Amanda Laoupi: The Pelasgian Spiritual Substratum of the Bronze Age Mediterranean and Circum-Pontic World (1)

by Amanda Laoupi

Abstract

Previous research has revealed that the Sirius and Hephaistos myths and legends were strongly present in Bronze Age Mediterranean communities via an interrelated cultural network among various cultures and societies (Laoupi, 2006a & b; Laoupi, 2011). The aim of the present monograph is to deepen this research, enrich it with the latest evidence and cover broader geographical and chronological boundaries. The Sirius, Moon and Venus cults came from Paleolithic Times amazingly enriched by their “journey” through the human psyche starring at the Cosmos. Especially, the Sirius cult was a pivotal cult of the Pelasgian substratum coming from Neolithic and late Paleolithic Times.

Sirius in the Palaeolithic Cult

The emergence of symbolism, abstract thought and spiritual consciousness has always intrigued modern scientists who claim that they were present at least in the last 100-kyr of human history, since the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. The bio-anatomical toolkit was the triggering mechanism which gave humans the ability to observe, understand and partially predict the phenomena of the Cosmos. The menstrual cycle of women resembling the cycles of the Moon, the 13 moons in a solar year, the ancient symbol of the ‘cross’ representing the four seasons, the solstices and the equinoxes, as well as the constellations of Virgo, Taurus, Orion, the Pleiades, and the star Sirius were the first symbolic framework of humankind, which can be traced in Paleolithic art, archaeology and archaeoastronomy (Joseph, 2001 & 2011; Chung, 2015; Rappenglueck, 2015). Although the topic of neuroscience is out of the scope of the present study, it is worth mentioning that the human brain seems to be “hardwired for spirituality” (van den Dungen, 2015, online at: http://www.neuro.sofiatopia.org/brainmind_brain.htm; Rappenglueck, 2012).

The Valley of Visoko, in the Sarajevo area of Bosnia and Herzegovina (known also for its controversial pyramids), seems to have kept some intriguing and astonishing secrets concerning human prehistory. An enigmatic carved stone, aka the Visoko Stone, has been found near the Ravne Tunnels carrying mysterious symbols that turned out to be the most ancient astrological map found on Earth. Researchers (the Bosnian archaeologist and excavator of the pyramids Semir Osmanagich and the Italian journalist and researcher Armando Mei) claim that Sirius was among the stars, constellations and astronomical phenomena depicted on it. A running of astronomical simulation programs dated the map to 88,272 BCE, but it is believed that it may be much older, before 100 Ka!

On the horizon, Orion (the mighty hunter) is in confrontation with the constellation of Taurus. Over 20 kya ago, our ancestors painted, at the cave of Lascaux, a hunter with two horns who has been killed, dismembered/disembowled by the raging bull. The hunter faces Taurus, and, below and beneath the dead Cro-Magnon/Magdalenian hunter, a bird, symbol of rebirth, perhaps symbolizes the star Sirius (a strong motif which later was a pivotal topic in ancient Egyptian cosmology and theology).


Similarly, Eelsalu (1985), Congregado (2001), and Laričev (1999) associated the arrangements in other rock pictures with areas of the sky, the constellation of Orion with the bird-man, the constellation of Taurus with the bison, the constellation of Gemini with the woolly rhino, and Sirius (α CMa) with the bird-on-the-stick, whilst  Glyn-Jones (2007) considers Taurus to be the bison, Gemini and Orion (down to the belt) to represent the bird-man, Procyon to be the bird-on-the-stick and Leo to illustrate the back part of the woolly rhino (Rappenglueck, 2013).

Furthermore, the famous constellation of Orion has been recognised on an Aurignacian ivory tablet (a tiny sliver of a mammoth tusk) dated ca to 38-32.5 Ka, and found in 1979 in Geißenklösterle Cave in the Ach Valley in the Alb-Danube region of Germany. This tablet may have also served as a pregnancy calendar (Rappenglueck, 2003).

The Sirius Cult in Africa

Sirius is 23 times more luminous than the Sun, but it shines 8 ly away from Earth. Although astronomers had suspected that Sirius was a member of a binary star system, and it was thought to have a smaller companion known as Sirius B, since 1844, this fact was verified in 1862 and further validated by spectral analysis in 1915.  In the case of the Sirian binary system, the internal orbital period is 49.97 years (cf. the repeated number 50 in many cultures), and like all binary systems, it orbits around the center of our Galaxy. Sirius B is much heavier and about 100 times smaller in radius than is Sirius A; its visible light is 10,000 times fainter than that from Sirius A, though Sirius B gives off far more ultraviolet and other light. Triple star systems are known, too, and the Sirian system may yet prove to be one of these (is there a Sirius C?). By the year 9000 CE onwards, Sirius will not be visible any more in northern and central Europe, and in 14 Ka from now, its declination will be -67°, thus the star will be circumpolar throughout South Africa and in most parts of Australia.


In the eastern part of the Green Sahara, once a large basin in the Nubian Desert, Nabta Playa is located approximately 800 km south of modern day Cairo or about 100 km west of Abu Simbel in Southern Egypt. Beginning around 12 Ka, this region began to receive more rainfall, filling a lake. Archaeological discoveries reveal that the prehistoric peoples who inhabited the area, led lives with a high level of organization (e.g. above-ground and below-ground stone constructions, villages designed in pre-planned arrangements, deep wells that held water throughout the year). But the most astonishing discovery was about one of the world's earliest known examples of an archeoastronomical site.

From 7 Ka onwards, these people constructed megalithic monuments, built on the Tropic of Cancer, the very latitude at which the sun casts no shadow at midday at the summer solstice, and roughly contemporary to the Goseck circle in Germany (the oldest know solar oservatory) and the Mnajdra megalithic temple complex in Malta. 


Archaeoastronomers consider them to be a conceptual representation of the motion of the sky over a precession cycle. In fact, the calendar circle correlation with Orion's belt (or Sahu in Ancient Egyptian cosmogony, often associated with the god Osiris as Sahu-Osiris) and Sirius (the Egyptian Sothis) occurred between 6400 BCE and 4820 BCE, matching the radio-carbon dating of campfires around the circle. Measurements confirm, also, the possible alignments with Sirius, Arcturus, Alpha Centauri and the Belt of Orion. Other researchers go even beyond this dating, recognizing a representation of the Milky Way as it was in 17,500 BCE and maps of Orion at 16,500 BCE (Wendorf and Malville, 2001; Wendorf, et al., 2001; Brophy, 2002; Irish, et al., 2002; Brophy and Rosen, 2005; Malville, et al., 2008).


In the ancient kingdom of Kush, there was Wayekiye, the son of a certain Hornakhtyotef, a prophet of Isis, who was “hont-priest of Sothis and wab-priest of the five living stars”, according to an inscription on the walls of the temple of Philae dated to a period  of ca 227 CE. And in the Nubia area of Sudan (Török, 1997), as well as in ancient Egypt, there was a group of monuments oriented towards the heliacal rising of Sirius (Belmonte, et al., 2010).
In December 2013, archaeologists working on the North Kharga Oasis (Egypt’s western desert) Survey Project, discovered the only known example of spider rock art in Egypt, a panel dated to at least 4 kya. Modern researchers offer a tempting interpretation, according to which the existing stone represents the Sirius star system and the whole panel represents a star map (Lynn, 2015).

