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MYTHS OF CRETE & PRE-HELLENIC EUROPE

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« Reply #75 on: May 26, 2009, 01:14:11 pm »

have distinct Mousterian characteristics and especially the protruding brow ridges which distinguished the men of the Third Glacial Period.

One skull from Hagiar Kim has negroid traits and appears to link with those found in the Grimaldi cave near Mentone. As has been stated, steatopygous figures have been taken from Neolithic Maltese graves and sanctuaries, a sure indication that the Aurignacian proto-Bushmen were known to the early settlers of the Mediterranean race. Some of these figures are **** and others wear the flounced gown usually called "Cretan", and it is of interest to note here that they are associated among burial relics with perforated axe amulets of polished stone. No Cro-Magnon skulls have been discovered in Malta, but some race quite as tall must have mingled there with the early Neolithic folk. A male skeleton found at Santa Verna measures 5 feet 9 inches in length. "The man was of a noble type," writes an excavator; "he must have stood 6 feet high, his skull is massive and shapely, the jaws and teeth are even and regular, and the limbs powerful." 1 The Mediterranean Neolithic man was of slight build and medium stature.

The earliest Cretans were of the Mediterranean racial type, but among them were alien broad-heads. Ere the Neolithic folks settled on the island they came into contact, apparently, with mountaineers from the north, or descendants of Palæolithic races. Steatopygous figurines have been found in Cretan Neolithic strata.

In Egypt there was no hiatus between the Palæolithic and Neolithic Ages. Not only have steatopygous figurines been found in pre-Dynastic Egyptian and Nubian graves, but also flints which show that the artifacts of the later period were developed from those of the earlier. A


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« Reply #76 on: May 26, 2009, 01:14:23 pm »

reference to the "Smiting of the Troglodytes" on the Palermo stone of the First Dynasty may refer to descendants of the Palæolithic cave-dwellers.

Palestine, the high road from Egypt into eastern Europe, has yielded numerous relics of the early stages of culture. Chellean and Acheulian flints "have been picked up on the maritime plain, in yet greater numbers on the plateau south of Jerusalem, and in considerable quantities in the region to the south of Amman, east of Jordan. Some have also been discovered far to the south, in the region of Petra." Professor Macalister, from whom we quote, notes that "Palæolithic man in Palestine missed, however, the higher developments attained by his brother in France". Mousterian cave-settlements in Phoenicia have yielded characteristic flints and bone instruments, including needles. Dr. Max Blanckenhorn has assigned the date 10,000 B.C. to the earliest Neolithic settlement in this region. Sherds of pottery have been discovered in the Phœnician cave of Harajel "side by side with the bones of extinct fauna, especially the woolly rhinoceros". In the natural Gezer caves of a later age finds have been made of "rude pottery, ornamented with coarse moulding or roughly painted red lines; flint flakes, knives and scrapers; millstones; rounded stone pebbles, that could be used for a variety of purposes-hearth stones; heating stones; missiles; polishers, &c.", and "an amulet or two of bone or slate, perforated for suspension". 1

In France the most remarkable link between the Palæolithic and later ages is formed by the Cro-Magnon racial type which first appeared in the Dordogne valley in the Aurignacian Period, before the Fourth Glacial Epoch. The "most curious and significant trait" of these people


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« Reply #77 on: May 26, 2009, 01:14:33 pm »

is that they have long heads and broad faces: that is, they have skulls with Mediterranean characteristics and faces which resemble those of the broad-headed Armenoids of the mountains. Summarizing the evidence of Dr. Collignon regarding the present-day inhabitants of the Dordogne valley, Professor Ripley says: "The people we have described above agree in physical characteristics with but one other type of men known to anthropologists. This is the celebrated Cro-Magnon race, long ago identified by archæologists as having inhabited the south-west of Europe in prehistoric times." Varieties of the type have occurred owing to the proximity of other races, but it is still common and easily detected. Individuals with the Cro-Magnon skull and "disharmonic face" are also found among present-day Berbers. 1 Skeletons of Cro-Magnon man of the Palæolithic Period have been found as far north as Belgium. Dr. Schliz finds traces at the present time of Cro-Magnon man throughout western Europe, and believes that even the Neanderthal-Spy (Mousterian) type has also left a slight but recognizable impress. 2 The high average stature and weight of the Scottish people, which has long puzzled ethnologists, may be due to a strong Palæolithic intermixture in early Neolithic times. The evidence obtained from the Glasgow graveyard, referred to in the Introduction, is suggestive in this connection.

