In the annals of Man on Earth, the twenty-first century B.C.E. saw in the ancient Near East one of civilization’s most glorious chapters, known as the Ur III period. It was at the same time the most difficult and crushing one, for it witnessed the end of Sumer in a deathly nuclear cloud. And after that, nothing was the same.
Those momentous events, as we shall see, were also the root of the messianic manifestations that centered on Jerusalem when B.C.E. turned to a.d. some twenty-one centuries later.
The historic events of that memorable century—as all events in history—had their roots in what had taken place before. Of that, the year 2160 B.C.E. is a date worth remembering. The annals of Sumer & Akkad from that time record a major policy shift by the Enlilite gods. In Egypt, the date marked the beginning of changes of political-religious significance, and what occurred in both zones coincided with a new phase in Marduk’s campaign to attain supremacy. Indeed, it was Marduk‘s chess-like strategy maneuvers and geographic movements from one place to another that controlled the agenda of the era’s “divine chess game.” His moves and movements began with a departure from Egypt, to become (in Egyptian eyes) Amon (also written Amun or Amen), “The Unseen.”
The date of 2160 B.C.E. is considered by Egyptologists to mark the beginning of what is designated the First Intermediate Period—a chaotic interval between the end of the Old Kingdom and the dynastic start of the Middle Kingdom. During the thousand years of the Old Kingdom, when the religious-political capital was Memphis in Middle Egypt, the Egyptians worshipped the Ptah pantheon, erecting monumental temples to him, to his son Ra, and to their divine successors. The famed inscriptions of the Memphite Pharaohs glorified the gods and promised an Afterlife for the kings. Reigning as the gods’ surrogates, those Pharaohs wore the double crown of Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt, signifying not just the administrative but also the religious unification of the Two Lands, unification attained when Horus defeated Seth in their struggle for the Ptah/Ra legacy. And then, in 2160 B.C.E., that unity and religious certainty came crashing down.
The turmoil saw a breakup of the Union, abandonment of the capital, attacks from the south by Theban princes to gain control, foreign incursions, desecration of temples, a collapse of law and order, and droughts, famines, and food riots. Those conditions are recalled in a papyrus known as the Admonitions of Ipu-Wer, a long hieroglyphic text that consists of several sections in which it gives an account of calamities and tribulations, blames an unholy enemy for religious wrongdoing and social evils, and calls on the people to repent and resume the religious rites. A prophetic section describing the coming of a Redeemer, and another that extols the ideal times that will follow, conclude the papyrus.
At its start the text describes the breakdown of law and order and of a functioning society—a situation in which, “the doorkeepers go and plunder, the wash-man refuses to carry his load… robbery is everywhere… a man regards his son as an enemy.” Though the Nile is in flooding and irrigates the land, “no one ploughs… grain has perished… the storehouses are bare… dust is throughout the land… the desert spreads… women are dried up, no one can conceive… the dead are just thrown into the river… the river is blood.” The roads are unsafe, trade has ceased, the provinces of Upper Egypt are no longer taxed; “there is civil war… barbarians from elsewhere have come to Egypt… all is in ruin.”
Some Egyptologists believe that at the core of those events lay a simple rivalry for wealth and power, an attempt (successful in the end) by Theban princes from the south to control and rule the whole country. Lately, studies have associated the collapse of the Old Kingdom with a “climate change” that undermined a society founded on agriculture, caused food shortages and food riots, social upheaval, and collapse of authority. But little attention has been paid to a major and perhaps the most important change: in the texts, in the hymns, in the honorific names of temples, it was no longer Ra but from then on Ra-Amon, or simply Amon, who was henceforth worshipped; Ra became Amon—Ra the Unseen—for he was gone from Egypt.