The Dogon people, on the other hand, are famous for having kept the ancient knowledge about the Sirius star system intact. They live in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend, near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. They majoritarily practice an animist religion, which includes the ancestral spirit Nommo, with its ceremonies and cults, and a Sirian mythology. According to the Dogon, ‘Sirius is the navel of the world’ (Griaule and Dieterlen, 1965, pp. 324-325), and it is considered to be a triple stellar system consisting of the stars Sigi tolo (Sirius A), Po tolo (Sirius B) and Emme ya tolo (Sirius C). Thus, we have here another Sirius-centric astronomical system (Sothic cycle), along with the heliocentric, geocentric, moon-centric etc. In this tribe, women are economically independent, so their earnings and things related to their merchandise are stored in their personal granary.

The Dogon-Sirius story started when two French anthropologists, Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, spent 25 years with the Dogon (from 1931 to 1956). They reported that the Dogon knew details about Sirius A and B (the latest needs a fairly large telescope to be seen), about the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter. The author Robert K.G. Temple (1975) broadened the data covering many fields (linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, etc) to give support to the above-mentioned theory. But contemporary researchers find no verified evidence in the initial theory (van Beek, 1991; Ph. Coppens, “Dogon shame” online at: http://www.philipcoppens.com/ dogonshame.html ; J. Oberg “The Sirius Mystery”, online at: http://www.debunker. com/texts/dogon.html ; B.R. Ortiz de Montellano “The Dogon Revisited” HTML, online at: http://www.ramtops.co.uk/dogon.html ; Caroll, 2003).


On the other hand, scholars initially hesitated to date the Vedic civilization earlier than 2400 BCE, but the data from Rigveda support a terminus ante quem ca 4000 BC, when the Vernal Equinox was in Orion and the Dog-star commenced the equinoctial year (Tilak, 1893).

Moreover, Sirius is present in the Denderah Zodiac, a famous bas-relief from the ceiling of the portico of a small temple dedicated to Osiris in the temple of Hathor at Dendera, Egypt. Although it has initially been dated to the late Ptolemaic period, presently researchers believe that it is to be dated to the New Kingdom. Today it is on display at the Louvre Museum, in Paris. As John H. Rogers pointed out (1998a), it is “the only complete map that we have of an ancient sky”, representing the basis on which later astronomical systems were based. Along with Sirius, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the Moon, the planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn), Orion, the three known constellations of the North (Draco, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor) and the 36 decans have also been represented.
Of course, Sirius - along with the stars Canopus and Vega, the five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn), Orion, Ursa Major and Draco, decans and constellations - was already present in the astronomical ceiling decoration of the Senenmut tomb in Egyptian western Thebes (n° 353), dated back to the 18th Egyptian Dynasty (first half of the 15th century BCE) under the reign of Queen Hatshepsut.

Another striking evidence is the fact that the heliacal rising of Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) on July 16, 1464 BCE, at month 1, coincided with the heliacal setting of Venus (the brightest planet), an exceptional phenomenon which only occurs once every 103 years, a phenomenon which had inaugurated a new era called the ‘Phoenix rebirth’ by the Greeks (Van Oosterhout, 1993). The ancient Egyptians called Venus ‘the bride of the Dog-star’ and identified the Phoenix with the soul of Osiris, ‘the rising god’, and the morning star Venus, with the heart of the renewed sun’ both representing light, life and consciousness. Thus, Phoenix (the fire bird or bird of resurrection or the bird of victory over death, with Sirius symbolizing the guardian of this resurrection) became a symbol of the Sothic Year. There was the meteoric benben stone, too, in the Temple of the Phoenix at Heliopolis (Bauval, 1990).

The Phoenix cycle of 1500 years (although Herodotus, II.73-75, claims that Phoenix appears every 500 years) is present in the Sothic cycle (symbol of the Heron bird) and in the Great precession of 26 Ka (symbol of the Rech bird). The Phoenix constellation corresponded to the constellations of Aquila (the Eagle) and of Cygnus (the Swan) (Mackey, 1827; Valentia Straiton, 1927). These two cycles were also present in ancient Chinese and Indian theological wisdom.

On the other hand, there is a significant bibliographic corpus that includes scientific works that investigate the correlation of the geodetic characteristics of Egyptian pyramids to the Orion constellation/Osiris and Sirius/Isis (Bauval and Gilbert, 1995). Moreover, other scholars propose that an astronomical observatory tower once stood at the sacred city of Letopolis (home of the priesthood who was responsible for the sacred Opening of the Mouth ceremony/rebirth rituals; 17 km North of Giza plateau), associated also with thunderbolts or meteorites, and some sort of nocturnal fire offerings (Velikovsky, 1950; Budge, 1999, p. 358, note 5; Bauval, 2006, p. 75).

In addition, and according to ancient Egyptian sacred traditions, the soul of Osiris was in Apis the Bull just as it was in Pharaoh, and just as he was the incarnation of Ptah, the creator god from Memphis, and the patron of all smiths and craftsmen and architects (the parallel of Hephaistos). But Apis was not allowed to live longer than twenty-five years, meaning the number of years between meetings of sun and moon in the Egyptian calendar (25 of these civil years make 9125 days, and so do 309 lunar months, with a shortfall of only about one hour, or one day off in 600 years), and he was immediately replaced by another Bull. The Apis Bull was miraculously engendered by a moonbeam (see later how the Minoan Pasiphae represented Selene in Minoan religion). Modern researchers find also the presence of Sirius among the symbols on the Phaistos Disc, a famous archaeological enigma still undeciphered.

Percy Newberry studied the pre-dynastic cults and observed that the X, djew (horizon sign) and bovine were grouped together already at the end of 6th millennium BCE.  A ‘priest of the double-axe’ is also mentioned already in the 5th dynasty. Their emblematic combination is found on the pre-dynastic Hathor palette and 1st dynasty Hathor bowl, where the bucranium with the five stars is depicted (MacGillivray, 2012, p. 125). Two triangles formed the X made by the stars Procyon, Betelgeuse and Sirius on one side and Naos, Phaet and Sirius on the other. Sirius is at the centre of the X, at the centre of the Cow’s Head constellation (Newberry, 1908 & 1910: the Minoan double axe symbol derived from this Egyptian X).

Additionally, although Sir Arthur Evans had proposed that the term ‘labrys’ was connected with the much later Carian word for ‘axe’ (thus the Palace at Knossos was the ‘House of the Double Axe’), another archaeologist, Sir Flinders Petrie pointed out that the word ‘labyrinth’ means in Egyptian ‘the temple at the entrance of the lake’ (MacGillivray, 2000, pp. 78 & 213). The Egyptian Ptah, the keeper of Apis, was a sun-god, and Daedalus, the builder of the keep of the Minotaur, was a solar hero, flying with wings. Finally, the Sirian cult in ancient Egypt gave birth from the Pyramid Texts onwards to the later mystical semiology of fraternities and ceremonies all over the world. 

