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Sutra Inscribed Tablet

Sutra Inscribed Tablet


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Sutra Inscribed Tablet - History

A RARE IMPERIAL PRAJNAPARAMITA SUTRA JADE BOOK ACCOMPANIED WITH A FITTED ZITAN WOOD BOX AND COVER
QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795)

The book comprises four square translucent celadon jade plaques, incised and gilded with text from the Prajnaparamita sutra, each folio is bound opposite its derived rubbing, all mounted on yellow brocade, the sandalwood front cover carved with the title, Banruo poluomido xinjing , 'Wisdom of the Parjnaparamita Sutra', the sandalwood back cover similarly decorated with lotus the book is accommodated within a rectangular zitan box with yellow silk lined interiors, the upper surface of the exterior bearing a silver-wire inlaid title, Xinjing , 'Heart Sutra', reserved within a rectangular panel against a ground designed with confronted kui dragons
5 1/2 x 4 15/16 x 3 1/8 in. (14 x 12.5 x 8 cm.) overall


Sutra Inscribed Tablet - History

(For an introduction to this series, read Part 1.)

The Religion of Light teachings are like the resplendent sun: they have the power to dissolve the dark realm and destroy evil forever. (Stone Sutra 2:22)

I’ve been going back and forth on whether I want to divide posts in this series by sutra or by topic, seeing as there is a lot of overlap. At last I’ve decided I’ll try to do it by sutra, so we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s a list of all eight Jesus Sutras:

Early Sutras (written/adapted by Persians in the late 630s–50s):

  • The Sutra of the Teachings of the World-Honored One
  • The Sutra of Cause, Effect, and Salvation
  • The Sutra of Origins
  • The Sutra of Jesus Christ

Late (Liturgical) Sutras (written by Chinese monks primarily at the end of the eighth century, though one comes from 720):

  • Taking Refuge in the Trinity
  • Invocation of the Dharma Kings and Sacred Sutras, or Let Us Praise
  • The Sutra of Returning to Your Original Nature
  • The Christian Liturgy in Praise of the Three Sacred Powers, or The Supreme

And then, there’s a ninth “Stone Sutra,” if one wants to call it that. I’ll start there, as it offers a good overview of what can be found in the other eight. As I mentioned in my last post, the Stone Sutra is the name given to the stele at Xian (also known as the Nestorian Stele, the Monument Sutra, or the Stele of Sianfu), erected in 781 to commemorate the propagation of the Religion of Light (Christianity) in the Middle Kingdom, and to declare “the Law of our Savior.” It’s now on display in the Forest of Stone Steles Museum in Xian.

Made of black limestone, standing 12 feet high, and mounted on a huge carved tortoise, the stele contains over 2,000 Chinese characters (and some Syriac), written by Jingjing, a priest of the Da Qin monastery. The top inscription contains nine large characters that spell out “Da Qin Religion of Light: Record of Its Transmission throughout China.” The text that follows recounts most of the history of the Church in China up to 781, as well as details about the person of Jesus Christ. I’ll share mainly the latter. Unless otherwise indicated, all parenthetical references in this post refer to chapters and verses of this “Stone Sutra,” as assigned by Martin Palmer. For more information or to read the full text, I highly recommend you buy his book The Jesus Sutras. (There are two other books that I know of that also contain English translations of the Jesus Sutras: The Lost Sutras of Jesus: Unlocking the Ancient Wisdom of the Xian Monks, and The Secret Sayings of Ye Su: A Silk Road Gospel.)

We’re all familiar with the opening verses of Genesis 1: “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

Here’s an Eastern take on that same event, with obvious Taoist influence:

In the beginning was the natural constant, the true stillness of the Origin, and the primordial void of the Most High. Then the spirit of the void emerged as the Most High Lord, moving in mysterious ways to enlighten the holy ones. He is Joshua, my True Lord of the Void, who embodies the three subtle and wondrous bodies, and who was condemned to the cross so that the people of the four directions could be saved. (2:1-3)

Notice how these verses affirm the constant and eternal nature of God, his sovereign authority (“Most High Lord”), the enlightening function of his Spirit, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the universal saving power of Jesus’s crucifixion.

Chapter 2 also goes on to describe how the Most High Lord created the twin forces of yin and yang, with the lighter vapors of yang rising to form heaven and the sun, and the heavier vapors of yin sinking to form Earth and the moon. These two forces then gave birth to chi (life breath, or sustaining energy flow), which forms part of every living thing. This idea is based on chapter 42 of the Tao Te Ching, Taoism’s most sacred and foundational text. What do you think about this? Is there a significant difference between saying that God created yin and yang, which in turn created heaven, earth, and everything else, versus God created all things directly?

