FROM ETERNAL SUNRISES TO SOLAR SYMBOLS IN CERNICA
-text and photos by Dan Uza-
I. ETERNAL SUNRISES FOR THE DEADS OF CERNICA
Leaving Bucharest on the Highway of the Sun,
and passing near the Caldararu village on the shore of the Cernica Lake,
where the waters of the Colentina River meander to the south,
we can find the traces of the largest necropolis
in the territory of the Romanian Land (or Wallachia),
under which, for about 7000 years, hundreds of skeletons
watched the sunrise with the hope of return to life.
In the 1960s after systematic excavations on the shores of the Cernica Lake,
the hungry excavator discovered fragments of human bones
old of almost seven millennia.
The archaeologists counted 379 skeletons scattered on about 12000 square metres.
Those skeletons were not accidentally arranged,
but seemed to follow an archaic sunrise.
What was the importance of the sunrise for our ancestors?
Why did it become an obsession even beyond the tomb?
We will try to find an answer venturing into the field of archaeoastronomy,
which studies celestial phenomena from old times
and their connections to the lives of human collectivities,
interdisciplinarity operating with elements of
astronomy, archaeology, anthropology and statistics.
Some researchers (Sangeorzan, Comsa, Szucs-Csillik etc.)
demonstrated that, in Cernica,
the deads were buried with their feet to the east.
Not necessary for view,
because in 4500 BC the neolithic man tried only to survive,
and that involved an adaptation to the environment,
in which agriculture and hunt were connected to seasons,
more specific to the Sun’s cycle and motion.
The positions of the deads betrayed in fact the last desperate try
to return them to life through the “contamination” with the living morning light.
That because, through the eyes of our ancestors,
the Sun daily rising
was a star miraculously born again
and engaging entire nature around it.
II. A VISIT TO THE NEOLITHIC NECROPOLIS IN CERNICA
“About the stars that we ignore in the tumult of our daily life…
When did we stop to admire their brightness or their ‘immortality’?
When did we enjoy for the last time that we are part of this Universe
influenced by our thoughts?
When did we wonder that we are only ‘dust of stars’
and not what we think,
or other people think about us?”
Cernica is a village placed at 15 km of Bucharest.
Here, in the 1960s a cemetery old of over 6000 years was discovered,
this place of meditation hiding, in fact,
along with bones and human suffering,
evidences of the oldest astronomical knowledge
in the territory of Romania.
Over 300 tombs, which were discovered there,
showed a special position,
so the archaeologists asked for the astronomers’ service.
One of them, Ioan Corvin Sangeorzan (past coordinator of
Admiral Vasile Urseanu Bucharest Municipal Observatory in 1968-1982)
synthesized his conclusions in a book,
Guide of the Cosmos (Bucharest, 1980):
“The tribe from 6000 years ago, venerating the Sun,
practised a special ritual of funerals, burying the deads in the morning
right in the solemn moment of sunrise,
and placing the bodies in pits always orientated to it.
Those people followed a scope,
they understood that the Sun’s light and warmth represented
something necessary to life,
and they probably believed in a continuity of the existence of those who died.
Along with utensils and food which they deposited in the pit of the dead person,
those people used to orientate the body to the rising Sun
for ensuring life after death.”
Since the Sun changes its rising point during one year,
sliding to the left (summer time) and to the right (winter time)
of the eastern cardinal direction,
astronomers found out that the tombs were arranged in the form of a fan,
depending on the calendaristic moment of decease and burying.
And the astronomers’ studies have demonstrated that this arrangement
was not accidental.
The fascination of the Sun for those people
coincided with the passing from the model of subsistence based on hunt
to that based on agriculture.
In the neolithic age, to observe more attentive the Sun and seasons
became something essential, because the harvest and even life
depended on its light and heat.
So a cult that personified the Sun as a deity appeared,
because, only through his power,
vegetation and fauna returned to life…
In April 2012 I was for a few days in Bucharest
(a city of contrasts, which seems unfinished),
and I decided to go on the traces of the astronomer Ioan Corvin Sangeorzan
to the Cernica necropolis,
where Lilian Iordache,
a local passionate for the history of those places,
who manages an electronic portal of that zone,
So I left the agglomerated bustle of Romanian Capital
for the shores of the Cernica Lake,
which shone under a patient Sun.
Beyond the village of Caldararu,
the ground road closes into a ringlet.
That was my destination.
Here a cross seemed to bless
the older machinery of solar resurrection.
III. SOLAR SYMBOLS AT THE CERNICA MONASTERY
Only a few hundred metres to the west of
the Caldararu-Cernica necropolis,
on an islet in the Cernica Lake,
there is the Cernica Monastery,
which was built in the beginning of the 1600s,
short before Galileo Galilei watched the sky through a lunette.
Over there I found out that the monastery is
full of solar symbols and cosmic analogies…
Close to twilight,
the church welcomed me with three spires,
one big and two small,
adorned by three metallic, golden crosses,
in a group of four benevolent suns.
That because the fourth cross rides the ridge of the entrance roof.
It does not have an own spire,
but this is not something disturbing,
on the contrary,
the entire concept seems to contain a premeditated harmony.
Is this a solar-lunar joint?
The Moon passes through four phases:
when she touches the maximum illumination,
when she practically cannot be seen in the sky,
First and Last Quarter,
when wee see a half of her face orientated to the earth.
In this architectural game,
the big spire could symbolize the Full Moon,
the two small spires could be the two Quarters,
and the missing spire could be the New Moon.
Just an idea…
The Sun projected his beams on the entrance façade.
The mosaic from under the arch,
a composition with an obvious solar sense,
Somewhere under the shadow,
a peacock was sculpted as another solar symbol.
The gate of the church confirmed my supposition:
two sculpted halves,
with the Sun and the Moon in anthropomorphized states:
-The Sun as a strong young man
(he doesn’t know bodily transformations,
being the eternal star).
-The Moon as an old lady
(she is born, becomes old and dies together with us).
I entered the church.
The worshipers did not seem disturbed.
The closest monk blessed me,
marking my forehead with unction.
In a corner I found out the flower of life
in a solar adaptation,
an archaic motif connected to sacred geometry.
Saint Mary seemed to float over the altar,
with the Sun and Little Jesus
(that in fact are the same entity).
A coincidence or not,
right in the middle of the religious service,
a solar figure began to illuminate, like in a magic.
through the western window of the cupola,
the last sunbeams penetrated inside.
I felt like Indiana Jones
in a temple with a sense
lost a long time ago.
First published in Romanian in Dan Uza’s Cercul de Stele
Design: Florin-Alexandru Stancu
English adaptation: Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
© 2013 Borealis Astroclub and SARM