Damien F. Mackey
Establishing an Egyptian Connection
between Queen Nefertiti and Queen Jezebel
through the Seal of Jezebel
Following on from Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s lowering of the El Amarna [EA] Age of pharaohs Amenhotep III and IV (Akhnaton), and Queen Nefertiti, down from the C14th BC (where the textbooks locate EA) to the C9th BC (Ages in Chaos) - according to which biblical characters and events of the latter era can be found in the extensive EA documents - I had proposed an identification of the famed Queen Nefertiti with the biblical bad girl, Queen Jezebel:
“The Shattering Fall of Queen Nefertiti”
This gave to Egyptology an explanation for the beginning and ending of Queen Nefertiti of whom only the middle phase of life is well known. And, given Queen Jezebel’s shattering fall and horrible death, eaten by dogs (1 kings 21: 23-28, 2 kings 9: 30 - 37), and physically ‘beyond redemption’, it meant that Egyptologists were wasting their time looking for the mummy of Queen Nefertiti.
Most likely, also, the letter-writing Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 21:8) could now be identified with the only female correspondent of EA, Baalat-Neše, or Neše-Baalat; a name commonly thought to mean “Mistress of Lions” (cf. Sumerian: NIN. UR. MAH. MESH).
As far as the actual seal of Jezebel went, I had simply thought of it - without really having studied it - as probably yet another of the many confirmations of the reality of biblical history. But the seal I now find is much more than that.
What one realises when scrutinizing it, is its thorough Egyptianess. See 1. below.
In more recent times, I have taken the revision further, by proposing identifications of pharaoh Amenhotep III with king Asa of Judah; Akhnaton with king Ahab of Israel; and - most controversially - Queen Tiy, or Tiye, with Nefertiti (Queen Jezebel). Although this may all seem now like I am completely losing the plot (and sometimes I have to wonder whether or not I am), the Jezebel seal now comes in seemingly to strengthen my argument, since the Egyptianess of the Jezebel seal is, as we shall find, the Egyptianess of Queen Tiy herself.
There are yet a couple more proposed identifications for Nefertiti/Tiy. The most recent one being my suggestion that she may be the elusive Kiya, mother of Tutankhamun. And, on the Egypto-Mesopotamian fronts, that she was the legendary ‘Semiramis’, or Sammuramat; there being a mighty Queen Sammuramat in Assyro-Babylonia at this approximate time (revised), as the mother of Adad-nirari III. This will now receive further attention in part 2. of this article, where it will be found that an EA type of situation was clearly in operation at the time of Adad-nirari III.
But firstly to:
1. The Egyptian Correlation
The Seal of Jezebel
Professor Marjo Korpel thinks that she may have sorted out an apparent problem with the seal regarding its association with the biblical Queen Jezebel. In the process of her argument she points out what others, too, have also not failed to notice, that the seal has ‘symbols typical of the 18th Dynasty’s Queen Tiy’:
Fit for a Queen: Jezebel’s Royal Seal
Thousands and thousands of seals and seal impressions (bullae) from the ancient Near East have been found, including Hebrew exemplars in Israel. Documents would be tied up with string and a blob of clay placed over the string; a seal would then be impressed into the clay to identify the sender and assure the security of the document. Or a seal would be impressed into the handle of a jar to identify the owner, for example, the so-called l melekh handles ([belonging] to the king), of which there are several thousand. Or a seal could be used to prevent unauthorized entry to a storehouse. Deuteronomy 32:34 speaks of the Lord’s attributes, “sealed up in My treasuries.”
Of all the thousands of exemplars with Hebrew inscriptions, however, only about 35 belong to women. This paucity nevertheless demonstrates two things. First, some women did indeed possess and use personal seals. Second, this was true of only very few women. Ancient Israel, like its neighbors, was a patriarchal society. Women possessing seals clearly belonged to the upper classes.
On two seals the female owner is described as a daughter of the king. Set off against 24 attestations of a son of the king, this once again demonstrates that women had a harder time attaining a position of influence than men, even if they were princesses.
One of the most famous queens of ancient Israel is Jezebel, the daughter of the Phoenician king Ethbaal, wife of Israelite King Ahab (872–851 B.C.E.) and archetype of the wicked woman. I believe that she had a seal and that it has been recovered, although until now not confidently identified.
Jezebel, though a woman, plays a major role, but backstage. Her influence on her husband, King Ahab, was enormous. As the Biblical text puts it: “There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited” (1 Kings 21:25). She never gave up her Phoenician religion, nor her devotion to Baal. Ahab sinned not only by taking a worshiper of Baal for his wife, but, at her urging he, too worshiped Baal (1 Kings 16:31). No doubt this strong Biblical criticism is colored by later Deuteronomistic theology, but it stands to reason that Jezebel did deserve her reputation somehow.
Jezebel went even further. She began killing off the prophets of the Lord (1 Kings 18:4). Apparently a hundred were saved when they were hidden in two caves by Obadiah. At that point the prophet Elijah confronts the king, who responds to Elijah with the famous line: “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17).
Elijah then sets up a contest on Mount Carmel: 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah who sup at Jezebel’s table (1 Kings 18:19) face Elijah alone. A bull is placed on Baal’s altar, but try as they may, even gashing themselves with knives, the prophets of Baal can produce no fire. Then Elijah orders water to be poured on his meal offering to the Lord. Elijah beseeches the Lord and fire descends from heaven consuming the meal offering and even the water (1 Kings 18:23-38).
In another episode, Ahab decides to enlarge his palace complex by acquiring the adjacent vineyard owned by Naboth. However, Naboth refuses to sell at any price. Disappointed and depressed, Ahab tells Jezebel about it. I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, she tells him (1 Kings 21:7). She acts in Ahab’s name, even using the king’s seal rather than her own. She arranges for Naboth to be falsely accused, and he is stoned to death. When Jezebel learns that the deed has been done, she urges Ahab: “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite which he refused to give you for money” (1 Kings 21:15).
Elijah passes judgment in the name of the Lord: “As with Ahab, whose blood dogs will lap up, so with Jezebel: Dogs will devour her in Jezreel” (1Kings 21:19-23).
Jezebel’s life indeed ends badly. When Elisha (Elijah’s successor) anoints Jehu as Ahab’s successor, Jehu is instructed to wipe out Ahab’s line: “That I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets” (2 Kings 9:7).
When Jehu arrives in Jezreel, where Ahab has a royal residence, Jezebel prepares to greet him. She paints her eyes with kohl and dresses her hair and appears at an upper window, apparently hoping to seduce Jehu (2 Kings 9:30). [Mackey’s comment: She may have been too old by now to have contemplated that. Rather she was acting the part of a proud queen]. Instead, Jezebel is thrown down from the window. Her blood splattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her (2 Kings 9:33).
Jehu orders her to be buried. So they went to bury her; but all they found of her were her skull, the feet and the hands. They came back and reported to [Jehu]. And he said, “It is just as the Lord spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: The dogs shall devour the flesh of Jezebel in the field of Jezreel; and the carcass of Jezebel shall be like dung on the ground” (2 Kings 9:35-37).
