This paper was prepared for presentation at IGCP 521-481 Conference held in Gelendzhik in Russia between 8- 17th

September 2007

Archaeological and Natural History Observations in Azerbaijan on Sea Level Changes
(Possible Regional Cultural Connections and Scientific Challenges) Ronnie Gallagher

1. Abstract Fluctuations in the Caspian Sea level have greatly influenced coastal communities for millennia. This is due to a delicate balance between regional climate, temperature, rainfall in the catchments areas of the rivers feeding the basin, principally the Volga, and evaporation from the surface of the sea. With evaporation estimated to be just less than a meter per year, sea level will either rise or fall depending on climate and rainfall. Currently sea level is around minus 28 m relative to mean sea level, (msl). In the present era, fluctuations are only in the order of a few metres and while significant to those living near the sea, are relatively minor compared to the more massive regressions and inundations associated with the Ice Ages. During ice ages the sea greatly shrinks due to a cooler drier climate and the lack of rainfall feeding its northern rivers. At the end of an ice age, melt water inundates the northern water-shed areas during the meltdown period, to drain via river systems into the glacial lake basins of the Black and Caspian Seas. Ice cap melting from the Himalayas also adds to the inflow. In the present interglacial period, Caspian Sea levels have fluctuated around the current level with a rise and fall of around 12 m. As a hobbyist archaeologist interested in the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age in Azerbaijan, a number of settlements have been found near to ancient elevated coastlines. Several sites ranging up to +143 m relative to msl. are noted and include those at Gobustan, Qobu, Dubendi, and in the vicinity of the mountain Besh Barmak. These sites are of interest for they reflect the past height of the Caspian Sea and suggest dynamic and dramatic changes over time. Combined with the effect of tectonic uplift and the influx of meltwater from the end of the last Ice Age onward to when global sea levels stabilized at the present level some 6000 years ago, the Caspian sea level has fluctuated and impacted human habitation. It is apparent that at elevations of around 15 to 20 m msl. the Caspian Sea out-flowed via the KumaManych depression into the Sea of Azov and Black Sea. Evidence of this is seen by the presence of Caspian specific marine organisms in the Black Sea and may even be inferred from apparent long shore drift sand spits on the Northern shore of the Sea of Azov. Raised terraces in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov of around plus 6 to 8 m msl may also result from melt water inundation, and sea level rise prior to discharge through the Bosporus. Observations of rock carvings (petroglyphs) found at Gobustan and Dubendi are of great interest for they apparently

show that early man in the region used large oared vessels that may have been used for long distance transportation between the Caspian Sea, Black Sea and into the Mediterranean Sea. Indeed similarities in rock art imagery found in pre-dynastic Egyptian carvings and on pottery suggest potential cultural contact across the region. In addition large animal-like rock carvings and excavations have been found in the landscape. This little known phenomenon (called zoomorphism) testifies to an animistic belief system and widespread tradition which appears to provide cultural connections to Egypt and could be implicated in the carving of the Egyptian Sphinx. The mountain Besh Barmak is of particular interest in this respect as is a significant ritual landscape worthy of international archaeological study. 2. Introduction. Situated within the ‘cradle of civilization’ Azerbaijan and the Caucasus are lands of myth, legend, mystery, intrigue and scientific conundrums. This paper begins to look at some of these and through various observations and findings begins to explore the prehistory of the region. Ancient regional connections are evident from place names, where for instance the largest mountains in the Caucasus range, such as Lakamu, Kingu (Elbrus), Anshar (Kasbek) are amongst the names of gods in Babylonian creation legend. In Greek legend, historians tell that Prometheus was bound in chains at the foot of Kasbek. Even today, the last mountain in the Caucasus range, Besh Barmak is associated with the prophet Enoch and continues to be a place of pilgrimage for Shiite Muslims. Such mythical examples found only in scholarly textbooks are little known, but do suggest the past regional importance of the Caucasus. Curiously other research shows plausible connections with predynastic Egypt, and was considered plausible by no less a figure than the father of Egyptology – Sir Flinders Petrie. Scientifically the Caspian Sea is also important for it acts like a ‘climate change’ barometer. As an inland sea, it is sensitive to the vagaries of climate shifts which have imprinted signals on its ancient coastlines over millennia. While sea level rise today is important to those affected global warming, in inland seas such as the Caspian, the effect is magnified manifold by regressions and transgressions. An intriguing example is the presence of the Caspian Seal which provides evidence of ice age connections to the Arctic Ocean and the seal’s 400,000 year distant cousin - the Arctic Ringed Seal. The interplay of tectonics, meltwater transgression and regressions and


isostatic flexure caused by a previous ice sheets, no doubt are all implicated here and in the many puzzles associate with the Caspian Sea. Perhaps the presence of the seal may even have convinced Strabo, the Greek geographer, that the Caspian was connected to the northern ocean. At the end of the last Ice Age the Caspian Sea for a while was connected to the Sea of Azov and Black Sea. Archaeological evidence for this is hinted at by the presence of ‘cart ruts’. These are enigmatic carvings of long parallel channels in limestone several hundred meters long, found on the Apsheron Peninsula. The Azeri ‘cart ruts’ are similar to the ubiquitous cart ruts found around the Mediterranean coastline. (Picture 1). Their function is generally associated with the transportation of large boulders or megaliths, though other possibilities do exist. In Malta where they have been extensively studied, examples may be found entering the sea dropping down to a depth of 10 m. This testifies to their construction at a time coincident with Malta’s ‘Temple Period’, when sea level was continuing to rise, thus dating them to six or seven thousand years before present (BP). This technology lasted into the early Bronze Age when it suddenly ceased. As the ruts are clearly associated with a sea faring culture, this suggests that contact with the Caspian Sea was possible and most likely involved navigation via the Kuma-Manych waterway lcated to the north of the Caucasus mountains. (Picture 2). The explorer and archaeologist, the late Thor Heyerdhall, was a firm advocate of ancient transportation and demonstrated early man’s capabilities in this area. (Picture 3). He was intrigued by Gobustan and the many large boat carvings found there, which clearly suggest long distance travel. Trade in valuable commodities such as obsidian knives from Turkey and lapis lazulis, (which is mined in Afghanistan) are possible examples of ancient commerce found in the Caucasus and Mediterranean and would provide a motive to trade over large distances. The Kuma-Manych waterway was open during the Holocene outflowing period and may only have ceased once the ice caps and ice sheet meltwater dwindled and sea level stabilized at its present level. Data from the Greenland ice core (Picture 4) shows the beginning of the end of the Ice Age at around 15 k yrs. The Younger Dryas reversal plunged the world back into another cold epoch with eventual thawing restarting at around 12 k yrs. Ice sheets and caps then continued to melt until sea level normalized at around 6000 yrs BP. A problem however with waterways access via the KumaManych depression is that evidence from radiocarbon dating of shellfish indicates the Caspian Sea only out-flowed to the Black Sea around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. This seems to be incongruous and at odds with apparent archaeological evidence and suggests, in part, that radiocarbon dating may be inaccurate. This is a possibility due to an enhanced ‘reservoir effect’ and the abundance of ancient carbon in the enclosed Caspian Sea, where the water is rich in carbonate. Sources of ancient carbon include the influx and outpouring of : CO2 dissolved in meltwater; bicarbonate associated with prolific shell sands and limestone; formation water emissions and