Original nature

Furthermore, chapter 2 describes God giving to the first people a nature of goodness: “Their minds were empty they were content and their hearts were simple and innocent. Originally they had no desire” (2:8-9). This is a classic Taoist description of human nature at its purest, most faithful to the Tao. Taoists believe that all human nature, like the nature of the universe itself, is intrinsically good, and that even though our true natures become muddied by things like greed, pride, and formalism, they are always there to be recovered, to be realigned with the natural rhythm of things. Buddhism has a similar teaching, called “Buddha-nature,” which refers to the natural awakened state of the mind, free of concepts, thoughts, and emotions (which only delude us), and full of pure wisdom and compassion. The goal of Buddhism is to realize this original nature, and thereby become “an enlightened one.”

Hieronymous Bosch, Paradise and Hell, 1510. Oil on panels, 45 x 135 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid.

The Bible, too, speaks of an original state of goodness, in which human beings naturally reflected the perfect beauty and holiness of God, having been made in his image (Genesis 1:27). After God created man, he pronounced his creation good (Genesis 1:31) Adam and Eve enjoyed God’s unmediated presence and felt no shame before him (Genesis 2:25). Their hearts were “simple and innocent,” it might be said, and untainted by selfish desire. Taoists would say that they lived in harmony with the Tao. A major point of difference, though, is that according to the Bible, humans are no longer born with this perfect nature instead, because of original sin, we possess a nature that is depraved at its core. So rather than our true selves lying somewhere inside us, able to be uncovered and reclaimed through self-effort, Christianity teaches that our true natures lie very much outside us, and can be accessed only through Jesus Christ (Ezekiel 36:26 2 Corinthians 5:17).

It’s fascinating to see how the Jesus Sutras reconcile these disparate views—for example, by presenting Jesus as the embodiment of original nature, and as a bodhisattva who taught how we, with his guidance, can undergo “the holy transformation [of nature] beyond all reckoning” (The Sutra of the Teachings of the World-Honored One, 4:14) . Problematic? It can be. More on this later.

Sin and the need for a savior

The Jesus Sutras teach that because people’s innate good nature had become confused and obscured (Christians might say “marred by sin”), God had to come to Earth as Ye Su (Jesus). “Therefore, my Lord Ye Su, the One emanating in three subtle bodies, hid his true power, became a human, and came on behalf of the Lord of Heaven to preach the good teachings” (2:17).

A Tibetan thangka depicting Yama, the Lord of Death, holding the Wheel of Life, which represents samsara. The center wheel depicts a pig chasing a rooster chasing a snake, representing how mankind is trapped in an endless cycle of craving, hatred, and ignorance.

Most Eastern religions teach the doctrine of karma—the cause-and-effect force that drives reincarnation. The idea is that all actions have consequences that are unfulfilled when you die therefore, you have to be reborn to continue working through the effects of past actions. The only way to escape this ever-turning wheel of samsara (suffering) is to become so perfect that nothing you do causes any bad effects.

Rather than dismissing this doctrine as false and demonic, the Persian missionaries fit Jesus into the context of karma, presenting him as the solution to the problem of endless rebirth. I will discuss this more when I talk about the Sutra of Cause, Effect, and Salvation. But for now I’ll just say that this savior figure obviously resonated with the Chinese they describe him on the stele as the one who rows or launches “the raft of salvation and compassion” that ferries souls across the great divide and away from reincarnation (2:23).

The Stone Sutra does not explicitly mention Jesus’s resurrection, as some of the other sutras do, but it does mention his ascension: “He carried out the work of deliverance, and when the task was completed, He ascended to immortality in broad daylight” (2:24). Martin Palmer notes that this mention is significant because most Eastern immortals ascend secretly and are discovered to be immortals only after their coffins are lifted and found to be empty. By saying that Jesus ascended in broad daylight, the text emphasizes a very special form of immortality.

Jesus’s cross rising from a lotus

The stele on which this sutra is written is itself a work of art. At the apex of the stele’s inscription, on the black limestone, is a delicate carving of a cross rising from a cloud-wreathed lotus blossom.

The lotus is an important Buddhist symbol of the mind rising above the mire of worldly existence. The roots of the lotus are in mud, but its stem grows up through murky waters and its white flower blooms on the surface here it shows no sign of taintedness, but is only beautiful and pristine. Buddhist deities are often pictured seated on lotuses, representing their attainment of spiritual perfection and total mental purity.