The seal I want to deal with here comes from a private collection, and we don’t know where or when it was found. In some American and Israeli circles, this alone would condemn it to oblivion. Indeed, these critics would ban publication of such an item. This, in my view, is nonsense. Yes, we must be cautious in assessing the authenticity of unprovenanced finds, but we cannot condemn the whole lot simply because they are unprovenanced. As Professor Othmar Keel recently pointed out, even in the highly praised Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals published by Nahman Avigad and Benjamin Sass (Jerusalem, 1997), only 10 percent of the seals discussed come from professional excavations.a
When what I believe to be the seal of Queen Jezebel came to scholarly attention in the early 1960s, it was donated to the Israel Department of Antiquities and gratefully accepted. Another day and another time! In 1964, it was published in the Israel Exploration Journal by Israel’s then-leading paleographer, Nahman Avigad.1
Despite the fact that the seal bears an inscription YZBL … which spells Jezebel in Hebrew, as Avigad recognized, he nevertheless concluded that there was no basis for identifying the owner of our seal with this famous lady [Queen Jezebel], although, as Avigad recognized, they may have been contemporaries, and the seal seems worthy of a queen. Moreover, Jezebel is a rare Phoenician name.
Later, the reading Jezebel and the possible identification of the seal as Queen Jezebel’s was rejected because the spelling of the name on the seal is different from the spelling of the name in the Bible. On the seal, as noted, it is spelled YZBL; in the Bible, it is spelled YZBL … where [cannot reproduce symbol here] represents, by scholarly convention, the Hebrew letter aleph (), a guttural with a throat-clearing sound.2
I believe I have an answer to this problem.
As Avigad notes, this is a very fancy seal. It is large, as these things go (1.25 inches from top to bottom). It is filled with the common Egyptian symbols that were often used in Phoenicia at this time.c At the top is a crouching winged sphinx with a woman’s face and (part of) a female Isis/Hathor crown. The body of the sphinx is a lioness (cf. Ezekiel 19), clearly appropriate for the seal of a queen. To the left is an Egyptian ankh, the sign of life. A line then divides these symbols from a lower register. Below the line is a winged disk (which, incidentally, also appears on many Hebrew l melekh handles). Below this is an Egyptian-style falcon. On either side of the falcon is a uraeus, the cobra most commonly seen on the headdresses of Egyptian royalty and divinities. Each of these snakes faces outward. The serpent-like symbol beneath the falcon is actually a lotus, which refers to regeneration but also is a typical female symbol generally connected to women, but especially royal women. The densely filled space reflects the horror vacui (fear of empty space) that is typical.
One other thing that may at first seem peculiar: The four letters of the inscription appear to be scattered in the interstices of the symbols that almost fill the space. Two letters (Y and Z) are just below the sun disk. Tucked into the lower left is the B. Tucked into the lower right is the L.
Actually, this is not as peculiar as it might seem at first. We have many seals where the lettering identifying the owner is distributed around an elaborate decoration in a way that matches the Jezebel seal perfectly.
But what about the critical missing aleph at the beginning of the spelling of the name Jezebel in Hebrew? Actually, there are two letters that we would expect to find in a seal like this. In addition to the aleph, we would expect an L, or lamed, preceding the name, as, for example, in the l melekh handles. The lamed means to and is often translated “(belonging) to”. In short, the lamed indicates ownership and appears on almost all seals before a name.
So we should expect two additional letters before the four letters that actually appear on this seal, a lamed and then an aleph. Though theoretically any letter of the alphabet could fill the space of the second letter, only an aleph produces an acceptable name for such an elaborate seal.
There is one damaged part of this seal, at the very top. It is just large enough for the two missing letters: lamed and aleph. In my view, the broken-off part of the seal originally contained these two letters.3
In short, the name Jezebel appears exactly as it should: L YZBL, or “Belonging to Jezebel”.”
There are additional reasons to believe that this Jezebel is the queen who figures so prominently in the Bible.
Of course, the seal does not contain her father’s name or the addition “queen.” The unusually large size alone, however, suggests a very wealthy, influential person. The winged sphinx, winged sun disk and especially the falcon are well-known symbols of royalty in Egypt. The female Isis/Hathor crown on the winged sphinx (symbol for the king) suggests the owner to be female. The graceful Egypto-Phoenician style points to someone who apparently loved this type of art, a circumstance tallying with the fact that Jezebel was a Phoenician princess (1 Kings 16:31).
The double uraeus (cobra) at the bottom is a typical symbol of queens with prominent roles in religion and politics from the 18th Egyptian dynasty onward. Especially the Egyptian queen Tiye seems to have functioned as a model for later queens. Often she is represented wearing the Isis/Hathor crown or the crown with double uraei. So, independent of the name of the owner, the iconography definitely suggests a queen. Although other individuals used the same symbols to indicate their closeness to the throne, no other seal uses them all.
Another, slightly more complex argument suggests that this is Queen Jezebel’s seal: Her name is a quote from the Baal myth. Jezebel means “Where is his Highness (=Baal)?” The name of Jezebel was suitable for a princess like the daughter of the Phoenician king Ethbaal because it identified her with the goddess ‘Anat (the Canaanite parallel of the Egyptian goddess Isis/Hathor), the beloved of Baal. It is this goddess who is addressed by the highest god, Ilu, in the above quote from the Baal myth. As Avigad recognized, the name Jezebel was rare in Phoenicia. It is probable that only princesses (who would eventually become queens) were named Jezebel.
In the Ugaritic Baal ritual, the queen represented ‘Anat, who had to revive her beloved husband Baal. Similarly the pharaoh at his death was identified with Osiris, and it was Isis who had to restore him to life with the help of her sister Nephtys. These two goddesses were often represented as uraei. By including the two cobras, the ankh symbol and the horned sundisk on her seal, Jezebel wanted to characterize herself as the revitalizing force behind the throne.
From her Phoenician point of view, she had every right to aspire to such a (semi-) divine status. Similar ideas are found in Phoenician inscriptions. The Phoenician king is called “consort of Astarte,” ‘Anat’s twin-sister. In an Aramaic inscription, a queen describes herself as the wife of the god Bel (Baal). According to Ezekiel 28:2,9 the king of Tyre imagined himself a god. It is well known that in Israel, too, the divine nature of kingship was sometimes recognized (e.g., Psalm 2:6f., 45:7 [Hebrew verse 8], 110).
The seal attests to her aspiration for a divine status, and this may well have been what sparked the ire of the Biblical descriptions of her.
Finally, the form of the letters on the signet, especially the Y, is Phoenician or imitates Phoenician writing.4 The L also appears to be ancient Phoenician.
In short, I believe it is very likely that we have here the seal of the famous Queen Jezebel.
For further details, see Marjo C.A. Korpel, “Seals of Jezebel and Other Women in Authority,” Journal for Semitics 15 (2006), p.349
(www.sasnes.org.za/SASNES_Journal_for_Semitics.htm. PDF available from www.otw-site.eu/en/news-en.php). A revised scholarly version of the article will appear in Ugarit-Forschungen 38 (2006), publication 2008, titled “Queen Jezebel’s Seal.”
• • • • • •
Not all conventional scholars, however, agree with Professor Korpel’s conclusion. Ryan Byrne, following Professor Christopher Rollston, writes for instance:
Scholars Debate “Jezebel” Seal
Where Is Jezebel?
By Ryan Byrne
Since Christopher Rollston has written a thoughtful, authoritative analysis of Korpel’s claims, which he finds unpersuasive, there is no need to duplicate his powerful critique of the purported Jezebel connection.4 Suffice it to say that I strongly concur with Rollston on the following observations. First, he makes a persuasive palaeographic case for an eighth-century date, which I will also address in due course. Second, he notes that the root zbl is common in West Semitic names from the second millennium onward. This weakens the statistical probability that the two names ’yzbl and yzbl need refer to the same person. I might also note that either name (’yzbl or yzbl) may be female or male, a fact not without statistical weight against the biblical identification. Third, he notes that Korpel’s reconstruction of the name is just that: a reconstruction of a broken seal. Is it possible that the fractured cavity originally bore additional letters? Yes, of course. Might there instead have appeared different letters or rather additional iconography? Yes, of course. For some, the cavity transforms the reader into a diviner whose vision is limited only by the imagination. For others, the cavity is a warning to proceed with caution and respect for ambiguity. Fourth, Rollston cites the absence of either a patronymic or title of any kind. The seal’s owner claims no royal father or husband. This silence neither proves nor disproves anything, of course, unless one considers that Korpel bases much of her argument for a royal owner on some rather bizarre, artistic eisegesis. “The flower at the bottom of the seal might be a rose or lotus,” Korpel writes, “pointing to a vain lady, which Jezebel was.”5 Five, Rollston recognizes that Korpel’s iconographic dating of the seal depends a priori on her supposition that the seal belonged to the ninth-century queen of Israel. Finally, Rollston, Amihai Mazar and others have accurately noted that there are no stratified Phoenician or Hebrew seals with incised names from any secure ninth-century archaeological context. ….