It was indeed a religious change that caused the political and societal breakdown, the unidentified Ipu-Wer wrote; we believe that the change was Ra’s becoming Amon. The upheaval began with a collapse of religious observances and manifested itself in the defiling and abandonment of temples, where, “the Place of Secrets has been laid bare, the writings of the august enclosure have been scattered, common men tear them up in the streets… magic is exposed, it is in the sight of him who knows it not.” The sacred symbol of the gods worn on the king’s crown, the Uraeus (the Divine Serpent), “is rebelled against… religious dates are disturbed… priests are carried off wrongfully.”
After calling on the people to repent, “to offer incense in the temples… to keep the offerings to the gods,” the papyrus called on the repenters to be baptized—to “remember to immerse.” Then the words of the papyrus turn prophetic: in a passage that even Egyptologists call “truly messianic,” the Admonitions speak of “a time that shall come” when an unnamed Savior—a “god-king”—shall appear. Starting with a small following, of him “men shall say:
He brings coolness upon the heart,
He is a shepherd of all men.
Though his herds may be small,
He will spend the days caring for them…
Then he would smite down evil,
He would stretch forth his arm against it.”
“People will be asking: ‘Where is he today? Is he then sleeping? Why is his power not seen?'” Ipu-Wer wrote, and answered, “Behold, the glory thereof cannot be seen, [but] Authority, Perception and Justice are with him.”
Those ideal times, Ipu-Wer stated in his prophecy, will be preceded by their own messianic birth pangs: “Confusion will set throughout the land, in tumultuous noise one will kill the other, the many will kill the few.” People will ask: “Does the Shepherd desire death?” No, he answered, “it is the land that commands death,” but after years of strife, righteousness and proper worship will prevail. This, the papyrus concluded, was “What Ipu-Wer said when he responded to the majesty of the All-Lord.”
If not just the description of events and the messianic prophecies, but also the choice of wording in that ancient Egyptian papyrus seem astounding, there is more to come. Scholars are aware of the existence of another prophetic/ messianic text that reached us from ancient Egypt, but believe that it was really composed after the events and only pretends to be prophetic by dating itself to an earlier time. To be specific, while the text purports to relate prophecies made at the time of Sneferu, a Fourth Dynasty pharaoh (circa 2600 B.C.E.), Egyptologists believe that it was actually written in the time of Amenemhet I of the Twelfth Dynasty (circa 2000 B.C.E.)—after the events that it pretends to prophecy. Even so, the “prophecies” serve to confirm those prior occurrences; and many details and the very wording of the predictions can best be described as chilling.
The prophecies are purported to be told to King Sneferu by a, “great seer-priest” named Nefer-Rohu, “a man of rank, a scribe competent with his fingers.” Summoned to the king to foretell the future, Nefer-Rohu “stretched forth his hand for the box of writing equipment, he drew forth a scroll of papyrus,” and then began to write what he was envisioning, in a Nostradamus-like manner:
Behold, there is something about which men speak;
It is terrifying…
What will be done was never done before.
The Earth is completely perished.
The land is damaged, no remainder exists.
There is no sunshine that people could see,
No one can live with the covering clouds,
The south wind opposes the north wind.
The rivers of Egypt are empty…
Ra must begin the foundations of the Earth again.
Before Ra can restore the “Foundations of the Earth,” there will be invasions, wars, bloodshed. Then a new era of peace, tranquility, and justice will follow. It will be brought by what we have come to call a Savior, a Messiah:
Then it is that a sovereign will come—
Ameni (“The Unknown”),
The Triumphant he will be called.
The Son-Man will be his name forever and ever…
Wrongdoing will be driven out;
Justice in its place will come;
The people of his time rejoice.
It is astounding to find such messianic prophecies of apocalyptic times and the end of Wrongdoing that will be followed by the coming—the return—of peace and justice, in papyrus texts written some 4,200 years ago; it is chilling to find in them terminology that is familiar from the New Testament, about an Unknown, the Triumphant Savior, the “Son-Man.”
It is, as we shall see, a link in millennia-spanning interconnected events.
