Hanging eggs, Cosmic Egg myths and excavated ostrich eggs across Near East, Old Europe and Eurasia

Birth of Symbolic Thought Could 60,000-year-old engraved patterns on ostrich eggs be oldest form of ‘written’ communication Fortean Times, September 2010

Archaeology - ostrich eggs

Fossil ostrich eggs have been found all the way from the African continent in the west to India, Old Europe, Siberia (southern parts at Krasnji Jar in Trans Baikal), in the Gobi-desert and Inner Mongolia at Hutouliang and Northern China in the east

Minoan ostrich eggs from  Africa

A great testimony to how extensive and elaborate trading networks were in the ancient world is the presence of wildly foreign objects like elephant tusks and ostrich eggs in ancient Crete. This might seem astonishing on the surface but it gives us a clue that the Minoans had an appetite for these items to the far south and the Egyptians were in a position to take advantage of this commerce.

The use of the ostrich egg as a drinking cup or rhyton is an interesting subject elaborated on in The Fashioning of Ostrich-Egg Rhyta in the Creto-Mycenaean Aegean at the Thera Foundation website. It provides many details about their adornment and repurposing into vessels. It can be easily concluded that the prized eggs must have ultimately come from Sudan since the geographic distribution of ostriches are limited. Obtaining them through Egyptian trade seems like the most efficient path of acquisition.

One thing that I notice the article doesn’t go into is the significance of the eggs to the Minoan. We must ask why they needed such eggs in the first place since they could surely fashion vessels in many other more efficient ways not involving long-distance trade. The egg however is a symbol of the cosmos and creation, present even later in Greek symbolism, and stemming from Egyptian beliefs. The ‘adorning’ of the egg is interesting because in Greek, at least, κόσμος ‘natural order, cosmos’ also meant more fundamentally ‘adornment’. The adorning of the egg is as if the artist is adorning the cosmos. It’s the imitation of the godly act, it seems to me.

The picture above, by the way, is from Stelios now has a blog…

Ancient Stone Egg Found in Farmer’s Field! Nov 1, 2011 AT 3:15PM

Visoko, November 2, 2011

At the end of September we reported the discovery of ancient artifacts made by locals tilling their fields. This time, the rich and fertile soils of Visoko delivered an ancient stone egg. The stone egg, made of sandstone, was found by a farmer in the village of Banjer, on the right bank of the Bosna river.

From human prehistory onward, one of the objects that has always had a profound meaning is the egg. The egg is associated with the primordial condition, creation, birth, fertility, rebirth, regeneration (karma), and, according to the Old Europena Myth of Creation, the egg contains the seed of all life. In many ancient cultures around the world it is said that the has been referred to as the Cosmic or World Egg.

Neolithic burial jars of Old European cultures such as Cucuteni-Trypyllia were often egg-shaped, while clay eggs were often buried with the dead, symbolizing the regenerative power of the Great Goddess. The primary symbolism of Old European burials focuses on the tomb as the womb for the regeneration of life.

At Lepenski Vir, a Mesolithic site on the Serbian bank of the Danube, in art the fish assumes the shape of an egg. Fifty-four egg-shaped sandstone sculptures were found in situ suggesting that a boulder was considered a source of life, an egg from which the human ancestors hatched, the fish-like humans, then the fish, and other animals. Archaeologists suggest that also the buildings have had an egg-shaped form [ At the Iron Gate of the Danube ].

According to Old European Myth, the primordial egg was created by the cosmic snake, and from the egg gods have arisen:

“In the beginning all was water. From the water emerged a cosmic snake with a horned head. The snake (or the bull or the giant) created the cosmic egg…”

They are many legendary accounts that tell of an egg, which floats in water and is the source of all things. Egg-shaped stones and carvings were found in ancient burials of the Mediterranean area, among ingideous cultures in the Middle East, in Egypt, China and even on the opposite side of the world, in Mexico, and in Peru.

For the ancient Assyrians it was the fish which pushed ashore from the River Euphrates an egg containing their goddess Atargatis and from which, in due course, she hatched. Atargatis is a Goddess of Syrian origin worshipped at Hierapolis. She was considered a Great Mother and Fertility Goddess of the Earth and Water. It was common practice in ancient Syria to place eggs as food offerings for the dead.

In predynastic Egypt ostrich eggs were placed in the graves. The eggs were partially cut and used as containers or placed in the graves whole. Many of the Egyptian eggs were decorated with paint or incised lines. Archaeological exavations in Hierakonpolis, a Hellenistic city of Upper Egypt, revealed small egg-shaped jars related to notions of the afterlife.

Reference to a world egg as such was found by archaeologists in an Egyptian papyrus of the New Kingdom period:

“O Egg of the water, source of the Earth, product of the Eight, great in heaven and great in the underworld, …”

A Chinese myth, dating from the sixth centruy B.C., describes how an egg swam out from the creative waters and spread itself to form dry land. For the Chinese these waters were also the dwelling place of the dragon.

The Populuca people of Mexico tell the that a childless women, who went to ftech water, saw the reflection of an egg on the cliff above. Her husband fetched it, and in seven days it hatched a small child with golden hair, which was soft and silky like maize. The child grew quickly and was well developed after seven days.

A Peruvian account, with echoes of Noah and its Ark, describes five eggs, which remained on a mountain top after the waters receeded; the Inca hero, Paricaca, was born from one of them.

Kathasaritsagara, a famous collection of Indian legends, retold by the poet Somadeva tell that Shiva created the world from a drop of blood which fell into the primeval waters. An egg formed from this and out of it came Purusha, the Supreme Soul. Heaven and earth emerged from the two halves of this egg.

The goddess queen of the underworld, Persephone, brought forth the World Egg in the beginning, mirrored now in the Moon. Then the world was one: warm, glowing, a single unsplit thing. It rocked gently… a crack appeared, and the multifarious world was born.


Mystic Pottery and Cosmic Eggs

This is an unpublished background article written as part of an exchange application in 2005. For more information about our project pleas check out this post.

Since we wrote this “article” some of the ideas have proven valid and some hasn’t, for example the idea regarding  Struthiolothus eggs have proven to be a dead end.

Evan though it isn’t up to date, I think it is intreseting to see it for what it is the starting point of our project, a mirror to past ideas and a reminder of what got us started. As in all cases when you get involved or interested in something you’ll learn and with the new input of information you are able to discard old thoughts and ideas and use that result to ask new questions and seek further information.

Mystic Pottery and Cosmic Eggs : A study of two aspects of the Yangshao culture for a better understanding of it’s conceptual philosophy by Magnus Reuterdahl & Johan Klange.

The Neolithic Yangshao culture, 6000-3000 BC, offers a puzzle for researchers, in its complex villages and great amounts of ceramics. The purpose of our research project is to better understand the conceptual philosophy behind the Yangshao culture, to do this we are going to investigate their contacts with the outside world as well as their internal ways of expression. To do this we are going to study two aspects of the culture, the painted ceramics and eggs of extinct ostriches which have been deposited on Yangshao sites. The two groups of artifacts will be studied through their internal and external contexts and from the contacts that they may be an indication of.

The Yangshao culture is spread over an area, alongside the Yellow river, covering areas in both modern China and Inner Mongolia. The village-sites are usually found on riverbanks in the loess land (Barnes 1999:103).

The village of Jiangzhai is one of the few Yangshao settlements that are fully excavated. It is an example of a site situated on loess. The settlement area, covers circa two ha and is enclosed by a trench. Within the enclosure, pit buildings of different shape and size are found round a central circled square. The buildings are divided into five concentrations, within each of the concentrations there are several smaller buildings arranged round a larger one. To the southwest, outside the enclosure there are ceramic kilns. And to the southeast there is a burial ground.

The village plan of Jingzhai is similar to the one at Banpo, it differs however in the placing of the burial ground to the north and of the kilns to the east. One theory concerning the house clusters and graves is that they symbolize kin groupings. This has led to the interpretation that the Yangshao society might have been organized in a clan system. At the burial site of Yuanjunmiao archaeologists have found two grave clusters, the two clusters consists of three lines of graves, this probably indicates a parallel evolution over time. In general the female graves are richer endowed than male graves, Chinese archaeologists have interpreted this as evidence of a matriarchal society (Barnes 1999:104f). With the interpretations used in Swedish archaeology we would draw other analogies, it is in situations like this one the meeting between Swedish and Chinese archaeological theory could produce interesting discussions.

An example of this would be to study which artifacts are regarded as being female and which are regarded as male indicators in graves. These would then be compared with osteological material from the graves to study if the archaeological gender is coherent with the osteological sexing. This is a method that in recent years have been used in Swedish archaeology producing very interesting results in the showing of the existence of a queer gender in Swedish prehistory.

