The Aryan Debate: Horse

In 1974, archaeologists J. P. Joshi and A. K. Sharma found horse bones in Surkotada, a Harappan site in Gujarat. This was a sensational discovery: first, it was the bones of a horse and second, it was dated to the period 2265 B.C.E. to 1480 B.C.E, which corresponds to the Mature Harappan period[1].

Finding horse remains, especially from India, are always controversial. For example, one of the earliest claims of horse is dated to 4500 B.C.E in the Aravalli range in Rajasthan – the same place from where the Harappans got their copper. This period is the same time when horse was first domesticated in the world. So there are questions: was the artifact obtained from a Bronze Age level even though the site was Neolithic? Was it really a horse — the Equus Caballus —rather than a donkey or onager.?

Due to the large size of bones and teeth of an onager, it is hard to distinguish it from a horse. Also sometimes the reports that come with excavations have insufficient measurements, drawings, and photographs required for independent assessment[1]. Due to this the findings are always suspect; it is always concluded that the horse arrived quite late to India.

Such questions arise because in the Indo-Aryan debate — if Vedic civilization pre-dated, co-existed or followed the Harappan civilization — a key factor is the horse. In this debate the main argument against Harappa being Indo-Aryan can be summarized as follows.

  1. According to the popular version of Indian pre-history, horse — an animal not native to India — was bought to India by the Indo-Aryans when they came in 1500 B.C.E. There is no evidence of horse in India before 1500 B.C.E.
  2. Among the numerous seals found in Harappa there is none which represent a horse, while other animals like the bull, buffalo, and goat are represented.
  3. In Rg Veda, the horse (asva) has cultural and religious significance. Since there is absence of horse in Harappa, it can only mean that the Vedic people arrived after the decline of the Harappan civilization.

The find at Surkotada upset this narrative because it crossed a lakshman rekha into Mature Harappan and also violated the threshold for the Indo-Aryan arrival. Hence the findings themselves became suspect – at least till 1991.

The eminent archaeozoologist, Sandor Bokonyi, was in Pune to attend a workshop on ‘Prehistoric contacts between South Asia and Africa’ at the Deccan College. Following the conference he spent some time in Delhi where the Excavation Branch of the ASI showed him the finds from Surkotada which consisted of six samples, mostly teeth. After examining the artifacts, he concluded that they were not of a half-ass, but a real domesticated horse[7].
Continue reading “The Aryan Debate: Horse”

Indic influence in ancient Syria and Egypt

Mention ancient Egypt and the names we remember are Tutankhamen, Nefertiti and Cleopatra. For an Indic connection there is Ramesses II – the Pharaoh who had peppercorns stuffed into his nose. Though he was dismissed as a rebel and heretic, one Pharaoh who deserves attention is Nefertiti’s husband and Tutankhamen’s father Akhenaten (1353 – 1336 BCE) – the first known monotheist and probably the founder of monotheist intolerance.
Recently BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time (via Anne) had an episode on Akhenaten and one of the issues they discussed was why did Akhenaten, in a polytheistic Egypt, insist on the worship of only the Sun disk Aten? Was that a shift in theological thinking or a political move to divest the powerful priests of Amun of their power?
There is no clear answer for why in the third year of his reign Akhenaten started the construction of the new temple dedicated to his Sun god. In some incomplete inscriptions Akhenaten mentioned that things were bad during the reign of his father and grandfather, but it is not clear what was bad. This is also a bit surprising since the reign of his father — Amenhotep III — was  one of those prosperous times in Egyptian history[1].
But another possibility — one which is rarely mentioned — is that Akhenaten’s father-in-law, one Tusharatta, was a Mittani king in North Syria. His wife Kiya was a Mittani and his mother Tiye was half-Mittani. The Mittanis were a warrior elite who ruled over a Hurrian population. But what’s special about them is that they spoke an Indo-Aryan language.

In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, Indic deities Mitra, Varun. a, Indra, and N¹asatya (Asvins) are invoked. A text by a Mitannian named Kikkuli uses words such as aika (eka, one), tera (tri, three), panza (panca, ¯ve), satta (sapta, seven), na (nava, nine), vartana (vartana, round). Another text has babru (babhru, brown), parita (palita, grey), and pinkara (pi _ ngala, red). Their chief festival was the celebration of visuva (solstice) very much like in India. It is not only the kings who had Sanskrit names; a large number of other Sanskrit names have been unearthed in the records from the area.[Akhenaten, Surya, and the R. gveda2]

But is this language Indo-Iranian, Iranian or Indo-Aryan or to rephrase: did the Mittanis speak the PIE branch of India.? That matter was settled in 1960 by Paul Thime[3].

