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Fertility scenes, Negev Desert Rock Art

Fertility scenes, Negev Desert Rock Art

The rock art from the Negev Desert portrays a fertility rite inspired by the Egyptian myth of Isis reviving Osiris. The figures, symbolizing the Egyptian gods, are derived from the constellations of Orion and Canis Major, represented by a dog and an ibex. The artwork illustrates a symbolic sexual rite aimed to stimulate the reproductive process in nature.

The Egyptian Osiris Myth

The Egyptian myth recounts the story of Osiris, who was killed by his brother Set who desired the throne. Set dismembered Osiris into fourteen pieces and tossed them into the Nile River. Isis, Osiris's wife, searched the world and pieced together Osiris' body, and impregnated herself with his semen, giving birth to Horus. The Egyptian Pyramid Texts state: 'Your sister Isis comes to you [Osiris] rejoicing for love of you. You have placed her on your phallus and your seed issues into her'

Upon his resurrection Osiris became a symbol of rebirth and regeneration. His death symbolized the annual drought in Egypt and his rebirth coincided with the flooding of the Nile River, signifying the agricultural miracle of the country. To guarantee fertility, Pharaohs performed a masturbatory ceremony at the riverbank, spreading their semen throughout the Nile River's waters to fertilize the river banks.

Osiris and Isis are Celestial gods

The ancient Egyptians charted the stars throughout the different seasons and identified Osiris and Isis with the Orion and Canis Major constellations, as depicted in Fig1. The Negev Desert rock art shows an ibex followed by a dog symbolizing the Orion and Canis Major constellations ,their sky appearence signaled the arrival of the fertile season.

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Fig.1   Osiris and Isis symbols are derived from the constellations of Orion and Canis Major. The three-star above the boat identifies the Orion constellation. In the middle scene, the corresponding constellation map of Orion and Canis Major is shown. The rock art, on the right, shows the ibex and the dog, symbolically representing the Orion and Canis Major constellations.

The sniffing dog scene in Negev Rock Art

Fig.2 illustrates a fertility ritual that reenacts the Egyptian myth of Isis reviving Osiris. It depicts sexual imagery symbolizing the fertility of the land along with the appearance of the Orion and Canis Major constellations (Osiris and Isis) during the fertile season.

In this portrayal, the dog symbolizes Isis reviving Osiris by sniffing the ibex. The ibex's shining horns express the intensity of this action, and at this moment, the ibex releases a spray of semen. The ibex's phallus and the wet patch underneath represent this moment. The engraved dots and patches on the rock art top symbolize the formation of rain and clouds, which are symbols of winter and the start of the fertile season.

Fertility in Rock Art. Ibex and the dog represent the
 constellations of Orion and Canis Major, Negev Desert Rock Art
Fig.2   The sniffing dog scenes. The ibex and the dog represent the constellations of Orion and Canis Major, Negev Desert Rock Art.

Conclusion

The rock art from the Negev Desert offers a unique perspective into the beliefs and rituals of ancient Egyptians regarding fertility. The depiction of Osiris and Isis, symbolizing rebirth and regeneration, is associated with the presence of the Orion and Canis Major constellations during the fertile season. The arrival of these constellations signifies the onset of the rainy winter season, which revived all in the arid Negev desert.


Bibliography

Ardakani   ( 2016)  An Evaluation of the Historical Importance of Fertility and Its Reflection in Ancient Mythology
BOTICA     (2013)  Weather, Agriculture, and religion in the Ancient Near East and in the Old Testament 

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Yehuda Rotblum