds. The Sanskrit that they spoke, from then on became the language that would express the ideas of the Hindu cultural outlook.

However, had that world view not eons before been created, refined, exported and developed across the seas to far-off lands? From Indonesia to India and to the isthmus at Panama, the culture is coherent and continuous in so many facets of the higher thinking necessary in advanced civilizations, that perhaps the horse was needed only to have to pull the carts, that carried the nails for the coffin of any theory advancing the notion of an Aryan supremacy. Euro-centric ‘origin of civilization’ theorists have often put the cart before the horse, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate whether or not the horse needs to be in the metaphor at all?

Top image: A Pazyryk horseman from the Asian steppe in a felt painting from a burial around 300 BC. ( Public Domain ). Krishna with cow. ( CC BY 2.0 ) Hathor as a cow, Papyrus of Ani ( Public Domain )

By Steven Keith

The Domestication and History of Modern Horses

The modern domesticated horse (Equus caballus) is today spread throughout the world and among the most diverse creatures on the planet. In North America, the horse was part of the megafaunal extinctions at the end of the Pleistocene. Two wild subspecies survived until recently, the Tarpan (Equus ferus ferus, died out ca 1919) and Przewalski's Horse (Equus ferus przewalskii, of which there are a few left).

Horse history, especially the timing of the domestication of the horse, is still being debated, partly because the evidence for domestication itself is debatable. Unlike other animals, criteria such as changes in body morphology (horses are extremely diverse) or the location of a particular horse outside of its "normal range" (horses are very widespread) are not useful in helping resolve the question.

Earth / Prthivi

The Vedic attitude toward the Earth springs from mankind’s primordial experience of being on the one hand a guest, and on the other an offspring, of the Earth. Indeed she occupies a special place among the Gods, having been praised as as Divine Mother. Worship addressed to the Earth was not adoration of an idol or creature as an absolute. Rather, worship involved the veneration of the highest value in the hierarchy of existence, for “undoubtedly this earth is the firstborn of being.”

To the Vedas, the Earth was an object of worship and not of exploitation. She was a subject of awe and not of curiosity, and investigation of the earth was thought to be of the same nature as personal introspection. Naturally, this means that to harm the earth was considered a masochistic vice. Perhaps this is why the Vedas were some of the very first environmentalists, having wisely stated early on:

"Do not cut trees because they remove pollution." (Rig Veda 6:48:17)

"Do not disturb the sky and do not pollute the atmosphere. (Yajur Veda 5:43)

"Don't destroy forests with tigers and don't make forests devoid of tigers. Forests can't be saved without tigers and tigers can't live without forests because forests protect tigers and tigers protect forests." (Virat Parrva 5:45-46).

"One should protect the habitation." (Rig Veda Samhita VI:71:3)

The famous Hymn to the Earth is considered to be one of the most beautiful hymns of the Vedas. The Earth is here called bhumi rather than prthivi. The hymn depicts the universal mother, dispenser of every sort of good.

Hymn to the Earth

1. High Truth, unyielding Order, Consecration,

Ardor and Prayer and Holy Ritual

uphold the Earth may she, the ruling Mistress

of what has been and what will come to be,

for us spread wide a limitless domain.

2. Untrammeled in the midst of men, the Earth,

adorned with heights and gentle slopes and plains,

bears plants and herbs of various healing powers.

May she spread wide for us, afford us joy!

3. On whom are ocean, river, and all waters,

on whom have sprung up food and ploughman’s crops,

on whom moves all that breathes and stirs abroad--

Earth, may she grant to us the long first draught!

4. To Earth belong the four directions of space.

On her grows food on her the ploughman toils.

She carries likewise all that breathes and stirs.

Earth, may she grant us cattle and food in plenty!

5. On whom the men of olden days roamed far,

on whom the conquering Gods smote the demons,

the home of cattle, horses, and of birds,

may Earth vouchsafe to us good fortune and glory!

6. Bearer of all things, hoard of treasures rare,

sustaining mother, Earth the golden-breasted

who bears the Sacred Universal Fire,

whose spouse is Indra--may she grant us wealth!

7. Limitless Earth, whom the Gods, never sleeping,

protect forever with unflagging care,

may she exude for us the well-loved honey,

shed upon us her splendor copiously!

8. Earth, who of yore was Water in the oceans,

discerned by the Sages’ secret powers,

whose immortal heart, enwrapped in Truth,

abides aloft in the highest firmament,

may she procure for us splendor and power,

according to her highest royal state!

9. On whom the flowing Waters, ever the same,

course without cease or failure night and day,

may she yield milk, this Earth of many streams,

and shed on us her splendor copiously!

10. May Earth, whose measurements the Ashvins marked,

over whose breadth the foot of Visnu strode,

whom Indra, Lord of power, freed from foes,

stream milk for me, as a mother for her son!

11. Your hills, O Earth, your snow-clad mountain peaks,

your forests, may they show us kindliness!

Brown, black, red, multifarious in hue

and solid is this vast Earth, guarded by Indra.

Invincible, unconquered, and unharmed,

I have on her established my abode.

12. Impart to us those vitalizing forces that come,

O Earth, from deep within your body,

your central point, your navel purify us wholly.

The Earth is mother I am son of Earth.

The Rain-giver is my father may he shower on us blessings!

13. The Earth on which they circumscribe the altar,

on which a band of workmen prepare the oblation,

on which the tall bright sacrificial posts

are fixed before the start of the oblation--

may Earth, herself increasing, grant us increase!

14. That man, O Earth, who wills us harm, who fights us,

who by his thoughts or deadly arms opposes,

deliver him to us, forestalling action.

15. All creatures, born from you, move round upon you.

You carry all that has two legs, three, or four.

To you, O Earth, belong the five human races,

those mortals upon whom the rising sun

sheds the immortal splendor of his rays.

16. May the creatures of earth, united together,

let flow for me the honey of speech!

Grant to me this boon, O Earth.

17. Mother of plants and begetter of all things,

firm far-flung Earth, sushined by Heavenly Law,

kindly and pleasant is she. May we ever

dwell on her bosom, passing to and fro!

18. As a vast abode, Earth, you have become great.

Great is your movement, great your trembling, your quaking.

The Lord all-powerful ceaselessly protects you.

O Earth, grant us to shine like burnished gold,

and let no enemy ever wish us ill!

19. Agni resides on earth, within the plants.

The Waters contain Agni in the stones is he.

Agni abides deep in the hearts of Men.

In cattle and in horses there are Agnis.

20. Agni blazes and flashes from the height of heaven.

To the God Agni belong all airy spaces,

Agni it is whom mortal men enkindle,

conveyer of offerings, lover of the clarified butter.

21. May she who is clothed with Fire, whose knees

are blackened, grant me sharpness of wit

and furnish me with splendor!

22. May Earth on which men offer to the Gods

the sacrifice and decorous oblations,

where dwells the human race on nourishment

proper to the requirements of its nature--

may this great Earth assure us life and breath,

permitting us to come to ripe old age.

23. Instill in me abundantly that fragrance,

O Mother Earth, which emanates from you

and from your plants and waters, that sweet perfume

that all celestial beings are wont to emit,

and let no enemy ever wish us ill!

24. Your fragrance which has entered into the lotus,

wherewith the immortal Gods at the Sun-daughter’s wedding

were redolent, O Earth, in times primeval--

instill in me abundantly that fragrance,

and let no enemy ever wish us ill!

25. Your fragrance which adheres to human beings,

the good cheer and the charm of women and men,

that which is found in horses and in warriors,

that which is in wild beasts and in the elephant,

the radiance that shines about a maiden--

O Earth, steep us, too, deeply in that fragrance,

and let no enemy ever wish us ill!

26. Earth is composed of rock, of stone, of dust

Earth is compactly held, consolidated.

I venerate this mighty Earth, the golden-breasted!

27. Her upon whom the trees, lords of the forest,

stand firm, unshakable, in every place,

this long-enduring Earth we now invoke,

the giver of all manner of delights.

28. Whether we stand upright or sit,

whether we stay quite still or walk,

whether we walk with right foot or left,

never may we stumble upon Earth!

29. O purifying Earth, I you invoke!

O patient Earth, by Sacred Word enhanced,

bearer of nourishment and strength, of food and ghee--

O Earth, we would approach you with due praise!

30. Pure may the Waters flow over our bodies!

That which defiles--I fling it upon our foes!

I cleanse myself, O Earth, as with a filter.

31. Your regions, Earth, to eastward and to northward,

southward and westward, may they receive me kindly,

whenever on their paths I travel. Never,

when standing on your surface, may I totter!

32. Do not thrust us aside from in front or behind,

from above or below! Be gracious, O Earth.

Let us not encounter robbers on our path.

Restrain the deadly weapon!

33. As wide a vista of you as my eye

may scan, O Earth, with the kindly help of Sun,

so widely may my sight be never dimmed

in all the long parade of years to come!

34. Whether, when I repose on you, O Earth,

I turn upon my right side or my left,

or whether, extended flat upon my back,

I meet your pressure from head to foot,

be gentle, Earth! You are the couch of all!

35. Whatever I dig up of you, O Earth,

may you of that have quick replenishment!

O purifying One, may my thrust never

reach right unto your vital points, your heart!

36. Your circling seasons, nights succeeding days,

your summer, O Earth, your splashing rains, our autumn,

your winter and frosty season yielding to spring--

may each and all produce for us their milk!

37. This cleansing Earth, who trembles before the Serpent,

who guards the fires that dwell within the waters,

who castigates the god-insulting demons,

has chosen for her mate Indra, not Vrtra,

surrendering herself to the powerful one, the potent.

38. On her are erected the platform and the sheds of oblation

on her is reared the sacrificial post.

On her the brahmins, knowers of the rites,

recite their hymns, intone their melodies.

On her the priests set forth the sacrifice,

that Indra may drink Soma.

39. On her those sages of old, the Seven Seers

who fashioned these worlds, performing the sacrifice

by dint of holy rite and creative Fervor,

sang hymns and lo! the cows came to birth!

40. May Earth afford us all that copious wealth

for which we long! May Bhaga play his part

and Indra go before to show the way!

41. May Earth, the stage where mortals sing and play

with varied shouts and noises, which resounds

with cries of war or beatings of the drum,

drive far my foemen and rid me of all rivals!

42. Earth is the source of food, of rice and barley

from her derive the five tribes of men.

To rain-steeped Earth, the Rain-giver’s wife, be homage!

43. Her castles are built by the Gods, her plains

the arena in which men wage war. The matrix

of all things is Earth. May the Lord of life

dispose for our enjoyment all her regions!

44. May the Goddess Earth, bearer of many a treasure

and of wealth stored up in diverse hidden places,

the generous sharer of riches, impart to us,

in addition to gold and gems, a special portion of her favor!

