A Greek salt ‘frying’ pan model of character and calendar

Greek Cycladic islands salt evaporation pan bases often traced out planetary calendars. One terracotta pan bottom incidentally expresses the archetypal cycle of sixteen types in a rare axial grid. Patterns on the base may induce vortices to speed up evaporation and crystalisation, perhaps leaving faint patterns in the salt cake as a kind of ‘water mark’. The pan formed a kind of ‘womb’. At the handle was often traced a vulva triangle, and two short ‘legs’. Salt cake ‘coins’ were made in wooden, pottery or bronze pans.

Greek Cycladic-styled salt pan base calendar, with semi-abstract characters in axial fields (terracotta. Taranto, BC 2000s. NatMusArch 204787, loan to Lecce MusArcProv 2009. After Diffendale. Typology and axial grid by ED Furter).

General themes in this terracotta pan base (bottom), perhaps made by a mould, include the four half-types, typical of containers and lids, secrets and revelations, heads and tails, options, and woven textures; and type 11 Virgo; of a womb, gestation (here salt crystalisation); and the polar types (here a rare axial marker, rare axial lines, and circumpolar decans (see similar Egyptian sets of decans in Neugebauer and Parker 1969). This work uniquely hints at some conscious appreciation of some of the five structural levels in nature and culture (sets of optional features; sequence; eye-to-eye axes; polar markers; and relative orientation). Further study could reveal more about how various cultural media sustain their expressions of archetypal structure, despite occasional illustrations of one another, and copy errors arising in formalised ‘programmes’.

Type; Character (archetypal features):

1 Taurus; Scribe? (book. Egyptianising indicates a later date, as Hellenising indicates in Egypt).

2 Taurus; Fish (SWOPPED with 4, bull, decan Hyades, see caption). And cobra or fish-hook? (twisted).

3c Cista; Caduceus (snakes, weave. Decan star Algol, head held by 2 Perseus. C-types are off the axial grid. In this axial work they are all expressed, as the strongest cardinal cross, perhaps as seasonal markers of the era (see notes below). The general theme here includes half-types, structural points, abstracts (half-figures), and regular geometry (rare in art and building sites). Thus the work may be a conscious model of archetypal structure, the first candidate identified among 600 artworks and 60 building sites.

3 Aries; Ram (sacrifice). It takes up more than its ideal 20 degree slice, and its bent ground-line indicates conscious interference.

4 Pisces; Throne? (rectangle, king, perhaps furnace?). And bull (SWOPPED with 2, fish?).

4p Gal.S.Pole; Peg or pipe (juncture, spout?). And ingot or plaque? (of 4, rectangle, decan Pegasus Square).

5:20 Aquarius; Radiant head or Apollo (sun, of 4, perhaps displaced in favour of the misplaced bull). And noose (ribbon, of 4, decan Pisces ribbon?). And plaque rear (decan Pegasus front).

5:21 Aquarius; Ladder, or measure, or two angels? Head (tailcoat head?). Rod or foreleg (more typical at 8/9 healer. Here a priest?).

6c CistaTail; Club (Winter?).

6 Capricornus; animal head? (sacrifice), horn? (horned).

7 Sagittarius; X-staff. Pool? (of 7g, decan galactic centre). T-bag? (bag, unfolding).

7g Gal.Centre; Cross-staff (juncture, decan galactic crossing). The small next to the polar circle may express the abstract edge of the polar triangle (4p-cs), one of many indications that the work is largely subconscious, despite conscious calendric intent. Very few artworks function as star maps or calendars.

8 Scorpius; Snake (healer) rear-facing (poison neutralised?). Circle (decan Ophiuchus, snake-handler?). Rectangle or podium (pillar).

9 Scorpius; Small circle. Turtle (decan Hercules, spread posture).

10c CistaLid; Four-armed X-shaped (10 W-posture, staff) torch (revelation). Autumn?

10 Libra; Four-armed X-shaped torch (W-posture, staff, carousel).

11 Virgo; Water monster (decan Hydra). Breasts and midriff (womb). Bear? (decan Bootes, bear tamer), rear-facing (probably combined with 12 Ursa). General themes in the work include sea, salt, gestation, currency, and polarity (here axes, and circumpolar decans).

