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Page 57


This is a life-size 2nd century BC bronze statue of a youth from Vani, Georgia, in the recent Sackler show: "Wine, worship & sacrifice: The golden graves of ancient Vani."

This was Colchis to the ancient Greeks, or Pontus to the Romans - ie. the southern Black Sea coast region, or Turkey, Armenia and Georgia.

("Aryans" - the Mithridates line of kings of Pontus descended from an Armenian general in the armies of the Persian King. They claimed descent from Darius.)

More specifically, regarding the founder of the dynasty, Mithridates I,

"...According to Appian, he was eighth in descent from the first satrap of Pontus under Darius the Great and sixth in ascending order from Mithridates Eupator."


I call this photograph, taken in January 2008:

"Youth of Pontus."


This is the statue from the other side:

I call this photo, taken at the same time:

"Youth of Pontus - 2."

This statue or Kouros is probably a standard representation of the "rock-birth of Mithras" in which the cave-born sun god is depicted emerging naked from a snake-entwined rock with a torch in one hand, a dagger in the other, and a Phrygian cap on his head. Traditionally, the date of this event has been December 25 - or Christmas day.

(Feb 11, 08). Also compare with Islam: a standard motif on all coins minted by the Mithridates ("given by Mithras") dynasty is a crescent and star.

" ... and on the same coins of all the sovereigns of the Pontic dynasty, in spite of the succession of kings and of the variety of types, there is regularly produced the crescent with the star, associated with the sword of Perseus."

Franz Cumont (1945), cited in David Ulansey's "The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries." at pg.38 (1989)

According to Cumont, the crescent and star represents the fifth grade of initiation (out of seven) into the mysteries of Mithras.

The stages were: 1. Corax (Raven); 2. Nymphus (Bride); 3. Miles (Soldier); 4.Leo (Lion); 5. Perses (Persian); 6. Heliodromus (Sun bearer) and 7. Pater (Father)

The Vani show continues from March 12 to June 1, 2008 at New York University's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.

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© 2008 by Waweru Njenga. All rights reserved.

First posted: 1/24/2008



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