Brit-Am Research Sources (11 March, 2015, 20 Adar, 5775)
1. Denmark. Folding Chair suggests direct Bronze Age Germanic links to Ancient Egypt
2. Bronze Age Espionage: Did Ancient Germans Steal the Pharaoh's Chair Design? by Matthias Schulz
3. A Jewish History of Armenia by Moorad Alexanian
1. Denmark. Folding Chair suggests direct Bronze Age Germanic links to Ancient Egypt
6 May 2012
The ingeniously designed folding chair, in existence in Mesopotamia 4,500 years ago and still widely used today, suddenly became popular in northern Europe 3,500 years ago.
It's thought the Egyptian Pharaohs used the folding chairs as mobile thrones. Two examples were discovered in Tutankhamen's tomb, one of them ornately crafted from ebony, with ivory inlays. Remarkably, around 20 folding chairs of the same design have been discovered so far, mostly north of the River Elbe in Germany. The most complete example, the Guldhoj Stool, was found in a tree-trunk coffin in Denmark in 1891, was made . It was locally made of ash wood with an otter-skin seat by a craftsman on the Jutland peninsula and has been dated to 1389 BC.
Did the northern Europeans design their folding chairs independently of the Egyptians? German archaeologist Bettina Pfaff thinks not. She told der Spiegel, 'The design and dimensions of the chairs are too similar. They were copied.'
Recent finds show how far-reaching the Bronze Age trade network was. Craftsmen in Germany's Harz Mountains worked with gold from Cornwall, made swords based on a Mycenaean design, and copied looped needles from Cyprus. Luxury goods were commonly relayed from region to region. But the difference with the folding chairs is that, while examples have been found in Ancient Egypt and northern Europe, none have been found in the vast lands of southern and central Europe in between.
This suggests that Germanic traders, possibly travelling overland by oxcart on dirt roads, made the journey to North Africa and brought the folding chair design back with them to the North Sea coast. The chairs became a 'must have' in Northern Europe shortly after Egypt's power and influence expanded under Pharaoh Thutmose III (1479 to 1426 BC) to the borders of modern-day Turkey and mainland Greece.
2. Bronze Age Espionage: Did Ancient Germans Steal the Pharaoh's Chair Design?
by Matthias Schulz
Roughly 3,500 years ago, folding chairs remarkably similar to ones found in Egypt suddenly became must-have items in parts of northern Europe. Scholars are now looking into this potential case of ancient industrial espionage.
Nils Pamperin/ Archaeologisches Museum Hamburg
A Bronze Age folding chair found in northern Germany and now in Hamburg's Helms Museum.
When Tutankhamen died, his tomb was filled with all manner of precious objects, including two folding chairs. The more attractive one is made of ebony and has ivory inlays.
Such ingenious chairs were already being used in Egypt more than 4,000 years ago. The brilliantly simple design consists of two movable wooden frames connected to each other with pins and with an animal hide stretched between -- a kind of ur-camping stool.
It isn't surprising, given the advanced nature of their society, that the Egyptians were familiar with such comfortable seating. Astonishing, however, is that the gruff chieftains of northern Europe also sat on such chairs.
Some 20 Nordic folding stools have been discovered so far, most of them north of the Elbe River in Germany. The majority were found by mustachioed members of the educated classes, who burrowed into their native soils in the 19th century in search of "national antiquities." The wood had usually rotted away, leaving only the golden or bronze clasps, rivets and knobs.
The only complete specimen was found in 1891 in Guldhilj (Golden Hill) near Kolding on the Jutland peninsula, which forms modern-day mainland Denmark. The chair, made of ash wood and with an otter-skin seat, was found lying in a tree-trunk coffin. Dendrochronologists have dated the specimen, made by a local carpenter, to 1389 B.C.
But folding chairs clearly originated in the Orient. The oldest depiction of one is found on roughly 4,500-year-old Mesopotamian seals. Egyptians were also familiar with folding chairs at any early date. Dignitaries used them as mobile thrones, and the long stretchers at their bases prevented the chairs from sinking into the sand.
Bronze Age Trading Networks
The fact that the design reached so far north led many scholars to posit that northern Europeans developed it independently and in parallel to the Egyptians. But that view has now been challenged. "The design and dimensions of the chairs are too similar," says Bettina Pfaff, an archaeologist from Nebra, near the eastern German city of Halle, who specializes in prehistory. Her colleague Barbara Grodde also finds that there is "a remarkable similarity" between the Egyptian and Nordic models.
In other words, Pfaff says, "they were copied." This, in turn, presupposes that there was contact between sunny Egypt and the swampy North some 3,400 years ago.
Other evidence for such contact has also turned up. In recent years, archaeologists have discovered how far-reaching the trade network had already become in the Bronze Age. Blacksmiths from Germany's Harz Mountains worked with gold from Cornwall, while others imitated Mycenaean swords or looped needles from Cyprus.