The Yangshao culture is most famous for its painted vessels. They are very beautiful, they also make up a part of the largest artifact category; ceramics. The Yangshao tradition is one of two ceramic traditions in China during the Neolithic era. The other one is the Longshan culture, both of the traditions are famous for their painted pottery. This category of ceramics is however quite scarce within the artifact group in total. Changes in the painted designs are used to give a chronological frame, both within each village and within the culture as a whole. In the Yangshao culture the oldest painted pottery is found at the Banpo site, it bears angular geometric or naturalistic designs. A common naturalistic motive is fish, which shows us that the fish most likely had a special meaning both for subsistence and ritual (Barnes 1999:98).

The design of the painted pottery changes over time and each group has been named after the site where it has been found, for example: Miaodigou, Dahecun, Majiayao, Banshan and Machang. The development led to several differences in the design and motives such as parallel ribbons, crosshatches, flowers, large spirals etc. (Barnes 1999:98). Sites that would be interesting to study more closely are among others Ho Yin, where a remarkable amount of painted pottery has been found, Yang Shao Tsuu, where an ostrich egg has been found and Po Chao Chai, where there has been no findings of painted pottery (Andersson 1943:65). According to Swedish archaeologist T. J. Arne there is a remarkable likeness between painted ceramics found in West Asia and the Tripolje culture in Ukraine (Arne 1945:I).

Is this proof of long distance contacts? Are there other areas where painted pottery has been found that shows similarities with the Yangshao culture? Is there a correlation between the animal bones found on Yangshao sites and the motives on the painted pottery from the same sites?

As early as at the first excavations at Yangshao sites, made by the Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson, eggshells from the extinct Struthiolothus were found. Struthiolothus is a species of ostrich that most likely was extinct long before the Neolithic era in China began. It is perhaps fortunate that it was Johan Gunnar Andersson who was in charge of these early excavations since he was well educated as a geologist and had knowledge in both anthropological zoology and paleontology. This is probably why he could identify the eggshells. In an article, published in “Essays on the Cenozoic of northern China (1923)”, J. G. Andersson gives a research survey over the findings of eggs from Struthiolothus. He describes 18 sites of egg findings. All eggs but one were whole when found. There is only at one site an egg has been found crushed in situ and this is also the only egg, until 1923, that was found at an archaeological site. This finding was made in the village of Yang Shao Tsuu, in the district of Mien Chih Hsien in the province of Honan. J. G Anderssons collection of eggs was left to dr. C. Wiman in Uppsala, Sweden, for research and description. Andersson mentions findings of eggs outside of China made in Cherson, Ukraine. In comparison with modern eggs of ostrich the Struthiolothus eggs are larger, the length of a modern egg is 160-164 mm and that of the ancient Struthiolothus is 168-186 mm. This indicates that the ancient Struthiolothus was somewhat larger than the modern one (Andersson 1923:57ff.). As Andersson comparative material was rather scares it would be good to make a new comparison.

In recent articles there are further reports on findings of fossil ostrich eggs in archaeological contexts. Fossil ostrich eggs have been found all the way from the African continent in the west to India, Siberia and China in the east (Bednarik 1993:34ff). The eggshells have been used as container vessels and as decoration parts in necklaces. In the Gobi-dessert and Northern China there are reports of burials with ostrich eggs or parts of eggshells endowedFurther findings have also been reported from Inner Mongolia at Hutouliang and in the southern parts of Siberia at Krasnji Jar in Trans Bajkal (Bednarik & You 1991:119ff).

We have found no interpretations of the eggshells found at Yang Shao Tsuu. Are there any other settlements in China where Struthiolothus eggs have been found? Is there a connection between the fossil eggs and the ancient Chinese myths concerning cosmic eggs? One of these myths is as follows:

In the beginning the cosmos was a gas that slowly solidified into a colossal stone. Out of a cosmic egg was born a creature named P’an-ku, who lived 18,000 years, growing at a rate of ten feet a day and spending his time chopping the stone into two parts, one of which became heaven and the other earth. When P’an-ku completed his labors and died, his eyes became the sun and the moon, his expiring breath the atmosphere, his bones mountains, his flesh soil, and his blood rivers and oceans. The fleas and lice on his body were ancestors of all living creatures on earth. (Hucker 1997:22)

This is but one of many creation myths concerning P’an-ku. They were written down during the first century AD. An interesting aspect of this particular variant of the myth is that P’an-ku is born from a cosmic egg and that his parents were nothing else than the cosmos.

What lies behind this solution of the problem concerning the creation of heaven and earth? Maybe the eggshell fragments found at Yang Shao Tsuu indicates that this was part of their beliefs. A very interesting question to pursue is the question why the eggshells were deposited at certain places, how widespread this phenomenon is? Is it a regional tradition that has only been practiced in certain areas? What function did this tradition have in the Yangshao culture? Are there any other fossil bones from other animals deposited within the Yangshao culture?

A widened insight in the Yangshao culture is essential to the understanding of their conceptual philosophy, and that is what we aim for. We will study the aspects of their culture that we find have not fully been enlightened. By this we hope to find new knowledge about the Yangshao culture and by this contribute to the discussion about the prehistory of China.

Written by Magnus Reuterdahl & Johan Klange 2005, Stockholm, Sweden.

Source: Yangshao Projektet website

Further Reading:

From Architecture, Mysticism and Myth  [1892], at sacred-texts.com by W R Lathaby comes a rich account of all the various practices or customs (and tales) of suspending or displaying emus or ostrich eggs from ceilings of buildings – of universal use in Asia Minor, Egypt and the Coptic Greeks, and the Arab Middle East, and of the parallel Cosmic Egg myths shared by the Egyptian, Phoenician, Assyrian, Greek and Hindu civilizations.

“… from the dome of Sta. Sophia, ‘the fairest and noblest church in the world,’ a light frame of iron, an octagon, perhaps some sixty feet across, with radii and inner concentric lines; a vast spider’s web, suspended, it must have seemed—such is the immensity—from the very vault of heaven. On this frame were artlessly hung an infinity of lamps, tiny glass vases of oil with floating wicks. Here and again amongst them were suspended ostrich eggs, all placed with no more precision than the lights and oranges on a Christmas tree …

These hanging eggs seem of universal use in the East, alike in church, mosque, and tomb. Still at Constantinople, the frames of lights in the mosque of Achmet are decorated with globes of crystal and ostrich eggs. They are usually stained in bright colours, and have small metal mounts at top and bottom, with a pendant or tassel below. Such a frame carrying lamps and eggs may be seen in the wonderful water colour by Lewis at South Kensington.

The drawings of interiors of Arab mosques in Eber’s ‘Egypt’ show, in a number of instances, a long cord, an egg, and then the lamp. Sometimes as many as a dozen are thus suspended here and there, or in a row from a beam. As far up the Nile as Assouan, Miss Edwards describes a mosque as ‘cool and clean and spacious, the floor being covered with matting, and some scores of ostrich eggs depending from the ceiling.’ In the Coptic churches the custom is equally observed, as may be seen in Butler’s ‘Coptic Churches of Egypt, …

‘The ostrich egg is a curious but common ornament in the religious buildings of the Copts, the Greeks, and the Muslims alike. It may be seen in the ancient church of the Greek convent in Kasr-ash Shammah, and in most of the mosques in Cairo, mounted in a metal frame, and hung by a single wire from the roof. In the churches it usually hangs before the altar screen; but at Abu-s-Sifain, an ostrich egg is suspended also from the point of the arches of the baldakyn. Here and there it is placed above a lamp, threaded by the suspending cord, as in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem; and sometimes it hangs from a wooden arm fastened on to the pillars of the nave, as in the Nestorian church of At-Tahara, in Mosul. Sometimes, instead of the egg of the ostrich, artificial eggs of beautiful Damascus porcelain, coloured with designs in blue or purple, were employed, but these have almost entirely disappeared; in the churches of the two Cairos there is, I believe, not one left; but a few still remain in the churches of Upper Egypt, and in the mosques. The tomb mosque of Kait Bey, without the walls of Cairo, contains some fine specimens. These porcelain eggs are considerably smaller than an ostrich egg, but larger than a hen’s egg. In the British Museum there is a porcelain egg from Abyssinia, with cherubim rudely painted under the glaze. It clearly belonged once to a Christian place of worship. The “Griffin’s egg” was a common ornament in our own mediæval churches. In the inventory of 1383 A.D., no less than nine are mentioned as belonging to Durham Cathedral; and Pennant speaks of two as still remaining in 1780. . . . From the fact that marble eggs are said to have been discovered in some early martyrs’ tombs at Rome, and that in all Christian lands eggs are associated with Easter-time, some think that the egg was regarded as emblematic of the Resurrection.’ …

From the conclusion we must dissent, for the custom is universal, and of ancient origin, handed down from a time before Christianity, and all evidence points to the former explanation being the true one—resurrection, or rather, life. The egg is the typical germ, and therefore the natural symbol of creation.

For centuries—millenniums—they have been suspended from the ceilings of temples and tombs, and may now be accepted in many instances as merely ornamental trappings, but even thus accounted of good and sacred omen, from the importance of the points from which they are suspended; for not only are they hung in sacred buildings, but in places of honour and of ritual importance. In the churches in Athens numbers of ostrich eggs hang before the pictures of the Iconastasis.

