The Indo-European paradise and the Garden of Eden
In the essay Homer in the Baltic1 we tried to prove that the events narrated in the Iliad and the Odyssey are set in the Baltic world, that is, the original seat of the fair-haired Achaean seafarers. They afterwards moved to the Mediterranean area, where they transposed their Northern placenames, epos and myths, and started the Mycenaean civilization2, at the beginning of the XVI century BC.
The Achaean migration fits in the diaspora of other Indo-European populations, who settled in their respective seats in the same period (the first half of the II millennium BC): we should think of the Hittites in Anatolia, the Cassites in Mesopotamia, the Tocharians in Turkestan, the Aryans in India3. As to the latter, who spoke a language similar to Greek (of which there is a trace in the Northern world in today’s Lithuanian language), it is remarkable that B.G. Tilak, a Hindu scholar, in the Vedic hymns found notable traces of their probable Arctic origin4. This squares with the clues emerging from a previous location of the Achaeans, connected to the world of the gods, even more northern than the Baltic one, in the Lappish area and the coasts of the Arctic Ocean5.
In particular, the location of the Homeric Ethiopians, “the remotest of men”, is incongruent with the African Ethiopia. On the contrary, they likely settled in the northernmost point of Scandinavia, between North Cape and the Nordkyn peninsula6. It is remarkable that Indian mythology mentions a land at “the ends of the earth,” thus corresponding to Homeric Ethiopia. The Mahabharata calls it “Uttarakuru,” i.e., “the Utmost Land” or “the Utmost Region,” known as “Paradesha” in Sanskrit, “Pairidaeza” in Iranian, “Paràdeisos” in Greek and “Pardes” in Hebraic7. Moreover, “in the Vedic tradition Uttarakuru is the original homeland of the Vedic Aryans, instead of Airyana Vaêjo”8. “The Indo-Iranic sources speak of a solar cult in the country of Airyana Vaêjo, before the ice age arrived; the cult of Apollo, who came from the land of the Hyperboreans and according to tradition settled in Greece, is its amazing parallel. The Hyperboreans – who live at the ends of the Ocean – are the counterpart of the Aryans, who themselves live in a country which is sunny for six months (or ten months, according to another version), with a mild climate and a night six months (or two months) long. Their main deity is the Sun god”9.
One should also note that in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, set in Pieria (a region near Olympus, the gods’ seat), scholars found an apparent astronomical absurdity connected to the Moon’s cycle, which is cleared up only by assuming a set lying north of the Arctic Circle, identifiable as Northern Lapland, where the winter solstice lasts for almost two months10.
The present climate makes the Arctic settlement of any civilisation impossible today, but one should consider that between 5500 and 2000 BC (corresponding to the Atlantic Phase of the Holocenic period) the Northern world enjoyed an exceptionally mild climate. We are referring to the “post-glacial climatic optimum,” which peaked around 2500 and lasted until 2000 B.C. It was “the best climatic period Scandinavian countries have ever known, which justi?es the high cultural level reached in Scandinavia around 2500 BC [?] This long, favorable climatic period saw the development of the Northern culture, comprising the Maglemose and Ertebölle civilizations, the dolmens, the ?passage grave’ tombs and the Bronze Age culture”11.
In order to get the general idea of the effects of such a mild climate – which made the tundra disappear from the European continent – we should take a look at what happened in the “medieval warm period,” which lasted from about 800 to 1200 AD. Beginning from the ninth century AD, the polar ice pack in the Arctic Ocean considerably decreased and icebergs became rare around Iceland, which became a blooming land, and around Greenland12. These rather dramatic effects in the “medieval warm period” – vineyards spread over England and even Norway, and, around the 12th century, a Catholic see with a Viking bishop ?ourished on the west coast of Greenland facing Labrador – were due to an average rise in temperature of about 2 °C higher than today’s temperature, as opposed to the 4 °C increase which had occurred during the Holocenic climatic optimum. By also taking into account the difference in length of time between the two periods – the medieval lasting only four or five centuries, whilst the prehistoric optimum lasted some millennia – we get an idea of the huge effects the latter had on the area in which we are interested.