The Ninth Century Is There
Dr. Ryan Byrne has written another fine and detailed article. I agree with him most emphatically that the iconography was engraved before the epigraphy and thus put constraints on the letters being engraved. In addition to Dr. Avigad, Drs. Hestrin and Dayagi-Mendels noticed that the iconography had been engraved before the epigraphy as well. They say so on page 48 of their Inscribed Seals book. However, like Dr. Avigad, and apparently Dr. Benjamin Sass, Drs. Hestrin and Dayagi-Mendels dated this seal to the Ninth to Eighth Centuries. Dr. Andre Lemaire probably did as well. All five of these scholars called the palaeography or epigraphy Phoenician or possibly Phoenician. It is also interesting that Dr. Christopher Rollston says this about two of the four letters: "The morphology of Yod and Lamed are indeed better Phoenician forms than they are Old Hebrew." in his ASOR article that you mention above. Dr. Rollston's strong stance in his ASOR article that the Bet is recumbent and must be Old Hebrew is negated by Dr. Byrne and other scholar's observation that its engraving was hindered by the iconography already present. There are numerous examples in our West Semitic Seal Corpus that show that Dr. Rollston is incorrect in his ASOR article statement that the engravers always had things figured out, before engraving the letters. At the very least the twenty-one LMLK seals of King Hezekiah, which are definitely Royal seals, have letters upside down, backwards, false starts, etc. What I find even more interesting than this, is a comparison of this seal to the Gezer Calendar script. Although it is not stratified, it has been dated to the tenth century like the Tel Zayit Inscription. The Zayins at the end of the first line and in the sixth line are pretty much identical to this seal; the Yods found on all seven lines are very similar(having the rounded top stroke); the Lamed towards the end of the fifth line is also pretty much identical; the Bet on the bottom left hand side written vertically is not that close because it has the characteristic on the bottom half of what Mr. Wolfe calls the "Lame Bet" or a forged bet that does not have a sharp bottom half. However, I am confident that the Gezer Calendar is authentic. Thus, Dr. Byrne can attempt to date this seal to the Eighth Century like Dr. Rollston and Dr. Amihai Mazar, but there are other scholarly epigraphers, who have dated it to the Ninth Century. I respect You and Dr. Rollston and Dr. Amihai Mazar. Dr. Mazar taught right along side of Dr. Barkay and Dr. Rainey when I studied in Jerusalem in the 1980s. I have to disagree with all three of you and say that the Ninth Century is There on this seal and other seals. Dr. Avigad said that the owner of this seal could be a contemporary of Jezebel. Thus, it is a Ninth Century seal, according to the epigrapher who you call: "the expert nonpareil of West Semtic seals" above in your article. The seal of Shemaryau, WSS 377, is also dated by Dr. Avigad to the Ninth Century. Its cursive script is pretty much identical to the Samaria Ostraca of the late Ninth Century. Dr. David Diringer noticed that even in the late Ninth Century on the Samaria Ostraca there was an Advanced Hebrew Cursive Script. This is retained on this steatite scarab. Contrary to what Dr. Byrne has stated above, cursive script is retained on stone inscriptions. Dr. Frank Moore Cross noticed this on the Monumental Siloam Inscription which he calls "more developed and more cursive" on page 62 of Dr. Andrew G. Vaughn's Palaeographical Dating Of Judean Seals. Dr. Yohanan Aharoni says, about the seal impression of Nera (son of) Shebna, impressed right next to a LMLK two-winged Hebron sun disc: "All letters are clearly written in a cursive hand." on page 16 of his Excavations At Ramat Rahel. And, Drs. Hestrin and Dayagi-Mendels call the script of the seal of Shemaryau cursive. In fact, on page 59 of their Inscribed Seals book, they describe the seal like this: "Scarab seal, perforated, chipped on left side. The seal is ornamented with Egyptian hieroglyphs and pseudo-hieroglyphs in Phoenician style. In the centre, incised in cursive script, is the name of the owner." Thus, on one seal from the Ninth Century we have both hieroglyphs and cursive Hebrew Script. The hieroglyphs are what Drs. Mazar, Rollston, and Byrne say are supposed to be on Tenth to Ninth Century excavated seals, but not the Hebrew Script. This is supposed to be for the Eighth Century Seals. Yet, we have advanced cursive late Ninth Century Hebrew Script on both the Samaria Ostraca and this seal. Eighty-five to ninety percent of the West Semitic Seals in our Corpus are not excavated. So Drs. Mazar, Rollston, and Byrne's argument is statistically a weak one, based on a few hundred seals out of several thousands. I agree with Dr. Byrne that script forms are retained for long periods of time. For this reason, our problem is that we have not noticed Tenth and Ninth Century Seals in Our West Semtic Seal Corpus that often. With Much Gratitude, Sincerely Yours, Michael Welch, Deltona, Florida
• • • • • • •
I am writing regarding the article by Marjo Korpel entitled “Fit for a Queen: Jezebel’s Royal Seal” in the March/April 2008 issue of ‘Biblical Archaeology Review’ (BAR). The article discusses a fine and detailed seal which may be that of the biblical Jezebel of the 9th century BC. The seal features a winged female sphinx. Winged female sphinxes were associated with the Egyptian Queen Tiye and her first husband Amenhotep III who have been dated to the 15th-14th centuries BC in the conventional chronology of ancient Egypt. Based on ‘Oedipus and Akhnaton’ by Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979), in the time of Amenhotep III, sphinx-related worship became rampant. In the time of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye, the sphinx in Egyptian art was transformed. The traditionally male sphinx in Egyptian art was feminized. The previously usually wingless sphinx was given wings. Hatshepsut had had a sphinx made with a beard, but Queen Tiye had her sphinx fashioned with the face of a woman. Queen Tiye was even depicted as a cruel winged female sphinx.
The above seal features a winged female sphinx, a symbol linked to Queen Tiye. Also, based on the above article, the seal has two other symbols that are linked to Queen Tiye. These symbols are (part of) an Isis/Hathor crown, and the double uraei (cobras). Thus the seal has three symbols that are linked to Queen Tiye.
Adam, here, is very close to the mark.
The seal actually has four symbols that are linked to Queen Tiy, Adam’s “three symbols” plus (four) the winged disc. I believe that this all strengthens the Jezebel connection with the seal, given that I have independently identified Jezebel (Nefertiti) with Queen Tiy, who belongs to the C9th BC, not the C14th BC. So, those who are saying that the owner of the seal, Jezebel perhaps, must have liked and been influenced by Queen Tiy’s symbols, just need to take that one extra step, that the seal was in fact Queen Tiy’s.