The ‘Griffin’s eggs’ were not necessarily ostrich eggs; in one instance they are described as having a brown and hairy exterior, the inside white, with a clear liquid yelk. We can buy them now for four-pence, as cocoa-nuts.

In portraits of Eastern kings an egg is sometimes shown suspended from the centre of the tester of the throne, and this is quite a traditional observance, which we find followed in Italian art; unless, indeed, a crown is suspended there, like that Benjamin of Tudela saw at Constantinople, glittering with jewels. Something pendant and freely swinging there must be to satisfy the Eastern taste; a means of beauty to which we rarely resort except for lamps, which have had to give way to the rigid pipe of gas. Cardinals’ hats hang with splendid effect from the dim height of the vaults of foreign cathedrals, drooping and faded from age. But of all these things, a large jewel swinging from a cord would be the most mysterious and magnificent, like that over the Great Mogul’s Peacock throne, as seen by Tavernier: ‘When the king sets himself upon the throne, there is a transparent jewel with a diamond appendant of eighty or ninety carats, encompassed with rubies and emeralds, so hung that it is always in his eye.’ Another pendant was a green parrot in one emerald. Suspended votive crowns were frequent in earlier days. Constantine is said to have devoted his to the sepulchre of our Lord; and in England, Canute dedicated his to Winchester.

In the Cluny Museum are several of these crowns; a treasure-trove at Toledo. They are of about the eighth century, and there are hardly now in the world objects more strangely fascinating, with their pendant strings of jewels—circlets of blazing splendour, in barbaric gold. In a former chapter we have seen that these insignia and orbs were suspended from the ceilings in Persia and in Assyria. We meet, too, in several places with a tradition of suspended chains of gold—in the porch of the Temple of Herod, in India, and in Scandinavia.

Pendant ostrich eggs are found in festoons at Jerusalem and at Mount Athos, and may be seen in the west at Toledo and Marseilles. In India, Miss Gordon Cumming saw ostrich eggs suspended from the gorgeous canopy of one of the great tombs of Delhi. At Tunis, they continue to be brought to the tombs, where they are suspended as ex votos. The Moorish mosques and tombs in Algiers are crowded with them, and at Kirwan, the holy city inland, they are hung over the tomb of ‘The Companion,’ with gilded balls of earth from Mecca. At Damascus, Lady Burton describes the tomb of St John as ‘hung over with lamps and ostrich eggs; these latter are the ornaments of all holy places, and are supposed to bring good fortune.’ It is the same over the tomb of the holy Hasan and his brother. Enough has been said to show that the practice of hanging these eggs is, or was recently, followed in Europe, Asia, and Africa, by all Christians—Catholic, Greek, Coptic, Nestorian, Abyssinian, Armenian; and by all Mohammedans in Turkey, Persia, India, Syria, Egypt, and Algeria. Let us follow up the tradition historically.

In a picture of the fifteenth century, in the National Gallery, by Marco Marziale, he shows an apse designed after that in St Mark’s, Venice, and intended for part of the interior of the Temple. From the centre of this apse hangs a beautiful lamp, threaded on the cord of which is an ostrich egg, directly over the Christ. A picture of Mantegna’s has a similar lamp (see next page). Hung over the tomb, as we have seen in several instances, or as here, over our Lord, they are emblems of resurrection, and it is in this sense that they are so universally used in the early spring as

Figure 29. Italian Lamp from Mantegna
Click to enlarge

‘Easter eggs,’ not only in London and Paris, but widely over the world. Walcott’s ‘Dictionary of Archæology’ says: ‘The egg was the symbol of creation in Egypt, and of hope and the resurrection among the early Christians; the custom of giving coloured pasch eggs on Easter morning is found in the East, in the Tyrol, in Russia, in Greece, and many parts of England, where it may be traced back to the time of Edward I., and was observed at Gray’s Inn in the reign of Elizabeth. In France, the pasch egg is eaten before any other nourishment on Easter day. Paul II. issued a form of benediction of eggs for England, Scotland, and Ireland; Henry VIII. received a paschal egg in a case of silver filigree from the Pope.’ And an interesting point follows: ‘De Moleon says that at Angers, on Easter day, two chaplains, standing behind the altar, addressed two cubiculars or corbeliers, as they advanced, “Whom seek ye?” and to the reply, “Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified,” answered…

“He is risen; He is not here.” Then those who personated the Maries took from the altar two ostrich eggs wrapped in silk, and descended singing, “Alleluia, the Lord is risen.”‘

In the account of Muscovy in 1567, in Hakluyt, it is told how the people prepared eggs against Easter, dyed red with basil, and gentlemen and gentlewomen have eggs gilded, which they carry in like manner. They use it, as they say, for a great love, and in token of the resurrection, whereof they rejoice; for when two friends meet during the Easter holidays they come and take one another by the hand; the one of them saith: ‘The Lord or Christ is risen;’ the other answereth: ‘It is so, of a truth,’ and then they kiss and exchange their eggs (both men and women), continuing in kissing for days together.’ Waterton tells us that where he was at school, in the North of England, they had pasch eggs dyed purple on Easter morning.

The custom of hanging an egg from a dome appears in the story of the lamp, where Aladdin is made to ask for the roc’s egg itself to adorn his palace. It was a roc’s egg that Sinbad saw, half buried in the sands of Serindib, like a dome fifty feet in diameter. The story of the roc is linked to that of other immense mythical birds. In Japan the appearance of a vast bird is accounted, with earthquake and flood, as one of the ‘seven calamities.’ ‘The Garuda of the Hindus, the Simurgh of the old Persians, the Angka of the Arabs, the Bar-Yuchre of the Rabbinical legends, the Gryps of the Greeks, were probably all versions of the same original fable’ (Col. Yule’s Marco Polo’). Then there are Amru and Chamru of the Avesta, which, like the eagle of the Norse and the phoenix of the ‘Romance of Alexander,’ are perched aloft on the ‘tree of all seeds.’ The prowess of this mythical bird is one of the story subjects in the world’s lore—how it flies with elephants in its grasp, or carries off the strong hero Rustem; or in the Talmud: ‘An egg once dropped out of the nest of a bird called Bar-Yuchnei, which deluged sixty cities and swept away three hundred cedars. The question therefore arose: “Does the bird generally throw out its eggs?” Rav Ashi answered: “No; that was a rotten one”‘ (Hershon). Already, in the clay writings, there is the mighty Zu bird, on a high mountain, alone.

In Egypt it was the golden egg hatched by the goose that produced the mundane matter; and the bird is only framed on a scale suitable, or even perhaps hardly adequate, to the work it has to do! Nearly all systems giving an account of a genesis agree in this, that as the second or third step there was produced from chaos a gigantic egg. The Egyptian, Phœnician, Assyrian, Hindu, and Greek systems are here at one. ‘From Desire and Vapour proceeded primitive Matter. It was a muddy water—black, icy, profound—encompassing insensible monsters, incoherent parts of forms to be born. Then Matter condensed and became an egg. It broke; one half formed the earth, the other half the firmament. The sun, the moon, the winds, and the clouds appeared, and a crash of thunder awakened the sentient animals.’ The Orphic fragments and Aristophanes preserve a Greek tradition to the same effect. When only Chaos and Night existed—

‘At length, in the dreary chaotical closet Of Erebus old, was a privy deposit; By night the primæval in secresy laid A Mystical Egg, that in silence and shade Was brooded and hatched.’— The Birds

And we may complete the scheme from quite another source—the northern Kalevala:—

‘From one half of the egg, the lower, Grows the nether vault of Terra;

From the upper half remaining

Grows the upper vault of Heaven.’

The Hindu code of Manu gives an account entirely similar. The Eternal, willing to create, made by thought the humid principle and in it deposited matter. This primitive germ floated on the waters; soon the mass condensed itself into an egg, brilliant as gold and full of light. From this mysterious envelope was born Brahma, father of all spirits. At the end of a year the egg opened of itself; the upper half formed the sky, the lower part the earth, the air is between, with the eight regions and the reservoir of waters. Another account says the egg contained the five elements, and was enclosed in seven envelopes, like the wrappings of an onion; the seven envelopes falling off became the seven heavens, and the seven worlds of the Brahman world scheme.

M. Dognée, in Les Symbols Antiques, l’Œuf, has traced the symbolic use of the egg as it appears on the monuments or in literature, but only in a footnote is the suspended ostrich egg mentioned, as it is found in Temple, Tomb, Church, and Mosque.

‘In Japan, in the Pagoda of Miaco,’ he says, ‘upon a large square altar is placed a bull of massive gold on a block of rock; the animal is ornamented by a rich collar, and pushes with its horns an egg floating in the water contained in a cavity of the rock. To explain this image, the following is told by the Priests. At the time of chaos, before the creation, the world was concealed and inert in an egg which floated on the surface of the waters. . . The divine bull image of creative force broke the egg by a stroke of its horns, and from the egg issued the terrestrial globe.’

