The Origins of the World’s Mythologies by Michael Witzel

Aeneas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
My book just arrived today. Sure is a heavy duty book with 200+ pages of notes, bibliography etc. Looks interesting.

To get a little idea about the author, wiki says this:
Michael Witzel
(born July 18, 1943) is a German-American philologist and academic. Witzel is the Wales Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard University and the editor of the Harvard Oriental Series (volumes 50-80). He is an author on Indian sacred texts and Indian history, and a critic of the "Indigenous Aryans" theory and of right-wing Hindu activists. In 2005, he attracted the scorn of Hindu activists when he opposed their attempts to influence USA school curricula in the California textbook controversy over Hindu history.
and
Biographical information[edit]
Witzel was born July 18, 1943 at Schwiebus, then in Germany, now Poland. He studied Indology in Germany (from 1965 to 1971) under Paul Thieme, H.-P. Schmidt, K. Hoffmann and J. Narten, as well as in Nepal (1972–1973) under the Mīmāmsaka Jununath Pandit.[1] At Kathmandu (1972–1978), he led the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project and the Nepal Research Centre.

He has taught at Tübingen (1972), Leiden (1978–1986), and at Harvard (since 1986), and has held visiting appointments at Kyoto (twice), Paris (twice), and Tokyo (twice). He has been teaching Sanskrit since 1972.

Witzel is editor-in-chief of the Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies (EJVS)[2] and the Harvard Oriental Series.[3] Witzel has been president of the Association for the Study of Language in Prehistory (ASLIP) since 1999,[4] as well as of the new International Association for Comparative Mythology (2006-).[5]

He was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003, and was elected as an honorary member of the German Oriental Society (DMG)[6] in 2009. He became Cabot Fellow, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard U. (2013), recognizing his book on comparative mythology (OUP, 2012)[7]
About this book it says:
A book published in late 2012, The Origins of the World's Mythologies,[46] deals with the newly proposed method of historical comparative mythology at length;[47] for scholarly criticism see[48] and for periodic updates see[49] It has been called a magnum opus, which should be taken seriously by social anthropologists,[50] and was praised by professor of Sanskrit Frederick Smith, who wrote that

Witzel’s thesis changes the outlook on all other diffusionist models [...] His interdisciplinary approach not only demonstrates that it has a promising future, but that it has arrived and that finally one can actually speak of a science of mythology.[51]
It also received criticism. Tok Thompson called it "racist" and dismissed it as "useless—and frustrating—for any serious scholar,"[52] while Bruce Lincoln concluded that Witzel in this publication theorizes "in terms of deep prehistory, waves of migration, patterns of diffusion, and contrasts between the styles of thought/narration he associates with two huge aggregates of the world's population [which] strikes me as ill-founded, ill-conceived, unconvincing, and deeply disturbing in its implications."[53]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Witzel#cite_note-53

Tok Thompson who called the book "racist" teaches at University of Southern California and is in the process of writing his own textbook on World Mythology. One gets the feel that he is part of the postmodernist movement and that the long knives are out in academia for those who dare to think outside the box and the Zeitgeist.
 

Michael Barker-Caven

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
A short synopsis of anything that catches your eye as being significant would be nice!
His approach seems similar in many ways to Witzels (without the definition of two essential geographic forms of cosmological myth as in "Laurasia" and "Gondwana") with a central deduction that all primary materials emanate from a single line of source excluding local additions and variants. However he does he make any attempts to put ages or time frames on any materials. He is more interested in the flow of narrative and the singularity and continuity of the story line.

His introduction is long and - as with Witzel - spends much ground explaining why he has taken the approach he has, disclaimers, methodologies, etc.

A key precept he explores in this section is the axis mundi...

For example...

47
The axis mundi

“A lifetime could be spent in the one task of investigating the symbolic and poetic forms in which early peoples, and peoples of a later date, have expressed and re-expressed this fundamental idea of the world-axis.”

William Warren, 1909​

The axis mundi plays a pivotal role in traditional cosmologies. An historical overview is given of scholarly research into the axis mundi.

This compendium of traditional cosmology was originally conceived as a systematic overview of worldwide traditions concerning the axis mundi or ‘world axis’. As noted above, scholars in the humanities employ this phrase as a generic reference to a conspicuous vertical object - most often portrayed as a tree, a mountain, a pillar, a ladder and so on - that holds the regions of the cosmos together and marks the cosmic centre.

The concept of such a cosmic column is truly ubiquitous, pervading the world view of practically every human culture. It manifests in count- less familiar forms, such as the tree of life in the garden of Eden and Jacob’s ladder, in Hebrew mythology; the ‘primeval hill’ and the ‘ladder of Horus’, of ancient Egyptian cosmogony; the sky-bearing giant Atlas, in Greek tradition; the ash Yggdrasil, in Viking lore; and the rope, ladder or stairway to heaven, as known in the folk memories of numerous cultures in the Americas, Africa and Oceania. In addition, the same prototype provided the ideological model for real aspects of the landscape, be they natural or man-made structures; examples include the holy Mount Siyyōn or ‘Zion’, sealed with the ‘foundation stone’, in Jewish tradition; the Qa’ba, esteemed in ‘Islam; Mount Parnassus, with the omphalós on its slopes, or Mount Olympus, located in more than a dozen different places, in Greek lore; the holy Mount Meru, venerated in Hinduism and Buddhism alike and identified with mountains such as Kailāśā in Tibet or Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka; the Bodhi tree beneath which Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment; sacred buildings such as the Mesopotamian

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ziggurats, old Egyptian pyramids, Buddhist stūpas and the pagodas of Far Eastern Asia; and smaller hallowed objects, such as altars, the totem poles carved along the Pacific coast of North America, the central posts of religious dwellings, the wands, staffs and sceptres of shamans, priests and kings, ‘guardian pillars’ marking tombs or the entrances of villages, and innumerable trees and poles worshipped during festivals or throughout the year.

Considering that the term is commonplace in the study of religion, mythology and art history and practically every specialist in these fields is aware of it, it comes as a surprise that not a single academic monograph has ever been devoted to the subject of the axis mundi. The closest candidate is a slim volume entitled The Cosmic Axis (1987) and written by the English biological taxonomist and amateur folklorist Nigel Pennick (1946-). This publication was in extremely limited circulation, is none too scholarly in outlook and limits its purview to northern Europe.


51

The original aim of this work was to produce a systematic and reasonably complete overview of the worldwide mythology of the axis mundi. Taking care to distinguish the astronomical definition of the column from its broader, anthropological one and drawing on primary sources alone, it was expected to become a landmark study, filling a lacuna in the literature. As the research on this project progressed, how- ever, it became increasingly transparent that the story of the cosmic axis is really that of the creation of the cosmos in general. The axis materialised as
the skeletal framework on which the stratified heavens and underworlds rested,​
the principal repository of life in all its forms,​
the original source of light​
the dwelling place of deities, heroes, monsters and ancestors alike.​

The formation, the characteristics and the demise of this entity proved to be so intimately interwoven with cosmological traditions as a whole that the subject of the book naturally shifted from a reconstruction of axis mundi lore to a compendium of traditional cosmology as a whole. Even in the current conception of the present work, the axis mundi is readily recognised as the backbone of the core narrative - as will be seen below. In a sense, this broadening of scope emerge as a logical continuation of Eliade’s pioneering explorations of patterns in the mythology of nature, ritual and shamanism.

Book 1 (of 4) deals with

Formation The cosmos develops from a state of chaos, via the transitory stage of a fundamental enclosing particle, into a sheet system of sky, atmosphere, earth and underworld. The axis mundi emerges.

His approach is to distill copious research into short sequential headings/sections so editing them would break up the flow and they will lose their arch.

I'll post a few at a time below.
 

Michael Barker-Caven

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
65
Chaos

The earliest remembered state of the world is characterised by the presence of nothing, a solitary deity, proximity of the sky to the earth, an intermixture of all future things, or a single dominant element, such as water, wind or fire. Without any moving lights in the sky, darkness prevails and time is absent. The deity or the pair of sky and earth comprise a union of sexes, joined in wedlock or an androgynous anatomy. A group of primordial beings is also mentioned.

Creation myths, and cosmological theories as their more sophisticated successors, typically open with a description of ‘chaos’, a convenient umbrella term for a number of mythical traits that conjointly constitute the earliest remembered putative state of the universe - a cosmic condition preceding the familiar and fairly organised world seen today. The characteristics assigned to this primordial state in far-flung cultures are remarkably uniform and can be traced to the very earliest civilisations.

The essence of chaos is uniformity or the lack of differentiation of any kind. While some creation accounts content themselves with a fully inanimate conception of this diffuse and unorganised world, others either personify the undifferentiated cosmos or introduce a coeval deity of indistinct or unspecified countenance that somehow presided over it, floating over the void.

With resort to some of the defining features of the created world existing today, the absence of polar opposites in the chaotic age is primarily captured in three sets of metaphors, respectively related to matter, luminosity, and gender. According to the first of these categories, the current contrast between sky and earth was preceded by a singular condition variously described as ‘nothing’, an inextricable fusion of sky and earth, or a uniform mass of water; today’s separation of light and darkness followed on an earlier age during which only darkness or only light prevailed; and the distinction between male and female constituents of the world succeeded an earlier time of androgynous or of permanent sexual union.

