The Moon is made of Green Cheese

I admire Robert Graves, I really do – his poetry, his short stories, his historical novels and, of course, his work on Greek Myth. The Greek Myths, (Graves 1955) is a major reference for this blog. Yet, in many ways, what I am writing here is an extended argument with the premise of The Greek Myths. Graves was great proponent of the theory that all Greek myth, indeed myth in general, is based on the ritual drama and metaphor of the Year King, the sacred king that must die annually with the sun, the crops and the vegetation. That this sacrifice is needed to ensure that the sun and the crops and the King will return again, new, vigorous and fertile in the following year.

Moreover, the origins of these cults are seen as matriarchal, where powerful Queen-Priestesses ruled and Kings were ephemeral and expendable. It is supposed ,however, that the myths record how the rituals were adapted, so that Kings ruled for longer, either because the King was sacrificed less frequently or a substitution was made or the whole ritual became purely symbolic. Thus society as a whole became more male-dominated. The Great Mother Goddesses of the original myths were down-graded to consorts and sacred virgins and the priestesses brought under the control of male priests. This is the view of Bronze Age Greek culture and religion that informs Mary Renault’s re-telling of the Theseus myth The King Must Die.

There is little doubt that Greek culture underwent enormous shifts from the late Bronze age and into the Iron Age and that it became more male-dominated as a whole. The Great Goddesses of the cities and regions, Hera, Artemis, Athene retained their importance in cult and ritual, even while their roles in myth were brought into conformity with the male-dominated world. Yet explaining all myth in this fashion can begin to seem relentlessly dull, as well as unlikely. It can also lead to some apparently bizarre conclusions.

There is a passage in Graves’ Greek Myths where he is discussing Helen as tutelary goddess/priestess of Sparta, rather than the character in the story of the fall of Troy. The name, he states, means either ‘moon’ or ‘basket in which offerings are made to the moon goddess’. A ritual of well-born young girls carrying baskets of offerings to the goddess is a feature of a number of Greek cults, and the baskets were known as ‘helene’.  (Willow, from which the baskets are likely to have been made, is ‘helice’.) The contents of the baskets were a secret. Graves asserts that they would have contained phallic emblems, representations of the genitals cut from the sacred king at his sacrifice. I, however, would like to propose another possibility. I suggest that the baskets contained cheese!

There was a famous, or infamous, ceremony at Sparta where young boys were whipped before the altar of Artemis Orthia. The name Orthia means ‘upright’, possibly even in the sense of ‘phallic’ and it seems to have been a name or title of a Spartan goddess long before that goddess was identified as Artemis. The whipping were considered necessary in order to splash the altar of the goddess with blood and even ancient commentators believed they might have been a substitution for an original human sacrifice. The Spartan youths accepted the whippings willingly as tests of their courage, endurance and piety, even though from time to time youths died as a result.

Ivory offerings representing Artemis Orthia Excavated from the sanctuary at Sparta

Ivory offerings representing Artemis Orthia
Excavated from the sanctuary at Sparta

The Romans, in particular, were fascinated by this ritual. Wealthy Romans often visited Sparta, whose manners and customs they admired. An theatre was built so they could watch the ceremony, apparently with the same sadistic enthusiasm with which they watched gladiatorial combat. Focusing on the whipping however, means that less attention is paid to other elements of the rite.  The youths, in fact, were being whipped as they attempted to steal cheeses from the Goddess’ altar. This suggest that cheese was very important to the ancient Spartans.

Remains of the Roman theatre at Sparta Ancient sparta theater" by Κούμαρης Νικόλαος. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons -

Remains of the Roman theatre at Sparta
Ancient sparta theater” by Κούμαρης Νικόλαος. Licensed under Attribution via Wikimedia Commons –

Cheese-making is, of course, a technological process, a ‘magic that works’. It requires knowledge and skill to carry out successfully and it is likely that, at least when the technology was new to an area, that certain parts of the process were trade or ‘sacred’ secrets. The most likely secret is the means to separate milk into curds and whey, whether by the use of animal or vegetable rennet or by other techniques such as heating. The curds are then strained, drained, pressed and matured in various ways to form cheese.