hydrocarbons emanating from mud volcanoes which either biodegrade to enter the food chain, or release CO2 directly into the Caspian Sea. The net effect of this is to enhance the levels of Carbon 12 and Carbon 13 relative to the atmospherically derived Carbon 14, thus potentially making shell samples appear older than they are. This possibility needs to be studied, but if correct suggests that the waterway may have been open through the Manych depression for few more thousand years, much longer than archaeologist think possible. 3. Observations on Elevated Archaeological Sites and consideration of regional connections. Wave cut terraces can be found in many locations in Azerbaijan at different elevations and need to be explained. Two good examples are to the north of Baku between the city of Sumqayat and the mountain Besh Barmak and at the Gobustan Archaeological heritage centre on the hill called Beyukdash. The first is an impressive long terrace elevated at between 70 – 120 m above mean sea level and can be observed stretching for over 40 kilometers. Picture 5 shows a section of the terrace near to the town of Gilazi. The terrace is a dominant feature that suggests a high stand period which may coincide with the protracted ice sheet meltwater drainage prior to the evaporative drawdown of the Caspian Sea to its present level. Knowing when the terrace formed is important and an answer may be possible through radiocarbon dating using terrestrial and marine organic material. Complicating the picture however when trying to determine the relative height of the Caspian Sea is tectonic uplift of the area, which is estimated to be at the remarkable rate of 1 cm per year, i.e. 10m per 1000 years. (Pers comment. Professor Yukal Yilmaz) If this rate is steady, it suggests that the terrace may have risen some 70 to 100 m over the past 10,000 years. Gobustan is a remarkable archaeological world heritage site and consists of a series of wave cut limestone terraces up to 120 m msl. It has many slabs of rock which provide both shelter as caves, and flat surfaces for over 6000 wonderful carvings. (Picture 6). The carvings are remarkably detailed and contain a wealth of information showing the environment, the culture and how the ancient people lived. In a preliterate society, the information provided by pictograms provide important archaeological clues which demonstrating wider cultural connections. Some carvings are described below. 3.1 Qobu. Qobu is located to the south of Baku just inland from the Lokbatan mud volcano. It is mentioned because of its elevation at 143 m msl and its intriguing archaeology. The site may have been first occupied during the Paleolithic era, because of its higher elevation and the presence of a much grander and seemingly older style of rock carvings. It is fascinating because of the deliberate damage to what may be described as ritual boulders. (Picture 7 and 8). Three large boulders with bowl shaped carvings (bullauns) have been deliberately split, rendering them useless. Pictures 9. This


could suggest cultural conflict and the establishment of a new regime by ancient intruders. The presence of a burial mound (kurgan), a rock shelter, intricate water collecting cisterns and a calendric like rock carving suggests was an important, if very ancient site. 3.2 Dubendi. This site ranges from the current sea level at minus 28 m to around zero m msl. It is of interest because of a flooded cave, a destroyed man made mound and a number of large rectangular megalithic limestone blocks. Structural damage is thought to be the result of sea level rise and flooding. The cave which was inundated by the sea and filled with sediment (now excavated) is of special interest for two reasons. The first because it may be the oldest example of transgression and direct human displacement. Secondly, because it contains petroglyphs of human images with upraised arms and two bulls, (possibly European Bison or auroch). Pictures 10, 11 and 12. Such imagery is not uncommon and is noted at Gobustan. Picture 13. Symbolically both bull and human are thought (by the author) to be connected and may represent some form of identify or salute, so linking early man with a cult of a bull. This gesture provides an important clue and is explored further below. 3.2 Besh Barmak This small mountain is of interest for several reasons and is further commented on below. Picture 14 At this stage it is noteworthy because of the tide lines found on its sheltered southern flank located within a small valley. Picture 15 shows a series of tide lines elevated at around 130m above msl. These lines are finely etched on the soft hillside and have been largely protected from the wind, rain and erosion of the prevailing northerly winds. Their fragile nature suggests they may have been produced at the end of the last ice age by meltwater and by the action of adverse weather funneling storm waves into the narrow valley to etch the hillside. Close observation shows four tide lines, which can even be seen in Google Earth. Interestingly the tidelines do not appear to be quite level as they show a slight tilt towards the sea, so indicating tectonic activity. Unlike terraces which must result from longer term weathering, the raised sea level is unlikely to have persisted for long at this elevation, otherwise more and deeper tidelines would be evident. Studying the tide lines is important because they provide evidence of a maximum height reached during the Holocene meltwater flooding. Their elevation is around 10 m in excess of other apparent Holocene terraces found. The wave cut terrace shown in Picture 5 continues northward and intersects with Besh Barmak at a most interesting elevation, at or above which there are a significant number of rocky burial mounds. It is highly significant that no graves are found below the terrace level thus suggesting an elevated sea level at the time of burial. Picture 16. The hundred or so graves at this locations testify to the importance of Besh Barmak. Human remains within the graves ought to provide information of who the people were, when they were buried and by implication indicate when the sea level was elevated.

The remains would also be useful in determining the rate of tectonic uplift. The raised terrace is further significant for by extrapolating its elevation northwards to the entrance to the Kuma Manych lake waterway, some 460 km distant, it hints that access may have been feasible at this time. Much depends on the degree of tectonic uplift leading to the Kuma Manych entrance. It is noted that for navigation today an elevation of around 20 to 30 m msl is required. The difference in elevation suggests that the waterway could have been open for several thousand years. Evidence that the waterway transportation may have been open around 10,000 years ago is further hinted at by the introduction into the Caspian Sea of the edible cockle Cerastoderma edule from the Mediterranean Sea. This edible bivalve could well have been transported as a food source by early mariners and released to the Caspian Sea as an alien species where it effectively colonized the basin. From the above observations it is clearly very important to determine the level of the Caspian Sea and how it varied with regressions, transgressions, tectonic uplifting and climatic changes. These factors are very complex but important to unravel in order to understand their impacts on ancient communities and biodiversity. Surprisingly a definitive answer to this sea level change is not yet available. Table 1 provides a list of relevant locations and features discussed in this article relative to current Caspian Sea levels.
Current Sea level Elevated Feature Human Figure carving with upraised arms Besh Barmak astronomical stone Snake Head Qobu raised Beach Besh Barmak Tidelines Gobustan upper terraces Gilasi Terrace Rangebar – Whale Zoomorph Besh Barmak graves Caspian Sea at 40 m msl Kuma Manych depression navigable height Turtle rock Yeni Turcan cart ruts Dubendi mound and cave Current Caspian Sea level Sabayil Castle in Baku Bay Sunken villages Byandovan Height above Mean Sea Level. (msl), (m) 800m 462 m 230 m ca 143 90 -130m ca 120 m 70 – 120m 110 m 95 m + 40 m ca 20 – 30 m 8m ca 0 m ca minus 24 m minus 28 ca minus 32 ca minus 32 Approximate GPS Location N 400 54’ 19.7” E 49’ 11’ 51” N 400 57’ 23.1” E 49’ 12’ 52.4” N 400 56’ 29.1” E 49’ 12’ 40.6” N 400 22’ 36.4” E 490 14’ 8.3” N 400 56’ 2.04” E 49’ 14’ 15.29” N 400 6’ 39.2” E 490 22’ 40.9” N 400 55’ 4.5” E 490 15’ 32.8” N 400 10’ 59.8” E 490 06’ 56.9” N 400 57’ 11.8” E 490 14’ 54.4” na na N 400 18’ 54.7” E 490 37’ 51.7” N 400 23’ 30” E 5008’ 41.2” N 400 27’ 32.3” E 500 15’ 24.6” na na na

Table (1). Site locations and elevations relative to mean sea level .


