Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Solar Jewelry - Mary Cahill

"Here Comes the Sun" is a short article by Mary Cahill in the Spring 2015 Archaeology Ireland




Many items manufactured by Beakers, whether it was houses, jet buttons, boar's tusks or pottery, in some way incorporate explicit or metaphoric associations with solar religion.  This article looks at some of those associations found in Beaker gold.

One very plausible possibility is that lunulae represent solar boats, which may represent the moon as well.  The Brone Age Nebra sky disk from Saxony-Anhalt is one of several examples showing a solar boat transitioning across the sky.

Nebra Sky Disk with Solar Boat (Unetice Culture)

Solar crosses are prominent in Beaker gold.  They also are found in various forms of beaker pottery in several regions.  Considering the bottom of bell beakers is this quote from Kristiansen:

"...Kristian Kristiansen (2011, 153) has remarked that, when the cups are raised to the
mouth, the sun would be seen to rise metaphorically as the image became visible."
This is especially meaningful when considering the content of the beaker.  I've made several posts concerning the discovery of Hyoscyamus niger (the herb of Apollo Helios) in a Ciempozuelos beer beaker, also found with regularity throughout Bronze Age Europe.

Solar crosses, probably sewn to clothing.
Continuing with Greek mythology as a proxy, it's possible to further unpack the metaphoric meanings of certain grave items.  For example, Selena Artemis (the moon) is, like her sun god brother, uniquely associated with archery.  Her bow was symbolic of the moon and also being the huntress, associated with wild boars (presumably due to the crescent tusks).

The similarity in decoration of Central European boar's tusk pendants and Atlantic lunulae is quite evident.  However, the development of lunulae from boar's tusks might be demonstrated in Chalcolithic Portugal as well.  (Valera, 2010 another interesting paper)

One passing comment about the solar crosses.  In this article, Cahill suggests that the cross represents the halo of the sun (very plausible or most plausible)  Another possibility that may be also true is that the four spoke wheel had become common enough to become known by this time in Europe.  This is important because by the Iron Age the chariot becomes the vehicle of solar movement in many religions.

More on jewelry to come...

Archaeology Ireland, Spring 2015 issue [here]

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  5. Gorgeous YELLOW gold Beaker jewelry! The designs on the neck ring remind me of Hallstatt Culture designs. I've seen Corded Ware Culture shell artifacts(online) with the solar cross and CWC shell artifacts with an all over pattern(perhaps a night sky design)

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