By incorporating the Christian cross into Buddhist iconography, the Chinese are acknowledging the buddhahood (enlightened status) of Jesus. Jesus had to fight through all the hardships and pains of this world, but he rose above them all, triumphantly (as his resurrection proves), and he brought humanity with him. Like the lotus, Jesus is rooted to earth, fully human, but he also exists on a plane wholly above the mud of this world. In the monument’s image, the centrality of the cross, (to Christians) a symbol of death but also of death conquered, suggests that Christ’s crucifixion was the most beautiful and glorious demonstration of his person, and the reason he is due worship. The cross is ultimate reality and truth through it, Jesus enlightens all peoples.

The stone tablet above the black limestone offers an additional symbol to unpack: the flaming pearl, clenched by two curling dragons (lungs). In Chinese art the flaming pearl can symbolize many things, some common ones being healing, transformation, prosperity, power, wisdom, or truth. Whatever its symbolism, it is always portrayed as a highly sought-after object, usually being chased by one or more dragons.

The flaming pearl is a popular motif in Chinese art.

The Bible speaks of pearls in two main instances. First, in Matthew 7:6, when Jesus tells his disciples not to cast their pearls before swine here, the “pearls” are understood to be referring to the gospel—meaning don’t waste your time sharing the gospel to those who are persistently hostile to it. Second, in Matthew 13:45-46, Jesus says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” In this scenario, you are the pearl of great value, and Jesus is the buyer he purchased you at infinite cost to himself, because he values you that much.

Any of these meanings makes sense in the context of the Jesus Sutras. The pearl that tops the stele is in a position of honor it is being lifted up—just as Jesus was lifted up on the cross and is being lifted up still, at God’s right hand. Just as we are if we trust in Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and allow him to heal and transform us. And just as the gospel is as it continues to spread throughout the world, reaching all peoples.


Egypt Remembers: Ancient accounts of the Great Exodus

The biblical story of the Israelites’ Descent and Exodus speaks about important events that took place in Egypt, so we should expect to find records of these events in Egyptian sources – the seven years of famine predicted by Joseph, the arrival of his father Jacob with his Hebrew family from Canaan, the great plagues of Moses, the death of Egypt’s first born, including the Pharaoh’s first son, and the drowning of the Pharaoh himself in the Red Sea all these events should have been recorded by the scribes who kept detailed records of daily life. But we do not find even one contemporary inscription from the relevant period that records any of these events.

Egyptian scribes were tasked with recording important events, yet there are no records of the biblical story of the Israelites’ Descent and Exodus. ‘The Scribe’, Louvre Museum. Credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / flickr .

In spite of this silence, the name of Israel has been found inscribed on one of the pharaonic stele, although with no connection either to Moses or the Exodus. However, although the Merenptah stele locates the Israelites in Canaan around 1219 BC, it makes no mention of them previously living in Egypt or departing from it in an Exodus under Moses.

Merneptah Stele known as the Israel stele (JE 31408) from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Credit: Wikipedia

This complete silence of official Egyptian records was later broken by Egyptian historians, who appear to have known many details about Moses and his Exodus. While contemporary pharaonic authorities seem to have deliberately suppressed the mention of Moses and his followers in their records, popular traditions retained the story of the man whom Egyptians regarded as a divine being, for more than 10 centuries, before it was recorded by Egyptian priests. Under the Macedonian Ptolemaic Dynasty, which ruled Egypt after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, Egyptian historians made sure to include the story of Moses and his exodus in their historical accounts.

Manetho, the 3 rd century BC Egyptian priest and historian who recorded the history of Egypt into Greek to be placed in the Library of Alexandria, included the story of Moses in his Aegyptiaca. According to Manetho, Moses was an Egyptian and not a Hebrew, who lived at the time of Amenhotep III and his son Akhenaten (1405-1367 BC). Manetho also indicated that the Israelites’ Exodus took place in the reign of a succeeding king whose name was Ramses.

Papyrus from the fifth century AD, suspected partial copy of the Epitome, based on Manetho’s Aegyptiaca. Credit: Wikipedia

Although Manetho’s original text was lost, some quotations from it have been preserved mainly by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in 1 st century AD. Commenting on Manetho’s account of Moses, Josephus tells us that:

Under the pretext of recording fables and current reports about the Jews, he (Manetho) took the liberty of introducing some incredible tales, wishing to represent us (the Jews) as mixed up with a crowd of Egyptian lepers and others, who for various maladies were condemned, as he asserts, to banishment from the country. Inventing a king named Amenophis, an imaginary person, the date of whose reign he consequently did not venture to fix … This king, he states, wishing to be granted … a vision of the gods, communicated his desire to his namesake, Amenophis, son of Paapis (Habu), whose wisdom and knowledge of the future were regarded as marks of divinity. This namesake replied that he would be able to see the gods if he purged the entire country of lepers and other polluted persons.
Delighted at hearing this, the king collected all the maimed people in Egypt, numbering 80,000, and sent them to work in the stone-quarries on the east of the Nile, segregated from the rest of the Egyptians. They included, he adds, some of the learned priests, who were afflicted with leprosy. Then this wise seer Amenophis was seized with a fear that he would draw down the wrath of the gods on himself and the king if the violence done to these men were detected and he added a prediction that the polluted people would find certain allies who would become masters of Egypt for thirteen years. He did not venture to tell this himself to the king, but left a complete statement in writing, and then put an end to himself. The king greatly disheartened.”
[Against Apion, Flavius Josephus, Harvard University Press, 1926, p. 258-259].