45. May Earth who bears mankind, each different grouping

maintaining its own customs and its speech,

yield up for me a thousand streams of treasure,

like a placid cow that never resists the hand.

46. The snake and the scorpion which viciously bite,

which, chilled by winter, lie slothfully hidden,

the wriggling worm, all that stirs in the rains--

may it, creeping, not creep on us! Instead,

may you grant us the blessing of all that is wholesome!

47. From your numberless tracks by which mankind may travel,

your roads on which move both chariots and wagons

your paths which are used by the good and the bad,

may we choose a way free from foes and robbers!

May you grant us the blessing of all that is wholesome!

48. She carries in her lap the foolish and also the wise.

She bears the death of the wicked as well as the good.

She lives in friendly collaboration with the boar,

offering herself as sanctuary to the wild pig.

49. The creatures of your forests, dwellers in woods,

lions, tigers, man-eaters that prowl about,

hyena and wolf, misfortune stalking around,

demons both male and female, chase them far!

50. All evil spirits, male and female alike,

drive far from us, O Earth, the ones that grab

and the ones that devour, all vampires and all demons!

Drive each and every one to distant realms!

51. Over the earth the winged bipeds fly,

swans and falcons, eagles, birds of all kinds.

On her the wind comes rushing, Matarishvan,

raising the dust, causing the trees to tremble

and dragging in his victory train the Fire.

52. May she in whom the bright and also the dark,

the day and the night, associate, though separate,

the far-flung Earth, ofttimes by rain made fertile,

graciously settle each one in his well-loved abode!

53. Heaven and Earth and the space in between

have set me in a wide expanse!

Fire, the Sun, the Waters, the Gods,

have joined to give me inspiration.

54. Behold me now, victorious!

My name is the highest in all the earth.

Ruling in all regions, I subdue all! I conquer!

55. When at the Gods’ command, O Goddess,

you unfurled yourself, revealing your grandeur,

then you were imbued with beauty and charm.

You shaped and fashioned the world’s four regions.

56. In village or forest, in all the places

where man meets man, in market or forum,

may we always say that which is pleasing to you!

57. Just as a horse scatters dust, so Earth,

when she came into being, scattered the peoples--

Earth, gracious leader and protectress of the world,

who holds in firm grasp both trees and plants.

58. The words that I speak are sweet as honey!

My glances meet with fair glances in return.

Vehement am I, swift and impetuous!

Those who gnash their teeth I utterly vanquish!

59. Peaceful and fragrant, gracious to the touch,

may Earth, swollen with milk, her breasts overflowing,

grant me her blessing together with her milk!

60. The Maker of the world sought her with oblations

when she was shrouded in the depth of the ocean.

A vessel of gladness, long cherished in secret,

the earth was revealed to mankind for their joy.

61. Primeval Mother, disperser of Men,

you, far-flung Earth, fulfill all our desires.

Whatever you lack, may the Lord of creatures,

the First-born of Right, supply to you fully!

62. May your dwellings, O Earth, free from sickness and wasting,

flourish for us! Through a long life, watchful,

may we always offer to you our tribute!

63. O Earth, O Mother, dispose my lot

in gracious fashion that I be at ease.

Even for Hindus today the Earth is sacred as the very manifestation of the Divine Mother. She is Bhumi Devi, the Earth Goddess. One of the reasons that Hindus honor cows is that the cow represents the energies and qualities of the Earth, selfless caring, sharing and the providing of nourishment to all.

In the Vedas there was much contemplation on the idea that, while humans are from the Earth and part of the Earth, it seems that we are not only of the Earth, not just Earthly beings.


International Journal of Social Science & Interdisciplinary Research, Vol.1 Issue 8, August 2012, ISSN 2277 3630

Panikkar, Raimundo Vedic Experience: An Anthology of Hinduism’s Sacred and Revealed Scriptures

Animal Husbandry is a vital stepping stone for civilizations, enabling access to animal resources outside the City Center via Pastures and Camps. It also allows Harvesting of all these resources. In Gathering Storm, Horses are revealed with Animal Husbandry instead of being visible at the beginning of the game, which makes researching this technology as early as possible even more essential. In fact, most of the time Animal Husbandry should be one of the two starting choices of tech research (along with Mining) - you should prioritize it if there are any nearby resources accessible with one of the improvements it unlocks.

The domestication of animals and the selective breeding of some to accentuate certain traits (husbandry) appears to have occurred around the same time as the development of agriculture. The dog is thought to be the earliest domesticated animal, probably to assist in hunting game and protect the camp. (They also improved sanitation by eating all the scraps being tossed around the fire pit.) Evidence suggests that dogs were first tamed and bred in China – in fact, geneticists believe that about 95% of the breeds today are descended from just a few common Chinese ancestors.

Meanwhile, goats and sheep were domesticated in the Middle East by about 10,000 BC. Next, men domesticated cattle, probably in the Middle East also according to geneticists. Then, around 4000 BC, horses on the Eurasian steppes. And then followed many of the rest of earth's creatures. In time, most of the domesticated animals became so tame that they could not survive on their own in the wild. Those that couldn't be domesticated got hunted, by men on horseback . with dogs.

To be successfully domesticated, according to Charles Darwin, a type of animal must fit certain criteria. It should be able to consume food that is less attractive to humans (grass or vermin or leftovers). It should mature rapidly, so that it becomes useful quickly and so that it can be husbanded through repeated generations of breeding. The animal should have a pleasant disposition (doesn't bite the hand that feeds it). It shouldn't panic easily . or if it does, it should tend to stay together with others of its kind, making it possible for humans or dogs to protect the herd. Finally, it is useful if the animal can be trained or tricked to think of a human as its pack or herd leader.

Sirius in Occult Symbolism and Secret Societies

To claim that Sirius is “important” to Hermetic Orders would be a gross understatement. The dog star is nothing less than the central focus of the teachings and symbolism of secret societies. The ultimate proof of this fact: many secret societies are actually named after the star.

In the Tarot

“The seventeenth numbered major trump is called Les Étoiles, (French for The Star), and portrays a young girl kneeling with one foot in water and the other on and, her body somewhat suggesting the swastika. She has two urns, the contents of which she pours upon the land and sea. Above the girl’s head are eight stars, one of which is exceptionally large and bright. Count de Gébelin considers the great star to be Sothis or Sirius the other seven are the sacred planets of the ancients. He believes the female figure to be Isis in the act of causing the inundations of the Nile which accompanied the rising of the Dog Star. The unclothed figure of Isis may well signify that Nature does not receive her garment of verdure until the rising of the Nile waters releases the germinal life of plants and flowers.”
– Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of all Ages

In Freemasonry

In Masonic lodges, Sirius is known as the “Blazing Star” and a simple look at its prominence in Masonic symbolism reveals its utmost importance. The Masonic author William Hutchinson wrote about Sirius: “It is the first and most exalted object that demands our attention in the Lodge.” The same way the light of Sirius made its way into the Great Pyramid during initiations, it is symbolically present in Masonic lodges.

“The Ancient Astronomers saw all the great Symbols of Masonry in the Stars. Sirius glitters in our lodges as the Blazing Star.” [7. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma]

Sirius, the Blazing Star, at the center of the Masonic mosaic pavement.

The Blazing Star shining upon members of a Masonic lodge

“(The Blazing Star) originally represented SIRIUS, or the Dog-star, the forerunner of the inundation of the Nile the God ANUBIS, companion of ISIS in her search for the body of OSIRIS, her brother and husband. Then it became the image of HORUS, the son of OSIRIS, himself symbolized also by the Sun, the author of the Seasons, and the God of Time Son of ISIS, who was the universal nature, himself the primitive matter, inexhaustible source of Life, spark of uncreated fire, universal seed of all beings. It was HERMES, also, the Master of Learning, whose name in Greek is that of the God Mercury.” [8. Ibid.]

In Freemasonry, it is taught that the Blazing Star is a symbol of deity, of omnipresence (the Creator is present everywhere) and of omniscience (the Creator sees and knows all). Sirius is, therefore, the “sacred place” all Masons must ascend to: It is the source of divine power and the destination of divine individuals. This concept is often represented in Masonic art.

Masonic art portraying Sirius, the Blazing Star, as the destination of the Mason’s journey.

To achieve perfection, the initiate must successfully understand and internalize the dual nature of the world (good and evil masculine and feminine black and white, etc.) through alchemical metamorphosis. This concept is symbolically represented by the union of Osiris and Isis (the male and female principles) to give birth to Horus, the star-child, the Christ-like figure, the perfected man of Freemasonry – who is equated with the Blazing Star.

“The sun and moon … represent the two grand principles … the male and the female … both shed their light upon their offspring, the blazing star, or Horus.” [9. Ibid.]

The Egyptian hieroglyph representing Sirius has been esoterically interpreted to be a representation of this cosmic trinity.

The hieroglyph representing Sirius contains three elements: a “phallic” obelisk (representing Osiris), a “womb-like” dome (representing Isis) and a star (representing Horus).

This concept is so crucial for Freemasons, that it was embedded in some of the most important structures in the world.

The Washington Monument, an Egyptian obelisk representing the male principle, is directly connected with the dome of the Capitol, representing the female principle. Together they produce Horus an unseen energy represented by Sirius.

As stated by Albert Pike above, the Egyptian god Horus and the star Sirius are often associated. In Masonic symbolism, the eye of Horus (or the All-Seeing Eye) is often depicted surrounded by the glittering of light of Sirius.

A Masonic tracing board depicting the sun above the left pillar (representing the masculine), the moon above the right pillar (representing feminine) and Sirius above the middle pillar, representing the “perfected man” or Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris. Notice the “Eye of Horus” on Sirius.

The Eye of Horus inside a triangle (symbolizing deity) surrounded by the glow of Sirius, the Blazing Star

The All-Seeing Eye inside the Blazing Star in Masonic art.

Given the symbolic correlation between the All-Seeing Eye and Sirius, the next image becomes self-explanatory.

The light behind the All-Seeing Eye on the American dollar bill is not from the sun, but from Sirius. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built in alignment with Sirius and is therefore shown shining right above the Pyramid. A radiant tribute to Sirius is therefore in the pockets of millions of citizens.

Order of the Eastern Star

The symbol of the OES is an inverted star, similar to the Blazing Star of Freemasonry.

Considered to be the “female version” of Freemasonry (although men can join), the Order of the Eastern Star (OES) is directly named after Sirius, the “Star rising from the East”. A “general public” explanation of the origins of the Order’s name claims it originated from the “Star of the East” that lead the Three Magis to Jesus Christ. A look into the occult meaning of the Order’s symbolism, however, makes it clear that the OES is a reference to Sirius, the most important star of Freemasonry, its parent organization.

OES art depicting Sirius above the Great Pyramid.

Madame Blavatsky, Alice Bailey , and Theosophy

Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey, the two main figures associated with Theosophy, have both considered Sirius to be a source esoteric power. Blavatsky stated that the star Sirius exerts a mystic and direct influence over the entire living heaven and is linked with every great religion of antiquity.