Interesting evidence has been forthcoming at Mas d'Azil, in France, of the transition period between the late Palæolithic and early Neolithic culture. This stage of culture is called Azilian. It was of long continuance. Artifacts called "Azilian" found in Scotland may have been separated by a considerable period of time from those



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« Reply #78 on: May 26, 2009, 01:14:43 pm »

discovered at Mas d'Azil. Cro-Magnon and Magdalenian men lived through and survived the Fourth Glacial Epoch. Then during the subsequent period of minor oscillations of climate the reindeer and other animals of the chase migrated northwards. These were followed, it would appear, by the huntsmen, a proportion of whom, however, remained behind and adopted new habits of life. As the Cro-Magnon folks of the Dordogne valley had domesticated animals, they no doubt found the struggle for existence in the homeland less arduous than their contemporaries, the small men of Magdalenian culture, who were hunters and fishermen and naught else.

Subsequent to the Fourth Glacial Period there was a re-elevation of land, and the Magdalenian wanderers were able to walk over the bed of the English Channel. The reindeer entered the British Isles also and survived in Scotland until the Middle Ages. A deer-horn implement, carved with a scene of the chase, which was picked up on the slopes of Ben Wyvis, was shown to the writer shortly after it was discovered. It lay for several years in the vestibule of a Dingwall hotel, but unfortunately has gone amissing. It appears to have been a relic of Palæolithic culture of the late period which must be assigned to it in northern Highlands. The carving had Magdalenian characteristics.

Professor James Geikie shows that after the Fourth Glacial Epoch genial conditions prevailed in Scotland. This is the period of the great forests, relics of which are embedded in peat mosses. He terms it "Lower Forestian". A cold period followed and glaciers once again descended from the mountains, and some of these were not melted before they touched the sea. The forests decayed and the peat formed above the great trees which perished as each succeeding winter grew colder and each

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« Reply #79 on: May 26, 2009, 01:14:53 pm »

succeeding summer shorter and wetter. Meanwhile the land sunk and the sea washed round the 45 to 50 feet beaches. Another Inter-glacial Period followed, during which the forests again flourished. It constitutes Geikie's "Upper Forestian" Epoch. The last, or sixth, Glacial Period followed, with its small and local glaciers, during which the land sunk again, and the later peat beds covered great fallen trees. Thereafter the present Age was inaugurated by the raising of the land to more or less its present level with a gradual improvement of the climate.

Traces of man in the Azillan stage of culture have been found in Scotland. 1 The MacArthur cave, which overlooks Oban, was inhabited when the sea was 30 feet above its present level, and the Highland troglodytes--the earliest visitors--who were hunters and fishermen, left behind bone and horn implements, including the Azilian harpoon invented during the Magdalenian stage of culture of the Fourth Glacial Epoch in southern France. At Stirling harpoons of the same type were utilized at a period when whales spouted not far from the castle rock. Of late an interesting cave-dwelling, excavated at Rosemarkie in the Black Isle, has yielded a variety of bone and other implements, and human remains. A large fire-place, with upright smoke-blackened stones and surrounded by a cobbled floor, was laid bare. The cave is situated about 15 feet above the present sea-level.

Associated with these caves and other early settlements, chiefly on the ridges of the old coast-lines, are heaps of shells. These have been found as far north as Caithness. 2

Those early settlers, of the "river-bed" race, are



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« Reply #80 on: May 26, 2009, 01:15:07 pm »

believed to be of the same mixed stock, surviving from Palæolithic times, as the famous "beach-combers" of the Danish "kitchen middens". When the earliest Mediterranean racial pioneers of the Neolithic Age entered these islands, they met and mingled with the troglodytes who are referred to in Gaelic folk-tales. 1

"It may quite well be", says Professor James Geikie, that Neolithic man appeared in southern Europe before Palæolithic man had vanished from the Pyrenean region, and the two races may possibly have here come into contact." Most archæologists have abandoned the old hiatus theory. Dr. Robert Munro argues, after reviewing the latest evidence, that in Europe there was "no break in the continuity of human occupation from late Palæolithic to Neolithic times", and accepts Dr. Keith's view that "Palæolithic blood is as rife in the British people of today as in those of the European continent". 2 Dr. Keith finds everywhere in England numerous representatives of the "river-bed" Palæolithic folks.

