So, this week we take a quick look at where history collides with the present, which, strictly speaking happens every day since the present becomes the past at sunset or midnight, depending on how you view the beginning of the next day. However, sometimes these little tidbits get buried under the sand and need fishing up in order to help us examine what is happening in the present.
So, speaking of sand, did you hear the one about the professor who had her students “marry” the ocean?…
Marriage to the Sea: A New Age or an Ancient Thing?
Alas, it isn’t a joke. A group apparently held a ceremony to be married (or at least take a vow) to the sea and then consummate this “marriage” by splashing around in the water. The ceremony was organized by UC Santa Cruz professor Elizabeth Stephens and pornographic actress and educator Annie Sprinkle to encourage a passion for the ecosexual movement (yes, it exists), one presumes, as a way to worship the earth.1
In light of the recent gender-confusion movement (a destabilizing ideology that will have onerous consequences), this news item just sounds like more of the same. It is tempting to yearn for the “old days” when such things didn’t happen and when the “traditional values” were upheld. There are periods of time when more biblically aligned values have prevailed. Presently we are moving away from such an era (having lasted for almost three hundred years, plus or minus) and into a dark age – possibly the final dark age. However, as a rule, human moral and religious history has been nearly a constant mixture of darkness and the light of truth.
To get to the point, marriages to the sea are nothing new.
Let us go back in time, to about the year 1000 A.D. and to the Republic of the city of Venice. It was then that the yearly religious, political, even “magical” ceremony began in which the duke or Doge, the leader of Venice married himself (and the city) to their bride, the Adriatic Sea. The ceremony (Sposalizio del Mare) took place on Ascension Day, a Catholic religious day purporting to celebrate the ascent of Christ to heaven, and was led by the Bishop of the city, as a means of propitiating the sea for a year of fair winds and favorable sailing conditions for the vast armed merchant fleet that made the Venetians the rulers of world trade from the 1200’s to the 1500’s.2
Venice’s marriage to the sea is pretty mild compared to some of the other fertility rites of past history, of which the most recent iteration is merely a regurgitation.
What can we draw from this, besides absurdity? As a wise man once said:
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.3
Phoenician Genetic Connection with Portugal
Part of the fascination with history are the movements of peoples through time. We are seeing right now, with the hundreds of thousands fleeing Syria, for various reasons, into Europe, and soon to be the U.S., that it is entirely possible for huge groups of peoples, even entire ethnic groups, to move from point A to point B thousands of miles across the globe.
Indeed, this has been the case long into the past of human history. At various points throughout time, with pressures from wars, famines, and persecutions, extremely large numbers of people have shifted around the globe from the Middle East to far abroad, even into Europe, the Americas and beyond (as we see repeated with the current Syrian refugee crisis). So it is interesting when current genetic research about the past shows that, indeed, these vast movements of people were a real deal.
Research from the University of Otago in New Zealand has found that DNA samples from a Phoenician man buried in the North African city of Carthage, is strongly connected to the European DNA identifiable with the Portugeuse. Interestingly, the Phoenicians were an ancient people originating out of the area of modern-day Lebanon, though DNA tests find that ancient Phoenician DNA is no longer present en-mass in present-day residents of the ancient cities and surroundings of Sidon and Tyre.
The conclusion? The Phoenicians were a well known merchant and trade empire that established cities around the Mediterranean, and possibly the Atlantic coasts, and beyond, during the time of King Solomon’s united Kingdom of Israel in the 900’s B.C. If we look at Biblical history we can see that King Solomon formed a trade agreement with King Hiram of Tyre (a Phoenician king to the north of modern-day Israel).5 The two kingdoms, sailed in partnership around the globe (a feasible postulation).6 Where did they go? What did they do there? Did they establish colonies? Did they merely trade with existing populations? All fascinating questions.
This new DNA research is a fascinating confirmation of what archeology and ancient documents have already established. We live in a great age for archeology, new discoveries, and growing, improved understanding of the ancient past!
Keep thinking history!
– Amanda Stiver
1 Katherine Timpf, “Prof Took Students on an ‘EcoSexual Sextravaganza’ Trip to Marry and Have Sex with the Ocean,” The National Review at NationalReview.com, May 26, 2016.
2 Colin Thubron, The Seafarers: The Venetians, Time-Life Books, 1980, page 8.
3 Ecclesiastes 1:9, The Bible, KJV.
4 “DNA from Ancient Phoenician Stuns Scientists,” Digging History at FoxNews.com, May 27, 2016.