Paradise Found, by William F. Warren, , at sacred-texts.com
We have here, even to the most minute details, an exact reproduction of the Aryan conception of Mount Meru, or Albordj, with its accessories. Here is the abode of the heavenly hierarchy, located on the summit of the Kharsak, or sacred mount which penetrates the heavens exactly in the region of the Pole star.Rev. O. D. Miller.
We have already seen that the prehistoric inhabitants of the Tigro-Euphrates basin, called by some Akkadians, by others Sumerians, by yet others Akkado-Sumerians, had like other Asiatic peoples their Mountain of the World, on whose top was the celestial Paradise, and around which sun, moon, and stars revolved. Our present task is to locate this mountain more exactly, and to consider its significance for our hypothesis respecting the site of Eden.
That the earth, as conceived of by this ancient people, was spherical is not at the present day questioned. With their ideas probably no archæologist was more familiar than the late François Lenormant, and he expresses himself as follows: "'The Chaldees,' says Diodorus Siculus (lib. ii., 31), 'have quite an opinion of their own about the shape of the earth; they imagine it to have the form of a boat turned upside down, and to be hollow underneath.' This opinion remained to the last in the Chaldæan sacerdotal schools; their astronomers believed in it, and tried, according to Diodorus, to support it by
scientific arguments. It is of very ancient origin, a remnant of the ideas of the purely Akkadian period. . . . Let us imagine, then, a boat, turned over; not such an one as we are in the habit of seeing, but a round skiff, like those which are still used under the name of Kufa on the shores of the lower Tigris and Euphrates, and of which there are many representations in the historical sculptures of the Assyrian palaces; the sides of this round skiff bend upwards from the point of the greatest width, so that they are shaped like a hollow sphere deprived of two thirds of its height [?], and showing a circular opening at the point of division. Such was the form of the earth according to the authors of the Akkadian magical formulæ and the Chaldæan astrologers of after years. We should express the same idea in the present day by comparing it to an orange of which the top had been cut off, leaving the orange upright upon the flat surface thus produced. The upper and convex surface constituted the earth properly so called, the inhabitable earth (ki) or terraqueous surface (ki-a), to which the collective name kalama, or the countries, is also given." 1
It is well known that in minor details Diodorus is often found not altogether trustworthy. He was not a critical reporter. While, therefore, in the above quotation he has undoubtedly preserved to us one of the ancient Chaldæan similes, 2 by the use of which the true figure of the earth was taught, I can but think that the statement as to the hollowness of the
earth underneath is an unauthorized inference, suggested by the hollow boat, and made by the comparatively uninstructed Greek solely upon his own responsibility. It is true that, in the same work from which the above extract is taken, Lenormant endeavors to adjust Akkadian cosmology to such a notion of a hollow sphere, saying, "The interior concavity opening from underneath was the terrestrial abyss, ge, where the dead found a home (kur-nu-de, ki-gal, aralli). The central point in it was the nadir, or, as it was called, 'the root,' uru, the foundation of the whole structure of the world; this gloomy region witnessed the nocturnal journey of the sun." 1 But nothing can be more evident on examination than that this attempt involves the writer in at least three inconsistencies: First, if the sun visits the interior of the earth at night, its proper orbit cannot be round and round the Mountain of the World to the northeast of Babylonia, as our author elsewhere represents. Second, if aralli, the abode of the dead, is in the interior of the hollow earth, it cannot be to the northeast of Babylonia, as it is represented to be in the context. Third, if the earth was conceived of as hollow, of course its whole central portion was empty space; but according to this presentation its central point "was called 'the root,' uru, the foundation of the whole structure of the world." Surely the foundation of the world can scarcely have been supposed to be mere emptiness. To a layman in these studies this uru would much rather suggest
the antarctic Tap-en-to mountain of ancient Egyptian thought, the Ku-Meru of ancient India.
But it is time to return to the Akkadian, or Akkado-Sumerian, mountain of the gods. Again we quote Lenormant: "Above the earth extended the sky (ana), spangled with its fixed stars (mul), and revolving round the Mountain of the East (Kharsak Kurra), the column which joins the heavens and the earth, and serves as an axis to the celestial vault. The culminating point in the heavens, the zenith (nuzku), 1 was not this axis or pole; on the contrary, it was situated immediately above the country of Akkadia, which was regarded as the centre of the inhabited lands, whilst the mountain which acted as a pivot to the starry heavens was to the northeast of this country. Beyond the mountain, and also to the northeast, extended the land of aralli, which was very rich in gold, and was inhabited by the gods and blessed spirits." 2
Here we have the "Mountain of the East" located, not in the east, but in the northeast. Elsewhere our author recognizes most fully the identity of this mount with the Har-Moed of Isaiah xiv. 14, and the difficulty of placing it anywhere but at the North Pole. 3 He adduces from the cuneiform texts no evidence whatever for a location to the "northeast," and seems to fix upon that direction only as a compromise of his own. "Nous devons conclure" is his language. His only reason for thinking of any other position than one due north appears to be a cuneiform expression which seems to make Kharsak Kurra at the same time "the mountain of the
sunrise." 1 This, in reality, instead of being a reason for searching among the mountains to the east of Assyria or Babylonia, is, when rightly understood, precisely an additional reason for looking to the north. 2
One other statement in the extract calls for notice. The writer seems to have anticipated that his readers would inevitably locate a mountain, described as "the column which joins the heavens and the earth, and serves as an axis to the celestial vault," under the celestial pole; and believing that the cuneiform texts which locate the celestial pole directly over Akkad (or Akkadia), "the centre of the inhabited lands," to be inconsistent with such a location, he introduces the remark that "the culminating point in the heavens" was "not the axis or pole; on the contrary, it was situated immediately over the country of Akkadia, which was regarded as the centre of the inhabited lands, whilst the mountain which acted as a pivot to the starry heavens was to the northeast of this country."
