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Religion and Psychoactive Sacraments:
An Entheogen Chrestomathy

Thomas B. Roberts, Ph.D. and Paula Jo Hruby, Ed.D.
Author Index | Title Index


The Hittites and Their Contemporaries in Asia Minor

Macqueen, J.G. (1986)
New York: Thames and Hudson.


ISBN: none

Description: Hardcover, revised and enlarged edition, 176 pages.

Contents: Preface, acknowledgments, 9 chapters, notes, sources of illustrations, select bibliography, index.

Notes: This book is included here not for its text but for several suggestive photographs. Since the Hittite culture was influenced by the Indo-European invasions as were the lands of present-day India, Iran, Greece, and Western Europe extending even to Ireland, are there remnants of the Indo-Europeans' uses of psychoactive plants in their religions as there are in the other countries? In this edition, but not in the earlier edition, several photographs suggest an answer of "yes." On page 109 photograph 94 the figure of a 'Mother-goddess' is wearing a headdress that resembles a mushroom in its round shape, turned under edge, and lines radiating out from the underside. On pages 126-127 the principle figures, a male and female deity, seem to be showing or exchanging objects which have mushroom-shaped tops, and on pages 128 and 131 the seal of King Tudhaliyas contains two objects which may be either Ionic columns, but with rounded mushroom-like tops, or mushrooms with long stems fluted stems; see also pages 77 and 102. Given symbolic ambiguity, they may represent both. In these three photographs, mushrooms are not identified with certainty, but they suggest a religious regard for mushrooms in keeping with other regions influenced by Indo-Europeans..

Excerpt(s): To return now to our original argument, it can be seen that between 1400 and 1200 BC large parts of Anatolia were controlled by speakers of Indo-European languages. The north-central area, centred on Hattusas, was the heartland of the Hittites. ...

Hittite origins

But the second question remains to be answered. The evidence for the original 'homeland' of the Indo-European languages seems to be overwhelmingly against a situation in Anatolia, and this means that speakers of an Indo-European language must have entered Anatolia at some time and from some other area. But from what area? And at what time? On the first point there is now fairly general agreement that the linguistic evidence points to an Indo-European 'homeland' somewhere in the area that stretches from the lower Danube along the north shore of the Black Sea to the northern foot-hills of the Caucasus. In that area it has plausibly been connected with the archaeological culture known as Kurgan, the bearers of which spread originally from the Eurasian steppes, reaching the Black Sea towards the end of the fifth millennium, and by the third millennium penetrating much of Europe from the Baltic to the Aegean. The culture is typified by tumuli (kurgans) covering burials in house-type graves, often richly endowed with funeral gifts. If this is accepted, it seems virtually certain that speakers of an Indo-European language must have reached Anatolia from the north, and the only question to be settled is whether they came from the north-west, via the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, or from the north-east, via the passes of the Caucasus. .

Early Greeks in Anatolia

No discussion of the linguistic background to Hittite Anatolia can be complete without some mention of the suggestion that another important group of Indo-European-speakers was to be found there in the late third and throughout the second millennium BC. At the beginning of that period, it has been maintained, speakers of an early form of what was to be known as Greek entered the north-western area, and while the majority of their descendants later moved on to Greece, some at least remained in Anatolia and were still in occupation of the north-west during the period of Hittite domination of central Anatolia. If this theory is acceptable, it has wide implications, for it not only raises the possibility of Hittite-Greek contacts in the area of theTroad; it also makes it possible to suggest that the Trojan War of Greek legend (traditionally dated to c. 1200 BC) was not a conflict between the alien worlds of Greece and Anatolia, but that, since the inhabitants of Troy at the time were in fact linguistically Greek, it was rather an inter-state conflict within the orbit of the Greek world of the time. This would certainly make it easier to understand why Troy plays such a large part in Greek tradition, and would suggest that the large number of personal contacts between Greeks and Trojans mentioned in the Homeric poems, and the ease with which opponents communicated with each other as they fought or parleyed, were something more than an elaborate poetic fiction. (pages 26-33)

The Anatolian background

The oldest religion of Anatolia, like that of many other parts of the world, may be seen to have been primarily concerned with the relationship of mankind to the great powers of nature. Of these the most important was undoubtedly the life-giving earth, the mother of all things. A lesser position was held by her consort, a deity connected with the fertilizing power of water, without whose help the earth-mother could not conceive. These powers, and many others, were essential for the well-being and continuity of life, and it was necessary both for the individual and for the community to gain and keep their favour by the regular performance of appropriate ritual actions. ...

The non-Anatolian background

Non-Anatolian peoples too played a part in the formation of Hittite religion. Of these peoples the most important were the Indo-European- speakers who arrived in central Anatolia in the latter part of the third millennium, and the Hurrians whose influence can be increasingly seen during the course of the second. It is in fact surprisingly difficult to find anything Indo-European in the Imperial religious system. The newcomers may well have brought their Zeus with them, and his influence has been seen in some of the attributes of the thunder-wielding god of the mountain-tops who is the consort of the Mother Goddess in the official pantheon. (pages 109-110)

Yazilikaya

About three-quarters of a mile north-east of Bogazkoy lies Yazilikaya, the most impressive of all Hittite religious structures. Here, at a point where a spring of fresh water once flowed, is an outcrop of rock which forms two natural chambers of different sizes. The site is in many respects like other Anatolian spring-sanctuaries, and may well have been a place of worship for hundreds of years before the rise of Hittite power. The first stage in its elaboration was the building, perhaps about 1500 BC of an irregular wall which shut of the main chamber from the outside world. ...

The principal interest of Yazilikaya however lies not in the temple buildings but in the figures carved in low relief on the rock walls of the two natural chambers. Those in the larger one (Chamber A) give the impression of two processions, one of male and one of female deities, advancing on either side towards the rear wall, where the principal god and goddess, emphasized both by their positions and by their greater size, confront one another at the focal point of the chamber. Near the rear of the right-hand procession is the figure of a Hittite king, again on a larger scale, identified by his accompanying cartouche as a Tudhaliyas.

... On the wall of Chamber B, next to the entry to the subsidiary chamber and clearly connected with it, is another Tudhaliyas cartouche, and further down the same wall is the most arresting and tantalizing sculpture of all. It represents an enormous sword, apparently driven into the rock, for the lower part of the blade is not represented. (pages 124-125)

The problems of interpreting the sculptures of Yazilikaya in terms of ritual and belief have certainly not all been solved. It has been pointed out by the excavator that the temple buildings, unlike those of the capital, were flimsily constructed and cannot have supported an upper storey. This suggests to him that they were not in daily use, but were reserved for some special function, perhaps an annual event. This event, he plausibly suggests, was the great spring festival, held at the beginning of each new year, lasting over a month, attended by all the gods, and perhaps culminating in a 'sacred marriage' of the type so diligently documented by Sir James Frazer. (page128)



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