The earth itself was considered by several mediæval writers to be oviform. Bede likened the world to an egg, as did also Edrisi the Arabian geographer: it half floated in water in an upright position, Jerusalem being at the top.

The egg symbol was especially made use of by the Egyptians: it is shown on the monuments and referred to in the texts as a symbol of the embryo creation (Ra in the Egg). Wilkinson, writing of the ostrich, says ‘even its eggs were required for some ornamental or religious use, and these with the plumes formed part of the tribute imposed by the Egyptians on the conquered countries where it abounded. The purpose to which the eggs were applied is unknown; but we may infer, from a religious prejudice in their favour among the Christians of Egypt, that some superstition was connected with them, and that they were suspended in the temples of the ancient Egyptians, as they still are in the churches of the Copts. . . . . They consider them the emblems of watchfulness: sometimes they use them with a different view; the rope of their lamps is passed through an ostrich egg shell in order to prevent rats coming down and drinking the oil, as we were assured by the monks of Dayr Antonios.’

When the primordial egg was a part of the cosmological legend of a people, it is easy to see that not only was any egg a symbol of the origin of life, but an especially large egg would be preserved as sacred, and suspended in the temple an image of the world floating in the void: and there does seem something inherently mysterious in the structure and perfect form of a very large egg. One, for instance, in the Museum of Natural History is some thirteen inches long, thirty inches in girth; it will hold two and one-third gallons.

Although there is no incontrovertible evidence of eggs having been suspended in Egyptian temples, of Greece we have the clearest contemporary testimony by Pausanias. ‘And hard by (Boonita in Laconia) is the temple of Hilaira and Phœbe, who, the writer of the Cyprian poems says, were the daughters of Apollo; and their priestesses are maidens, called also Leucippides as well as the goddesses. One of their statues was touched up by a priestess of the goddesses, who, with an art not unknown in our days, put a new face on the old statue; but a dream prevented her treating the other statue in the same way. Here is hung up an egg, fastened to the roof by fillets; they say it is the egg which Leda is said to have laid‘ (iii. 16). The story of Leda and the parallel one of Latona are but distorted cosmic myths of Night and Chaos, from which is formed the egg mundane.

The egg, firmly and widely accepted as a symbol of life and creation, becomes an emblem of resurrection and new life; and thus the widely-spread observance of Easter egg customs, and the association with the tomb. ‘Marble eggs are said to have been discovered in some early martyr’s tomb at Rome’ (Butler). ‘Admitted to the funeral ceremonies, the egg was also deposited in the tomb with the cinders of the dead. Eggs have been found in many tombs at Nola’ (Dognée). In the British Museum are six large ostrich eggs, decorated with carvings in low relief, of Archaic style, which were found in one tomb at Vulci, in Etruria. Perrot, who illustrates them, says .they are of Phœnician origin. The holes—one large in the centre with three smaller ones round it, and one hole only at the other end—show that they were certainly mounted, probably with a metal cap, for suspension, like the modern ones in the East.

Mr Dennis (Etruria) says: ‘The eggs have holes in them as if for suspension, and bring to mind the great roc’s egg of the Arabian Nights; or rather, recall the fact of ostrich eggs being suspended in mosques at the present day. Imitations of ostrich eggs in terra cotta (as though the supply of real ones was not sufficient) have been found in the tombs of Vulci. Hens’ eggs are often found not only in Etruria but in Greece and her colonies, and are sometimes enclosed in vases. Many museums of Italy contain specimens of this singular sepulchral furniture, probably in this case an emblem of resurrection.’ Instances of all these are in the British Museum. In a tomb at Bologna an Etruscan was exhumed with an egg in his hands (Sir F. Burton).

Of the Latin races Dognée says ‘it was by following the empire of the same idea that they affected the ovoid form for funeral vases,’ an example of the reaction of thought and custom on design which, if true here, is certainly as well founded in the case of Egyptian funeral vases, some of which in the British museum are of the form of an egg: and on the tables of offerings shown in the reliefs there are almost invariably egg-shaped vessels.

Maurice, in his ‘Antiquities of India,’ says of a serpent coiled around an egg used as a symbol on coins: ‘The Phœnecians adorned the lofty temples of Tyre with this emblem, which was there seen suspended on high, and encircling in its genial folds the mundane egg or symbol of the universe.’ This is entirely parallel on the one side to the account of Pausanias quoted above of the egg suspended in memory of that laid by Leda, and on the other to Chaldian [Chaldean] myth. Not only was it a symbol of the earth’s first birth to the Phœnicians, but to the Assyrians as well. ‘The Chaos-serpent,’ says Mr Boscawen, ‘lay coiled round the earth until slain by Merodach the Lord of Light.’ The serpent is represented with the body of a woman, and ‘it was this Queen of Chaos who ruled while the earth lay like the cosmic egg in her coils, in the time when as yet none of the gods had come forth.’

Of its early votive use by the Semites, Mr Robertson Smith tells us that the people of Mecca annually visited a tree where they suspended weapons, garments, and ostrich eggs.

In the British Museum is an ovoid stone from Chaldea which has an inscription of Sargon I. (to whose name is attached the earliest date in monumental history) dedicating it to the temple of Sippara: it is of beautiful veined alabaster, about three inches long, and pierced for suspension. Schliemann found several eggs of oriental alabaster at ‘Troy’ and Mycenæ which he considered ex votos.

There is a beautiful specimen in the Museum at Athens of an ostrich egg, the surface of which is decorated with swimming dolphins of blue vitreous material probably of Egyptian origin. This was found in a tomb at Mycenæ, and would seem to be earlier than the sixth century; it is pierced for a cord, and is an object of singular beauty (see next page). In the South Kensington Museum there are two or three ostrich eggs for hanging, elaborately carved, of Persian work; and many of porcelain, from the churches of Anatolia, painted with cherubim.

It is curious to notice how the hanging lamp affects the form of the egg with which it is so often associated in the East. The Jewish seven-light brass synagogue lamp of several pieces hanging one to the other, has at the bottom an egg-shaped pendant. Many of the Italian renaissance lamps are ovoid: and a very splendid enamelled Russian lamp in South [paragraph continues]Kensington Museum is of the same form itself, with a pendant separate piece the size and shape of an ostrich egg. It may be that the shape is æsthetically the best for suspension, the form of every drop of water as it falls. It is sufficient for us that the egg was used as an architectural symbol of the origin of the world, suspended from the sky-like dome, record of a genesis, an emblem of the mystery of life, and a hope of resurrection.

Figure 30. Ostrich Egg from Mycenæ
Click to enlarge

Now when we recall the egg which Aladdin desired to suspend from the dome of his palace, we can feel with him that even that room with the twenty-four jewelled lattices was not perfect without it. The mistake was to ask the Genie for the roc’s egg itself, and not to be content with its symbol. The adventure is the third and last peril of Aladdin, and the termination of the story: when the younger brother of the African Magician, disguised as the Holy Woman Fatima, is taken to the palace by the Princess Badroulboudour:—’My good mother,’ said the princess, ‘I am delighted to enjoy the company of such a holy woman as yourself, who will by your presence bring down blessings upon the whole palace. And now I mention this palace, pray tell me what you think of it. But before I show you the other apartments, tell me how you like this hall?’

‘Pardon my freedom of speech, gracious lady,’ replied the dissembling magician. ‘My opinion, if it can be of any value, is that if the egg of a roc were suspended from the centre of the dome, this hall would not have its equal in any of the four quarters of the world, and your palace would be the wonder of the whole universe.’

‘My good mother,’ returned the princess, ‘tell me what kind of bird a roc is, and where the egg of one could be found?’ ‘Princess,’ answered the feigned Fatima, ‘the roc is a bird of prodigious size which inhabits the summit of Mount Caucasus; and the architect who designed your palace can procure you a roc’s egg.’

Aladdin returned late on the same evening, when the false Fatima had taken leave of the princess, and had retired to the apartment allotted to her. As soon as he entered the palace, he went to the apartment of the princess. He saluted and embraced her; but she seemed to him to receive him with less than her usual welcome. ‘I do not find you, my princess, in your usual good spirits,’ said Aladdin. ‘Has anything happened during my absence that has displeased or vexed you? Do not, in the name of heaven, conceal it from me; for there is nothing in my power that I will not do to attempt to dispel it.’ ‘I have been disturbed by a mere trifle,’ replied the princess, ‘and it really gives me so little anxiety that I did not suppose that my discomposure would be so apparent in my face and manner that you could have perceived it. But since you have observed some alteration in me, which I by no means intended, I will not conceal the cause, inconsiderable as it is. I thought as you did yourself,’ the princess continued, ‘that our palace was the most superb, the most beautiful, and the most completely decorated of all the buildings in the whole world. I will tell you, however, what has come into my head on thoroughly examining the hall of the twenty-four windows. Do not you think with me that if a roc’s egg were suspended from the centre of the dome, it would greatly improve the effect?’ ‘It is enough, my princess,’ replied Aladdin, ‘that you think the absence of a roc’s egg a defect. You shall find by the diligence with which I am going to repair this omission, that there is nothing I will not do for the love of you.’

