Fertility scenes in Rock Art
Fertility scenes in the Negev Desert Rock Art
The earliest myths in the world promoted rituals that are connected to fertility and these were recorded on rock art for future generations. Their description is very different from how we envision fertility nowadays, as the following rock art deciphering demonstrates.
The fertility rituals influenced by the myth of the Egyptian god Osiris circulating in the region. They re-enacted, symbolically, sexual acts as reproductive processes of man, animals, and land. Spreading semen over land or water was a ceremonial act practiced in ancient Egypt to promote land fertility. The fertility symbols used in this rock art include the ibex and the dog that represents the winter fertile constellations of Orion (the ibex) and Canis Major (the dog) announcing their arrival in the rainy season.
The Egyptian myth tells that Osiris killed by his brother Set who fancied the throne. Set chopped Osiris into fourteen pieces and threw them into the Nile River. Isis, Osiri’s wife, wandered the world and assembled Osiris’ body, and inserted his semen into her thus giving birth to Horus. The Egyptian Pyramid Texts state it unequivocally: “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….”.
Osiris became the resurrection and re-generation god. His death represented the yearly drought, while his miraculous rebirth represented the Nile River flooding that yielded the agriculture magic in Egypt. To assure fertility Pharaoh performed a ceremony, which involved masturbating at the riverbank spreading his semen throughout the Nile River’s waters fertilizing the river banks.
Osiris and Isis Celestial gods
The ancients Egyptians mapped the stars in different seasons and Osiris and Isis have been clearly represented by Orion and Canis Major constellations, as shown in Fig2. In the Negev Desert rock art, they portrayed as an ibex followed by a dog a symbolic sky view of Orion and Canis Major constellation arrival annoncing the fertile season.
The sniffing dog scene in Negev Rock Art
The rock art illustrated here adapts the known fact about the smelling abilities of dogs. Dogs navigate the world via their sensitive nose glands and their action of sniffing gathers information.
The rock art presented, Fig.4, here illustrates the fertility ritual incorporating the Egyptian myth of Isis reviving Osiris. It visually records sexual attributes symbolizing land fertility in concert with the ibex and the dog (Osiris and Isis) sky appearance in the fertile season. In this scene, the dog symbolically entices the ibex, by sniffing him. As a result, the ibex ejects a spray of semen, notice the ibex phallus, and the “wet” patch underneath. Above them, you can see the formation of rainstorms and clouds illustrated by the engraved patches and dots.
More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.
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Ardakani ( 2016) An Evaluation of the Historical Importance of Fertility and Its Reflection in Ancient Mythology
BOTICA (2013) Weather, Agriculture, and religion in the Ancient Near East and in the Old Testament