Adam goes on to show, following Velikovsky, that Tiy was at least contemporaneous with the C9th era of Queen Jezebel, though he thinks that the owner of the seal was simply “trying to be like Queen Tiye”:
Based on some aspects of Velikovsky’s ‘Ages in Chaos’, I believe that Queen Tiye and Amenhotep III lived in the 9th century BC–not the 15th-14th centuries BC—and were contemporaries of Jezebel. From the standpoint of Velikovsky’s revised chronology for ancient Egypt, it is not surprising to find that a proposed seal of Jezebel would have three symbols on it that are linked to Queen Tiye.
To me it seems likely that Jezebel, or whoever owned the above seal, was trying to be like Queen Tiye [sic] —not a queen who had been dead for 500 years, but a living queen from her own time.
The dating of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye to the 9th century BC based on some aspects of Velikovsky’s ‘Ages in Chaos’ makes it seem likely that the seal is from the 9th century BC, for the seal has three symbols on it that are linked to Queen Tiye.
I am not an archaeologist or historian. However, frequently during each of the last 17 years, I have studied books and articles on ancient history and discussed evidence and ideas on it with friends, and followed developments in biblical archaeology. I have been subscribed to BAR during each year beginning in 1993. It was reading books by Velikovsky beginning in 1991 that deepened my interest in ancient history and biblical archaeology. I have attended four conferences concerning ideas of Velikovsky and similar theories.
I have previously submitted comments regarding Velikovsky at the page of the Higgaion weblog containing Part 11 of the extended review by Chris Heard of ‘The Exodus Decoded’. I recommend reading my previous comments, especially my comment dated April 13, 2008.
Another blogger, Johnny, has supported Adam’s Velikovsky-based argument for a lowering of the conventional dates:
…. King Tut’s tomb was carbon dated in the 60′s to date much younger than conventional – Velikovsky’s date was consistent with the actual test results [Fred Mainwaring, Univ of Pennsylvania]
Since then a statue of Tiye was recently found buried just beneath a 700 BCE layer – giving a terminus ad quem that tends to underscore the plausibility of a reduced chronology.
The correspondence between the sphinxet seal found in Israel and the royal emblems of Tiye are unmistakeable.
Further physical tests should be conducted. Items in this dynasty must be tested again, and the results published, now that these finds make the early tests that showed a lowered chronology even more plausible.
I believe much insight is to be gained by considering the field data and artifacts from the perspective of a reduced chronology such as Velikovsky and others have been advocating for more than half a century.
If the diligence of a Rollston can sort out the quibblings and quixotic retorts and surreal surretorts we see displayed across the space where scholarship should be – perhaps a similar diligence on our part can sort out the vitriolic dissarray of spurious dark academic cages that have held back for so long any attempt at genuine chronology.
We need not remain imprisoned in these dark ages – there simply were no dark ages in Greece – the so called dark ages are simply a mistaken scholarly assertion.
We should be free to evaluate alternate chronolgies that are at least consistent with physical test results.
Though such bloggers would be dismissed as unenlightened amateurs, they are in fact chronologically closer to the mark than are the conventional experts. So let us give more space to their words of common sense and wisdom. Johnny continues:
At least then, whatever chronology that emerges will be consistent with physical tests, and we can trade a dead end of supposed traditional chronologic knowledge for the actual beginnings of a real and long overdue scholarly investigation.
With all the furr flying and flames back and forth – Adam has actually contributed something of value that otherwise might have been missed due to all the heated rhetoric thrown at Velikovsky over the years.
The physical evidence still points to a reduced chronology. It’s time we had more of a scholarly look.
Rhetoric and name calling and quibbling aside – Velikovsky’s chronology passes physical tests and yields interesting insight as Adam shows.
I think this would be an excellent area for further investigation.
Clearly the owner of the sphinxet seal was emulating the Royal attributes of Tiye Queen of Egypt.
Since no other Queen or Ruler of Egypt ever did such a thing as to make shinxes popular, viscious, winged and female, the association is indeed a keystone for chronology.
As the Greek plays emphasize, the viscious sphinx met her demise. The time of ascendancy of the viscious female sphinx was one generation only.
It was never repeated. The sphinx was never heralded with such favor after that. It had never taken that viscious female winged form at any earlier time, nor did it in any generation later.
Whoever owned the shinxet seal definitely lived in that unique generation, the time of Queen Tiye.
What that means for chronological reevaluation is something that is vast in its implications, something vital to the core of why we study history in the first place, something that intrepid scholars can only now begin to explore.
To my mind that kind of opportunity is what a blog like this is all about.
And Adam again:
…. The 18th dynasty is known for many greats – among these Hatshepsut, the Amenhoteps, Tutankhamen - but the most intriguing, to Sigmund Freud, author of Moses and Monotheism, was Akhnaton, the heretic pharaoh who for a time instituted monotheism in Egypt.
…. Velikovsky examined all the archaeological evidence that had turned up since Freud had written.
He found that Amenhotep III had made sphinxes more popular than ever – witness the avenue of the sphinxes – (of Queen Tiye and the sphinx rage there is no need to mention more) Prisoners were executed en masse at the sphinx at this time.
Akhnaton, reared abroad, returns home and marries his mother, Queen Tiye, and becomes pharaoh. Human sacrifice at the sphinx is brought to an end.
The new religion instituted by the king does not endure.
Egypt was not ready for the king who married his mother and had children by her. The two sons of Akhnaton vie for kingship, and perish in battle.
Velikovsky did not find Moses here.
A king who returns to Egypt, defeats a sphinx and marries his own mother to become king does not fit the myth of Moses at all – but it does conform in every respect to Oedipus, the greek tragic hero king of Thebes.
What does this have to do with chronology? Everything.
Very simply, if the reign of Akhnaton is recognized to be that historical kernel of truth that gave rise to the Oedipus legends, then we must look some five hundred years or so earlier in the Egyptian chronology to find any indications of what might be the historical kernel of truth that gave rise to the Moses legend.
Looking earlier, Velikovsky found references in the 13th dynasty to natural disasters and battles that paralelled the plagues of the Moses tradition.
When it became apparent that the 18th dynasty was contemporaneous with Ahab of Israel, Velikovsky called for carbon dating of the items in King Tutankhamon’s tomb.
These tests were done by Fred Mainwaring of the University of Penssylvania. The tests were consistent with Velikovsky’s date for the dynasty, but they were not consistent with the traditional chronology.
A tree can be a hundred years old or more before it is cut down and used as furniture, so a commensurate carbon date is to be expected, and was found, if Velikovsky’s chronology is correct.
For the conventional chronology to be correct, the carbon date would imply that the tree used for furniture in the tomb did not sprout from its seed until centuries after the tomb was sealed – a temporal impossibility. This means the traditional chronology is wrong.
People at the time could not bring themselves to question the traditional chronology, so they attributed the anomalous results to ‘contamination’ and the British Museum refused to publish the results.
Now, with the discovery of this Jezebel seal, and the discovery of the statue of Queen Tiye found just beneath the 700 BCE layer, we have new grounds for insisting that the earlier tests be repeated, with the results published, and that new physical tests be performed as warranted.
These new finds now make it entirely plausible that a reduced chronology is correct, so contamination in the earlier tests can no longer be ruled out.
Further testing is necessary.
We have an opportunity here to recognize and advocate that it be done.
Did not Shanks champion the release of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the 40 year sequestration of the ‘scroll scholars’ and cause some nice lady from Bechtel to publish those old negatives she had in her closet?
I believe that a similar campaign in this regard could have similar effects.
Instead of having internet arguments over who said what like schoolchildren, I think we should come together on this chronology issue and insist on new tests for items of the 18th dynasty of Egypt, for Queen Tiye of Egypt, and for Jezebel of Israel.
The two Great sphinx Queens of History -spooky 500 year parallels – or savvy contemporaries?