From the table it can be seen that relative sea levels have been in excess of 100 m msl and that currently the Kuma Manych waterway would be navigable at around 25 m msl. In an attempt to portray a plausible scenario showing what the Caspian Sea would look like at plus 40 m msl, the photo montage was produced. Picture 17. This also includes the Black Sea (which is shown based on terraces in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea) at an elevation of + 8 m msl. At this level Caspian Sea would outflow to the Sea of Azov and commingle with the River Don. The resulting combined outflow may well have been responsible for the apparent long shore spits observed in Picture 18. Assuming that tectonic uplift was not dissimilar between Azerbaijan and the Kuma-Manych waterway and with the Caspian Sea was elevated long enough to create a raised terrace of around 70 to 120 m msl, this suggests that the waterway may well have been open for a considerable time. Clearly this needs to be studied more. However, in support of this possibility further evidence may be gleaned from the rock art at Gobustan. . 3.3 Gobustan. Gobustan is of special interest not only because it exhibits excellent wave cut terraces but also because of the range, abundance and wealth of information provided by its ancient inhabitants and their intriguing petroglyphs. It should be noted here that petroglyphs are regarded by archaeologists as a sort of graffiti, and while interesting, they are generally not thought to have significant scientific value. This however may be a shortsighted view. In a preliterate society, a picture is an excellent way to communicate cultural thoughts and ideas. In the main, petroglyphs were carved by practical peoples and accurately portray much about their culture and environment. In this respect they contain valuable details and in a way are not unlike the placard mounted on Pioneer 10 spacecraft. Picture 19. The intent by NASA and Carl Sagan presumably was for this spacecraft to be found by aliens who would decipher the image to inform them about mankind, and how and where we may be found. This expectation is not unlike 21st century descendants attempting to extract meaningful information from the stone carvings of our distant preliterate ancestors. A few examples are considered which demonstrate that the ancient artwork is more than just casual pictures, and that they provide interesting information that seems to demonstrate cultural connections with the Mediterranean region. The first example looks at the petroglyphs of boats and the imagery of the people with upraised arms. As can be seen from Picture 3 and the hunter scene shown in Picture 20, prehistoric boats are large, contain many oarsmen (each line represents an oarsman) and were clearly meant for long distance travel. While the style of boat petroglyphs at Gobustan vary there is a remarkable similarity between for example the ones shown in Picture 3 and an Egyptian counterpart in Picture 21. Both vessels look alike and even

have a curious distinctive twin streamer attachment coming out of the upper part of the stern. The upraised arms are also significant for they can be found in predynastic Egypt. Picture 21 and 22 show examples of the motif in similar styled vessels from the Wadi Barramiya and Wadi Hammamat. Imagery of the upraised arms gesture is also found on predynastic pottery from Badaria in Egypt. Picture 23. While the evidence is circumstantial, it is not unreasonable to consider that a connection exists between the Azerbaijani and Egyptian carvings of people with upraised arms and large multi oared boats. The importance of bulls to both cultures is also relevant. Since the time when mankind evolved from hunter gathering to a lifestyle of pastoralism and agriculture the importance of cattle, even today in certain cultures and for religious reasons, continues unabated. It is not therefore surprising that the bull as a symbol of strength, and perhaps identity, may be found in the Neolithic and predynastic eras. Consider for example the imagery of King Menes who united upper and lower Egypt and whose symbol was a bull, (Picture 24); or the ancient tradition of worshiping an Apis Bull, which in early dynasties were also mummified; or in the Levant where bull skull were mounted on walls and or buried in graves within dwellings. (Mithen). It is evident that bulls, and the worship of bulls, played major role in the traditions of these ancient peoples. The possible connection between images of people and bulls is intriguing and is further discussed below in the context of the phenomenon of ‘zoomorphism’. A second interesting image concerns the hooked sticks that can be seen at Gobustan, where six female figures are observed wielding these implements. Picture 25. While it is not known what the sticks may be used for, (suggestions include a shepherds crook, a scythe like cutting device or perhaps a weapon), there is the possibility that in prehistoric times they were used in the same manner as those found on predynastic Egyptian pottery. Picture 26. Here a similar shaped implement is being carried by hunters, (perhaps warriors) and in hieroglyphs as a ceremonial staff. A third carving of relevance is the stick like projections seen at the waist of the central hunter figure in picture 20. Again, these appear to be very similar to predynastic Egyptian pottery images where they represent a throwing stick, and used for hunting small game. Picture 27 Examples of these Stone Age boomerang hunting devices can be viewed in the British Museum. Picture 28. Assuming that there are likely connections to ancient Egypt, another intriguing possibility emerges from the Gobustan hunting scene image. This relates to the wavy lines seen in picture 20. Closer inspection shows that the chevron like lines extend from above the warrior’s head down to his waist. These have been interpreted by Azeri archaeologists as rainfall. Picture 29. However, if we accept the association with water and consider the similarity to the Egyptian hieroglyph for a lake or the sea then an interesting possibility presents itself.


Firstly, note that there are two components to the chevrons: a long section behind the body of the warrior down to his waist and an offshoot to the top left. Now compare this to the situation of a swollen Caspian Sea with an outlet via the Manych depression. Picture 30. The geography of both are alike. This suggests the possibility that the Gobustan image depicts a map of the Caspian Sea and further hints that navigation may indeed have been possible in prehistoric times to the Sea of Azov. Given that that these early mariners appeared to be traveling great distances then the use of maps would obviously be a necessity. If this interpretation is correct then the Gobustan ‘map’ predates the earliest Phoenician maps by several thousand years. So far connections have been made to elevated sea levels, maritime connections and archaeological evidence for regional cultural similarities. With the exception of the ‘map’ the cultural imagery shown perhaps may be discounted and considered common aspects of a widespread Stone Age culture. However, other findings have shown that the connections go much deeper and that links between the Caucasus region and Egypt may be quite profound. Here we may consider some fascinating observations made by a Professor Reginald Fessenden, a renowned scientist and amateur archaeologist who some 80 years ago suggested that the Caucasus were as a possible homeland of ancient Egyptians. 4 Professor Reginald Fessenden’s Observations on the Origins of the Book of the Dead. Professor Reginald Fessenden, a renowned scientist and engineer is famous for being the first to broadcast the human voice by radio across the Atlantic. He also had a deep fascination for archaeology and mythology, and firmly believed that myths and legends contained valuable knowledge handed down from preliterate ancestors. In studying the Egyptian mythology and details contained in the 3000 to 4000 year old ‘Book of the Dead’, he came to understand that the people, the place names and geographical routes and location mentioned have direct counterparts in the Caucasus. Fessenden recognized that place names act as linguistic fossils which persist and are passed down through generations, often to the present day. So rather than being a mythological landscape in which is described the route a deceased pharaoh must take on his journey to the afterlife Fessenden proposed that the Book of the Dead provided guidance for the pharaoh on his journey back to the Caucasus – and the land of his forefathers. Fessenden communicated his observations and theory to the ‘father of Egyptology’, - Professor Sir Flinders Petrie. Petrie in turn investigated the matter and in doing so compared the 3000 to 4000 year Egyptian text to the oldest known record of Caucasian place names, given by Ptolemy, and concluded: ‘It appears, then, that the cultural connections of the earliest Egyptians, as well as the physical descriptions in their mythology, point to the Caucasus region. When, further, we find there the names of the principal places of

the mythology in their relative positions, it gives strong grounds for regarding that region as the homeland of the earliest civilization of the Egyptian’s A few examples of similar place names are given below. Book of the Dead Bakhau Fenkhu Iaru Maoati Reu Tamanu Ptolemy Baku Phanagoria Iora (river) Maiotis Rha (river) Taman