In Sumer, a period of chaos, occupation by foreign troops, defiling of temples, and confusion as to where the capital should be and who should be king followed the end of the Sargonic Era of Ishtar in 2260 B.C.E.
For a while, the only safe haven in the land was Ninurta’s “cult center” Lagash, from which the Gutian foreign troops were kept out. Mindful of Marduk’s unrelenting ambitions, Ninurta decided to reassert his right to the Rank of Fifty by instructing the then-king of Lagash, Gudea, to erect for him in the city’s Girsu (the sacred precinct) a new and different temple. Ninurta—here called NIN.GIRSU, “Lord of the Girsu”—already had a temple there, as well as a special enclosure for his “Divine Black Bird” or flying machine. Yet the building of the new temple required special permission from Enlil, which was in time granted. We learn from the inscriptions that the new temple had to have special features linking it to the heavens, enabling certain celestial observations. To that end Ninurta invited to Sumer the god Ningishzidda (“Thoth” in Egypt), the Divine Architect, and Keeper of the Secrets of the Giza pyramids. The fact that Ningishzidda/Thoth was the brother whom Marduk forced into exile circa 3100 B.C.E. was certainly not lost on all concerned…
The amazing circumstances surrounding the announcement, planning, construction, and dedication of the E.NINNU (“House/Temple of Fifty”) are told in great detail in Gudea’s inscriptions; they were unearthed in the ruins of Lagash (a site now called Tello) and are quoted at length in The Earth Chronicles books. What emerges from that detailed record (inscribed on two clay cylinders in clear Sumerian cuneiform script, Fig. 17) is the fact that from announcement to dedication, every step and every detail of the new temple was dictated by celestial aspects.
Those special celestial aspects had to do with the very timing of the temple’s building: It was the time, as the inscriptions’ opening lines declare, when “in the heavens destinies on Earth were determined”:
At the time when in heaven
destinies on Earth were determined,
“Lagash shall lift its head heavenwards
in accordance with the Great Tablet of Destinies”
Enlil in favor of Ninurta decided.
That special time when the destinies on Earth are determined in the heavens was what we have called Celestial Time, the Zodiacal Clock. That such determining was linked to Equinox Day becomes evident from the rest of Gudea’s tale, as well as from Thoth’s Egyptian name Tehuti, The Balancer (of day and night) who “Draws the Cord” for orienting a new temple.
Such celestial considerations continued to dominate the Eninnu project from start to finish.
Gudea’s tale begins with a vision-dream that reads like an episode from The Twilight Zone TV series, for while the several gods featured in it were gone when he awoke, the various objects they showed him in the dream remained physically lying by his side!
In that vision-dream (the first of several) the god Ninurta appeared at sunrise, and the sun was aligned with the planet Jupiter. The god spoke and informed Gudea that he was chosen to build a new temple. Next the goddess Nisaba appeared; she was wearing the image of a temple structure on her head; the goddess was holding a tablet on which the starry heavens were depicted, and with a stylus she kept pointing to the “favorable celestial constellation.” A third god, Ningishzidda (i.e. Thoth) held a tablet of lapis lazuli on which a structural plan was drawn; he also held a clay brick, a mold for brick-making, and a builder’s carrying basket. When Gudea awoke, the three gods were gone, but the architectural tablet was on his lap (Fig. 18) and the brick and its mold were at his feet!
Gudea needed the help of an oracle goddess and two more vision-dreams to understand the meaning of it all. In the third vision-dream he was shown a holographic-like animated demonstration of the temple’s building, starting with the initial alignment with the indicated celestial point, the laying of foundations, the molding of bricks—the construction all the way up, step by step. Both the start of construction and the final dedication ceremony were to be held on signals from the gods on specific days; both fell on New Year’s Day, which meant the day of the Spring Equinox.