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1

Nothing

The concept of creatto ex nihilo or a formation of all existing things out of nothing is largely a figment of modern speculation, foreign to archaic thought. In mythical and early cosmological traditions, the world is almost always stated to have been formed from some sort of pre-existent material, be it confused and disorganised, a state of ‘chaos’ that possessed substance and was not preceded by an era of ‘nothing’. Only a few exceptions to this pattern exist. A creation story contained in a version of the Hebrew legend of Hănōk introduces God explaining:

Before anything existed at all, from the very beginning, whatever exists I created from the non-existent, and from the invisible the visible. 78

In the Vedic cosmology of India, it was repeatedly declared that:

In the beginning this was non-existent. It became existent, it grew.79 Verily, in the beginning there was here the non-existent.80​

A highly genealogical creation myth from Samoa (Polynesia) opens with the statement:

“There was first of all Leai, nothing.”81​

The Juaneño and Luiseño societies (Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, California) stated:

There was in. the very beginning nothing whatever. There was no sky, no earth; no water, but just empty space.82​

And the Jesuit historian Bernabé Cobo (1582-1657 CE) observed that some of the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the former Inca empire:

“believe that creation came forth from nothing” while “others hold that it came from clay”,83​

but did not offer any additional information.

NOTES
78. 2 Enoch (Slavonic Enoch), 24. 2, tr. Andersen 1983: 142. The notion of creation from nothing evaporates in Pennington’s translation (ii. 4, tr. 1984: 339): “For before what is visible was brought into being, light appeared; but I, although surrounded by light, was like one of the invisible ones…”
79. Chāndogya Upaniṣad, 4. 19. 1, tr. Muller I 1879: 54-55
80. Satapatha Brāhmaiia, 6. 1. 1. 1, tr. Eggeling III 1894: 143
81. Recorded between 1840 and 1880, in Turner 1884: 3
82. Gifford & Block 1930: 102
83. Bernabé Cobo, Historia del Nuevo Mundo (1653 CE), 1. 13. 2, tr. 1-tamilton 1990: 12



2

A solitary deity

More common than the philosophically challenging assertion that nothing at all obtained in the beginning are intimations of a primordial time when only the creative deity was in existence, be it in spiritual or in material form; the pages of myth are replete with references to the notion of a sole deity, who, as a consequence of this condition, is often described as lonely to boot. In the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the supreme god Atum recalls the time “when I was alone in the Abyss”.84 A spell in the Coffin Texts commemorates the era when Atum

“was alone in his existence… before the first generation had been born, before the primeval Enneads had come into being… “85​

As the one who “has made everything”, he was also styled “the Sole One”,86 who was made to declare:

“I am Nu, the Sole One who has no equal, and I came into being yonder on the great occasion of my flood, when I came into being.”87​

Throughout the religious literature of Egypt, the god is seen to reflect on this state:

“... I was alone with Nu in lassitude, and 1 could find no place on which to stand or sit, when On had not yet been founded that I might dwell in it, when my throne (?) had not yet been put together that I might sit on it; before I had made Nut that she might be above me, before the first generation had been born, before the Primeval Ennead had come into being that they might dwell with me.88​

When I came into being, ‘Being’ came into being, and all beings came into being after I came into being ... ere the sky had come into being, ere the earth had come into being, ere the ground and reptiles had been created in this place ... when I could as yet find no place where I could stand. I considered (?) in mine heart, I surveyed with my sight, and I alone made every shape…”89

Meanwhile, the mystics of India relate: “In the beginning this was Self alone, in the shape of a person (purusha). He looking round saw nothing


NOTES
84. Book of the Dead, 17, tr. Faulkner 1985: 44
85. Coffin Texts, 80 (ii. 39-40), tr. Faulkner I 2004: 85
86. Coffin Texts, 321 (Iv. 147), tr. Faulkner 1 2004: 249-250
87. Coffin Texts, 714 (Vi. 343-344), tr. Faulkner II 2004: 270
88. Coffin Texts, 80 (1. 33-34), tr. Faulkner 1 2004: 84; compare Clark 1959: 38, 46. ‘ōn’ is the Egyptian name for the sacred city of Heliopolis. Nat is conventionally viewed as the female personification of the sky.
89. The Book of Overthrowing ‘Apep: The Book of Knowing the Creations of Re’ and of Felling ‘Apep (5) (Bremner-Rhind Papyrus, 26. 21 - 27. 5), tr. Faulkner 1937: 172


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but his Self. He first said, ‘This is I’; therefore he became I by name,”90 This god was traditionally identified as Prajāpati:

Pragâpati alone, indeed, existed here in the beginning.91​

In a later Hindū text, the first known condition was the existence of the deity, Brahma:

There was neither day nor night, nor sky nor earth, nor darkness nor light, nor any other thing, save only One, unapprehensible by intellect, or That which is Brahma and Pumán (spirit) and Pradhána (matter). 92​

The natives of Kiribati (Micronesia) assert that Naareau the Elder, the creator, had “evolved from the void through a genealogical series of abstractions and things” or they would begin the myth of creation with “an absolute Naareau seated alone in the void from all eternity”:93

Naareau the Elder was the First of All. Not a man, not a beast, not a fish, not a thing was before him. He slept not, for there was no sleep; he ate not, for there was no hunger. He was in the Void. There was only Naareau sitting in the Void. Long he sat, and there was only he.94​

In the beginning there was nothing ... save one person. We know not how he grew nor whence he came. We know not his father or his mother, for there was only he. His name was Na Areau te Moa-ni-bai (Sir Spider the first-of-things).95​
Na Areau is a being who sat alone in space as ‘a cloud that floats in nothingness. He slept not, for there was no sleep. He hungered not, for as yet there was no hunger. So he remained for a great while... 96​

Again, a creation story from Tahiti states that “Ta’aroa (The-unique-one) was the ancestor of all the gods; he made everything. From time immemorial was the great Ta’aroa ... Ta’aroa developed himself in solitude; he


NOTES
90. Brhadāranyaka Upanisad (prior to the 5th century BCE), 1. 4. 1, tr. Muller 111884: 85 91 91. Satapatha Brāhmaiza (8th to 6th century BCE), 2. 2. 4. 1, tr. Eggeling 1 1882: 322
92. Visnu Purāna, 1.. 2, tr. Wilson 1840: 12
93. Taakeuta of Marakei, in Grimble 1952: 171
94. Taakeuta of Marakei, in Grimble 1952: 172
95. an anonymous elder of Beru, in Grimble 1972: 39
96. an informant from Maiana, in Northern Kiribati, to Sir Arthur Grimble (1888-1956), between 1914 and 1956, in Grimble 1972:53


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was his own parent, having no father or mother…”97 A similar tradition regarding the same god Tangaloa - was heard on Samoa:

The god Tangaloa existed in space, but we do not know how or whence he came.98​

From the addition that this deity went on to create sky and earth it can be deduced that, originally, Tangaloa had represented all that existed:

“He wished some place to live in, and so he made the heavens. He also wished to have a place under the heavens, and so he made the Lalolangi, under the heavens, or the earth.”99​

The Lakota (Dakota) regarded Inyan, or ‘Rock’, as the first existing entity and “Rock was so ‘lonely’ in the primal universe that he sacrificed his ‘blood’, or life force, in order to create something else.”100

The Zuñi (New Mexico) concurred:

Before the beginning of the new-making, Awonawílona (the Maker and Container of All, the All-father Father), solely had being. There was nothing else whatsoever throughout the great space of the ages save ... everywhere void desolation.101​

Creation myths not infrequently take the creator’s original loneliness as his or her main incentive to unfold himself or herself or to create the world.


3

The sky close to the earth

Traditions of ‘nothing’ or pure divinity as the earliest ‘state’ of the universe are far outnumbered by creation accounts that postulate the original existence of matter in some - typically disorganised, undifferentiated or undesirable - form. The cruder mythologies report that the two future extremities of the cosmos, heaven and earth were still united, as the firmament did not yet extend itself high above the surface of the earth, as it does now, but rested low above it. The Khasi (Meghalaya, northeast India) averred:

NOTES
97. recorded in 1822, in Henry 1928: 336-338
98. recorded between 1840 and 1880, in Turner 1884: 7
99. recorded between 1840 and 1880, in Turner 1884: 7
100. Clifford Canku, to Adrienne Mayor, on 28 July 2000, In Mayor 2005: 327
101. Cushing 1896: 379


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In olden days, when the earth was very young, they say that heaven and earth were very near to one another…102​
...In the beginning (mynnyngkong ka sngi) ... heaven and earth were near each other…103​

The Wotjobaluk (central-western Victoria, Australia) “account for the space between the earth and the sky by saying that at one time they touched each other, that is to say, the sky lay on the earth”104

Again, a tribe of the Wiradjuri from the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee River (central New South Wales, Australia) held that:

“the sky at one time in the ages ago was not up high where it now is. It was down so low to the ground that a man could not walk upright. Then no living thing stood erect. ... the sky was so low that a man could not stand upright, but was stooped as low as a wombat ... the sky ... was only a foot or two…105​

Similarly, in Benin it “is said that in early times the sky was quite close, only about two meters from the earth…”106 And members of the Sikuani nation (the Orinoco river basin, Colombia) recalled a time when “the sky’ was rather low”,107 “the firmament was low”,108 “the sky still hung low”,109 and “the sky was not as it is now”,’110 for “previously it had been very low”.111

A parallel type of tradition places not the sky itself, but the deity of the sky, the Supreme Being, in former proximity to the earth, presumably implying a lower position for the sky as well. For example, the Ashanti (Ghana) related that “Long, long ago Onyankôpoñ lived on earth, or at least was very near to us”, being “not then high up in the sky”.112 For the Dinka (southern Sudan), the contention that “the sky at first was so low” equated with a close presence of “God”, as to touch the sky would be “to touch God”.113 The Rotse (western Zambia) claimed that “in the beginning God created the earth and all living creatures. At that time


