Paradise Map in Rock Art
Paradise Map in Rock Art
There is no physical paradise; it is a concept that only exists in our imaginations. It is a grand idea invented by astute brains that imagined a utopian final resting place for us all. A paradise epitomizes the opposite of our hectic lives. It is a comfortable and predictable place with an abundance that never changes, a place where life proceeds without worries, a place that provides everything you need. Plato(c.428–c.348 BC) called it “indestructible, immortal and divine”.
Paradise location in Egypt
From the Egyptian Pyramid Text, Old Kingdom (2500 BC), and monuments, we learn that they believed that such a place exists in the sky region where the “Imperishable Stars” shines. The Great Pyramid design at Giza describes the path to Paradise as envisioned by the Egyptians. Pharaoh Khufu’s burial site (Fig. 1) exemplifies such a place, the pyramid contains two built-in shafts that extend in the directions toward the North Star and Orion constellation.
This path details how the soul of Pharaoh travels from Earth, his burial place, through the Underworld, symbolized by the constellation of Orion, and finally reaches Heaven at the site of the immortal stars, stars surrounding the North Star, see Fig.2. We learn about this journey from the Egyptian Book of the Dead passage that describes Pharaoh’s rise to heaven: ‘He joins Orion (Osiris) and his companion Sirius. They continue their way along the cosmic aisle… the dead souls are anxious to join the Immortal Stars’. The immortal stars never sink, they rotate around the North Pole and are always visible through the night and seasons.
Where is Paradise?
The ancients imagined Paradise and drew it. Fig. 3 illustrates versions of Paradise by various cultures. The tree of life dominates the scene with two branches, two hanging fruits, and the coiling snake as if they originated from the same master copy! A tree represents a universal concept of immortality since it dies and regenerates each year and lives for many years longer than humans. The fruits are a potent symbol of immortality, it is the natural organ that carries the seed of new life.
Fig. 4 shows scene Paradise scenes from Egypt, the Negev Desert, and Sumer. The right scene shows the Newby Palette found in a pre-dynastic Egyptian tomb. According to Egyptian belief, the two falcons at the top are guarding the North Pole. The left scene shows paradise from Sumer and in the middle is a Negev rock art version. The few Paradise abstractions, dating to around 2,500 BC, are astonishingly similar.
The central upright symbol, in each scene in Fig.4 is a tree of life that extends from earth to heaven, uniting earth with heaven. The two adjacent lines at the treetop symbolize the Fruits of Paradise, an abstraction of the two lonely stars hanging from the Ursa Minor constellation. The snake, the Paradise guardian, wraps himself around the tree to protect the resting place for souls. It represents the Draco constellation winding through Paradise center between Ursa Major and Minor constellations. The circle on top symbolizes the North Star – the location of Paradise!
More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.
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