Paradise Map in Rock Art

Rock art Paradise

Paradise Map in Rock Art

We all know that there is no such place as a physical paradise; it is a grand concept that only exists in our imaginations. It is an idea invented by astute brains that imagined a utopian final resting place for us all. A paradise epitomizes the opposite of our hectic lives. It is a comfortable and predictable place with an abundance that never changes, a place where life proceeds without worries, and a place that provides everything you need.   Plato(c.428–c.348 BC) called it “indestructible, immortal and divine”.

Paradise location in Egypt

From the Egyptian  Pyramid Text, Old Kingdom (2500 BC),  and monuments, we learn that they believed that such a place exists in the sky region where the  “Imperishable Stars” shines. The Great Pyramid design at Giza describes the path to Paradise as envisioned by the Egyptians. Pharaoh Khufu’s burial site (Fig. 1) exemplifies such a place, the pyramid contains two built-in shafts that extend in the directions toward the North Star and Orion constellation.

Fig. 1 Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu, the shafts directed south, the entry to the underworld and north. This is the travel path to the North Star the location of paradise

This path details how the soul of Pharaoh travels from Earth, his burial place, through the Underworld, symbolized by the constellation of Orion, and finally reaches Heaven at the site of the immortal stars, the stars surrounding the North Star, see Fig.2, they never sink, they rotate around the North Pole and are always visible through the night and seasons. The Egyptian Book of the Dead describes the path of Pharaoh’s Khufu rise to heaven: ‘He joins Orion (Osiris) and his companion Sirius. They continue their way along the cosmic aisle… the dead souls are anxious to join the Immortal Stars’. 

Fig. 2 North star region

Where is Paradise?

The ancients imagined Paradise and drew the constellations of heaven as an imaginary scene. Fig. 3 illustrates versions of Paradise images from various cultures. The tree of life dominates the scene with two branches, two hanging fruits, and the coiling snake as if they originated from the identical master copy! A tree represents a universal concept of immortality since it dies and regenerates each year and lives for many years longer than humans. The fruits are a potent symbol of immortality, it is the natural organ that carries the seed of new life.

Fig. 3  Scenes of paradise in different cultures: The tree of life with the two hanging fruits of paradise

Fig. 4 shows scene Paradise scenes from Egypt, the Negev Desert, and Sumer. The right scene shows the Newby Palette found in a pre-dynastic Egyptian tomb. According to Egyptian belief, the two falcons at the top are guarding the North Pole. The left scene shows paradise from Sumer and in the middle is a Negev rock art version. The few Paradise abstractions, dating to around 2,500 BC, are astonishingly similar.

Fig. 4 Paradise Maps from Sumer, rock art from the Negev Desert, Newby palette from Egypt

The central upright symbol, in each scene in Fig.4 is a tree of life that extends from earth to heaven, uniting earth with heaven. The two adjacent lines at the treetop symbolize the Fruits of Paradise, an abstraction of the two lonely stars hanging from the Ursa Minor constellation. The snake, the Paradise guardian, wraps itself around the tree to protect the resting place for souls. It represents the Draco constellation winding through Paradise center between Ursa Major and Minor constellations. The circle on top symbolizes the North Star – the location of Paradise!

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

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