left biblioblography: In the Beginning, There Was A Snake...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In the Beginning, There Was A Snake...

I first learned of this via LogicalCloud (who seems to be a bit of all right, even if he does wear a bow-tie) - but there was no link in the post, so I went a-hunting. I found it within five minutes time.

November 30, 2006

World's Oldest Ritual Discovered -- Worshipped The Python 70,000 Years Ago


"A startling archaeological discovery this summer changes our understanding of human history. While, up until now, scholars have largely held that man's first rituals were carried out over 40, 000 years ago in Europe, it now appears that they were wrong about both the time and place.

"Associate Professor Sheila Coulson, from the University of Oslo, can now show that modern humans, Homo sapiens, have performed advanced rituals in Africa for 70,000 years. She has, in other words, discovered mankind's oldest known ritual.

"The archaeologist made the surprising discovery while she was studying the origin of the San people. A group of the San live in the sparsely inhabited area of north-western Botswana known as Ngamiland."


"The python is one of the San's most important animals. According to their creation myth, mankind descended from the python and the ancient, arid streambeds around the hills are said to have been created by the python as it circled the hills in its ceaseless search for water.

"Sheila Coulson's find shows that people from the area had a specific ritual location associated with the python. The ritual was held in a little cave on the northern side of the Tsodilo Hills. The cave itself is so secluded and access to it is so difficult that it was not even discovered by archaeologists until the 1990s.

"When Coulson entered the cave this summer with her three master's students, it struck them that the mysterious rock resembled the head of a huge python. On the six meter long by two meter tall rock, they found three-to-four hundred indentations that could only have been man-made.

"You could see the mouth and eyes of the snake. It looked like a real python. The play of sunlight over the indentations gave them the appearance of snake skin. At night, the firelight gave one the feeling that the snake was actually moving".

"They found no evidence that work had recently been done on the rock. In fact, much of the rock's surface was extensively eroded. "


"In one San story, the python falls into a body of water and cannot get out by itself. The python is pulled from the water by a giraffe. The elephant, with its long trunk, is often used as a metaphor for the python.

"In the cave, we find only the San people's three most important animals: the python, the elephant, and the giraffe. That is unusual. This would appear to be a very special place. They did not burn the spearheads by chance. They brought them from hundreds of kilometers away and intentionally burned them. So many pieces of the puzzle fit together here. It has to represent a ritual." concludes Sheila Coulson.

"It was a major archaeological find five years ago that made it possible for Sheila Coulson to date the finds in this little cave in Botswana. Up until the turn of the century, archaeologists believed that human civilisation developed in Europe after our ancestors migrated from Africa. This theory was crushed by Archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood when he published his find of traces from a Middle Stone Age dwelling in the Blombos Cave in Southern Cape, South Africa."

[End Snip]

So, oh wow, maybe Harlan Ellison wasn't so far off in his story "The Deathbird", ey? Or maybe God's curse on the serpent in Genesis 3:1 turned out to be an impotent one?

This is like a subdued scene out of Robert E. Howard, no less (sans the serpentine pit where virgins were tossed in). I find it terribly ironic that the world's oldest religion was a worship of snakes, don't you?

All hail Ourobouros, Wyrm That Eats Its Tail And Creates The World! Oh, wait, oops, I just revealed another of our secrets, didn't I? Damn, that's the third time I've had my atheist card revoked.

Till the next post, then.

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beepbeepitsme said...

The story of creation as told by many aboriginal tribes in australia, is the story of the rainbow serpent.

Aboriginal peoples have probably been in australia for about 50,000 years. The story of the rainbow serpent I don't think goes back that far, but it is an unknown I guess.

It is interesting to see the parallels between early african cultures and early australian cultures.

The Rainbow Serpent

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM - Hey, thanks, that IS interesting.
It's weird, this predilection w/snakes, though. It seems to cross multiple boundaries. I'd chalk it up to genetic/racial memory, but there's not enough evidence of that.

Chris Bradley said...

I recently opined that the earliest religions were animal religions. Ha! I feel vindicated! Worship the snake, bab-ee!

And tho' I don't have a specific link to it, snake worship is extremely common. I know that Jung wrote a fair bit about it, but I'm not going to willingly crack open any of his books every again, so you'll have to trust me or look for yourself. ;) But pretty much anywhere there are big, dangerous serpents you're likely to get some religious stuff -- often creation myths, probably because snaked "regenerate" by shedding their skins and are thus "reborn". Serpents also play a big role as the villains in many eschatologies, including both the Christian and Viking. Blah, blah, blah, hehe. OK, I'll stop rambling, now.

Krystalline Apostate said...

chris - Yes, snake worship is exceedingly common all right. Egyptians to the Chinese (though I don't think the Amerindians did it as much). Perhaps early man noted the similarity between the snake & the spine?

beepbeepitsme said...

Well, we know that men have always worshipped their snake, so that they made a religion out of it, doesn't surprise me. ;)

Krystalline Apostate said...

BBIM - What a naughty, naughty girl you are. Hehehehe.