After 2000 BC, the climatic optimum ran out and was succeeded by the “Sub-Boreal Phase”, characterised by a harsher climate that made the regions beyond the Arctic Circle uninhabitable, as they are today. Actually, the memory of a very ancient climatic collapse is found among many peoples: for example, Norse mythology narrates that a series of terrible winters heralded the “Ragnarok“, i.e., the fateful “twilight of the gods”. Here is the dramatic account from Younger Edda: “The Fimbulvetr (“dreadful winter”) will come, snow will fall whirling all over, there will be a terrible frost, ice and bitter winds, there will be no more Sun. Three uninterrupted winters will come at once without any summer in between”13. Its counterpart is the tale of the destruction of the Indo-European primordial paradise, called Airyana Vaêjo, owing to snow and ice, as stated by the Iranian Avesta, a collection of the sacred writings of Zoroastrianism: the god Ahura Mazda warned the ?rst king of men, Yima, that a series of icy winters, lasting for no less than ten months a year, would destroy his land14. This is the present climate of the Arctic regions15.
In short, from all this heap of converging information briefly summarized here, the Urheimat, the original homeland of the Indo-Europeans, emerges as an Arctic land, which at last may de?nitely be identi?ed on the map: it lay in the northernmost part of Scandinavia, or rather, that sort of “hat” atop the European continent, facing the Arctic Ocean, which stretches from Lapland to the Vesterålen Islands and the Kola Peninsula. Five or six thousand years ago, when the Constellation of Orion pointed to the Spring equinox16 and the Dragon to the North Pole17, the primordial Indo-European civilization developed there, thanks to the most favourable climatic period ever experienced in that area. However, the climatic optimum began to decline after a while and this put an end to the “kingdom of the gods”. Thus the Indo-Europeans were forced to leave their Arctic homeland and migrate southwards18.
At this point, we should note that Yima, the legendary king of the lost Indo-European paradise, is called “Yama” in Indian mythology, where he is the Lord of the Dead. The latter has a precise counterpart in the Odyssey. We are referring to Hades, the Homeric Lord of the Dead19. His gloomy kingdom, characterized by four rivers20, is found in Lapland21. On the other hand, Yima (who could also be compared with the Norse Ymir, Edda‘s primordial giant) was the ?rst man to know death. This connects him with Adam, the first man of the Bible. Therefore, Yama’s kingdom could be compared with the Biblical Paradise, where the Lord put Adam in a “garden eastward in Eden”22. Actually, the book of Genesis describes the geography of Eden in a very accurate way, by quoting the four rivers rising there:
The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.23
This passage contains two apparent geographical nonsenses. In the area where Euphrates and Tigris (called “Hiddekel” in the Genesis) have their sources, two other rivers, identifiable as the Biblical “Pison” and “Gihon”, do not exist. Moreover, two of the rivers rising from Eden should flow through Ethiopia and Assyria respectively, which are found in different continents! These absurdities – not to mention the fact that the “land of Havilah”, with its first-rate gold, is not identifiable at all – make the Genesis‘s tale geographically senseless.
At this juncture, Mr. Luigi Cesetti from Falerone, Italy, after reading Homer in the Baltic, noted that, if this bewildering “land of Ethiopia” was the Homeric Ethiopia, found in the northernmost point of Europe, the puzzle could be solved at once. Let us examine the river that surrounds it, i.e. today’s Tana (that, therefore, should correspond to the Biblical Gihon): it has its source in the northern side of Finnish Lapland, near today’s Enontekiö (this name means “which produces big rivers” in Sami language24), whence actually several rivers rise. One of them is the Ivalo River, called “Avvil” by the Laplanders. The mere similarity between “Avvil” and “Havilah”, the Biblical land where fine gold was found, could be accidental; however, this area is rich in gold, as attested by the Gold Museum in Tankavaara25, a village which lies near the Ivalo River. Moreover, it is amazing that the gold of the River Ivalo-Avvil is exceptionally fine, as the Biblical passage claims: it is a 23-carat gold, which distinguishes it from gold found elsewhere26. The “bdellium”, that is, a fragrant resin, is produced by pines and firs, that are plentiful there; chalcedony and jasper found there are similar to onyx in crystal composition.