Unfortunately because of the Russian Revolution and the inaccessibility of the Caucasus region to archaeologists, Flinders Petrie suggested that future scientists should explore these ideas when it is feasible to do so. This has yet to be done and remains an open invitation. For reference a transcript of Flinders Petrie’s paper is given in Appendix 1. Fessenden’s observations offer corroboration at least of cultural connection to the Caucasus, and at most of evidence of migration from the Caucasus into Egypt. He further recognized two routes from Egypt to the Caucasus in ‘The Book of the Two Ways’, one via modern day Syria and Armenia, the other via the Black Sea and Kuban river. From the latter it may be tentatively suggested that an even earlier waterway route may have been feasible via Kuma-Manych. In addition to the above, another source of information suggesting cultural connections comes from a little known archaeological phenomenon called ‘zoomorphism’. 5.Zoomorphism examples and the possible relevance to widespread regional cultural connections. Zoomorphism refers to large, mostly natural, topographical formations that have animal like qualities, some of which have had eyes and mouths carved to enhance the animal like effect. These huge formations most likely reflect animistic beliefs held by ancient people. In exploring the Azeri countryside a number of these animal like hills have been observed. Indeed, friends have indicated that others may be found elsewhere in Azerbaijan. Interestingly in each case studied the zoomorphs have been found in the vicinity of settlements which feature burial mounds, stone circles, rock shelters and petroglyphs. Such proximity to settlements indicates cultural importance, and most likely reflects a form of ritual worship by primitive societies. Support for ‘zoomorphism’ as a phenomenon comes from the Russian archaeologist Dr Leonid Marsadolv who studied one in Kazakhstan at Mount Ocharovatelnaia in the Altai mountains. Marsadolov’s large fish like rock outcrop is embellished by rock carvings and even demonstrates archeo astronomical importance of the site. (Picture 31). From a


viewing platform the sun may be seen setting into the mouth at the Spring Solstice. (Marsadolv) It is appropriate to elaborate on this phenomenon here because of perceived connections to Egypt which will become clear below. Examples of zoomorphs in Azerbaijan (using nicknames to describe them) include: • • • • • • • Turtle Rock, located near Putta Mountain at Gisildash, just south of Baku. Picture 32. Turtle Rock Head. Picture 33. Whale rock, Picture 34. Whale rock head from rear, Picture 35. Camel Rock, Picture 36. Bosdag, Picture 37. Besh Barmak, Picture 38.

Besh Barmak. Some 4 km away, a human like image can be seen carved into the hillside close to the skyline. (Picture 41). Closer inspection of the image shows that the undergrowth and topsoil has been excavated from the steep hillside to reveal a head, torso and arms. (Picture 42) Archaeologists and geomorphologists need to study this image to confirm it is not a natural feature. Like most of the zoomorphs found, dating them should be possible by studying the organic remains below the excavation debris. The size of the image is around 200 m from hand to hand and similarly 200 m in height. It can easily been seen for many kilometers away including the craggy top of Besh Barmak, the main coastal highway and from the Caspian Sea. It can even be seen using Google Earth. In a manner not unlike the early Bronze Age English hillside carvings the Cerne Abbas Giant and White Horse of Uffington, this image is clearly of ritual importance and was evidently created to be seen from a distance. What is particularly intriguing about the figure is that the arms are raised upwards in a manner similar to the rock carvings shown at Gobustan, Dubendi and in pre-dynastic Egypt. While this does not constitute proof of cultural connections, it strongly suggests that they are all closely linked. If so, it is then reasonable to suggest, given the sheer scale of the carving that Besh Barmak was indeed an important cultural center and a possible homeland for the people who traditionally used the upraised arms gesture. As maritime travel was a preferred mode of transportation in ancient times, it is therefore not unreasonable to suggest that ancient people used their large vessels to ply between the Caspian Sea to what was then predynastic Egypt. In doing so they most likely exported their culture and traditions. If this may be accepted as a possibility, then following this line of reasoning an intriguing possibility emerges to connect the zoomorphic Besh Barmak and the Egyptian Sphinx. So far Egyptologists cannot explain the origin of the Sphinx but if we were then to accept the reality of zoomorphism as a significant part of prehistoric culture, then it is becomes not unreasonable to associate the Sphinx with the ancient carving tradition. Furthermore given the apparent importance of Besh Barmak it is also plausible that this zoomorph might even be the original model for the Sphinx. As a theory, these possibilities become more curious when other similarities are considered. For instance: • both figures are animal like; • the age of the Sphinx is considered by some scientists to be older than the pyramids and so may be contemporary with Azeri zoomorphs; • the ancient Greek name for the Sphinx (Harmakis) linguistically is very close to Besh Barmak – or Mount Barmak. • Besh Barmak means five fingers. If the focus is on ‘Barmak’ or finger, we may note that this word has connotations of being a leader or a pointer which is what

Zoomorphism is evidently an important cultural phenomenon that deserves to be a focus of archaeological study. Accepting its reality, the example that most hints at a possible connection between the Caspian and Mediterranean Sea is the animal like mountain - Besh Barmak. Commented on above, this remarkable site is much more than the rocky crag that pilgrims visit today as a place of worship. It is the last mountain in the Caucasus mountain range before the Caspian Sea and is a site steeped in prehistorical importance. Recognising that it might be a large zoomorph, I looked at it closely using Google Earth satellite imagery and found other fascinating features, such as ancient village ruins and trackways, which I suspect were made by horses. To my surprise, I also detected what looked like a large winding taillike shape, correctly positioned at the rear of the hill. Picture 39. Thinking that it might be a ‘dragon ditch’, - (not discussed here but is yet another unexplained phenomenon consisting of 5m wide ditches that run overland for no apparent reason for several kilometers), I visited the feature when on vacation in summer 2007 to see what it was. On viewing it, it became apparent that the ‘tail’ looked rather more like a massive snake which from head to tail measured 1000 m long. Picture 40. Discounting ideas that it might be a roadway, a quarry access or a military feature, I suspect it was carved or excavated as a huge decorative feature, which would most likely have a religious or ceremonial function. In keeping with a tradition of zoomorphism and ritual significance, this is not an unreasonable idea. But why a snake? This needs to be investigated more, but here we may note that snakes have played a major role in ancient myth and legend, so it is not unrealistic to infer that there was a religious meaning associated with the huge carving. I am now inclined to think that it is not a serpentine-like tail, but rather a two headed snake. Snake symbolism in prehistory and legend are discussed by Mason in the reference section. An interesting aspect of the ‘snake’ is that it cannot be viewed from the track below. To best see it, it is necessary to climb the opposite hillside where a good view is obtained from a particular rocky outcrop. However, even more astonishing is yet another large carving that overlooks both the ‘snake’ and