The Legendary Pelasgian and Atlantean Empires

Which is the common background beyond the Pelasgians for various cults and legends related to Sirius, Atlantis, the Garden of the Hesperides (the lore about the eternal spring and paradise on Earth), Poseidon, Pleiades, Athena, Perseus, the Amazons and Atlas?  Various interrelated data and evidence disclose the existence of a prehistoric vast ‘empire’ and the series of legendary kings who ruled over the known world throughout Africa, Europe, Asia (Valentia Straiton, 1927). Let us present some of this evidence.

The Egyptian high priest and Master of Secrets Manetho from Sebennytos in the Delta (3rd century BCE) had calculated a total length of 24,925 years for the three divine dynasties (of the gods, the demigods and the Manii aka Forefathers or Spirits of the Dead), who had ruled in the beginning over the plains of the Nile (the oldest surviving reference to Manetho's Aegyptiaca is that of the Jewish historian Josephus in his work Against Apion; Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, II.526 ff; Armenian version of Eusebius, Chronica; Manetho, fr. 3, from Syncellus; the Memphite Theology, the Palermo and the Cairo Stones, the Turin Royal Canon/King List dated to 13th century BCE). Then, we should add another 5,264 for the following dynasties of Mortal Kings - according to Eusebius, beginning with Menes and ending with Artaxerxes Ochus, and finally, another 340 years until the times of Augustus, when Christ was born (Dodson, 2004). Thus, we have a total of 30,529 years to the beginning of our era (see also Mei and Moretto, 2009). Researchers had already observed the difference between lunar and solar years, so the initial number of ca 25 ky could be equivalent to 2206 solar years (Boeckh, 2012, p. 85, corrects this to 2046 solar years).

Palermo Stone from Royal Annals of the Old Kingdom of Egypt

The basalt Palermo Stone (irregular, shield-shaped fragment, 43.5 cm high, 25 cm wide and 6.5 cm thick), one of seven surviving fragments of a stele known as the Royal Annals of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. It is held in the Antonio Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum
in the city of Palermo, Italy, from which it derives its name.


According to Manetho (Fragm. In Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum  II. 527), the first king who had reigned over the valley of the Nile, predating even Ouranos, was Hephaistos (Vulcan), as the god of fire, of sun and of light. In its temple, in Memphis, the god was associated with a pygmy (Herodotus, III. 37).  In Homeric times, a colony of dwarves existed south of the mouth of the Danube, near the Black Sea (Pliny, IV.18. 6; Homer, Iliad III. 6).
Diodorus of Sicily mentions (I. 26) also the rule of the Sun (Helios = Ouranos = Uranus) as the first deified king, along with Saturn (Cronos), who had ruled over the plains of the Nile. Moreover, he was considered the first king ruling over the regions near the Atlas mountain, north of the Istru. The Atlantes (or inhabitants near the Atlas mountain, near the Oceanos Potamos), according to Diodorus (III. 56; VI. 2.7), excel among all the neighboring peoples for their particular piety and hospitality. In ancient Greek etymology Ouranos, as a personal name, derives from oros with the Ionic suffix -anos, meaning ‘man from the mountain’. His wife Gaea also had the epithet orestera. According to Herodotus (IV. 49), Atlas was the name of a significant river, which flew from the heights of old Aimos (Carpathians) and into the Lower Istru (von Gooss, 1974, p.10; Dio Cassius, LXVII. 6).


Importantly, Ouranos, was considered to be the first king of the Pelasgian race, appearing also under the name Pelasgos (they are six proposed etymologies for this name: 1. < πάλαι +γέγαα = becoming old 2. < Πέληον Άργος = old man 3. < πελαργός = voyager & the bird "stork" 4. < περάω = travel at sea = the sea mariner, 5. < πλάζω = roam the sea 6. < πέλας =πλησίον+άγω = leader of the neighboring people). The size of his body, his strength and beauty surpassed that of all the other mortals, together with the gifts of his soul. He was the first to teach humans to build huts, to make clothes and he forbade them to continue eating green leaves, weeds and roots, some of which were inedible, and others dangerous to their health, allowing them only the use of the acorn of the oak for eating (Pausanias, VIII. 1). According to Aeschylus (Suppliant Women, 842-901), Pelasgos was the son of Gaea.  According to the grammarian Apollodorus (III.8.1), Pelasgos was the forefather of the Titans. Other ancient authors (Scholiast of Pindar, Olympian III. 28 in Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum II. 387) mention that Pelasgos was the first ancestor of the Hyperboreans, near the Atlas Mountain (Apollodorus, II. 5.11). According to Diodorus (I.III. 56), Ouranos’ reign extended especially over the western and northern parts of the ancient world.

Especially at Dodona (Epirus, Greece), one of the sacred Pelasgian cities, Ouranos was also venerated under the name Zeus anaxi Pelasgichos (Jupiter Imperator Pelasgus). In Homer’s Iliad (XVI. 232), Achilles invokes him under this name. He was the “Lord over the mountains of Dodona” (Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 327-258).
According to the ancient traditions, the reign of Ouranos (Pelasgos) and its pastoral tribes had extended from Northern Europe to Southern areas, and beyond the Mediterranean, to the plains of the Nile. It is worth mentioning that the Pelasgians had been the only people of the ancient world to which was attributed a divine origin (Homer, Iliad X.429; Odyssey xix.177: dioi Pelasgoi), probably due to their extraordinary intelligence, their moral and physical qualities, and their amazing deeds and works.


The second deified king was Saturn who had also reigned over Egypt (Diodorus, I. 13), over the vast territory reaching from Libya (Polemonis Iliensis, fr. 102 in Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum III. 148; Diodorus, III. 61) to the western Ocean. He was the main divinity of the populations subjected to Carthage and remained as the predominant cult and religion even after the Roman conquest (Plato, Minos, V; Diodorus, V. 66. 5 and XIII, 86. 3; Dionysius of Halicarnassos, I. 38). And in other African areas, like Mauritania and Numidia, he was venerated as an ancient national divinity, under the name Dominus and Domnus Saturnus (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum/CIL, VIII. 8452, 8461, 9329, 6353).


A similar form of government can be found among the Hyperboreans (Hecateus wrote that the descendants of King Boreas reigned politically over the sacred island of the Hyperboreans, being the administrators of Apollo’s great temple: Diodorus of Sicily, II.47), over the Dacians (Horatius, Odes III.24; Strabo, VII.3.11 and XVI. 2.39; Jornandis, De Getarum sive Gothorum Origine V) and the ‘Pelasgian’ tribes of Cappadocia (Strabo, XII. 2. 3). The later Pelasgian communal style of living dated back to the blessed times of Cronos (Justinus, Historiarum ex Trogo Pompeio XLIII. 1).


The kingdom of Babylonia, which was founded in lower Mesopotamia by one so-called Belus (Philo of Byblos, Phoenician History fr. 2. 21) who was the son of Saturn I and brother of Saturn II, was an integral part of the Pelasgian empire. Its inhabitants were named Chaldeans; they did not belong to the Semitic race (Second Book of Kings, 18. 26; Isaiah, 36. 11; Daniel, II. 4). Later on, they represented only the class of the priests occupying themselves with astronomical observations and prophecies.


