Heavenly Gates in Rock Art

Rockart Heavenly gates Negev Desert

The Heavenly Gates in Negev Desert Rock Art, Israel

The gates of Heaven are Sumerian imaginary structures floating in the sky that according to the ancient concept was a gateway between heaven and earth.  The gates are located at the ecliptic plane intersection with the horizons, the place where the Sun, moon, and planets rise and set. The heavenly gate leads to the world center,  located in the North Star vicinity situated above Ursa Major constellation.

1. The Gates in Sumerian Cylinder Seals

John C Didier (2009) hypothesize that the imaginary heavenly gate constructed from the stars around the North Pole. The prominent stars and constellations around the North Star, such as Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Draco, create the gate outline, 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 marked in this illustration 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 3000 years ago. This gate mounted the back of the heavenly bull made from the outline of Ursa Major constellation.

cylinder seal

Fig 1 Heavenly Gate illustration                                 Fig2  The Heavenly Bull and the Winged Gate

Acadian cylinder seal Fig.2, dated  3000BC, depicts such a gate, called in the literature “The Bull and the Winged Gate”. The gate has wings and is supported on the back of the heavenly bull and by ancient imagination, it was the mechanism that allows it to float and move freely in the sky just as birds do. Two gods on both sides of the rectangle gate are powering the gate by passing a rope passing between them, which implies a movement,  depicts the winding Draco constellation.

As noticed the gate has wings that look like sun rays that are of slightly different sizes symbolizing the rise and set direction. The larger one on the left side in Fig.2 symbolizes the rise direction and the smaller one symbolizes the set direction. The wings illustrate the gate magical ability to float and stay in the sky exactly like birds. The similarity between the gates described by John C Didier, Figure1, and the cylinder seal in Fig.2 is very clear.

Fig 3 Cylinder Seal, Inanna climbs out from the gate of heaven.

We have the gate textual and pictorial testimonies from Innana story, the Queen of Heaven,  and the celestial bull from the Epic of Gilgamesh 1500 BC.  In this cylinder seal, Fig.3, Innana steps out from the heavenly gate carried on the back of the heavenly bull.  She is heading straight from the gate, naked, and runs into the floating boat that sails the celestial ocean, that separates the heaven from earth.

2. The Heavenly Gates in Negev Desert Rock Art

Figure4 presents two examples of Rock Art, from the Negev Desert, representing the Winged Gate abstraction. Common to all is a pair of gates, which look like a footprint of different sizes. The consistent gate schematic conforms to the idea presented in the Sumerian cylinder seals, it includes the gates and the wings sizes. The artist emphasized the differences in the sun’s strength, rising and setting, by the size of the gates, wings and their fullness, and the engraved gate lines thickness. The gates are in the shape of feet, which are the body part that passes, in and out, through the gate.

rock art heavenly gates negev desert

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

Fig.5 illustrates a Rock Art example of four gates. The upper gates are used for sunrise and sunset; the sun appears between them seen as a full circle. The lower gates are used for the rising and setting of the moon that appears between them. The sun is above the gates while the moon is below the gates, an ancient logic that describes the travel path height of the sun and moon. The size ratio between the rising and setting gate is maintained as described previously, however, the moon gates are of equal size since its brightness doesn’t change.

Fig.6 is an example of Negev Rock Art, which shows two galloping horses carrying a rectangular structure. The horses are a depiction of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations. The lower horse depicts the bull in the Sumerian heavenly gate concept. Its rectangle body with the kneeling posture reminds the shape of Ursa Major constellation, see Fig.2. The upper horse represents the constellation Ursa Minor with its long tail that crosses the gate depicting Draco constellation winding in the sky between these two constellations. The tail crossing, the rectangular structure, points the location of the old North Star, a star called Thuban in Draco tail.

rock art heavenly gate

Fig 6 The Heavenly Gate and the North Pole  carried by two horses representing the constellations Ursa Major/Minor and Draco, Negev Desert Rock Art (photo Razy Yahel)


Fig.7 illustrates various engravings from the Negev Desert with the heavenly gate abstraction. The similarity of the Sumerian cylinder seals and Negev Desert Rock Art are compelling evidence for the Sun and Moon Heavenly Gates idea shared by the Negev Desert dwellers and their counterparts from Sumer. This includes ideas such as different size for gate and wings. It also explains visually in Fig.6 the heavenly gate imaginary construction and points out the location of the old North pole star Thuban at Draco tail constellation located in a rectangle between the two constellations.

heavenly gate examples Negev Desert rock art

Fig.7 Heavenly gate examples from the Negev Desert rock art

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

Copyright © All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of  israelrockart.com



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

« (Previous Post)
(Next Post) »

One Comment to Heavenly Gates in Rock Art

  1. admin says:

    More information in the book Rock Art in Israel, available online.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2017: Israel Rock Art, All Rights Reserved | Travel Theme by: D5 Creation | Powered by: WordPress