Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ancient Cylinder Seals & the Esoteric



(This will be the first in a series of posts that are directly related to ideas presented in book THE FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE OF ENOCH. Over the course of this series I will explore a great number of different aspects of the world of the esoteric religion and many of the secrets they hide. In this first installment we will be taking a look at Ancient Cylinder Seals and what they are. In part II we will begin looking at how they are connected to the esoteric belief.)

In my book THE FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE OF ENOCH I rely heavily on a group of ancient artifacts that many may not be familiar with. These artifacts are known as ‘Cylinder Seals’, and have been found in most of the ancient civilizations of the Near and Middle Eastern areas, with some of the more notable civilizations being ancient Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite and even Egyptian.

A cylinder seal is typically a small round stone cylinder, normally about an inch in length, which has been engraved with either written characters or small figurative scenes, with many having both. They were used in ancient times to roll an impression onto wet clay. It is believed that cylinder seals were first invented and used around 3500 BC in southern Mesopotamia. Scholars link them to the invention of cuneiform writing on clay tables.
 
Example of a typical cylinder seal
The seals themselves were made out of a variety of materials with hematite, obsidian, steatite, and amethyst, being some of the more common. There are also a number of seals that are made of glass and ceramics which appear to have been engraved after they were made. 

Since the land of ancient Mesopotamia lacks good stone for carving, it is thought that the stone was imported from other areas with southern Iran being the most probable source.


The majority of seals have a hole running through the center of the cylinder (see picture below) and are believed to have been worn as a necklace, so that they were readily available when needed. It is thought that they were used as some type of administrative tool, possibly as a form of signature, as well as jewelry. It is also believed that they were used as magical amulets with later versions employing notations in cuneiform. In the later period of Mesopotamian civilization it appears they were used to notarize multiple impressions of clay documents by higher officials. It is also at this time that we find cylinder seals included in graves and other sites housing important items such as clay tables, gold, silver, gems.
X-ray image of a cylinder seal.

Scholars argue that the images depicted on the cylinder seals are mostly theme-driven, most often within a sociological or religious context. Most studies of the seals typically focus on the idea that the seals present ideas of the society in pictographic and text form. It is generally accepted that the images on seals are as a whole, independent of each other and do not tell a single continuous story. The small number of seals that do appear to tell a continuous story are normally related to the Epic of Gilgamesh or other well known events related to other great rulers of the ancient world.
It is this idea 'that the seals do not tell a single continuous story', that will be our starting point into the world of the esoteric and the recondite knowledge they hold. This is one of the first pieces to the puzzle that leads through the world of the esoteric belief and the first of many secrets to understanding the esoteric.

The first thing to understand is that this first secret has two parts. The first is that the followers of the esoteric belief believe and understand, that the ancient cylinder seals do in fact tell a continuous story. It is only when you look at the cylinder seals with the esoteric idea that they tell a single continuous story, can you realize what the seals actually are and which interpretation is the correct one.   

Once you know the esoteric viewpoint on the cylinder seals, you realize that it is highly probable that they were originally ‘beads’ that were worn as a necklace and were used to help tell a story with the aid of little pictures rolled out on soft clay.

This is an absolutely ingenious idea, because you could very simply carry a whole picture book around your neck. I can very easily envision a great teacher or philosopher moving from town to town retelling the story (most likely for a small fee) with the help of these magical little beads that had tiny little pictures on them. It is also most likely the reason so many have been found over the years, it is because they were a teaching tool and anybody who had any type of education would have a set.

Then over the years as the original civilization fell or the culture disappeared, they were broken up as they were passed down through families or from teacher to student. Over time people forgot what story they told and as their original meaning faded people started using them in the other ways as given above.

In the next part of the series we will expand upon this idea with the second part of the secret and the story that it told on the cylinder seals. -RJ-

To understand more of this and the world of the esoteric belief you need to read THE FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE OF ENOCH and learn the secrets of the Esoteric !!!

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