The Horse Sacrifice

The study of religious or heroic legends and tales. One constant rule of mythology is that whatever happens amongst the gods or other mythical beings was in one sense or another a reflection of events on earth. Recorded myths and legends, perhaps preserved in literature or folklore, have an immediate interest to archaeology in trying to unravel the nature and meaning of ancient events and traditions.

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The Horse Sacrifice

Postby Ishtar » Thu Jun 05, 2008 4:24 am

One of the ways of tracing movements of people in prehistory is by looking at the sacred rituals that they had in common.

One ritual common to several Indo European peoples – the Celts, the Siberians, the Vedics and the Italics – is the horse ritual, known in the Rig-veda as the asvamedha.

Myths connected with the horse sacrifice usually feature some sort of coupling between the horse and the queen, or the mare and the king. Sometimes, twins are produced from this coupling – and it’s notable that among the oldest gods of the Rig-veda are the Asvins, the twin horse storm gods.

The primary archaeological context of horse sacrifice are burials, notably chariot burials, but graves with horse remains reach from the Eneolithic well into historical times. Herodotus describes the execution of horses at the burial of a Scythian king, and Iron Age kurgan graves known to contain horses number in the hundreds. There are also frequent deposition of horses in burials in Iron Age India. The custom is by no means restricted to Indo-European populations, but is continued by Turkic tribes as the cultural successors of the Scythians.


By the time we get to the later Srimad Bhagavatham and Mahabharata (c.1,000 BC), the horse is no longer sacrificed, but is the focus of a sacred ceremony in which wherever the king’s horse wanders, accompanied by a troop of soldiers, becomes the land of that king.

I will be looking for examples of the horse sacrifice in the rituals and myths of ancient cultures, and posting them up here.
Ishtar
 
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Re: The Horse Sacrifice

Postby john » Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:47 pm

Ishtar wrote:One of the ways of tracing movements of people in prehistory is by looking at the sacred rituals that they had in common.

One ritual common to several Indo European peoples – the Celts, the Siberians, the Vedics and the Italics – is the horse ritual, known in the Rig-veda as the asvamedha.

Myths connected with the horse sacrifice usually feature some sort of coupling between the horse and the queen, or the mare and the king. Sometimes, twins are produced from this coupling – and it’s notable that among the oldest gods of the Rig-veda are the Asvins, the twin horse storm gods.

The primary archaeological context of horse sacrifice are burials, notably chariot burials, but graves with horse remains reach from the Eneolithic well into historical times. Herodotus describes the execution of horses at the burial of a Scythian king, and Iron Age kurgan graves known to contain horses number in the hundreds. There are also frequent deposition of horses in burials in Iron Age India. The custom is by no means restricted to Indo-European populations, but is continued by Turkic tribes as the cultural successors of the Scythians.


By the time we get to the later Srimad Bhagavatham and Mahabharata (c.1,000 BC), the horse is no longer sacrificed, but is the focus of a sacred ceremony in which wherever the king’s horse wanders, accompanied by a troop of soldiers, becomes the land of that king.

I will be looking for examples of the horse sacrifice in the rituals and myths of ancient cultures, and posting them up here.


Ishtar -

Better, even, than Indiana Jones.........

http://www.exn.ca/Mummies/story.asp?id=1999041653

http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1 ... 00,00.html

http://www.exn.ca/Templates/printstory. ... 1999041653


So we have a very interesting mixture, here, which joins several of our themes.


hoka hey

john


ps

By the way, these folks seem to have the earliest version of the

Compound bow, among other things............

http://www.atarn.org/chinese/scythian_bows.htm


j


pps

One more, just for the hell of it.....

http://public.kubsu.ru/~usr02898/sl2.htm
"Man is a marvellous curiosity. When he is at his very, very best he is sort of a low-grade nickel-plated angel; at his worst he is unspeakable, unimaginable; and first and last and all the time he is a sarcasm."

Mark Twain
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Re: The Horse Sacrifice

Postby Ishtar » Thu Jun 12, 2008 5:25 am

john wrote:
Ishtar -

Better, even, than Indiana Jones.........

http://www.exn.ca/Mummies/story.asp?id=1999041653



Oh, I didn't realise this ... (from your link above).


To this day the modern day people in Southern Siberia sacrifice horses when they bury their dead.
Ishtar
 
Posts: 2631
Joined: Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:41 am
Location: UK


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