Alice Bailey sees the Dog Star as the true “Great White Lodge” and believes it to be the home of the “Spiritual Hierarchy”. For this reason, she considers Sirius as the “star of initiation”.

“This is the great star of initiation because our Hierarchy (an expression of the second aspect of divinity) is under the supervision or spiritual magnetic control of the Hierarchy of Sirius. These are the major controlling influences whereby the cosmic Christ works upon the Christ principle in the solar system, in the planet, in man and in the lower forms of life expression. It is esoterically called the “brilliant star of sensitivity.” [10. Alice Bailey, Esoteric Astrology]

Not unlike most many esoteric writers, Bailey considers Sirius to have a great impact on human life.

“All that can be done here in dealing with this profound subject is to enumerate briefly some of the cosmic influences which definitely affect our earth, and produce results in the consciousness of men everywhere, and which, during the process of initiation, bring about certain specific phenomena.

First and foremost is the energy or force emanating from the sun Sirius. If it might be so expressed, the energy of thought, or mind force, in its totality, reaches the solar system from a distant cosmic centre via Sirius. Sirius acts as the transmitter, or the focalising centre, whence emanate those influences which produce self-consciousness in man.” [11. Alice Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar]

Aleister Crowley, the A.A. and Kenneth Grant

In 1907, Crowley started his own occult order called the A.A. – short for Argentium Astrum, which can be translated to ‘The Order of the Silver Star’. The ‘Silver Star’ was, of course, a reference to Sirius. Even if Crowley almost always referred to the dog star in veiled terms, the whole of his magickal philosophy, from his development as a young Freemason through to his final years as the Head of the O.T.O, is wholly in accordance with the Sirian influence, which was identified and expressed by other writers of his era. His alleged contact with his Holy Guardian Angel that later led to the channeling of ‘Liber AL: The Book of the Law’ is believed to have originated from Sirius.

If Crowley used code words to describe Sirius, his protégé Kenneth Grant has explicitly and extensively written about the dog star. Throughout his numerous books, he often described Sirius as being a powerful center of magickal magnetic power. His belief that the star holds the central key to unlocking the mysteries of the Egyptian and Typhonian traditions has strengthened over time and became a central focus of his research. One of Grant’s most important and controversial thesis was his discovery of the “Sirius/Set current”, which is an extra-terrestrial dimension connecting Sirius, the Earth and Set, the Egyptian god of Chaos – who was later associated with Satan.

“Set is the initiator, the Opener of mans’ consciousness to the rays of the Undying God typified by Sirius – the Sun in the South.” [12. Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival]

“Sirius, or Set, was the original “headless one” – the light of the lower region (the south) who was known (in Egypt) as An (the dog), hence Set-An (Satan), Lord of the infernal regions, the place of heat, later interpreted in a moral sense as “hell”. [13. Ibid.]

Although each occult philosophy describes Sirius in a slightly different matter, it is still consistently regarded as the “sun behind the sun”, the true source of occult power. It is perceived as the cradle of human knowledge and the belief of the existence of a strong connection between the star and planet Earth never seems to become outdated. Is there a true link between Sirius and Earth? Is the dog star an esoteric symbol representing something happening in the spiritual realm? Is it both? One thing is for sure, the cult of Sirius is not a “thing of the past” and is very alive today. An in-depth look at our popular culture, which is heavily influenced by occult symbolism, reveals numerous references to Sirius.

First Horse Warriors

The advent of horse riding changed the course of human history and the genetic makeup of humankind.

The advent of horse riding was a momentous step in human history. But when and how did our ancestors first learn to master these animals? In a spectacular adventure, NOVA unlocks the mystery on the vast, grassy plains of Kazakhstan, where wild horses still roam free, and nomadic herders follow their traditional way of life. Investigating clues from archaeology and genetics, researchers reveal vivid evidence of the very first horsemen. They also discover warriors who swept across Europe, and turn out to be the ancestors of millions today. (Premiered May 15, 2019)

More Ways to Watch

NARRATOR: Horses: powerful, graceful and thunderously fast. No animal has made a greater impact on society or given humans more freedom and mobility than horses.

DAVID ANTHONY (Anthropologist) The thrill that people still get today from riding a horse at top speed, there’s nothing like it. Whereas, if you get on the back of a cow, it’s not that great an experience.

NARRATOR: Centuries before Egyptians built the pyramids, Eurasian nomads unlocked the power of horses and used them to reign supreme over vast territories of the ancient world. But how did they do it?

NIOBE THOMPSON (Anthropologist): (Translated): My name is Niobe.

AUEZ (Kazakh herder): (Translated) And my name is Auez.

NARRATOR: Follow anthropologist Niobe Thompson, as he visits the last of today’s horse riding cultures and explores archaeological sites and genetics labs, seeking to unlock the mysteries of the world’s first riders.

ESKE WILLERSLEV (Evolutionary Biologist): The horse transformed what it means being human. It gave the possibility to explore the world in a way that had never been possible before.

NARRATOR: But horses could also bring terror at the hands of brutal raiders and even pandemic disease. Time-travel back to when prehistoric people began capturing wild horses and rode them like a tide that would forever change the course of human history. First Horse Warriors, right now, on NOVA.

Horses are magnets for our attention. They draw us in, almost demanding we look at them. For most people today, just seeing a horse is a rare sight, perhaps only a couple times a year, watching races like the Kentucky Derby. But not so very long ago, horses were everywhere, woven into the fabric of our daily existence, in the countryside and even in cities.

DAVID ANTHONY: The City of New York had tens of thousands of horses that were doing all the work that trucks do. And they were also doing all of the work that taxis do today.

NARRATOR: We don’t depend on horses anymore, but few animals have been as important to the rise of civilization. For thousands of years, they were our long distance vehicles, the muscle and speed we needed to master the world. But how did this unique partnership form? Who were the first people to unlock the power of horses? And what happened once they did?

Recent discoveries in archaeology and paleontology, genetics and even linguistics are revealing the identity of the world’s first riders, as well as the extraordinary relationship humans forged with horses and how that bond would change the very course of history.

Horses appeared on the scene long before we did, but, surprisingly, looked nothing like the majestic creatures we see today. Fifty-five-million years ago, they are small and move like agile dogs. This “dawn horse” is well-suited to the tropical forests covering much of the earth back then, living and foraging among the dense foliage.

NIOBE THOMPSON: It stayed hot for millions of years, and in all that time, dawn horse hardly changed at all. And then, about 15-million years ago, the earth began to cool.

NARRATOR: And when it does, forested regions, distant from the equator, transform into open plains covered with grasses. And here, the small, dog-like horse evolves to avoid predators, growing sleek, tall, muscled and fast. Although horses first appear in North America, as their numbers grow, they migrate across Beringia, the land bridge that once connected the continents.

More than 100,000 years ago, herds of horses in Europe and Asia prove a rich source of meat for Stone Age hunters.

DAVID ANTHONY: People hunted horses. They are meat on the hoof they don’t have sharp teeth. It’s not like hunting cave lions, you know?

NARRATOR: And early hunters know how to find migrating horses.

DAVID ANTHONY: Horses are relatively predictable animals, and they tend to follow a regular system of water holes and grazing places.

NARRATOR: At Solutré, in central France, there’s evidence ancient hunters regularly ambushed horses.

SANDRA OLSEN (Zooarchaeologist): At Solutré, for about 20,000 years, people were driving wild horses into a kind of cul-de-sac and then killing them with spears, for food.

NARRATOR: This chunk of earth, excavated at Solutré, is dense with horse bones, revealing just a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of horses slaughtered here over the centuries.

At Chauvet Cave, in southern France, the importance of the horse to our Stone Age ancestors is on clear display.

NIOBE THOMPSON: When you look at this marvelous wall, you see all of the major animals of the Stone Age world depicted. You’ve got reindeer and mammoths, big cats, but the horse seems to play the most prominent role.

NARRATOR: From their art, many experts believe ancient humans were making a spiritual connection to these animals.

Despite such reverence, prehistoric humans may have over-hunted horses. And by about 10,000 B.C., when a changing climate may have also depleted their numbers, horse herds became scarce in Europe and disappeared entirely in the Americas, where they would not return until European explorers sailed them back in ships.

But on the grassy steppe lands of central Eurasia, the descendants of horses that migrated from America flourish. And it’s here that many experts believe prehistoric humans eventually discover how to ride them.

The “steppe” refers to this long grasslands plain, stretching over 5,000 miles, from the edge of today’s Europe all the way to Mongolia, in Asia. It’s a harsh environment: cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and in many places, too dry for agriculture. But you can pasture animals. And these Kazakh herders are following in the footsteps of their nomadic ancestors, who may have been among the first people to capture and ride horses.

And Niobe has come here to see what he can learn from them.

NIOBE THOMPSON: (Translated) Peace be with you.

AUEZ: (Translated) And peace to you.

NIOBE THOMPSON: (Translated) My name is Niobe.

AUEZ: (Translated) And my name is Auez.

NARRATOR: Raising sheep, goats and cattle is a rugged, outdoor existence, but horses make herding easier, especially when moving grazing animals to new pasture. And Niobe pitches in.

It was surely a big change to turn wild and wary steppe animals into the working horses we see today. So, who were the first people to tame wild horses? And how did they actually do it?

Fifty-five-thousand years ago, the people who lived at this site in Kazakhstan may have been the first culture to master the horse. The site was discovered 40 years ago, when Russian archeologist Victor Zaibert noticed circles in the earth that turned out to be large houses, belonging to a steppe people anthropologists call the “Botai.”

Prior to creating this village, the Botai are strictly nomadic, living off the land, foraging and hunting and eating what they could find. But then they settle down and change their lifestyle. By the vast number of horse bones uncovered at the site, they began eating horse meat almost exclusively.

But is eating horses the only use the Botai had for these animals? Or could they be riding them as well? That question has roiled the academic community for decades.

Anthropologists David Anthony and his wife Dorcas Brown have long maintained the Botai were among the first people to capture and ride horses. And they’ve pieced together what they believe is convincing evidence, by looking for wear marks a riding bit might make on their teeth.

NIOBE THOMPSON: A bit is part of the bridle, or reins. They can be leather or metal, and they go in the horse’s mouth, just here. So, when I apply pressure through the reins, the bit tells the horse what I want it to do.

NARRATOR: And David Anthony believes he’s found evidence of bit-wear in the jaws of Botai horses.

DAVID ANTHONY: There is a gap between the molar row and the incisors. And if you put a bit in the horse’s mouth, it sits on top of very sensitive tissue. And so, by pulling on the bit on one side, you pull the bit down against the gum, and the horse will turn its head in order to avoid that pressure. You pull the rein on the other side, and the horse will turn its head to avoid that pressure. And that’s how a creature as puny as a human can control an animal the size of a horse.