in essence both structures do; both point to the East and the rising sun. The archaeological importance of Besh Barmak should not be underestimated. Indeed, having made a number of observations there, I invited Dr Idris Aliyev, the Head of Archaeology at the Azerbaijan Academy of Science to visit the mountain and its surroundings. (Picture 43) In addition to viewing intact kurgans (burial mounds), other grave sites, stone circles, ancient dwellings and village ruins, we viewed what I suspect to be an archaeo astronomical site consisting of an intricately carved multi-channeled stone. (Picture 44). The carved stone is in the same style (albeit more complex) as other ancient carvings found at other Neolithic sites. The astronomical qualities of these ancient carvings which consist of cup marked rocks and associated channel pointers, are evident from their orientations to the North, and the sunrise events of the summer solstice, spring equinox and winter solstice. (Gallagher). In a manner not unlike a treasure trail, it is of interest that the Besh Barmak astronomical stone was actually discovered following a clue provided by Professor Fessenden. He suggested that : ‘West of Mt. Bakhar are some curious rocks which possibly may be a primitive Stonehenge. There are reasons for believing that Bakhar may have been the site of the primitive observatory of the Babylonians, which fixed their zenith’. (Fessenden) In view of the apparent significant archaeological findings associated with Besh Barmak, I suspect it is plausible that Besh Barmak is Fessenden’s Mt Bakhar. Furthermore, other interesting information comes from Sir Flinders Petrie who noted that the word “Bakhay” written ‘Book of the Dead’ refers to Baku. Here, ‘Bakhay’ has been interpreted to mean “the mountain of Bakhou of the rising Sun”. As Baku city does not have a mountain as such, it makes more sense for the ‘Bakhay’ to refer to Besh Barmak, which is located some 60 km to the north of modern Baku. If correct, Professor Petrie’s statement of a mountain facing the east and sunrise provides a credible link between ancient Azerbaijan and Egypt and underlines the potential prehistorical importance of Besh Barmak. Connections between Besh Barmak and the Sphinx may seem rather bizarre and unbelievable. However the findings are factual and do have to be somehow explained. Zoomorphism is evidently an important culture aspect of ancient people living in the Caspian Sea region and beyond to Western Siberia. Given the richness of archaeological remains associated with Besh Barmak, the connections to astronomy and the huge carvings associated with this mountain and possible maritime and mythological connections to Egypt, it is evident that regionally the area was important in the early Neolithic period. 6. Discussion and Conclusions. The above account brings together a number of diverse observations, many of which will be new to archaeology, and attempts to understand many findings and puzzles. What

started as an interest in ancient peoples, their handiwork and settlements close to ancient coastlines as a record of times past has developed into a attempt to try understand the sequence of events in the Caspian Sea region following the last Ice Age. While some progress may have been made in interpretation or ‘seeing a bigger picture’, the situation has become even more intriguing and puzzling. It is apparent that from the end of the Ice Age to the early Bronze Age were momentous times that saw the development of agriculture, the spread of culture, the evolution of civilizations and religions. This happened against a backdrop of a climate change, tectonic uplifting and a fluctuating Caspian Sea level which for an undetermined period connected with the Sea of Azov and the Black and Mediterranean Seas. To ancient navigators this waterway provided a navigable route to Western Asia must surely have had a huge impact in their environment and lifestyle. From the evidence of rock carvings and the technology of the ancient vessels long distance transportation was a definite possibility. Taking into account elevated sea levels due to meltwater, and by subtracting tectonic uplift of the elevated landscape and by considering the similarities in Neolithic Azeri and predynastic Egyptian rock art, a picture emerges of potential regional connections via the Kuma-Manych waterways. This suggests regional connectivity at a later date than is currently understood by the radiocarbon dating of shellfish and indicates that there may be an error in dating. An explanation for this may lie in an overabundance of fossil Carbon 12 and 13 in the Caspian Sea due to an enhanced ‘reservoir effect’ thus diluting the atmospheric derived radioactive Carbon 14 which is used to determine age. Zoomorphism is an ancient tradition that so far has escaped archeological scrutiny. Its importance may be highly significant in the development of mankind’s culture and belief systems. Potential connections to Egypt either through cultural contact or migration from the Caspian region indicated are tangible and need to be explored further. In this respect many other subjective links not addressed here are also worthy of consideration. (Islamov). A key challenge remains to determine when and for how long the Kuma-Manych waterway remained open. Linked to this is the need to understand the influence it had on the people in the region. and to determine the impact once the meltwater dried up rendering the waterway unavailable for navigation. Perhaps failure of the waterway would constitute a reason for migration out of the region and link to the ‘kurgan hypothesis’ diaspora as has been described by Marija Gambutas. Fortunately the wealth of remains in Azerbaijan offers the possibility of archaeological study to explore these matters. Some key areas to study include the need to : i. Determine the accuracy of radiocarbon dating. This may be done by studying the distribution of living bivalves in the Caspian Sea and their radiocarbon dates relative to proximity to mud volcanoes, the ‘hard water’ background and


concentrations of dissolved CO2 and bicarbonate.
(Note: the relative abundance of Carbon 12 and Carbon 13 isotopes in bivalves would be of interest for nature prefers utilizing the lighter C12 isotope. Elevated Carbon 13 in fossils may indicated a swamping effect of mud volcanic carbon and provide indirect evidence for reduced Carbon 14)

ii. Determine the age of wave cut platforms and raised terraces. This is necessary to track the Caspian Sea level profile from the end of the last Ice Age; understand the influence of tectonic uplift; and help establish when the Kuma-Manych waterway was navigable. iii. Determine the age of the Besh Barmak tide lines. As the highest Holocene sea levels these may indicate whether the flood of legend actually occurred in the Caspian Sea. iv. Develop a geological/geomorphologic model to explain presence of the Caspian Seal. v. Investigate the graves on Besh Barmak and evaluate the importance of the mountain. These should be studied using modern techniques to assess their contents, age and determine if there are any connections to ancient Egypt. Grave goods and DNA analyses of organic remains may provide evidence of connections. vi. Validate the reality of zoomorphic carvings and evaluate their archaeological significance. • Locate all Zoomorphic carvings in Azerbaijan and assess them for archaeo astronomical significance. • Consider if there is a connection Between Besh Barmak and the Sphinx. • Determine the age of the zoomorphic carvings using land based organic sources buried below carving debris. vii. Compare and contrast information contained in rock art petroglyphs between Egypt and the Caspian region to validate observations of similarity and cultural connection. viii. Re-evaluate the Book of the Dead. Scholars and linguists should accept Professor Flinders Petrie’s challenge to explore the Book of the Dead and the possible connections to the Caucasus region. ix. Re-visit the work of Professor Reginald Fessenden. Mythologists and archaeologists ought to study Fessenden’s work and explore his findings with respect to the Caucasus region. x. Investigate the multi channeled stone on Besh Barmak and other similar carved rocks for astronomical significance. No doubt more studies may be suggested to investigate events at the end of the last Ice Age and mankind’s development during this period. These were momentous times, occurring at a fascinating time at the start of the Neolithic period, and deserve to be carefully studied and scientifically unraveled. Up till now comparatively little archaeological attention has been given to Azerbaijan, but it is apparent from the above observations that the country has many Neolithic secrets to yet

