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Footprint in Rock Art

Rock art Heavenly gates Negev Desert

Footprint – Heavenly Gates in Negev Desert Rock Art, Israel

Many engraved footprints appear in Negev Desert rock art.  What do they represent? Some researchers claim that they are the symbols of god presence. However, a closer investigation of these rock art reveals a repeating pattern that proves that they are symbols of heavenly gates. They appear as a pair comprised of rising and setting gates, an idea originated in Sumer.

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

1. The Gate  Astronomical Origins

John C Didier (2009) hypothesize that the imaginary heavenly gate 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 appears in many Sumerian cylinder seals, as shown in Fig1. 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 create a rectangle that forms the gate. This rectangular area surrounds the region of Thuban, a star in the Draco constellation tail, the previous North Pole star and earth pivot about 5000 years ago,  considered as the location of Paradise. This gate mounted on the heavenly bull back, as illustrated in Fig.1, made from the outline of Ursa Major constellation.

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

2. The Gates in Sumerian Cylinder Seals

Acadian cylinder seal Fig.2, dated  3000BC, depicts a gate, called in the literature “The Bull and the Winged Gate”. The winged gate supported by the heavenly bull, Ursa Major depiction, 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, depicting the winding Draco constellation. The gate wings look like sun rays of slightly different sizes symbolizing the rise and set direction. They remind of birds’ wings that awards the gate the ability to fly. The larger gate on the right side in Fig.2 symbolizes the rise direction and the smaller one symbolizes the set direction. 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. The cylinder seal, the right side of Fig.2, describes a scene from this myth in which shows Innana steps out from the heavenly gate 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 Heavenly Gates in Negev Desert Rock Art

Fig.4 presents Rock Art examples, from the Negev Desert, representing the Sumerian Winged Gate abstraction. The gates engraved in pairs and look like a footprint of slightly different sizes with attached wings that look like ears. The gate schematic conforms to the ideas presented in the Sumerian cylinder seals, which includes the adherence to the gates and wings sizes. The rising gate is slightly bigger than the setting gate and the same idea for the wings. The artist emphasized the differences in rising and setting direction by the gates sizes, the wings sizes,  and the gate lines thickness. The gates are in the shape of a footprint, which is the body part that walks through the gate.

rock art heavenly gates negev desert

Fig.4  Heavenly Gates  Negev Desert Rockart                                                           Fig 5 The Sun and Moon Gates

Fig.5 illustrates a Rock Art example of four gates. 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 the sun rising and setting, is maintained, however, the moon gates are of equal size since its brightness doesn’t change.

Fig.6 shows examples of engraved rock art gates from the Negev Desert with its 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.

footprint conneion to 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 together a rectangular structure. This arrangement represents the gate to heaven, deciphered as follows. This beautiful and unusual scene actually depicts the constellations around the north star, see Fig.7. , the most important sky region and the gate location to heaven. The horses are a depiction of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations. 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 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 heavenly gate

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

Conclusion

Fig.8 illustrates various gates 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 Draco constellation seen as the wavy line within the gate.

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, available online.

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REFERENCES

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

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