The Neolithic folks, who came into contact with the remnants of the Palæolithic races in various parts of Europe, were representatives of the widespread Mediterranean or Brown Race. They were men of medium stature, with long heads and high but narrow foreheads, refined faces, dark eyes and hair, and slim bodies. Their brunette complexions suggest that their area of characterization was on the North African coast. Some ethnologists incline to the view that the homeland of this stock was Somaliland, the Punt of the Egyptian records, which, like Arabia, favoured the production of a larger population than it



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« Reply #81 on: May 26, 2009, 01:15:16 pm »

was capable of sustaining permanently. In Egypt they adopted the agricultural mode of life long before the dawn of history. Periodic folk-waves, drifting westward and east, entered Europe across the Straits of Gibraltar and through Palestine and Asia Minor by the coast-line route. In the process of time they overspread southern, central, and western Europe, and entered the British Isles. Probably they crossed over to Ireland from Scotland. Their burial customs indicate that their religious beliefs were well developed prior to the period of "folk-wandering". The Neolithic graves in Europe and Africa are constructed on similar lines, and the great majority of the skeletons they contain are remarkable for their uniformity of type. "So striking", writes Professor Elliot Smith, "is the family likeness between the early Neolithic peoples of the British Isles and the Mediterranean and the bulk of the population, both ancient and modern, of Egypt and East Africa, that the description of the bones of an Early Briton of that remote epoch might apply in all essential details to an inhabitant of Somaliland." 1

It is not necessary to assume that they waged a war of extermination against the Palæolithic huntsmen and fishermen of Europe, so as to account for their ultimate superiority of numbers. Their pastoral and agricultural mode of life made it possible for them to live in larger communities and prosper in smaller areas than the Palæolithic huntsman, whose activities had necessarily to extend over wide stretches of country. At any rate, they never overcame the Dordogne valley men of Cro-Magnon type. It is possible that in districts in western Europe, as well as in the British Isles, the Neolithic and late Palæolithic peoples formed mixed communities. Dr. Robert Munro


 

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« Reply #82 on: May 26, 2009, 01:15:33 pm »



THE SNAKE GODDESS OF CRETE

From the painting by John Duncan, A.R.S.A.
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« Reply #83 on: May 26, 2009, 01:16:21 pm »

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suggests that the latter became the servants and "clodhoppers" of the agriculturists.

The Neolithic, like the late Palæolithic peoples, were goddess-worshippers. They believed that the "Great Mother" had given origin to the world, the gods, the demons, and the races of mankind. In the various countries in which early Neolithic civilization was developed traces still survive of this early belief, and it will be found that the conception of the "Great Mother" is as varied as were the degrees of culture attained by the separated communities of common stock. Primitive ideas appear to have persisted longer in isolated districts where ethnic disturbances were least frequent and habits of life less liable to undergo change.

In Crete there were three outstanding forms of the mother-goddess-the snake-goddess, the dove-goddess, and the "lady of wild creatures". These may have been different forms of an original deity, or representative of a group composed of mother and daughters. As in Egypt and Babylonia, it is found that the one goddess tends to absorb the attributes of the other. It is possible that the Mother was supposed to manifest herself in different forms, at different seasons, and in different districts, and that one of the results of local ritualistic development was to emphasize a particular form of the original deity. But there can be no doubt that the conception of the Mother was an essential part of the Cretan faith.

The great goddess was depicted wearing a flounced gown suspended from her slim waist, round which a girdle is clasped (Chapter VI). The upper part of the body is bare, and she has enormous breasts. Sometimes she stands on a mountain top, guarded by two great lions, and sometimes she is seated beside trees or plants. In addition

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« Reply #84 on: May 26, 2009, 01:16:39 pm »

to the lions, her wild animals include the wild goat, the horned sheep, the bull, the red deer, the snake, and the dove; and among the symbols associated with her are the horns of the bull, the double axe, the sacred pillar, the moon crescent, and a staff or wand. She was apparently a goddess of death, battle, fertility, and the chase. Offerings were made to her in a mountain-cave she was supposed to inhabit.

