Fertility scenes in the Negev Desert Rockart
Rituals in Negev Desert, Egypt, and Canaan
Copyright © 2018 by Yehuda Rotblum
The lack of water in the desert facilitated its dwellers to promote rituals, see Sacred Marriage , imitating nature rejuvenation where earth and water and played a major role. In our region, the Negev Desert they adopted from Egyptian myths, especially from the role of Osiris the Egyptian god of the underworld, Nile flood, and fertility. The fertility rites re-enacted, symbolically, sexual acts as reproductive processes of man, animals, and land. Spreading semen over land or water was a visual act practiced in the ancient world to promote fertility as we can see in the following examples of Rockart from the Negev Desert.
Osiris role in Egypt
The Nile River caused agriculture to flourish and made Egypt into a powerful kingdom in the ancient world. The main God in Egypt associated with the yearly Nile inundation was Osiris. According to the myth he was killed by his brother Set who fancied the throne. Set chopped Osiris into fourteen pieces and threw them into the Nile River. Isis, Osiris wife, and sister wandered the world collected Osiris body pieces, she put him together and inserted his semen into her body giving birth to Horus.
Osiris became the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, or the god of resurrection and regeneration. His death represented the yearly Egyptian drought, while his miraculous rebirth represented the Nile Valley flooding that yielded the agriculture magic in Egypt. To assure fertility Pharaohs would perform a ceremony, which involved masturbating at the riverbank and making sure that his semen followed the Nile River’s waters to fertilize the soil on the river shores.
Osiris and Isis Celestial gods
The ancients Egyptians mapped the stars in different days and seasons and Osiris and Isis have been clearly identified in the sky scene representing the Orion constellation and Canis Major as shown in Fig2.
Fig.2 Osiris and Isis the are constructed from the constellation of Orion and Canis Major
Sirius the main star in Canis Major constellation marked the beginning of the New Year and the fertile season in Egypt. In Egypt’s Pyramid Texts is written: “Your sister Isis comes to you [Osiris] rejoicing for love of you. You have placed her on your phallus and your seed issues into her….”. In the Negev Desert, they are portrayed as an ibex followed by a dog.
The sniffing dog scene in Negev Rockart
Dogs navigate the world via their sensitive nose glands and the action of sniffing the crotch of human or other animals is their way of gathering information. Their sensitive nose can even detect ovulation, a state of fertility, in animals and people. Fig4 is a faithful illustration of the sniffing dog scene taken from the sky image representing Osiris and Isis.
Fig.4 The Sniffing dog scene, the ibex and the dog symbols of an appearance of Orion and Isis in the winter sky. Negev Desert Rockart.
The three rockart scenes illustrate the dog sniffing with the “ovulating” ibex. Symbolically the dog entices the ibex to ejaculate sperm, notice the ibex phallus and the spray of semen underneath. Above them, you can see the formation of rainstorms and clouds as illustrated by the patches and dots anticipating the rain. The ibex in these illustrations, Fertility God, imitates the Egyptian Pharaoh actions during the Nile inundation, he assures land fertilization. This scene is a mixture of winter sky image with an adaptation of earthly dog behavior an imaginative recorded scene for desert generations to induce land fertility.
Ardakani ( 2016) An Evaluation of the Historical Importance of Fertility and Its Reflection in
BOTICA (2013) Weather, Agriculture, and religion in the Ancient Near East and in the Old Testament
More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.