Footprint in Rock Art

Rockart Heavenly gates Negev Desert

Footprint – 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 serves as a gateway between heaven and earth. In Negev Desert rock art the gate resembles a footprint a symbol directly copied from Sumer cylinder seals. The gates located at the ecliptic plane intersection with the horizons, 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 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 5000 years ago. This gate mounted the back of the heavenly bull 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 Sumer.  On right, Inanna climbs out the 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 gates both sides gate are powering the gate by passing a rope passing between them, which implies a movement,  depicts the winding Draco constellation.

The gate has wings that look like sun rays of slightly different sizes symbolizing the rise and set direction. The larger one 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. We also 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.2, 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. Note the adherence to the wings proportions in this cylinder seal.

2. The Heavenly Gates in Negev Desert Rock Art

Figure4 presents examples of Rock Art, 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 the attachment of wings that looks like ears. The gate schematic conforms to the idea presented in the Sumerian cylinder seals, which includes the adherence to the gates and wings sizes. The artist emphasized the differences in rising and setting direction by the size of the gates, wings, and the engraved gate lines thickness. The gates are in the shape of feet, which are 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 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 located above the gates while the moon is below the gates. The size ratio between the rising and setting gates is maintained, however, the moon gates are of equal size since its brightness doesn’t change.

Fig. 6 shows examples of the footprint connections to the heavenly gate.  In all the scenes illustrated you can see the gate and the heavenly object, it is associated with. 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 inside and half outside.

footprint conneion to gate rock art

Fig.6 Examples of footprint connection  to celestial objects and  the heavenly gate

Fig.7 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 Thuban, from 4th to 2nd millennium BCE,  located in Draco constellation tail.

rock art heavenly gate

Fig 7 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.8 illustrates various footprint 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 such details as different sizes for the gate and the attachments of wings and even a reminiscence of Draco constellation outline, the wavy line in 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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Didier, John C               The Ancient Eurasian World and the Celestial Pivot.

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One Comment to Footprint in Rock Art

  1. admin says:

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

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