There are several reasons, but to be brief, I shall only give three: 1. the deities Indra,Mitra, Varun.a, and Nasatya are Indian deities and not Iranian ones, because in Iran Varun.a is unknown and Indra and Nasatya appear as demons; 2. the name Vasukhani makes sense in Sanskrit as a “mine of wealth” whereas in Iranian it means “good mine” which is much less likely; 3. satta, or sapta, for seven, rather than the Iranian word hapta, where the initial `s’ has been changed to `h’.[Akhenaten, Surya, and the R. gveda2]

How did this Indo-Aryan speaking population reach Syria and Palestine in the 14th century B.C.E? There are four possibilities[3].

  1. This group split away from the Iranians, colonized the Mittani kingdom and then reached India.
  2. One group split away from Iranians and moved to India, while another group went to the Near East.
  3. The Indo-Aryans reached India and then went back to Near East.
  4. Indo-Aryans, a Vedic speaking tribe from India left for the Near East taking their gods with them.

Among these (1) is not considered as serious possibility while (2) is the most commonly accepted one. Sten Konov argued for (3) while Frederick Eden Pargiter supported (4). According to H. Jacobi (who believed that the Mittanis came from India), since the worship of Vedic deities was happening in 14th century Mittani kingdom, it would have happened in India much earlier. Jamna Das Akhtar and P.E.Dumont thought that the dates were even earlier[3].
In fact there are many arguments in support of (4). Archaeologists have not found Central Asian, Eastern European or Caucasian culture in the Mittani kingdom. At the time same time they found the peacock motif – something which could have come from India. Based on this Burchard Brentjes argued that Indo-Aryans were settled in the Near East much before 1600 B.C.E[3].With all the trading relations between various parts of India and the Near East, dating as far back as 4000 BCE with the find of cotton in Dhuwelia and carnelian bead in  Mesopotamia in the third millennium BCE, the migration of Indo-Aryans is not a fantasy tale.
Thus with all the Indo-Aryan culture around him, is it possible that Akhenaten got the idea of “One Truth” and the worship of the disk of the sun from it?[2]
There is another related mystery: how this concept of the worship of one God, which disappeared from Egypt, surface in Judaism much later.? The most common explanation is that probably Moses, who according to the Hebrew Bible led an exodus, took the idea to Israel. But archaeology has revealed that the Exodus as mentioned in the Bible never happened. One theory is that they adopted it from a desert people called Shasu? Is there any other explanation?
Postscript: Finally it would take Tutankhamen, the boy king who is currently in San Francisco, to restore the old Egyptian culture back.

  1. In Our Time, BBC Radio 4
  2. Subhash Kak, Akhenaten, Surya, and the Rg veda,July 17, 2003
  3. Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate (Oxford University Press, USA, 2004).

The Lost-Wax Method

During the third millennium BCE that trade relations between India and Mesopotamia prospered: Burial sites in Mesopotamia had shell-made lamps and cups produced from a conch shell found only in India; Early Dynastic Mesopotamians were consumers of the Harappan carnelian bead. Also the Gujaratis were exporting hardwood and there are even unverified reports of spices from the Malabar coast reaching Mesopotamia. But now there is a debate over if a colony of Indians lived in Mesopotamia —  in a Meluhhan village — at that time[Trading Hubs of the Old World – Part 2]

During this period, texts from Uruk in Mesopotamia mention copper, mainly copper from Dilmun (Bahrain), which originally came from Magan (Oman). In return the Mesopotamians exported barley[1]. The Harappans too used copper extensively. While one copper source was Oman, the other was the Jodhpura-Ganeshwar culture of Rajasthan[2].
Skipping a few millennia, a 10th century BCE copper production center was discovered in the Negev desert and was claimed to be King Solomon’s mines, though there is debate over if there was a King Solomon. One of the artifact from that era is the twin-headed ibex and swords, found in Israel’s Cave of the Treasure.
Ancient artisans — in Mesopotamia, Greece, China — used a technique called the Lost-Wax method to produce works of art, but that technique is not used much any more. One place where this technique still survives is in Tanjavur district – the realm of the Chola empire. It was here, as Vilayannur Ramachandran explains, that Hindu artistes exaggerated feminine beauty to jolt the aesthetic sense of the viewers.
When a picture of the twin-headed ibex and swords was given to the sthapathi in Swamimalai he was able to create the same using a process which has been around for millennia.