Two other rivers rise from the area of Enontekiö, the Mounion-Torniojoki and a tributary of the Ounas-Kemijoki, which run in parallel towards South and flow into the Gulf of Bothnia in adjoining points of its northernmost side. Here are the “Euphrates” and “Tigris” mentioned in the Genesis. These rivers with the territory they surround outline a sort of Finnish “Mesopotamia”, whose likeness with the Asian Mesopotamia is astonishing (see the attached map).
This could imply that the Northern Lapland was the region of “Ur of the Chaldees”27 whence Abraham left for the Promised Land and the Sumerians moved to the South 28, where they settled in the area “between the rivers” (i.e. the Greek meaning of “Mesopotamia”) very similar to the Arctic region they had left. Afterwards, the climatic collapse made the latter inhospitable, as it appears from a passage by Isaiah: “The Lord makes the earth empty, and makes it waste, and turns it upside down, and scatters abroad the inhabitants thereof”.29 This could be the “Terre Gaste“, the “waste land” of the Arthurian legend, and could be also compared with the Homeric passage on “the rotten home (“domon euroenta”) of Hades”30: in a word, the Odyssey, the Bible and the Celtic literature seem to refer to the same tradition31.
As to the legendary “Avalon” of the Arthurian tales, probably referring to the original homeland, this name could recall Havilah-Avvil. This could imply a relationship between Chaldeians and Celts, that is also found between the Hebrew world and the Celtic one (for example, in Celtic literature the expression “Tìr Tairngiri“32, i.e. “the Land of Promise”, is found). We also note that, by putting the Biblical description of Eden in the Lappish world, the mythical garden lying east of Eden seems to be in the middle of a sort of four-leaved clover formed by four regions (Eden, Ethiopia, Havilah and Assyria), which outlines a picture very similar to the mythical division of Ireland, a Celtic land par excellence, where a political and religious center, Tara, was surrounded by four peripheral regions. Incidentally, the name of an Edenic river, the Pison, recalls Pisa, a placename both Finnish and Lappish also quoted in the Kalevala33.
We should now note another verse of the Bible:
And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.34
Actually, on the east of Enontekiö, that is, “on the east of Eden,” in the Russian territory, there lie the River Nota and Lake Notozero35.
Moreover, south of this area, in the Finnish territory the region called “Kainuu”36 is found. It coincides with the territory of the Homeric Lapithae, one of whom was Caineus, grandfather of a hero who participated in the Trojan War.37
This could indicate that Cain’s descendants, when the climatic optimum collapsed and the tundra made the regions beyond the Arctic Circle uninhabitable, moved from the Nota basin to a more liveable territory, situated at a slightly lower latitude.
We could also assume that Noah’s Flood is the memory – that afterwards was transposed to the Caucasian region, a very important crossroads of migrations from North to South – of a disastrous flood that affected Northern Lapland, whose territory is often marked out by an uninterrupted series of lakes, rivers and swamps38.
Anyway, the close relationship between the original Semitic world and the Indo-European one is corroborated, besides the kinship of Shem and Japheth, by the Biblical passage that claims the close relationship between Hebrews and Spartans, since both of them were descended from Abraham39.
Still on Shem, the likeness between his name and the Sami, i.e. the Laplanders, is also remarkable. Moreover, a Lappish mountain, called Saana40, is sacred to the Sami as Mount Sinai is to the Jews.
What about Ham, Noah’s other son? Let us return to the Kemijoki, the “Kemi River”, running southward from Lapland towards the northernmost point of the gulf of Bothnia. Behind it the Tana River rises, which runs towards that “Arctic Ethiopia” found both in Homer and in the Biblical tale of Eden. This configuration is a sort of mirror of African Egypt, the “Land of Kem” where Ham’s descendants lived: it lay along the big river coming from Ethiopia and Lake Tana (whence the Blue Nile rises).
