The Constellations and Draco

Hugh Thurston described three scientific methods by which the date and latitude at which the original 48 constellations were established can be determined, in a book, 'Early Astronomy' (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1994) p. 135-137.   All three methods indicate, independently, that the heavens were divided up into constellations by a people who lived at a latitude of 36 degrees roughly 5000 years ago.  This is summarized in an article by John P. Pratt, 'Scientifically Dating the Constellations':…constellations_date.html

The most compelling of the three arguments concerns an "empty" part of the sky in the southern hemisphere which is devoid of any of the original 48 constellations.

From Pratt's article:

The Empty Part of the sky.   There is a circle of about 36° radius in the southern part of the sky which does not contain any of the original 48 constellations. That implies that the originators of the constellations lived at about 36° north latitude because at that location, exactly such an area of southern sky would be invisible to them. Moreover, the center of that circle moves very slowly through the sky because of the motion of the earth's axis. The location of the center of the empty part of the sky implies an origin date of about 2900 B.C.

Pratt points out that 36° is too far north to have been Egypt, and too far south to indicate the Greeks. It is however roughly the latitude at which Sumer lied. 

I'm not totally on board with Pratt on this point, if you look at a map you'll see that the major cities of Sumer all lied between 31° and 34° latitude.   36° actually corresponds better with Ugarit, an ancient city which has yielded artifacts dating back over 7000 years.   Later we'll see that 'Ur of the Chaldee' which was the biblical birthplace of Abraham and has long been assumed to have been one and the same as Ur in Sumer, may have actually been Ugarit.  (The city of Assur on the Tigris also falls along the 36th latitude.   While not as old as Ugarit, Assur was a thriving city by the time period we are interested in and thousands of cuneiform texts have been discovered there.) 

Pratt can't be blamed for jumping to the conclusion that the Sumerians named the constellations, it's long been assumed they did.   The Sumerians' early advances in writing, agriculture and science are well known.    But the more I dig into this the more I've come to realize that Sumer didn't evolve in a vaccuum.  To some extent at least, the budding civilizations centered in Sumer, Ugarit and Egypt influenced one another and evolved in tandem.  

Whoever it was in Mesopotamia that looked up at the night sky and began to organize clusters of stars into constellations, they noticed an 'S' shaped string of stars at true polar-north around which the other constellations appeared to revolve and decided it resembled a mythical serpent, a dragon.   This is the constellation 'Draco'.

The incredible thing about Draco is that it doesn't appear quite at what would have been the northernmost point in the sky at the time the Sumerian culture was thriving.   It lies at true theoretical north, within a circle traced by the earth's axis over thousands of years as it slowly wobbles.

The North Star is presently Polaris, but a few thousand years ago it was Thuban.  It will change again as the earth's axis slowly continues to shift.   This wobbling of the earth causes what is known as the 'precession of the ages', from the age of Taurus when the Sumerians, Akkadians and Egyptians thrived, to the biblical age of Aries, to Pieces (the age we are in now), and next to the age of Aquarius, which we will enter around the year 2150.  Draco the dragon lies within a circle traced by earth's axis as it precedes through the zodiac, the entire cycle of which takes around 26,000 years.   Incredibly, the ancient astrologers of Mesopotamia apparently understood all of this. 

Draco and the Zodiac

What evolved in Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt that was so successful and became so ubiquitous was a hierarchical (pyramid-shaped) societal structure whereby a small group of elite priests and kings ruled over the rest of the populace.  These ruling priest-kings claimed descendency from the gods and propogated myths to support their claim, thereby insuring for themselves and their progeny a secure place at the top of society.  Just as the dragon ruled the heavens, these priest-kings adopted the dragon as a mark of their own royal status.

Dragon worship is very very old and probably didn't originate in Mesopotamia.   The Carnac Dracontium, an 8 mile long serpentine monument in Brittany, France has been carbon dated to an age of over 6 1/2 thousand years.  

But it appears that it was in Mesopotamia, particularly in Sumer that the symbol of the Dragon became intimately connected with the ruling elite. 

Dragon head

This, along with other hallmarks of  the cultures of Sumer and the other centers of civilization in the area spread – to the Indus Valley and from there to China, from Egypt, the Levant and Crete to Anatolia and Greece, and to places as far flung as Ireland (although Michael Tsarion apparently believes that the Sumerians inherited their dragon-culture from the Irish).

