Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of Oct 14th - Oct 20th, 2005

Black Bull

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  Long term readers of the WEB will know that we often like to go back in history and study the patterns of civilization, to observe how they flow with the rise and fall of the stars of heaven. US, European, and even world history are subject to the celestial choreography of time. We now stand at the end of the Age of Pisces, an epoch which began with the rise of Rome, but later flowered with Christianity. The predecessor to our current watery leader was the Age of Aries; a time of nobility, princes and princesses together with their heroic exploits. These are the myths Joe Campbell enjoyed delving into. Prior to Aries was a period of agricultural development and reverence of the Earth, together with its matriarchal guardians. The Vernal Equinox (the astronomical definition of our 'Ages') was passing through the stars of the Bull from approximately 4300 to 2000 BC.

Temple of Philae in Nubia

Temple of Philae in Nubia

  Whenever the WEB has examined the Age of Taurus, we have basically looked to the last half of this epoch, from 3100 or 3000 BC through to the collapse of the Old Kingdom around 2100 BC. The start of the third millennium was the time of the Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, and from that period on, the clues become obvious and the history extensive. Our fixed earth sign plays well against the practical, love of life nature of the Bull. They left a pharaonic 'king list' for us to follow, and of course built the pyramids. Their veneration of the Bull throughout their three thousand years of civilization until Rome took over, as Apis, Isis or Hathor is well documented.

Nubia in Africa

Nubia in Africa

      But what about this initial period of development, from around 4300 down until the time of the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt c. 3100 BC? For more than a thousand years, Spring was passing through the horns of the Bull, and as history first comes into focus we see the Apis Bull, together with the Solar Disk placed between his horns, which is exactly where it is astronomically on the first day of Spring at the time of the unification. In looking for a new Apis Bull, one of the characteristics was that the bull had to be black, possibly representative of the night sky. Agricultural development had been growing, and was being nurtured through a path which seems to have arisen through Upper (Southern- named for the highlands, not its cardinal direction) Egypt through the Bardarian culture, which eventually became centered in Khartoum, where the White and Blue Nile Rivers come together (see map).

  The archaeological clues seem to suggest that the seeds of much of what we now identify as later Egyptian culture were in fact planted here. Lower Egypt is the land of the Delta which fans out and feeds the Mediterranean Sea. It is called Lower Egypt because the land is closer to sea level. What became known in history as Upper Egypt lies far to the south, and these are the highlands or more hilly region of Egypt. It has also been called Nubia.

Under the Grand Portico- David Roberts

Under the Grand Portico in Philae
by David Roberts

  The number of pyramids in Nubia (called the Kingdom of Kush in the Bible) are 223, double the number in Egypt. Research has suggested that the line of kings living in northern Nubia were at least as early as, if not earlier than, the first pharaohs of Egypt. The oldest tombs of a pharaonic type are found in the Kingdom of Qustul, in northern Nubia. The discovery of an incense burner, dated no later than 3400 BC shows incised figures with three ships in procession. They are sailing toward a royal palace, with the first carrying a lion, the second carrying a king, sitting and equipped with a long robe, flail and White Crown, all of which would later become symbols of Pharaonic rule in Egypt. At that early date, there were not supposed to have been any such thing as pharaohs or pharaoh's palaces. Nabta Playa, located in Southwestern Egypt, dates back to 4800 BC. It is a site which demonstrates a 'Stonehenge' like observatory (although not nearly as evolved as Stonehenge, and, as far as we know, constructed more than a thousand years before the megalithic site in England) for observing the Solstice, a trait which Egypt was to devolop to a high level of observational skill in the centuries which followed. The archaeological clues left behind at Nabta Playa suggust a nomadic community active in the sub-Sahara due to the higher rate of rainfall at that time.

  All of these clues taken together seem to suggests a Nubian cultural impetus, originally linked through nomadic migrations to central Africa, suggesting a black African source for the Egyptian culture which would later assume central stage in history.

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