Footprint – Heavenly Gates in Rock Art
Many rock art engravings of “footprints” have been discovered in the Negev Desert. These footprints are typically carved in pairs, with one being larger than the other, and sometimes they feature “ears”. According to Sumerian records, these footprints are believed to represent heavenly gates. There are two types of these gates – the Paradise gate, which is an entry point to Paradise, and the Stars gate, which serves as a connection between the earth and the celestial and underworld realms. Fig.1 illustrates the depiction and placement of the heavenly gates in the three realms, the underworld, earth, and heaven.
Fig.1Heavenly gate rock art from Negev Desert and their location in the 3 realms
The Heavenly Gate Astronomical Origins
John C. Didier (2009) postulates that the concept of a Heavenly gate is formed by the stars surrounding the North Pole. This includes the stars of constellations Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Draco as depicted in Fig. 2. The top of the gate is defined by the two stars of Ursa Minor, while the bottom is demarcated by the two stars of Ursa Major. The imaginary connecting lines between these four stars form a rectangular gate that encompasses Thuban, a star located in the tail of the Draco constellation. Around 4000 years ago, Thuban was the North Pole star and the center of the earth’s rotation. This imagery of the gate being carried by the bull, which symbolizes Ursa Major, harkens back to the ancient belief that this constellation was the entryway to paradise.
Fig.2 Heavenly Gate illustration Fig.3 The Heavenly Bull and the Winged Gate. On right, the Goddess Inanna climbs out the gate.
The Gates in Sumerian Cylinder Seals
Acadian cylinder seal Fig.3, dating back to 3000 BC, depicts the “Bull and the Winged Gate” scene. The winged gate is carried by the celestial bull, derived from the Ursa Major constellation shape. Two deities control the gate by pulling a rope that symbolizes the serpentine Draco constellation. The gate is depicted with wings of slightly differing sizes, which symbolize the rising and setting direction. The right-side wing, which is larger, represents the direction of rising, while the smaller left-side wing signifies the direction of setting.
The “Epic of Gilgamesh “, written in 1500 BC, serves as an important historical record of the myth of Innana and the Heavenly Bull. The illustration, in Fig. 3 on the right, showcases Innana stepping naked through the gate carried by the heavenly bull. She walks directly onto the boat that sails across the celestial ocean, separating heaven and earth. The cylinder seal shows the traditional depiction of the gate and the gate wing sizes difference.
Fig.4; Heavenly Gates Negev Desert Rock art. Fig.5 The Sun and Moon Gates.
Fig.4 presents an instance of Rock Art displaying celestial gate engravings discovered in the Negev Desert. It is worth noting the recurring features of the gates such as their dimensions, protrusions, and even the resemblance of the serpentine snake of Draco constellation tail. In Fig.5's rightmost engraving, two sets of footprints are visible. The upper set represents the Sun rise and set gates, with the Sun positioned as a complete circle in between them. On the other hand, the lower pair symbolizes the Moon rise and set gates, with the moon situated between them. The ratio of the sun's rising and setting gates is sustained, while the moon gates are equal in size, since their luminosity does not alter. This engraving provides proof of the footprint's meaning, which signifies celestial gates..
Fig.6 Rock Art examples of heavenly gates and their association with celestial objects
Fig.6 displays engraved rock art gates from the Negev Desert along with their celestial connections. The gates are depicted from left to right as follows: 1) Venus exits the celetial gate (as seen in the Venus Calendar ), 2) the Venus Star hovering above its gates, 3) the moon exiting its rising gate (the right footprint), and 4) an ibex entering the gate, with half of it inside and half outside.
The Heavenly Gate abstraction
Fig.6 depicts two galloping horses that are carrying a rectangular structure in tandem. This unique and visually stunning scene accurately represents all the constellations around the North Star. This particular sky region is of great importance since it marks the location of the Paradise gate and the north star the Thuban. The rock art represents the Northern sky, showcasing the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations that surround the North Star. It isn’t a literal depiction of the horses or the constellations, but rather an artistic interpretation of the constellations surrounding the North Star, depicted through familiar earthly symbols.
Fig.6 The Heavenly Gate is situated around the North Pole the world pivot. The gate is carried by two horses representing the constellations Ursa Major/Minor and Draco. Negev Desert Rock Art (photo Razy Yahel)
The kneeling posture of the lower horse in the scene is reminiscent of the wheelbarrow shape of the Ursa Major constellation pose. The upper horse symbolizes the Ursa Minor constellation, while its long tail represents the Draco constellation that winds between the two constellations. The rectangular area where Draco’s tail crosses marks the location of the old North Star, Thuban, from the 4th to the 2nd millennium BCE.
Rock art engravings of “footprints” have been found in the Negev Desert in Israel. These footprints are typically carved in pairs and are believed to represent heavenly gates according to Sumerian records. The concept of a celestial gate is formed by the stars surrounding the North Pole, including the constellations of Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Draco all in close proximity to the North Star. The depiction of the gate carried by the celestial bull, which symbolizes Ursa Major, evokes the ancient belief that this constellation was the entryway to paradise
The Sumerian cylinder seals and Negev Desert Rock Art similarity are compelling evidence for the Heavenly Gates abstraction. Many details attest to their origins, the size of the gates, wings, and even the wavy line associated with the Draco constellation.
Didier, John C The Ancient Eurasian World and the Celestial Pivot.
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