Generally speaking, one major branch on this tree appears to have migrated from Mesopotamia east as far as Mongolia (where they were known as the Xiongnu to the Chinese) before turning back and pushing west into Central Asia and Europe as the Hunnic tribes.  The Trojans of Anatolia and Thrace comprise another major branch on this tree, and many of these tribes fled the area surrounding the city of Troy following its fall to the Greeks.  Many of these people wound up on the opposite side of the Black Sea, and are known to us as the ancestors of the Vikings, Franks and other Germanic tribes which later migrated north into Scandinavia and Gaul.  The Israelites appear to represent a third branch on this tree and who share histories in both ancient Canaan and Egypt with the Trojan kings.  While controversial, there is plentiful evidence for all this, the clues are strewn about in all sorts of literature, myths, artifact finds and even in names printed on old maps. We can use these clues to trace these branches.

Dragon of Fleet Street
Dragon of Fleet Street

One of the of the most discernable of these clues is the dragon itself.  The Vikings decorated the bows of their ships with dragons. In Norse mythology Sigund gains knowlege from eating the heart of a dragon.  Sigismund, a Holy Roman Emperor and long reigning king of Hungary had his own Order of the Dragon for his most venerated knights.  Many European family coats of arms display dragons or griffins.  Dragons fill the Greek myths as well as many Medieval legends, as do sea-serpents and mermaids which are simply a variant on this same theme.  Clovis, the first king of the Merovingian Franks (the subject of 'The D'aVinci Code') claimed descent from a sea-monster.  One of the primary gods in the pantheons of the Amorites and other early pagan civilizations which thrived around Ugarit and Phoenicia thousands of years ago was 'Dagon'.  The Egyptians meanwhile annointed their Pharoahs with the oil of a holy crocodile called the 'messeh', which is probably where our word messiah comes from. In Asia, the dragon was long the symbol of the Chinese emperial throne, and the mausoleam in Nikko of Tokugawa Ieyasu who united Japan is awash in dragon images. The red cross featured on the Templar banner and the flag of England is named for St. George the dragon-slayer, the current British Pound coin displays a dragon, and in London's financial center, smack dab in the middle of Fleet Street near the Crown Temple Church (built by the Templar knights) stands a large statue of a dragon. Dragons are, if you care to look, literally everywhere.

Copyright (c) 2015 Eric Westfall.
Original content may be quoted or replicated under the Fair Use doctrine. All other rights reserved.

6 Comments to 'The Constellations and Draco'

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  1. I really had no idea about any of this but of course, it makes perfect sense.
    This may answer the dragon arse question which has plagued me all my life. Why am I?
    Thank you Sanders.

  2. elreb said,

    I think there is something here…have you heard of this crusader castle?
    Yılankale, Yilan, Ilan-kale, or Castle of the Snakes is a large medieval crusader castle located east of Adana in modern Turkey, built on a rocky hill overlooking the east bank of the Ceyhan River…Perhaps Gihon River of Bible.

  3. admin said,

    That’s in Cilicia!!! ~ there were two “Cilicia”s, one on that border-corner of Anatolia, and another (mythical one) near the city of Troad.

    John, author of ‘Tracking Ladon-Gog’, has written on this/these locale(s) and its/their significance … I can’t remember the details.

    I seem to remember it has to do with the Hatti/Catti.

  4. admin said,

    Addendum – sorry I can’t remember or supply a link … but I do know that that area lies exactly between Ugarit and dragon-central in Anatolia (Paphlagonia – where the Corybantes and Veneti/Heneti were centered, which was, also and not coincidentally, the Trojan fount of Cybele-great-mother-worship/orgies…). Herototus and the Greek Myths have this emigrating to Greece/Troad from Egypt, but if you look at a map and look into this ‘Cilicia’ area, you can easily imagine another migration route by land from Ugarit/Asshur/Subartu/Canaan to Anatolia via Cilicia. And, for the great number of Trojan tribes, I think the land route was quite significant.

    Ahh, just speculating but … I’m sure elreb will get what I’m getting at.

  5. elreb said,

    I personally do not have a problem with Herodotus because he was born about 34 miles south of Miletus [Turkey]. I am…on the other hand…very suspicious of the Greek claims as to their colonies.
    The Greeks claim Halicarnassus to be a Greek [Dorian] colony but I see it as being Minoan [Crete].
    Take Karatas [Megarsos the colony] Turkey as another example. Megara [the person], future wife of Heracles, was the daughter of Creon the king of Thebes to which there is no doubt that he was on the Upper Nile in a land called Ethiopia.
    This is part of the “Out of Egypt” claim.
    Megarsos, Turkey is only about 65 miles north-west of Ugarit. The castle in question is only about 40 miles north of Megarsos. Probably more like the “Castle of Dragons”.
    Herodotus tells us that Lydia, Turkey once belonged to the Heraclids. The Argonauts, which included Heracles, sailed from Argos in Magnesia [Volos] which was Minoan…not Greek. There were also a few somewhat “Pelasgós” folks…an indigenous [pre-Greek] people with them. 

  6. That’s a nice post.

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