"The elites throughout Europe were in communication at the time," says Bernd Zich, an archaeologist from Halle, adding that luxury goods were exchanged across great distances "usually on foot."
A Sudden Fashion Craze in the North
Such goods were apparently passed on from tribe to tribe and from region to region in a type of relay. But things were somehow different with the folding chairs. While they were used in the Orient and the far north, none of these folding chairs have been found in a wide swath of land between the two regions, either among the inhabitants of stilt houses in the Alps or among the Bronze Age residents of Italy and France.
Is it possible, then, that a northern trader made the long journey from the Baltic Sea to Egypt, stole the design and brought it back home? As farfetched as the idea might seem, it is certainly plausible. Archaeologists have recently concluded that there were long-distance scouts more than 3,000 years ago who brought tin from Germany's Erz Mountains all the way to Sweden. They probably traveled in oxcarts on dirt roads. Such ancient caravans probably also traveled along southern routes heading toward Africa.
Scholars are also determining the dates of such knowledge transfers. Egypt became a major power under Thutmose III (1479 to 1426 B.C.), whose armies reached the borders of modern-day Turkey. This changed the flows of goods. Even the Greek mainland fell under the spell of the pharaohs.
It was precisely at this time that a messenger from the North Sea coast could have been in Egypt and copied the chair's design onto papyrus. Starting in 1400 B.C., the stools started being made in the far north and abruptly became fashionable. It appears that every prince of the moors was suddenly determined to have one of the new thrones from the south.
Craftsmen copied the exotic chairs down to the last detail. They often used oak or ash for the frame. A particularly fine piece discovered in Bechelsdorf, in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, has elaborate ornamentation, with decorative metal tassels that chime and a deerskin seat.
For Clan Leaders or Sorcerers?
Many speculate that the furniture belonged to clan leaders entitled to an elevated position while traveling. Although the stool was only about 25 centimeters (10 inches) high, it would be high enough since everyone else would be forced to sit cross-legged on the ground.
But not all find this theory convincing. The objects were often discovered in "poorly furnished graves," explains Pfaff, the archaeologist. Instead, she believes the strange pieces of furniture belonged to a "spiritual elite" that was "not necessarily wealthy," such as healers and magicians with a connection to the world of spirits.
The man from Guldhilj could have also been one of these sorcerers. Apparently afraid of the dead, those who buried his body placed one of his own shoes under his head. In this way, Pfaff says, the corpse "could no longer climb out of the grave."
3. A Jewish History of Armenia by Moorad Alexanian
Much of the original Armenia is now the area of Kurdistan in Turkey.
from the seventh to ninth centuries the Arab conquerors called by the name
Armenia a province which included entire Transcaucasia, with the cities
Bardhaa, now Barda in the present Soviet Azerbaijan, where the governors
mostly resided, and Tiflis (now Tbilisi, capital of Georgia). The province
is also sometimes called Armenia in eastern sources. The Khazars were sometimes
credited with Armenian origin: this is stated by the seventh-century
Armenian bishop and historian Sebeos, and the Arab geographer Dimashqi (d. 1327). In
the 13th to 14th centuries the Crimea and the area to the east were known as
Gazaria (Khazaria) to western authors, and as Maritime Armenia to Armenian
authors. The term Armenia often included much of Anatolia, or otherwise
referred to cities on the Syrian-Mesopotamian route (now Turkey, near the
Syrian frontier) such as Haran (Harran), Edessa (Urfa), and Nisibis
Identification of Armenia in Literature
In the past Armenia has been connected with the biblical Ashkenaz. The
Armenians are termed "the Ashkenazi nation" in their literature. According
to this tradition, the genealogy in Genesis 10:3 extended to the populations
west of the Volga.
In Jewish usage Ashkenaz is sometimes equated with
Armenia; in addition, it sometimes covers neighboring Adiabene (Targ. Jer.
51:27), and also Khazaria (David b. Abraham Alfasi, Ali ibn Suleiman; cf. S.
Pinsker, Likkutei Kadmoniyyot (1860), 208; S. L. Skoss (ed.), Hebrew-Arabic
Dictionary of the Bible of David ben Abraham al-Fasi (1936), 159), the
Crimea and the area to the east (Isaac Abarbanel, Commentary to Gen. 10:3), the
Saquliba (Saadiah Gaon, Commentary, ibid.), i.e., the territory of the Slavs
and neighboring forest tribes, considered by the Arabs dependent of
Khazaria, as well as Eastern and Central Europe, and northern Asia (cf. Abraham
Farissol, Iggeret Orhot Olam (Venice, 1587), ch. 3). In other expositions
found in rabbinical works, Armenia is linked with Uz. The anti-Jewish
attitudes prevailing in eastern-Byzantine (Armenian) provinces made the
Targum identify it with the "daughter of Edom that dwellest in the land of
Uz" (Lam. 4:21) or with "Constantina in the land of Armenia" (now
between Urfa and Nasibin (Nisibis). Hence Job's "land of Uz" is referred to
as Armenia in some commentaries, for instance in those of Nahmanides and
Joseph b. David ibn Yahya. The "Uz-Armenia" of Abraham Farissol is however
the Anatolian region near Constantinople. Armenia is also sometimes called
Amalek in some sources, and Jews often referred to Armenians as Amalekites.