NOTES:
102. between 1871 and 1907, to Reverend John ‘Minimus’ Roberts (1842-1908), of Cherrapunji, tr. U Nissor Singh, in Gurdon 1914: 173
103. Gurdon 1914: 117
104. Howitt 1887: 53; compare 1904: 427.
105. Peck 1925: 30, 34, 36 = 1933: 75, 79, 82; compare 1925: 107. In the 1933 edition, the words “only a foot or two” are replaced with “not high”.
106. Herskovits 1938: 224
107. Obdulia Rodrfquez, in Wilbert & Simoneau 1992: 80
108. Maria NN, in Wilbert & Simoneau 1992: 102
109 Rogello Gaitán, in Wilbert & Simoneau 1992: 198
110. Jorge Chaveriano Alejandro, in Wilbert & Simoneau 1992: 100
111. Maria NN, in Wilbert & Simoneau 1992: 214
112. Rattray 1916: 20
113. Parrinder 1967: 35


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God and his wife lived here below among men.”114 Throughout Africa, in fact, it is “generally agreed that in the earliest times God lived on earth” though he or she inhabits the sky today.115

4

All things mingled

Additional sources imply a more complete merger of sky and earth than j mere case of superimposition, imputing a singular composition to the two complementary halves of the world, as well as any other future forms of creation. According to a Hindu account of creation (1st century BCE), an era in which only the supreme spirit, “or That which is Brahma and Pumán (spirit) and Pradhána (matter)” existed, was followed by a time in which all particles of matter were thoroughly blended together into “one mass of entire unity”:

Then, ether, air, light, water, and earth, severally united with the properties of sound and the rest, existed as distinguishable according to their qualities, as soothing, terrific, or stupifying [sic! MAS]; but possessing various energies, and being unconnected, they could not, without combination, create living beings, not having blended with each other. Having combined, therefore, with one another, they assumed, through their mutual association, the character of one mass of entire unity… 116​

The indigenous people of Nauru (Micronesia) recall the time when ‘There was no Nauru yet: The sky and the stars and the clouds lay over land and sea and flowed together in a ‘Demagi’.117 The nature of Demagi is not specified, yet the wording makes it sufficiently clear that sky and earth, in close embrace, were held to have formed an organic unity in illo tempore.

Whereas some traditions dwelled on the original state of complete mingling, others devised a specific term to describe the primordial condition of unorganised singularity. The mythological notion of chaos is directly based on the identical usage of the term in Graeco-Roman traditions of creation. Ovid’s poetry provides an example in case:

NOTES
114. Parrinder 1967: 37
115. Parrinder 1967: 34
116. Viiu Puräna, 1. 2, tr. Wilson 1840: 18
117. Hämbruch 1914: 385 (‘)


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Before the sea was, and the lands, and the sky that hangs over all, the face of Nature showed alike in her whole round, which state have men called chaos: a rough, unordered mass of things, nothing at all save lifeless bulk and warring seeds of ill-matched elements heaped in one. No sun as yet shone forth upon the world, nor did the waxing moon renew her slender horns; not yet did the earth hang poised by her own weight in the circumambient air, nor had the ocean stretched her arms along the far reaches of the lands. And, though there was both land and sea and air, no one could tread that land, or swim that sea; and the air was dark. No form of things remained the same; all objects were at odds, for within one body cold things strove with hot, and moist with dry, soft things with hard, things having weight with weightless things.118

A generation or two earlier, Lucretius (c. 99 - c. 55 BCE) had offered a similar sketch of the complete mixture of chaos:

Here at that time was not to be seen the sun’s wheel soaring aloft with generous light, nor the constellations of the great firmament, nor sea nor sky nor indeed earth nor air nor anything like to our things; but a sort of strange hurly-burly, all kinds of beginnings gathered together into a mass, while their discord exciting war amongst them made a confusion of intervals, courses, connexions, weights, blows, meetings, motions, on account of their different shapes and varying figures, because not all when joined together could remain so or make the appropriate motions together.119​

And on south Nias (off the west coast of Sumatra) a similar descriptor was employed: “In the beginning there was no earth and no world, but Chaos was unnamed and unseen.”120

5

Primordial water

Converging traditions suggest that heaven and earth were thought to have existed at this time not in their present materialised shapes, but in a dissolved form, commingling in a substance that could perhaps be conceived as being midway between the most solid and the most vaporous elements. The medium of which this mass was formed was generally characterised as water. This understanding is especially manifest in the

NOTES
118. Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1. 5-20, tr. Miller 1946: 2-3
119. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), 5.432-472, tr. Rouse 1947: 370-373
120 Loeb 1989: 150

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Opening words of the Babylonian creation epic Enūma Elis (7th century BCE), but probably composed during the early 2nd millennium BCE), in which the sky and the underworld - not yet distinguishable - are unambiguously portrayed as having blended into a single mass of water personified as the goddess Tiāmat:

When on high no name was given to heaven,​
Nor below was the netherworld called by name,​
Primeval Apsu was their progenitor,​
And matrix-Tiamat was she who bore them all,​
They were mingling their waters together… 121​

In this sense, myths concerning a primordial expanse of water can be regarded as parallel to accounts of the erstwhile Conjunction of sky and earth. The Inuit of Labrador (Newfoundland) remembered that, before the animals were created, “the earth had been covered with water”.122 A spokesman of the Haida people in the town of Yan (north- western British Columbia) told: “Not long ago no land was to be seen. ... This was all open sea.”123 The Cherokee (eastern and south-eastern United States of America) testified to the watery abyss with the words: “Well, in the beginning also, water covered everything 124 the beginning everything was water”,125 echo the Yuki (Mendocino County, California). Or, in a narration from the Diegueno people (San Diego County, California): “In the beginning there was no land. There was nothing but salt water, the great primeval ocean”.126 And a Hindu creation myth opens with the words: “Verily, in the beginning this (universe) was water, nothing but a sea of water.”127 for the water is the foundation of this Universe”.128

More common is the portrayal of a deity of undefined shape dwelling in or above the primeval ocean. According to the Hebrews, it was at the onset of God’s creating of heaven and earth, when “the earth was form-


NOTES
121. Enūma Elis, 1. 1-5, tr. Foster 1997: 391. The Sumerians and Babylonians referred to the primordial waters of chaos as the Abzu or Apsu respectively. Horowitz (1998: 109) translates am-matum as “earth” instead of “the netherworld”. At an even earlier time, Sumerian cosmogonic texts from the late 3rd and early 2nd millennia BCE distinguished the present era, in which heaven and earth are separate, from an early time in which the cosmos consisted of undivided matter, Dietrich 1995: 57.
122. Hawkes 191.6: 152
123. Walter, of the Rear-Town-People of Yan, interviewed in 1900-1901, in Swanton 1908: 293
124. told at a Cherokee treaty council meeting in New York City, 1975, in Erdoes & Ortiz 1997: 105-106. The earth today is still floating on those waters.
125. Gifford & Block 1930: 82
126. Gifford & Block 1930: 105
127. SaTapatha Brāhmana, 11. 1. 6. 1, tr. Eggeling V 1900: 12
128. Satapatha Brāhmana, 6. 8. 2. 2, tr. Eggeling III 1894: 293; compare 12. 5. 2. 14.

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less and empty” and “darkness was over the surface of the deep”, that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the water.”129 The Yorubá (Nigeria) told that “in the beginning the world was all marshy and watery, a waste’ place. Above it was the sky where Ol-orun, the Owner of the Sky, lived with other divinities.”130 And Tuamotu (Polynesia) yielded this version:

When Tane-the-gushing-waters created the world here, the world existed in the waters Te Vai-puna ariki. There was nothing else; there was no sand, no bed rocks, no ocean, no sky. And deep darkness was upon the froth of the waves (i.e., face of the deep).131​

Taken in unison, these disparate witnesses to a lost creation myth attest to a former expanse of water, representing either a conglomerate of heaven and earth or the original state of the ‘earth’ alone.

6
Primordial darkness

A second, no less important group of metaphors employed in traditional creation myths to describe the original state of undifferentiated unity concentrates on the polarity of darkness and light. As the sky in its present condition was thought either not to have existed or to have been conjoined with the earth, the luminaries populating it - including the sun, the moon, and the stars and planets - logically could not yet have been radiating or reflecting their lights at that distant epoch. On the level of illumination, then, ancient traditions assert a former absence of the categories of light and darkness or of day and night, as well as their principal demarcators, the astral bodies.

Analogous to the merger of heaven and earth, a Greek writer claimed that, at the time of chaos, the current alternation of the dark sky of the night and the bright sky of the day was preceded by a constant and permanent state of lighting which counted as neither day nor night:


NOTES
129. Genesis, 1. 1-2, tr. NIV. The phrase “the Spirit of God” translates rūah elohīm. The celebration of Yahwē’s presence over the mābūl or “flood” in Psalms, 29. 3, 10 (tr NIV) may have referred to the creation narrative: “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; / the God of glory thunders, / the LORD thunders over the mighty waters. / ... The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; / the LORD is enthroned as King forever.”
130. Parrinder 1967: 20
131. Te Ururehu a Popo, a native of Napuka, to Montiton inc. 1900, In Emory 1939: 20


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It is Orpheus who says that at first there was chaos, eternal, unbounded, unproduced, and that from it all things were made. He says that this chaos was neither darkness nor light, neither moist nor dry, neither hot nor cold, but that it was all things mixed together, and was always one unformed mass… 132

More commonly, mythical sources qualify this uniform condition of illumination simply as ‘darkness’. A tradition from the Dinka reflects that, in the earliest days, “the earth was already created, but it could not be seen because there was no light.”133 A Tahitian creation myth speaks of an age of darkness lasting “millions of ages”, during which the supreme god Ta’aroa existed:

“in endless space, with no sky, no land, no sea, no moon, no sun, no stars. All was darkness, it was continuous, thick darkness.”134​