give up. In order to explore and uncover its mysteries, this will require a multi disciplinary approach, good coordination and sufficient human and financial resources. Unfortunately Azerbaijan has insufficient technical skills to do this alone, but could contribute to fund a project that could be carried out with international support. While there may be academic criticism of the interpretation and suggestions made above, perhaps even disbelief, the fact remain that the observations are real and ought to be investigated. A waterways connection via the Kuma-Manych depression around 6000 to 10000 years ago allowing cultural exchange provides a simple explanation that allows the evidence to make sense. I would therefore encourage the Azerbaijani government to fully recognize the potential importance of its archaeological and support an initiative to investigate further. Obviously there is a huge potential for scientific study and tourism associated with the above observations. These have to be carefully managed so that unique sites are not damaged, or worse plundered with unique information lost. As a priority, the government needs to heed the advice of the Academy of sciences Institute of Archaeology to identify, catalogue, understand and protect all of its archaeological heritage sites. Many of these are sadly being destroyed by uncontrolled developments caused by increasing oil wealth. Gobustan is an international treasure, but from the huge zoomorphic images and potential links to Egypt, it is apparent that Azerbaijan may well host other major heritage sites such as Besh Barmak, for which the country in time may be proud. References: 1. Aksu et al. Persistent Holocene Outflow from the Black Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean Contradicts Noah's Flood Hypothesis GSA Today: Vol. 12, No. 5, pp. 4–10. Bekbasser, Nyssabbay ‘ Astronomical Practices and Ritual Calendar of Euro-Asian Nomads. Bouquet. A.C., Comparative Religion. (1962). Bradley, Richard. ‘Rock Art and the Prehistory of Atlantic Europe’. Cook, Michael. ‘A Brief History of the Human Race’.


3. 4. 5. 6.

Dalley, Stephanie (translator). ‘Myths from Mesopotamia. Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh and others.’ Oxford World Classics. (2000) 7. Eagle Editions. Publisher - ‘Encyclopedia of Ancient Myths and Cultures’. 8. Elliot, M. Azerbaijan with Georgia. Trailblazer publications. (1999) 9. Egypt before the Pharaohs. 10. Farajova M. Myths and Legends in the Rock Pictures of Azerbaijan. International Creative Scientific Symposium “Myth, Nation, Literature”, Baku, Azerbaijan, June 2006


11. Fessenden, Reginald. The Deluged Civilizations of the Caucasian Isthmus. (1923). 12. Gallagher. and Blair, B. Secrets of the Maiden Tower: What they Reveal about Early Man’s Beliefs’. Azerbaijan International. Autumn 2006 . der/143_articles/143_mt_secrets.html 13. Gambutas, Marija – Wikipedia. Kurgan Hypothesis. 14. Geyushev Rashid. ‘The Archaeology of Azerbaijan, A Brief Discourse.’ (1999). 15. Herodotus. ‘The Histories’. Oxford World’s Classics. Waterfield, Robin (translator) 16. Islamov, A. ‘The Maiden Tower in Baku, Mysteries of the Ancient Temple”. ( 2007). 17. Johnson, Debbie. ‘The Nature of Reality and Divine Principles: An Alternative Interpretation of Egypt.’ 18. Keane, A.H. ‘Man Past and Present’. Cambridge University Press. (1919) 19. Kushnareva, K. The Southern Caucasus in Prehistory. University of Pennsylvania. (1997). 20. Mamedov, AV, 1997, The late Pleistocene–Holocene history of the Caspian Sea: Quaternary International, v. 41–42, p. 161–166. 21. Marsadolov, Leonid ‘Mt Ocharovatelnaia and Mt Siniaia in Altai: Legends and Reality. 22. Mason, R.T. The Divine Serpent in Myth and Legend. t.htm 23. Mithen, S. ‘After the Ice – A Global Human History 20,000 – 5000 BC’. Phoenix 2003. 24. Petrie, Sir Flinders. (Ancient Egypt, Jun., 1926). ‘The Origins of the Book of the Dead.’ Appendix 1. 25. Renfrew, Colin and Bahn, Paul ‘Archaeology, Theories Methods and Practice’. 26. Rohl, David. ‘A Test of Time’. 27. Rozwadowski, Andrzej. Symbols Through Time: Interpreting the Rock Art of Central Asia. Institute of Eastern Studies Adam Mickiewicz University 28. Strabo. ‘The Geography of Strabo’. Loeb Classical Library, translated by H.L. Jones. 29. Tylor. Sir Edward Burnett "Primitive Culture" (1871). Wikipedia. 30. Volk, Sylvia. The Legends of Gog and Magog.


Photographic Section

1. Location of Cart Rut sites in coastal Mediterranean regional sites and Azerbaijan.

3. Thor Heyerdhall visited Azerbaijan three times, seen here at one of the many boat carvings. Note the many oarsmen (lines) twin ‘streamers’ at the top of the stern post.

2. Kuma-Manych corridor – a possible navigational highway during meltwater outflow.

4. Greenland Ice Core Temperature during Holocene period.


5. Extensive raised beach between Sumqayat and Besh Barmak.

7. Qobu raised beach, elevation 143m above msl and may date to the Pleistocene period.

6. Gobustan Wave cut Terraces

8. Qobu. Water collecting channel and cistern. Possibly Paleolithic.



Large Rectangular blocks -


9. Qobu damaged stone with large bowl carving. One of several that appear to have been deliberately destroyed.

11 Dubendi Cave site with sea damaged ruined structure and man made mound and rock shelter.

10. Dubendi. Raised terrace at around zero m relative to mean sea level .

12. Dubendi petroglyphs. Seven human images with raised arms and two bulls. Upraised arms gesture seems to be linked to bulls


13 Gobustan Petroglyphs. Human images with raised arms and bulls.

15. Besh Barmak tidelines at plus 130 m relative to mean sea level. Several tidelines apparent sloping west to East.

14. Besh Barmak with nearby elevated terrace and location of burial mounds highlighted below craggy summit.

16. One of many burial mounds on south eastern flank of Besh Barmak.


17 Representation of Caspian Sea at an elevation of +40 m msl showing Kuma-Manych connection and outflow to the Sea of Azov.

19. Pioneer 10 placard depicting earthlings and the location of planet earth and origin of the space probe.


18. Outflow from the Caspian Sea leading to the possible formation of long shore spits on the northern shore of the Sea of Azov.

20. Hunter Scene at Gobustan. Note the multi oared ‘sun boat’, zigzag lines above and behind the hunter and curious lines at the waist of the central figure.


21. Petroglyph of prehistoric vessel with image of person with upraised arms. Wadi Barramiya – Egypt. Dated ca 4000 BC, after Wilkinson 2003. Note the twin streamers at the stern post.

