Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What's the meaning of an ibex in rockart in the Negev Desert, Israel? - LexiLine Journal 432

Yehuda wrote:

A rockart with drawn ibex is very common here in the Negev Desert. It appears in about 60% of the petroglyphs so it must be important symbol, but why? Sometimes it is drawn alone and at other times it appears with a dog to the left or right of it. Some experts here are claiming that it the symbol of an ibex is the representation of the God Sin ( the moon ). I think there is more to this, especially when it appears with a dog and other symbols in the rockart. I'm looking for additional meaning and would appriciate any thoughts you have about it.

Andis Kaulins replied:

See the article by Kristina Berggren at titled "When the rest of the world thought male ibex, why did the people of San Giovenale think female sheep?" PECUS . Man and animal in antiquity. Proceedings of the conference at the Swedish Institute in Rome, September 9-12, 2002. Ed. Barbro Santillo Frizell (The Swedish Institute in Rome. Projects and Seminars, 1), Rome 2004, where she relates a mainstream archaeologic theory that the ibex marked Sin, the Moon, which I sincerely doubt, because the many figures of the Ibex found in the Middle East are never found together with a depiction of the Moon at all. This common interpretation by mainstream archaeologists derives from a lack of knowledge about ancient astronomy.

As written by Richard Hinckley Allen in Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (p. 88):
"[I]n Akkadian times the commencement of the year was determined by the position of this star [Capella in Auriga] in relation to the moon at the vernal equinox".
Hence, the Moon, if significant for the Ibex, was significant only in terms of the stars at the start of season (in the instant case, the Spring viz. Vernal Equinox. The Ibex thus more likely marks stars and not the Moon.

Berggren notes in footnote 13:
"The Hebrew word ayil – used twice more (Gen.15.9 and Ex.29.32) – can mean either male sheep, male goat or ibex."
It has nothing to do with the Moon.

In fact, Berggren writes about the "duality" of the horned ibex in Eastern civilizations and the sheep in Western civilizations.

Elsewhere the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica writes that:
"The ibex is found in the Sinaitic peninsula and the hills between the Nile and the Red Sea, and the mouflon, or maned sheep, is occasionally seen in the same regions. "
The discussion of goats and sheep contains the following observations:
"In many languages, such as Chinese the word for sheep, goat and ram is the same. And most city folk generally are not aware of the distinctions.

This is further complicated by the fact that some species of sheep are quite goatish in appearance, such as the Jacob's sheep. This kind of sheep with its characteristically spotted or variably coloured fleece, is descended from an ancient Syrian breed, and it can have as many as 6 horns.

The confusion of terms is increased further by the fact that in sheep, the females, or ewes, are often larger than males and can have horns -- that is, they may appear to be rams [male sheep. ]
Ultimately, the ram or mouflon came down to us as meaning the constellation of Aries (where it marked the Spring Equinox) and the ibex (viz. goat) was seen anciently as the region of Capricorn at the Winter Solstice. However, we may have a shift of positions from Capricorn to Aries over time due to precession of the stars, equinoxes and solstices.

The Journal of Near Eastern Studies
(January-April 1965, Volume XXIV, Numbers 1 and 2, 82nd year), has an article by Willy Hartner titled "The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and the Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat", where he affiliates the ibex with the region of Capricorn and Aquarius.

Similar thoughts are found at

See the following link for a discussion of the horned animals in the early Zodiacs:

Gary D. Thompson in Essays Relating To The History Of Occidental Constellations and Star Names to the Classical Period engages in a general discussion of ancient stellar constellations, including the ibex.

See the following LexiLine files for decipherments involving horned-animal-type symbols at the stellar positions of Orion and Aries:

Add to this the observation that the constellation Auriga above Taurus also came down to us to mean a "flock of goats". See . However, Auriga was originally also connected with the shepherd and the not sheep (or the goats) alone.

The presence of a dog (sheep dog) near the Ibex may speak for Aries as the Ibex in Negev. Indeed, in ancient China, Aries was marked by both the Dog (Heang Low) as well as by the White Sheep (Pih Yang).

Also significant is the direction in which the ibex or ram is facing. Aries faces right, Capricorn faces left.

Lastly, one must view other figures which surround the Ibex. A male figure above the Ibex will most likely mark Perseus (with the phallic pulsating star Algol, the demon), which together with Taurus, the Bull, often marks male fertility in the heavens (again, as a sign of the Spring Equinox).

See e.g. ,

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