Josephus was wrong in saying that Manetho invented a king named Amenophis who communicated his desire to his namesake, Amenophis, son of Paapis. This king has been identified as Amenhotep III, 9 th king of the 18 th Dynasty, while his namesake, Amenhotep son of Habu, is known to have started his career under Amenhotep III as an Inferior Royal Scribe. He was promoted to be a Superior Royal Scribe, and finally reached the position of Minister of all Public Works. On the other hand, Manetho’s description of the rebels as being “lepers and polluted people” should not be taken literary to mean that they were suffering from some form of physical maladies - the sense was that they were seen as impure because of their denial of Egyptian religious beliefs.

Ancient Roman bust thought to be of Flavius Josephus. Credit: Wikipedia

Josephus goes on to say that for the rebel leader’s first law, he ordained that his followers should not worship the Egyptian gods nor abstain from the flesh of any of the animals held in special reverence in Egypt, but should kill and consume them all. They also should have no connection with any, save members of their own confederacy. After laying down these and a multitude of other laws, which were absolutely opposed to Egyptian customs, he ordered all hands to repair the walls of Avaris and make ready for war with King Amenophis.

As we can see, although contemporary Egyptian official records kept their silence about the account of Moses and the Israelite Exodus, popular memory of Egypt preserved these events, and they were transmitted orally for many centuries before being put down in writing. These traditions told about Moses and Joseph, and also told about the shepherds who lived at the borders, who were not allowed to enter the Nile valley.

Manetho could not have invented this information, as he could only rely on the records he found in the temple scrolls. Neither could he have been influenced by the stories of the Bible, as the Torah was only translated from Hebrew to Greek some time after he had composed his Aegyptiaca. As Donald B. Redford, the Canadian Egyptologist, has remarked: “What he (Manetho) found in the temple library in the form of a duly authorized text he incorporated in his history and, conversely, we may with confidence postulate for the material in his history a written source found in the temple library, and nothing more.’ [Donald B. Redford, Pharaonic King Lists, Annals and Day Books, Benben Publications, 1986]

On the other hand, Monatho’s dating of the religious rebellion in the time of Amenhotep III, assures us that he was giving a real historical account. For it was during this reign that Amenhotep’s son and co-regent, Akhenaten, abandoned traditional Egyptian polytheism and introduced a monotheistic worship centered on the Aten. Akhenaten, like the rebel leader, also erected his new temples open to the air facing eastwards in the same way as the orientation of Heliopolis. This similarity between Akhenaten and the rebel leader persuaded Donald Redford to recognize Manetho’s Osarseph story as the events of the Amarna religious revolution, first remembered orally and later set down in writing: “… a number of later independent historians, including Manetho, date Moses and the bondage to the Amarna period? Surely it is self-evident that the monotheistic preaching at Mount Sinai is to be traced back ultimately to the teachings of Akhenaten.” [Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times, Donald B. Redford, Princeton University Press, 1992, p. 377]

Redford also confirms that: “The figure of Osarseph/Moses is clearly modelled on the historic memory of Akhenaten. He is credited with interdicting the worship of all the gods, and in Apion, of championing a form of worship which used open-air temples oriented east, exactly like the Aten temples of Amarna.” [Redford, Pharaonic King-Lists, p. 293]

As for the starting point of the Exodus, while the biblical account gives the city’s name as Rameses, Manetho gives the name of another location: Avaris. Avaris was a fortified city at the borders of the Nile Delta and Sinai. It was the starting point of the road to Canaan, which had been occupied by the Asiatic kings, known as Hyksos, who ruled Egypt from about 1783 to 1550 BC, when they were driven out by Ahmosis I.

As the period when Moses lived in Egypt was identified under Amenhotep III, the starting point of the Exodus located at Avaris, and the Pharaoh of the Exodus identified as Ramses I, it seemed like the road opened to start looking for historical and archaeological evidence to confirm this account. Scholars, however, did not follow this route of investigation, and went on looking for evidence in other times and different locations. Thanks to Flavius Josephus, who wrongly identified the Hebrew tribe - not with the shepherds who were already living in Egypt, but with the Hyksos rulers who had left the country more than a century earlier - modern scholars dismissed Manetho’s account as unhistorical.