  1. Nicole Boivin and Dorian Fuller, “Shell Middens, Ships and Seeds: Exploring Coastal Subsistence, Maritime Trade and the Dispersal of Domesticates in and Around the Ancient Arabian Peninsula,” Journal of World Prehistory 22, no. 2 (June 1, 2009): 180, 113.
  2. Jane R. McIntosh, The Ancient Indus Valley: New Perspectives, 1st ed. (ABC-CLIO, 2007).

Trading Hubs of the Old World – Part 2

(The Arabian Sea Network)

(Read Part 1)
In 1881, the Theosophist Henry Steel Olcott, said, “We Europeans..have a right to more than suspect that India 8,000 years ago sent out a colony of emigrants[6].” New evidence suggests that Olcott was right about the time, but wrong about Indians emigrating in the Old World.
During the third millennium BCE that trade relations between India and Mesopotamia prospered: Burial sites in Mesopotamia had shell-made lamps and cups produced from a conch shell found only in India; Early Dynastic Mesopotamians were consumers of the Harappan carnelian bead. Also the Gujaratis were exporting hardwood  and there are even unverified reports of spices from the Malabar coast reaching Mesopotamia. But now there is a debate over if a colony of Indians lived in Mesopotamia — in a Meluhhan village — at that time[7].
The interesting news is that these trade relations happened much earlier than was previously believed. The important question is: did Harappans have knowledge of the monsoon winds to travel to Mesopotamia?
Soon trade with Mesopotamia declined because Oman developed as a trading hub; the Harappans did not have to travel as far as Mesopotamia for trading. Oman imported both luxury goods and basic commodities: wood, carnelian, combs, shell, metal objects, seals, weights and possibly large volume storage jars. What was considered luxury – copper, cereals — became common goods with coastal communities playing a major part.
The bitumen coated reed boats of the third millennium BCE were replaced by the plank-built wooden boats by the second millennium BCE. Instead of a few major players, there were many minor players creating a distributed network.
While there is evidence for sea-faring Harappans traveling to the Persian Gulf, there is no archaeological evidence of Mesopotamians reaching India during that period. Since no large ports, warehouses have been found in Harappa, it is assumed that the trade involved small-scale ports belonging to local communities; the Lothal dock and warehouse is of late Harappan period.

The other interesting development is the trade with East Africa. The Arabians and their neighbors in Levant and Mesopotamia used wheat and one species – the bread wheat – came from the Indus and the other – emmer wheat – from Africa. The pearl millet which was domesticated in Mali and Mauritania around 2500 BCE was found in Gujarat  by 2000 – 1700 BCE. African crops like sorghum and Ragi started appearing in South India after this period, possibly via Gujarat. There was a Western transmission of crops too: moong dal (third mil BCE), urad dal (2500 BCE), pigeon pea (1400 BCE), sesame (2500 BCE), and cotton (5000 BCE) made their way to both Africa and Arabia.


By 2000 BCE, the the Harappan maritime activity shifted to Gujarat. Around that time the trade between Africa and India intensified. While crops moved from Africa to India, genetic studies have shown that the zebu cattle went from India via Arabia to Africa.  These Bos Indicus, who reached Africa, met some Bos taurines and before you knew, sparks were flying, setting the African Savannah on fire. There is also evidence of the migration of zebus from Indus to Near East via Iran in the late third millennium BCE. Some of this zebu movement involved travel by boats along the Arabian coast and points to a trade on a much larger scale. Thus the transportation of a giraffe in 1405 by Zheng He’s fleet from Africa to China does not look that far fetched.

The Omanis developed wooden boat technology and deep-sea fishing around the time the African crops reached India. If they had knowledge of monsoons, the Omanis could reach India directly, else they had to travel around the Makran coast and reach India via Iran. It is also possible that the Omanis got their wooden craft technology from Indians; after all they imported wood from India.