NARRATOR: But a horse doesn’t want a bit constantly bearing down on its gums.

DAVID ANTHONY: The horse can use its tongue to push the bit up and put it onto these teeth, to get it off of the soft tissue where it can’t hurt them anymore. And then in this position, if the horse grasps the bit very firmly between the lower teeth and the upper teeth, it can keep the bit off of its tongue and gums. So we were looking for wear on the front part of the tooth, here.

NARRATOR: They examined hundreds of samples, looking for evidence of bit-wear…

DORCAS BROWN (Anthropologist): You can see that it’s broken. He chewed all the way through this bit.

NARRATOR: …and feel confident they found it.

DAVID ANTHONY: This is a cast of a tooth, from the site of Botai, that’s 5,000 years old. This is the tooth of a modern horse that’s been bitted, and both of them have wear on this front cusp, right here.

NARRATOR: Despite this apparent evidence, not every expert believed Anthony was correct.

DAVID ANTHONY: There are people who did not believe that the marks that we saw on the teeth were caused by a bit, because those kinds of features can be caused by natural malocclusion in horses.

NARRATOR: Besides refuting the bit evidence, other experts argue that images of humans riding horses or chariots do not appear until about 2,000 B.C., or 1,500 years after the Botai. If the Botai had become riders, surely this would have been depicted in art.

So, are Anthony and Brown correct about teeth-wear as evidence for riding? Archaeologists digging at Botai Village have been hoping to find other evidence that the Botai had become riders.

They know the people are smoking, cooking and eating vast quantities of horse meat. And they found large concentrations of horse dung and holes from fence posts, indicating the Botai are keeping horses in corrals, something David Anthony believes makes sense for a culture that had become dependent on horses.

DAVID ANTHONY: It’s easier to kill a horse in a corral than it is to find the horses, go out to the place where you have to ambush them, kill them there and lug it back to your settlement site. It would be a lot more convenient if you just had horses in a corral, and you could go out and get one whenever you wanted a meal.

NARRATOR: Besides serving as a food larder, the corrals could also mean the Botai are breeding and domesticating horses, like other cultures are doing with cattle, sheep and goats: living off these animals for milk, meat, wool and other products.

If the Botai are domesticating horses for the same reasons, this would naturally bring greater interaction and familiarity, making attempts to ride them much easier.

And archaeologist Alan Outram set out to prove the Botai had domesticated horses by focusing on milk.

ALAN OUTRAM (Archaeologist): If people could milk cattle very early on, then people that were living off horse products, why would they not also milk horses? And if you’ve got horse milking, you’ve got a smoking gun for domestication, because no one’s going to argue with you that people are running after wild horses to milk them.

NARRATOR: If the Botai had been milking tame horses, these broken pottery vessels may have once contained their milk. So, Outram brings them to this lab at the University of Bristol. He wants chemist Richard Evershed to use a process called an “isotopic analysis,”…

ALAN OUTRAM: Interesting to know what the blip you found here…

NARRATOR: …to see if he can find residues of milk fat still clinging to the pottery, even after 5,000 years buried in the ground.

RICHARD EVERSHED (Biogeochemist): The basis of what we do is to look at the organic compounds, the fats that have absorbed into the wall of the pot. And actually, they are pretty tough to extract. And we’ve had to develop some methods to actually open up the structure.

NARRATOR: At first, it’s all hand work.

RICHARD EVERSHED: We drill off the surface of the pot to reveal a sort of a fresh ceramic surface, and then we, literally, break off a small piece, about two grams, and put that into a pestle and mortar. And we, literally, grind it to a powder. We pound it to a fine powder. And what that is doing is opening up the pores in the pot.

NARRATOR: This will hopefully free traces of specific chemical fingerprints, called isotopes, of any organic substance the pottery once contained, including milk fat.

The powder is then liquefied and placed into this machine that heats it and analyzes the chemical signature of the gas vapors being released, to see if those signatures match the ones known to come from horse fat.

RICHARD EVERSHED: So, these are the results of the isotope analysis. And you can see these two major peaks. And these are the fatty acids that tell us we’ve got an animal fat.

NARRATOR: A good start, but evidence of fat doesn’t necessarily mean milk fat it could be carcass fat.

RICHARD EVERSHED: We can’t say from looking at these peaks exactly what type of fat we’ve got.

NARRATOR: And since the Botai are eating horses…

RICHARD EVERSHED: And if you’re cooking meat in a pot you will obviously get the deposition of a lot of fat as the meat is cooked.

NARRATOR: They go back to the drawing board, realizing they need a way to clearly distinguish milk fat from carcass fat. And the best way to do that would be to go to the original Botai environment, in Kazakhstan, and gather samples of mare’s milk.

The grasses mares eat today should be composed of elements like hydrogen or oxygen that are similar to those their ancient ancestors ate.

RICHARD EVERSHED: It’s the “you are what you eat” principal. So, you’re inheriting the isotope signatures of different foodstuffs that you’re eating.

NARRATOR: In spring, when mares are nursing, their milk absorbs elevated levels of a hydrogen isotope called deuterium that’s in water and grasses. And this elevation will only be in their milk fat, not in their carcass fat.

When the team analyzes the modern milk samples, they find elevated deuterium peaks that match perfectly those from the Botai pottery. This confirms Alan Outram is right: the Botai had been milking domesticated horses.

ALAN OUTRAM: I don’t think that anyone can seriously argue that you haven’t got decent control of animals, if they’re being milked.

NARRATOR: But it takes practice to milk a horse, as Niobe discovers.

NIOBE THOMPSON: Milking a horse is all about tricking the horse. So, what happens is someone brings a foal in, the foal sucks the milk from the teats, the milk falls, and then they pull the foal away quickly, and someone rushes in and milks the horse. As soon as the mare knows that it’s not the foal or suspects something, something’s different, the milk dries up. The mare sensed that I didn’t really know what I was doing, and as soon as I got a bit of milk out, the teats dried up. They had to bring the foal back in.

It’s really hard…just a little bit.

NARRATOR: Only horses used to a human touch would have allowed the Botai to milk, tame and ride them.

SANDRA OLSEN: And so, by the time you start to pile all of this evidence on, the people living in sedentary villages, milking the mares, eating the horse meat, it’s fairly evident that you have domesticated horses there. And gathering large herds of domesticated horses would be extremely difficult without horse riders to herd them.

DAVID ANTHONY: If you ask people who manage horses today, “How can you manage horse herds without riding horses?” they laugh at you. Of course you have to be on horseback to manage herds of horses.

NARRATOR: So, despite their doubters, all the evidence points to Anthony and Brown being correct. The Botai were riding horses. But how did the Botai convince large, wild animals to let them climb on their backs?

DORCAS BROWN: You choose the docile animals. So, you would approach a horse, and if it ran away, you didn’t get it. But if you approached the horse and it was sort of curious and interested, then you could then begin with that horse and then build on from there, build a whole herd from there.

Oh, I think the first riders were getting bucked off pretty fast. But once they figured it out, why not go long distances, especially on the steppes, you know? You’d always wonder what’s over that next horizon. I think that’s what was going on: they wondered what was past that next horizon.

NARRATOR: Riding! The Botai’s prey has become their companion. Riding this magical creature must have felt like breaking a law of nature. Now the Botai can herd more animals and trade with distant cultures. Their horses prime them to become the most dominant force on the steppe.

DAVID ANTHONY: You would expect the Botai people, with the advantage of horseback riding, to have really thrived, and it looks like they did great. They had these large conglomerations of people living in these big settlements they were feeding themselves magnificently. But after 3,000 B.C. they pretty much disappeared.

NARRATOR: What became of the Botai and their horses? Archaeologists have found little evidence or even human remains in the village that might help them understand their fate. And that’s what makes this discovery by Alan Outram’s team so important: a fairly intact Botai skeleton.

ALAN OUTRAM: I can’t stress how rare human remains are at this site.

NARRATOR: Their hope is that these bones will yield D.N.A. that geneticists can trace to later populations that may have absorbed the Botai and become their heirs.

Recovering ancient D.N.A. is extremely difficult, but Danish geneticist Eske Willerslev has earned a global reputation for finding and sequencing the genomes of our oldest ancestors. And he’s come to Botai village to see if this rare skeleton looks like it could yield D.N.A. that has survived the ravages of time.


So, you have found a human, huh?

ESKE WILLERSLEV: But you have no idea how much of the skeleton is there?

ALAN OUTRAM: We don’t yet. There are quite a lot of bone fragments all around. Some of them are horse bones.


NARRATOR: Eske is impatient to get specimens back to his lab, but he’ll have to wait for the meticulous process of uncovering fragile bones from the packed earth, and then hope for the best.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: We are getting D.N.A. out of a lot of specimens that we, six, seven years ago, didn’t think you could get anything out of whatsoever, right? And now they’re working. So, I mean, it’s really hard to predict whether this specimen will work or not. But I’m pretty optimistic.

When you have cleared the head, can we, kind of, remove the lower jaw to get a tooth?

ALAN OUTRAM: I don’t think the lower jaw will come away.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Not by itself, huh?

NARRATOR: Eske wants a tooth, because the D.N.A. inside is protected by an outer coating of enamel.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Wow! Okay, this is beautiful!

MAN: This is beautiful.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: This is beautiful.

MAN: This is fantastic amazing, yes.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Thank you, very much.

WOMAN: You’re very welcome.

NARRATOR: And there’s something else.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Oh hey, there’s a petrous there, right? Wow!

NARRATOR: The petrous, a small bone that’s part of the skull near the inner ear, is a fortuitous find.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: So, the petrous bone is the most dense bone in the human body. Therefore the D.N.A. preservation is better than in other parts of, you can say, the skeleton material.

NARRATOR: After months of work, Eske and his team identified the genetic signature of the Botai villager. They expected to find traces of his genome in later steppe cultures, but, stunningly, they couldn’t find it.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: The Botai people, if you want, as far as we know, haven’t left any direct descendants.

NARRATOR: Despite their resources and well-established community, the Botai somehow died out.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: It’s kind of tragic irony that they do something extremely challenging, they domesticated the horse, probably one of the most influential events in human history, but they don’t take over the world with this new, major power they have. I mean, they become a dead end, right? They don’t have any impact.

NARRATOR: As it turns out, we know more about the fate of Botai horses than the Botai people.

French geneticist Ludovic Orlando has also come to Botai village to collect bones for D.N.A. sampling, in his case, horse bones, not human ones. If these are indeed the remains of the world’s first domesticated horses, then, Orlando believes, it’s very likely their genetic signature will have passed on to all domesticated horses living today.

He took samples back to his lab to see if his theory was correct.

LUDOVIC ORLANDO (Molecular Archaeologist): I was expecting that the first population of domestic horses to have been the source of all and every possible domestic horse that lives on the planet today.

