Thursday, August 2, 2018

Moonmen from Far Away?

What genders were the primary solar and lunar deities of the Bell Beaker Culture?
It's generally agreed that among the gods worshiped by PIE's, two prominent gods were a solar goddess (*suh2lio-) and a lunar god (*Meh1not-).  These assignments were in opposition to the Mediterranean Basin where gender roles of the sun and moon were reversed, and different from the basque religion which apparently lacked opposing genders in favor of female celestial deities.

Proto-historical descriptions of the far north and northwest raise the possibility that this region at one time concentrated attention toward a feminine solar figure.  Because of the implications of steppe-like ancestry, let's re-examine the gendered artifacts that suggest celestial dualism.

Boar's tusk pendants as worn
It is only with men where we find the bone-colored, lunar pendants associated with many Continental European Beakers.  In previous posts, Greek mythology was used to interpret their suggestive values because it is better attested.  And while the attributes are sensible, there is some residual evidence that the original Proto-Greek moon god was instead male.  Do these masculine tusk artifacts point to the veneration of a god?

Is the down-facing position of these tusks in someway suggestive?  Maybe not, but have a look at the inverted, feminine lunulae and then compare to the representation of the goddess Nut and her consort, Geb.

via National Museum of Wales

Solar-boat lunulae were probably by women due to their geographical opposition to jet-bead lunulae in Britain.  At least in the far north of Europe, it might make more sense to see a goddess driving a solar-boat full of dead people than a male god like Ra.  Plus, we have many respectable warriors buried with the complete "man's room" - never this golden boat.

Excluding men's basket earrings*, the later golden solar hats and cape of the EMBA appear to be associated with women based on body and head sizes.  Though the phallic hats would seem rude for goddess worship, as Sulis was patroness of fertility, rude may have been the order of business.

man things and woman things

The metaphor of the wolf-tooth necklaces might make a little more sense when looking at wolf-teeth and bi-valve spring shell necklaces of Corded Ware women (might she be associated with springs like Bath?).  Maybe a more direct understanding of these necklaces could be made with Saule from the Baltic religions.  All this is just food for thought.  There's a lot of contradictions that can be seen.

Marian Catholics of both genders often were a gold cross or Marian medallion.  Obviously Beakers of both genders are worshiping the same gods in ways that are similar and different.

*Until another idea takes its place, I proposed the idea that basket earrings were attached to quills.  Based on the shaped of the missing Kirkhaugh half, raptor quills that men wore in their headband.
I have no idea what that means.


  1. Are the artifacts known as lunulae because we have certain evidence that they were meant to represent the crescent moon, or because we think they look like the crescent moon?

    1. The gold lunulae were called that by British antiquarians (Joan J. Taylor, 1980 "Early Bronze Age Technology and Trade") But like 'basket earrings', its more of an outdated name. They might be more accurately called solar boats, but that is only a guess too.


      Some of the concepts are extrapolations from the Iron Age, like the solar cross. It makes sense that the meaning is the same, but it cannot be conclusively known without written evidence.

      Bow-shaped pendants, which are a kind of lunulae, were coined by Stuart Piggott, I believe. They often appear over the pectoral or on the hip. It's thought they were worn as an amulet. However, this is all subjective. I've suggested also that maybe some of these were the lip of a CE quiver, which is why they are opposed to, and geographically opposed to toggles, which may reflect a kind of English longbow tubular quiver.

      Again, it's all very subjective and I find myself questioning previous thoughts and competing theories.

    2. Actually, that was Andrew Fitzpatrick who proposed that they were parts of a quiver and I agreed with his assessment here:

      Another thought that came to mind is that you'll notice that the Central European boar's tusks are decorated like the Meare Heath bow, banded and compounding (not a compound bow). Whereas toggles in the Atlantic may be lid flap toggles on longbow arrows.

      Interesting to note that when boar's tusk are found in the Atlantic, they are undecorated (without the Meare Heath bands if you wanted to go that far). In a way you could be very imaginative and wonder if this reflects a geographical preference for the plain Atlantic longbow, even when we find immigrants from Central Europe like the Amesbury archer. Were his tusks bag lips?

    3. If I were asked to explain the design of the pendant shown around the woman's neck in the picture above, I'd say that the malleability of gold allows it to be hammered thin, and this fact allows a more showy display than, for instance, a torq. And if it's going to be used around the neck, then the display is most important on its forward-facing side. Thus, wide in the front, narrow in the back.

  2. As for the sun and the moon we should consider the fact that sun was regarded as the eye of zeus

    Although the sun was personified as an independent, female deity, the Proto-Indo-Europeans also visualized the sun as the eye of *Dyḗus Pḥatḗr, as seen in various reflexes: Helios as the eye of Zeus,[45][46] Hvare-khshaeta as the eye of Ahura Mazda, and the sun as "God's eye" in Romanian folklore.

    One thing is for sure: sun and moon cult tells of an agricultural origin of this kind of religion. Another proof that IE religion and culture was mainly formed inside a world of farmers.

    1. "Another proof that IE religion and culture was mainly formed inside a world of farmers."

      This is a pretty important insight, particularly given the fact that a lot of the candidates for a PIE culture (but not all of them) were predominantly herders rather than farmers, and the possibility otherwise that PIE religion could have hunter-gatherer antecedents.

    2. "PIE religion could have hunter-gatherer antecedents"

      I've wondered if these two are indeed vestiges of an older pre-Neolithic religion in the Volgan forrest steppe. A pleasant, female sun goddess is out of step for the Near East, but makes perfect sense if icy nip-locked in Southern Russia.

      Egyptians getting their pepperonis roasted in the hot sun obviously see the sun as a pissed off male, same with the entire region. Semetic gods are and interesting exception.

      I can say that the inverse was true in Italy and Greece as the natives resisted the genders of these two PIE gods, or at least the native gods competed then superceeded Sulis and Menno in importance and were totally grafted into the old personas.