Featured image: John Martin’s painting of the Old Testament bible story, “plague of hail and fire”. 1823 Credit: Public Domain

Pharaonic King Lists, Annals and Day Books , Donald B. Redford, Benben Publications, 1986

Against Apion , Flavius Josephus, Harvard University Press, 1926


The Third Tablet of Lord Enki

Chapter 3.1 – This tablet tells of the defeated kings attempts to bribe the new king with his knowledge of the gold on Earth and have his kingship reinstated.

Chapter 3.2 – This portion has the ending of negotiations. A team will be sent to Earth to see if there is gold. If there is gold, the defeated king will have another wrestling match with the new king for the throne.

Chapter 3.3 -The following tablet video has the Anunnaki traveling to Earth. They briefly stop on Mars for water. Their spacecraft apparently runs on water. Then they proceed to Earth and land there.

Chapter 3.4 – This portion tells of the first 6 days on Earth of the advance team of Anunnaki. Plenty of food, water, fish and animals.

Chapter 3.5 – This portion describes the Anunnaki team leader declaring of the seventh day as a day of rest. Metals were processed from the waters. The day, month, year were given their names.

Chapter 3.6 – This portion of the tablet tells about searching and finding gold, but not in great quantities. The remaining atomic bombs on the defeated kings spacecraft were taken out of the spacecraft and hidden in a cave. They are not to be used again to make a way through the asteroid belt. An Anunnaki team member leaves Earth to take the first basketfuls of gold to Nibiru.


Deconstructing the Narrative

Disproving the Moundbuilder Myth

Soon after discovery, the tablets were examined by Dr. E Foreman at the Davenport Academy of Sciences, where he argued they were not genuine ⏄] . He noticed that the spherical engravings on the zodiac tablet appeared to have been made with modern tools, and the tablets themselves showed little signs of weathering that would be expected with an ancient stone artifact ⏅] . Foreman also noted that Gass’ excavation reports mention two of the tablets had been found in an area with loose soil while the contents of the grave were confusingly scattered about, which is highly indicative of tampering and planting at the site ⏆] . Soon after the tablets were sent to the Bureau of Ethnology, where Cyrus Thomas, who did not believe in the Moundbuilder hypothesis to begin with, also concluded the tablets were fake. This conclusion was based in part on the dubious deposition circumstances of the artifacts, and the fact the Hebrew and Hittite looking characters could be found on page 1766 in a copy of Webster’s Dictionary printed in 1872, five years before the artifacts were discovered ⏇] . The Zodiac Calendar seen on the tablets can also be found in the same dictionary. Thomas also noted the soil deposited over the stone pillar in Mound No. 11 was described by Harrison as comparatively loose, “easy to handle, being composed of dark soil with an admixture of clay” and no indications of any stratification ⏈] . Furthermore, the chamber the tablet was found in was noted as being empty save the tablet and associated artifacts. This would be impossible for any cavity of significant age not hermetically sealed, as running water slipping through the un-cemented stone pillar would deposit soil in the cavity over time ⏉] . In 1967, Dr. McKusick, an archaeologist from the University of Iowa, interviewed some of the people who had been involved in the discovery of the Davenport Tablets, including one member of the Davenport Academy of Sciences. This member confessed that he and other members had fabricated the tablets as a joke to discredit Gass’ reputation ⏊] . Gass was unliked by the rest of the academy due to his foreign birth and high status in the academy, which was only deepened after he had found valuable artifacts in mounds that had yielded nothing to previous excavations ⏋] . According to the confessing member, the forgers had taken slate tiles from a brothel, which can be seen by the nail holes in the calendar stone, denoting the expected date of the planting of the tablet and the date when it was predicted Gass would uncover it ⏌] . After the joke blew out of proportion due to its publicity, the guilty members decided they could not confess, and let the incident develop on its own ⏍] .

Debunking Hyperdiffusionism

Shortly after Fell published his interpretation of the Davenport Tablets, Dr. Goddard and Dr. Fitzhugh at the Smithsonian Institute Department of Anthropology had the tablet reexamined by linguistic specialists ⏎] . Scientific tests of the weathering rate of the scratches, the chemistry of the remnant tool filings in the grooves, and the shapes of the tool marks lead the team to conclude that the tablet showed little evidence of weathering, proving a modern rather than ancient date for its manufacture ⏏] . Also noted were the linguistic errors and anomalies in the alleged Phoenician inscriptions which are consistent with modern manufacture but inconsistent with a genuine ancient origin ⏐] . The linguists came to the consensus that every single conclusion made in Fell's book was demonstrably false ⏑] .