Aladdin instantly left the princess and went up to the hall of the twenty-four windows; and then taking out of his bosom the lamp, which he always carried about with him since the distress he had undergone from the neglect of that precaution, he rubbed it to summon the genie, who immediately appeared before him. ‘O Genie!’ said Aladdin, ‘a roc’s egg should be suspended from the centre of the dome in order to make it perfect; I command you in the name of the lamp which I hold to get this defect rectified.’

Aladdin had scarcely pronounced these words when the genie uttered so loud and dreadful a scream that the very room shook, and Aladdin could not refrain from trembling violently. ‘How thou wretch!’ exclaimed the genie in a voice that would have made the most courageous man shake with dread, ‘is it not enough that I and my companions have done everything thou hast chosen to command? Wouldst thou repay our services by such unparalleled ingratitude as

to command me to bring thee my master, and hang
him up in the midst of this vaulted dome? For this
crime thou dost deserve to be instantly torn to
atoms, and thy wife and palace should perish
with thee. But thou art fortunate
that the request did not originate
with thee, and that the command
is not in any way thine.’

Note: In the account about Aladdin’s peril, the egg is no longer that of an emus or ostrich but  is said to be a roc’s (i.e. Caucasus eagle) from Mt Caucasus. This is a reference to the myth of Prometheus who was chained to the nest on Mt Caucasus, and the origin of the myth is Thracian.

Interestingly, in “Old Europe: A New Awakening!” an Old European connection is given for both the combined Cosmic Egg and Fish mythology…

“The Fish

Although the engraving of two fishes evidently belong to another period and seem out of context, it should be remembered that the fish as a symbol is not the exclusive prerogative of Christian faith. In Old Europe, the usual symbolism connected with the fish ranges from its being an emblem of the vulva, or the phallus, to a symbol of the soul or the ‘mystic ship of life‘. At Lepenski Vir, a prehistoric site located on the banks of Danube river in eastern Serbia, a complex belonging to the Starčevo culture dated to the early sixth millenium B.C.E., the fish represented a dominant deity and assumes the shape of an egg and is anthropomorphized. In Old Europe, geometric motifs of various kind engraved on stones often appear on acquatic divinities associated with cosmogonical imagery.”


The Cosmic Eggs by Robert Baird
One of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World is reported (many years after all but the Great Pyramid had vanished) to be the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. This great goddess has what many archaeologists and historians have interpreted to be nearly a thousand breasts on her body. It is being commented on in this very manner as I type this. The Discovery Channel is interviewing an esteemed Cambridge scholar who looks to know his words are as wise as Solomon. The stupidity of such absurd explanations is not unusual but still it draws a smile from those who know better.

In the past few months I have read over two hundred books in whole or in part and only the authors of Carthage have an idea about the import of these ‘cosmic eggs’. They also wonder why the Berbers painted so many ostrich eggs and then threw them in garbage pits, near Cyrenaica. The Keltic serpent’s eggs from the Druidic education might provide a little insight. This next quote mentions ‘Pelota’ which we mentioned in reference to a game that took place at Chichen Itza to prevent unnecessary tribal conflict. It has other meanings and depths relating to life and the passage of the soul that are touched upon in this quote from ‘The Mistletoe Sacrament’ by W. B. Crow in ‘A Celtic Reader’ which has been a constant source of mine; for the last ten months as I have explored the origins of the ‘Red-Heads’ with an obsession some might call mania:

The Druids themselves were known to the Welsh bards by a word that means adders, and Lewis Spence is of the opinion that the ridiculous statements of Pliny really refer to the manner in which the Druids manufacture these eggs. Later bards also refer to a ceremony in which a ball was snatched and carried across the water.

The Druidic custom just mentioned, we cannot help thinking, may have been the origin of the curious mediaeval rite of ‘pelota’, which took place in certain Catholic churches in France and Italy on Easter Monday. The ceremony consisted in bringing a ball of considerable size into the church and after solemnly presenting it before the altar, certain of the clergy beginning to dance and throwing the ball about in a special manner {It would be good to know if this originated in Mayan lands or if the Druids like Quetzalcoatl and the Toltecs took it there. They are the ‘messengers’ referred to in many Indian legends like those of Grey Owl.}. The ceremony symbolizes both the passage of the sun and the planets through the heavens and also the vicissitudes of the soul of man (the causal body of the theosophists). In Egyptian mythology the trial of the soul after death is associated with the passage of the sun through the underworld. The whipping of a spinning top, representing Alleluia on the Saturday before Septuagesima, a ceremony not uncommon in this country in former times, is related to this practice.

Madame Blavatsky has some interesting remarks on the connection with the serpent cult {A serpent goes up the side of the pyramid at Chichen Itza in specific ways as the sun and shadows create the effect that the building was re-built to create by the Toltec designers after the original pyramid had been built by the Jaguar cult centuries earlier. Chichen Itza became an international court of the whole of Central America if not more.}, which was at one time widespread and which is still widely practiced in South India. The serpent is a symbol of regeneration {And the orobouros of the alchemists is a serpent holding its tail and making the infinity type of immortality symbol: or the Mayan mathematical concept of zero they are credited with discovering over a century before the people of the sub-continent of India.). Not only does it lay eggs from which new life arises after having been preserved in the dormant state, but the reptile itself sloughs its skin at regular intervals. The initiate, in the ancient mystery religions, went through certain occult processes where his vehicles {Solar body, soul, allies and ‘doppelganger’ to name a few.} were actually renewed, and in the symbolism thereof cast off his old clothing and was clad in new vestures. What better symbolism than the serpent could be chosen to represent this change in the personality? Besides this, the regeneration by sloughing refers to the regeneration of the physical body by reincarnation and the regeneration of races and worlds of the theosophic cosmogony.

Some primitive peoples, after a death has occurred, perform a ritual in which the performers are divided into two groups and a struggle for the body takes place between the parties. This refers to the struggle between the powers of light and darkness for the spirit o£ the deceased, an eschatological myth of many ancient peoples. In the course of the evolution of this ritual it became a game in which the skull alone was the object of combat or had to be kicked into the goal. The various forms of the game of football and polo, and perhaps other ball games, are supposed to have originated from this, the original religious significance having become lost. The Druidic ritual of snatching an egg and running away until one got over a stream (which acts as the goal) suggests a similar game and connects up with funeral games. The egg or ball is an excellent symbol of the causal body, if one can believe clairvoyants, who see it as a kind of rounded or egg-shaped structure, in fine matter {Similar to ectoplasm as seen in ghosts.} of the higher mental {I would definitely NOT use this word.} plane. After death, according to accounts of occultists, there is a kind of play of forces, good and evil, which do seem to struggle for the possession of the causal body and to determine whether it goes to a good or bad incarnation when next it descends to clothe itself with coarser matter.

The Druid’s egg, says Pliny, was unknown to the Greeks {They certainly knew about the Temple of Artemis with all the eggs some current Cambridge scholar thinks is breasts, and Pliny the Roman is not an initiate in the Eleusinian or Cabiri, mysteries, to my knowledge.}. But other kinds of eggs are mentioned in Greek and Hindu mythology, and the consecration of an egg was one of the most important acts in the secret ritual of the Eleusinian mysteries. The Christian Church continued the use of the same symbol, as we see in the so-called Easter eggs, and in the ostrich eggs which are still to be seen hanging in Orthodox Catholic Churches in the East. In fact a whole lecture might be devoted to the symbolism of the cosmic egg.”

Maybe we should leave this kind of talk to another book and just point fingers at the church that hides these truths from us. Maybe our happiness and freedom are better under their ministrations. If there are spiritual forces that can mess with us. There is a lot of merit in my concerns about this and there is a law of the Magi that says ‘Know, Will, Dare, Keep Silent’. We’ve already given a lot of places to look for the answers to esoteric questions like these and it might be best to keep this book on the academic level of ethnology or anthropological denial of the reasons and realities that actually’, are the nature of everyday life. We could talk about laws and minstrels and make cute poems to amuse the reader and still have done a lot to help people see the culture was no more barbaric than we are. Why did the Druids follow this law and keep so much of their knowledge in ‘verbal traditions’ such as the Qaballa was made from? Were they really so afraid of this knowledge being abused by unethical or un-disciplined ‘posers’? Did they really think their soul would be judged as unworthy of progress if they broke this law? Surely if they could sell the knowledge of shape-shifting and the ‘Lost Chord’ they could have made life a lot better for a lot of people.

The truth is they could have done anything or had anything they wanted at the point they rose to the highest level. In fact the moral strength to have such knowledge is more important than the mental or chemical knowledge in reference to the ‘Stone’. I am sure money and power is a pursuit that blinds people through their ego. This ‘blindness’ that closes the soul to ‘what is’ or as Jesus said ‘the living father within’, will prevent any politico from getting their hands on anything really harmful you might say. That might be true, too. There were some things that they knew which could be abused though, and it was (and is) important to do what is RIGHT. That is another law of the three laws of the Magi. RIGHT THOUGHT=RIGHT ACTION!