NARRATOR: But when he ran the tests, the results came as a shock.

LUDOVIC ORLANDO: I have no way to express how wrong I’ve been, actually.

NARRATOR: When Orlando sequenced the Botai horse genome and looked for its signature in modern horses, he couldn’t find it, as if the Botai horses, like their masters, had disappeared. But then, in a surprising twist, he found them in the least-likely horses imaginable.

LUDOVIC ORLANDO: The big surprise is that it’s the Przewalski horse.

NARRATOR: The Przewalski horse: for centuries, these unique-looking horses were thought to be the last and only wild horses on Earth, living in a remote area of Mongolia. As it turns out, they are the genetic descendants of Botai horses that returned to the wild when their masters disappeared. So, these last of the wild horses are actually descendants of the first domesticated horses, a living legacy of their Botai masters.

Although the Botai fade away, another steppe culture seizes the mantle of “horse kings.” They are called the Yamnaya, bands of nomads who roamed a territory north of the Black and Caspian seas at the start of what’s called the Bronze Age. By about 3000 B.C., they become the greatest horse culture of the ancient world.

DAVID ANTHONY: The most important thing about the Yamnaya culture is that they were the first culture to take advantage of both horseback riding, plus wagons.

NARRATOR: Although the first wagons are heavy and crude-looking, they are a breakthrough technology. Wagons stocked with food and supplies, accompanied by horse-herded flocks, allow the Yamnaya to easily move to the best pasturelands. And in no time, the Yamnaya are out-competing other steppe cultures.

DORCAS BROWN: The horses helped them increase their herds. And so, they could get more sheep, more cattle and more meat, and so, they became wealthier. Horse herders could, could beat everybody out.

NARRATOR: And if anyone dares to resist the Yamnaya, here, too, the horse gives them the upper hand, literally.

DAVID ANTHONY: It was an advantage to ride up to somebody on a horse and use the horse as a platform. The height advantage is a real advantage.

SANDRA OLSEN: I think we find it hard to imagine how thoroughly they could overcome other populations who are just sitting there, and unfortunately, very, very vulnerable.

NARRATOR: Over time, the Yamnaya and other cultures they influence develop weapons, like battle axes, that are lethal on or off a horse.

FLEMMING KAHL (Nationalmuseet, Denmark): This battle axe was a very important piece. The edge is not sharp it’s not very good for cutting wood. But used in battle for, well, breaking skulls, it’s very efficient. All over Europe, we find, actually, skulls which has been, well, broken by ax blows.

NARRATOR: With their horses, wagons and weapons, the Yamnaya and other cultures they combine with, begin to range ever farther from the central steppe, moving as far east as Mongolia and west into the heart of Europe.

And David Anthony contends these aggressive nomads dominate almost every population they encounter, because many people begin speaking Yamnaya.

DAVID ANTHONY: Language is connected to power or to wealth. People drop the language they’re speaking and adopt a new language, because that language gives them advantages.

NARRATOR: But the Yamnaya left no written record of their language, so how could Anthony or anyone possibly know what their language looked like or sounded like?

ANDREW BYRD (Linguist): (Translated from Yamnaya) He formed creatures of the air and animals, both wild and tame.

NARRATOR: Andrew Byrd believes these words…

ANDREW BYRD: (Translated from Yamnaya) …from it, horses were born and cows were born.

NARRATOR: …are close to those spoken by the Yamnaya. He’s made up the story.

ANDREW BYRD: (Translated from Yamnaya) …from it, goats.

NARRATOR: …but can trace the words back to the time they were first spoken, and then reconstruct the language they came from.

ANDREW BYRD: (Translated from Yamnaya) He formed creatures of the air.

NARRATOR: Linguists have long maintained that many languages in Europe and Asia, including ancient Greek and Roman, romance languages, like French and Spanish, Germanic languages, including English and the Scandinavian languages, even Russian and Indian Sanskrit all derive from a common language source.

ANDREW BYRD: If you look at languages like English and Latin and Greek, Sanskrit and Russian, and you start to see these words looking very, very similar to one another. For example, if you look at the word for brother: within English it’s “brother” if you jump down to ancient Rome, it’s “frater” as in our word fraternity if you go to ancient India, it’s “bratar” and if you go to ancient Greece, you have “pratar.”

And you could see that these words look so overwhelmingly similar: they have Rs after some sort of B- or P-like element they have a T sort of thing in the middle of the word. They all end in R. And, and the fact that all of these things look alike, can’t be by chance, leading us to the only sensible conclusion is to say that these all were inherited from an ancient language.

NARRATOR: Linguists call this source language “Proto-Indo-European.” They can take a word like “is” and trace its spelling and sound pattern back through past languages to approximately when the word first appeared. They can do this with many words, like “father,” and most seem to originate in the period of Yamnaya expansion. And some words, like “wheel,” connect directly with the Yamnaya and only appear after the Yamnaya become dominant.

DAVID ANTHONY: You can establish that the later Indo-European languages all expanded after 3500 B.C. because they have the wheel and wagon vocabulary. And wheels and wagons didn’t exist they had to be invented first. It’s very much like the word “hard disk.” It shows up in dictionaries in 1978. And dictionaries before 1978 didn’t have the word “hard disk” in them, because it hadn’t been invented yet. And so Proto-Indo-European must have been spoken after wheels were invented.

ANDREW BYRD: Therefore, we assume that there was some ancestral language, which we can call the Yamnaya, which was the source of all of these languages.

NARRATOR: But how did these bands of nomads overwhelm other cultures so completely that people began speaking their language? Shouldn’t there be some indication they had become conquerors?

JOHANNES KRAUSE (Archaeologist): There is very little evidence that what happened 4,800 years ago is related to violence, that there was a massive amount of warriors coming in and just like stabbing and killing everybody, because we don’t find evidence for that.

NARRATOR: So, how did Yamnaya language and culture spread across Europe and Asia? Is there something more tangible than language to account for their dominant presence? Back in Copenhagen, Eske Willerslev had long puzzled over the question, “Which ancient cultures were most responsible for the ancestry of people living today?”

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Our history, far back in time, is actually written, still, in our genes. And that means you can, you can follow human history by analyzing the genome of these ancient individuals.

NARRATOR: He was especially curious about the Yamnaya. If they had dominated large parts of Europe and Asia, then their D.N.A. should have passed on to future generations, down to the present.

His team began by sequencing ancient remains from across Eurasia and then comparing them to a Yamnaya genome, to see how widely the Yamnaya genes had spread. They then compared this data to the genomes of modern populations and put the results on what are called P.C.A. plots.

VAGHEESH NARASIMHAN (Population Geneticist): P.C.A. is a way of understanding, very simply and visually, the differences in genetic ancestry between populations. For example, you put a bunch of people from Europe on a P.C.A. and you’ll notice that the people in northern and southern Europe separate. The second thing you want to do on this is to overlay ancient populations on top of the modern populations and see where they lie.

NARRATOR: These two plots show modern population groups as gray dots in Europe and Central Asia. When we overlay the genomes of people who lived 10,000 and 8,000 years ago, we see almost no overlap, indicating little genetic connection to people living today. But in this plot, representing the approximately 5,000-year-old Yamnaya expansion, the dots overlap significantly, meaning today, millions of people of European and Asian descent owe their ancestry to Yamnaya nomads of the Eurasian steppe.

VAGHEESH NARASIMHAN: What we didn’t understand from the archaeology is the extent of the movement and the impact that the Yamnaya had on genetic ancestry. But now we know that up to 50 percent and 30 percent respectively of the genetics of Europe and South Asia are directly descended from that of the Yamnaya. So, the impact is huge, as much as any genetic ancestry that we have.

NARRATOR: And the Yamnaya could not have made such a massive and wide-ranging genetic impact without their horses and wagons.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Anthropologists, like Anthony, were right that the early Bronze Age is characterized by this very significant movement of the Yamnaya peoples, on horses that are very speedy, very fast, into northwestern Europe and central Asia, and bringing with them, of course, the genes, the culture and the language. But the majority of archaeologists, you know, didn’t believe this was the case.

NARRATOR: For Anthony and Brown, this was vindication: the Yamnaya had been masters of their universe.

DORCAS BROWN: We were very happy. We were smiling and laughing and going, “Oh, my god, I can’t believe it’s that big. But I was pretty sure these guys were roaming all over the place.

NARRATOR: But a big question remained. It appears Yamnaya numbers are small, compared to the size of the populations they encountered. So, despite the advantage their horses gave them, Eske wondered if there could be other factors that weakened the populations they dominated.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: And first we thought maybe it’s some kind of climatic changes. And we went through the climate records, and we couldn’t really see anything very dramatically. And then there was one of the archeologists on the team said “What about diseases?” So, we thought, “Well, let’s look for pestis.”

NARRATOR: “Yersinia pestis:” the plague. During the Middle Ages, this lethal pandemic killed over half the population of Europe. If it had struck during the Yamnaya times, it might have decimated local populations, clearing a path for a Yamnaya takeover. Eske decided to see if he could find traces of the plague in the bones of the Yamnaya and the people they encountered. But he would need lots of human samples to test.

Remarkably, in St. Petersburg, Russia, a rather unique anthropology museum had just what he needed. Some of the museum’s displays have a Ripley’s Believe It or Not® feel to them, but the real treasures are in storage, as Niobe finds out firsthand.

NIOBE THOMPSON: If you’re after D.N.A. from any part of the former Soviet Union, this is the place to come: the museum of anthropology that Peter the Great founded over 300 years ago, the Kunstkamera. For centuries, Russian archaeologists have been coming back to these storerooms with their discoveries. And today, well, the collection of human remains is astounding.

There are hundreds of skulls and skeletal remains from different time periods and throughout Asia and Europe.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Okay, this is the last collection.

NARRATOR: And Eske has convinced the museum’s archaeologist, Slava Moiseyev, to let him take back scores of teeth and petrous bones to analyze in his lab.

The two men work for days, cutting samples.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Nothing like the smell of fresh bone in the morning.

NARRATOR: …carefully documenting each specimen and, literally, pulling teeth.

Moiseyev has one group of Yamnaya samples he knows Eske will want.

SLAVA MOISEYEV (Anthropologist): This is rather strange burial, because mostly people had just single burials, and this consists of seven individuals. It’s quite unusual.


NARRATOR: Group graves became common for later-era plague victims, so these samples will go to the top of the stack.

In the end, the museum, like the Tooth Fairy, bequeaths Eske a goldmine of samples. And sure enough, many contained genetic evidence of the plague.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: We start screening. And you know, bang, it just jumped out, right? I mean, so we saw fragments of it and then we said, “wow! This is basically evidence of pestis and plague epidemics 3,000 years before any written record,” so it was an amazing result.

