Rujm elHiri

A site that may have been associated with Dummuzi, the Spouse of Inanna, is Rujm el-Hiri. Aveni and Mizrachi (1998) have published an extensive summary of this site that attempts to integrate archaeology and archaeoastronomy with cosmology on the one hand and local environmental features and topography on the other. The site is in the Golan Heights, formerly the Land of Bashen and later the territory of the tribe of Dan. It is one of many "Levant Megalithic" sites. Whether there is any archaeological connection between such sites and the western European Mega-lithic is a problem that we will not attempt to resolve. However, we note that the handling of large stones seems different, more like some of the North American medicine wheels (see §6.3).

At Rujm el-Hiri, there are a number of rough approximations to concentric circles of boulders surrounding a central burial mound, with an entrance passage. This area of the site is badly damaged. The largest circle is 145 m in diameter. The burial mound was apparently built in the Late Bronze Age.4 Aveni and Mizrachi (1998, p. 347) maintain that the circles were built as much as 1500 years earlier, in the Early Bronze Age, but they admit that the archeologi-cal evidence does not preclude a date nearly as late as the burial mound. The solar stations are well marked. Walls run out from the outside circle at good approximations to the north, south, and west points of the horizon. The two largest boulders of the site (each about 2 m high and 2.5 m wide) are positioned to create a notch in which the Sun would have been seen rising, as viewed from the center of the complex,

4 The dating is based primarily on association with imported pottery. No local pottery of that date is known. See Table 7.1.

within one day of the equinoxes. In this area, the September equinox is a very good marker for the beginning of the rainy season and the March equinox is an equally good marker for the end of the rainy season, and the beginning of the dreaded sirocco winds from the east—harsh and dry. These last only for a short while and are followed by the dry season proper, which brings cooling western winds and, with them, dew. The summer solstice was marked by an elaborate southeast entryway to the complex. This is associated by Aveni and Mizrachi with Dummuzi, god of vegetation, and his marriage to Inanna. The entryway is not, however, aligned to the winter solstice sunrise, possibly because during this season, it would frequently have been invisible because of cloud. However, Mt. Tabor [originally, perhaps tabbur, navel] looms to the southeast in nearly the direction of the winter solstice and so may have served as a distant natural foresight. The alignment marker to the north points directly to Mt. Hermon (which has connotations of "sacred mountain"5) and Aveni and Mizrachi (p. 492) think that the Rujm el-Hiri was deliberately constructed where it is in order that that alignment would hold. If both sacred mountain alignments were deliberate, the location of the site would have been fixed with substantial precision.

There are a number of walls that run radially from one circle to another (but none from center to outer rim). There is no evidence that these walls served any practical function, and Aveni and Mizrachi believe that they were celestial markers. The azimuths of the walls were checked against the rise/set azimuths of the 22 brightest stars over a range of dates from 2000 to 3500 b.c. On average, the declinations of these stars change by ~10° in three millennia. They mention no testing of lunar or planetary extremes, although Inanna's identification with Venus might have suggested that as a possibility. They found no overall statistical significance in alignments "hits" taken in 500-year increments, but there are temporal clusterings of hits that suggest deliberate intent to Aveni and Mizrachi (p. 488). They find a peak of 37 hits (whereas by chance 16 alignments are expected) for 3000 ± 250 b.c., which involves several radial walls (9, 10, 13, and 14 on their site plan). They also find a paucity of apparent alignments to the circumpolar region of the sky (where no stars rise or set), which strengthens their hypothesis. The only star they specifically discuss is Sirius, which, they say, set acronychally (see §2.4.3) in 3200 b.c., three days before the winter solstice. A fuller consideration of these stellar alignments and possible mythical identifications would be desirable. We emphasize here again that crucial alignments in many cultures often involve fainter stars.

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