He’s dodging and waffling, you might say. What about the things this guy said about the battle over the soul when we die? What kind of authority do I have to disagree with occultists like Madame Blavatsky who heralded my favorite teacher Jiddhu Krishnamurti and helped Annie Besant teach him? In the final analysis you might say I’m a person engaging in ‘sophistry’ and ego too. We know that no one person can really know God or all these things so why read what I have to say? For now I choose to say that we are going to cover the religion of the Druids who were the dominant force in thousands of years of human culture in a later chapter. But I don’t want the reader to think the Druids or Kelts were so ego driven or fearful as to worry about spirits capturing their souls once they had grown enough to know their name; they also were ‘protected’ from the lesser obsessive forces of the limbo or interstitiary state of the spirit world which may possess a soul.

Yes, they had a lot of scary legends and tales about evil acts of mischievous and other forces. Sometimes these tales are like the accounts of war on the friezes or frescoes of the Mayan, who wanted people to know the stupidity of war. Sometimes there were people who needed this motivation to take the time to learn enough to protect themself. In all cases as long as the Druids were still around (before the Roman ‘bounties’) they had recourse to protection if something really bad occurred. At the same time there was a greater element of ‘fate’ and ‘destiny’ in this religion than I think is real. I cannot say for sure that there were people at the highest level who knew better the import of ‘free will’. I cannot even be sure what degree or level of free will or ‘world mind’ existed in their collective unconscious (Jung). There are lots of Celts and people from post Druidic times who write about Druids as if they know them. Some of these people are definitely ‘far gone’ when it comes to the inevitability of the cyclical nature of the ‘forces’. The Etruscans are good examples of this and the Carthaginians who allied with them or were their ‘brothers’ surely had a lot of that in them too. But that is a time when the macho power-trippers had already made great inroads into the original nature-worshipping culture, too.

The historians have little to go with in the records of history. We often are left with the words of Caesar in the first century BC. to confirm that there were numerous schools of Druidry as the best recorded insight to earlier times. In Gaul the best knowledge seems to go back no further than the fifth century BC. and ornamentation is the hardest proof. Gimbutas has the Old European alphabet that takes us back a long way but many scholars aren’t convinced because they don’t understand the esoteric symbology. There are those who laugh and point to Stonehenge or Carnac in Brittany, and of course the Pyramid they know it’s the work of the Red-Headed League of Megalith Builders. But they can’t prove a definite connection to the Druids. At least not in the eyes of those who establish the required standards of proof in the halls of academia. They note that the term ‘goddess-worship’ or Wicca may not even have existed until the 18th century. We can say the term isn’t the point and the records of historians are propaganda.

Author of Diverse Druids
Columnist for The ES Press Magazine
Guest ‘expert’ for World-Mysteries.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Robert_Baird


The Symbolic Meaning of the Oval Stone and of the Egg in the Etruscan Religion by Graziano Baccolini

My first researches about Montovolo begun observing on the lunette of the Sanctuary of this mountain the images of the two doves, of a lily and of a cross inscribed in a circle and from these images I realised that this place can have been an Etruscan sacred mountain or an oracular center risen to similarity of Delphi. Subsequently other discovered data, as the fountain of Cantalia at Montovolo very similar to the fountain of Castalia at Delphi, with the same typology and the almost equal name have shown that my hypothesis may be true and therefore the name of Montovolo may also mean Mountain of the Egg or of the Oval stone.

This stone with the shape of an egg was a known religious symbol for archaic cultures that we find it again to Delphi and in almost all the oracular centers around the Mediterranean area. The symbol of the cosmic egg from which the universe was born was reported in archaic myths as the pelasicis and it is connected to the mythical Mother Goddess. These connections between Montovolo, an Etruscan oracular center, Delphi and the egg as symbol of all the archaic civilizations, brought me to realize that the stones with egg shape on the Tombs of the Etruscan necropolis of Marzabotto were not simple cippis, tomb’s segnacolum (signal) as reported by all the Academic and the most famous Etruscologists, as Pallottino, but these oval stones were Etruscan important religious symbols, indicating the egg, symbol of rebirth, and that therefore they can be connected to the symbol of the presumed oval stone, omphalos, of Montovolo. Subsequently, I have found at the Etruscan museum of Marzabotto three oval stones with engraved on the point a cross inscribed in the circle as the cross of Montovolo. Then I have understood that also the Cross was another important Etruscan symbol indicating the divinity. But the proof that removes every doubt on the connection between Montovolo and the Etruscan city of Marzabotto, is the figure of a lily found engraved on one of these oval stones. After this apparent strange mental run that I have done following all the evidence, I realised that an oval stone have to be set on all the Etruscan tombs also in other necropolis as in Marzabotto! But now many of these Etruscan oval stones have gone lost because they were considered by all the researchers simple cippus or pebbles. It was necessary to look for their traces. I found again these oval stones in old photos, then looking for in Museums I have found many of them and the most common stones in angles of the Museum garden, and even in private gardens like ornaments. For me it was amazing, and also… disheartening thinking how many of these oval stones with engraved symbols have been lost and how many were deliberately destroyed!!

After all this, I have begun to observe more attentively all the photos of the catalogs of the several Expositions on Etruscans that reproduced jewels, frescos, vases, terrecotte and, above all, I have revisited the beautiful Tombs of Tarquinia with the famous frescos. As for enchantment I have seen a new Etruscan world till now unknown. Really the mysterious charm of their symbolism is a vision of life as religion of the whole universe. To Etruscans all was alive and the whole universe lived; and the business of a man was himself to live amid it all. It is the vision of the whole cosmos like a vast creature where the man is a fundamental part of this living universe that is also immortal because can be regenerated. After death there is the rebirth to a new life! The image of the egg, found in several tombs, was a wish of rebirth and perhaps also a certainty of a new life! With the Etruscan, as well as the Egypthians and the Sumerians there were no personal gods, but only symbols such as the Egg. This recurrent image of the egg as religious symbol (now many of these eggs are underestimated or even not identified by the most Etruscologists) gives a deep meaning to all the scenes of the banquet reproduced on the walls of many tombs! Theirs certainty of rebirth also gave joy to this final banquet to go toward the light, new life and rebirth.

During the excavations of hundreds of tombs, thousands of eggs or their imitations have been destroyed because considered from the researchers rests of funeral lunches without any symbolic value. The numerous ostrich eggs decorated elegantly found in several necropolis as at Vulci, exposed now at British Museum, are considered by historians only rich ornaments without any religious or symbolic meaning! I remain astonished to see as eminent scholars have made this mistake! I am amazed that academic historians1 knowing very well these recurrent images of the eggs in the Tomb’s frescos, or of ostrich eggs and other animals found in almost all the etruscan tombs, have not connected all this to the archaic symbol of the egg, symbol of rebirth and connected to the Mother Goddess. …

This truth is that the image of the egg, that we also find in the oval stones on the Etruscan Tombs or in the frescos, was an important symbol of the archaic Etruscan religion as in Mesopothamic civilizations and this links the Etruscans, in clear manner, to these very ancient oriental civilizations.

The first of the Tarquinia’s Tomb I have revisited is the famous Tomba dei Tori which I have reported in my precedent Web page where I have noted that the so-called decoration of the border pattern, defined by Lawrence the sign of Venus, a ball surmounted by a little cross, is in effect the oval stone with the cross which was put on the tombs, as found at the necropolis of Marzabotto and the similar balls underlying were the egg-shaped stones with the cross that were set under earth during the foundation Rite of an Etruscan city. These foundation stones have also been recovered at Marzabotto (see figure below)! Now, after having disclosed this symbolism, the whole scene of the Tomba dei Tori it takes a different and very simple meaning. It is a representation of the three worlds. In that celestial we see the pedestal or altar that supports all the sky with the ram’s heads probably indicating the Era of the Aries in which the Etruschans lived. The median part of the fresco represents the terrestrial world of Etruscans. They are not conditioned, as we are now, by false Christian morality, consequently they see sexual exhibitions as the best possible representation of terrestrial life .The figures of the two bulls or, more probable, of the bull and his calm female might represent as well life on earth.

The scene of the inferior part represents the underworld where the soul generally is represented coming on a horse without saddle. The other symbols like the tree of life that is tied from a scarf to the tree of death, are a clear confirmation that this is the underworld.

(See my Web page)

Now, I want to report some images of the other Tombs of Tarquinia at Monterozzi Necropolis, also quoting descriptions of D.H. Lawrence that, with the intuition of an artist was seen in the many oval cippus, considered phallic symbols, and in the eggs two different symbolic meanings which I have, motivating it, given only a meaning, the rebirth and regeneration to new life!

