Pondering the name
In Part 1 of this document, I have specified the geometrical base components with some etymological ideas around the FOL, and I have repeatedly made notes about a similar geometrical shape from Old Babylonian times called the Cownose (akk. Apsamikku). Now, it is time to move forward and give more descriptive ideas of the FOL symbol.
The basic idea of “flowering” is too evident for it to be ignored as a possible ancient name for the six-petal rosette base of the pattern. The first thing is to find out what kind of words ancients used as:
- a general noun for flower or specific six-petal flower species 1 like lilies, lotuses, roses and such that have been notable for a long time in the history
- adjectives that are related to general or specific flower shapes, colors, smells or other more abstract descriptions (for example white, shining, colorful, elite, innocent, aromatic, six-petalled, cupped)
- verbs related to flowers like “to blossom”, “to prosper”, “to thrive”
Other objects, adverbs, and verbs that should be considered are:
- nets, filters, covers, and holders such as: fishing, hair, spider nets, fields and planes having triangular, rhombic or hexagonal patterns, perimeter, sieve, etc.
- descriptive terms like: bindable, collectible, strong, durable, curved, concave, circular, eternal, angular, etc.
- verbs like: “to collect”, “to hold”, “to bind”, “to surround”, “to catch”
At first, the task seems overwhelming and impossible. The FOL decoration has been found from various geographies at different times during a period that is roughly 4500 years long. Origin of the FOL goes probably beyond civilizations and cultures to the time when the modern writing system had not developed but only ideogrammatic writing and oral communication were established. We should be able to read dictionaries, understand texts, and find etymological traces in many peculiar languages that disappeared for two thousand years, like Egyptian hieroglyphs or Assyrian cuneiform scripts, that then got deciphered again only two hundred years ago. Not to forget some of the cultures which have left remarkable FOL artifacts but now are totally gone and lost in the history like Marlik, a culture that is not mentioned in any ancient texts. So far, there is no ancient document found describing how the exact FOL symbol or ornament is made, so we can only simulate the creation of it. We have goblets, pyxes, ivory items, whorls, discs, vessels, funerary objects, and mosaics having the FOL ornament on them, but only guesses on how and why they were done.
To make a comparison, a very famous motif of the ancients, the Tree of Life 2, is in a similar position. Although so extensively used by various cultures, there are no ancient texts that really explain what was meant with the motif. The Tree of Life symbolism can be seen as an example of symbolic tradition where we can mainly use analogies, comparative, and intuitive methods to find out possible meanings of the motif.
After a second look at the task of determining the name and the meaning we, however, have a bit more to say about the FOL. We have been able to find contexts where and when items having the FOL symbol existed. Previous knowledge of the cultures also greatly helps in getting at least a general idea of the ongoing development of the collective mathematical and geometrical intelligence of ancient people. For example goblets from Marlik have strikingly similar mythological scenes with Mesopotamian myths at that time3. We also have old mathematical documents describing specifically the geometry and coefficients of the square root 2 and the square root 3 or the ratio of the diagonal of the square per its side and the height of the equilateral triangle per its base respectively. What we have are leads that are good enough for us to be able to make some sophisticated conjectures, if not definite answers.