(Ramses II)

An interesting development happens in 1200 BCE. Among the dried fruits kept in the nostrils of the mummy of Ramses II was pepper and there was only one place in the world where pepper was produced. While this points to the first contact between the Malabar coast and Egypt and the origins of the spice trade, what is not known is how the pepper reached Egypt.
The Harappan trade meanwhile shifted from Oman to Bahrain — Mesopotamian textual sources start mentioning more of Dilmun than Magan — and so Dilumn became the transit point for goods to Mesopotamia from India, but this change in the transit point did not affect the goods. Many millennia later when When Ibn Battuta visited Calicut, the chief merchant was an Ibrahim from Bahrain with the title shah bandar (the port master or chief of harbor)[5].
This is the point we see the rise of an early capitalism with private Mesopotamian citizens funding seafaring merchants who operated in a complex exchange system. Business was risky, but Dilmun communities thrived on the profit.
Then slowly we see the merchants in Dilmun adopting Harappan administrative standards. Thus goods were sealed with the Harappan style stamp seals and not the cylindrical Mesopotamian ones. The Indus weight system was also used and it was known as the standard of Dilmun. Meanwhile certain seals found also in Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, which were inspired by the Sumerian seals
By Iron age, there was a technological break through with the mastery over monsoons. The Arabians were already using monsoon winds to reach India. At the same time the Egyptians too started doing the same — with boats with sharp bows and triangular sails — skipping the middlemen in Arabia due to which South Indian ports gain prominence over Gujarati ones.
Since our minds are locked in to the “Aryan migration/trickle down” 1500 BCE time frame, we rarely look into the interactions before that period. A recent paper in Nature, on the origins of Indian population, showed that the rise of Ancestral North Indians and South Indians was connected to human. Between these two events, Indians had extensive trade contacts with the Old World and hence the door was not closed after the ANI and ASI established themselves. There was movement of people, animals and plants, both into India and out of India for many generations. It is worth investigating what impact this interaction had in the cultural transformation of the subcontinent.
A painful lesson India and Africa learned is that trade usually ends up in colonization. But looking at the trade network of this period, there is no such evidence, even in a place like Bahrain which was central to the global trade. Trade, free of colonization, would take place even during the medieval period till the Portuguese showed up in Calicut in 1498 looking for “Christians and spices.”


  1. Himanshu Prabha Ray, The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
  2. Nicole Boivin and Dorian Fuller, Shell Middens, Ships and Seeds: Exploring Coastal Subsistence, Maritime Trade and the Dispersal of Domesticates in and Around the Ancient Arabian Peninsula, Journal of World Prehistory 22, no. 2 (June 1, 2009): 180, 113.
  3. Jack Turner, Spice: The History of a Temptation (Vintage, 2005).
  4. Jacques Connan, “A comparative geochemical study of bituminous boat remains from H3, As-Sabiyah (Kuwait), and RJ-2, Ra’s al-Jinz (Oman),”Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 16, no. 1 (2005): 21-66.
  5. Mehrda Shokoohy, Muslim Architecture of South India: The Sultanate of Ma’bar and the Traditions of Maritime Settlers on the Malabar and Coromandel Coasts, 1st ed. (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003).
  6. Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate (Oxford University Press, USA, 2004).
  7. C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky,Archaeological Thought in America (Cambridge University Press, 1991).


  1. Most of this article is based of Reference [2].
  2. From Wikipedia: “In 1974, Egyptologists visiting his tomb noticed that the mummy’s condition was rapidly deteriorating. They decided to fly Ramesses II’s mummy to Paris for examination. Ramesses II was issued an Egyptian passport that listed his occupation
    as “King (deceased)”. The mummy was received at Le Bourget airport,
    just outside Paris, with the full military honours befitting a king”

Images: (via Wikipedia)

Trading Hubs of the Old World – Part 1

  1. Lime plaster fragments found in Dhuwelia (Eastern Jordan), around 4000 BCE had remains of a cotton fibre attached to it. The only place from where that particular sample of cotton could have come was Baluchistan[1].
  2. Some time after 2334 BCE, Sargon of Akkad boasted about ships to India lying in his harbor[1].
  3. After 2000 BCE, Indian cattle reached Africa and lived up to their name: the humped cattle. [2]
  4. On July 12, 1224 BCE, Ramses II, one of Egypt’s greatest Pharaohs died. When he was mummified, the priests put a couple of peppercorns from Kerala up his large bent nose[3].