The Chaldeans called Saturn Heliu, and claimed that he predicted the greatest number of phenomena and the biggest (Diodorus, II.29-31; Censorini, De die natali, VIII). Another interesting fact was that they believed in the immortality of the human soul (Pausanias, IV. 32), a belief that we find in other Pelasgian nations such as the Hyperboreans (Plato, Axiochus, ed. Didot, II. p. 561), the Getae and the Dacians (Herodotus, IV. 94). This doctrine was not of Semitic origin, it doesn’t appear even in the laws of Moses. According to Cicero, the Chaldeans were originally from the Caucasus (De Divinatione, I. 19), perhaps meaning the vast system of mountains from north of the lower Danube. Diodorus mentions (III.56.3) that Uranos had been busy for a long time with the observation of celestial phenomena; he was a prominent astronomer, even prophesying many things which happened in the sky.

In other traditions and legends the beginnings of astrology were attributed to Atlas, the famous king from the country of the Hyperboreans (Diodorus, III. 60.2; Alexander Polyhistor, fr. 3 in Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum III. 212; Isidorus, Origins III.24. 1). Plato (Axiochus – Ed. Didot. Tom. II. p. 561) mentions that the Hyperboreans had been the first to consider the Universe as a sphere, at the centre of which was the Earth. Perhaps that this deep knowledge of Cosmos and Universe forged the legend that the entire universe was supported on Atlas’ shoulders (Pliny, Historia Naturalis III.2, II.6.3 and VII.57.12).


Unfortunately, after becoming master of the ancient world, Saturn had to wage two harsh and fatal wars, one against Osiris, who had proclaimed himself king of Egypt, and the other with his son Zeus. Those wars were called the ‘Second Titanomachy’ in ancient Greek literature. Osiris was called Dionysos by the Greeks (Herodotus, II. 144; Diodorus, I. 11). His father, as he asserted, had been Ammon (Ouranos), the king of Libya and Egypt (Diodorus, I. 15. 6; III. 68, 70). According to ancient traditions, Osiris had been reared either at Nysa in Arabia, or at Nysa near the river Triton in Libya, where he had received instruction in all the branches of ancient sciences. According to other traditions, Saturn had three sons (Homer, Iliad XV. 187): 1. Typhoon, as called by the Greeks (Philo, H. Ph. Fr. 2. 21; Diodorus, I. I. 13. 21), Seth, as called by the Egyptians (Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris XLI), and Ahriman in the religious traditions of Persia and Bactria, 2. Osiris or Dionysos and 3. Zeus. The war between Osiris/Zeus and Seth/Typhoon was called ‘Gigantomachy’ in ancient Greek literature.


Concerning the ancient Pelasgian symbols, the raven was a symbol of Seth, of the Hyperboreans, Apollo (Eratosthenes, Catasterismi 41; Herodotus, I. IV.15.2), Saturn and Mithra. Varro mentions that the name of Saturn derives from satus, meaning the sown field (De lingua latina, V.64) On the other hand, Typhoon, according to the poet Quintus, was from Gaia melaina or Terra nigra – the fertile dark soil of humid areas (Posthomerica, V.485). Typhoon was associated with the ass, like Hephaistos, with the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Mysteries of Kybele, Hestia and Dionysos.


Apollo was, also, Hyperborean (Cicero, N. D. III. 23; Diodorus, II. 47). His sister Artemis spent time, according to the poet Pindar, in the country near the Istru (Olympians, III. 26-27). One of his famous temples was situated on the holy island of the mouths of the Danube (Diodorus, II. 47), which was called Leuke (Alba) in ancient times, and known today as the ‘Serpents’ Island’. Apollo was especially venerated in all the regions of the Euxine Pontos, too (Manilius, Astronomica IV.753). Aditionnally, Achilleus (and his Myrmidons, a Pelasgian tribe) was strongly related to the area; in a fragment of the 7th century lyric poet Alcaeus (354 LP), he was called ‘ruler of Skythia’. Arctinus from Miletos in his post-Homeric epic Aethiopis, 4 (Bernabé, 1987) told the story of Achilles’ death and funeral, according to which Achilles’ body was not buried in the Troad, but it was snatched from the pyre by Thetis and brought to Leuke, the White Island.


Another Pelasgian ruler was Neptune. Ancient Greek traditions remind us that initially he had reigned over the country of the Hyperboreans, but after the dethronement of Saturn (Plato, Critias), and the great empire of the ancient world having been divided, Neptune had received the territory called Atlantis. That territory which Plato called Atlantis had had in the beginning the name Aetheria (Pliny, I.IV.25.5), a Pelasgian word, altered in Greek literature, synonymous with ‘Terra’ or Gaia (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica II.375: ateirea gaian).

In the tablets of Linear B’ scripture from Pylos, Peleia is also referred (PY tn 316) among other deities (Laoupi, 2005). Peleia is related to Poseidon, protector god of Pylos, and the sacred trinity of the female goddesses: Minoan / Mycenaean deity of Doves (pe-re- *82), Iphimedeia (i-pe-me-de-ja) and DiFia (di-u-ja, di-wi-ja). The ceremonies of sanctification were held on their altars (e.g. pe-re *82-jo = altar of Peleia). For Peleia, the offerings included a golden cup and a woman.  The deity pe-re*82 has been correlated with Phersephassa (* Persa), namely Persephone in Mycenaean Greek, but this view is not widely accepted (Palmer, 1963, pp. 20, 27, 103 & 263; Chadwick, 1987). Iphimedeia was a princess of Thessalian origin, one of the love mates of Poseidon and the mother of the giants Otos and Ephialtes (Odyssey, XI 305. Apollodorus, The Library I.53; Hyginus, Fabulae 28; Ovidius, Metamorphoses VI.117). In fact, she was also a chthonian deity who was celebrated in boeotian Anthedona, Naxos and Karia, probable her area of origin. Finally, DiFia was a deity of Pamphylia or the female alternative of Zeus, later known as Dione (see sacred peleiai of Dodona). One must not forget, also, that since the Homeric epos, the ‘Pelasgian’ god Poseidon was related to the planet Saturn (Wood, 1991). Hesiod (Astronomy, fr. 288, 289 & 290) explicitly stated that the name of the asterism is the Doves, Peleiades, and not Pleiades (Bilić, 2006, p. 40).


Finally, some say that Atlas himself was once king of Arcadia and of the Pelasgians. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (I.61–62) refers to Dardanus' original home as being situated in Arcadia, where Dardanus and his elder brother Iasus (aka Iasion) reigned as kings following Atlas. On the other hand, the scholiast of Apollonius Rhodius (I.913) borrowed information from Athenion, who had written a comedy called The Samothracians (XIV. p. 661), according to which he spoke of two Kabeiri, Dardanus, and Iasion. In the ancient mystic tradition of Greece, the Kabeiroi (the lost play of Aeschylus, Kabiri, was a Greek tragedy written in the 5th century BCE and it represents the earliest known appearance of these gods in Greek literature) were closely identified with a number of other korybantic daimones including the Rhodian Telchines, the Cretan Kouretes, the Kretan & Trojan Daktyloi, and the Phrygian Kyrbantes, and Kedalion, the Lemnian attendant of Hephaistos. In fact, Hercules was the leader of the five Daktyloi (Dactyls) who were daimones - establishers of the Olympic Games in the age of Kronos (Diodorus of Sicily, V.64.3; Strabo, VIII.3.30; Pausanias, V.7.6-10; Suidas s.v. Allos houtos Herakles).