23. Badarian Pottery showing a figure (Female?) with Upraised arms. Circa 4000 BCE. Upraised arms may be a sort of salute or gesture implying identity.

22. Wadi Hammamat - Boat with Star above the prow – ca. 4.000 BCE, after Wilkinson, 2003.

24. Slate carving depicting the King of Upper Egypt represented by a bull overthrowing an enemy. Both bull and upraised arm imagery may be linked.


25. Gobustan figures with hooked sticks. The function of the hooked stick is unknown but appears to be culturally important.

27. Throwing stick (boomerang) used by predynastic Egyptian hunters

26. Predynastic hieroglyphic and pottery images of hooked stick implement

28. Example of a throwing stick from the Badarian culture grave. (British Museum).


29. Highlighted wavy lines behind hunter petroglyph at Gobustan. These are considered to represent water. Possible throwing sticks at waist.

31. Fish like rock formation. Mt. Ocharovatelnaia in Kazakhstan

30. Montage of swollen Caspian Sea with its outlet at the Kuma Manych depression.

32. Turtle Rock Head with Abbas Islamov sitting in ‘mouth’ to show scale. Features enhanced by carving


33. Turtle Rock. A carved stone through tot represent the head of a turtle shaped zoomorph. Located near to an ancient settlement with rock carvings and a stone circle..

35. Whale Rock head from rear. Zoomorph overlooks an ancient settlement. Burial mounds noted with possible pre-Islamic tombstones

34. Whale Rock near village of Rangebar to the South of Baku. Upended limestone layer carved to enhance animal like features.

36.Camel Rock. There is some evidence here to suggest that this natural rock formation has been carved at the neck and eye to enhance animal like features. Graves noted nearby.


37. Bosdag. (or Grey Hill). This is a remarkable site with many ancient features and carvings including a stepping stone cistern, cup marked boulders, kurgans and stone circle.

39. Satellite Image of snake like or tail image at the rear of Besh Barmak. Blue mark is a seasonal pond and line is a track way. The length of the carving is 1000 m.

38. Besh Barmak View from the North. Rocky crag ( head) and recumbent appearance is evident when viewed from the South, East and North. Pilgrims climb to the summit for blessings.

40. Snake like excavation at rear of Besh Barmak. The excavation seems to serve no obvious purpose and may be ornamental. Possible religious significance.


41. Human image with upraised arms overlooking Besh Barmak. The image is around 200m across and can be seen from a great distance.

43. Dr Idris Aliyev standing on top of a burial mound (kurgan) near carving of the human figure with upraised arms. The kurgan is one of many in a rich ritual landscape.


Human Image close up. Surface vegetation removed to reveal features.

44. Intricately carved stone on Besh Barmak which may have astronomical significance.


Appendix 1.


To understand the mythologic literature of Egypt it is needful to have regard to the many sources of population, each of which has in turn probably added to the heterogeneous mass of myths that is seen in the historic times, One great group of myths, known the Pyramid Texts, is particularly the royal religion, identified with the line of kings in the Vth dynasty, and knows nothing of the geography of the Book of the Dead; as it contains much of remote savagery in its composition, it has clearly been brought in with ancient tribal traditions. On the other hand, the Book of the Dead is the popular mythology, cherished by the majority down to the end of paganism, yet containing much that is very primitive embedded in its structure. Until we obtain a firm outline of the various tribal movements and invasions of prehistoric times, we cannot hope to analyze the confusion of the mythology. There is good hope that, by advancing the study of the varied civilizations side by side with that of the mythology, each may serve to elucidate the other. The discovery of the Badarian civilization has greatly changed our ideas of the early history. We are in the presence of an advanced culture, apparently imported, and decaying in Egypt. There is the probability that it came from Asia and connections point to the Caucasus region. This is a very old idea, as Herodotus comments on the traditional connection of the Colchians with Egyptians, and states that in his time they were still alike in customs, way of living, and language. Now, in the Book of the Dead, as Prof. Fessenden has pointed out, a most striking peculiarity is the frequent mention of lakes of fire, not as places of horror, but in the midst of the paradise of cultivation, yet also and high mountains. Such incongruous conditions are not often to be found; they cannot have been suggested by Egypt itself, but certainly belong to some distant region, and the nearest country with such features is the Caucasus, with its oil springs in the midst of the most fertile valley surrounded by barren mountains. The suggestion that the Book of the Dead embodied traditions of the Caucasus region has been noted already in this journal (1924, p. 124). Such a possibility is so important, that it is worth close examination to see whether the evidence is systematic, or is only an accidental resemblance. There are some geographical indications to be gathered in these traditions, places being described as east or west, north or south, up or down stream. So long as the whole descriptions are referred to mere imaginations of a spiritual world, the details have been neglected. But if the possibility of a tradition being based on real localities is considered, then the descriptions should be carefully observed. During the present misfortunes in the region of the Caucasus, it is impossible to examine the early civilizations there; all that can be done is to take the evidence of names, so as to prepare the way for testing the conclusions on the actual ground at some future time. The suitability of such a region for civilization is attested by Strabo (XI, iv, 3); he describes Albania, the lower part of the valley of the Kur, as producing " every kind of fruit, even the most delicate, and every kind of plant and evergreen; . . . all that is excellent grows without sowing, and without plowing……In many places the ground, which has been sowed once, produces two or three crops, the first of which is even fifty-fold, and that without a fallow . . . The whole plain is better watered than Babylon or Egypt, by rivers and streams, so that it always presents the appearance of heritage. The young trees bear fruit even in the second year, but the full groove yield so much that a large quantity of it is left on the branches. The cattle both tame and wild thrive well in this country. The men are distinguished for beauty of person and for size." In modern times Maurier, in his guide Guide au Caucase (1894), mentions maize as the main crop, growing seven to ten feet high, and bearing eight hundred-fold. Flax has been an immemorial crop in Mingrelia. These descriptions accord with the fertile Egyptian paradise, with flowing streams and growing corn seven cubits high. The temperature in the winter is that of the south of England in the summer it is like that of northern Lombardy. In looking at the Egyptian traditions, the natural condition of a people who have emigrated must be taken into account. The Norse entering Britain planted the names of their gods in many places; they adopted these places the new homes of their mythology. In modern times, emigrants use names from their old country in new conditions. In the United States there are two or three dozen of each of the names of our principal cities. The spoken form of a name may be commoner than the real form. There are seven Sandfords in England, only one in America, alongside of nineteen Sanfords there. Further, when migrating people are without writing they depend entirely on the spoken names, and when, in later time, the names begin to be written, it is natural for them to be expressed by rebus words, which have nothing to do with the sense, but only show the sound. An unlettered Englishman might address a letter to Livorno by drawing a leg and a horn. It is obvious that the Egyptian form of writing an imported name may appear quite Egyptian in its dress, and yet be a verbal representation of its original sound. In order to test the possible connection of Egyptians with the Caucasus, all the geographical terms of direction associated with place-names must be noted; the names must then be searched for in the Caucuses in the same relative connection, as this greatly limits the range, and so gives further likelihood