Many other clues seem to corroborate the Northern origin of the ancient Egyptians (it should suffice to think of their solar worship)41. Therefore, maybe they came from Lapland as well (probably passing through the Caucasian area, where they left remarkable traces in local toponymy, as Sir Flinders-Petrie noticed42). In a word, both Egyptians and Sumerians reconstructed their Arctic homelands when they moved from there and settled in the Nile Valley and Mesopotamia respectively43.
To conclude, the parallels between the text of the Bible and Lappish geography corroborate on the one hand the traditional idea about the “hyperborean” origin of our civilisation, giving it a geographical evidence, and on the other the Biblical conception about the common origin of Semites, Hamites and Indo-Europeans.
Nevertheless, one should note that all of this irreparably collides with the old concept about the eastern origin of the European civilisation (“Ex Oriente Lux“)44. However, this concept was recently questioned by Radiocarbon dating, corrected with dendrochronology, i.e., tree-ring calibration. Prof. Renfrew describes the consequences on traditional chronology: “These changes bring with them a whole series of alarming reversals in chronological relationships. The megalithic tombs of Western Europe now become older than the Pyramids or the round tombs of Crete, their supposed predecessors. The early metal-using cultures of the Balkans antedate Troy and the early Bronze Age Aegean, from which they were supposedly derived. And in Britain, the ?nal structure of Stonehenge, once thought to be the inspiration of Mycenaean architectural expertise, was complete well before the Mycenaean civilization began”45. Consequently, he goes so far as to say: “The whole carefully constructed edi?ce comes crashing down, and the story-line of the standard textbooks must be discarded”46. Therefore, the transfer of the origin of the present civilisation from East to North conforms perfectly with the present lore.
Finally, we would like to underline that these considerations require further investigations by specialists in the various fields involved. Thus we prefer to regard them as a starting point, rather than an end, in the search for our remote origins.
1 F. Vinci, Omero nel Baltico. Saggio sulla geografia omeica, third edition, Palombi Editori, Roma 2002. An English abstract is found on the website http://www.dipmat.unipg.it/~bartocci/ep2vinc2.htm
2 Among the scholars who wrote about the Northern origin of the Mycenaean civilisation there are Martin P. Nilsson and Bertrand Russell
3 It is remarkable that in China the Bronze Age started in the same period, between XVIII and XVI century BC
4 B.G. Tilak, The Arctic Home in the Vedas
5 Omero nel Baltico, part IV, passim
6 Omero nel Baltico, p. 366
7 Introduction by G. Acerbi to B.G. Tilak, Orione: a proposito dell’antichità dei Veda, Genova 1991, p. 15
8 Antichi popoli europei, edited by O. Bucci, Roma 1993, p. 56
9 Ibid., p. 59
10 Omero nel Baltico, p. 360. The division of the ancient Roman calendar in ten months (the last of which was called “December“, that is, “the tenth”) could be connected with an Arctic origin
11 P. Laviosa Zambotti, Le più antiche civiltà nordiche, Milano 1941, p. 19
12 Norwegians gave Greenland this name owing to the vast green meadows they found on their arrival
13 Gylfaginning, 51; these “uninterrupted winters” recall the cold summers that were caused by great volcanic eruptions, also in recent times (like Tambora in 1815); the Arctic regions, of course, are particularly subject to the effects induced by such phenomena
14 Vendidad, Fargard II, quoted by B.G. Tilak
15 The god Ahura Mazda told Yima to keep animals and plants in a special enclosure, known as “Vara” (this name is also used to indicate Yima’s entire primordial kingdom) to save them from destruction. Actually, a wide peninsula, called Varanger Halvøia, lies east of Scandinavia’s northernmost point. Maybe there is a relationship between it and Iranian Vara. What is more, Avestic “Varena,” (“Varuna” in Sanskrit), a region created by Ahura Mazda, had “four corners” (Vendidad, Fargard I) corresponding to Varanger Halvøja’s quadrangular shape