The temple “raised its head” in the customary seven stages, but—unusually for the flat-topped Sumerian ziggurats—its head had to be pointed, “shaped like a horn”—Gudea had to emplace upon the temple’s top a capstone! Its shape is not described, but in all probability (and judging by the image on Nisaba’s head), it was in the shape of a pyramidion—in the manner of capstones on Egyptian pyramids (Fig. 19). Moreover, rather than leave the brickwork exposed, as was customary, Gudea was required to encase the structure with a casing of reddish stones, increasing its similarity to an Egyptian pyramid. “The outside view of the temple was like that of a mountain set in place.”
That raising a structure with the appearance of an Egyptian pyramid had a purpose becomes clear from Ninurta’s own words. The new temple, he told Gudea, will be seen from afar; its awe-inspiring glance will reach the heavens; the adoration of my temple shall extend to all the lands, its heavenly name will be proclaimed in countries from the ends of the Earth.
In Magan and Meluhha it will cause people [to say]:
Ningirsu [the “Lord of the Girsu”],
the Great Hero from the Lands of Enlil,
is a god who has no equal;
He is the lord of all the Earth.
Magan and Meluhha were the Sumerian names for Egypt and Nubia, the Two Lands of the gods of Egypt. The purpose of the Eninnu was to establish, even there, in Marduk’s lands, Ninurta’s unequaled Lordship: “A god who has no equal, the Lord of all the Earth.”
Proclaiming Ninurta’s (rather than Marduk’s) supremacy required special features in the Eninnu. The ziggurat’s entrance had to face the Sun precisely in the east, rather than the customary northeast. In the temple’s topmost level Gudea had to erect a SHU.GA.LAM—”where the shining is announced, the place of the aperture, the place of determining,” from which Ninurta/Ningirsu could see “the Repetition over the lands.” It was a circular chamber with twelve positions, each marked with a zodiacal symbol, with an aperture for observing the skies—an ancient planetarium aligned to the zodiacal constellations!
In the temple’s forecourt, linked to an avenue that faced sunrise, Gudea had to erect two stone circles, one with six and the other with seven stone pillars, for observing the skies. Since only one avenue is mentioned, one assumes that the circles were one within the other. As one studies each phrase, terminology, and structural detail, it becomes evident that what was built in Lagash with the help of Ningishzidda/Thoth was a complex yet practical stone observatory, one part of which, devoted entirely to the zodiacs, reminds one of the similar one found in Denderah, Egypt (Fig. 20), and the other, geared to observing celestial risings and setting, a virtual Stonehenge on the banks of the Euphrates river!
Like Stonehenge in the British Isles (Fig. 21), the one built in Lagash provided stone markers for solar observations of solstices and equinoxes, but the prime outside feature was the creation of a sight line from a center stone, continued between two stone pillars, then on down an avenue to another stone. Such a sight line, precisely oriented when planned, enabled determining at the moment of heliacal rising in which zodiacal constellation the Sun was appearing. And that—determining the zodiacal age through precise observation—was the prime objective of the whole complex facility.
In Stonehenge, that sight line ran (and still runs) from the stone column called the Altar Stone in the center, through two stone columns identified as Sarsen Stones numbers 1 and 30, then down the Avenue to the so-called Heel Stone (see Fig. 6). It is generally agreed that the Stonehenge with the double Bluestone Circle and the Heel Stone of what is designated Stonehenge II dates to between 2200 to 2100 B.C.E. That was also the time—perhaps more accurately, in 2160 B.C.E.—when the “Stonehenge on the Euphrates” was built.
And that was no chance coincidence. Like those two zodiacal observatories, other stone observatories proliferated at the same time in other places on Earth—at various sites in Europe, in South America, on the Golan Heights northeast of Israel, even in faraway China (where archaeologists discovered in the Shanzi province a stone circle with thirteen pillars aligned to the zodiac and dating to 2100 B.C.E.). They were all deliberate countermoves by Ninurta and Ningishzidda to Marduk’s Divine Chess Game: to show Mankind that the zodiacal age was still the Age of the Bull.