The twin gods were also identified with the Dioskouroi, symbolizing the two poles of Heaven, especially in the Argonaut myth. They are all related to the Pelasgian substratum of the circum-Mediterranean and Pontic world and beyond. On the other hand, the Pelasgian substratum of Keos island includes the Telchinian princess of Keos, Dexithea, who was spared by the Gods when they destroyed Telchines and who later became the wife of Minos and mother of his son Euxantius, later king of Keos (Bacchylides, Fragments of Ode 1; Pindar, Paean 4 (5); Scholia on Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, I. 186; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, III.1.2).


According to Diodorus of Sicily (IV. 43), Dardanos had been a king of the Scythians, who had left his country because Zeus had killed one of his brothers. He migrated from Scythia to the island of Samothrace, and from there into Asia Minor, where he founded near the shores of the Hellespont the city of Dardanum, or Dardania (later called Troy), becoming the first father and founder of the Trojan dynasty (Virgil, Aeneid VIII. 134), while according to Strabo (vii.47), Dardanos taught the Trojans the Samothracian Mysteries. According to Dionysius (I.68), the worship of Samothrace was introduced there from Arcadia, the homeland of Dardanos. The poet Avienus calls him Draganes (Ora maritime, 196-198), and his descendents were settled in the cold countries of the North. Homer mentions that the son of Dardanos, Erichthonius, had 3,000 mares grazing on the watery plains near the Hellespont, out of which 12 were from the noble race called Boreas (northern); they hopped over the sown fields without touching them, and passed in their fast gallop over the angry waves of the vast sea (Iliad, XX. 215; XIV. 307). The Pelasgians are firstly mentioned by Homer. They were allies of Troy, and in the Catalogue of Trojans they were mentioned among the Hellespontine cities and the Thracians of southeastern Europe (Iliad, II.840-843; X.428-429). In the Odyssey (xix.175-177), they are included in the existing tribes in the 90 cities of Crete.


According to the ancient Greek tradition, the Pelasgians had dwelt in Greece even before the two legendary floods which had flowed over Attica, Beotia and Thessaly, before the times of king Ogyges and Deukalion (Herodotus, I.56, VII. 161, VIII. 44; Apollodorus, VIII. 2). And Ephorus from the Aeolian Cyme, a famous Greek historiographer of the 4th century BCE, wrote that “The tradition tells us that the Pelasgians had been the most ancient people who had ruled over Greece” (Fr. 54).

Noteworthy is also the fact that the gigantic constructions around the ancient Greek acropolises and cities in mainland Greece, Asia Minor and Italian peninsula, were called Cyclopian or Pelasgian by the ancient Greek authors. In fact, according to Aristotle, the Cyclopes were the first who had built towers, or defensive fortifications, on heights (Pliny, Historia Naturalis VII. 57). Moreover, the Pelasgians were people avid of atteigning glory (Iliad, VII.86-91) by building colossal graves (Iliad, VI.358), as well as being the wealthiest people of the known ancient world (Iliad, I.154; II.230, 605, 705; III.130; IV.476; V.313, 710; VII.180; IX.137; X.315; XVIII.289; XX.220).
 

Keos (Cyclades, Greece) as a pristine Sirius cult center in the Minoan Archipelago

The strongest unbroken link with the Pelasgians and Sirius’ prehistoric cult is provided by evidence found in ancient Keian tradition (for the decoding of the myth, see Laoupi, 2006b). A corpus of various data concealed in poetic images or hidden under the veil of allegory may function as a pool of inexhaustible sources of information.  Evidence has showed that Sirius was worshipped in later Greece, specifically in Keos, near Attica. The groups of Pelasgians were related to Keos (the initial name was of ‘protohellenic’ origin and it was Keōs) and other Cycladic islands, to Minoan Crete (bee-keeping and the semiology of the bee in ritual and religion was prominent in Minoan Crete), to Attica (especially prehistoric Athens, the eastern slopes of mountain Hymettos and the area of Mesogaia), Thessaly and Arcadia. These areas were also related to specific agricultural and pastoral activities.


Furthermore, Homer (Odyssey, xix.172-178) calls Crete a land of many peoples, reporting that "...therein are many men, past counting, and ninety cities. They have not all the same speech, but their tongues are mixed. There dwell Achaeans, there great-hearted native Cretans, there Kydonians, and Dorians of waving plumes, and goodly Pelasgians". Although the general trend of archaeological research shows that Keos underwent significant Minoan influence in early times, as well as the Athenians themselves (see the heavy toll to the Minoans, and Theseus’ trip to Crete), this paper suggests that evidence indicates fundamental continuity within a specific nucleus of prehistoric population found in Crete also, the Pelasgians. The pivotal figure of Aristaios is detected, directly or indirectly, wherever a Pelasgic substratum exists all over the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.


The island of Keos was once called Seiria or Syria in honor of the star Sirius aka Seirios in ancient Greek (Homer, Odyssey xv.403 ff; Svoronos, 1898 and 1899 in Greek). The coins of the island depicted a young man (Aristaios/Apollo; Nonnus, Dionysiaca V.xv: Aristaios was considered as the Sun’s son in Keos; Svoronos, 1899, p. 174: according to one version of the myth, Aristaios was also Cyrene’s son, Cyrene representing Selene) and the front body of a dog emanating beams. On the other hand, and according to ancient writers, the name Seirios (Liddell Scott, 1980) was also an epithet of the shining Sun (like Ariadne was an epithet of Aphrodite and Phaethon an epithet of Apollo). The constellation Lepus/the Hare which seems to be chased by the famous giant hunter Orion and his dogs (Canis major & minor) was associated with the qualities of the Moon (early Egyptians believed that this constellation symbolized the Boat of Osiris/Dionysos) and along with Canis major, it forms the letter E, the divine and sacred letter of the Hellenic race (but this correlation is beyond the scope of the present research).

sirius on keian coins

Sirius on Keian coins. Source: Poole 1886:89, No 7, Pl. XXI.3 : CEOS in genere. 2nd & 1st century BCE Bronze. Poole 1886:93, No 46,  Pl. XXI.25:CARTHAEA.  2nd & 1st century BCE Bronze. 

sirius on wall painting, coins

Up left: Wall painting from the Hellenistic family tomb of Lysson & Kallikles
(2nd century BCE), Miesa/Naoussa, Macedonia, northern Greece; Up right: Sirius on the coin of Karthaia, Keos island, Greece (see above-mentioned image). Down left: Coin of Thespiai, Boiotia, Greece (early-mid 4th century BCE); Coin of Itanus, Crete (425-380 BCE). 