Contents

Writing was not as we see it today. In Mesopotamia, writing began as simple counting marks, sometimes alongside a non-arbitrary sign, in the form of a simple image, pressed into clay tokens or less commonly cut into wood, stone or pots. In that way, recorded accounts of amounts of goods involved in a transaction could be made. This convention began when people developed agriculture and settled into permanent communities that were centered on increasingly large and organized trading marketplaces. [4] These marketplaces traded sheep, grain, and bread loaves, recording the transactions with clay tokens. These initially very small clay tokens were continually used all the way from the pre-historic Mesopotamia period, 9000 BCE, to the start of the historic period around 3000 BCE, when the use of writing for recording was widely adopted. [4]

The clay tablet was thus being used by scribes to record events happening during their time. Tools that these scribes used were styluses with sharp triangular tips, making it easy to leave markings on the clay [5] the clay tablets themselves came in a variety of colors such as bone white, chocolate, and charcoal. [6] Pictographs then began to appear on clay tablets around 4000 BCE, and after the later development of Sumerian cuneiform writing, a more sophisticated partial syllabic script evolved that by around 2500 BCE was capable of recording the vernacular, the everyday speech of the common people. [6]

Sumerians used what is known as pictograms. [4] Pictograms are symbols that express a pictorial concept, a logogram, as the meaning of the word. Early writing also began in Ancient Egypt using hieroglyphs. Early hieroglyphs and some of the modern Chinese characters are other examples of pictographs. The Sumerians later shifted their writing to Cuneiform, defined as "Wedge writing" in Latin, which added phonetic symbols, syllabograms. [5]


Kama Sutra Sex Position #6: The Milk and Water Embrace

With this position, you sit down in an chair, on a short stool, or on the bed. Then your partner sits down on you with their back to your chest.

"This is perfect for people of all body sizes," says Garrison. If your partner is female-bodied, "there is the potential benefit of four-hand stimulation for her (clit, breasts, inner thighs), and lots of leg intertwining for you both."


5. The location of *Ti-nwa-to

No later toponym in the Peloponnese, or indeed anywhere in Greece, corresponds to or resembles *Ti-nwa-to, whether in ancient, Medieval or modern times. Even were one attested, this would not in itself establish where *Ti-nwa-to was. Place-names often changed their location over time, above all the case of Pylos itself, which formerly lay under Mount Aigaleon (Mycenaean /Aigolaion/) at Ano Englianos, as the tablets prove, then in classical times at Coryphasium on the north side of the bay of Navarino, and now on its SE side, not to mention the traditions about other places further north in Triphylia that were also called Pylos 194 . Again, in classical times there was a place called Leuctrum in the Outer Mani south of Kalamata, i.e. beyond the E. boundary of the Further Province, the river Nedon, yet in the Pylian archives Re-u-ko-to-ro was a major town within the kingdom 195 . Again, the Ro-u-so /Lousoi/ south of Pylos in the Hither Province has the same name as classical Λουσοί in northern Arcadia east of Mount Erymanthus 196 . As we saw in §4, many place-names may have been taken to Arcadia by refugees from the Pylian kingdom, and there is a notable concentration of such names around Mount Erymanthus.

The geography and frontiers of the Pylian kingdom have proved surprisingly hard to reconstruct with confidence 197 . This is owed to two factors. First, there was a radical discontinuity in settlement at the end of the Bronze Age, when the number of settlements in Messenia declined massively 198 . The region changed its dialect from Mycenaean, the closest ancestor of Arcado-Cypriot, to West Greek, or Doric, a change which has seemed to many hard to explain without an influx of new people 199 . The discontinuity is compounded by poor sources for Messenian history in the classical period and the high proportion of Slavic toponyms 200 . Thus the list of nine towns in the Homeric Catalogue of Ships notoriously fails to correspond to the towns in the Pylian tablets 201 . and Strabo claims that Nestor’s Pylos was in Triphylia 202 . Secondly, the Linear B tablets were created as economic records: the network of settlements underlying them has to be deduced from their sequence in the documents, their recorded products, and the links between them, and some of these links may be hierarchical or arbitrary rather than simply geographical 203 . To relate them to archaeological remains on the ground, in the absence of inscriptions that tell us the names of their findspots, is even harder 204 .

