More than 60 years ago, excavations at the Qumran Caves (Dead Sea) revealed almost a thousand ancient scrolls that offered important glimpses of humanity’s past.
Archaeologists were surprised to find so many unusual texts and among them, a roll of paper that offers clues about the Nephilim.
It’s called The Book of the Giants. Let’s review the ancient stories about these beings.
The Bible makes several references to the Nephilim and most can be found in the book of Genesis. Most of the information concerning these giants of antiquity come from the apocryphal book of Enoch. This ancient Jewish religious work is attributed to Noah’s great-grandfather, although some scholars date parts of it to around 300 BC.
Enoch is a disconcerting character. The book of Genesis tells us that he lived on Earth for 365 years, before being taken by God; “He walked with God, and he was gone; because God took him. “During his time here, our planet was also inhabited by” angels “who interacted freely with humans, and eventually crossed paths with the” daughters of men “and gave birth to a race of abnormally strong hybrids and giant called Nephilim.
The origin of the word Nephilim is not fully understood, but scholars have proposed several etymologies: “The fallen”, “apostate”, or “these that cause others to fall.” Regardless of their name, the Nephilim have always been a synonym for giants.
The Book of Giants found in the Qumran caves offer a different perspective from that of the Enoch book. Although incomplete, the fragments of the scrolls paint a grim picture: the Nephilim became aware that, as a result of their violent and deviant forms, they faced imminent destruction, and that it scared them enough to ask Enoch to speak in his name before God.
The text begins by detailing how the Nephilim plagued the Earth and everything that lived in it. But once everyone begins to receive the prophetic dreams of fate, fear seeps into their hearts. The first to have these dreams was Mahway, the titan son of the angel Baraquel. In his dream, he saw a tablet being submerged in the water. When the tablet emerged, all but three names had been removed. This symbolizes the flood and subsequent destruction of all, except the children of Noah.
At that time, this fact had not become evident to the Nephilim so they debated the meaning of Mahway’s dream, but they were not successful in interpreting the signs. Soon after, two more giants, Ohya and Hahya, the children of the fallen angel Shemihaza began to have similar dreams; They dreamed of a tree being uprooted except for three of its roots.
After this, the rest of the group of giants began to have apocalyptic dreams:
Then two of them had dreams and the dream of their eyes had fled before them, and getting up, he came to [… and told him] his dreams, and told him in the assembly of [his companions] the monsters [… En] my dream I was seeing this night [and there was a garden …] the gardeners and those who were watering [… two hundred trees and] great buds came out from its root […] all the water, and the fire burned all [the garden … ] They found the giants to tell them the dream … ”
The giants have realized the prophetic nature of their dreams and sought the help of Enoch. Unfortunately, Enoch had already disappeared from the face of the Earth so the chosen Nephilim, one of its members, made a cosmic journey in order to find it.
[Mahway] poured into the air like strong winds, and flew with his hands like eagles [… left behind] the inhabited world and passed over desolation, the great desert […] and Enoch saw it and greeted it, and Mahway said to him […] here and there for the second time for Mahway […] the giants await his words, and all the monsters of the Earth. If it has been taken […] from the days of […] its and that would be added […] we would like to hear from you its meaning […] two hundred trees that came down from heaven … ”
Unfortunately, parts of the rolls were damaged without possibility of repair, but the description of the text is obvious. One of the Nephilim traveled off the Earth in search of Enoch and his powers of vision-interpretation. The text becomes very interesting if we substitute some terms and consider it not as an allegorical story, but as the description of an actual event whose meaning became confused in time.
If we consider flying “hands like eagles” a metaphor, can we hypothesize that Mahway took off from Earth in a spaceship? In this case, does “desolation, the great desert” refer to interstellar space? It depends on how far we are willing to interpret a fragment of a 2,000-year-old scroll.
Enoch sends Mahway back from where he came from, promising that he will speak to God on his behalf. Unfortunately for the Nephilim, the Enoch tablets sent to them did not bring them good news:
The Enoch scribe […] a copy of the second tablet that [Enoch] sent in the same part of Enoch the scribe observed [… In the name of God the great] and a saint, for Shemihaza and all his companions […]
Let it be known that you have not […] and the things you have done, and that your wives […] them with your children and the wives of [your children] for your debauchery on Earth, and there has been over you […] and the earth is crying out] and they complain that you and your children’s acts […] the harm you have done to him.
[…] Until Raphael appears, behold, the destruction [is approaching, a great flood, and will destroy all living beings] and what is in the deserts and the seas. And the meaning of matter […] about you as evil. But now, untie the bonds [that tie you to evil …] and pray. ”
Malapa skeletons are the same hominin species
Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Brett Eloff
Anthropologists have published the results of a new study in to two fossil skeletons found in South Africa.
The skeletons, which were unearthed in 2008 at the fossil site of Malapa within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site near Johannesburg, belong to an early hominin known as Australopithecus sediba.
More complete than the famous ‘Lucy’ specimen from Ethiopia, the skeletons were of a young male and adult female – both believed to be somewhere around two million years old.
For a time, it wasn’t even clear that the two belonged to the same species, but now, following a decade of research in to the finds, researchers have concluded that they are indeed the same.
The study has also revealed more about what these early hominins may have been like.
“Our interpretations in the papers suggest that A. sediba was adapted to terrestrial bipedalism, but also spent significant time climbing in trees, perhaps for foraging and protection from predators,” wrote New York University anthropologist Scott Williams.
“This larger picture sheds light on the lifeways of A. sediba and also on a major transition in hominin evolution, that of the largely ape-like species included broadly in the genus Australopithecus to the earliest members of our own genus, Homo.”