This is the Byzantine term for the Armenians. It was adopted by the Jews
from the Josippon chronicle (tenth century, ch. 64). According to Josippon,
Amalek was conquered by Benjaminite noblemen under Saul (ibid., 26), and
Benjaminites are already assumed to be the founders of Armenian Jewry in the
time of the Judges (Judg. 19ï¿½21). Benjaminite origins are claimed by
sectarian Kurds. The idea that Khazaria was originally Amalek helped to
support the assumption that the Khazar Jews were descended from Simeon (I
Chron. 4:42ï¿½43; Eldad ha-Dani, ed. by A. Epstein (1891), 52; cf. Hisdai ibn
Armenia is sometimes identified in literature with the biblical Minni (Pal.
Targ., 51:27), based on onomatopoeic exegesis of Armenia = Har ("Mountain")
Minni; similarly, Harmon (ha-Harmonah, Amos 4:3) is understood in the Targum
to denote the region where the Ten Tribes lived "beyond the mountains of
Armenia." Rashi identified Harmon with "the Mountains of Darkness," the term
used by medieval Jews for the Caspian mountains, believed in the West to
surround the kingdom of the Khazars (who were often taken for the Ten Lost
Tribes) and to include the Caucasus. The reference in Lamentations Rabbah
1:14, no. 42, does not refer to the passage of the Tribes through Armenia as
is usually claimed, but more probably to the Jerusalem exiles' easy
(harmonyah, "harmonious") route.
Armenia has further been identified with the biblical Togarmah (Gen. 10:3).
In Armenian tradition this genealogy has competed with the theory of
Ashkenazi origins, and extended to the Scythians east of the Volga. The
identification of Armenia as Aram (Gen. 10:22; 25:20; 28:5) is adopted by
Saadiah Gaon and also occurs in Islamic literature.
In the biblical age Armenia was conceived as the mountainous expanse in the
north dominating the route from Erez Israel to Mesopotamia (via Haran or its
neighborhood) and extending to (and beyond) the boundaries of the known
world. The forested heights near the sources of the Euphrates and the Tigris
stimulated Jewish commentators to develop geographical concepts concerning
this area in regard to Paradise (Gen. 2:8 ff.), the divine "mount of
meeting" in the north (Isa. 14:13), the connection of the two (Ezek. 28:13-16), and
the rebirth of mankind after the Flood (Gen. 8:4ff.). The name Ararat (Gen.
8:4; II Kings 19:37; Jer. 51:27) recalls the indigenous Armenian kingdom of
Urartu, based on Lake Van.
The medieval Armenian historian, Moses of Chorene, claims that Tigranes settled many Jewish captives in Armenian
cities, a statement reflecting the idea that the growth of cities and trade
under Tigranes was likely to attract Jews. In fact many Jews settled in the
area. Vassal kings appointed there by the Romans included the Herodians
Tigranes IV (c. 6 C.E.) and Tigranes V (60-61) in Greater Armenia, and
Aristobulus (55-60) in the western borderland, or Lesser Armenia. Under the
more autonomous Parthian dynasty (85-428/33), the Armenian cities retained
their Hellenistic culture, as the excavations at Garni (the royal summer
residence) have shown. The Jewish Hellenistic immigration continued, and by
360-370, when the Persian conqueror Shapur II reduced them by massive
deportation to Iran, the cities were largely populated by Jews. The
exaggerated figures recorded by the chronicler Faustus Byzantinus give
83,000 Jewish families deported from five cities, against 81,000 Armenian families;
the Jews formed the majority of the exiles from the three cities of Eruandashat, Van, and Nakhichevan. -
Moses of Chorene attributed a Hebrew origin to the Amatuni tribe and to the Bagratuni
(Bagratid) feudal dynasty of Armenia. The Bagratids, who claimed King David
as their ancestor, restored the Armenian kingdom, which lasted from 885 to
1045, when it fell to the Muslim invaders. The royal branch, whose
descendants remained in Georgia until 1801, also spread the fashion of
claiming Israelite genealogies and traditions in this Orthodox Christian
territory. The downfall of the Armenian kingdom was followed by general
decline. Many Armenians settled in Cilicia (a Byzantine province in Asia
Minor) and founded the Kingdom of Lesser Armenia, an ally of the Latin
Kingdom of Jerusalem, lasting until 1375, when it fell to the Mamluks.
Armenian Jewry ultimately disappeared as a distinct entity, although a part
was absorbed into Kurdish Jewry.
The 14th-century Travels of Sir John Mandeville, a geographical
compilation, states that the Caspian Jews, the future Gog and Magog, are
tributaries to the queen of Armony, Tamara of Georgia (1184-1212).