All scholars agree that the kingdom was divided into two provinces, the Hither Province and the Further Province, by the mountains called /Aigolaion/ by the Mycenaeans and Αἰγαλέον by Strabo, and that the Hither Province lay to the west, the Further Province to the east, with its eastern border on the river Nedon 205 . The relative locations of places in the Hither Province close to Pylos and further south are also fairly secure, since it is agreed that they are listed from north to south 206 . However, the location of the northern border of the Hither Province seems less certain: did it lay in the Soulima (Kyparissia) valley, or on the river Neda, or yet much further north on the river Alpheus 207 ?

Two main arguments have been advanced for restricting the Pylian kingdom to Messenia. First, for security and ease of communications its capital ought to have been centrally located however, one may contrast, for instance, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, or the United States) 208 . Secondly, few Late Mycenaean settlements are known between the Soulima valley and the Alpheus, with a particularly noticeable gap at the Neda however, this is an argumentum e silentio, since Triphylia is not well explored 209 . The best evidence for the river Neda is that the commander of the northernmost command on the ‘coastguard’ tablets (the An series) is named Ne-da-wa-ta /Nedwātās/, a name formed from ‘Neda’ 210 . But even the first securely located place in the north-south series of towns in the Hither Province, ku-pa-ri-so (PY Na 514), which is thought to correspond to modern Kyparissia, refers to a tree that must have been very common in the landscape therefore its location does not seem secure 211 . The northernmost town in the Hither Province, ?? Pi-*82, may have been inland it does not appear on the ‘coastguard’ tablets, what that fact is worth. If Pi-*82 is to be read Pi-swa 212 , as is likely, its name is ‘Pisa’ like the later Pisa near Olympia on the Alpheus its products, sheep and flax, might suit the latter location 213 , but these products were widespread in Mycenaean Messenia too. The second town in the Hither Province, Me-ta-pa, was on the coast 214 and rich in barley and textile production 215 on tablet Cn 595 it is next to a place Ne-de-we-e, which is properly linked with the name of the River Neda and likely to be near it 216 . Both centres controlled sizable territories 217 . Me-ta-pa reappears as the name of an otherwise unknown town called Metapa that is attested by a treaty of the early 5th century BC, found at Olympia, between τὸς Ἀναίτ[ς] καὶ τὸ[ς] Μεταπίς 218 . Since this pact is in Elean dialect and officials at Olympia were to oversee it, like the treaty between the Eleans and their neighbours the Ἐϝαοῖοι 219 , this Metapa was not the town of the same name in Acarnania 220 but must have been in the western Peloponnese. Classical Metapa was, perhaps, south of classical Pisa 221 . The coincidence that Pisa and Metapa were located near to each other in the classical period reduces the odds that their collocation in the tablets is random, and makes it possible that these place-names were in much the same area in Mycenaean times, or that they were both taken to Elis by refugees from the same region in the Pylian kingdom. Dyczek puts Bronze Age Metapa at Kato Samikon, and Lukermann and Eder locate it at or near Kakovatos 222 . However, most scholars continue to locate Mycenaean Pisa and Metapa south of the River Neda 223 . We shall shortly see that Metapa also had ties to the North West sector of the Further Province.

Tritsch held that *Ti-nwa-to lay in the Further Province, probably on the Messenian Gulf rather than inland on the Laconian border 224 . Chadwick supposed that it was not fully part of the Pylian state, but ‘a distant possession (colony or island?) which was administratively attached to the Further Province’ 225 . He later rejected the idea that it was an island: ‘it must have been of some size, since its assessment for gold on Jo 438 is one of the higher ones on the list. There are only two islands within easy reach of Pylos which are large enough, Zakynthos and Kythera, both of which appear to be mentioned on the tablets under these names’ 226 . Deriving *Ti-nwa-to from *στενϝός, he suggested instead that it was in ‘the hill country immediately to the north of the Messenian valley’, i.e. above the Stenyclarus plain 227 whatever the merits of this location, the proposed etymology is unconvincing 228 . Finally, evidently still perplexed, he proposed that it was in a part of the Mani, i.e. the east coast of the Messenian Gulf, that was not accessible by land from the kingdom’s eastern frontier 229 . Thus Agamemnon offered Achilles as a dowry seven towns in a peripheral area outside the kingdom of Nestor in the Outer Mani, i.e. the east coast of the Messenian Gulf 230 . This region was hard to reach overland from Kalamata until a generation ago historically the Mani has always resisted subordination to centralizing powers. But better arguments can be made by reexamining the tablets.

The sequence of entries in the tablets provides several clues to the location of *Ti-nwa-to. Unfortunately tablet Jo 438, recording the gold-tax on governors and vice-governors, does not itemise the towns in the usual order, and mixes up towns from the two Provinces 231 . It lists the governor of *Ti-nwa-to between entries for the first town from the Further Province, namely e-re-e (/Helos/ ‘marsh’), and the last town of the Hither Province, Ti-mi-ti-ja 232 . The location of these places depends on the organization of the four tax-districts of the Further Province in the Ma series of flax-tablets (Table 1), in which the Pamisos is the north-south division, and the Skala hills the east-west 233 .