Six-ray star & E (triaichmon); Malia palace (on the wall of  a cistern used in catharsis rituals); once believed to be tectonic symbols but now considered as astronomical symbols found all over Minoan Crete. © Nikos Zervonikolakis http://www.visaltis.net/2015/04/blog-post_24.html  (Greek text). For the astral cycle see also MacGillivray, 2004, p. 334 ff

Aristaios’ case proves an ancient Greek saying that ‘many names correspond to one figure’, as this mythological cycle includes various explanatory approaches, movements of prehistoric groups in the broader Mediterranean area and the recollection of a hero/benefactor of humankind (RE 1895:  852 - 859; Larson, 2001, Ch. II.5.3, pp. 84-87). The formation of the mythological substrata could be studied as following:

I. The Pelasgian nucleus of Thessaly: Aristaios and his healing traits  & prophecy skills (Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica, II.498, II.509-515 & IV.1128;  Diodorus, Library of History  IV.81.1; Cicero, De Natura Deorum III.18; Oppian, Cynegetica IV.265; Nonnos, Dionysiaca V.212 & XVII.357; Hyginus, Fabulae 161;  Suidas s.v.  ‘silphion’).


II. The Pelasgian nucleus of the Aegean islands: Apiculture (Rose: 321- 322; Aristotle Keion Politeia fr. = Schol. in Theocr. id. 5,5; Apollonius, IV.1128; Diodorus, IV.81-82; Ovid, Fasti I.363;  Oppian, IV.265; Nonnos, V.212; Hesychius,  s.v. ‘ vrisai’; Pliny in his Historia naturalis (XI.xii) associated Sirius, the famous ‘honey star’, with the formation of honey at the times of its rising, since honey was collected after its rising). Especially the Keian relation between Aristaios and the legend of the Etesian Winds, which led to an annual summer ceremony during the heliacal rising of Sirius, is recorded by ancient writers (Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica II.516-527 with scholion to II.498; Theophrastus, De ventis, IV.73; Aristotle fr 511, 611.27; Callimachus, fr. 75.32; Diodorus of Sicily, IV.82.1-3; Heraclides of Pontus, fr. 141; see also: Burkert, 1983, pp. 109-116 and Davidson, 2007, p. 207. For an in-depth analysis of mountain peak sanctuaries see also: Cherry et al., 1991, p. 100; Kyriakidis, 2005; Earle, 2008, p. 41; Renfrew, et al., 2015).


The typology and variety of the potsherds from beehives found during surface surveys in the area of Koressia, or derived by other archaeological layers from Karthaia and Ayia Irini (Archaic and Classical deposits of the settlement), show not only the importance of apiculture for the above-mentioned areas, but also the stable relationships (economic, cultural, religious, technological) between them (Cherry, et al., 1991, pp. 260-263). Especially in Keos, there was a place-name Melissos, in the territory of the ancient city-state of Karthaia (IG xii.5 1076 1,93; Cherry, et al., 1991, p. 238).

III. The Pelasgian nucleus of the Peloponnesus: Pastoralism & Agriculture  (Homeric Hymn to Hermes, V.2; Hesiod, Theogony 977; Pindar Odes, Pythian  IX.59-65; Herodotus, I.146;  Hellanicos Ia,4,F.4  Harpokrates Suidas s.v. ‘tetrarchia’; Heraklides of Pontus, FHG II.215.ix.2; Pausanias, Guide to Greece VIII.4.1; Apollonius, II.498; Diodorus, IV.81.1; Larson, 2001, ch. I.4, p. 40 & II.5.3, pp. 84-87)


Aristaios was considered a perfectly apt hunter and shepherd. People used to call him ‘agreus’ (hunter) and ‘nomios’ (shepherd), characterizations attributed to Hermes and Apollo, too. The gods Hermes and Pan were primaly Arcadian deities, thus, Aristaios could be also a pastoral demon related to the Nymphs, as was Orion. Similarly to the Keians who claimed that Aristaios taught them cattle-breeding, the ancient Arcadians, considered to be ‘the natives of  Greece’, used to say that Aristaios taught the head of their race, Arcas, the art of bread-making and weaving.

            IIIa. Arcadia
During the 16th century BCE, Aristaios, along with a group of Arcadians from Peloponnesus, Thessaly or Boeotia, came to the island of Keos. According to other traditions, he left the island and moved to Arcadia, Sardenia or Thrace (all being pristine Pelasgian cult centers).  Later on, during the 12th century BCE, the hero Keos, another son of Apollo, arrived to this Cycladic island giving his name to it. Modern scholars recognized the two different aspects of Artemis Kalliste in the tradition of two Arcadian female figures of Callisto (representing the Big Bear astronomically), mother of Arcas (grandson of Pelasgos), and Cyrene, mother of Aristaios.

            IIIb. Argolid
The rescued fragments of Hellanicos’ works often refer to the migrations of Pelasgians during prehistoric times and the strong bonds among them, from Argolid to Thessaly, the Ionian Coasts, Magna Grecia and Sicily.

IV. The Pelasgian nucleus of the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond: Kadmos and Dionysos (Hesiod, Theogony 975; Apollodorus, The Library III.25 & III.30-31; Hyginus, Astronomica II.4 and Fabulae 181; Oppian, IV.265-272; Diodorus, IV.81.1; Nonnus, V.212, XIII.253-308, XIX.225, XXIV.77& XXIX.179).

The Boeotian king Kadmos, father-in-law of Aristaios, was also father of Semele, mother of the god Dionysos. According to several traditions, the hero belonged to the secret custody of this god, and could be traced in the area of Thrace, where, after having been initiated by Dionysos in the Thracian Mysteries, he finally disappeared on Mount Haimos (or Hemus). Autonoe, daughter of Kadmos, married the hero and gave birth to a son, Actaion, whose destiny was to be a rather cruel one, for he died later by goddess Artemis, and his own hounds, in the Boeotian mountain of Kithairon.    

Moreover, the figure of Aristaios is also present in the local traditions of the Euboean cities of Eretria and Karystos, across from the northern coasts of Keos. Aristaios traveled also to India, to the Indian River Hydaspes along with god Dionysos.

V. The Pelasgian nucleus of Attica: Viticulture – Dogs - Lion hunting (Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 154 & 476; Herodotus, VI.137; Aristotle, The Athenian Constitution XXXIX.2; Pausanias, I.38.3; Plutarch, On Exile 607b; Apollodorus, II. 5.12; Kearns, 1989).


In ancient Athenian tradition, the native Pelasgians were expelled from Attica by the Athenians, at a time when they cultivated successfully the land at the foot of mountain Hymettos, given to them as an exchange gift for the erection of the ‘Cyclopean’ Walls.  In later centuries, the Athenian calendar began at Sirius' rising. According to Graves (1969), Orthrus (the morning twighlight), mate of Echidna and father of Chimaera, the Sphinx, the Hydra and the Nemean Lion, symbolized the Dog Star having two heads – the Lion and the Serpent – thus, representing the new reformed calendric Athenian year. Hecate was also involved in Sirius’ lore, as she was considered protector of the dogs (Artemis-Selene-Hecate).

