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Paradise Map in Rock Art

Rockart Paradise

Paradise Map in Rock Art

Paradise is not an earthly entity it is a concept that exists only in our imagination. It is a grand idea created by astute minds that invented a utopian final resting place for all of us. A paradise is a comfortable and predictable location of plentiful that never changes, a place where life proceeds without worries, a place that provides all your needs. 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 of such a place, which exist in the sky region where the  “Imperishable Stars” shines. The Great Pyramid design at Giza describes the path to Paradise as the Egyptians envisioned.  Pharaoh Khufu’s burial site (Fig. 1),  contains two built-in shafts that extend in the directions toward the North Star and Orion constellation.

Fig. 1 Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu, the shafts directed toward the dwelling place of the gods in the sky.

This path maps Pharaoh’s soul travel from Earth, the burial place, through the Underworld, Orion constellation, and finally reaches Heaven at the location of the immortal stars, stars around North Star Fig.2, for its final rest.  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’.

Fig. 2 North star region

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 is a universal idea of immortality since it dies and rejuvenates every year and stands alive for many years much more than a person’s life. The fruits are a potent symbol of immortality, it is the natural organ that carries the seed of new life.

Fig. 3  Scenes of paradise in different cultures: The tree of life with the two hanging fruits of paradise

Fig. 4 shows scene Paradise scenes from Egypt, the Negev Desert, and Sumer. The right drawing called the Newby Palette was found in a pre-dynastic Egyptian tomb. The left scene shows paradise from Sumer and the middle is a Negev rock art version. The likeness of Paradise abstractions is astonishing; they date to about 2,500 BC.

Fig. 4 Paradise Maps from Sumer, rock art from the Negev Desert, Newby palette from Egypt

The snake, a paradise guardian,  coiling around a pole illustrates best the Paradise scene. The central upright symbol, in each scene in Fig. 4,  is a tree of life emanating from the earth and reaching heaven uniting earth with heaven allowing the cosmic energy flow into the earth.  The two adjacent lines at the treetop symbolize the Fruits of Paradise, an abstraction of the two lonely stars hanging from 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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