I expect that the cheeses were drained and matured in tightly woven baskets. In fact a cheese called Kalathaki or ‘basket cheese’.is still made using baskets, on the Greek island of Limnos. Cheeses made in such a way, round and white, would look very much like little moons. There is a reason that ‘the moon is made of green cheese’ is a common folk tale throughout Europe. Perhaps ancient peoples also felt that cheese is, in some sense, made of moon, sacred to the moon goddess who taught the secrets of its making? Thus you would certainly make the goddess offerings of cheeses, carried in their baskets, at the appropriate season.

Cheese can indeed look very like a moon

Cheese can indeed look very like a moon

Thoughts on Biblical Incest

I have briefly mentioned Numeira on the Dead Sea as one of the places where early evidence of the cultivated vine has been found. This site is often suggested as the biblical Gomorrah. While the probability of any such exact correspondence with the biblical account is small, the site certainly lies in the general area referred to in the narrative of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the escape of Lot.

This got me thinking about a later incident in the story of Lot. Having fled the cities, Lot and his daughters are living in the mountains with no other people nearby. The daughters despair of ever finding men to marry and give them children. They therefore decide to get their father drunk and on two successive nights lie with him and both conceive sons as a result. Notoriously, the authors of the Bible make no comment on the morality of this expedient but merely recount that, as a result, Lot’s daughters became the progenitors of the Moabite and Ammonite peoples.

It occurs to me that this story could be yet another example of a coded reference to the self-fertile grape vine, that has survived while its original meaning has been forgotten – that the incest referred to is not human but vegetative.  This may seem a far-fetched idea but it gains some support when we consider Lot’s name. Lot is derived from a root verb that means ‘to cover, to envelope’.  This could very well describe the flower or calyptra of the hermaphrodite vine which covers and envelopes the stamens and ovary until self-pollination takes place. Indeed our technical term calyptra is itself derived from a Greek word meaning ‘to veil, to cover’.

Lot and his Daughters by Albrecht Altdorfer via Wikimedia Commons

Lot and his Daughters by Albrecht Altdorfer
via Wikimedia Commons

Dionysus, God of the Vine

Dionysus is often referred to as the God of Wine and, and such he is equated with the Roman Bacchus and the Etruscan Fuflans. Other commentators have pointed out the complex and composite nature of the Greek conception of Dionysus. They can show the parallels with other ‘annually dying vegetation’ gods of the Adonis and Tammuz type. There are also connections with other ‘orgiastic release’ cults, that may have used other intoxicants, such as mead, ivy leaves or hallucinogenic fungi, rather than wine. It was this orgiastic aspect of the Dionysus cult that lead to his association with drama. The Greeks sought in their tragedies, not merely entertainment, but an immersive, emotional experience that led to the cathartic release of social tensions.

Dionysos and a Panther Mosaic from Halicarnassus James Lloyd CC 3.0

Dionysos and a Panther
Mosaic from Halicarnassus
James Lloyd CC 3.0

If, however, we look at the Dionysus myths from the perspective of technological innovations, the ‘magic that worked’ it becomes clear that he is uniquely associated not so much with wine, as with the vine. The wild grapevine (Vitis vinifera subsp. silvestris) is native to upland areas of the Near East, in particular the area between the Caucasus mountains of  Armenia, the Taurus mountains of eastern Turkey and the Zagros mountains of Iran. Here is where the first true wines were probably made. Chemical analysis of neolithic jars from Hajji Firuz Tepe in northern Iran has shown that they were used to store wine in a kitchen area of a settlement dated to 5400 – 5000 B.C.E. The real technical innovation, however, was the domestication and reliable cultivation of the vine.

The wild vine is dioecious, that is, it has male and female flowers on separate plants. In order for fruit to be set, both must grow in proximity, so that insects can gather pollen from the male flowers and fertilise the females. If neolithic farmers had planted male vines they would get no fruit. If they planted female vines they would get a crop, but only if there were male vines nearby to provide pollen for fertilisation. However, a small percentage of of grapevines are naturally hermaphrodite and therefore self-fertile. Selecting and cultivating these vines would ensure the farmer had a good crop and one, moreover, that could be introduced into areas where the vine did not naturally grow. Propagating the vines vegetatively, by layering or grafting, would ensure that they bred true and continued to to produce hermaphrodite plants. And indeed today, the cultivated vine (Vitis vinifera subsp. vinifera) which is not only found all over the Mediterranean, but which man has introduced to all parts of the world with a similar climate, is a hermaphrodite, self-fertile plant.