Various texts from that time, including an autobiographical text by Marduk and a longer text known as the Erra Epos, shed light on Marduk’s wanderings away from Egypt, making him there the Hidden One. They also reveal that his demands and actions assumed an urgency and ferocity because of a conviction that his time for supremacy has come. The Heavens bespeak my glory as Lord, was his claim. Why? Because, he announced, the Age of the Bull, the Age of Enlil, was over; the Age of the Ram, Marduk’s zodiacal age, has arrived. It was, just as Ninurta had told Gudea, the time when in the heavens destinies on Earth were determined.
The zodiacal ages, it will be recalled, were caused by the phenomenon of Precession, the retardation in Earth’s orbit around the Sun. The retardation accumulates to 1 degree (out of 360) in 72 years; an arbitrary division of the grand circle into 12 segments of 30 degrees each means that mathematically the zodiacal calendar shifts from one Age to another every 2,160 years. Since the Deluge occurred, according to Sumerian texts, in the Age of the Lion, our zodiacal clock can start circa 10860 B.C.E.
An astounding timetable emerges if, in this mathematically determined 2,160-year zodiacal calendar, the starting point of 10800 B.C. rather than 10860 B.C. is chosen:
- 10800 to 8640—Age of the Lion (Leo)
- 8640 to 6480—Age of the Crab (Cancer)
- 6480 to 4320—Age of the Twins (Gemini)
- 4320 to 2160—Age of the Bull (Taurus)
- 2160 to 0—Age of the Ram (Aries)
Setting aside the neat end result that synchronizes with the Christian Era, one must wonder whether it was mere coincidence that the Ishtar-Ninurta era petered out in or about 2160 B.C.E., just when, according to the above zodiacal calendar, the Age of the Bull, Enlil’s Age, was also ending? Probably not; certainly Marduk did not think so. The available evidence suggests that he was sure that according to Celestial Time, his time for supremacy, his Age, has arrived. (Modern studies of Mesopotamian astronomy indeed confirm that the zodiacal circle was divided there into 12 houses of 30 degrees each—a mathematical rather than an observational division.)
The various texts we have mentioned indicate that as he moved about, Marduk made another foray into the Enlilite heartland, arriving back in Babylon with a retinue of followers. Rather than resort to armed conflict, the Enlilites enlisted Marduk’s brother Nergal (whose spouse was a granddaughter of Enlil) to come to Babylon from southern Africa and persuade his brother to leave. In his memoirs, known as The Erra Epos, Nergal reported that Marduk’s chief argument was that his time, the Age of the Ram, had arrived. But Nergal counter-argued that it is not really so: the Heliacal Rising, he told Marduk, still occurs in the constellation of the Bull!
Enraged, Marduk questioned the accuracy of the observations. What happened to the precise and reliable instruments, from before the Deluge, that were installed in your Lower World domain? he demanded to know from Nergal. Nergal explained that they were destroyed by the Deluge. Come, see for yourself which constellation is seen at sunrise on the appointed day, he urged Marduk. Whether Marduk went to Lagash to make the observation, we do not know, but he did realize the cause of the discrepancy:
While mathematically the ages changed every 2,160 years, in reality, observationally, they did not. The zodiacal constellations, in which stars were grouped arbitrarily, were not of equal size. Some occupied a larger arc of the heavens, some smaller; and as it happened, the constellation of the Ram was one of the smaller ones, squeezed between the larger Taurus and Pisces (Fig. 22). Celestially, the constellation Taurus, occupying more than 30 degrees of the heavenly arc, lingers on for at least another two centuries beyond its mathematical length.
In the twenty-first century B.C.E., Celestial Time and Messianic Time failed to coincide.
Go away peacefully and come back when the heavens will declare your Age, Nergal told Marduk. Yielding to his fate, Marduk did leave, but did not go too far away.
And with him, as emissary, spokesman, and herald, was his son, whose mother was an Earthling woman.