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. The fertility rock art presented here shows how it was celebrated. The Negev Desert dwellers adopted rituals from Egyptian myths influenced by 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 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 constellations of Orion (the ibex) and Canis Major (the dog) that announced 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. Their rise in wintertime announced the fertile season arrival in Negev Desert.
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. Their sensitive nose can even detect ovulation, a state of fertility, in animals and people. Even today, Australian farmers using the dog’s ability to detect ovulating cows.
Fig4 illustrates the fertility ritual scenes represented by the ibex followed by a sniffing dog that marks the fertile season arrival with the sky appearance of Orion and Canis Major constellations. In this scene, the dog symbolically entices the ibex. 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.
The rock art presented here illustrates the fertility ritual incorporating the Egyptian myth of Isis reviving Osiris. It visually records sexual attributes symbolizing, or requesting, the realization of land fertility in concert with the ibex and the dog sky appearance in the desert fertile season.
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