A single cultivated grapevine flower.  The green petals  form a cap which hold the pollen bearing stamens over the central ovary, when the cap is shed the stamens spring out. Francis Renaud CC2.0 via Wikimedia

A single cultivated grapevine flower.
The green petals form a cap which hold the pollen bearing stamens over the central ovary, when the cap is shed the stamens spring out.
Francis Renaud CC 2.0 via Wikimedia

I assume, therefore, that the cult of Dionysus spread because of the ‘magic that worked’, the gift of the God that was the self-fertile grapevine. I see the priesthood and adherents of Dionysus, who introduced the grapevine to new regions, as acting rather like an ancient Monsanto – in order to get access to the new crop you had to buy into the whole package. In return they would probably have provided, not only the initial crop material, but  instructions and guidance for its cultivation. The followers of Dionysus would not have been without self-interest, they would certainly have expected a cut of the profits of the new crop, in terms of donations to the God and his priests. There was never an expectation, until very recent times, that technological advances should be made freely available to everyone. On the other hand they were not religious con men. what they were selling wasn’t snake-oil.

In pre-literate societies knowledge is often most easily passed on and preserved in the form of stories and narrative. There are a number of points in the myth of Dionysus where we can see correspondences between the story and the facts of vine cultivation. This is particularly true of the stories of the birth of Dionysus. Dionysus is said to be the son of Zeus and Semele, whom Zeus visited in secret. When jealous Hera heard of this she went in disguise to Semele and persuaded her to beg her secret lover to reveal his true nature. Zeus, having sworn to give Semele what she asked for, was therefore forced to reveal himself as the lightening and Semele was struck and burned away. She was already carrying Dionysus, however, and the half-divine child survived, though he was yet too young to be born. Zeus, therefore, had the infant sown into his thigh where Dionysus continued to grow until he was old enough to be birthed a second time.

Does this story refer to the secret self-fertilisation of the vine, which causes the grapes to swell without a male vine being required? Then, also, the domesticated vine is not reproduced by seed but by grafting, in which a piece of vine is cut from its parent and then bound into another vine – which can even be a male plant. Such stories would have allowed coded transmission of information about vine cultivation. If one had not paid ones’ dues as a member of the Dionysian vine cult one might hear the stories, but not be able to interpret them correctly.  Once the secrets of vine cultivation became common knowledge however, the stories would remain but might become altered or added to, in order to fit in with different ideas of the Gods.

Then there is the story of Lycurgus, a King of Thrace, and his son Dryas. Lycurgus opposed Dionysus and, like many others who denied the God, he was punished by being sent mad. He struck his own son Dryas down with an axe, in the belief he was pruning a vine. He proceeded to trim the corpse of nose, fingers, ears and toes before he was stopped and made to realise what he had done.  Some see this story as a simple metaphor for vine-pruning while others, noting that the name Dryas means oak, believe it includes references to ancient ‘king as Oak Tree’  sacrifices. However, it was not just vines that were pruned in ancient viticulture. Vines, rather than being grown on stakes as they are now, were typically trained up trees. Such trees, however, would have been severely pollarded and trimmed, both to keep them to a manageable size and to prevent their leaves from over-shading the ripening grapes.

Even in Roman times growing vines in such a manner was usual, as Cato describes:

“The trees should be trimmed as follows: The branches which you leave should spread out, should be cut straight up, and should not be left too thick. The vines should be well knotted1; and be especially careful not to bend them downward along any of the branches and not to tie them too tightly.” Cato, On Agriculture,XXXII

He also stresses the importance of the tree prunings, as fodder for sheep and cattle in the dry, Mediterranean summers, when the grass is shrivelled.

Thus, I believe, the story of Dryas refers to the pollarding of trees to provide support for cultivated vines. Perhaps, in Thrace, this did bring the vine growers into conflict with members of an older oak cult, for whom it was taboo to cut the sacred oaks in this manner?

It is not easy to determine exactly when this spread of the domesticated vine occurred. It has proved difficult to reliably distinguish wild from cultivated grape pips in archaeological contexts. Vinewood and grape residues from Lashish in Israel and Jericho and Numeira in the Jordan Valley, which are almost certainly from domesticated vines because the wild vine is not found there, have been dated to between 3400 and 3200 B.C.E.  However, the vine could also have been domesticated much earlier than this.  Certainly the vine seems to have been cultivated in the Aegean by this period, the Early Bronze Age, if the popularity of elaborate drinking and mixing vessels is anything to go by. Yet the form of the Dionysus myth, with the late-coming God being accepted as one of the twelve Olympians, only when Hestia, goddess of the hearth, steps down, suggests a memory of a time when Dionysus and his vine was unknown.