But, although Aristaios holds a primal position in the local tradition of ancient Keians, their neighbours, the Athenians, attributed the sacred knowledge of viticulture to the god Dionysos, relating it to the tragic story of Icarius and her daughter Erigone (later in this paper the interconnection of Sirius and Apollo/Dionysos will be revealed). This tragic story (Kearns, 1989) contains elements of the Pelasgian Sirius cult, as the girl’s dog, Maera or Maira,  which itself means ‘Shining’, refers to Sirius, since her mistress Erigone was  transformed into Virgo, and her master Icarius into Boötes (Hyginus, Astronomica 2.4). Then the god Dionysos punished the Athenians (making their maidens lose their mind and hang themselves), or especially the shepherds who were responsible for Icarius and Erigone’s deaths. According to a different version, the shepherds fled Attica finding refuge in the island of Keos (Theodossiou, et al., 2011).

On the other hand, Sirius was annually, from its heliacal rising to 22 August, also called ‘Maira’ (< ancient Greek verb marmairo = ‘to shine’ Palatine or Greek Anthology, 1917, 9, p. 55). And Maera was a starry goddess, daughter of the Titan Atlas, who was also strongly related to arcadian lore and tradition (Theodossiou, et al., 2011). The Hellenistic poet Callimachus mentions (Aetia, fr. 3.1) “The [Kean] priests of Zeus Aristaios Ikmaios (the Lord of Moisture): priests whose duty is upon the mountaintops - to assuage stern Maira [Seirios] when she rises” (Sirius as female deity). Finally, Sirius was called ‘Maira’s star’ by the epic poet Nonnus of Panopolis (Dionysiaca, V.5.220-222).
Another interrelation of archaeoastronomical data with Athenian and Minoan traditions is that after Orion’s death, Artemis donated his exquisite hound to Procris, daughter of the Athenian Erechtheus, or to Zeus and Europa, the son of which (Minos) gave it to Procris because she had healed him (Theodossiou, et al., 2011).


Considering that the Sirius cult among various ‘proto-hellenic’ groups adopted  concrete symbolic language and archetypes, this paper deals also with transculturality at a cognitive level. According to this methodological framework, the motive of the hunting lion seems to be appropriate for the connection between the summer solstice (the beginning of dog-days and the heliacal rising of Sirius) and solar deities. The above-mentioned interrelation had been built especially in the geographical area of attico-cycladic cultural structures.  Since early times, people of Attica knew about the existence of a cave near the area of Spata, on the northeastern slopes of mountain Hymettos, the name of which was ‘Lion Cave’. Apart from the intense use of its space by shepherds and a later cult of god Pan and the Nymphs (cave sanctuary), the local traditions (Wordsworth, 18362 / 2004, pp. 126 & 212 / note 3; Scully, 1962, p.  220 / note 19; Goette, 2001, pp. 191-192; Karali, Mavrides and Kormazopoulou  2005) date back to prehistoric times. Ancient lore says that a fierce lion having its den in the cave used to terrorize the local population of the Mesogaia plain (the slopes of Hymettus and the areas of eastern Attica, where the nuclei of Pelasgian settlements were found). 

The Keian tradition of the hunting lion is a very interesting version. Formerly, the island was called Meropis and Hydroussa (land full of water) and it was the Nymphs’ favourite homeland (Ovidius, Epistulae Heroidum k 221). The Nymphs, spirits related to water (in the form of ocean, spring, lake or river), dwelled in the woods (the eastern coasts of Attica and the island of Keos were characterized by the abundance of a specific species of oaktree: see Plinius, Historia Naturalis IV.5.xviii; Hesychius s.v. ‘saronidas drys’; Scholia in Callimachum, Jovem Hymn 22. Nowadays, a tiny part of this oak forest has survived in the inner part of the island.  This type of vegetation refers to wetter and colder weather conditions, preceding historical periods). But, unfotunately, the Gods kept a jealous eye on the island’s prosperity, so they sent a ferocious lion to chase the Nymphs out of it. This beast gave its name to a northern Keian promontory, later known as ‘the peninsula of Kephala’, where a neolithic settlement and cemetery have been already excavated. On a map, the promontory appears shaped like a horse’s or dog’s head.

Apart from the strong parallels between the Cycladic islands, general parallels between Kephala and Thessaly are found in the form of cultural items (e.g. terracotta figurines) and architectural features. Moreover, a connection between Kephala and the Late Neolithic mainland of the South (Argolid and Attica) has been detected by researchers (Coleman, 1967, p. 1, 172-173 and 1977).  On the other side of the island, inland, to the SE to the ancient capital Ioulis, lays the statue of an enigmatically smiling Lion - kwown as ‘Liontas’ by local people (Welter, 1954, pp. 78-86: connection of the statue with the prehistoric tradition of Nymphs’ pursuit). The archaic statue, 6,40 m long, dated to ca 600 BCE (although there is a strong correlation with the megalithic monuments of perehistoric times), is carved from hard granite (Chartophylakides, 1962, p. 11: referred to also by Goethe in his diary, where the writer comments on P.O. Bröndsted related monograph). Nearby, at Ioulis, the temples of Apollo, Artemis and Dionysos were built during the historic period (Mendoni, 1991).

A parallel myth which described severe hydroclimatic changes in Bronze Age Greece referred to the island of Aigina in the Saronic Gulf, initially colonized by the Pelasgians. According to this version, the jealous goddess Hera wanted to punish the inhabitants of the islands by sending a dragon (instead of a lion), in the form of drought and plague, which devastated the major part of the living population. Then Zeus transformed the ants of the islands into people and called them Myrmidons, the ancestral tribe of the Homeric hero Achilles (Ovid, Metamorphoses VII. 520 ff; Strabo, Geography VIII.6.16).

VI. The Pelasgian nucleus of the Western Mediterranean: the colonization & the silphium trade (Hesiod, The Catalogues of Women fr. 93 [from Servius on Vergil, Georgics 1.14]; Pausanias, X0.17.3; Diodorus, IV.81.1; Nonnus, XIII.253). The figure of Aristaios is also present in the local traditions of ancient Corfu and Sicily, the coasts of North Africa and Sardenia.


Sirius A (Canicula Constellation/Orion’s Family: alpha Canis Major, alpha CMa) is the brightest star in the night-time sky, with a visual apparent magnitude of -1.46 (only the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and periodically Mars are brighter than Sirius). This probably triple star system consists of a blue-white main sequence dwarf star, a faint white dense and heavy dwarf companion, and Sirius C as proposed in 1994 and 1995 respectively by two researchers from the Observatoire de Nice in France (Benest and Duvent, 1995). It is located in the constellation Canis Major. Sirius A can be seen from almost every inhabited region of the Earth's surface (only those living north of 73.284 degrees can't see it) and, in the Northern Hemisphere, is known as a vertex of the Winter Triangle (Gatewood, 1978; Henshaw, 1984).


Apart from references in the Homeric Odyssey (e.g. v, 271), the Iliad seems to start with the reappearance of Achilles, in other words, of Sirius in the northern skies and especially at the latitude of Grece, around 8900 BCE, after a period of 7,000 years of disappearance due to the phenomenon of the Precession of the Equinoxes (Woods, 1991). The icon of the dog on the Phaistos disc (appearing 10 times) has been also recognised by some researchers as the symbol of Sirius a (Kilbourne Matossian, 2013, pp. 243-244). Sirius a is one of the main stars by which maritime navigation is carried out. On June 24, at 5am, Sirius rises.


