Archive for Assyrians

Heaven in Turmoil

Posted in agnoticism, Astronomy, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, culture, faith, history, life, prehistory, random, religion, science, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2010 by chouck017894

Curiosities abound throughout the “authorized” accounts of humankind’s history.  Few, however, are as baffling as to why the celestial body we know as planet Venus suddenly became the object of worldwide attention around the general timeframe 1650-1600 BCE.  In this timeframe the Babylonians were well-schooled in mathematics, calculations, algebra, and quadratic equations, and they had become increasingly nervous about disturbances taking place in the heavens.  Astronomical records were being kept in the reign of Ammisaduga, and from these it is clear that astronomers were fully aware that the routine rotation of stars around Earth was an illusion that was caused by Earth revolving on it own axis.  The plotting of heavenly mechanics such as the equinoxes and solstices were routine to them. 

So it was a situation of uneasiness to witness the looming presence in the sky of an unknown celestial object—especially since its presence coincided with an alteration in Earth’s rotation and tilt.  And there was also the small matter of the volcanic mountain Stroggili on the Isle of Thera (Santorin) having erupted in the Mediterranean—one of the planet’s oversized volcanic eruptions.  It was in this period that the new celestial entity began being addressed as a deity—a goddess of awesome beauty and terrifying power—an awe and fear that would possess the people of the world for many generations.  Indeed, this period of frightening and dramatic celestial changes is attested to in later Roman literature, such as the book Of The Race of the Roman People by Marcus Varro.  In this book the author related that the planet we know as Venus had “…changed its color, size , form, course, which had not happened before nor since…”  Varro backed up his account saying that renowned astronomers affirmed that the event had indeed happened to the “Morning star,” and it had never happened before or  since.  Varro also noted, “…we read from the divine books that even the sun itself stood still when a holy man Joshua, the son of Nun, had begged this from God.”  Let us note here that even “saint”  Augustine quoted from this man’s book. 

The timeframe in question here, c. 1600s BCE, is another period that has often been accepted as the period-setting for the Exodus story—as well as being the “time of Agog,” who allegedly laid the foundation of Thebes (Egypt).  It can be understood how recollections of such chaotic events could be confused, condensed and intermingled by later historians.  There is, as example, a Samaritan chronicle that relates that during the time period in which Joshua supposedly led an invasion into Canaan a new star was born in the east.   If this star-birth event took place in the time allotted to Joshua, then it predates the timeframe for the Moses tale by centuries.  The Samaritan account of the new star said it held power “against which all magic is vain.”  That pretty much discredits the claim that Joshua had any influence over the heavenly bombardment that took place. 

Of interest  in connection with this are the findings unearthed by recent archeologists that confirm that events of the Joshua story were in reference to celestial conditions and activities that took place earlier than events that make up the Moses epic.  The later priest-historians at work  in Jerusalem (c. 800 BCE) found it more beneficial to their purpose to reinterpret past events to provide themselves with a history that supported their claim to authority. 

There are other scriptural stories that tell of these heavenly happening and the continuing threats from the heavens that went on for generations.  Approximately fifty-two years after c. 1600 BCE, or around 1548, the celestial body that had so traumatized Earth seems to have emerged out of decades of clouded skies to appear as a radiant new member of the solar family—that is to say it had attained a fairly orderly orbital pattern among the neighboring planets. The Assyrians called the new planet Ishtar: the Greeks called it Aphrodite: the ancient Mexican records name it Quetzalcoatl: and the Romans would call it Venus. 

The heavens were not yet peaceful, however, and Earth had more to endure.  The awe and fear that the new planet still inspired is shown in it being addressed as beautiful but fearsome celestial deity.  Even some 750 years later(c. 800 BCE) the new planet still exerted strong influence upon planet Earth to trigger exogenous disturbances in Earth’s rotation, which coincided with a  reverse in Earth’s magnetic field.  And this is the timeframe of the “prophet” Isaiah who had this to say about the adjustment of the new-neighbor planet: “How art thou fallen from heaven O Lucifer (Venus), son of the morning!  How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12-13)

Even as late as c. 606 BCE, the timeframe of the “prophet” Jeremiah, the inhabitants of Earth were still apprehensive of the orbital irregularities of planets Venus and Mars—for the Venus intrusion had serious effect on the orbit of the once peaceful Mars.  In this period, even in spite of the recent Babylonian invasion and destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews still gave Venus devotion as “queen of heaven” and burned incense and offered wine to her on the roofs of buildings.  Jeremiah was an astronomer, and was portrayed as a “prophet” simply because he could chart the likely times of violent planetary interactions.  Thus in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 44, the account says all the men knew that their wives had burnt incense unto other gods (meaning to Venus).  And the women adamantly continued to “burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our father, our kings, and our  princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem…”

Reference to the heavens once being in disarray can be found in many ancient records and texts.  And even when they are part of accounts deemed sacred there is a peculiar self-inflicted blindness that such planetary caroming through the skies could have once taken place.  Even today’s science denies it.  And the heavens remain indifferent at mankind’s lack of curiosity.

Codes of Conduct

Posted in Atheist, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 22, 2009 by chouck017894

As far back in time as c.2600 BCE a ruler of Sumeria named Urukagina found so mujch immoral activity throughout his empire that it became necessary for him to enact prohibitions against the rampant corruption. The long inscription erected by this ruler for the people to comply with is regarded as the first-ever record of social reform, and the code of conduct that was expected of the people was anchored on an ideal of equality and justice.

A few of the many injustices that Urukagina addressed included the unfair use of their powers by supervisors to take the best of collections for themselves; the abuse of one’s official position; the practice of monopolistic groups to extort unbearable prices on needed goods–in short, the same practices that still taint the religio-political in-crowd of today.

By c.2300 BCE the Assyrian civilization had compounded out of the Babylonian and Hittie cultures, and the Akkadian leader named Sargon I had become the supreme ruler–under the designation as “regent of the god Assur”–his influence being over a broad territory that nonetheless remained dependent upon Babylon. Corruption, as usual, interfered with the ideal of keeping an element of balance in civil affairs. Thus around c.2350 BCE laws were being determined and recorded on clay tablets, laws that were declared to have been presented under the authority of the god Nannar.

Approximately eight hundred and fifty years after the Sumerian code of Urukagina, and some five hundred years after the Assyrian laws (or c.1758 BCE), a Babylonian king named Hammurabi decreed a similar code of justice and set up the means to enforce it. Hammurai’s code was engraved on a block of black diorite that stood nearly eight feet high, and the provisions set forth for the public to read and heed was an effort to protect the weak and the poor against injustices as the hands of the rich and powerful. Interestingly, a bas-relief under the 282 paragraphs of the civil code shows King Hammurabi recieving the code from the god Shamash.

It is upon this code of conduct that the priest-editors of the book of Exodus fashioned the abbreviated version of a code of conduct known as the Ten Commandments, and law (anchored in materiality and civil conduct) became enthroned as the soul and backbone of Judaism–as well as the grafted-on spine of Christianity. And of course, the priest-editors of Exodus written in Jerusalem c.800 BCE declared that the Ten Commandments had been written in stone and handed down to Moses by the god Yahweh.

There is a peculiar uncertainty of approach expressed with the opening lines, for omnipotent power should not be anxious about a possibility of being upstaged. But the first four of the ten directives have no moral instructions but do imply the authority of the priest class. And conspicuously absent from this god-given list is any instruction or requirements on treating all persons fairly in all interactions or transactions. Could this possibly be why fundamentalists periodically campaign to have the Ten Commandments poste in all judicial buildings and other public places?