Study Notes: Academic discussions on Susanoo’s (and his slain dragon’s) provenance from Indo-Iranian or Indo-European storm god prototypes

The starting points for the scrutiny of the storm/weather god theme are V. Vs. Ivanov (Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical Typological Analysis of a Protolanguage and Proto-Culture; The Early History of Indo-European Languages) who placed the Indo-European urheimat in the area of the Armenian Highlands and Lake Urmia), and V. N. Toporov (1982 Towards the Reconstruction of the Indo-European Rite) , who “put forward a rough outline, a “reconstruction du schema,” of “le dieu de l’orage”, as well as Calvert Watkin’s How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics in which Watkins “examines in detail the structure of the dragon/serpent- slaying myths, which recur in various guises throughout the Indo-European poetic tradition. He finds the “signature” formula for the myth–the divine hero who slays the serpent or overcomes adversaries–occurs in the same linguistic form in a wide range of sources and over millennia, including Old and Middle Iranian holy books, Greek epic, Celtic and Germanic sagas, down to Armenian oral folk epic of the last century. Watkins argues that this formula is the vehicle for the central theme of a proto-text, and a central part of the symbolic culture of speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language: the relation of humans to their universe, the values and expectations of their society”.

In his paper “Susanoo: A Culture Hero from Korea? The connection of a Shinto God to Korea in Japanese scholarly literature“, David Weiss “elaborates on James Grayson’s thesis that the god Susanoo, one of the central gods in Japanese mythology, is in fact a culture hero who brought metallurgic techniques from Korea to Japan…. Japanese scholars (with a few exceptions) tend to interpret Susanoo as the representation of a historical person who emigrated from Korea bringing cultural techniques with him.”

He notes that “There is a regrettable lack of analyses of mythological motifs and structures and consequently a lack of comparison of these motifs and structures with Korean ones” and attempts “to point out that for a deeper understanding of the myths regarding Susanoo and his connection to Korea it is important to presuppose that it was not only a person who travelled from Korea to Japan but a myth“.

John Colarusso offers…

“a full reconstruction of just such a proto4myth. Building upon the pioneering 1970 efforts of V. Vs. Ivanov and the late V. N. Toporov, who put forward a rough outline, a “reconstruction du schema,” of “le dieu de l’orage,” I
survey the rich reflexes of a late and perhaps central Indo-European myth recounting the birth and early life of the Storm God. Enough material survives of this myth, albeit often in diverse and sometimes conflicting forms, to permit a detailed proto4myth to be retrieved.
This effort is interesting in its own right, but it also raises issues of how this proto4 myth competed with or complemented other, often older Indo-European myths, such as that of the Sky God, *Dyēws, whose fertility and effulgent aspects have shifted onto a young warrior god. In this regard this proto4myth is indeed like a reconstructed linguistic paradigm whose fit into a broader grammar can shed light on wider aspects of a proto4language. — PROTO‐MYTH, THE STORM GOD 

Susanoo’s slain dragon also has parallels with Indo-Iranian/European dragon myths, see Robert Miller: 

Calvert Watkins famously and definitively illustrated the connections between the Vedic slaying of the dragon Vritra by the thunder-god Indra and the storm-god dragon slaying myths of the both ancient Iran (Azi Dahaka) and Indo-European Hittites (Illuyanka). But there are actually two Hittite dragon-slaying myths – the other, Hurrian in origin, concerning the storm god Teshub – and the relationship between the two remains unclear. The Hurrian-Hittite myth clearly under lies the Canaanite storm-god dragon slaying, but the connection of the latter to an independent Semitic dragon-slaying myth is also unclear. Is there a separate Semitic myth at all, or does the dissemination of these mythological motifs all go back to Indo-European Hittites and Indo-Europeans among the Hurrians of Mitanni? And if there is a Semitic myth, did it disseminate from the Levant southeastward to Mesopotamia with the spread of the Amorites in the early 2nd millennium or was there an originally-Sumerian dragon-slaying myth already present in Southern Mesopotamia? And what are we to do when specific motifs of the earliest Mesopotamian form reappear in the late Iranian Shahname? This paper will attempt the relative chronological tracking of the dragon across the ancient Near East, as similar myths fed into each other, their elements interweaving and combining in new forms, with very old pieces “submerging” for centuries only to reappear even in stories of the Bible, of Typhon and of St. George.– Tracking the Dragon Across the Ancient Near East

In The Storm God Adda: Thor from Germanic Mythology? The Temple of Adda Found in Syria, Alice Rose noticed the “similarities between the storm god Adda and the Germanic storm god Thor” and posits the possibility of Indo-European influences upon Syria and trading interactions between the two cultures based upon the excavation finds of the 5,000 year-old Adda temple:

“The Adda temple (sanctuary) has been estimated to be about 5,000 years old. The oddest thing to me is that this sanctuary has a relief depicting a “fisherman” carrying a pine-cone and bucket. That is correct, a pine-cone! I nearly fell out of my seat when I saw the picture of this in the Archaeology magazine. Pine-cones and fir trees are not indigenous to Syria. They are in Europe. At the time frame of this relief being created Syria undoubtedly had zero pine trees and Europe had forests of them. More unusual was the found motif determined to be from about 900 b.c. in Hittite-style. The picture of the motif show the storm god dressed in what looks like a Norse helmet (conical cap with horns), armor, a kilt, dagger and a club. This storm god Adda, in the motif, rides a Hittite chariot pulled by a bull. This temple dedicated to the storm god Adda has had several restorations throughout its history. The last restoration was completed around 900 b.c. by an anonymous patron. The temple dedicated to Adda was no longer used after a horrible fire, but in the Hellenistic period (around 300 b.c.) the altar was uncovered by Greeks (an ancient Grecian styled trench proves this), but for some unknown reason was not touched. It is speculated that the Greeks, who believed in the storm god Zeus, respected this temple in honor of Adda and regarded it as sacred. As years passed, the temple and its contents were forgotten; completely covered.

In my personal studies regarding the Indo-European people, the pine-cone was a sacred symbol for protection. The Indo-European goddess Zisa, wife of the god Ziu (aka Tyr), and the patron goddess of Augsburg, Bavaria in southern Germany is closely associated with the pine-cone. Even Augsburg’s city emblem has a pine-cone in the middle of it. Zisa’s feast day was listed as September 28 and according to documents found, was still being celebrated by the city of Augsburg during the 11th century a.d. There is a rumor that the eldest church of Augsburg still harbors a small statue of a woman figure holding a basket of pine-cones known as “The Lady” which is believed to originally have been created in the honor of the patron goddess Zisa. Could the relief, from the temple of the storm god Adda, depicting the “fisherman” carrying a pine-cone and bucket be proof that the ancient Indo-Europeans from the Augsburg region in Bavaria and 14th century b.c. people indigenous to Syria interacted or traded with one another? Shared each others spiritual beliefs and symbols?

According to Norse mythology, the god of thunder and storms known as Thor wears a helmet with horns (like depicted in the motif at the temple of the storm god Adda). There have been numerous artistic representations with Thor wearing a helmet with horns and looking very Norse in attire. Granted Thor has a magic war hammer called “The Crusher” (Miolnir) instead of dagger and club. The motif found in Syria could have been depicting a combination of two or more deities, possibly Thor and others, by the sculptor in order to create the desired representation of the storm god Adda for the sanctuary. Artists and sculptors get their inspiration from things they know, have seen, or heard. If the people residing in Syria around 900 b.c. had interaction or trade with the Indo-Europeans (including those from the Scandinavian area), it is possible the sculptor could have been influenced by them and heard some of the stories about Thor, son of Odin.

Thor is known to occasionally wear body armor (not a lot, but some, including iron gauntlets named Iarn-greiper) and in some Germanic artist representations from yore, he wears a kilt with leggings and a magic belt called Megin-giord. Thor is known for the brazen chariot he rode (even in Southern Germany), however, it was drawn by two goats (instead of a bull) named “Tooth-cracker” (Tanngniostr) and “Tooth-knasher” (Tanngrisnr). When Thor is driving his brazen chariot, he is known as Aku-Thor (begins with an “A” like Adda). The motif found in Syria does have a kilt being worn by Adda driving a chariot, two more similarities, which further gives credence to my suspicion of the possibility that ancient Syria had connections with the Indo-Europeans, even those of Bavaria from 14th century b.c. through 900 b.c.

According to Dr. Kay Kohlmeyer who is the archaeologist in charge of “The Temple of the Storm God Adda” site, Adda was depicted as carrying a weapon or a thunderbolt as a symbol of his power. The type of weapon is unknown. It could have been a sword, war hammer, or numerous other types of weapons known in the ancient b.c. periods. Thor’s hammer “The Crusher” is known for lightening emanating from it upon usage. The symbol for the Greek god Zeus is the thunderbolt too. Zeus was known for throwing them down in order to destroy his enemies. Again, similarities to European gods from two separate pantheons. Could this Adda be a Thor and Zeus combination? Lumped together in one temple?…

On connections between Syria or Syro-Hittite states and Indo-Europeans, see Who were the HittitesHittites and “Hittite language“:

“Hittite is the earliest attested Indo-European language … the most copiously known of the Anatolian branch

Sources and Readings:

University of Strasbourg, France, Program and Abstracts

How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics by Calvert Watkins

Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans by Calvert Watkins



Mysteries of the Cosmic Thunderbolt (Zeus and the slaying of serpent-dragon Typhon)

For further bibliography and resources …see this page.

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