6 Comments
May 22Liked by Andrew Cutler

I recently sent you an email recommending the book "Alphabet vs the Goddess" by Leonard Shlain and after this post I just have to double down on that recommendation! It (in part) posits a line between neolithic goddess worship and the cult of Dionysus, so I am super interested in your mention of a possible archaeological connection there with the masks.

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Such a long reading list!

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May 21Liked by Andrew Cutler

So good. Thank you.

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May 26Liked by Andrew Cutler

Fascinating stuff, Andrew. My reading list just grew by about 3 books!

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Very interesting post. Looking at the “Symbolic objects defining the ritual community of Göbekli Tepe.” image I can't help but notice the serpentiform's similarity to a phallus or sperm. Presumably the sperm shape would be unknown to those without microscopy, but any serpentiform that isn't sufficiently twisted looks rather phallic. Have you given any thought along those lines? I mean basically all of the symbols up there are snakes and peckers.

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It's one of the most popular explanations of the gender valence and life-giving associations of the serpent. Many people say they sprung form the union of a first woman and a snake. It's one of the forms Zeus takes (for example, when fathering Dionysus). The mystery cults around the Mediterranean are said to feature orgies with live snakes.

And I suppose the phallus could be (sub-)consciously part of serpent symbolism. But why the need for euphemism? Gobekli Tepe has all sorts of actual phalluses: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-12589389/Unusual-statue-featuring-frontal-depiction-man-holding-phallus-hands-discovered-near-Mesolithic-temple-Turkey.html

Additionally, at Gobekli Tepe the snake is grouped with scorpions and ants, which hints at a category based on venom.

Broadly, it's an interesting question as to how metaphorical ancient people were with their language and stories. I, truthfully, have pretty shallow knowledge on this compared to many anthropologists who have done field work and read heavily on the question. (But I also find their explanations are often too-cute-by-half.)

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