Table 1. The tax districts of the Further Province on the Ma tablets (after Chadwick 1973a).

Thus Jo 438 mentions the governor of *Ti-nwa-to between tax districts b1 and a2 of Table 1. This is puzzling, since in the standard reconstruction these districts are not adjacent. Ti-mi-ti-ja or Te-mi-ti-ja (/Terminthia/?) is the same as Ti-mi-to-a-ke-e, i.e. /Tirminthōn ankos/ ‘glen of terebinth trees’ 234 , a coastal town on the western border of the Further Province it has often been identified with the major settlement at Nichoria (Rizomylo) 235 , Chadwick showed that, since on tablet Cn 595 sheep from the station at E-ra-te-re-wa in district b2 are recorded as at Metapa in the north of the Hither Province, districts b2 and a2 are likely to be in northern rather than southern Messenia. Hence Za-ma-e-wi-ja and the other towns in its district are in the N.E. quadrant of the Province. Helos is listed after Za-ma-e-wi-ja on tablet Jn 829 it does not appear in the Ma series, but has its place taken by E-sa-re-wi-ja, and is also likely to be in the N.E. quadrant 236 . There are links on tablet Aa 779 between A-te-re-wi-ja and Metapa, on An 830 between A-te-re-wi-ja and Pi-*82 (/Piswa/?), the northernmost town of the Hither Provice, and on Ma 225 between Pi-*82 (/Piswa/?) and Re-u-ko-to-ro /Leuktron/, an important place in the further province 237 . Hence Helos is split into two in the Ma texts, and may have had ties to both northern tax districts 238 it was probably the marshes at the source of the River Pamisos between both districts 239 .

Tablet On 300, transactions involving the governors of all the towns in both Provinces in commodity *154, probably hides, is also helpful in locating *Ti-nwa-to. The name of its governor, Te-po-se-u, is the final entry, after the governors of two towns that belong to the Further Province, namely a-si-ja-ti-ja ko-re-te ‘the governor of Asiatia’ and [e-re-o du]-ma ‘the official of Helos’ 240 . Again, exactly as on Jo 438, the entry for *Ti-nwa-to appears with that for Helos.

This seems the best clue to the location of *Ti-nwa-to. It lay inland, on or over the northern borders of the Further Province, close to Helos. Whether the kingdom’s northern frontier lay on the Alpheus, or (more probably) on the Neda itself, *Ti-nwa-to must have been located in the northernmost districts of Messenia or in what one can call southern Triphylia or south-western Arcadia. 241 Although Chadwick rejected most of the suggestions for locating Pylian place-names in Arcadia, he conceded that the Pylians may have occupied ‘the extreme south-western fringe of Arcadia, so as to control the few passes leading into Messenia’ 242 .

The interior of southern Triphylia, i.e. south-western Arcadia, was so poor that it was famous for its mercenaries in historical times 243 . It is so lacking in fertile land that it can hardly have been any richer in the Bronze Age. Cooper has shown that Apollo Epikourios was worshipped in Ictinus’ temple at Bassae, with all its military dedications, as god of mercenaries (ἐπίκουροι) 244 . Such poverty may explain why women of *Ti-nwa-to went or were taken to Pylos and perhaps to Knossos to work as weavers alongside slaves from afar.


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Name: Buried Memorial Tablet from the Tomb of King Muryeong
Period: Baekje
Location: Gongju, South Chungcheong
Status: National Treasure No. 163

There are two stone memorial tablets for King Muryeong, the 25th King of Baekje, and his Queen Consort.

The front of the tablet in the photograph is inscribed with six lines of historical records, each line measuring 5 to 6 centimeters (1.9 to 2.4 inches).

They coincide with the records of King Muryeong in Samguk Sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms).

The back of the memorial tablet is inscribed with a square, which indicates 12 directions.

The Queen’s memorial tablet has 13 lines, four of which are filled with inscriptions, each measuring 2.5 to 2.8 centimeters.

The back of the tablet is inscribed with maejimun, certificate of ownership of the land.

Initially the certificate was inscribed on a stone tablet when King Muryeong was buried, and its back was later used for Queen’s memorial tablet when she was buried next to the King.

This memorial tablet is considered one of the most valuable relics, enabling the archaeologists to pinpoint the exact attribution of the tombs in the Three Kingdoms Era, as well as to understand the funeral culture of Baekje.


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