NARRATOR: The evidence shows the plague begins in the steppe, possibly in Yamnaya communities and including the family of seven, buried together in a single grave. So clearly, at some point, the Yamnaya themselves are suffering horribly.

But those that do survive probably develop immunity. And as they expand their reach, they become like the Grim Reaper on horseback, carrying plague germs with them.

JOHANNES KRAUSE: The plague is spreading with those people. Those people actually bring the plague into the regions that they move into.

NARRATOR: And where people have no previous exposure, only a few survive. And what happens to those survivors is an age-old story.

DAVID ANTHONY: The Yamnaya brought really deadly disease with them. That could have been responsible for a large part of the population replacement. There are other ways though, of course, to replace a population, other than disease. You can directly kill them.

And it does look like the survival of males was much less than the survival of females. You find Yamnaya tribes that regularly engaged in raiding, killing the men and taking local women.

NARRATOR: And using those women to produce Yamnaya offspring. The ancient world could be a very unpleasant place.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: When I started this project, I had this very romantic view of, of the whole thing and, and kind of, you know, dreamt about, you know, living myself during the Yamnaya time, right? I have changed that conception. I am happy to live now.

NARRATOR: The full impact of the Yamnaya’s culture, language and genetic dominance would take centuries passing down to other cultures they combined with.

VAGHEESH NARASIMHAN: It’s sort of a slow rolling process. It’s not like one group of people is just packing up their bags and moving off to Iberia or England or South Asia or India or wherever you want to go. But they’re meeting large groups of people who are farming and, you know, doing their thing. And then there’s a hybrid culture that evolves and a hybrid genetic ancestry that evolves, and these people then, subsequently, move to other parts of the world.

NARRATOR: But back on the steppe, the Yamnaya continue their nomadic ways and inspire later steppe people to take horsemanship to a whole other level.

DAVID ANTHONY: If we go back to the steppes where Yamnaya came from, horses continued to be extremely important, and in fact, a new form of military vehicle was probably invented by the people in the steppes, around 2000 B.C.: the chariot.

NARRATOR: Pulled by swift horses, the chariot is the first high-speed vehicle. And many ancient cultures begin using it in battle, especially on level ground, like deserts. But the most significant developments come when the great horse cavalries of first the Huns and then the Mongols begin thundering across the steppe.

These skilled horsemen could ride and shoot at the same time and become the most lethal military force the world had ever seen, capable of bringing armies and whole cities across Asia, Europe and the Mediterranean to their knees. Although these steppe warriors emerged centuries after the Botai and Yamnaya, their roots go back to those first riders and their mastery of horses.

SANDRA OLSEN: If you just think of some of the great empire leaders in history, for example, Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great, so many of them built their empire on the backs of horses. And that, of course, led to the spread of civilization and the spread of all kinds of technologies, the Silk Road, various trade routes. Everything hinged on having horses.

NARRATOR: The reverence ancient people had for horses, revealed first in early cave paintings, would continue for thousands of years. This bronze and gold Sun Chariot, discovered in Denmark, perhaps expresses this best and is one of the most important symbols of the Bronze Age. Here the horse is god’s partner, helping pull the sun across the heavens.

FLEMMING KAHL: We could wonder why the horse became the most prominent helpers of the sun, but I think the reason is that the horse was and is, even today, perhaps the most aristocratic animal that you can find, a natural choice for a divine being, the very symbol of movement.

ESKE WILLERSLEV: Getting the first time on a horseback, and being able to just feel the speed and the distance you can cover, you can see the whole possibility of exchanging knowledge, understanding the world you are in. It’s a game changer, right? It’s a game changer in human history.

NARRATOR: For nearly 6,000 years, horses have been the human race’s special companion, our extra muscle, our overland vehicles and symbols of power.

NIOBE THOMPSON: Horses gave us the freedom to move, and that freedom changed the very nature of human life. For all we puny humans lack, horse power made up for it. It’s hard to imagine where we’d be, what our world would look like, without horses.

Origins of the Sphinx: Celestial Guardian of Pre-Pharaonic Civilization

Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D. and Robert Bauval Inner Traditions (2017)

Origins of the Sphinx, co-authored with my friend and colleague Robert Bauval, makes the case, based on multiple lines of evidence (including geological and seismic analyses, astronomical analyses, and interpretations of ancient Egyptian texts), that the origins of the Great Sphinx go back prior to the end of the last ice age (that is, before circa 9700 BCE). I am proud to add that my wife Katie designed the photo insert and co-designed the book's beautiful cover. Origins of the Sphinx is available for order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as other sites, and is also available in German and Polish editions.

“For a quarter-century, Schoch’s analysis of weathering at Giza and Bauval’s archaeoastronomic discoveries have challenged the consensus on prehistory, not merely of Egypt but of the world. This book expertly summarizes their case and its triumphant vindication in the 12,000-year-old sanctuary of Göbekli Tepe. The question is no longer whether they are right but where archaeology should go from here.” – Joscelyn Godwin, author of Atlantis and the Cycles of Time: Prophecies, Traditions, and Occult Revelations

Goddess Ushas – The Vedic Goddess of Dawn

Vedas are universally accepted as the oldest books of mankind. For the Hindus, they are not just ordinary books but are also the fountainhead of all knowledge whether of the material world or the spiritual world. They are 4 in number Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, and Atharvaveda. The Vedic god is mentioned in these four Vedas. The Vedic people worshipped numerous gods. Based on the invocation available within Vedas, the subsequent Vedic gods and goddesses are vital: Varuna, Indra, Vayu, Agni, Mitra, Adityas, Vashista, Bhaga, Rta, heaven, Earth, Manyu, Soma, Ushas, Pusan, Surya, Vishnu and so on.

Ushas is referred to as the Vedic goddess of the sunrise in Hindu dharma. In the Rigveda, the goddess Ushas is continually associated with and often recognized with the dawn. She offers the existence of all of the living creatures of the universe and makes us breathe properly. She additionally gives a sound mind and a sound body.

Ushas is the most prominent goddess within Vedic literature. However, she has her own identity, and most people consider her as important as the three vital male deities named Agni, Soma, and Indra. Ushas is stated in numerous hymns of the Rigveda. Forty of its hymns are devoted to her, while her name appears in different extra hymns. She has been described in the Rig Veda as a young woman drawn riding in a golden chariot on her direction throughout the sky. Due to her color, she is often recognized with the reddish cows. Both of them are released through Indra from Vala cave at the beginning of time. It is stated that she is drawn by one hundred horses.

Goddess Usha is generally associated with light and wealth. She reveals herself with the daily coming of the light to the world. She passes forth light and is accompanied by the sun. She alone leads the Sun and discloses her excellence and fire to her world. She is honored by the worshippers for driving away oppressive darkness and chases away evil spirits. She sets all the things in motion and also sends off people from their duties after the completion of the day. She carries not just light to the sleeping mankind, but hope, happiness, riches, and all the good things. She has the magic of looking at everybody at the same time.

The ancient Vedic tradition has viewed Ushas as the harbinger of light, awareness, activity. People separated time into the form of day and night. All creation rests at night and the whole of creation is active in the day. The transformation which takes place from night today is known to be the attribute of Ushas. She is also highly popular as the pioneer of the day. As she leads the Sun into throwing his glance on the earth. Thus, reveal his immense power and warmth to the beings of the world. So, she has been regarded as the light, or the dawn of human consciousness.

Daughter of Dyaus Pita

Ushas is regarded as the daughter of Dyaus Pita, Father of the sky. She is the elder sister of Ratri, the Night. When Ushas rises, the night is dark and deep, and the sky begins to adorn her. Ushas’s sister Ratri is the cosmic energy of the night, whose darkness engulfs our consciousness. And enforces a repose which heals and revives by a temporary hibernation of mind and senses. Ushas follows Ratri as surely as spring follows winter, in an unfailing rhythm called ‘Rta’ in Sanskrit. Ushas is the cosmic energy which immediately precedes the start of each earthly day. Ushas gently steals into the atmosphere of the earth just before her consort Surya, Sun, suffusing the skies with golden-orange luminosity.

Celestial Yogini

Ushas is ranked as a divinity in her own right. She is considered as a celestial Yogini, a form of Goddess, who is held as spiritual. Ushas is also a feminine divinity who stimulates the nobility from the innermost depths of the human soul. She is the force that propels even the Gods into action. As the mother of the Ashwins, she is also worshipped as the Shakti. She has the power that can heal and bless people with immense knowledge and grace.

  • You are the activator of all the living beings. Everyone is controlled by your great supreme power.
  • During the dawn time, various pujas are conducted in the temples. Only through your grace, people are worshipping the god in the dawn time and getting benefits.
  • You are interlinked with various Vedic gods. By worshipping you, we can attain their blessings also.
  • You are giving the benefits of doing various types of rituals.
  • By worshipping you, all the Trivedi’s will get satisfied.
  • You are curing the various ailments of the people.
  • You are controlling the mind and body of every living being. By worshipping you, we will get good thoughts in our minds, and bad thoughts will be permanently erased from our minds.
  • After we depart from this world, kindly make us enter into the path of heaven.

She was praised by Sri Aurobindo and she is worshipped during the festival of Chhath Puja in India and Nepal. She can be worshiped in the dawn time by chanting her names and by praying to her in the form of Adi Shakti. If you catch the light just before the sun appears, early in the morning, be sure to greet her. Her name is Ushas, The Goddess of Dawn.

1. The Cradle of Civilization

81:1.1 (900.3) For about thirty-five thousand years after the days of Adam, the cradle of civilization was in southwestern Asia, extending from the Nile valley eastward and slightly to the north across northern Arabia, through Mesopotamia, and on into Turkestan. And climate was the decisive factor in the establishment of civilization in that area.

81:1.2 (900.4) It was the great climatic and geologic changes in northern Africa and western Asia that terminated the early migrations of the Adamites, barring them from Europe by the expanded Mediterranean and diverting the stream of migration north and east into Turkestan. By the time of the completion of these land elevations and associated climatic changes, about 15,000 B.C., civilization had settled down to a world-wide stalemate except for the cultural ferments and biologic reserves of the Andites still confined by mountains to the east in Asia and by the expanding forests in Europe to the west.

81:1.3 (900.5) Climatic evolution is now about to accomplish what all other efforts had failed to do, that is, to compel Eurasian man to abandon hunting for the more advanced callings of herding and farming. Evolution may be slow, but it is terribly effective.

81:1.4 (900.6) Since slaves were so generally employed by the earlier agriculturists, the farmer was formerly looked down on by both the hunter and the herder. For ages it was considered menial to till the soil wherefore the idea that soil toil is a curse, whereas it is the greatest of all blessings. Even in the days of Cain and Abel the sacrifices of the pastoral life were held in greater esteem than the offerings of agriculture.