In Se’lia, a settlement of the Bella Coola people (central coast of British Columbia), a tradition pertained that “In the beginning our world was dark.”135 The Tlingit (south-eastern Alaska) observe:

At the beginning of things there was no daylight and the world lay in blackness. Then there lived in a house at the head of Nass river a being called Raven-at-the-head-of-Ness (Nās-cA’ki-yēl), the principal deity… this existence lasted for a long time, how long is unknown.136​

And the Maya at Valladolid (Yucatan, Mexico) characterised the first era of history as a time of “darkness before there was any sun”.137

In some parts of the world, especially in India and Oceania, the episode of primordial darkness was referred to as a prolonged night, though still distinguished from the ordinary night. On Kiribati the inseparable union of sky and earth was referred to as “the Darkness and the Cleaving Together”:

In the beginning there was nothing in the Darkness and the Cleaving​
Together save one person. ... His name was Na Areau te Moa-ni-bai​
(Sir Spider the first-of-things). ... And heaven and earth were called​
the Darkness and the Cleaving Together.138​

This age was also looked back upon as a prolonged night:

NOTES
132. Orpheus, apud pseudo-Clement, Recognitions, 10. 30, trs. Pratten, Dods & Smith 1867: 445
133. Parrinder 1967: 35
134. Recorded in 1822, in Henry 1928: 336-338
135. Boasl900:50
136. Swanton 1909a: 80
137. interviewed between 1902 and 1905 CE, in Tozzer 1907: 153
138. An anonymous elder of Beru, in Grimble 1972: 39


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In the beginning Heaven and Earth clove together. It was a time of black darkness. Heaven was a rock lying over Earth and rooted in the deep places of the Sea. ... And the darkness was called by a name; it was Te-Bongi-Ro (the Black Night).139

And a creation chant from the Marquesas Islands portrays Tanaoa as the personification of the darkness that originally prevailed, which was compared to a ke-ke po or ‘dark night’:

In the beginning, space and companions.​
Space was the high heaven.​
Tanaoa filled and dwelt in the whole heavens.​
And Mutuhei was entwined above.​
There was no voice, there was no sound;​
No living things were moving.​
There was no day, there was no light.​
A dark, black night.​
O Tanaoa he ruled the night.140​

As a result of the absence of light and fire, some societies looked back upon this earliest era as a ‘dark age’ characterised by darkness, cold and consumption of uncooked meat. On Samoa, memories persisted of “a time when their ancestors ate everything raw”, as the absence of fire prevented “the luxury of cooked food”.141 A corresponding concept in the lore of the Bibbulmun (south-western tip of Australia) are the “Nyitting times, the cold, cold times of long ago”,142 also called the Demma Goomber or ‘ancestral’ times.143 The Bibbulmun qualified this past era as one dominated by cold and, consequently, by a savage mode of living:

In that far-off time Australia was not so warm and congenial as it is to-day. It was cold and bleak, and great glaciers of ice covered many of its hills and valleys. ... ‘the icy cold (nyitting) times of long, long ago’. Now, in an icy cold country one must have fires, but there was a​

NOTES
139. Grimble 1972: 46. Compare a reference from the island of Baanaba to “the time of black darkness”, 1972: 47.
140. Te Vanana na Tanaoa (The Record of Tanaoa), tr. Fornander 1878: 214, compare 63. Mutuhel personifies “Silence”, 1878: 214 note 2. Note that, in this poem, the unorganised world of chaos, introduced as ona-ona or “space”, is presented as te iku-ani or “the high heaven”, presumably before the earth had yet been formed.
141. Recorded between 1840 and 1880, in Turner 1884: 209
142. to Daisy Bates alias Kabbarli (1859-195 1), between 1902 and 1926, ed. Bridge 1992: 154, compare 157; and Joobaitch (1837-1907 CE), a Whadjuk of the Wordangmat or Crow moiety, to Daisy Bates alias Kabbarli, between 1902 and 1924, ed. Bridge 1992: 14.
143. Joobaitch (1837-1907 CE), a Whadjuk of the Wordangmat or Crow moiety, to Daisy Bates alias Kabbarli, between 1902 and 1924, ed. Bridge 1992: 55, compare 164.


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time when the Bibbulmun people had no fires, and they had to eat their meat raw and drink the blood of the animals they killed to warm their todles,144​

7
Primordial water and darkness

When combined with the theme of the initial abyss, darkness and water emerge as the two most salient ingredients of the archetypal chaos tradition. A Sumerian creation text confirms the association between darkness and the former unity of heaven and earth:

[Heaven and eajrth, he [Anu; MAS] held together as one.​
Day did not shine; in night, heaven stretched forth.145​
Anu was lord, was present as a youth.​
Heaven and Earth, together, were…​
.. .​
The Sun did not shine.​
Moonlight did not come forth.146​

These traditions were rehearsed long afterwards, when the Babylonian priest Bēl-re’usunu, better known as Berossus of Cos (3rd century BCE), wrote about “a time when the universe was only darkness and water…”147 The Toba Batak (Sumatra) testify:

‘In the very beginning, in by-gone times, when the middleworld in which we live did not yet exist, there was only the sea; there was one sea and there was a thick darkness, (so dense that) people could not see their hands before their faces. There was utter loneliness and there was emptiness as far as the underworld’. So runs the story​


NOTES
144. to Daisy Bates alias Kabbarli, between 1902 and 1927, ed. Bridge 1992: 166, 168
145. NBC 11108 (a Sumerian literary fragment from Nippur, of the Ur III period), tr. Horowitz 1998: 138-139
146. Soliberger Corpus, Urukagina 15. 2. 1 - 3. 4, tr. Horowitz 1998: 140
147. Berossus of Cos, Babyloniaca, 1, Fr. 1 , apud Polyhistor (fi. 70 BCE), Fr. 79, apud Syncellus (d, c. 810 CE), Chronographical Eclogues, 52-53, trs. Verbrugghe & Wickersham 1996: 45-46. “Over all these a woman had control, named Omorka, who in Chaldean is named Thalatt (Tiamat), but in Greek her name is translated as Thalassa (i. e., Sea) ...“ This ‘woman’ corresponds to Tiāmat. That undifferentiated gloom was thought to have preceded this condition follows from the following separation of heaven and earth and the creation of “the stars and the sun and the moon and the five planets”. Hence, there is no ground to surmise that “Darkness most likely was not what Berossos wrote but was added later to make a reading more like the description of creation given in Genesis 1. 2”, contra Verbrugghe & Wickersharn 1996: 45 note 5.

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handed down to us orally by our Ompung, the great and famous datu, who was the first to sing this sacrificial song…148​
The Maya of Chumayel (Yucatán) submitted:​
The world was not lighted; there was neither day nor night nor moon. Then they perceived that the world was being created…149​

This time “When the world was submerged, when there was neither heaven nor earth” was that “when there was infinite night, when there was no God. ... when the world was not yet lighted, when there was neither heaven nor earth.”150 And the sacred book of the Quiche Maya (Guatemala), the Popol Vuh, graphically sketched the primordial world as follows:

Now it still ripples, now it still murmurs, ripples, it still sighs, still hums, and it is empty under the sky. Here follow the first words, the first eloquence: There is not yet one person, one animal, bird, fish, crab, tree, rock, hollow, canyon, meadow, forest. Only the sky alone is there; the face of the earth is not clear. Only the sea alone is pooled under all the sky; there is nothing whatever gathered together. It is at rest; not a single thing stirs. It is held back, kept at rest under the sky.

Whatever there is that might be is simply not there: only the pooled water, only the calm sea, only it alone is pooled. Whatever might be is simply not there: only murmurs, ripples, in the dark, in the night.151

8
Primordial light

A handful of traditions postulate a primordial condition of light rather than darkness, albeit again in the absence of the familiar luminaries behaving as they ordinarily do. In many instances, this light is attributed to the sun or some other, mythical sun that tends to be described as stationary and being positioned markedly closer to the earth than the sun is today, emitting a relentless and far more intense, if not unbearable heat.

NOTES
148. Tobing 1956: 117-118. In Toba Batak, data refers to a shaman, while “the middleworld” is a common description of the earth.
149. Don Juan Josef Hoil, Book of Chilamn Balam of Chamayel (1782 CE), 10 (44), tr. Roys 1967: 101
150. Don Juan Josef Hoil, Book of Chilamn Balam of Chamayel, 11 (48, 51), tr. Roys 1967: 107, 110. The phrase “neither heaven nor earth” translates minan can y luum, “infinite night” picil akab.
151. Popol Vuh, 1, tr. Tedlock 1996: 64


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A Javanese creation narrative, concerned with the time “Before the heavens and earth were created”, casually informs:

The continual presence of the sun and moon occasioned perpetual day.152​

The Indigenous people of the Andaman Islands thought that, before the supreme god, Pū.luga-, “visited the earth with a long-continued darkness, which caused every one much inconvenience and distress”, the first people had “uninterruptedly enjoyed ... the privilege of daylight”, to the point that “the sun, one day, burned so fiercely as to cause great distress”. 153 On Vanuatu, the mythical Qat was thought to have commenced the work of creation when “the daytime was always light” and no one had ever seen “the sun moving and sinking to the west”, prompting Qat’s brothers to complain:

“Hallo! Qat, this is not at all pleasant, here is nothing but day; can’t you do something for us?”154​

The Wotjobaluk told that “at first the sky rested on the earth and prevented the sun from moving”.155 The Diēri (Eyre Peninsula, South Australia) likewise recalled a time when “the sun ... had never previously set”.156 They knew of a “hole” in the west, situated “about twenty-five miles from Killalpanina, towards Lake Eyre”, which they called Dityi-minka, ‘hole of the sun’, as it was in that that “the sun at one time lived”, before it “found its way” to the corresponding hole in the east, “and continued to follow that course.”157 And the Nlaka pamux (British Columbia) observed with respect to the sun:

In the beginning he was too near the earth, and moved away only on receiving presents…158​

While, on a literal reading, the notion of a proximate sun or light source contradicts that of the absence of a sun at the commencement of creation, as outlined earlier, it would be premature to conclude ultimate


NOTES
152. Manik Maya, 1, tr. Raffles 1817: 206
153. Man 1883: 172, with a rival tradition according to which darkness prevailed at first. Afterwards, the deity granted “as a first concession, alternate periods of day and night, and subsequently, moved by the difficulties often occasioned by the latter, created the moon to mitigate their troubles.”
154. Deacon Edward Wogale (c. 1845-1883), of the Sepere stock, in Codrington 1891: 156-157
155. Howitt 1904: 427
156. Johnson 1998: 48
157. Reverend Otto Siebert, in Howitt 1904: 427-428
158. Teit 1900: 341

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irreconcilability for the two sets of traditions, The paradox can be solved in at least three different ways.