16 In his Orion G.B. Tilak shows that the original Vedic civilisation developed in the “Orionic period”, when the vernal equinox roughly corresponded to the constellation of Orion (4000-2500 BC). However, Tilak did not know that that period coincided right with the climax of the climatic optimum. There is a memory of it in Greek mythology too: probably the Orionic period coincides with the happy age of Cronos, the king of the Golden Age
17 The polar position of the constellation of the Dragon at that time (in the year 2830 BC the star Alpha Draconis, also called Thuban, arrived within 10′ from the celestial pole) made it become the emblem of the starry sky and the Lord of darkness. This is why the Hyperborean Apollo, that is the solar principle (alias Ra, Thor, Michel, St. George, Maui and so on), when returning from the solstice darkness “killed” it with his arrows (that is, his rays). The memory of the Dragon remains in the traditional game of the kite, whose quadrangular head and winding tail copy its unmistakable shape (it is remarkable that kites were called “drago” in ancient Italian language)
18 That is why we can ?nd traces of the Achaean culture on the Baltic shores, dating back to more or less 2000 B.C. This is the world sung in the Homeric poems, where, however, the memory of happier days was still alive: in a previous footnote we mentioned the age of Cronos, who was ousted by Zeus, ruler of “stormy Dodona”, who has the features of the Indo-European Storm god. The Odyssey also narrates that the Phaeacians, before moving down to Scheria, i.e., southern Norway, lived in the “vast Hypereia”, probably located in Northern Norway, close to the gods, the Cyclopes and the Giants
19 Hades, also called Aidoneus by Homer, has much in common with Adonis, who in turn is linked to a tree and the nether world (in this picture, the so-called “gardens of Adonis” of the Greek classical world are also remarkable)
20 Od. X, 512-514. In the episode of Hades Homer mentions some very ancient rites common to Homer, the Vedas and the archaic Roman world (Omero nel Baltico, p. 374)
21 Omero nel Baltico, p. 370
22 Genesis 2,8
23 Genesis 2,11-14 (King James Version)
24 Information about Lapland is mainly drawn from the book Iter Lapponicum by Ada Grilli Bonini, Bergamo 2000
25 see the website http://www.urova.fi/home/kulta/eindex.htm
26 A. Grilli Bonini,, Iter Lapponicum, p. 277
27 Genesis 11, 31
28 Mr. Giuliano Bruni from Livorno noted that in Sanskrit “Sumeru” indicates the Arctic Pole (Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English Dictionary). It is also remarkable that the Kojiki, a Shinto sacred book, calls Japan’s first emperors “Sumera” (moreover, it narrates a lot of myths similar to classical ones not only in the events, but also in the names: for example, the Japanese Inaihi has a series of vicissitudes parallel to the Greek Inachus; moreover, Inaihi and Inachus have two relatives having almost the same name, Mikenu and Mycene, who are respectively the brother of the former and the daughter of the latter)
29 Isaiah 24, 1. This also recalls the “Waste Land” of the Celtic myths
30 One should note the similarity between “Hades” and “Eden”
31 We should also consider that the mysterious Tuatha Dé Danaan, i.e., Ireland’s ancient inhabitants, according to a Celtic tale (the “Cath Maige Tuired“, i.e. “The Battle of Mag Tuired“) came from “the islands in the north of the world”
32 J.A. MacCulloch, The religion of the ancient Celts
33 The same root is found in Homeric terms such as “pisos” (“watered place”) and “pidax” (“pool”). It is also remarkable that placenames of the “Ligurian” area (Ligurians were an Indo-European population who in ancient times settled in north-western Italy) such as Pisa, Savona and Levanto are found almost unchanged in the Finnish area: Pisa, Savonlinna, Levanto
34 Genesis, 4, 16
35 An effluent from Notozero is the Tuloma River, which flows into the Arctic Ocean near Murmansk, in the Kola peninsula
36 Italian Encyclopaedia Treccani, app. 2000, sub “Finlandia”, tab. 2 (see also the website http://www.kainuu.com/eng/)
37 Il. II, 745-746