81:1.5 (900.7) Man ordinarily evolved into a farmer from a hunter by transition through the era of the herder, and this was also true among the Andites, but more often the evolutionary coercion of climatic necessity would cause whole tribes to pass directly from hunters to successful farmers. But this phenomenon of passing immediately from hunting to agriculture only occurred in those regions where there was a high degree of race mixture with the violet stock.

81:1.6 (901.1) The evolutionary peoples (notably the Chinese) early learned to plant seeds and to cultivate crops through observation of the sprouting of seeds accidentally moistened or which had been put in graves as food for the departed. But throughout southwest Asia, along the fertile river bottoms and adjacent plains, the Andites were carrying out the improved agricultural techniques inherited from their ancestors, who had made farming and gardening the chief pursuits within the boundaries of the second garden.

81:1.7 (901.2) For thousands of years the descendants of Adam had grown wheat and barley, as improved in the Garden, throughout the highlands of the upper border of Mesopotamia. The descendants of Adam and Adamson here met, traded, and socially mingled.

81:1.8 (901.3) It was these enforced changes in living conditions which caused such a large proportion of the human race to become omnivorous in dietetic practice. And the combination of the wheat, rice, and vegetable diet with the flesh of the herds marked a great forward step in the health and vigor of these ancient peoples.

15 Ancient Celtic Gods and Goddesses You Should Know About

When it comes to the ancient Celts, the scope is not really about a singular group of people who dominated some specific region or realm. Instead, we are talking about a vast and variegated culture that made its presence felt all the way from the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) and Ireland to the frontiers of Liguria in Italy and the upper Danube. Suffice it to say, their mythology rather mirrored this multifarious scope, with various tribes, chiefdoms, and even later kingdoms having their own set of folklore and pantheons. Essentially, what we know as Celtic mythology (and whom we know as Celtic gods and goddesses) is borrowed from a patchwork of oral traditions and local tales that were conceived in pre-Christian Gaul (France), Iberia, Britain, and Ireland.

Furthermore, these regional Celtic gods had their cognates and associated deities in other Celtic cultures, with the apt example of Lugus – as he was known in Gaul, and Lugh – as he was known in Ireland. To that end, in this article, we have mainly focused on the ancient Celtic gods and goddesses of Ireland and Gaul, with the former having its distinct mythical narrative preserved in part by medieval Irish literature. So, without further ado, let us take a gander at 15 ancient Celtic gods and goddesses you should know about.

1) Ana or Danu/Dana – The Primordial Goddess of Nature

Source: Pinterest

Counted among the oldest of the ancient Celtic gods in Ireland, Ana (also known as Anu , Dana , Danu, and Annan ) possibly embodied the primordial scope, with her epithets describing her as a mother goddess. Thus the Celtic goddess, often portrayed as a beautiful and mature woman, was associated with nature and the spiritual essence of nature, while also representing the contrasting (yet cyclic) aspects of prosperity, wisdom, death, and regeneration.

The role of Ana is very much pronounced in Irish mythology, where she is often referred to as Anu , Danu or Dana , and is considered as the divine mother of the Tuatha Dé Danann (‘people of Dana’) – the supernatural race (or tribe) of Celtic gods that possibly formed one of the major pantheons of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland. To that end, her cultic center was probably based in Munster, while two hills in County Kerry are still known as Da Chich Anann (‘The Paps of Anu’). The goddess Don in Welsh mythology was also often associated with her matronly Irish counterpart. As for the historical side of affairs, Ana (or her related deities), in spite of her relative inconspicuousness in folkloric references, was counted among the major Celtic gods not only in Ireland but also in Britain and Gaul.

2) Dagda – The Cheerful Chief of Gods

Source: Heroes of Camelot Wikia

Since we delved into the Gaelic pantheon in the first entry, the most important father-figure deity within the scope of Irish Celtic gods pertained to the Dagda ( An Dagda – ‘the Good God’). Revered as the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann tribe of gods, he was usually associated with fertility, agriculture, weather, and masculine strength, while also embodying the aspects of magic, wisdom, knowledge, and Druidry. These facets do explain his renown and veneration among the Celtic druids. Many of the aspects also bear striking similarities to the divine characteristics of Odin , the chieftain of the Æsir tribe of ancient Norse gods.

Reinforcing his nature as the father-figure among the Celtic gods (especially in Gaelic Ireland), the Dagda was often represented as a rustic tunic (that barely covered his rear end) wearing plump, old man who carried an imposing magic staff/club ( lorg mór ) that could slay nine people with a single blow and yet resurrect the dead to life. Curiously enough, the Celtic god also carried a huge magic cauldron ( coire ansic ) that was bottomless – and was accompanied by a humongous ladle that could fit two people, thus alluding to his power of abundance and penchant for food. And in spite of his seemingly oafish physical characteristics, the Dagda took numerous lovers, including Morrigan – the Celtic goddess of war and fate (discussed later).

3) Aengus (Angus) /Aonghus – The Youthful God of Love

Illustration by Beatrice Elvery in Violet Russell’s Heroes of the Dawn (1914). Source: Wikimedia Commons

The son of the Dagda and river goddess Bionn , Aengus (or Aonghus ) – meaning ‘true vigor’, was the Celtic deity of love, youth, and even poetic inspiration. In the mythical narrative, to cover up his illicit affair and consequent pregnancy of Bionn , the Dagda (who was the leader of the Celtic gods and could magically control the weather) made the sun stand still for nine months, which resulted in Aengus being birthed in just a single day. In any case, Aengus turned out to be a lively man with a charming (if somewhat whimsical) character who always had four birds hovering and chirping around his head.

It was said that Aengus has his dwelling around Newgrange after he had tricked his father Dagda into giving him the possession of the Brú na Bóinne – the spiritual abode of the chieftain of the Tuatha Dé Danann . But his status in ancient Ireland as a patron of young lovers was borne by his own love for Caer Ibormeith , a girl who was seen in a dream by the god. Aengus was then able to find her and marry after instantly recognizing his muse as one of the swans (since Caer turned into a swan every alternate year). As for the historical side of affairs, Aengus, with its epithet Mac Óg (‘young son’), was possibly linked with Maponos , one of the Celtic gods of youth, venerated in both ancient Britain and Gaul.

4) Lugus / Lugh – The Courageous Warrior God

Artwork by Mickie Mueller Studio

Though rarely mentioned in inscriptions, Lugos or Lugus (as known in Gaul) or his cognates Lugh Lámhfhada (Lugh of the Long Arm) in Gaelic Irish and Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Lleu of the Skillful Hand) in Welsh, was an important deity among the Celtic gods and goddesses. Often revered as the resplendent sun god, Lugus or Lugh was also perceived as a dashing (and often youthful) warrior responsible for slaying Balor – the one-eyed chief of the Formorii , the old adversaries of the Tuatha Dé Danann .

The heroic act achieved by a precise slingshot into Balor’s eye heralded the ascendance of the Tuatha Dé Danann as the dominant tribe of gods in Ireland (over the Formorii , who were portrayed with darker characteristics) . Interestingly enough, in spite of being the champion of the Tuath Dé , in the narrative sense, Lugh himself descended from the one-eyed (or one-limbed) Formorii , with Balor being his maternal grandfather.

Also known as the Samildánach (Skilled in All the Arts), Lugh (or Lug ) was additionally associated with thunderstorms, ravens, and even lynxes. And befitting his status as one of the preeminent Celtic gods, he was often portrayed with his armor, helmet and invincible spear Gae Assail. In the mythical narrative, Lugh was perceived as the divine father of Cú Chulainn , the most famous of Irish heroes, whose character and feats bore similarities to both Greek Heracles (Hercules) and Persian Rostam .

As for history, due to the Roman cultural trait of interpretatio Romana, Lugus was possibly perceived as the Gallic equivalent of Roman god Mercury – and as such, the ancient settlement of Lugdunum (modern Lyon) had its place-name derived from the Celtic god – meaning ‘fort of Lugus’. Quite intriguingly, the very term ‘leprechaun’ is also possibly derived from Luchorpain or ‘little stopping Lugh’ – a blanket term used for the fairy in Gaelic.

5) Mórrígan – The Mysterious Goddess of Fate

Source: Katie Wood

Mórrígan or Morrigan (also known as Morrígu ) was perceived as a mysterious and rather ominous female deity among the Irish Celtic gods and goddesses, associated with both war and fate. In modern Irish, her name Mór-Ríoghain roughly translates to the ‘phantom queen’. Befitting this cryptic epithet, in the mythical narrative, Morrigan was capable of shapeshifting (who usually transformed into a crow – the badb) and foretelling doom, while also inciting men into a war frenzy. On the other hand, in contrast to these seemingly chaotic and ‘war-mongering’ attributes, Morrigan was possibly also venerated as a Celtic goddess of sovereignty who acted as the symbolic guardian of the land and its people.

Morrigan was often associated with other warlike Celtic gods like Macha , Badb , and Nemain , and thus sometimes she was presented as a composite figure of the trinity (who were also collectively portrayed as a group of beautiful women having the ability to transform into balefully screeching crows over battlefields). And talking of the mythical narrative, Morrigan was romantically linked with the aforementioned Dagda (and had a tryst with the chieftain of gods on Samhain ).

Consequently, she magically aided him against the war with the Formorii. On the other hand, a nascent sinister aspect of Morrigan is revealed when she settles in triumph on the shoulder of the dying hero Cú Chulainn – after the hero unknowingly wounded the goddess in her shapeshifted form. In essence, her characterizations and prophetic powers are often associated with the premonitions of a warrior’s violent death, thus suggesting a link to the folkloric Banshees – derived from bean sidhe (‘woman of the fairies’).

6) Brigid – The ‘Triple’ Goddess of Healing

Source: HistoricMysteries

In contrast to the brooding aspects of Morrigan , Brigid, in pre-Christianity Ireland, was regarded as the Celtic goddess of healing, spring season, and even smithcraft. In the mythical narrative, she is the daughter of the Dagda and thus a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann . Curiously enough, in Lebor Gabála Érenn ( The Book of the Taking of Ireland – collection of poems compiled in the 11th century AD), she is mentioned to have a quite a few domesticated animals, ranging from oxen, the king of boars, to sheep – and these critters used to cry out as a warning to the goddess.

Beyond the narrative, it is the history of Brigid as one of the major Celtic gods in Ireland that fascinates many aficionados. To that end, continuing the tradition of the Indo-European dawn goddess, Brigid was possibly sometimes venerated in her three aspects – the healer, the poet, and the smith. In essence, she may have been a triple deity (the composite of three entities). Furthermore, her eminence (in at least Ireland) stems from the possibility that pre-Christian Brigid was syncretized in the medieval times with the Catholic Saint Brigid of Kildare. This incredible form of syncretism hints at how the early medieval Christian monks played their part in adapting to the changing religious landscape of the realm by retaining a few of the older native ‘pagan’ elements.