Only a new round of high tech tests will tell … thermoluminescence, carbon dating …
Perhaps anomalous results, long shelved, can now be published if Herschel Shanks would call attention to these anomalous test results from Tutankhamon’s tomb and other factors that point to the plausibility of a reduced chronology
The fact that results like this were not published since 1969 is a scandal of longer duration than even the scroll scholars who sat on their scrolls for 40 years and never published.
Now that we are aware of the plausibility of a reduced chronology and the earlier carbon results for items from the 18th dynasty, it is not responsible to sit in this knowlege either.
To be responsible scholars at all, we have to act – to advocate and perform these new tests, and – publish the results this time.
Whatever anyone may think of any particular scholar or his/her ideas, these things are personal, ad hominem.
The fact is, for whatever reason, we have a traditional chronology that is unsupported by any physical tests.
That status quo is and has been entirely unacceptable – and it remains egregiously so now that we have the knowlege and technology to anchor the chronology correctly.
A chronology unsupported by physical test is no chronology at all – it is not even science, less even than myth
When what is asked is that physical tests be done, that is a scholarly request. Popularity is irrelevant.
Ad hominem factors must have no bearing, or else scholarship is compromised.
A scholar who falsifies or hides data only to harm people or theories he doesn’t like, is not a scholar, but is compromised, a liar, an agressor, inimical to science itself.
Jezebel and Tiye both deserve their rightful contemporary places in history
The two Great vicious Sphinx Queens of history demand it:
The tests must be done.
And, yet again:
An interesting paper entitled “The Revision of Ancient History – A Perspective” by P John Crowe can be found at the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies (SIS) website. The paper discusses Velikovsky and other scholars who have raised criticisms of the conventional chronology of ancient Egypt and/or proposed revisions to it. One can find a link to this paper by doing a quick internet search on “ancient history revision”.
But Christopher Heard on the contrary reveals, in his response to Johnny’s posts, that he is not even sure whether Queen Jezebel was a real person:
1. on 22 May 2008 at 2:40 pm Christopher Heard
Johnny CG wrote: “we’ve got two famous sphinx queens here …”
No, we don’t—or at least, we can’t say for certain that we do, and the weight of probability is against it. Irrespective of the revisionist chronology (whether Velikovsky-inspired or otherwise), the entire discussion about Tiye and Jezebel is pointless until a convincing case can be made for connecting the seal to Jezebel at all. But the whole point that Rollston, Byrne, and others (going all the way back to Avigad!) were making is that we can’t convincingly connect the seal to Jezebel in the first place, never mind going the further step to somehow seek a Jezebel-Tiye connection under a revised chronology. The first step on the road can’t even be made without tripping. We do not know that the seal belonged to Jezebel; the letters יזבל on the seal are far from establishing that as fact. We do not even know if Jezebel is a real historical person and if so, if “Jezebel” (Heb. איזבל) was her real name or a(n insulting?) nickname given by a biblical author. We do not know whether the seal belonged to a queen, or even if it belonged to a man or a woman. We do not even have a firm date (to the nearest century) for the seal, and the seal was unprovenanced to begin with.
With all of this uncertainty about the seal, it’s pointless to use the seal as evidence for Jezebel’s predilections, and completely unfounded to use those supposed predilections in historical reconstruction, especially radical chronological revisionism.
Johnny, not to be outdone, responds vigorously (on 23 May 2008 at 7:50 pm Johnny CG), but it is a bit of a rave.
Adam makes some further sense here:
As discussed in my comment dated May 13, 2008, above, the proposed seal of Jezebel has three symbols on it linked to Queen Tiye. Even if the YZBL seal did not belong to Queen Jezebel of Israel, but were from the 9th century BCE, it could still be seen as one of many items of evidence supporting the conclusion that Queen Tiye and Amenhotep III lived in the 9th century BCE.
I highly recommend that interested scholars and laypersons read the pioneer work ‘Ages in Chaos’ by Immanuel Velikovsky and also read those chapters of Emmet Sweeney’s 2006 ‘Empire of Thebes’ discussing Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, and the Amarna letters. While I do not agree with some of Velikovsky’s and Sweeney’s conclusions, I think that Velikovsky was right in some major aspects of his reconstruction of ancient history. I think probably that Velikovsky was right that Hatshepsut was the ‘Queen of Sheba’ who visited Solomon and that Thutmose III, sometimes called the Napoleon of Egypt, was the biblical Shishak. Indeed it may have been in part desire for the wealth of Kadesh-Jerusalem (it appears that Thutmose III referred to Jerusalem by the name Kadesh meaning ‘holy’) that inspired Thutmose III’s unprecedented program of conquest. Within only a few months after becoming sole ruler of Egypt, Thutmose III’s army invaded Palestine. Thutmose III basically proceeded to transform Egypt from a country into an empire, with wealth in tribute from abroad flowing into its coffers. Sweeney’s ‘Empire of Thebes’ adds to the evidence supporting the Hatshepsut-‘Queen of Sheba’ identification and the Thutmose III-Shishak identification. Sweeney’s book also seems to contain some good information relating to the Amarna letters though I am not in agreement with some of his suggestions. I still highly recommend Sweeney’s book though for its excellent chapters discussing Hatshepsut and Thutmose III.
I understand that archaeologists have found little pottery that can be definitively dated to 10th century BCE Jerusalem, despite the extensive detailed information on the fairly sophisticated state in ancient Israel that Books of Kings and Chronicles attribute to the time of Solomon. Even if some of the statements in the Bible on Solomon’s reign are not correct, one would still expect that in Solomon’s time Jerusalem was a fairly cosmopolitan city and that there was much trade and building construction and artistic development in ancient Israel in the time of Solomon. Yet it has been argued that the Jerusalem of Solomon’s time was a ‘cow town’ and that Solomon was a mere ‘hill country chieftain’. I think that the probable reason for the difficulty of finding material remains from Solomon’s time is that probably, plenty of such material remains have been found but they have mostly been misdated and misinterpreted in accordance with the conventional chronology of ancient Egypt. Velikovsky’s ‘Ages in Chaos’ points to an Egyptian depiction of what are probably Jewish objets d’art of the 10th century BCE that have been dated almost six centuries too early and misidentified as Canaanite. These objects were depicted on a wall in Karnak by artists of Thutmose III and probably include works of art from Solomon’s Temple that are described in detail in the Books of Kings and Chronicles. Scholars have praised Canaanite civilization because of these objects, deducing that these objects were the product of an astounding civilization, and apparently not realizing that the ‘astounding civilization’ was probably not Canaanite but Israelite. Velikovsky found that if certain Egyptian dynasties are redated forward in time by three to eight centuries, they fit more convincingly with Hebrew and Greek histories. Velikovsky identified Thutmose III as the biblical Shishak who took away the treasures of Solomon’s Temple in the fifth year of Rehoboam. ….
If one identifies Thutmose III as the biblical Shishak, who apparently invaded Palestine around 927 BCE, then assuming conventional lengths of the reigns of 18th Dynasty rulers after Thutmose III, one finds that Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye must have lived in the ninth century BCE. And that they were contemporaries of Queen Jezebel.
Having now the evidence of Queen Jezebel’s seal greatly strengthening my extremely controversial view that Jezebel (= Nefertiti) - already controversial enough - was also Queen Tiy (Tiye), I can now move on to the second part of this article, to provide further evidence for my (perhaps even more controversial still) view that this most powerful and evil (composite) queen was the same as the legendary Queen Semiramis.
The information for this section will be taken from Donald A. Mackenzie’s Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, which he prefaces with this note:
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
2. The Assyro-Babylonian Correlation
“Queen Sammu-rammat of Assyria, like Tiy of Egypt, is associated with social and religious innovations. She was the first, and, indeed, the only Assyrian royal lady, to be referred to on equal terms with her royal husband in official inscriptions”.
