- Education and Science»
- Art History
They came down from the sky
The discoveries of Tillya Tepe will for many years to come continue to excite those eager to learn the information carried by the jewelry from the six graves that were found in Afghanistan in the 1970s.
The Orion constellation clearly reminds us of a warrior from the 4th grave of Tillya Tepe.
The belt, the leg shields, the broad shoulders can be seen in the image of Orion as well as the warrior from the 4th grave. And that is only a brief look.
On the belt of our hero is the image of Cybele, the Earth goddess, on the sheath is the Bear that is mistakenly called “vegetarian” (see: “it’s a clumsy silhouette of standing bear, seeming to dance “or “vegetarian bear” “Afghanistan..”,2009,p.273), because she is holding grapes in her paw.
Before we start interpreting what we see, let’s assume that Orion the Hinter was born in the winter, because the Orion and the Great Bear are brightest in the winter sky.
The Traveling Noble (see the buckles on the warrior’s pants) is obviously traveling the heavens in a carriage pulled by dragons, and his eyes are turned to the sky.
According to an Ancient Greek myth, Orion was a warrior in the VI century BC.
Nobody could defeat the great hunter. He was, according to one of the stories, a son of Poseidon the sea god. He was known for great height and handsomeness. Orion is said to have different parents. If Poseidon was not Orion’s father, he was the Hunter’s guardian. He taught Orion to walk on water. Orion’s life also has several different versions. One of those connects him with the hunt goddess Artemis, and calls him her companion and lover. After his death on Earth he came back as the well-known constellation.
According to another myth, Orion's companion among the stars is the Great Bear.
In the dictionary of mythology of 2004 (NY, 2004, vol.1) we can easily find the answer to the question why a bear is pictured on “our” Orion’s sheath.
In the Greek myth of the Arcadian nymph Callisto from the court of Artemis the hunting goddess, was turned into a bear and sent to the sky. As in many other cases, it happened because of Zeus’ lust for a beautiful nymph. He appeared to Callisto as Artemis and then turned her into a bear, so that jealous Hera would not find out about another of her husband’s adventures. Another story says that Artemis turned Callisto into a bear after finding out that Callisto was expecting a child. Yet another says it was Hera who did it. (“The facts on file, encyclopedia of World Mythology and legend” p. 209-210)
Ancient Arcadians would show you Callisto’s grave on a hill, where the shrine of Artemis/Callisto was located, a combined deity or a different representation of the hunting goddess, the guardian of narure and animals. The bear represented the cult of Artemis/Callisto.
It is interesting that the Greeks adopted the cult of Artemis from the Thracians.
According to Thracian mythology, the Thracians inhabited the Balkans and adjacent territories of modern Bulgaria and Turkey. They spoke Thracian, which is an Indo-European language. The could be distinguished from the Greeks by their red hair and blue eyes.
Presumably the Thracians soon mixed with Greeks, Romans and also Slavs. They are first mentioned in history in the V century BC..
Excavations in Bulgaria near Karlowo exposed the ancient Thracian capital.
Thracians passed a lot of their mythical characters and deities to Greeks, such as Dionysus, Princess Europa and Orpheus. Thracians are mentioned in “Iliad” as warriors on the side of the Trojans (book 2). In Book 5 Herodotus writes that Thracians only worship Ares, Dionysus and Artemis.
Josephus Flavius thought that Greeks called Tirasians, Thracians.
According to another myth (“The continuum encyclopedia of Symbols,N.Y.,1994 p.37) worshipping of a female bear was widely spread in the ancient world, and the images and bones found at the places of worship prove as much. The Bear was considered a goddess, especially among northern tribes, and a medium between the earth and the sky. The cult of the bear is present in the religions of the hunters of northern Asia and North America.
Bears in general were associated with warriors and the art of war. In Siberia and Alaska the bear is connected to the moon. In China the bear means masculinity.
The goldsmiths of Ancient Bactria naturally used familiar myths in making jewelry, and everybody back then could read the symbols that their customer asked them to put on the jewelry. Now we have to decipher their tale.