Dionysus with his followers

Dionysus with his followers

Ascanius and Iulus

Julius Caesar and, through him, his adopted son, the Emperor Augustus claimed descent from Iulus or Julus, the founding ancestor of the Julian clan. One of Virgil’s purposes in composing the Aeneid was to exalt his patron’s ancestry by showing how Iulus was descended from Aeneas and thus ultimately from the goddess Venus. Thus Virgil relates that Aeneas’ son Ascanius became known as Iulus in Italy and that the the two are in fact the same person.

Other commentators have told the story differently; Dionysius of Halicarnassus related that Iulus was a son of Ascanius, while Livy made him a son of Aeneas and his Latin wife Lavinia, and thus half-brother to Ascanius. The existence of different versions of the story seems to suggest both that the connections was generally accepted and that the details were obscure. Virgil’s suggestion of a name change, however, struck me as the least convincing possibility – at least, until I considered the possible meanings of the names.

Ascanius and Iulus are generally considered to be Greek names and are interpreted as deriving from that language – despite the fact that Aeneas and his family were believed to be Trojans. Ascanius is said to mean ‘tentless’ and to refer to the flight from Troy when he didn’t even have a tent to shelter in. Obviously, for this etymology to work, he would have had to adopt this name after leaving Troy. Iulus is said to mean ‘downy’ from the Greek ioulos and to refer specifically to the ‘downy beard of a youth’.

However, iulus, is also used to mean ‘down’ in Latin, though there it is specifically used of down of plant origin, such as thistledown. Now there are several words used for different types of thistle in Latin. but one of them is ‘acanus’.

Atractylis gummifera, the Pine Thistle This is probably the thistle the Romans knew as 'acanus' Photo by Fabio Ippolto  CC 3.0

Atractylis gummifera, the Pine Thistle
This is probably the thistle the Romans knew as ‘acanus’
Photo by Fabio Ippolto CC 3.0

Could it be that early Latins, meeting an individual with a name like Ascanius interpreted it as ‘thistle’? And then perhaps have nicknamed him, or a younger relative, ‘thistledown’?

Aeneas and the Iconography of Lineage

The image of Aeneas carrying his aged father, as they flee the fall of Troy, is one of the most arresting in mythology. It has long been a favourite of painters and sculptors, both for it emotional impact and for the opportunities it gives for showing the artists’ skill. I saw an example most recently at an exhibition in Norwich Cathedral. In the work Shadows of the Wanderer the artist Ana Maria Pacheco has created a haunting tableau on the theme of refugees.

Indeed, one can derive the whole story of Aeneas’ flight from Troy from the traditional iconic tableau. Aeneas heroically rescues his father and young son. They make their escape from Troy but Aeneas’ wife is lost. That, perhaps suggests that the image came first and then the story was built upon it.

Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius from a  painting in Pompeii In this illustration Anchises carries the household gods in a box

Aeneas, Anchises and Ascanius from a painting in Pompeii
In this illustration Anchises carries the household gods in a box

If we look at the image, without the names and the narrative attached to it, what do we see? A young boy in front, linking hands with an adult – his father? – who carries an aged man on his back – the grandfather? – who clutches an even more precious burden, his household gods. For me this represents not just a family, but a lineage. A lineage perhaps on the move, venturing into an uncertain future, but carrying with them the traditions and beliefs of their past. It is moreover an explicitly patriarchal lineage, an icon of the male line.

It is an image and an idea that would have resonated with many peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean, in and after the ‘Bronze Age collapse’. That is a period of major upheaval, social breakdown and the fall of Empires that occurred at the end of the Aegean Bronze Age. The Fall of Troy  – or rather the destruction of Troy VII, the excavation layer believed to represent Homeric Troy – is generally dated to around 1200 B.C.E. The enemies of Troy, the mainland Greek palace cultures that included Mycenae, Tiryns and Pylos, also suffered destruction a short time later. The Hittite Empire of Anatolia was overthrown and overrun at around the same time. Ugarit in Syria was completely destroyed. Egypt was troubled by attacks of the ‘Sea Peoples’ from 1300 to 1000 B.C.E.