In “Hubs of Medieval trade” (Pragati, June 2009), Ullatil Manmadhan wrote about the maritime trade networks in the Indian Ocean which between 1000 – 1500 CE transported goods, religion and culture from East Africa to Egypt to Arabia to India through ports like Calicut, Fustat and Ormuz. But many millennia before this — before the urban dynasties of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Harappa — there existed a maritime network which linked Africa to India via Arabia.


There are few issues when you go that far back in time: we don’t have historical records, remnants of trade artifacts, or representation of those activities in art.  While travelers like Marco Polo or Ibn Battuta left us narratives of their travel, we don’t have that luxury while dealing with this period.

In the absence of the written record, the story has to be constructed from genetic studies, studies of plant and animal dispersal, and by archaeology.  For example, much of the domesticated plants and animals in Arabia originated outside Arabia: cattle was introduced from the Near East and donkey from Egypt. Regarding plants it is possible that the date palm in Arabia probably came from the Indian Sugar Date Palm or from Iran around 5000 BCE.

The history of this trade network starts in 6200 BCE for a reason. In the time period between the rise of farming communities and the peak of Harappan civilization, 6200 BCE was a dry period. Following this dry period sea levels rose and water was released from various lakes into the Atlantic and Red Sea affecting the coastal sites. Thus if coastal communities existed before that period, the evidence is hard to find.

The evidence for coastal communities come from shell middens, which are shell mounds. Shell middens can reveal a lot of information about human activity including the food they ate. Some of these mounds were the place where the village would dump garbage and some times contained evidence of house hold goods. The Greeks called the beach dwellers Ichthyophagi — mainly to the stump the finalists of the National Spelling Bee — and after 6200 BCE, there is a rise shell midden sites around Arabia.

Once coastal communities were established, the next step was maritime trade. But sea faring was not an easy task: the sailor, besides having knowledge of the currents, also had to  be an expert in navigating past shoals and reefs. They also had to know when the wind blew north so that they would not waste time traveling south. 

Arabian people of this period knew about ocean traveling; the remnants of a boat was found near Kuwait and this boat which was made from reed bundles, tied with rope, and sealed with bitumen had barnacle impressions on it. This site, which could be dated to 5500 – 500 BCE, also had a painted disc showing a sailing boat[4]

The Egyptians used boats even earlier; there has been evidence of boats on the Nile dating to the 7th millennium BCE.  Egyptian trade started around 5000 BCE and maritime trade a millennium later. This was the time around which the Persian Gulf and Red Sea trade started as well.

India enters into this network around the fourth millennium BCE. Archaeologists in Dhuwelia, a seasonal hunting site  in Eastern Jordan found cotton thread embedded in lime-plaster. Cotton is not native to Arabia and that particular species could have come from only one place in the world: Baluchistan, where it has been cultivated since the fifth millennium[2]. But it is not clear if this prized good was transported via a land route or on a boat to the Persian Gulf. One thing is clear;to reach Dhuwelia one has to travel through the Euphrates valley[3]

(An Akkadian ruler, probably Sargon)

After the mid-fourth millennium BCE, the world changed. The urban civilizations of the Old World started rising – in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, in the Indian subcontinent. These civilizations maintained records which reveal more about the trade networks and the maritime activities. This is the time when places like Dilmun (Arabian Mainland or Bahrain), Meluhha (Indus), Punt (somewhere in Africa) came into existence in records.  With the rise of urban societies, the goods started traveling farther and trading networks developed. 

By this period, the Egyptians moved from reed to wooden boats and started using the sail. Like the 14th century Ming emperor who sent out huge fleets for prestige and power, the fourth millennium BCE Egyptians too started doing the same. Like Zheng He’s fleet, these ships too were spectacular and went around acquiring exotic goods. Wood was imported; there were break throughs in sail-rigging; the Egyptians were soon making sea voyages to Punt. 