My reconstruction of EA (Akhnaton and Nefertiti/Tiy) in its relation to the time of Ahab and Jezebel has led me to conclude that the Baalism that the Bible records at this time was reflected in the Atonism of, principally, Akhetaton in Egypt, and that the erasure of that Baalism was done through the same agency that defaced and erased Akhnaton and his unique project.
Now I learn from Mackenzie’s article that a similar régime as Akhnaton’s was effected in Assyro-Babylonia at the time of Adad-nirari III (or IV: Mackenzie), with the legendary Queen Sammuramat (or Semiramis) having unique power for a woman, likened (once more, as in the case of the Jezebel seal) to Queen Tiy. My conclusion will be that Sammuramat was Nefertiti/Tiy (Jezebel) in Mesopotamia. This means that her son, Adad-nirari III (and Mackenzie comes close to Velikovsky’s view of royal mother and wife: “Sammurammat may therefore have been his mother. She could have been called his "wife" in the mythological sense, the king having become "husband of his mother"), was Akhnaton himself.
The father, Shamsi-Adad V, is possibly, then, the biblical Omri.
Anyway, if this period of Nebo worship can be anchored to the era of Akhnaton and Nefertiti/Tiy (Ahab and Jezebel), then it is going to require a radical scrutiny of an already radically revised Assyro-Babyonian history.
I shall take such sections from Mackenzie’s
Chapter XVIII. The Age of Semiramis
that both give the reader an idea of the life and legends associated with Queen Semiramis, and - more importantly - provide Mackenzie’s fascinating comparisons with EA:
…. One of the most interesting figures in Mesopotamian history came into prominence during the Assyrian Middle Empire period. This was the famous Sammu-rammat, the Babylonian wife of an Assyrian ruler. Like Sargon of Akkad, Alexander the Great, and Dietrich von Bern, she made, by reason of her achievements and influence, a deep impression on the popular imagination, and as these monarchs became identified in tradition with gods of war and fertility, she had attached to her memory the myths associated with the mother goddess of love and battle who presided over the destinies of mankind. In her character as the legendary Semiramis of Greek literature, the Assyrian queen was reputed to have been the daughter of Derceto, the dove and fish goddess of Askalon, and to have departed from earth in bird form.
It is not quite certain whether Sammu-rammat was the wife of Shamshi-Adad VII or of his son, Adad-nirari IV. Before the former monarch reduced Babylonia to the status of an Assyrian province, he had signed a treaty of peace with its king, and it is suggested that it was confirmed by a matrimonial alliance. This treaty was repudiated by King Bau-akh-iddina, who was transported with his palace treasures to Assyria.
As Sammu-rammat was evidently a royal princess of Babylonia, it seems probable that her marriage was arranged with purpose to legitimatize the succession of the Assyrian overlords to the Babylonian throne. The principle of "mother right" was ever popular in those countries where the worship of the Great Mother was perpetuated if not in official at any rate in domestic religion. Not a few Egyptian Pharaohs reigned as husbands or as sons of royal ladies. Succession by the female line was also observed among the Hittites. When Hattusil II gave his daughter in marriage to Putakhi, king of the Amorites, he inserted a clause in the treaty of alliance "to the effect that the sovereignty over the Amorite should belong to the son and descendants of his daughter for evermore".
As queen or queen-mother, Sammu-rammat occupied as prominent a position in Assyria as did Queen Tiy of Egypt during the lifetime of her husband, Amenhotep III, and the early part of the reign of her son, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton). The Tell-el-Amarna letters testify to Tiy's influence in the Egyptian "Foreign Office", and we know that at home she was joint ruler with her husband and took part with him in public ceremonials. During their reign a temple was erected to the mother goddess Mut, and beside it was formed a great lake on which sailed the "barque of Aton" in connection with mysterious religious ceremonials. After Akhenaton's religious revolt was inaugurated, the worship of Mut was discontinued and Tiy went into retirement. In Akhenaton's time the vulture symbol of the goddess Mut did not appear above the sculptured figures of royalty.
What connection the god Aton had with Mut during the period of the Tiy regime remains obscure. There is no evidence that Aton was first exalted as the son of the Great Mother goddess, although this is not improbable.
Queen Sammu-rammat of Assyria, like Tiy of Egypt, is associated with social and religious innovations. She was the first, and, indeed, the only Assyrian royal lady, to be referred to on equal terms with her royal husband in official inscriptions. In a dedication to the god Nebo, that deity is reputed to be the protector of "the life of Adad-nirari, king of the land of Ashur, his lord, and the life of Sammu-rammat, she of the palace, his lady".
During the reign of Adad-nirari IV the Assyrian Court radiated Babylonian culture and traditions. The king not only recorded his descent from the first Shalmaneser, but also claimed to be a descendant of Bel-kap-kapu, an earlier, but, to us, unknown, Babylonian monarch than "Sulili", i.e. Sumu-la-ilu, the great-great-grandfather of Hammurabi. Bel-kap-kapu was reputed to have been an overlord of Assyria.
Apparently Adad-nirari desired to be regarded as the legitimate heir to the thrones of Assyria and Babylonia. His claim upon the latter country must have had a substantial basis. It is not too much to assume that he was a son of a princess of its ancient royal family. Sammurammat may therefore have been his mother. She could have been called his "wife" in the mythological sense, the king having become "husband of his mother". If such was the case, the royal pair probably posed as the high priest and high priestess of the ancient goddess cult--the incarnations of the Great Mother and the son who displaced his sire.
The worship of the Great Mother was the popular religion of the indigenous peoples of western Asia, including parts of Asia Minor, Egypt, and southern and western Europe. It appears to have been closely associated with agricultural rites practised among representative communities of the Mediterranean race. In Babylonia and Assyria the peoples of the goddess cult fused with the peoples of the god cult, but the prominence maintained by Ishtar, who absorbed many of the old mother deities, testifies to the persistence of immemorial habits of thought and antique religious ceremonials among the descendants of the earliest settlers in the Tigro-Euphrates valley. ….
It must be recognized, in this connection, that an official religion was not always a full reflection of popular beliefs. In all the great civilizations of antiquity it was invariably a compromise between the beliefs of the military aristocracy and the masses of mingled peoples over whom they held sway. Temple worship had therefore a political aspect; it was intended, among other things, to strengthen the position of the ruling classes. But ancient deities could still be worshipped, and were worshipped, in homes and fields, in groves and on mountain tops, as the case might be. Jeremiah has testified to the persistence of the folk practices in connection with the worship of the mother goddess among the inhabitants of Palestine. Sacrificial fires were lit and cakes were baked and offered to the "Queen of Heaven" in the streets of Jerusalem and other cities. In Babylonia and Egypt domestic religious practices were never completely supplanted by temple ceremonies in which rulers took a prominent part. It was always possible, therefore, for usurpers to make popular appeal by reviving ancient and persistent forms of worship. As we have seen, Jehu of Israel, after stamping out Phoenician Baal worship, secured a strong following by giving official recognition to the cult of the golden calf.
It is not possible to set forth in detail, or with intimate knowledge, the various innovations which Sammu-rammat introduced, or with which she was credited, during the reigns of Adad-nirari IV (810-782 B.C.) and his father. No discovery has been made of documents like the Tell-el-Amarna "letters", which would shed light on the social and political life of this interesting period.
…. The prominence given to Nebo, the god of Borsippa, during the reign of Adad-nirari IV is highly significant. He appears in his later character as a god of culture and wisdom, the patron of scribes and artists, and the wise counsellor of the deities. He symbolized the intellectual life of the southern kingdom, which was more closely associated with religious ethics than that of war-loving Assyria.