Firstly, on the assumption that creation myths worldwide generally refer to the same set of events or ideas, it is conceivable that the ‘darkness’ caused by the absence of the familiar sky-lights was not absolute, but allowed for some diffuse light.

Secondly, as a number of creation myths indicate, the ambient or excessive light of the first ‘sun’, though early, may have emerged at a later point in the relative chronological sequence than the absolute darkness, in keeping with the common comparison of the course of creation to the daily cycle, which proceeds from the complete darkness of night to the dim, purplish glow of ‘dawn’. For example, the Okanagon people (British Columbia) stated:

A long time ago the world was all dark; there was no sun. So all the people came together to make a sun. Somebody proposed that Quilquilāken, the red-headed woodpecker, should be put in the heavens for a sun. He was accordingly put up, but was found to be too hot; and objections being made, he was taken down again…159​

And the Tlatlasikwala (northern Vancouver Island) related that a time of permanent darkness was followed by a period of incessant sunlight, following the ‘release’ of the sun:

‘It was still dark on earth then. Then O’meatl decided to steal the sun. … so he opened the chest and freed the light of day. But he did not know how to make the night and therefore it was always bright.’160​

And thirdly, the close sun may actually stand in for the creative deity so often claimed in other creation myths to have hovered over the abyss; traditions speaking of an original brightness often ascribe this effect to the radiance of the deity himself or herself. The Makiritare (Venezuela) extended this motif into the presence of an ‘eternal day’ at the time that the earth and the sky were still in unison:

There was Kahuña, the Sky Place. ... The whole world was Sky. … There was just light. In the highest Sky was Wanadi, just like now. He gave his light to the people, to the Kahuhana. He lit everything down​


NOTES
159. Tout 1911: 145. In a parallel story from the Kutenai, this event was only one in a series of attempts to launch a successful sun into the sky, Boas 1918: 66-69.
160. Boas 1895: 173-174 (‘). The placement of this myth immediately after that of an ascent along a string of arrows, as presented by Boas, does not find global parallels and is therefore probably an innovation.

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to the very bottom, down to Nono, the Earth. Because of that light, the people were always happy. ... There was no night, like now. Wanadi is like a sun that never sets. It was always day. The Earth was like a part of the Sky ... There was only light on the Earth like in the I Heavens. It was all one world, Sky above and daylight here below.161​

A Hindū creation account combines the notions that the light appeared secondarily and that it was a form of the creator himself:

There was this world - pitch-dark, indiscernible, without distinguishing marks, unthinkable, incomprehensible, in a kind of deep sleep all over. Then the Self-existent Lord appeared - the Unmanifest manifesting this world beginning with the elements, projecting his might, and dispelling the darkness. That One - who is beyond the range of senses; who cannot be grasped; who is subtle, unmanifest, and eternal; who contains all beings; and who transcends thought - it is he who shone forth on his own.162​


9
Primordial absence of time

Whether caused by the absence or the immobility of the regulating luminaries of heaven, ancient traditions such as the above agree that, prior to the process of creation, time could not be measured by any means. In effect, the sources tend to typify chaos as a timeless age, a glimpse of eternity epitomising illud tempus, the bygone era of the gods or mighty ancestors, that terminated with the turbulent events encapsulated in the myth of the world axis, within which concepts such as an immortal god or an everlasting day find a rather natural Sitz im Leben.

For example, a Sumerian creation text from the Early Dynastic period concerns the time when “An-Heaven and Ki-Earth were ‘resounding’ together” and “The sunlight was not (yet) shining forth, / The moonlight was not (yet) coming forth”. It clarifies this description with the words “today’ and ‘yesterday’ was the same”,163 which can only be interpreted to the effect that “these lines conceptualize time before creation as

NOTES
161. Watunna, tr. de Civrieux 1997: 21, 24
162. Manusmrti alias Mānava Dharmaśāstra (Laws of Manu), 1. 5-7, tr. Olivelle 2005: 87. The ensuing text explains that the primeval state of chaos corresponds to a time when “that One of inconceivable prowess” is asleep, while the process of creation coincides with the god’s awakening: “When that god is awake, then this creation is astir; but when he is asleep in deep repose, then the whole world lies dormant.” 1. 51-52, 56, tr. 2005: 89. This symbolism can be seen as an extension of the metaphorical comparison of the original darkness to ‘night’.
163. AO 4153, 2. 2; 3. 1, 3-4, tr. Sjoberg 2002: 231


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standing still.”164 And an Aztec creation myth observes with regard to the initial stages of creation:

All the aforesaid was made, and created without any account being taken of the year, except that it was all in one, and without any difference of time… 165​

It is for the absence of measurable time that early estimates of the length of the timeless era - when given - differ so widely.


10
Primordial union of male and female sexes

Just as the future pair of heaven and earth were supposed to have formed an original unit in the days of chaos, so the distinction of the sexes - of which ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ formed the prototypes in numerous cultures - could, as a third type of chaos metaphor, be thought to have been preceded by a primordial epoch of hieros gámos or ‘sacred marriage’ of the divine pair. That the Sumerians regarded the former union of heaven and earth as a sexual one can be gleaned from a Sumerian creation text from the Early Dynastic period, cited above, according to which at first “An-Heaven and Ki-Earth were ‘resounding’ together”.166 And when informants from Nanumea (Tuvalu) relate that “the heavens and the earth united in marriage” at the onset of time,167 they refer to the original low position of the sky.

Alternatively, the ultimate conjunction of the archetypal male and female could be detected in the concept of androgyny. The creative deity in particular, at this point often indistinguishable from all that existed, is commonly portrayed in the sources as a hermaphrodite being. A Hindu tradition stated that the first being, “in the shape of a person (purusha)”, “wished for a second. He was so large as man and wife together.”168


NOTES
164. Sjoberg 2002: 237-238
165. Fray Andrés de Olmos (?), Historia de los Mexicanos por sus Pirituras (History of the Mexicans as Told by their Paintings; c. 1530 CE), 3, tr, Phillips 1884: 619
166. AO 4153, 2. 2, tr. Sjoberg 2002: 231. Sjoberg (2002: 233-234, compare 245 note 30) opined that the ‘conversation’ between the two “probably took place after the separation between Heaven and Earth”, forcing him to conclude that in this text - in contradistinction to other Sumerian texts - the separation took place before Enlil existed. More in line with the Sumerian record and with similar traditions in other cultures is the possibility that heaven and earth communed in the time of ’chaos’, as they would no longer do afterwards. Abundant fertility no longer prevails.
167. Recorded between 1840 and 1880, in Turner 1884: 292
168. Brhadārayaka Upaniṣad, 1. 4. 1, 3, tr. Muller II 1884: 85


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According to the Fon (Benin), the creator, Nana-Buluku or Mawu-Lísa, was androgynous. 169 Ometéotl alias Huehuetéotl or Xiuhtecuhtli, purportedly the oldest deity in the Aztec pantheon, was invoked as “the mother of the gods, the father of the gods, Ueueteotl…”170 And some informants of the Kogi on the western slopes of the Colombian Sierra Nevada reported that “the original Great Mother’s name was Se-yubang or Hába Se / mother-penis, alluding to a primordial androgynous image.”171


11
Other primordial elements

Less common is the identification of fire, lightning, smoke, wind, ‘breath’ or fog as the prevailing element at creation, sometimes identified with the creative agent as a substance hovering over the expanse of water. More generally, however, water, wind, and fire tend to occupy the same structural ‘slots’ in mythological and early cosmological sources.172 For example, a Malay charm book (date not given) opened with an allusion to the time before creation:

In the days when Haze bore Darkness, and Darkness Haze, ... before the existence of the names of Earth and Heaven, of God and Muhammad, of the Empyrean and Crystalline spheres, or of Space and Void… 173​

The Juaneño and Luiseño societies believed that sky and earth originated from “two clouds” representing all that existed in the beginning:

There was in the very beginning nothing whatever. There was no sky, no earth, no water, but just empty space. In this empty space there became two clouds. One was called Vacant and the other was called Empty. They were brother and sister. This brother and sister kept​


NOTES
169. Herskovits 1938: 1O1,129; Mercier 1954: 218-219
170. Bernardino de Sahagün, Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva España (General History of the Things of New Spain, 1569 CE; Codex Florentfnus), 6. 4, trs. Anderson & Dibble 1969: 19; compare 6. 9, 17;León-portjlla 1963: 32; 1969: 63,
171. Reichel-Dolmatoff 1987: 83
172. In parallel accounts, the world was formed from water, wind, or fire. it or a former world was destroyed when a ravaging deluge, a destructive wind, or a cosmic conflagration occurred. The mythical hero alternately emerged from the primordial waters or rose out of sacred flames. A deity was variously taken up into heaven by means of a celestial river, a cosmic whirlwind, or a heavenly flame. And so on.
173. Introduction to a Malay charm book belonging to ‘Abdul Razzak of Klang, Selangor, tr. Skeat 1984: 2-3


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changing into different forms, until finally the brother became Sky and the sister became Earth.174​

These primary elements often overlap with each other in a functional sense. Countless traditions presented the waters of the flood as seething and the mythical Wind as scorching hot, like the desert wind. This means that these elements can be treated as equivalent symbols of a singular, primordial substance, a type of prima materia here designated the archetypal ‘vapour’. Because this substance likely did not exactly correspond to any common substance in the familiar human environment, it seems possible that this is what some esoteric traditions referred to as ‘nothing’ or ‘not being’, as discussed above.

