hercules marduk.jpg

 The myths of ancient Mesopotamia — including ancient Sumer and ancient Akkadia, Babylonia and Assyria — employ the same system of celestial metaphor used in the world’s other myths, scriptures and sacred stories. The characters and episodes described in the cuneiform texts inscribed on the clay tablets discovered among the ruins of the ancient cities of Mesopotamia employ the same specific constellations in the night sky which play similar roles in the myths of ancient India, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, the stories of the Bible, the Norse myths, and even myths from the Americas, from Asia, from Africa, and from the Pacific.

This fact is extremely significant, because ancient Sumer is one of the oldest — if not the oldest — civilization according to the conventional paradigm of human history, and yet the ancient world-wide system of celestial myth is already being employed in the myths of ancient Mesopotamia. The fact that we find this system underlying the myths in extremely ancient cultures such as those in Mesopotamia, dynastic Egypt, and Vedic India (and in the earliest surviving texts from those cultures) suggests an origin in some predecessor culture of even greater antiquity than each of these.

The characters and episodes in the Gilgamesh cycle, as well as in the Mesopotamian creation account known as Enuma Elish — which includes the tremendous cosmic battles between the gods led by Marduk and the forces of chaos aligned with Tiamat — and in the Deluge story found in Atrahasis, are shown in Star Myths of the World, Volume One (Second Edition) to belong to the same world-wide system found literally around the globe.

The image above depicts a bas-relief found among the ruins of ancient Nineveh, excavated in the early 1800s, showing a deity — likely the god Marduk — wielding the thunderbolt-weapon. The ancient artist has depicted the god in the characteristic outline of the constellation Hercules. Deities who wield the thunderbolt-weapon around the world are almost exclusively associated with the constellation Hercules, including Marduk of ancient Babylonia, Zeus and Jove of ancient Greece and Rome, Thor in the Norse myths, Thunderbolt Huracan in the myths of the ancient Maya, and many others.

Compare this Hercules-posture to the middle image on page 49 of the Maya text known as the Dresden codex, shown below:


All the characteristic features of the constellation Hercules are present in both pieces of artwork, including the extended rear leg, the raised heel, the square-shaped head (often shown with a full beard and with a square head-dress, such as the lion-head worn by the hero Heracles), and the upraised weapon. Even the thunderbolts are depicted in very much the same manner.

We do not have to theorize some kind of contact between ancient Assyria and the Maya of Central America in order to explain these parallels, nor is it plausible to argue that these similarities are simply coincidences (especially because numerous other examples of the very same pattern could be provided from many other cultures, all paralleling the constellation Hercules as outlined above). Instead, it is far more likely that this evidence reveals the existence of some common predecessor civilization, one of extreme antiquity, predating even the most ancient cultures of Mesopotamia.

What purpose could the originators of this ancient system have had for constructing a system of myth upon celestial metaphor? Nobody knows for certain, but after years of research I am convinced that this ancient system is designed to convey profound (and at the same time immensely practical) truths regarding the invisible and infinite realm, with which our subconscious is actually already connected, but from which we have become estranged as part of the process of becoming entangled in the norms and rules and relationships that are part of human society and the development of our conscious mind (with all its doubts and fears and its weighing of rules and consequences and possibilities).

Indeed, it is my firm belief that the pattern of “twinned figures,” such as Gilgamesh and Enkidu in the ancient Mesopotamian myths, depicts this relationship for our better understanding, and to help point us towards the way to resolve and transcend this “schism” that each of us undergoes as part of our incorporation into society (and which the ancient myths show Enkidu undergoing when he is brought out of the state of nature).

Other “twin” patterns are extremely common in ancient myth from around the world. Examples include Castor and Pollux, Eros and Psyche, Jacob and Esau, Jesus and Thomas Didymos, Achilles and Patroclus, and the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque of the Maya, among many others.