On the other hand, wind patterns with their regularity and intensity, along with oceanographic characteristics, controlled seafaring operations in the Mediterranean since prehistoric times (Davis, 1979; Barber, 1987; Cline, 1994). In the Odyssey, Aiolos ties up adverse winds in a leather bag which he gives to Odysseus to assure a safe home-voyage. Later myths refer to him as the controller, or king, of the winds, in which role he persists through the ages (Odyssey, x. 1 – 76; Apollodorus, E 7.10; Hyginus, 125; Ovidius, Metamorphoses 14.223-232). Magical control of the winds only becomes important when seafaring is a critical part of a nation's life. So, he is pivotal in some major trade routes, as he may symbolize the priest who performs wind-magic or the prehistoric king who has the power to manipulate naval trade routes, being possibly less a mythic symbol than a real figure in the historical record.

As for the Minoan religious belief system, a powerful link between Neolithic societies,  the ‘proto-hellenic’ nuclei and Mycenean Greek cultural expression,  P. Faure (1994 & 2002), having assumed that any sign from Hieroglyphic or Linear A that was identical to one known in both Linear B and the related Cypriot syllabary, had the same meaning as the Linear B-Cypriot one,  analyzed inscriptions  on offerings (e.g. the libation formulae IO Za 2.1-2, VRY Za 1, SY Za 3,  IO Za 9, TL Za 1, KO Za 1, where SI-RU-TE appears) found at ten (10) caves or underground caverns in Crete, well known centers of Minoan cult. In fact, couples of these were associated with peak sanctuaries. Comparing the inscriptions piece by piece to very early Greek, Faure came to some intriguing conclusions. Among the Minoan deities’ names identified by Faure and found across the island of Crete, at Petsopha, Juktas, Apodoulou, Mt. Vryssinas, Psychro, Kato Symi and Arkalochori, the name Si-ru or Se-ri-o also appears. Apart from Siru or Serio, who represents a ‘sun’ god, there is a lunar/solar trinity including Nopina (in later Greek = Nymph or Maiden), who represents a new-moon goddess and Ma (in later Greek = Mother), who represents a full-moon goddess (see also Owens, 2007, Addenda).  Figures of the sun and moon occur frequently in Minoan iconography (Morgan, 1990; Faure, 2002). 

Sirius (Minoan)

The name of Sirius in Minoan religion. After Faure, 2002

At Knossos, divinities are mentioned in contexts dealing with offerings made to them. Among the cult personnel, the priestess of the Winds (A-NE-MO  I-JE-RE-JA =  hiereia anemon) is most often mentioned. She receives honey on behalf of the powers which she serves. This priestess of the Winds could be a prominent personality in the Sirius cult (and its relation with the Etesian winds) in the broader priesthood of Cycladic cult centers (e.g. on the highest peak of Keos’ island during  summer ceremonies). But in contrast to Knossos, where only this Priestess is certainly identified as a human cult personage, Pylos tablets mention a large number of priests and priestesses (Palmer, 1963; Chadwik, 1987). It follows that each prominent maritime civilization all over the world should have an apt knowledge of climatic/meteorological/astronomical phenomena, in order to perform successful open sea voyages on a steady basis. Furthermore, it needs to build a symbolic system within its social network, in order to insure the proper elaboration of its continuity.


Moreover, the triptych of Fire/Light-Winds-Rainfall/Dew is clearly recognised in the structure of the Aristaios myth.  Aristaios was one of the prime hierophants in the Sirius cult initially performed in peak sanctuaries. Ancient traditions wanted Aristaios to be the first observer of Sirius’ heliacal rising on the island of Keos (Justin’s Epitome of the History of Pompeius Trogus, XIII.vii).

 
This strong bond between winds and rainfall patterns is also detected  on Mount Hymettus (Young, 1940: 1-9; Langdon, 1976, pp. 7-8, 78-80  & 96-97), where ancient Athenians worshipped Zeus, as god of Rainfall, and Apollo, as god both of Fire and Dew (Pausanias, I.32.2; Hesychius, s.v. ‘ hymettios’).  So, the primordial Cycladic ceremonies that honoured Sirius and other deities of moisture and winds had later been transformed into another ceremonial framework (Caskey, 1971; Rutkowski, 1986; Peatfield, 1987; Rutkowski, 1988; Peatfield, 1989, 1990 & 1995; Watrous, 1995 & 1996; Sakellarakis, 1996).

On the other hand, the Pelasgian substratum of Arcadia (Greece) is reflected in the cult of Apollo. The majestic Classical temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassai (Peloponnesus, Greece), probably built by the architect of the Parthenon Iktinos, is considered one of the most important and most imposing temples of antiquity (Pausanias, 8.41.7; Dinsmoor, 1933), and the first Greek site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986 http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/392. It was constructed for the inhabitants of Phigaleia in honour of god Apollo and in gratitude for their salvation from the long and devastating disease epidemics that had plagued the area after 430 BCE, coinciding with the sighting of an Aurora borealis (Liritzis and Vassiliou, 2002-2003 & 2006). Apart from being the only building which combined elements of three architectural styles of antiquity (Doric, Ionic and Corinthian), it is oriented North to South and it is rotatable around its own axis by 50.2° in order to be coordinated with the star Sirius a, and the Precession of the Equinoxes.


In 1968 the American archaeologist Fred Kooper (1992-1996) found that the temple had moved out of his position, sitting on anarrimmata (debris). He also observed great wear, subsidence of floors and of the stairs in the South, and a general torsion or translocation in a sliding southward of the entire of the temple. There is also an observation made by modern researchers that the temple, Mount Taygetos and Eleusis (Pelasgian/Minoan substratum) are the three apexes of an isosceles triangle.

The twin sister of Apollo, Artemis, holds the bow of Sirius, the Bow Star, and releases the hounds of hell upon Aktaion (son of Aristaios) in order to kill him. Her hounds symbolize the Sirius constellation. She is a symbolization of Sirius before being a symbolization of the Moon (Temple, 1976). On the other hand, in many myths, the Moon is a 'front man' for Sirius and the crescent may be interpreted as the waning of the star’s light, almost to a vanishing point.
 The Cherokee paired Sirius with Antares as a dog-star guardian of the ‘Path of Souls’. The Skidi tribe of Nebraska knew it as the ‘Wolf Star’, in Chinese and Japanese astronomy, Sirius is known as the ‘star of the celestial wolf’, while further north, the Alaskan Inuit of the Bering Strait called it ‘Moon Dog’ (Holberg, 2007). According to the Incas, Sirius symbolized the jaguar, and for the Tahitians and Samoans in Polynesia, it was their zenith star.

Sirius has been Earth’s brightest star, apart for the Sun, for the last 90 ky, after Canopus aka α Carinae (Sirius is the closest 1- magnitude star to Canopus) and it will remain as such for the next 210 ky, before Vega. In 60 ky from now, it will be at the closest distance from our planet and shine a little more brightly (Schaaf, 2008). Its worldwide lore and its correlation with the constellation of Orion is recent (few thousands years) due to its motion in Heavens, thus we have an excellent archaeoastronomical tool to date the creation of the Orion and Sirius myth (Laoupi, 2016).

Amanda Laoupi: Pushing the Limits

Amanda Laoupi Pushing the limits disaster archaeology, archaeodisasters & humans

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