38 Noah’s Flood could be the memory of a very ancient event. However, it is frankly absurd to search for the Salvation Mountain is in the Caucasian area, among peaks which are 5000 metres high! On the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that this tale was transposed there by migrant people, but the original site most likely was a flat land subject to flooding, with isolated rises here and there, right as Lapland’s territory is
39 I Maccabees 12, 20-23. The concept of the common origin of Hebrews and Spartans is reaffirmed in II Maccabees 5,9. In chap. XVIII of Omero nel Baltico we dwell upon the numerous analogies between the Biblical world and the Homeric one. Here we add the similarity among Abraham’s sacrifice described in Genesis 15,9 and Hindu sautramani, Roman suovetaurilia as well as the sacrifice quoted in Odyssey XI, 131 during Ulysses’ trip to Hades, plunged into an extremely archaic atmosphere where “shamanistic” tones are also found (see Omero nel Baltico, p. 375)
40 On the slopes of Mount Saana lies Lake Kilpis (Kilpisjärvi), whence a tributary of the Mounionjoki (the Biblical Euphrates) rises
41 We should also note the amazing likeness between a myth related to Osiris and a tale of the Finnish Kalevala. The latter narrates (Rune XIV) that Lemminkäinen was killed by a sea serpent; his body was then chopped up and thrown into a river “among the dark waves of Manala”, i.e., the nether regions. All of this reminds one of the Egyptian myth where Osiris is killed by Set, or Typhoeus, i.e., the sea serpent of the Greek myths, hacked to pieces and thrown into the Nile. Other striking parallels are found as these two tales unfold. Lemminkäinen’s mother searches for him in the river “down to the depths of Mana,” where she manages to salvage the pieces of his body, which are put together again and brought back to life. The same applies to Isis, Osiris’ wife, who manages to ?nd her husband’s dismembered pieces and put them back together. It is to be believed that the dismemberment, disappearance, and recomposition of Lemminkäinen-Osiris is explained by reference to the sun’s annual cycle in the Arctic regions. After the continuous daytime of the summer solstice, day then alternates with night (the god is “dismembered”), then comes the winter solstice darkness when he is thrown “into the waters” and disappears, followed by the return of the alternation of day and night (salvage of the pieces), and ?nally the restoration of the Sun that never sets during the following summer (restoration to wholeness)
42 The Origin of the Book of the Dead, in Ancient Egypt, June 1926, quoted by de Rachewiltz in Il libro dei morti degli antichi egiziani, Milano 1958, p. 8
43 The Egyptian documents mention their original homeland as “the land of the gods”. A similar concept is found in the Genesis and in the Homeric poems: we should think of the land where the Phaeacians lived by the gods, the region of Pieria quoted in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, the seat of the Ethiopians (who were close to the gods), Mount Olympus and Hades. They are all found in Lapland
44 “Light (comes) from the East“. This concept probably originated in the ancientness of the Mesopotamic civilisation, as well as in the misunderstanding of Genesis‘ indication about Eden’s location near the Tigris’ and Euphrates’ sources
45 Renfrew, Before Civilization, Chap. 4, “The Tree-ring Calibration of Radiocarbon”, p. 76
46 Before Civilization, Chap. 5, “The Collapse of the Traditional Framework”, p. 115
Here they are the “Edenic” features of the rivers that have their sources in the area of Enontekiö (situated at 68.23 N, 23.38 E) in Finnish Lapland (the placename “Hetta” is also found there). The northbound river runs around the Homeric Ethiopia; the second, that is the Ivalo River, called “Avvil” in Lappish language, flows through a region rich in exceptionally pure gold, that corresponds to the Biblical Havilah; the third and fourth, that run both towards the Gulf of Bothnia, bound a sort of Lappish “Mesopotamia”, which corresponds to Assyria. The area of Notazero (“Lake Nota”), east of Enontekiö, could recall the “land of Nod”, east of Eden, where Cain settled after killing Abel.
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[A presentation of the author can be found in Episteme N. 2]