Footprint in Rock Art

footprint heavenly gates negev desert rock art

Footprint – Heavenly Gates in Negev Desert Rock Art, Israel

Many engraved footprints were found in the Negev Desert rock art; they come in pairs, with one bigger than the other, and sometimes they have “ears”. Researchers have interpreted them as symbols of god’s presence, adhering to the biblical ban on making graven images of god. Indeed, the engraving similarity to a footprint confuses our visual interpretation, and the brain matching process catalogs these engraving immediately as footprints. Our proof of their symbolic meaning is far from what was envisioned in the past. Detailed examination of these rock art reveals a repeating pattern that proves that they are symbols of heavenly gates.

1. The Gate  Astronomical Origins

According to the ancient concept, the gates of Heaven are Sumerian imaginary structures floating in the sky that serve as a gateway between heaven and earth. In Negev Desert rock art the gate resembles a footprint an idea copied directly from Sumerian cylinder seals. The gates are located at the ecliptic plane intersection with the horizon, the place where the Sun, moon, and planets rise and set. Another type of gate, the heavenly gate, leads to the world center or Paradise and it is located in the North Star vicinity situated above the Ursa Major constellation.

Rock Art News. Sumerian heavenly gate abstraction
Fig 1 Heavenly Gate illustration     Fig2  The Heavenly Bull and the Winged Gate.  On right, the Goddess Inanna climbs out the gate.

John C Didier (2009) hypothesize that the imaginary heavenly gate is constructed from the stars around the North Pole. This includes the prominent stars and constellations around the North Star, such as Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Draco, which appear in many Sumerian cylinder seals, as shown in Fig2. The two Ursa Minor stars define the top and the two Ursa Major stars define the gate bottom. The imaginary lines connecting the four stars, in these constellations, create a rectangle that forms the gate. This rectangular area surrounds Thuban, a star in the Draco constellation tail, the previous North Pole star and earth pivot about 4000 years ago,  considered by the ancients as the location of Paradise. This gate mounted on the heavenly bull back, as illustrated in Fig.1, made from the outline of the Ursa Major constellation.

2. The Gates in Sumerian Cylinder Seals

Acadian cylinder seal Fig.2, dated  3000BC, depicts a gate, called the literature “The Bull and the Winged Gate”. The winged gate supported by the heavenly bull, an Ursa Major constellation depiction, was imagined as a mechanism that allowed it to float in the air.  Two gods on the gate sides are powering the gate by passing a rope between them, an action that implies movement, which depicts the winding Draco constellation. The gate has wings that look like sun rays of slightly different sizes symbolizing the rise and set direction.  On the right side in Fig.2, the larger wing symbolizes the rise direction and the smaller one, on left, symbolizes the set direction. The wings remind of birds’ wings that award the gate the ability to float in the air. The similarity between the gates described by John C Didier, Fig.1, and the cylinder seal in Fig.2 is very clear.

The Epic of Gilgamesh 1500 BC contains the gate textual and pictorial testimony as described in Innana and the Celestial bull myth. On the right side of Fig.2, the cylinder seal shows a scene taken from the myth. It shows Innana stepping out from the heavenly gate that is carried by the heavenly bull. She is heading straight from the gate, naked, and runs into the floating boat that sails the celestial ocean that separates heaven from earth. Note the adherence to the set/rise gate wings sizes in this cylinder seal.

3. The Footprint in Negev Desert Rock Art

Fig.4 presents Rock Art examples of footprint engravings from the Negev Desert. They always appear as a pair, sometimes together and also separated,  which comprised of rising and setting gates with wings. The artist emphasized the differences in rising and setting direction by, the gates sizes, the wings sizes, and the gate outlines thickness and fullness. The gates are in the shape of a footprint, which points to the body parts that walk through the gate. The gate schematic confirms the ideas outlined in the Sumerian cylinder seals, which includes the adherence to the gates and wings sizes.

rock art archeology research news. footprint, heavenly gates examples from negev desert rock art
Fig.4  Heavenly Gates  Negev Desert Rock art                    Fig 5 The Sun and Moon Gates

Fig.5 illustrates a Rock Art example of four gates, the rightmost engraving. The upper pair is the sun sunrise and sunset gates; the sun appears between them seen as a full circle. The lower pair is the moon rising and setting gates that appear between them. The gate size ratio, of rising/setting, is maintained, however, the moon gates are of equal size since their brightness doesn’t change.

Fig.6 shows examples of engraved rock art gates from the Negev Desert with their heavenly association. From left to right: 1. Venus entering the heavenly gate (see Venus Calendar) 2. Venus Star hovering above its gates. 3. The moon exits its rise gate (the right footprint), 4. An ibex enters the gate, half of it inside and half outside.

Rock Art archeology research news. footprint and the heavenly gate rock art
Fig.6 Examples of heavenly gates and their association  with celestial objects

4. The Heavenly Gate celestial abstraction 

Fig.7 shows two galloping horses carrying in tandem a rectangular structure. This unique arrangement represents the heavenly gate, which marked the entrance to heaven, and explains its ability to float in the sky. This beautiful and unusual scene actually depicts the constellations around the north star, see Fig.7, the most important sky region and the portal entry to heaven. The horses are a depiction of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations. Don’t look for the pictorial resemblance of the horses and constellations. It is all in the artist’s mind that abstracted prominent constellation characteristics, around the north star,  into familiar objects. The lower horse with its rectangle body and the kneeling posture reminds the shape of the Ursa Major constellation. The upper horse represents Ursa Minor constellation with its long tail depicting the Draco constellation that winds between these two constellations. The area where the Draco tail is crossing, the rectangular structure, marks the old North Star Thuban location, from 4th to 2nd-millennium BCE.

Rock Art research news. Heavenly gate as a North star
Fig 7 The Heavenly Gate situated around the North Pole the world pivot. The gate is carried by two horses representing the constellations Ursa Major/Minor and Draco. Negev Desert Rock Art (photo Razy Yahel)


Fig.8 illustrates various gate engravings from the Negev Desert. The Sumerian cylinder seals and Negev Desert Rock Art similarity are compelling evidence for the Heavenly Gates abstraction. This includes details as gates sizes, wings sizes, and even a reminiscence of the Draco constellation seen as the wavy line within the gate.

Rock Art research News. Footprint, Heavenly gate examples Negev Desert rock art
Fig.8 Heavenly gate examples from the Negev Desert rock art

More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, is available online.

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Didier, John C               The Ancient Eurasian World and the Celestial Pivot.

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