From so eminent an authority one naturally hesitates to differ; but inasmuch as M. Joachim Ménard, in a work as recent as the one from which we have quoted, while agreeing with M. Lenormant in making Akkad the traditional "centre of the earth," differs from him in locating precisely in this central country "the mountain on whose apex the heaven of the fixed stars is pivoted," 1 we cannot avoid the conclusion that Lenormant's distinction between the zenith of Akkad and the celestial pole is based upon a misapprehension, and is productive only of confusion. The solution of all difficulties is found the moment the mythological Akkad is made a circumpolar mother-country, after which the Akkad of the Tigro-Euphrates valley was commemoratively named. 2 This supposition is made all the easier by three noteworthy facts: (1) that both the names Akkad and Sumir are not Assyrio-Babylonian, but loan-words from an older prehistoric tongue; 3 (2) that the etymological signification and appellatives of Akkad thoroughly identify it with the lofty country at the north polar summit of the earth; 4
and (3) that recently discovered tablets are compelling the Assyriologists to recognize two Akkads, one in the Tigro-Euphrates valley and one much farther to the North, though as yet none of these scholars have looked as far in that direction as to the Pole. 1
If further proof were needed that the Kharsak Kurra of the earliest inhabitants of Mesopotamia was identical with the north polar World-mountain of Egypt and the surrounding Asiatic nations, it would be found on investigating their conceptions of the region of the disembodied dead and their notion of a mountain of the rulers of the dead antipodal to the mount of the gods. The Akkadians, like the ancients generally, conceived of the realm of the dead as located to the South. Their underworld being simply the under or southern hemisphere of the earth, they could not place it in any other direction. In naming the cardinal points the Akkadians therefore called the South "the funereal point." 2 In this quarter was located the mount of the rulers of the
dead. It was the under or south polar projection of the earth. It corresponded with the south polar mount of demons in Hindu and in Egyptian thought. Even Lenormant, whose mistake in locating the mount of the gods in the East, logically leads to the mistake of locating this mount of the rulers of the dead in the West, still unconsciously gives evidence as to the true location by stating that it is "situated in the low-down portions of the earth." 1 And elsewhere he has told us that in the Akkadian language to descend and to go southward were synonymous expressions. 2
With Professor Friedrich Delitzsch, then, we locate the Akkadian Kharsak Kurra at the North. 3 Once make the primeval Akkad the equivalent of Ilâvrita in Hindu, or of Kvanîras in Iranian, mythology, and all is perfectly plain and self-consistent. The primitive Akkad is now "the centre of all lands" in the same sense in which Ilâvrita and Kvanîras are in their respective systems. As in both these systems the mount of the gods is in the centre of this central country, so is Kharsak Kurra. Su-Meru and Harâ-berezaiti and Kwen-lun are each exactly under the Pole-star, having it in their zenith; the same is true of Kharsak Kurra. As every splendor of a divine abode crowns the top of all the former, so is the summit of Kharsak resplendent beyond description. As the sun, moon, and stars revolve around the Hindu and Iranian and Chinese mounts, so is Kharsak the point "on which
the heaven of the fixed stars is pivoted." Moreover from its top flows that Eden river, which, like Gangâ and Ardvî-Sûra, waters the whole earth. 1
Under these circumstances the candid reader will probably be prepared to agree with the statement of Mr. Miller which we have made the motto to this chapter, and to say with Gerald Massey, only with better understanding than his, "The cradle of the Akkadian race was the 'Mountain of the World,' that 'Mount of the Congregation in the thighs of the North.' . . . The first mount of mythology was the Mount of the Seven Stars, Seven Steps, Seven Stages, Seven Caves, which represented the celestial North as the birth-place of the initial motion and the beginning of time. This starting-point in heaven above is the one original for the many copies found on the earth below. . . . The Akkadians date from Urdhu, the district of the northern Mountain of the World." 2
164:1 Chaldæan Magic, p. 150.
164:2 The figure was also used by the Egyptians, and other ancient nations. See Wilford, in Asiatic Researches, vol. viii., p. 274. Also articles and works on "The Ark" and "Arkite Symbols."