All these upheavals will have resulted in the movements of peoples. There is evidence from archaeology that up to 90% of settlements on mainland Greece were abandoned and that there was a significant reduction in population. Many of these displaced peoples may have formed war-bands and raiding parties, on land or on sea, in an attempt to  push themselves into new territories and make new homes. Further waves of destruction and migration would follow. Such experiences would tend to reinforce patriarchal attitudes, as men earned their place in the tribe by their service in war, while women  often came by capture.

This is the background that created both the Aeneas icon and the Iliad and ensured that they had a powerful hold on the imaginations of all the peoples of the Mediterranean.

The Child of the Chemical Marriage

If, as I have argued, the marriage of Aphrodite  and Hephaestus represents the alloying of copper (Aphrodite) with tin (Hephaestus) to produce bronze, then we would expect there to be a child of the marriage, a god or demi-god representing bronze. Yet, at first sight, there seems to be no such character. In classical mythology the only god sometimes claimed to be the son of Aphrodite and Hephaestus is Eros or Cupid, a personification of sexual desire. Other classical writers, however, hold that Eros is the result of Aphrodite’s adulterous liaison with Ares and merely passed off as the child of Hephaestus. There are a number of other demi-gods  and goddesses who are said to be the offspring of Aphrodite and Ares. They are either personification of love – Eros, Anteros, Harmonia – or like Phobos, Deimos, and Adrestia, that is Fear, Terror and Retribution, aspects of war.

There is one child of Aphrodite, however, that doesn’t seem to fit this pattern of personification, one son that is actually the subject of a mythological narrative. That is Aeneas, the son that Aphrodite bore to the mortal Anchises, a prince of Troy. Aeneas appears in the Iliad; he is several times saved by his mother Aphrodite from various Greek heroes. He is also the hero of the Aeneid, Virgil’s great epic of the remote origins of Rome.

Virgil tells how Aeneas escaped the sack of Troy. He fled with his family, carrying the aged Anchises on his back and accompanied by his young son, Ascanius. Aeneas’ wife Creusa was lost in this escape. This account of Virgil’s closely follows the Iliad. Virgil then goes on to tell of Aeneas’ wanderings, his sojourn in Carthage and his final arrival in Latium where he marries the princess Lavinia and founds the Roman race.

Aeneas flees Troy carrying his father, Anchises.

Aeneas flees Troy carrying his father, Anchises.
“5049 bassenge chiaroscuro”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

There seems little in this tale to suggest that Aeneas is the missing personification of bronze, yet that is what I want to argue. My first point is his name. Aeneas is generally presumed to be a Greek name, derived from  the Greek αἰνή meaning “praised”, which seems reasonable. It should be noted that most of the Trojan heroes in the Iliad have names that are clearly Greek. However if we put that derivation aside for a moment and consider Aeneas as a Latin name –  then it most closely resembles  aeneus, meaning bronze.

Furthermore, some versions of the story of Anchises relate that when the goddess Aphrodite lay with him she made him promise never to tell anyone of it. Inevitably, however, Anchises did boast of his relations with the goddess – whereupon Zeus hurled a thunderbolt at him, laming him in the heel. In other words Anchises may just be another version of the lame smith god, perhaps a version that was a deified mortal rather than a goddess-born craftsman.

I suspect that there were once many versions of the myth of the copper goddess, her lover and their son Bronze to be found in the cultures around the Mediterranean. As the secrets of bronze-making became well known and everyday the importance of this story would have dwindled and been superceded by other versions. Except perhaps in Latium where the Bronze son , there known as Aeneus/Aeneas was believed to be a founding ancestor of the people. Later, perhaps because of a similarity of names, perhaps for other reasons, that story got conflated with the story of a Trojan prince, or included into the tale of Troy, resulting in the legend of Aeneas as we know it today.

Meet the Amesbury Archer

In May 2002 archaeological investigations were being carried out in advance of  building a housing estate at Amesbury, near Stonehenge, in Britain. An ancient grave was discovered with a fascinating collection of artefacts. There were five pots of the type known as Beaker ware, that immediately dated the grave to the early Bronze age. A skeleton was revealed wearing a stone wrist-brace, designed to protect the arm from the snap of a bowstring, and there was another such wrist-brace in the grave, along with sixteen barbed flint arrowheads. This lead to the occupant of the grave being dubbed the Amesbury Archer.