The Tomba dei Tori ( the Tomb of the Bulls)

The Tomba dei Leopardi (The Tomb of the Leopards )

The Tomba delle Leonesse (The Tomb of the Lioness )

The Tomba degli Scudi (The Tomb of the Shields )

The Tomba della Pulcella


1)I should be noted that in the recent text of the M. Pallottino, Etruscologia, in the chapter Etruscan Religion, as in all the books that I have read of others famous Italian Etruscologists, it is never reported the possibility of the egg symbolism and it doesn’t even appear ever the word egg! Such possibility of the symbol of the egg in the Etruscan religion is found only in some Etruscologist of foreign University and only recently! This thing is very strange and unbelievable above all because now we know, as all the historical professionals know better than me, or should also know because paid for this, that the symbolism of the egg as symbol of rebirth is found in all the ancient civilizations of the globe! It is very strange that this symbolism of the most ancient western civilization, to which we owe big part of our culture, is denied only by Italian scholars!

For other references, see the italian version of this article.

Ostric Egg -(Tarquinia Museo Archeologico )

Oval Stone with the cross and a lily. (Marzabotto , Museo Aria)

Foundation Stone with a Cross (Marzabotto , Museo Aria)

 Prof. Graziano Baccolini, Università di Bologna, March 2004 FAX: 051-209-3654 E-mail: baccolin@ms.fci.unibo.it

Note: A 2007 DNA study “Mitochondrial DNA variation of modern Tuscans supports the near eastern origin of Etruscans” showed Tuscan DNA samples came from individuals living in the area from Murlo and Volterra for at least three generations, based on their surnames from individuals, were found to be more closely related to those from near Eastern people than those of the other Italian samples. See extract of news article on Etruscan DNA below:

“In Murlo particularly, one genetic variant is shared only by people from Turkey, and, of the samples we obtained, the Tuscan ones also show the closest affinity with those from Lemnos. Previously, the same relationship had been found for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the female lineages. Another mtDNA of local ancient breeds of cattle still living in Tuscany and other areas found a close link to those from Anatolia.

Many Etruscan cities were continuously inhabited since the Iron Age, and the people who lived in the ancient Etruria region did not appear “out of the blue”. The Etruscans took the Greek alphabet, and their inscriptions revealed a language developed in situ before their first historical record, in 800 BC. In 1885, an inscription in a pre-Greek language discovered in the island of Lemnos, dated to about the 6th century BC, presented many similarities with the Etruscan language both in its form and structure and its vocabulary. Herodotus’ theory, criticized by many historians, claimed that the Etruscans emigrated from the ancient region of Lydia (now western Turkey). Half the population sailed from Smyrna (now Izmir) until they reached Umbria in Italy. Indeed, tombs discovered in ancient Lydia are extremely similar to those of the Etruscans. The Etruscans were also skilled sailors, who traded with the Greeks and Cartagena and the God of the Sea, Neptunus, was important in their religion.
The Lydian theory also links the Etruscans to the Minoans and “People of the Sea”, seafaring raiders that were at war with the Egyptians in the 12th century BC. Their civilization was centered in Crete (now an island in southern Greece) and other neighboring islands (like Lemnos) and these people spoke non-Indo-European related languages. There are significantly increasing proofs that match the Crete and Minoan civilization to Atlantis and its decline in a huge ancient tsunami.
“We think that our research provides convincing proof that Herodotus was right and that the Etruscans did indeed arrive from ancient Lydia. (Source: DNA Analysis Has Cleared Up The Origins of the Etruscans, June 18th, 2007 Softpedia)

Supporting this study is another study The mystery of Etruscan origins: novel clues from Bos taurus mitochondrial DNA  on bovines found that “The Tuscan bovines are genetically closer to Near Eastern than to European gene pools and this Eastern genetic signature is paralleled in modern human populations from Tuscany, which are genetically close to Anatolian and Middle Eastern ones. The evidence collected corroborates the hypothesis of a common past migration: both humans and cattle reached Etruria from the Eastern Mediterranean area by sea. Hence, the Eastern origin of Etruscans, first claimed by the classic historians Herodotus and Thucydides, receives strong independent support.”

However, the most recent 2009 study The Etruscan timeline: a recent Anatolian connection finds a fairly late date for the Anatolian migration into Etruria-Italy. “The origin of the Etruscans (the present day Tuscany, Italy), one of the most enigmatic non-Indo-European civilizations, is under intense controversy. We found novel genetic evidences on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) establishing a genetic link between Anatolia and the ancient Etruria. By way of complete mtDNA genome sequencing of a novel autochthonous Tuscan branch of haplogroup U7 (namely U7a2a), we have estimated an historical time frame for the arrival of Anatolian lineages to Tuscany ranging from 1.1±0.1 to 2.3±0.4 kya B.P” All the research is best summed up in a British Museum paper entiteld DNA and Etruscan identity


Wikipedia – in the creation myths of many cultures andcivilizations. Typically, the world egg is a beginning of some sort, and the universe or some primordial being comes into existence by “hatching” from the egg, sometimes lain on the primordial waters of the Earth

Indian myth (Sanskrit and Vedanta):

The earliest ideas of “Egg-shaped Cosmos” comes from some of the Sanskrit scriptures. The Sanskrit term for it isBrahmanda (Brahm means ‘Cosmos’ or ‘expanding’, Anda means ‘Egg’). Certain Puranas such as the Brahmanda Purana speak of this in detail.

The Rig Veda (RV 10.121) uses a similar name for the source of the universe: Hiranyagarbha, which literally means “golden fetus” or “golden womb”. The Upanishads elaborate that the Hiranyagarbha floated around in emptiness for a while, and then broke into two halves which formed Dyaus (Heaven) and Prithvi (Earth) – concepts that existed in nearly every ancient culture, and were also articulated by the Abrahamic religions[citation needed][improper synthesis?]. The Rig Veda has a similar coded description of the division of the universe in its early stages.

Chinese myth:

In the myth of Pangu, developed by Taoist monks hundreds of years after Lao Zi, the universe began as an egg. A god named Pangu, born inside the egg, broke it into two halves: the upper half became the sky, while the lower half became the earth. As the god grew taller, the sky and the earth grew thicker and were separated further. Finally Pangu died and his body parts became different parts of the earth

Egyptian myth:

In the original myth concerning the Ogdoad, the Milky Way arose from the waters as a mound of dirt, which was deified asHathor. Ra was contained within an egg laid upon this mound by a celestial bird. In the earliest version of this myth, the bird is a goose (it is not explained where the goose originates — note Khanty-Mansi, i.e. Finno-Ugric have a golden goose goddess). However, after the rise of the cult of Thoth, the egg was said to have been a gift from Thoth and laid by an ibis, the bird with which he was associated

Finnish myth:

In the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, there is a myth of the world being created from the fragments of an egg laid by adiving duck on the knee of Ilmatargoddess of the air:

One egg’s lower half transformed
And became the earth below,
And its upper half transmuted
And became the sky above;
From the yolk the sun was made,
Light of day to shine upon us;
From the white the moon was formed,
Light of night to gleam above u…

On the island of Cyprus, the egg is represented as a gigantic egg-shaped vase (Source: Northvegr: The Northern Way)

Egg symbolism

“Because eggs embody the essence of life, people from ancient times to the modern day have surrounded them with magical beliefs, endowing them with the power not only to create life but to prophesy the future. Eggs symbolize birth and are believed to ensure fertility. They aslo symbolize rebirth, and thus long life and even immortality. Eggs represent life in its various stages of development, encompassing the mystery and magic of creation. Creation myths commonly describe how the universe was hatched from an egg, often laid by some mythical water bird swimming in the primordial waters…Early mythmakers viewed both the sun and the egg as the source of all life; the round, yellow yolk even symbolized the sun. Clearly, eggs had great symbolic potential…In Europe of pagan and Christian times, eggs symbolized life and resurrection. Human being have long consumed eggs of all sorts–of hens, ducks, geese, partridges, pigeons, pheasants, ostriches, peacocks, and other bird species. In legends, fairies consumed eggs of mythical birds such as the phoenix. People ate eggs for a variety of reasons. Some sought to absorb their magical properties by eating them. Others ate them to ensure fertility. In the Slavonic and Germanic lands, people also smeared their hoes with eggs, in the hope of transferring the eggs’ fertility to the soil…In Iran, brides and grooms exchange eggs. In seventeeth-century France, a bride broke an egg when she first entered her new nome…The perception of eggs a symbols of fertility and embodiments of life force compelled people of certain cultures not only to shun them as food but to avoild destroying them at all costs…Some people avoided eating eggs laid by their tribal totems; certain groups of aborigines in Australia…believed they descended from the emu, so they placed strict taboos on eating eggs of these ancestral birds…Though people frequently forbade the eating of eggs, eggs were often used for divining purposes. Their widespread use in divination likely stemmed from the belief that they symbolized life–particularly life in the future. The Chinese and certain tribal groups in souther Asia used the eggs of chickens or ducks to divine the future. One method involed painting the eggs, boiling them, and reading the patterns in their cracks. Another method involved tossing the eggs, and divining the future with eggs, a process known as oomancy…The concept of eggs as life symbols went hand in hand with the concept of eggs as emblems of immortality, and particularly the resurrection of Christ, who rose from a sealed tomb just as a bird breaks through an eggshell… The Jews traditionally serve eggs at Passover as a symbol of sacrifice and rebirth.”
Nectar and Ambrosia: An Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 86-7)