It must be recognized at the outset that this ancient deity, like others of her kind, was not necessarily an attractive personality. Our conception of her must not be based solely on Greek sculpture, for instance. She is believed to be identical with Rhea, the mother of Vesta, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus, and that deity was depicted by Phidias as a benign mother of great dignity and tenderness and beauty. The original mother was worshipped and propitiated because she was feared. She was the Fate who measured the lives of men, who sent disasters as well as blessings, and was associated with lions and snakes as well as doves and deer. Withal, she was a voluptuous wanton. Like the Babylonian Ishtar, who was the lover of Gilgamish in one hour and his unrelenting enemy in the next, she was fickle and changeable as the wind and the seasons. She gloried with callous heart in her power to destroy, and was untouched by tender emotions for mankind, when--

Looking over wasted lands,
Blight and famine, plague and earthquake, roaring deeps and fiery sands,
Clanging fights, and flaming towns, and sinking ships and praying hands.

Greek mythology, in which the beliefs of various ethnic elements were fused, and savage traditions were ultimately transformed by philosophic speculations, survives to us

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« Reply #85 on: May 26, 2009, 01:17:06 pm »

mainly as the product of a cultured Age. But the poets and artists did not divest it wholly of its primitive traits. it is now generally recognized that the savagery of Cronus is not mere symbolism, or the wrath of Artemis, who required the sacrifice of a beautiful maiden, simply a myth based on natural phenomena and not a reflection of "old unhappy far-off things"--a reminiscence of primitive rites performed to propitiate a bloodthirsty deity.

In those parts of ancient Europe in which ancient rites were perpetuated till a comparatively late period the worship of pagan deities was a gloomy memory. The Irish Cromm Cruaich put prostrated hosts under "deadly disgrace" before his golden image--

          To him without glory
They would kill their piteous, wretched offspring,
With much wailing and peril,
To pour their blood around Cromm Cruaich.

       
   Milk and corn
They would ask from him speedily
In return for one-third of their healthy issue:
Great was the horror and the scare of him. 1

The mother-goddess of ancient Europe was similarly remembered as a devourer of children. She survives in English folk-lore as a fierce demon. In Leicestershire she is Black Annis, who is associated with the Easter "hare hunt", and has a "cat Anna" form. The earliest reference to her appears in the following extract from an eighteenth-century title-deed: "All that close or parcel of land commonly called or known by the name 'Black Anny's Bower Close'."

It must not be assumed, however, that Black Annis was a comparatively recent importation. She appears to


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« Reply #86 on: May 26, 2009, 01:17:25 pm »

be of as great antiquity as the customs associated with her name. It is impossible to limit the age of these and other customs and beliefs which survive to the present day, not only in rural districts, but even in cities and among the cultured classes, after so many centuries of Christian teaching. If they have persisted so long, in spite of the combined influences of Church, printing-press, and school, like rank weeds among flowers, for how long a period, it may be asked, did they flourish before they were condemned and shown to be unworthy of civilized communities? There can be little doubt that some have been inherited from the earliest settlers in these islands, who brought from the Continent in one of the Inter-glacial Epochs, and again in the Late Stone Age, the prototypes of the charms like the lucky pigs which now dangle from watch-chains and the mascots that figure on motor-cars and aeroplanes as they once figured on coracles, and boats hollowed from trunks of trees.

It is not to be marvelled at that the ancient goddess should be remembered in Leicester district. The city's name is fragrant with ancient memories. It was called after Llyr, the British sea-god, 1 who became the King Lear of the legend on which one of Shakespeare's great dramas was based. "He (King Lear) it was", wrote Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century, "that builded the city on the River Soar, that in the British is called Kaerleir, but in the Saxon Leicester (Leirchester)." 2

Black Annis Bower was a cave upon the Dane Hills, 3 which, during the past century, became filled up with




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« Reply #87 on: May 26, 2009, 01:17:39 pm »

earth. Over the cave grew an oak-tree, in the branches of which the bag was wont to conceal herself so that she might pounce out unawares and seize human victims, especially children. A local poet has immortalized the hag and her cave:

An oak, the pride of all the mossy dell,
Spreads its broad arms above the stony cell;
And many a bush, with hostile thorns arrayed,
Forbids the secret cavern to invade.