11p Gal.Pole: Spear (juncture, weapon, of 12). Decans Bootes-Ursa near the pole resemble two cups (decan Crater, Grail, below them). The more usual L-shape of decan Coma and its galactic pole is absent, confirming that the work is largely subconscious.

12 Leo; Ball or drum? (interior, rounded). Kithara or harp? (chest, interior, perhaps decan Ursa?). Bear rear (decan Ursa. See 11).

13 Leo; Shields or folded skin shield (chest, heart, rounded, bastion, war).

14c CistaHead; Lightning (weave).

14 Cancer; T-shape? (more usually Y-shaped).

15 Gemini; Loom (rope, decan Canis Minor?). King? (re-creator) with coat (bag), weaving (churn) twine (rope), from wool or cotton? (bag).

15g Gal.Gate; Cotton stock (juncture). Orientation of the work is anchored on the two galactic gates, the handle at 7g (at the galactic centre, where the ecliptic bridges the galactic ‘river’, here at the largest circles), and the furthest edge at 15g, the Gemini-Taurus ‘gate’.

The axial centre or ‘ecliptic pole’ is on the design centre (rare). This point, and its grid, constantly rotates around the celestial pole (labelled c), a circuit per day, thus the work is not usable as a star map, rather a myth map or ritual chart. Here are ten potential ‘celestial poles’ markers. The vertical plane of the handle may indicate a celestial pole on the 15g spindle post base (juncture. Anubis fetish?); and the ‘celestial south pole’ on 7g’s galactic centre base (juncture). This plane may place ‘summer’ in Gemini-Taurus, thus ‘spring’ and the cultural time-frame in Age Pisces-Aquarius, confirmed by the thick post on the right. But this is our current age (about AD 2016. See ‘Columbian’ discs below). The unique axial grid, with strongest cross lines on diagonals between the half-types, may place midsummer on the 14c or Leo-Virgo spear point (juncture); and midwinter or ‘celestial south pole’ on the 6c peg point; thus spring and the cultural time-frame in Age Taurus-Aries, about BC 1450. This subconscious time-frame is confirmed by the 3c bovid head, and the large X-cross opposite it at 10c, as an autumn equinox marker.

Greek Cycladic salt evaporation pan base (left) and top. This base has sixteen sea waves, a kind of marine ‘womb’, over a vulva triangle and two short ‘legs’. Salt cake ‘coins’ were made in wooden, pottery or bronze pans.

Salt cake currency and cultural ‘currency’

Doumas (1993) suggested that ‘frying pans’ made salt cakes currency. Experiments with a replica of a Castellic dish in France succeeded (Cassen and Vigier 2011). Handles had a female public triangle, indicating a kind of womb. Similar pre-Hispanic pots were found at Sayula, Mexico (Liot 2000), and a similar craft at Tswaing meteorite crater near Pretoria, South Africa.

The format may have been a model for Tibetan Chinese calendar discs, and ‘Columbian’ calendar discs (see below). Here are sixteen hour decans, eight borderline decans (24 hours), and eight polar decans (total 32). Resemblances with Babylonian decans are probably archetypal.

An apparent copy error swopped the Taurean bull and Piscean bird or fish, due to an inherent subconscious ambiguity (both types could be a bird); or a spring marker update from Taurus to Aries; or conscious interference in the spring sector, of a sequence misunderstood as seasonally anticlockwise. The line between ram and out-of-place bull is bent.

STONEPRINT Journal series

This post is an extract from a colour supplement to Stoneprint, the human code in art, buildings and cities. To order the book, or the book Mindprint (on art and rock art), or to book slide show talks, or to contribute articles, email edmondfurter at gmail dot com or call +27 (0)11 955 6732.

The edition including this article is available on Lulu.com

Four Equators Media, Johannesburg. ISBN 978-0-620-69863-4

See also;




Back editions at $/E 12:

1 Pictish beasts ‘zodiac’

2 Crop circles are natural artworks

3 The stoneprint tour of Paris

4 The stoneprint tour of London ($/E 18. Also on Lulu.com)

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