“Eggs were not really part of the diet until poultry-farming became common, and, when they did, those most usually consumed were hen’s eggs…Was there some taboo…on eating the eggs of the earlier domestic fowls? It depends on the sense in which the trm is used. Not necessarily a religious taboo, but more of an economic interdiction, since ‘the egg is in the chicken, and the chicken is in the egg’. The Mossi of Burkina Faso in Africa have never troubled themselves with such philosophical reflections, but simply emply common sense. They will not let their children eat eggs for fear they will become thieves. The idea is not that…he who steals an egg will steal an ox…but because he who steals an egg is stealing a chicken. Poultry lives at large in the villages of Africa, laying eggs anywhere. Children must therefore be prevented from eating future broods, which would be community property,…An egg unnecessarily stolen and eaten will never become a chicken…Morever, and even more seriously, the spirits will be offended, for all the poultry the Mossi eat has first been sacrificed to the local tutelary spirits…The Mossi are a special example. All over the world, form the dawn of time, eggs have been collected from birds’ nests in times of need…In the Far East the egg is not so important an item of diet as in Europe,…It is a luxury for the rich, with all the symbolic and philosphical connotations that might be expected…The dyed or painted egg…is an Easter tradition of the Christian West which has proved particularly tenacious in Central Europe…The tradition of easter eggs coincides,…with a self-explanatory universal symbol, in this case creation, rebirth and spring…”
History of Food, Maugelonne Toussaint-Samat, translated by Anthea Bell [Barnes and Noble Books:New York] 1992 (p. 355-362)

“Considering the strange biological history of the egg, it is not surpring that its symbolic power is rivaled only by that of the cock. In Egypt eggs were hung in the temples to encourage fertility, and everywhere, of course, they have been associated with birth and renewal. The Hindu description of the beginning of the world saw it as a cosmic egg. First hrere was nonbeing and then that nonbeing became existent and turned into an enourmous egg, which incubated for a year and then split open, with one part silver and the other gold. The silver half became the earth; the gold, the sky; the outer membrane, mountains; the inner, mist and clouds; the veins were rivers, and the fluid part of the egg was the ocean, and from all of these came in turn the sun. In certain other religions the egg was equated with the sun and the yolk was seen as a kind of mixture of earth and water…”
The Chicken Book, Page Smith & Charles Daniel [University of Georgia Press:Athens GA] 2000 (p. 184)

Source: The Food Timeline on “Egg Symbolism”

See also  Omphalos and

Trubshaw, Bob (February 1993). “The Black Stone – the Omphalos of the Goddess”Mercian Mysteries (14)

Perhaps the best-known Black Stone, and now by far the most revered, is the Ka’bah at Mecca. Ka’bah means ‘cube’ and this describes the shape of the black stone structure on a marble base which stands in the centre court of the Great Mosque, Masjidul Haram, at the centre of Mecca. It stands about 50 feet high by about 35 feet wide. Set into the eastern corner is the sacred stone, covered by an elaborately embroidered black drape. As any non-moslem in the temple would be slain on sight, and photography is generally prohibited, this stone is shrouded is mystery. However, Rufus Camphausen has succeeded in tracking down three accounts of the pilgrimage to Mecca, two of which do contain photographs [1-3]. What these reveal is a polished black stone of which less than two feet is visible, set in a large, solid silver mount. The whole resembles – quite deliberately, for reasons which will emerge – the vulva of the goddess. That moslems now refer to it as the Hand of Allah does not diminish the urge for all those who complete the pilgrimage to Mecca to touch or kiss this sacred object

‘A principal sacred object in Arabian religion was the stone. . . . Such stones were thought to be the residence of a god hence the term applied to them by Byzantine Christian writers of the fifth and sixth centuries: ‘baetyl’, from bet’el, ‘the house of god’.’ [4]

‘In north Arabian temples the image of the deity sometimes stood in the open air or could be sheltered in a qubbah, a vaulted niche. . . . Not to be confused with the qubbah is the word ka’bah, for a cube-shaped walled structure which . . . served as a shelter for the sacred stones.’ [5]

Camphausen, in his article [6], reveals that the misogynic moslem religion has its origins in goddess worship. Allah is a revamped version of the ancient goddess Al’Lat, and it was her shrine which has continued – little changed – as the Ka’bah. The known history of Mohammed reveals that he was born around 570 CE into a tribe of the Quraysh, who not only worshipped the goddess Q’re but were the sworn guardians of her shrine. By 622 Mohammed was preaching the ways of his god, Allah, and was driven out by his own tribe as a result.

The triple goddess

Pre-islamic worship of the goddess seems to be primarily associated with Al’Lat, which simply means ‘goddess’. She is a triple goddess, similar to the Greek lunar deity Kore/Demeter/Hecate. Each aspect of this trinity corresponds to a phase of the moon. In the same wayAl’Lat has three names known to the initiate: Q’re, the crescent moon or the maiden; Al’Uzza, literally ‘the strong one’ who is the full moon and the mother aspect; thenAl’Menat, the waning but wise goddess of fate, prophecy and divination. Islamic tradition continue to recognise these three but labels them ‘daughters of Allah’.

According to Edward Rice [7] Al’Uzza was especially worshipped at the Ka’bah where she was served by seven priestesses. Her worshippers circled the holy stone seven times – once for each of the ancient seven planets – and did so in total nudity. Near the Ka’bah is the ever-flowing well, Zamzam, which cools the throats of the countless millions of pilgrims.

In an oasis of always-flowing water, the Black Stone in its mount became an unmatched image of the goddess as giver of life. Only in the Indian continent do such physical symbols for the male and female generative powers – thelingam and yoni – continue to be worshipped with their original fervour.”


The Orphic Egg

“The egg almost universally symbolizes perfection and totality. Cosmogonic myths which posit creation as arising from the cosmic egg are varied. Sometimes the creator God lives alone inside the egg. Sometimes the primordial chaos is described as an egg. Generally, all the possibilities of a perfect creation are inherent in the egg.

The egg also symbolizes the belief in the Greek Orphic religion that the universe originated from within a silver egg. The first emanation from this egg, described in an ancient hymn, was Phanes-dionysus, the personification of light:

In Greek myth, particularly Orphic thought, Phanes is the golden winged Primordial Being who was hatched from the shining Cosmic Egg that was the source of the universe. Called Protogonos (First-Born) and Eros (Love) — being the seed of gods and men — Phanes means “Manifestor” or “Revealer,” and is related to the Greek words “light” and “to shine forth.–The Orphic Egg


Omphalos by Crystalinks

“The omphalos is a very common type of religious stone artifact/ tablet. The word omphalos means “navel” in Greek. According to the ancient Greeks, Zeus sent out two eagles to fly across the world and they met at its center, the “navel” of the world – which the omphalos represents.

Many records indicate that the omphalos stone was the holiest object at various oracle centers in all the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the most well known being at Delphi. It most likely originated from the “stone of splendor” associated with the Canaanite god Baal. The main characteristic of the omphalos/stone of splendor was its ability to allow direct communication with the gods.

Most accounts locate the Omphalos in the temple adyton near the Pythia. The stone itself (which may have been a copy) has a carving of a knotted net covering its surface, and has a hollow centre, which widens towards its base. The Omphalos at Delphi came to be identified as the stone which Rhea wrapped in swaddling clothes, pretending it was Zeus. This was to deceive Cronus, his father, who swallowed his children so they could not grow up and depose him as he had deposed his own father, Ouranos.

Omphalos stones were said to allow direct communication with the gods. Leicester Holland (1933) has suggested that the stone was hollow to channel intoxicating vapours breathed by the Oracle. Erwin Rohde wrote that the Python at Delphi was an earth spirit, who was conquered by Apollo, and buried under the Omphalos, and that it is a case of one god setting up his temple on the grave of another. Christian destruction of the site in the fourth century at the order of Emperors Theodosius I and Arcadius makes all suggestions about its use tentative.

Jerusalem: In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem there is also an omphalos. The existence of this stone is based upon the medieval cosmology which saw Jerusalem as the spiritual if not geographical center of the world (see T and O map). In fact, this tradition is likely based on an ancient Jewish tradition that saw Jerusalem as the navel of the world.

In the Jewish tradition, the Ark in the Temple in Jerusalem, through which God revealed himself to His people, was located on a Foundation Stone located on the Navel of the World. (This Jewish tradition is known to have begun in Hellenistic times, when Jews were already quite familiar with Greek culture – and thus, might be a deliberate emulation of and competition with the above tradition regarding Delphi).”

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