12
A primordial group

Not all traditions of creation insist that a supreme creator or an androgynous pair were the only beings in existence during the first stage of cosmic history. Some postulate the existence of a group of mythical beings at the time of ‘chaos’, whose origins are seldom spelled out. In various cosmogonies, these entities are counted as a dozen or half a dozen in number and are personified as a band of siblings or offspring of the surrounding environment, that were repeatedly portrayed as the oldest generation of gods or ancestors. In a creation myth from the Maya of Chumayel, the emergence from chaos of “the three-cornered precious stone of grace”, arguably identical with “the heart of God the Father in heaven”, was followed by the formation of seven bead-like entities, called uucppel zazil, “seven lights”, and each described as picib tun gracia or an “infinite precious stone of grace”:

Then there were born seven tuns, seven katuns, hanging in the heart of the wind, the seven chosen ones. Then, they say, their seven graces stirred also. Seven also were their holy images.175​

And an informant from the Wyandot (originally from Ontario) stated that “In the beginning there was nothing but water, a wide sea, which

NOTES
174. Gifford & Block 1930: 102
175. Don Juan Josef Hoil, Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel (1782 CE), 11 (48-49), tr. Roys 1967: 107-108. The “heart of the wind” translates yol ik. “Ik may mean either wind, breath or spirit.” 1967: 107 note 5. These “lights” may well have signified the sun, the moon and the five planets that are visible to the naked eye. Can picib or “infinite” also be translated as ‘eternal’?

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was peopled by various animals of the kind that live in and upon the water.”176

One class of flood myths includes doublets of the creation theme, in which the recovery of land and life after the deluge duplicates the creation of the world from chaos.177 Thus, a creation myth from the Blackfeet (southern Alberta and northern Montana) reads like a tradition in the category of flood myths:
“In the beginning, all the land was covered with water, and old Man and all the animals were floating around on a large raft. ... old Man formed the world, and afterwards he made the people.” 178​

And a spokesman for the Mojave (Colorado River) revealed that darkness and the presence of water on the surface of earth had characterised the earliest state of the world:

This valley was then all under water, - all except the lofty mountains down there by the Needles. ... The water remained very high; all the land was covered and it was very dark, for as yet there was no day and no night, just dark all the time. So Mustam-ho took the Mojaves in his big arms and carried them…179​


NOTES
176. Alexander Clarke Senior (18001876), who heard the story in the early 1800s, in Hale 1888: 180. Variants on this myth agree, but preface it with a description of a cosmic tree felled by divine beings in the sky, compare Curtin & Hewitt 1918: 409-411, 461 for versions from the Seneca Iroquois, and Hewitt 1903: 1 4 1 I 83 for an Onondaga version.
177. “…there is the closest relation between the Deluge and the Chaos before the creation ...“, Wensinck 1916: 16. “The relation between the cosmogony and the deluge is of so close a nature that one can almost be considered as a repetition of the other. This is not only true for the Semitic world.” 1918: 13. The Jesuit historian Bernabé Cobo (1582-1657 CE; Historia del Nuevo Mundo, 1. 13. 2, tr, Hamilton 1990: ii), who did not appreciate this convergence, complained of the complete lack of the distinction among the Quechua (Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador): “... they are very confused because they do not distinguish the creation of the world from its restoration after the Flood had passed. Some place Creation before the Flood, but the majority confuse Creation with the Flood and the restoration that came afterward.”
178. Grinnell 1893b: 272
179. Merryman, 1886, in Bourke 1889: 179


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Spiral

A spiralling form emerges, similar in composition to wind, fog, mist or cloud. This is a divine breath or spirit, presented as a snake or dragon and radiant.

13
A primordial wind or spirit

The point of most creation myths is that the substance constituting the primordial expanse of chaos - often a vapour or water - was at first undifferentiated and shapeless, but eventually developed into identifiable, though complex and transient, forms with well- defined structures.

Some accounts - like the standard Judaeo-Christian understanding of Genesis 1 - feature a creative deity whose form remains indefinite, as if the god was some invisible or ethereal presence.

Apart from these, a large number of traditions involve the presence of a wind, fog, mist or cloud on the abyss, which is presented as the breath, ‘spirit’ or physical manifestation of a living entity. For example, according to the Israelite creation narrative, the rūah, elohīm or the ‘spirit of God’ hovered over the uncreated world.180 As has long been acknowledged, the meaning ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ of the Hebrew word rūah was derived from a primary sense wind, breath’, so that the original notion may have been that of an animate breeze as the first living being. This tradition, if correctly interpreted, is reconcilable with the much more explicit and elaborate views Hippolytus of Rome (c. 170 - C. 236 CE) imputed to the Sethian faction of the Gnostic movement. According to this, the highest deity or the “Father” stirred the waves of the primordial abyss in the form of a life-bearing wind:

And into all this infinity which is under heaven there was scattered and distributed… the fragrance of the spirit from on high. Then there came into being from the water the first-born principle (to wit)​

NOTES
180. Genesis, 1. 2

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a wind violent and turbulent and the cause of all generation. For making some agitation in the waters it raises waves in them.181​

In the Bön religion (Tibet), -it was believed that “the entire universe” ultimately flowed forth from “the breath which streamed out of the creator”.182 In creation myths from north and central Nias (off the west coast of Sumatra), the wind is featured as the creating force . The Karen (Myanmar) intimated that their “God existed before the creation of the heavens and the earth. He was like the air, and lived in the sky, like the wind; and like the wind he went about everywhere. This he did through his inherent power.”184 And according to a creation myth from the Zuñi (New Mexico), the primeval expanse of water was the result of “mists” and “steams” emitted by the creator:

In the beginning of the new-made, Awonawílona conceived within himself and thought outward in space, whereby mists of increase, steams potent of growth, were evolved and uplifted. ... the great mist- clouds were thickened together and fell, whereby was evolved water in water; yea, and the world-holding sea.185

The ‘breathy’ being hovering over the abyss apparently produced a meandering, vortical motion or a primordial ‘whirl’ interpreted as the initial stirring of matter and the onset of the organisation of space.

14
A serpentine spiral

In a considerable number of cosmogonic traditions, the spiralling ‘genius’ of the process of creation is presented as a snake or dragon, doubtless on account of its visual appearance and frequently in combination with the notion of a vaporous or windy composition. A passage from the Egyptian Book of the Dead suggests that, when “the earth” was still “in its original state”, “the surging flood”, the creative god Atum manifested himself in ophidian form:


NOTES
181. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 5. 3. 19 (213), tr. Legge I 1921: 163. The qualification of this wind as prōtógonos or “first-born’ strongly resonates with earlier Orphic traditions concerning the cosmic egg, discussed below.
182. Tucci 1980: 215
183. Loeb 1989: 151
184. Mason 1865: 176
185. Cushing 1896: 379


88
... I will transform myself into something else, namely a serpent…186​

Simultaneously, Atum may also have been envisaged as a gust of wind blowing over the waters of Nun, particularly if he is ident1ciI with the “exalted soul of the Kamephis snake, the first being to appear... the oldest wind”, of a late Theban text.187 The Sethian Gnostics envisioned the “wind violent and turbulent and the cause of all generation”, mentioned above, as a snake: “But the wind at once violent and turbulent is borne along like the hissing of a serpent. First then from the wind, that is from the serpent, came the principle of generation in the way aforesaid, all things having received the principle of generation at the same time.” The same creature is referred to as “the serpent, the wind of the darkness, the first-born of the waters”.188 And a creation myth from South Borneo, probably from the Oloh Ngaju people, begins with the appearance of the snake - or Nāga - Vāsuki in the primordial waters:

In the beginning there was nothing but water, The God Hatallah created Naga Pasui in the middle of the water.189​


15
A radiant serpentine spiral

The theme of the primordial light shed by the creative deity over an otherwise gloomy world in chaos, discussed earlier, was extended to the prosopography of this spiralling ‘wind-serpent’. Of “the serpent, the wind of the darkness, the first-born of the waters”, the Sethian Gnostics claimed that “it retains the light scattered from on high together with the fragrance of the spirit - that is mind given shape in the different species. Which (mind) is a perfect God, who is brought down from the unbegotten light on high... For he was a ray from on high from that perfect light overpowered in the dark and fearful bitter and polluted water ...,190 He was also “the perfect Word of the light on high, having been made like the beast, the serpent”.191 In a strikingly similar vein, the

NOTES
186. Book of the Dead, 175, tr. Faulkner 1985: 175; compare Uphill 2003: 19. Maravelia (2006: 397) probably reads too much into the text when she interprets this “serpent” as an ‘archetypal form of the ouroboros’.
187. Clark 1959: 118
188. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 5. 3. 19 (215-216), tr. Legge I 192 1 : 164
189. Mabuchi 1964: 50
190. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 5. 3. 19 (213-215), tr. Legge I 1921: 163-164
191. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 5. 3. 19(216), tr. Legge 11921:164-165


89
“pooled water” of the Maya Popol Vuh was Inhabited by a luminous divinity curiously described in terms of a snake with plural aspect:

Only the Maker, Modeler alone, Sovereign Plumed Serpent, the Bearers, Begetters are in the water, a glittering light. They are there; they are enclosed in quetzal feathers, in blue-green. Thus the name, ‘Plumed Serpent.192​

The Quiché form of this name, Q’ukumatz, is the semantic equivalent of other glittering ‘feathered serpents’ such as the Yucatec Cuculcán and the Aztec Quetzalcóatl, the latter of whom doubled as Ehecatl, ‘air’ or wind’.193


NOTES
192. Popol Vuh, 1, tr. Tedlock 1996: 64. This “Sovereign Plumed Serpent” is a literal translation of q’ukumatz, more commonly spelled Cucurnatz, 1996: 216. “The light in question here might be escaping between the feathers with which the Bearers and Begetters are covered ... but it could also be a twinkling star. In any case it is down at the level of the water, perhaps on the horizon.” 1996: 222
193. Brundage 1982: 47
 

Laura

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Well, that's way more comprehensive than I think we need to be to get a good overarching view of things; Witzel does a pretty good job of that even if his book is a door stop.
 

genero81

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Witzel does a pretty good job of that even if his book is a door stop.
LOL, I've been reading and reading and I'm only 20% according to Kindle. Although, I'm guessing there's a pretty hefty index in the back. I saw the size of the book on the latest episode of 'Mind Matters.'