Source: Heritage Daily
Ancient Roman Cemetery is Full of Mysterious Headless Skeletons
In England, excavations for developments of the housing kind often lead to developments of the archeological kind. While digging holes for foundations in the tiny old town of Great Whelnetham, Suffolk, in eastern England, construction workers found a Roman-era cemetery with a macabre mystery … many of the skeletons were headless, with the skull placed either between the knees, between the feet or even under a knee. Criminals? Vampires? Anti-development zombies? Something worse?
“The incisions through the neck were post-mortem and were neatly placed just behind the jaw. An execution would cut lower through the neck and with violent force, and this is not present anywhere.”
Archeologist Andrew Peachey of Archaeological Solutions, an independent archaeological contractor providing archaeological monitoring and research for urban excavations, was called in by developer Havebury Housing Partnership to investigate the cemetery, which contained 52 skeletons of which 17 had their heads removed and placed elsewhere. Seventeen more were “deviant” burials where the skeleton was face down or in a fetal position. There were also 4 skulls with no bodies. (Photos of the remains can be seen here.) The rest of the bodies were placed with heads intact in the usual face-up burial position. Peachey’s initial analysis determined that the cemetery was from the 4th century CE and that the headless bodies were not the result of executions.
“This appears to be a careful funeral rite that may be associated with a particular group within the local population, possibly associated with a belief system (cult) or a practice that came with a group moved into the area.”
But what kind of cult? Peachey tells the East Anglian Daily Times that headless burials such as these are extremely rare in Britain. He also pointed out a second mystery – the deceased appeared to be healthy when they died. Most were middle-aged or older (with a few children under 10) and in good shape.
“They were well nourished, and several had very robust upper arms/bodies consistent with a working agricultural population.”
Peachey proposes that they could have been slaves or a labor force brought in to work the fields, but the care used in the removal of the heads and their placement suggests these were members of the community and buried with respect. He has no explanation for why they died so healthy – although many had dental problems, most had healed, and evidence of tuberculosis was common in 4th century agrarian communities, so they weren’t killed by the disease nor beheaded postmortem to prevent them from rising and spreading the disease again.
The people of the Pacific island of Kiribati exhume their dead and remove their skulls to be displayed as sign of reverence in hopes the spirit will protect them. Could a similar culture or cult in 4th century England had a similar practice?
Not surprisingly, the remains have been removed to a local museum and the development is expected to be completed in July. While the skeletons and detached skulls are being analyzed for more information on the who’s and why’s of the strange burial practice, people will soon be living where they laid undisturbed for centuries. Would you want to move right in or wait for the explanation?
Mexico Unearths Ancient Flayed God Temple Where Priests Wore Skins Of Dead
Mexican experts have found the first temple of the Flayed god, a pre-Hispanic fertility deity depicted as a skinned human corpse.
What is Flayed god?
The great god Xipe Totec, otherwise known as Our Lord the Flayed One/ Flayed God, was one of the oldest Aztec deities. Also known as Red Tezcatlipoca, guardian of the east, Xipe Totec was often depicted as a man wearing the flayed skin of another.
Xipe Totec’s name was derived from the myth by which the god flayed—peeled and cut off—his own skin to feed humans. For the Aztecs, Xipe Totec’s removing his layer of skin symbolized the events that must happen to produce renewed growth that covers the earth each spring. More specifically, flaying is associated with the cycle of American corn (maize) as it sheds its external seed covering when it is ready to germinate.
Discovery of the temple
Mexico‘s National Institute of Anthropology and History said the find was made during recent excavations of Popoloca Indian ruins in the central state of Puebla.
The institute said experts found two skull-like stone carvings and a stone trunk depicting the god, Xipe Totec. It had an extra hand dangling off one arm, suggesting the god was wearing the skin of a sacrificial victim. The Popolocas built the temple at a complex known as Ndachjian-Tehuacan between A.D. 1000 and 1260 and were later conquered by the Aztecs.
Sacrifice and the Flaying of Skin
Priests worshipped Xipe Totec by skinning human victims and then donning their skins. The ritual was seen as a way to ensure fertility and regeneration. The victims of this sacrifice would be killed and then flayed—their skins removed in large pieces. Those skins were painted and then worn by others during a ceremony and in this manner, they would be transformed into the living image (“teotl ixiptla”) of Xipe Totec.
Rituals performed during the early spring month of Tlacaxipeualiztli included the “Feast of the Flaying of Men,” for which the month was named. The entire city and rulers or nobles of enemy tribes would witness this ceremony. In this ritual, slaves or captive warriors from surrounding tribes were dressed in as the “living image” of Xipe Totec. Transformed into the god, the victims were led through a series of rituals performing as Xipe Totec, then they were sacrificed and their body parts distributed among the community.
Ancient accounts of the rituals suggested victims were killed in gladiator-style combat or by arrows on one platform, then skinned on another platform. The layout of the temple at Tehuacan seems to match that description.
Other depictions of the Flayed god
Depictions of the god had been found before in other cultures, including the Aztecs, but not a whole temple.
University of Florida archaeologist Susan Gillespie, who was not involved in the project, wrote that “finding the torso fragment of a human wearing the flayed skin of a sacrificial victim in situ is perhaps the most compelling evidence of the association of this practice and related deity to a particular temple, more so to me than the two sculpted skeletal crania.”
“If the Aztec sources could be relied upon, a singular temple to this deity (whatever his name in Popoloca) does not necessarily indicate that this was the place of sacrifice,” Gillespie wrote. “The Aztec practice was to perform the sacrificial death in one or more places, but to ritually store the skins in another, after they had been worn by living humans for some days. So it could be that this is the temple where they were kept, making it all the more sacred.”
Featured image: Omar Eduardo
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