165:1 Ibid., p. 150.It is worthy of note that the expression "root" of the world, or "root-land," is applied to the same subterranean region of darkness in Japanese mythology. See "Shintoism," by Griffis in McClintock and Strong's Cyclopædia, vol. ix., p. 688.
166:1 Paku in the French edition.
166:2 Chaldæan Magic, p. 150.
166:3 Fragments de Bérose, pp. 392, 393.
167:1 The following from his latest account of the mountain will be valued: "La 'montagne des pays' est le lieu où résident les dieux. . . . Elle est située au nord, vient de nous dire Yescha yâhoû; à lest disent les documents cunéiformes, où lexpression accadienne garsag babbara = assyriene ad çit ami, 'la montagne du levant,' apparaît comme synonyme de laccadien garsag kurkurra = assyrien ad matâti; doù nous devons conclure que cest au nord-est du bassin de lEuphrate et du Tigre quon la supposait placée. Cest elle qui vaut à lorient, son nom accaclien de mer kurra et son nom assyrien de adû signifiant tous les deux 'le point cardinal de la montagne.' Et le sens de ce terme est bien précisé par la variante accadienne mer garsag, où ce mot, dont le sens 'la montagne' est incontestable, se substitue à son synonyme kur, dont la signification eût pu être douteuse."Les Origines de lHistoire, vol. ii., 1, p. 126.
167:2 See Menzel, Die vorchristliche Unsterblichkeitslehre, Bd. i., chapter entitled "Der Sonnengarten am Nordpol," pp. 87-93.
168:1 "Le pays dAkkad est regardé, daprès les plus antiques traditions, comme le centre de la terre; cest là que sélève la montagne sur la cîme de laquelle pivote le ciel des étoiles fixes."Babylone et la Chaldée. Paris, 1875: p. 46.
168:2 Compare the primitive name of Babylon, Tin-tir-ki, "Place of the Tree of Life." Lenormant, Beginnings of History, p. 85.
168:3 "Il est certain que les mots Sumir et Akkad nappartiennent pas à la langue assyro-chaldéenne. Ils sont propres à une langue antérieure; et nous savons, par les explications mêmes des Assyriens, que Akkad veut dire 'montagne.'"Ménant, Babylone et la Chaldée. Paris, 1875: p. 47.
168:4 "Akkad is bovendien zeker een hoog land, geen lage vlakte bij de zee, zooals ook een glosse het door tilla, hoogte, verklaart." C. P. Tiele, Is Sumer en Akkad hetzelfde als Makan en Melucha? Amsterdam, 1883: p. 6. Compare last preceding note: Akkad = "montagne." Also Smith, The Phonetic Values of the Cuneiform Characters. London, 1871: p. 17.
169:1 See Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archæology. London, Nov.Dec., 1881. "Mr. Pinches, in a further communication on the Paris Tablet [in cuneiform characters, but supposed to be Cappadocian in origin], observes: 'The question of the original home of the Akkadians is affected thereby. . . . As it seems that the country north of Assyria was also called Akkad, as well as the northern part of Babylonia, the neighborhood of Cappadocia as the home of the Akkadian race may be regarded as a very possible explanation, etc.'" Brown, Myth of Kirké. London, 1883: p. 87. Finzi, in his Carta del Mondo conosciuto dagli Assiri tracciata secondo le inscrizioni cuneiformi, does not venture to locate either Akkad or Kharsak Kurra.
169:2 Chaldæan Magic, Eng. ed., p. 168, 169. Compare F. Finzi, Ricerche per lo Studio dell Antichità Assira. Turin, 1872: p. 109 note 18.
170:1 "Située dans les parties basses de la terre."Origines, tom. ii. 1, p. 134.
170:2 The Beginnings of History, p. 313 n. 4.
170:3 Wo lag das Paradies? p. 121.
171:1 Of this celestial source Lenormant speaks as follows: ". . . et la fontaine divine Ghetim-kour-koû de la montagne des pays des Chaldéens. Cette dernière fontaine, dont le nom est accadien et veut dir 'las ource qui enveloppe la montagne sainte,' est dite 'fille de lOcéan,' marat apsi, et invoquée comme une déesse douée dune personalité vivante, pareille a celle que revêt chez les Iraniens Ardvîçourâ-Anâhitâ. Lexistence chez les Chaldéens de la croyance à un cours deau mythique doù procèdent tous les fleuves de la terre semble attestée par la mention dune rivière (dont le nom est malheureusement en partie détruit sur la tablette qui contient ce reseignement) laquelle est qualifiée dumme nârï 'la mère des fleuves.'" Origines, tom. ii. 1, p. 133. Compare Siouffi, La Religion des Soubbhas ou Sabéens, Paris, 1880, p. 7 n., where the Euphrates is represented as rising in a celestial Paradise (Olmi Danhouro) under the throne of Avatha, whose throne is under the Pole star.
171:2 A Book of Beginnings. London, 1881: vol. ii., p. 520.