There were other objects in the grave as well. In fact, it contained the largest collection of artefacts ever found in any Bronze Age burial in Britain. They included three copper knives, two gold hair ornaments and a collection of tools for both flint knapping and metal working. The Amesbury Archer actually appears to have been a smith, and a high status one at that. Radiocarbon dating sets the burial at around 2300 B.C.E., making the gold objects the earliest ever found in Britain.

Scientific investigation of the bones and teeth revealed even more information about the Archer. He was about forty when he died and had not originated in Britain but had grown up in an Alpine region of Central Europe. Furthermore, he had suffered a serious injury to his leg which involved the loss of his kneecap. He had obviously survived some considerable time after this injury, though it may well have left him lame and possibly needing the support of a crutch to walk.  An abscess in the jaw indicated that he was suffering from a painful and dangerous bone infection, probably originating with the injury to his leg, and it may well have been this that eventually killed him.

The Amesbury Archer on display at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum Photo  Pasicles CC0

The Amesbury Archer on display at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
Photo Pasicles CC0

Excellent detailed photos of the Amesbury Archer’s grave goods are also among those on Wessex Archeology’s Flickr page.

The discovery of an actual lame smith, one of the earliest metalworkers in Britain, sent shivers down my spine when I first heard of it. It brought up again the question of the Persistence of Folk Memory and how much of folklore is actually based on memories of real events and people. Of course, it must be said that there is no obvious, immediate connection between a lame smith in Britain and the archetype of Hephaestus in the Greek Aegean. The date of 2300 B.C.E. is not particularly early in the context of the Aegean Bronze Age, which is generally agreed to begin about 3200 B.C.E.

However the Early Bronze Age is characterised as much by developing urbanisation and exchange, including trading for bronze objects, as by local metal working. Many of the metal objects associated with the Early Bronze Age in Greece and Crete are copper or copper/arsenic alloys rather than true bronzes. As I have argued in my post The Chemical Marriage, I believe that Hephaestus was very much associated with the technology of making true bronzes by deliberate alloying of copper and tin. This technology would have taken time to be fully developed. The myths of Hephaestus, the god that embodies both the tin and the technological secrets of the master bronzesmith, could well have been taking shape around 2300 B.C.E.

Then there is the much debated question of from where the tin for the bronze came. Tin is much less readily available than copper and there are no known sources in the Aegean, or indeed through much of the Near East. It is now believed that tin for the bronze made in ancient Mesopotamia was traded from Afghanistan. Some of this tin, or bronzes made from it, may have eventually reached the Mediterranean but it is generally agreed that Aegean bronzesmiths must have developed alternative supplies. Extraordinary as it may seem, given the distances involved, at least some of the tin used by smiths at Knossos or Mycenae came from Britain, from sources in Devon and Cornwall.

Long distance trade in ancient times need not have always involved individuals making long journeys. It is perfectly possible for goods to pass through a long chain of middle men, as people trade with neighbours in one direction, acquiring goods that they know will be valued by neighbours in the other. It is believed that tin came to Mesopotamia from Afghanistan along trade networks originally developed for lapis lazuli and that British tin followed, at least in part, the Amber Route to the Mediterranean. Amber and lapis however are often worn as ornaments, instant adverts that you have access to such trade goods. It is much harder to see how people in Britain would know that there was a demand for their tin in Greece – unless, at least initially, some people made long journeys in search of it.

There is one more important point about the Amesbury Archer. The injury to his knee was not the only way in which he was lame. He also suffered from a condition called calcaneonavicular coalition, in which some of the bones of the foot are fused together. This means the foot does not flex properly, and pain and inflammation can develop, making it hard to put weight on the foot. This condition is hereditary. Indeed, there is another burial close by the Amesbury Archer, a younger man, aged about twenty and also suffering from the same condition. The obvious conclusion is that he is a close relative of the Archer’s, quite possibly his son, though the younger man apparently grew up in Britain.

So, let us suppose that one of the first smiths working effectively with tin/copper bronze suffered from this condition. As a successful man, he may well have had many children, about half of whom would inherit the condition – it is caused by a dominant gene. His sons would likely also have become smiths and other smiths may have married his daughters. If, as often happens, smiths continued to intermarry with other smiths, the result may well have been a smith clan who all had a tendency to painful feet, that caused them to limp, especially when tired or as they got older.

Is that why the Smith God is lame?