Here Black Annis "held her solitary reign, the dread and wonder of the neighbouring plain". Shepherds attributed to her the loss of lambs, and mothers their loss of children. According to a local writer, the children of a past generation "who went to run on Dane Hills were assured that Black Anna lay in wait there to snatch them away to her 'bower'."

"Oft the gaunt maid the frantic mother cursed",

sang the poet, who has left the following interesting description of the hag:--

'T is said the soul of mortal man recoiled
To view Black Annis' eye, so fierce and wild.
Vast talons, foul with human flesh, there grew
In place of hands, and features livid blue
Glar'd in her visage; whilst the obscene waist
Warm skins of human victims close embraced. 1

She appears to be identical with the "Yellow Muilearteach" of Gaelic legend:

Her face was blue black of the lustre of coal,
And her bone-tufted tooth was like red rust.
In her head was one deep pool-like eye
Swifter than a star in a winter sky. 2



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« Reply #88 on: May 26, 2009, 01:17:53 pm »

Another description of her runs:

The name of the dauntless spectre
Was the bald-red, white-maned Muilearteach.
Her face was dark-grey of the hue of coals,
The teeth of her jaw were slanting red;
There was one flabby eye in her head
That quicker moved than lure pursuing mackerel.
Her head bristled dark and grey,
Like scrubwood before hoar-frost.

But the Scoto-Irish hag did not wear "warm skins of human victims".

                        Oscar caught
The embroidered skirt that was round her body;
They took the apple from the wretch.

She had also a "girdle" like Aphrodite. 1 In India there is a ferocious goddess, who resembles Annis of Leicester. This is Black Kali. She is usually depicted dancing the "dance of fertility", like the Aurignacian and Bushman deities. Modern artists have given her normal eyes, but have retained also the primitive forehead eye. She wears a necklace of human or giant heads, and from her girdle dangle the hands and skins of victims. It would appear that Kali, whose body was smeared with the sacrificial blood, was a form of the earth-goddess; her harvest form was Jagadgauri, the yellow woman; while as the love and fertility deity she was the beautiful Lakshmi or Sri, she was Durga as the goddess of war. 2 The Greek goddess Demeter was black at Phigalia (Chapter VIII), but the ancient black statue of her was only a memory in the days of Pausanias. No doubt the rites associated with her worship were abandoned when "old times had gone and manners changed". Still the memory of Black Demeter



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« Reply #89 on: May 26, 2009, 01:18:06 pm »

survived as the mother of Persephone, the young corn-goddess. The "Green Demeter" was the green corn, and the "yellow Demeter" the ripened harvest grain. As the Roman Ceres her name is perpetuated in cereals--the gifts of the goddess. 1

The Libyan goddess Neith was depicted with a green face. Her symbols included the "shuttle" or thunderbolt, the bow and arrows of deities of fertility, lightning, rain, and war. In Babylonia, where the demoniac forms of gods and goddesses were perpetuated in metrical charms and incantations, the "Labartu" (Sumerian "Dimme") was a female demon. She resembled the English Annis and the Scoto-Irish Muilearteach. This primitive goddess haunted mountain and marsh, and devoured stray children who were not protected against her by wearing magical charms attached to neck-cords. The Egyptian Sekhet-Hathor was similarly a destroyer. In her primitive lion-headed Sekhet form, crowned with the solar disk and uræus serpent, she was sometimes depicted with a naked dagger grasped tightly in her right hand, and sometimes with a magic wand. Isis-Hathor, who personified all the goddesses of Egypt in late times, is referred to significantly in a Philae text as follows:--

Kindly is she as Bast (the cat-goddess)
Terrible is she as Sekhet. 2

The association of the Cretan mother-goddess with trees and mountains will be dealt with more intimately in a later chapter. Here, however, it is of interest to note that the demoniac English deity, Black Annis, was a tree as well as a cave deity. Offerings of children were



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