to such similarities of name as may pass this test. The results of this comparison stated on the accompanying map; the names in capitals are those in the Book of the Dead, those in small type are the classical forms in Ptolemy's Geography, those in italics are the modern names. One of the most important names is that of the kingdom of Osiris (ch. xviii, cxxvii) or Un-Nefer (ch. xv), called AKRET or IKRET. This is closely like the Greek name of a region in the upper part of the main river, Ekretike, the modern Kartlia; [see note below]. The “Pillars of Shu" were prominent hills over which the sun rose (ch. cix of Nu), therefore somewhere east of the kingdom of AKRET. The gate ZESERT (=TOSORT, Gr) is the gate of the pillars of Shu (ch. xvii), and therefore also east of AKRET; in that relation we se the district of Tosarene. Near ZESERT lay the most fertile plain of the fields of AĂRU or IĂRU, and thus near Tosarene is the river lora through the midst of Transcaucasia. This river has others on either side of it which receive the mountain torrents, while it only drains a fertile plain free of violent changes, In a Trip through the Eastern Caucasus, 1889, the Hon. John (later Lord) Abercromby describes the level cultivated plains traversed by tile Iora; again, a splendid open grassy space, with abundance of wood and water at an elevation (of 3,600 feet above the sea, with the Iora, and beyond it more wooded hills. The blessed Fields of the Iaru yet had a lake of fire in them, and on the Iora is a great naphtha spring, marked ‘N’ on this map. The fields of Iaru are described as behind, or at the back of the head of KĂRU (ch. xvii), and the waters of the Iora start from the mountain at the head of the Kur river. The description rather suggests looking at this region from the Colchis side.

From AKRET the Egyptian sailed down the river (ch. xv) to DADU or TATTU; so, descending from Ekretike, the region of Tot, Totene, is reached, half-way to the river mouth. Further on, it is said, the eastern gate of heaven had on its south the lake of KHALUSA (NU, ch. cix); so at the eastern end of the valley, on the south side, was Kholuata, now lake Chalasi.


We read that that RESTAU is the DUAT region (ch. xvii) - they are identical. The DUAT had its north gate at ZESERT, Tosarene, and so lay south of that, and in the south-east is Resht, agreeing to the name of RESTAU. To the north of the fields of IARU was the river REU (ch. cxlix) ; and at the north of the Caucasus is the great river Rha, the Volga. BAKHAU is often named; it was a great mountain upon which heaven rested, 9½ by 6½ miles in size, which seems like a real estimate. It was the "Mount Bakhau of the rising sun " (ch. clxxii, Nebseni): the name seems connected with beka, “the dawn”." Baku at the eastern end of the Caucasus range agrees with this position. At the other end of the day was the land of sunset, TAMANU (ch. xv, D.6,12; E. 15). The western end of the Caucasus range is the Taman peninsula. So far, we are dealing with places whose position is stated in relation to each other, and which therefore support each other in identification. Other places may less certainly be identified, by the names in a suitable position, but not directly connected one with another. Homage is paid to the divinity of the stars in AUN or 0N, which lay to the west (ch. lxxxv), and the god Annu in ANDES (ch. xv). The stars of the gods are specially the undying ones in the north, and looking north from Ekretike there is the city Oni, and the mountains of Andish. The “divine door of the city of BTA" may possibly be the city of Ptua near Totene. ANRUDEE, "it does not increases'' the barren region, had DUAT and RESTAU to the south of it (ch. xvii). It seems likely that it was the Caucasus mountain range. There was a lake of fire in that region near the SHENY dwelling (ch. xvii); at the foot of the mountains in Sanua. Not far from this is Mosega, and this might be MESQTO, which was a place of purification, probably by fire (ch. cxxii, clxxvi). ASTES is reached after ANRUDEF (ch. cxlvi), probably the same as ASSET, which is said to be too remote to be seen (ch. cxlix). Both descriptions would agree to the northern place Ashti. DESDES was the lake over which the sun set (ch. XV)) and repeatedly it is claimed that this lake is at peace. 'The name is literally “the choppy”; from the position, it would refer to the Black Sea, and the prevalent west wind would make it rough on the eastern coast. MAOATI was a lake, of which the heads, or sources, were known (ch. xvii). It is singularly like the name of the lake of Maiotis, or Sea of Azov. The FENKU were a people who gave gifts, which were buried on the shore of the lake MAOATI (ch. cxxv), and they were therefore in its region. This suggests a possible link with Phanagoria at the mouth of Maiotis. In chapter cx there are three lakes drawn, named URMU, QETQETMU, and HETEPMU, or the “great”, the “moving” and the “peaceful" lakes. The name URMU may be linked with Urmia, the large lake south of the Caucasus; if so, the moving and quiet lakes might be lakes Van and Sevan. This list accounts for most of the important names of places in the mythology of the Book of the Dead. Names, however, are very risky material on which to base conclusions; no doubt almost any name may have one or more parallels somewhere in the world, yet here we are dealing with a single region, and the names fall into place in accord with the indications of direction one from another. It seems very improbable that in so limited a field, already indicated by the physical description, more than a dozen names should so closely correspond, without having a real connection. If this localisation should be accepted, it will have much influence on our understanding of the early religion. We may begin to analyse the Book of the Dead into the Caucasian and Nilotic sections. Osiris, repeatedly named as ruler of Akret, will thus be linked to the earliest stratum, and be of northern origin. Byblos may then have been an Osiris sanctuary during the migration through Syria. The strange mention of Sebek at Bakhau looks like some transference of Egyptian ideas. Possibly, the Zeus named by Strabo was Zeus Sabasios of Asia Minor, and so the name Sabas might have been transformed to Sebek on going to Egypt.


The mediaeval history of the kingdom of Akret or Ekretike may be here noted, from Telfer’s Crimea and Transcaucasia (1876). The position of Ekretike is that of the modern Imeritia, which kingdom was formerly called Egris (ii, 30). from Egros, son of Thargamos (Togarmah). This Egros seems to be equivalent in another dialect to Karthlos, son of Thargamos (i, 172). From him is named Mount Karthlos and the rivulet Karthly (i, 162, 172). Evidently this district was the great kingdom of the country (see i, 176; ii, 33), with a long tradition of its early importance, which we can now perceive far back in the beginnings of civilisation. In looking at a remote origin for the popular mythology of Egypt, we must remember the persistence of folk-tales and their long antiquity. They are cherished as religious literature even when of secular origin, such as the Tibetan sacred books, which are the racy and vivid stories of north Indian life during the Asoka period. When only transmitted by word of mouths they can survive for thousands of years, like the Eskimo tales which are verbally the same on the Atlantic and Alaska, though the people rarely know anything more than a day's journey from their own centre. The maintenance of a detailed record of history goes back for many centuries in the African kingdoms, and the Polynesians (in spite of being so scattered) have kept in memory their migrations and colonising of New Zealand. There is, therefore, no improbability in place-names which have been embodied in mythology being preserved for very long periods. It appears, then, that the cultural connections of the earliest Egyptians, as well as the physical descriptions in their mythology, point to the Caucasus region. When, further, we find there the names of the principal places of the mythology in their relative positions, it gives strong grounds for regarding that region as the homeland of the earliest civilisation of the Egyptians. FLINDERS PETRIE. ‘Ancient Egypt’, June 1926.

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