Right... Just as I suspected.

It can double as a booster seat for a youngster.
 

Gaby

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LOL, I've been reading and reading and I'm only 20% according to Kindle. Although, I'm guessing there's a pretty hefty index in the back. I saw the size of the book on the latest episode of 'Mind Matters.'
It finishes at about 56% or something, the notes take practically the rest. The reading felt much smaller though. I enjoyed the tour of the world's mythologies :-)
 

lilies

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Can anyone tell me please what exactly Greater Near East means? I'm unable to find the exact definition of this area. I only found this, but it just mentions
A major focus of this course will be on case studies from around the eastern Mediterranean and greater Near East during the Holocene, but particularly dealing with examples from the Levant (modern Israel/Palestine, Syria, southern Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan).
I could find the Greater Middle East on Wikipedia, but nobody is talking about this darned Greater Near East as if it were some taboo?
 

mkrnhr

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I could find the Greater Middle East on Wikipedia, but nobody is talking about this darned Greater Near East as if it were some taboo?
It depends on the context. Usually the Middle East refers to the Levant or to the Levant + Mesopotamia. But depending on the context, the region of interest can be extanded, including Anatolia, the Eurasian Steppe and/or maybe even north-eastern India. OSIT
 

lilies

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It depends on the context. Usually the Middle East refers to the Levant or to the Levant + Mesopotamia. But depending on the context, the region of interest can be extanded, including Anatolia, the Eurasian Steppe and/or maybe even north-eastern India. OSIT
Aha! Thank You! I added your definition to my book-reading 'Notebook of Terms'.
 

Approaching Infinity

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I just read something that I thought was very cool in Graham Hancock's new book from this year: America Before: The Key to Earth's Lost Civilization. I'm really enjoying the book (half way through). So far it's a very level-headed overview of the latest research on the mound-building cultures, their archaeoastronomical features, and the ancient cultures of the Amazon (with reference to the genetic link between some of them, and the Australians/Papuans) that weren't even acknowledged to exist until recently. Hancock is arguing that these practices and beliefs may trace back to an original civilization shared across much of the planet before the Younger Dryas destruction, something like Witzel's idea of a common ancestor for different mythological systems, but in this case specifically in reference to certain geometrical/astronomical ideas and practices. After the destruction, the knowledge got spread around the world to various locations.

Anyways, the bit that really caught my attention was this. Hancock noticed something at Moundville, Alabama, that reminded him of something he knew from his research on Egyptian beliefs. Without going into too much detail (it's in chapter 23), he points out a crazy similarity between Native American beliefs and Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife. Essentially, both believed that the souls of the dead ascended to the Milky Way, and crossed into the land of the dead through a portal in the constellation Orion. There was only a small window of opportunity right as the constellation crossed the horizon in the West. Once successfully through, they had to face all kinds of monsters and demons, one of which included the “brain-smasher” or “brain-taker” (as the Natives called her), a female being whose task was to destroy or annihilate bad or unworthy souls by smashing their brains out. As one Egyptian text puts it, "She lives from the blood of the damned/ and from what these gods provide her/ that Ba-soul who belongs to the damned/ the demolishing one, who cuts the damned to pieces" (accompanied by an image of the goddess with arms outstretched to a man taking a hatchet to his own head). (A similar role was played by her dog in one Native version, the Underwater Panther in others, and the Egyptian dog Amit, "Eater of the Dead.")

The similarities are quite remarkable, IMO, and seem like a good candidate for something that potentially was much older, a la Witzel. Also, it gives quite a disturbing set of images to accompany the idea of soul smashing! If you lost your encounter with her, your soul was kaput!
 

lilies

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Homo Symbolicus
/by Eliade, mention by Witzel on pg.27/

Fulcanelli and other alchemists were all over the importance of symbols. I think, they discovered that symbols are the best for etheric-storage inside the energetic structure of the soul-memory complex and on the next incarnation ==> knowledge-retrieval from it was easiest & strongest via symbols. I think, the alchemists created the symbols, written them down, so any alchemist-candidate, who wasn't ready to graduate yet and thus go into their secretive enclave (which was a possible mixed 3rdD x 4thD "dimensional pocket") so anybody could re-find the knowledge. Find the symbols in rare books, meditate on them to activate the already understood & stored ready to use soul-memory bits in order to proceed faster in getting enlightened, I think. Thus the race of Homo Symbolicus was born: Conscious Humanity (c) G.. Then it turns out the alchemists just used an ancient method that worked for aeons. To remember through incarnations .. with the help of symbols .. their true quest.

I'm now rewatching the groundbreaking, visionary movie Edge of Tomorrow (2014), where the protagonist's job is to learn and remember as much as he can in two days - via the process of REPLAY - and die as many times as possible (this is done via repeated incarnations in our case) - in order to arrive to the point, where he finally gets the long awaited visions that gradually show him the location of the Archenemy.

Once successfully through, they had to face all kinds of monsters and demons, one of which included the “brain-smasher” or “brain-taker” (as the Natives called her), a female being whose task was to destroy or annihilate bad or unworthy souls by smashing their brains out. As one Egyptian text puts it, "She lives from the blood of the damned/ and from what these gods provide her/ that Ba-soul who belongs to the damned/ the demolishing one, who cuts the damned to pieces" (accompanied by an image of the goddess with arms outstretched to a man taking a hatchet to his own head). (A similar role was played by her dog in one Native version, the Underwater Panther in others, and the Egyptian dog Amit, "Eater of the Dead.")
I think using symbols it is possible to tell upcoming generations useful knowledge gained via experience by fighting such arch-beings, a couple useful moves on how to destroy or beat them. In order to advance the Original Quest, to create a more livable future environment for all.
 
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Adaryn

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Following up on a footnote mentioning James Harrod, I found this paper published after Witzel's book came out. Haven't read it yet, but here's the summary:

A meta-pattern-analysis of the mitochondrial DNA phylotree and current distribution of language families indicates that over the last 200,000 years there are robust correspondences between mtDNA haplogroups and language macrofamilies. This study is a thought experiment, a top-down derivation of the Homo sapiens sapiens (‘Proto-Human’, ‘Proto-World’) language phylotree, which can be tested against bottom-up prehistoric linguistic reconstructions. It establishes a relative chronology for dating the emergence and branching of the global array of language macrofamilies. The language phylotree is crosschecked against archaeological data and fossil mtDNA studies, which support many of the correlations. Results imply L3M and N dispersed out-of-Africa at around 80,000 years ago with both Afrasian and Nile-Sudanic languages and mythological systems. After a 3-to-5000-year pause in SW Asia three Borean language superfamilies emerged, Borean-N (Dené-Caucasian), Borean-M (Eurasiatic) and Borean-R, the latter including language families of SW Asia and Europe as well as SE Asia and Sahul. Alternative short-chronology hypotheses for language evolution, dating of sapiens sapiens out-of-Africa and a ‘southern route fast track’ from SW Asia to Sahul do not appear supported by either mtDNA genetics or archaeology. A hypothesis aligning all language families to the mtDNA phylotree yields a more differentiated and different chronology to the dyadic out-of-Africa dispersion model proposed in Fleming, Zegura, Harrod, Bengtson & Keita (2013).