A great temple was erected to Nebo at Kalkhi, and four statues of him were placed within it, two of which are now in the British Museum. On one of these was cut the inscription, from which we have quoted, lauding the exalted and wise deity and invoking him to protect Adad-nirari and the lady of the palace, Sammu-rammat, and closing with the exhortation, "Whoso cometh in after time, let him trust in Nebo and trust in no other god".
The priests of Ashur in the city of Asshur must have been as deeply stirred by this religious revolt at Kalkhi as were the priests of Amon when Akhenaton turned his back on Thebes and the national god to worship Aton in his new capital at Tell-el-Amarna.
It would appear that this sudden stream of Babylonian culture had begun to flow into Assyria as early as the reign of Shalmaneser III, and it may be that it was on account of that monarch's pro-Babylonian tendencies that his nobles and priests revolted against him. Shalmaneser established at Kalkhi a royal library which was stocked with the literature of the southern kingdom. During the reign of Adad-nirari IV this collection was greatly increased, and subsequent additions were made to it by his successors, and especially Ashur-nirari IV, the last monarch of the Middle Empire. The inscriptions of Shamshi-Adad, son of Shalmaneser III, have literary qualities which distinguish them from those of his predecessors, and may be accounted for by the influence exercised by Babylonian scholars who migrated northward.
To the reign of Adad-nirari belongs also that important compilation the "Synchronistic History of Assyria and Babylonia", which deals with the relations of the two kingdoms and refers to contemporary events and rulers.
The legends of Semiramis indicate that Sammu-rammat was associated like Queen Tiy with the revival of mother worship. As we have said, she went down to tradition as the daughter of the fish goddess, Derceto. Pliny identified that deity with Atargatis of Hierapolis.
In Babylonia the fish goddess was Nina, a developed form of Damkina, spouse of Ea of Eridu. In the inscription on the Nebo statue, that god is referred to as the "son of Nudimmud" (Ea). Nina was the goddess who gave her name to Nineveh, and it is possible that Nebo may have been regarded as her son during the Semiramis period.
The story of Semiramis's birth is evidently of great antiquity. It seems to survive throughout Europe in the nursery tale of the "Babes in the Wood". A striking Indian parallel is afforded by the legend of Shakuntala, which may be first referred to for the purpose of comparative study. Shakuntala was the daughter of the rishi, Viswamitra, and Menaka, the Apsara (celestial fairy). Menaka gave birth to her child beside the sacred river Malini. "And she cast the new-born infant on the bank of that river and went away. And beholding the newborn infant lying in that forest destitute of human beings but abounding with lions and tigers, a number of vultures sat around to protect it from harm." A sage discovered the child and adopted her. "Because", he said, "she was surrounded by Shakuntas (birds), therefore hath she been named by me Shakuntala (bird protected)."
Semiramis was similarly deserted at birth by her Celestial mother. She was protected by doves, and her Assyrian name, Sammu-rammat, is believed to be derived from "Summat"--"dove", and to signify "the dove goddess loveth her". Simmas, the chief of royal shepherds, found the child and adopted her. She was of great beauty like Shakuntala, the maiden of "perfect symmetry", "sweet smiles", and "faultless features", with whom King Dushyanta fell in love and married in Gandharva fashion.
Semiramis became the wife of Onnes, governor of Nineveh, and one of the generals of its alleged founder, King Ninus. She accompanied her husband to Bactria on a military campaign, and is said to have instructed the king how that city should be taken. Ninus fell in love with Semiramis, and Onnes, who refused to give her up, went and hanged himself. The fair courtesan then became the wife of the king.
The story proceeds that Semiramis exercised so great an influence over the impressionable King Ninus, that she persuaded him to proclaim her Queen of Assyria for five days. She then ascended the throne decked in royal robes. On the first day she gave a great banquet, and on the second thrust Ninus into prison, or had him put to death. In this manner she secured the empire for herself. She reigned for over forty years.
Professor Frazer inclines to the view that the legend is a reminiscence of the custom of appointing a mock king and queen to whom the kingdom was yielded up for five days. Semiramis played the part of the mother goddess, and the priestly king died a violent death in the character of her divine lover. "The mounds of Semiramis which were pointed out all over Western Asia were said to have been the graves of her lovers whom she buried alive.... This tradition is one of the surest indications of the identity of the mythical Semiramis with the Babylonian goddess Ishtar or Astarte." As we have seen, Ishtar and other mother goddesses had many lovers whom they deserted like La Belle Dame sans Merci (pp. 174-175).
As Queen of Assyria, Semiramis was said to have cut roads through mountainous districts and erected many buildings. According to one version of the legend she founded the city of Babylon. Herodotus, however, says in this connection: "Semiramis held the throne for five generations before the later princess (Nitocris).... She raised certain embankments, well worthy of inspection, in the plain near Babylon, to control the river (Euphrates), which, till then, used to overflow and flood the whole country round about." Lucian, who associates the famous queen with "mighty works in Asia", states that she was reputed by some to be the builder of the ancient temple of Aphrodite in the Libanus, although others credited it to Cinyras, or Deukalion. Several Median places bear her name, and according to ancient Armenian tradition she was the founder of Van, which was formerly called "Shamiramagerd". Strabo tells that unidentified mountains in Western Asia were named after Semiramis. Indeed, many of the great works in the Tigro-Euphrates valley, not excepting the famous inscription of Darius, were credited to the legendary queen of Babylonia and Assyria. She was the rival in tradition of the famous Sesostris of Egypt as a ruler, builder, and conqueror.
All the military expeditions of Semiramis were attended with success, except her invasion of India. She was supposed to have been defeated in the Punjab. After suffering this disaster she died, or abdicated the throne in favour of her son Ninyas. The most archaic form of the legend appears to be that she was turned into a dove and took flight to heaven in that form. After her death she was worshipped as a dove goddess like "Our Lady of Trees and Doves" in Cyprus, whose shrine at old Paphos was founded, Herodotus says, by Phoenician colonists from Askalon. Fish and doves were sacred to Derceto (Attar), who had a mermaid form. "I have beheld", says Lucian, "the image of Derceto in Phoenicia. A marvellous spectacle it is. One half is a woman, but the part which extends from thighs to feet terminates with the tail of a fish."
Derceto was supposed to have been a woman who threw herself in despair into a lake. After death she was adored as a goddess and her worshippers abstained from eating fish, except sacrificially. A golden image of a fish was suspended in her temple. Atargatis, who was identical with Derceto, was reputed in another form of the legend to have been born of an egg which the sacred fishes found in the Euphrates and thrust ashore (p. 28).
From the evidence afforded by the Semiramis legends and the inscriptions of the latter half of the Assyrian Middle Empire period, it may be inferred that a renascence of "mother worship" was favoured by the social and political changes which were taking place. In the first place the influence of Babylon must have been strongly felt in this connection. The fact that Adadnirari found it necessary to win the support of the Babylonians by proclaiming his descent from one of their ancient royal families, suggests that he was not only concerned about the attitude assumed by the scholars of the southern kingdom, but also that of the masses of old Sumerian and Akkadian stocks who continued to bake cakes to the Queen of Heaven so as to ensure good harvests. In the second place it is not improbable that even in Assyria the introduction of Nebo and his spouse made widespread appeal. That country had become largely peopled by an alien population; many of these aliens came from districts where "mother worship" prevailed, and had no traditional respect for Ashur, while they regarded with hostility the military aristocracy who conquered and ruled in the name of that dreaded deity. Perhaps, too, the influence of the Aramaeans, who in Babylonia wrecked the temples of the sun god, tended to revive the ancient religion of the Mediterranean race. Jehu's religious revolt in Israel, which established once again the cult of Ashtoreth [???], occurred after he came under the sway of Damascus, and may have not been unconnected with the political ascendancy elsewhere of the goddess cult.