By the time of Mature Harappan, there is evidence of direct trade between the participants. Around this time the Sargon of Akkad (2334 – 2279 BCE) boasted[1]

The ships from Meluhha
the ships from Magan
the ships from Dilmun
he made tie-up alongside
the quay of Akkad

Another Sargonic tablet mentions an Akkadian who was the holder of a Meluhha ship and a seal mentions a person who was a Meluhha interpreter. Indus seals — the ones we have been applying the Markov model on — too start appearing in Mesopotamia.>(To be continued)


  1. Coming in Part 2: trade with Mesopotamia and East Africa
  2. The primary source for this article is a recent paper: Shell Middens, Ships and Seeds: Exploring Coastal Subsistence, Maritime Trade and the Dispersal of Domesticates in and Around the Ancient Arabian Peninsula by Nicole Boivin and Dorian Fuller.
  3. Images from Wikipedia

Godesses around the world

The earliest inhabitants of India worshipped a Mother Goddess and a horned fertility god. Godesses are also mentioned in the Rg Veda like Prthvi, Aditi, Usas, Rathri and Aranyani. While godesses are still worshipped in Indic religions, they have largely disappeared from the West after the arrival of the Abrahamic religions.
But this was not the case before; female worship was prevalent all around the world. Recently three such artifacts were found:  in Turkey, in Golan and in Scotland.
The one in Golan, dated to 500 CE, was of Aphrodite – the Greek goddess of love. (see pictures)

“Aphrodite was the goddess of love, but also the goddess of fertility and childbirth,” Segal says. “Pregnant woman hoping for a safe birth would sacrifice to her, as would young girls hoping for love. Mainly, flowers, rather than animals, would be sacrificed to Aphrodite. The figurines we found were made in a mold in rather large numbers. They would be offered to the goddess in a temple by supplicants, or kept above one’s bed,” Segal said. [Dig unearths ancient cult figurines of Aphrodite]

According to the person who led the dig, Christians outlawed the Aphrodite cult, but it still survived since women clung to it.
While the Aphrodite figurine is just 1500 years old, the one found in Turkey is ancient, dating to 16,000 years back.

Erek said that the figurine showed that the social status of women was very important 16,000 years ago. Erek noted that the oldest fired clay god or goddess figurines –unearthed in Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Near East– were made in 5,000 BC. He added that experts believed that the clay was used earliest in that period, however, the goddess figurine showed that this method was older than thought. [16,000 Year-Old Mother Goddess Figurine Unearthed]

Finally, a sandstone figurine, 5000 years old, was discovered in Scotland and it is supposed to Scotland’s earliest face.

The carving is flat with a round head on top of a lozenge-shaped body. The face has heavy brows, two dots for eyes and an oblong for a nose. It is thought other scratches on top of the skull could be hair. A pair of circles on the chest are being interpreted as representing breasts, and arms have been etched at either side. It is believed a regular pattern of crossed markings on the reverse could suggest the fabric of the woman’s clothing.[Scotland’s ‘earliest face’ found]

The origins of Crucifixion and Resurrection myth

In the early days of Christianity, the practice was to appropriate pagan practices and celebrations. The Roman emperor Constantine presided over the First Council of Nicaea and it was there that Dec 25 was picked as the birth date of Yeshua. During those times, two important pagan festivals were celebrated – the first one starting on Dec. 17 honored Saturn, a major Roman deity of agriculture and harvest and the second one starting on Dec 25, celebrated the birth of Mithras, the Persian god of light. Constantine combined both and we now have Christmas.[Dec 25, 326 CE | varnam]

Now it turns out that even the story of crucifixion and resurrection has a pagan connection. According to Valerie Tarico, “it is an historicized version of a very ancient myth from Mesopotamia.” In the Sumerian tradition it is called “The Descent of Inanna” and “The Descent of Ishtar” in the Babylonian version.

Let’s start with the first part of the myth. Inanna and Jesus both travel to a big city, where they are arrested by soldiers, put on trial, convicted, sentenced to death, stripped of their clothes, tortured, hung up on a stake, and die. And then, after 3 days, they are resurrected from the dead. Now there are, to be sure, a number of significant differences between the stories. For one thing, one story is about a goddess and the other is about a divine man. But this is a specific pattern, a mythic template. When you are dealing with the question of whether these things actually happened, you have to deal with the fact that there is a mythic template here. It doesn’t necessarily mean that there wasn’t a real person, Jesus, who was crucified, but rather that, if there was, the story about it is structured and embellished in accordance with a pattern that was very ancient and widespread.[Valerie Tarico: Ancient Sumerian Origins of the Easter Story]