Right away, the results will suffer based on any limitations in the current understanding and interpretation of mtDNA phylotrees, and the out-of-Africa assumption. But like Witzel points out in his own work, the relative chronology still might be useful - so maybe there are some insights to be gleaned here, for those interested in linguistics.
From the above paper:

Table 1 summarizes the meta-pattern-analysis of Homo sapiens sapiens language evolution phylotree crossmapped onto the mtDNA phylotree. It is derived from the comprehensive Master Database. All of the identified mtDNA haplogroups and correlated language families will be discussed in this results section in chronological order, beginning with the emergence of sapiens sapiens around 200,000 years ago. Table 1 also suggests very tentative mtDNA correlations to the global evolution of Homo sapiens sapiens mythological systems as proposed by Witzel (2011) and Berezkin (2010a, 2010b), and these also will be discussed in greater detail below.
Capture d’écran 2019-09-19 à 20.52.19.png

Conclusions

A meta-pattern-analysis of the mitochondrial DNA phylotree and current distribution of language families indicates that over the last 200,000 years there are robust correspondences between mtDNA haplogroups and language macrofamilies. This study is a thought experiment, a top-down derivation of the Homo sapiens sapiens (‘Proto-Human’, ‘Proto-World’) language phylotree, which can be tested against bottom-up prehistoric linguistic reconstructions. It establishes a relative chronology for dating the emergence and branching of the global array of language macrofamilies. The language phylotree is crosschecked against archaeological data and fossil mtDNA studies, which support many of the correlations.

o The hypothesis of this study is that there is a rough 1:1 correspondence between the 200,000-year mtDNA phylotree and its TMRCA haplogroup dates and the emergence of language macrofamilies. A meta-pattern-analysis of the mtDNA phylotree, archaeogenetics and archaeology appears to support this hypothesis.

o The analysis provides a relative timeline for the emergence and branching of all the language macrofamilies of Homo sapiens sapiens language (‘Proto-Human’, ‘Proto-World’), which may prove useful for linguistic reconstructions of proto-Sapiens-Sapiens and for reconstructions of the prehistory of mythological and ritual systems both within-Africa and out-of-Africa.

o Proto-Sapiens-Sapiens appears to have emerged with the earliest stage of fossil Homo sapiens sapiens at Early Middle Stone Age Omo Kibish, Ethiopia, around 195,000 years ago. Late dating of ‘human’ language origins to 45, 60 or even 100 ka is contradicted by mtDNA archaeogenetics as well as archaeology.

o In this proposed timeline, click languages, strongly associated with L0-mtDNA, diverged from all other languages around 160,000 years ago. The Niger-Congo language family, robustly correlated to L1-mtDNA, emerged around 140,000 years ago. Around 120,000 years ago the ancestor of Central Sudanic, apparently correlating to L5-mtDNA, diverged from a pre-Nilo-Saharan-Afroasiatic macrolanguage. At this time period the First Wave Dispersal out-of-Africa occurs bearing L2’3’4’6-mtDNA and Pre-Nilo-Saharan-Afroasiatic.

o Around 100,000 years ago during the period of the Lake Paleo-Chad and central Sahara corridor the ancestral divergence occurred between Afroasiatic and Nilo-Saharan macrolanguage families, the former associated with L2-mtDNA and the latter, L3’4’6. Archaeology at this stage evidences a Second Wave Dispersal out-of-Africa into SW Asia at Aybut Auwal, Oman, which would have carried one or both of these ancestral languages, proto-Austroasiatic and/or proto-Nilo-Saharan.

o Archaeology in SW Asia around 85 ka provides evidence for at least two out-of-Africa industries, including two sites in the Sinai, with Nubian Complex and Nile Denticulate Mousterian, and one in northern Saudi Arabia at the Jubbah paleolake, with Nubian Complex affinity, perhaps correlating to L3’4. This appears to be a continuation of the Second Wave dispersals out of Africa. The Nubian Complex MSA industry could have been bearers of an ancestor of the Nilo-Saharan proto-Northern Sudanic (Kunama) or proto-Koman (Gumuz, Uduk) language families (in Ehret 2011 terms) and the Nile Denticulate Mousterian, an ancestor of the Afroasiatic Boreafrasian language family.

o Around 80,000 years ago (late MIS 5a) a Third Wave Dispersal out-of-Africa occurred bearing the L3 subclades M and N. Archaeology and mtDNA genetics again imply at least Nubian Complex and Nile Denticulate Mousterian cultural traditions diffused into SW Asia, correlatable to Northern Sudanic and/or Koman and Boreafrasian language families, and also to Proto-Saharan-Sahelian (Kanuri) or Proto-Eastern Sahelian (Nubian), and these interacted with SW Asian indigenous populations having Tabun C industries. In inferring this I am not equating M and N respectively to these two traditions, but dispersing populations probably had varying admixtures of northeastern African L3M and L3N as well as northern African L2a. A similar argument would apply to their ritual-myth-and-art traditions.

o There is currently insufficient archaeological evidence to determine whether routes out-of-Africa were via the Sinai, the Bab-el-Mandeb or circum-Red Sea or some combination thereof.

o In terms of mythostratigraphy out-of-Africa, based on archaeology and mtDNA genetics, I suggest the best inference would be that the dispersals out of Africa would have carried myth-ritual systems that combined to greater or lesser extent components of the two major North and East African myth-systems, which evolved prior to the TMRCA of L3 and which may be termed ‘North African’ (correlating to L2, L2a) and ‘Sudanic’ (correlating to L5, L4) or ‘Nile-Sudanic’ (correlating to L3 and its subclades). The Nile-Sudanic myth-system would have emphasized ancestral and game spirits, where ‘spirit’ means a life-giving, life-animating and life-enhancing forces or energies. This is a religious system having neither a high god nor deus otiosus. The North African religious system would appear to have had a creative power, female or androgynous Creatrix, who organized the cosmos with a world-axis, four directions and their associated complementarity principles, and thereby established the nature of life’s unfolding as one of balance and complementarity of polar or gendered pairs in all their variant combinations and recombinations.

o Around 75,000 years ago L3-mtDNA’s out-of-Africa dispersal into SW Asia had a pause of up to 5,000 years, during which N and M differentiated subclades and N branched off R-mtDNA and its subclades. Geographic bottlenecks at the Transcaucasus Crossing to Western Eurasia and Zagros Crossing to South Asia, extant Neanderthals in both directions and other archaic species, and possibly the Toba supereruption (~74 ka) and positive subsistence landscape of the ‘Persian Gulf Oasis’ presumably contributed to this extended delay.

o Three major Borean language families appear robustly associated with the differentiation of N, R and M-mtDNA clades, and I term these Borean-M, Borean-N and Borean-R. Respectively, M-mtDNA corresponds strongly to the Eurasiatic language family; N-mtDNA to the Dené-Caucasian, and R-mtDNA to Afroasiatic, Kartvelian, Dravidian, etc. I suggest that Austric and Pama-Nyungan are most closely associated with R-mtDNA. Borean-R appears to have taken a ‘northern route’ diffusing branches across northern South Asia and into Southeast Asia and Sahul, and also into Europe, Central and East Asia. While at first glance this might appear contradictory to current language macrofamily reconstructions, it seems supported by Berezkin’s discovery using principle component analysis (2010a, 2010b) of similar mythological motifs shared by peoples in three disparate geographic regions: Indo-Pacific, South American and western Eurasia/Europe.

o The hypothesis for a sapiens sapiens ‘southern route fast track’ of a few thousand years from SW Asia to Sahul, e.g., leaving Africa around 50, 60 or even 70 ka is not supported by mtDNA genetics or archaeology. On the contrary the Third Wave Dispersal from
Africa began circa 80 ka and arriving in Sahul circa 55 ka apparently took around 25,000 years, including an up to 5,000 year delay in SW Asia.

o By around 50,000 years ago (MIS 3c/b), based on mtDNA phylotree and its TMRCAs, it appears that roughly 28 new mtDNA haplogroups had emerged, and based on current languages associated with them, at least 17 of them, from Europe to East Asia and Sahul, correlate to the emergence of 17 language families—which I term ‘Middle Borean’.

o By around 25,000 years ago another dozen language families emerged—which I term ‘Late Borean’—and this, for the most part, appears to have completed the development of the major language families of the world.

o The 1:1 correlation of mtDNA haplogroups and language families generally appears more robust at earlier stages of the phylotree than recent stages. In the latter language replacements and adoptions appear more frequent and current population genetic samples sometimes more admixed. There is one notable anomaly to the 1:1 correlations for Middle Borean languages around 50,000 years ago. Current Han people are especially associated with mtDNA haplogroup D, which belongs to the M-mtDNA clade. They would be expected to have a Borean-M Eurasiatic language. Instead their Chinese language is classified as belonging to the Dené-Caucasian family (Borean-N). Thus the genetics suggests that the Han may have initially been speakers of a Eurasiatic language and later adopted a Dené-Caucasian language, which evolved into Chinese. Linguists might explore this possibility further. While the case of Han Chinese might be taken to invalidate my basic hypothesis of a 1:1 correlation of major mtDNA haplogroups and language macrofamilies, I suggest that the correlation appears to hold in general and this Han Chinese exception appears to be the exception that proves the rule.

o Finally, it appears that Fleming’s Borean model (Fleming, 2002; 1991; 1987; Fleming, Zegura et al., 2013) with its 3 major subclades maps almost precisely onto the 3 primary branches of mtDNA out-of-Africa and their correlated language macrofamilies. Fleming’s cluster of Afrasian (Afroasiatic), Kartvelian, Dravidian, Elamitic, and other SW Asia extinct languages maps onto descendents of R-mtDNA and more precisely its U-mtDNA branches; Caucasic-Burushaski-Dené maps onto N-mtDNA and Eurasiatic onto M-mtDNA. Archaeogenetics further supports adding SE Asian/Sahul languages, including Austric, Trans-New-Guinea, Papuan and Pama-Nyungan, as a fourth cluster to Fleming’s Borean, as argued for by Gell-Mann, Peiros and Starostin (2009) and correlating these languages to the Borean-R language phylum.
 
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Pierre

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From the above paper:

[...] Results imply L3M and N dispersed out-of-Africa at around 80,000 years ago with both Afrasian and Nile-Sudanic languages and mythological systems. [...]

View attachment 31661
The birth of the Laurasian mythology, which, unlike the Gondawana mythology, includes myths about the destruction of the world, is dated to c. 70kA BP.

This dating and the location of the new Laurasian mythology (Eurasia) is coherent with the date given for the destruction of Kantek (c. 79 kA) and the location where the Kantekian refugees were transferred (Caucasus and surrounding regions).

session 30/09/1994 said:
Q: (L) What was that planet known as?
A: Kantek.
Q: (L) When did that planet break apart into the asteroid belt.
A: 79 thousand years ago approximately.
session 31/05/1997 said:
Q: And they unloaded them in the area of the Caucasus, is that correct?
A: And regions surrounding.
 
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