Nebo, whom Adad-nirari exalted at Kalkhi, was more than a local god of Borsippa. "The most satisfactory view", says Jastrow, "is to regard him as a counterpart of Ea. Like Ea, he is the embodiment and source of wisdom.... The study of the heavens formed part of the wisdom which is traced back to Nebo, and the temple school at Borsippa became one of the chief centres for the astrological, and, subsequently, for the astronomical lore of Babylonia.... Like Nebo, Ea is also associated with the irrigation of the fields and with their consequent fertility. A hymn praises him as the one who fills the canals and the dikes, who protects the fields and brings the crops to maturity." Nebo links with Merodach (Marduk), who is sometimes referred to as his father. Jastrow assumes that the close partnership between Nebo and Merodach "had as a consequence a transfer of some of the father Marduk's attributes as a solar deity to Nebo, his son, just as Ea passed his traits on to his son, Marduk".
As the "recorder" or "scribe" among the gods, Nebo resembles the Egyptian god Thoth, who links with Khonsu, the lunar and spring sun god of love and fertility, and with Osiris. In Borsippa he had, like Merodach in Babylon, pronounced Tammuz traits. Nebo, in fact, appears to be the Tammuz of the new age, the son of the ancient goddess, who became "Husband of his Mother". If Nebo had no connection with Great Mother worship, it is unlikely that his statue would have borne an inscription referring to King Adad-nirari and Queen Sammu-rammat on equal terms. The Assyrian spouse of Nebo was called Tashmit. This "goddess of supplication and love" had a lunar significance.
The multiplication of well-defined goddesses was partly due to the tendency to symbolize the attributes of the Great Mother, and partly due to the development of the great "Lady" in a particular district where she reflected local phenomena and where the political influence achieved by her worshippers emphasized her greatness. Legends regarding a famous goddess were in time attached to other goddesses, and in Aphrodite and Derceto we appear to have mother deities who absorbed the traditions of more than one local "lady" of river and plain, forest and mountain. Semiramis, on the other hand, survived as a link between the old world and the new, between the country from which emanated the stream of ancient culture and the regions which received it. As the high priestess of the cult, she became identified with the goddess whose bird name she bore, as Gilgamesh and Etana became identified with the primitive culture-hero or patriarch of the ancient Sumerians, and Sargon became identified with Tammuz. No doubt the fame of Semiramis was specially emphasized because of her close association, as Queen Sammu-rammat, with the religious innovations which disturbed the land of the god Ashur during the Middle Empire period.
Adad-nirari IV, the son or husband of Sammu-rammat, was a vigorous and successful campaigner. …. Although it is not possible to give a detailed account of his various expeditions, we find from the list of these which survives in the Eponym Chronicle that he included in the Assyrian Empire a larger extent of territory than any of his predecessors. In the north-east he overcame the Median and other tribes, and acquired a large portion of the Iranian plateau; he compelled Edom to pay tribute, and established his hold in Babylonia by restricting the power of the Chaldaeans in Sealand. In the north he swayed--at least, so he claimed--the wide domains of the Nairi people. He also confirmed his supremacy over the Hittites.
The Aramaean state of Damascus, which had withstood the attack of the great Shalmaneser and afterwards oppressed, as we have seen, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, was completely overpowered by Adad-nirari.
…. The Syrian ruler appears to have been taken by surprise; probably his kingdom was suffering from the three defeats which had been previously administered by the revolting Israelites. At any rate Mari was unable to gather together an army of allies to resist the Assyrian advance, and took refuge behind the walls of Damascus. This strongly fortified city was closely invested, and Mari had at length to submit and acknowledge Adad-nirari as his overlord. The price of peace included 23,000 talents of silver, 20 of gold, 3000 of copper, and 5000 of iron, as well as ivory ornaments and furniture, embroidered materials, and other goods "to a countless amount". …. It is not certain whether Adad-nirari penetrated farther than Damascus. Possibly all the states which owed allegiance to the king of that city became at once the willing vassals of Assyria, their protector. The tribute received by Adad-nirari from Tyre, Sidon, the land of Omri (Israel), Edom, and Palastu (Philistia) may have been gifted as a formal acknowledgment of his suzerainty and with purpose to bring them directly under Assyrian control, so that Damascus might be prevented from taking vengeance against them.
During the reign of Shamshi-Adad the Assyrians came into conflict with the Urarti, who were governed at the time by "Ushpina of Nairi" (Ishpuinis, son of Sharduris II). The Urartian kingdom had extended rapidly and bordered on Assyrian territory. To the west were the tribes known as the Mannai, the northern enemies of the Medes, a people of Indo-European speech.
When Adad-nirari IV waged war against the Urarti, their king was Menuas, the son of Ishpuinis. Menuas was a great war-lord, and was able to measure his strength against Assyria on equal terms. He had nearly doubled by conquest the area controlled by his predecessors. Adad-nirari endeavoured to drive his rival northward, but all along the Assyrian frontier from the Euphrates to the Lower Zab, Menuas forced the outposts of Adad-nirari to retreat southward. The Assyrians, in short, were unable to hold their own.
Having extended his kingdom towards the south, Menuas invaded Hittite territory, subdued Malatia and compelled its king to pay tribute. He also conquered the Mannai and other tribes. Towards the north and north-west he added a considerable area to his kingdom, which became as large as Assyria.
Menuas's capital was the city of Turushpa or Dhuspas (Van), which was called Khaldinas after the national god. For a century it was the seat of Urartian administration. The buildings erected there by Menuas and his successors became associated in after-time with the traditions of Semiramis, who, as Queen Sammu-rammat of Assyria, was a contemporary of the great Urartian conqueror. Similarly a sculptured representation of the Hittite god was referred to by Herodotus as a memorial of the Egyptian king Sesostris.
The strongest fortification at Dhuspas was the citadel, which was erected on a rocky promontory jutting into Lake Van. A small garrison could there resist a prolonged siege. The water supply of the city was assured by the construction of subterranean aqueducts. Menuas erected a magnificent palace, which rivalled that of the Assyrian monarch at Kalkhi, and furnished it with the rich booty brought back from victorious campaigns. He was a lover of trees and planted many, and he laid out gardens which bloomed with brilliant Asian flowers. The palace commanded a noble prospect of hill and valley scenery on the south-western shore of beautiful Lake Van.
Menuas was succeeded by his son Argistis, who ascended the throne during the lifetime of Adad-nirari of Assyria. During the early part of his reign he conducted military expeditions to the north beyond the river Araxes. He afterwards came into conflict with Assyria, and acquired more territory on its northern frontier. He also subdued the Mannai, who had risen in revolt.
Ashur-nirari IV [Adad-nirari III?] appears to have been a monarch of somewhat like character to the famous Akhenaton of Egypt--an idealist for whom war had no attractions. He kept his army at home while his foreign possessions rose in revolt one after another. Apparently he had dreams of guarding Assyria against attack by means of treaties of peace. He arranged one with a Mesopotamian king, Mati-ilu of Agusi, who pledged himself not to go to war without the consent of his Assyrian overlord, and it is possible that there were other documents of like character which have not survived to us. During his leisure hours the king engaged himself in studious pursuits and made additions to the royal library. …. Ashur-nirari IV was the last king of the Middle Empire of Assyria. He may have been a man of high character and refinement and worthy of our esteem, although an unsuitable ruler for a predatory State.
19th December 2011