7) Belenus – The Effulgent Sun God

Source: Pinterest

One of the most ancient and most widely worshiped of Celtic gods – who was venerated in Continental Europe, Britain and Ireland, Belenus (also known as Belenos , Bel , and Beli Mawr ) was the quintessential sun god in the Celtic mythology. Known by his epithet ‘Fair Shining One’, Belenus was also associated with the horse and the wheel – and their composites tended to portray him as the effulgent Sun God gloriously riding across the sky in his horse-drawn chariot. Other representations depict Belenus as only riding his horse while throwing thunderbolts and using the wheel as his shield.

Now given his eminence in ancient times, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Roman identified him with one of their own syncretic Greco-Roman deities – Apollo , the archetype of the youthful god of light. Thus over time, Belenus was also associated with the healing and regenerative aspects of Apollo , with healing shrines dedicated to the dual entities found across western Europe, including the one at Sainte-Sabine in Burgundy and even others as far away as Inveresk in Scotland.

In fact, the cult of Belenus was so strong in some parts of the continent that the god was regarded as the patron deity of Aquileia (the ancient Roman city situated at the ‘head’ of the Adriatic sea) as well as the national god of Noricum (comprising parts of modern-day Austria and Slovenia). Even in our modern context, the legacy of Belenus (or Bel ) survives through the continued festival of Beltane (‘Fires of Bel’) that was originally celebrated to signify the healing powers of the spring sun. Interestingly enough, the familiar Welsh name ‘Llywelyn’ also comes from two Celtic sun gods, since it is derived from Lugubelinos – the composite of Lugus (or Lleu in Welsh) and Belenos (or Belyn in Welsh).

8) Toutatis – The Guardian God of Gauls

From the Gaelic scope, we move on to ancient Gaul and their Celtic gods. To that end, in our modern context, Toutatis is made famous by the Asterix comics catchphrase ‘By Toutatis!’. And while not much is known about the mythological scope, Toutatis (or Teutates ) was probably quite an important Celtic deity, with his very name roughly translating to ‘God of the People’. In essence, he was possibly perceived as a crucial guardian entity who took up the role of the tribe protector, and thus his inscribed name ( TOT – as pictured above) has been found in quite a few ancient artifacts in both Roman-Britain and Gaul.

Ist century Roman poet Lucan mentioned Teutates as one of the three major Celtic gods (along with Esus and Taranis), while by the aforementioned trait of interpretatio Romana, Toutatis was seen the equivalent of both Mars and Mercury . On the macabre side of affairs, later Roman commentators mentioned how victims were sacrificed in the god’s name by plunging their head into a vat of unknown liquid (possibly ale). Interestingly enough, Toutatis possibly also had his Irish counterpart in the form of Tuathal Techtmar , the legendary conqueror of Ireland – whose name originally referred to the eponymous deity Teuto-valos (‘Ruler of people’).

9) Camulos – The God of War

Camulos envisioned as a Celtic warrior. Artwork by Trollskog-Studio (DeviantArt)

Rather than being counted among the core Celtic gods, Camulos was possibly more of a Romano-Celtic deity, often associated with Mars (or Greek Ares ), and thus was perceived as a god of war. However, his origins lie as the tribal god of the Remi, a Belgic tribe that dominated north-eastern Gaul (comprising modern-day Belgium and parts of both Netherlands and Germany).

In any case, Camulos was regarded as one of the important ancient Celtic gods (or Romano-Celtic deities) in Britain, judging by his name being given to several places in the region, including Camulodunum, the ancient Roman name for Colchester in Essex, England. And while, initially, he was just worshipped on stones where wreaths of oak were placed, later characterizations portrayed Camulos has having horns of ram on his head.

10) Taranis – The God of Thunder

A small figurine of Taranis at Le Chatelet, Gourzon, (Haute-Marne), France. Source: Balkan Celts (link)

While widely known as one of the major gods of Gaul during Roman times, the origins of Taranis probably harked back to far older (and ancient) Celtic traditions. As we mentioned before, according to Lucan, Taranis formed a triad of Celtic gods (along with Toutatis and Esus), and as such, he was regarded as the god of thunder, thus drawing obvious comparisons to Roman Jupiter (and Greek Zeus). Even in the visual scale, the god was portrayed with a lightning bolt, thus bearing more similarity to Zeus. However, literally, on the other hand, Taranis was also depicted with a solar wheel – one of the most prevalent symbols found on Celtic artifacts, which suggests his eminence in the related pantheon.

Furthermore, Taranis was associated with fire, be it the fire of the sky or the fire of the air. This had led to some disturbing allegations by other Roman authors, including that of Strabo and Julius Caesar who described sacrificial victims being burned inside ‘wicker man’ constructs to appease the deity. In any case, i nterestingly enough, the very name Taranis (as mentioned by Lucan) is unattested when it comes to historical inscriptions, though related forms like Tanarus and Taranucno- have been identified by archaeologists. And talking of archaeology, the cult of Taranis probably carried and venerated small votive wheels known as Rouelles that symbolized the solar shape.

11) Cernunnos – The Lord of the Wild Things

Arguably the most visually impressive and rather portentous of ancient Celtic gods, Cernunnos is actually the conventional name given to the deity ‘Horned One’. As the horned god of Celtic polytheism, Cernunnos is often associated with animals, forests, fertility, and even wealth. His very depiction mirrors such attributes, with the conspicuous antlers of the stag on his head and the poetic epithets like the ‘Lord of the Wild Things’.

As for history, there is only single known evidence for the full name Cernunnos, and it comes from the Pillar of the Boatmen carved by the Gaulish sailors in circa 14 AD. Considered as one of the important reliefs of the Gallo-Roman religion, the pillar additionally depicts other Roman deities like Jupiter and Vulcan .

However, quite intriguingly, the visual representations of the horned deity (as one of the Celtic gods) predate such inscriptions and names by centuries. To that end, one of the apt examples would pertain to an antlered human figure featured in a 7th-4th century BC dated petroglyph in Cisalpine Gaul and other related horned figures worshipped by the Celtiberians based in what is now modern-day Spain and Portugal. And the most well-known depiction of Cernunnos can be found on the Gundestrup Cauldron (circa 1st century BC).

12) Ogmios / Ogma – The God of Eloquence

Artwork by Yuri Leitch. Source: FineArtAmerica

In most ancient mythical narratives, we rarely come across divine entities that are solely associated with language. Well, Ogmios, as one of the ancient Celtic gods, goes against this ‘trend’ since he was simply considered as the god of eloquence. 2nd century Hellenized Syrian satirist and rhetorician Lucian of Samosata mentioned how Ogmios was like the older version of Hercules in appearance, with both wearing lion skins and carrying clubs and bows. However, Ogmios does one better on the ‘bling’ factor by having long chains (made of amber and gold) attached to his tongue (inside his smiling mouth) that connect him with his group of followers. Essentially, the visual scope symbolically represented how the Celtic god had the power of eloquence and persuasion to bind his followers to him.

Ogmios’ later Irish equivalent Ogma also plays a crucial role in the Gaelic myths. Regarded as the son of Dagda , and thus a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann , Ogma is credited as being the inventor of Ogham – the earliest system of writing in Ireland. Given the epithet of the ‘Lord of Knowledge’, Ogam was also portrayed as a capable warrior who went to slay the Fomorian king Indech and claim a magical sword that could recount his heroic deeds. In another version, he dies along with his enemy Indech in single combat.

13) Grannus – The God of Hot Springs

Stone fascia of the Roman-British shrine of ‘Minerva Aquae Sulis’ at Bath displaying the resplendent head of Apollo Grannus. Source: Atlantic Religion

In another fascinating example of Gallo-Roman syncretism, Grannus was perceived as one of the (originally) Celtic gods of healing, who was later associated with Apollo and often venerated as a composite deity of Apollo-Grannus in the Roman world. To that end, Grannus was typically linked to the hot springs and often worshipped in conjunction with Sirona – a Celtic goddess of healing.

Unsurprisingly, his cult centers were often focused on areas with thermal and mineral springs, with the most famous one pertaining to Aquae Granni, which was later known as Aachen – the royal center of the later Carolingian Empire under Charlemagne. And it should be noted that Grannus was also regarded as a solar deity, thus symbolically linking his powers to that of the healing rays of the sun.

14) Epona – The Protector Goddess of Horses

Rhiannon. Source: Sacred Wicca

Beyond syncretism, there were also sole Celtic gods worshipped in the pantheon of the ancient Gallo-Roman religion and even Rome itself. Epona belonged to the rare second category. Regarded as the female deity and protector of horses, donkeys, and mules (etymologically, the word ‘Epona’ is derived from Proto-Celtic * ekwos – meaning horse) , the Celtic goddess was also possibly associated with fertility – given the visual cues of patera, cornucopia, and foals in some of her extant sculptures. And talking of depictions, most of the dedicatory inscriptions to Epona (found by archaeologists) were made in Latin (as opposed to Celtic), thus suggesting her popularity in the Roman world.

In fact, with her aspect as the protector of horses, Epona was favored and venerated by the auxiliary cavalrymen of the Roman Empire, especially the renowned Imperial Horse Guards ( Equites Singulares Augusti ), who were the cavalry counterparts to the Praetorian Guards. As for the other Celtic cultures, it has been argued in the academic circles that Epona possibly inspired the Welsh mythical/folkloric character of Rhiannon – the tenacious lady of the Otherworld.

15) Eriu/Eire – The Goddess of ‘Ireland’

Artwork by Jim Fitzpatrick

Regarded as one of the Celtic gods among the Tuatha Dé Danann , Eriu (modern Irish – Eire) has the distinction of having an entire nation named after her. To that end, the very term Ireland comes from Eriu (as the realm was known in the ‘olden’ times), and thus her modern name Eire is modified to suit the current pronunciation of Ireland. Essentially, Eriu serves as the modern personification of Ireland.

As for the mythological side of affairs, Eriu in many ways symbolized the legacy of the Tuatha Dé Danann after they were defeated by the Milesians . In the related narrative, when the Milesians invaded Ireland from Galicia, Eriu and her two sisters Banba and Fotla went forth and greeted the newcomers. As a courtesy, the Milesians promised to name the land after her. But unfortunately for the Tuatha Dé Danann , they were only given the underground to dwell in by the victorious Milesians – and this realm (underneath the Sidhe mounds) was perceived as the passage to the Celtic Otherworld. The latter was associated with the supernatural, mystical world where fairies and gods lived.

Featured ImageCú Chulainn ‘The Hound of Ulster’ in Battle. Painting by Joseph Christian Leyendecker.

Book Reference – The Encyclopedia of Mythology (Edited by Arthur Cotterell)

And in case we have not attributed or misattributed any image, artwork or photograph, we apologize in advance. Please let us know via the ‘Contact Us’ link, provided both above the top bar and at the bottom bar of the page.

Watch the video: Μινωικός πολιτισμός - Ντοκιμαντέρ (January 2022).