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The origin of the Tarot have remained unsolved despite a history of debate of being Egyptian. The Tarot Trumps unique symbolism has never been explained beyond mere artistic whims and few books have endeavored to study the symbolism seriously. Archaeology of the Tarot delves into the plethora of Greek and Egyptian symbolism to find the ancient origin of the Tarot using ancient Tarot de Marseille decks like Jean Noblet Tarot. The Jean Noblet Tarot is preserved in the French National Library and has been faithful restored. From the founding of Heliopolis, to the Unas Pyramid Texts and the Ptolemaic Era, the Tarot has survived many generations of civilizations.
Archaeology of the Tarot is a fascinating read for those who are ready to hear the other side of the debate or for those who simply feel a kindred interest in the ancient Egyptian culture. Archaeology of the Tarot is of high print quality and has over a hundred high resolution, color photographs of ancient artifacts to source of the trumps' symbolism including:
the Papyrus of Ani (a.k.a. the "Book of the Dead" from its unfortunate translation from the German Ägyptisches Totenbuch),
the Papyrus of Hunefer,
Papyrus of Hunefer Photograph by Jon Bodsworth (via Wikimedia_Commons)
the Great Harris Papyrus,
Moscow Papyrus, Magic Papyrus,
Papyrus of Maiherpri,
the Narmer Palette,
the Rosetta Stone,
red-figure vase paintings,
ancient Egyptian coins,
ancient Egyptian statues,
ancient Egyptian tombs,
Tutankhamun's jewels and artifacts,
Tutankhamun pendant with Wadjet
Photograph by Jon Bodsworth (via Wikimedia_Commons)
ancient Egyptian temples,
ancient Egyptian pyramid texts,
and the Ennead of Heliopolis.
Meidum Pyramid (via TourEgypt.net)
The Meidum pyramid was built around the same time as the famous pyramids. A large portion of the Meidum's upper and exterior stones collapsed. Its unusual internal construction caused the remaining stone core to resemble a tower rather than a pyramid. It has a renowned plaster painting of Geese. The goose represented Geb, the Earth. Geb was also known as the great Cackler since his laughter produced earthquakes. The throne of Geb was an allegory for the ruler of Earth. Nut was his counterpart in the Ennead. Nut and Geb represented Heaven and Earth.
Meidum Geese (via of hat.net)
The Trumps and the EnneadThe trumps depict The Egyptian Ennead of Heliopolis (Osiris V Le Pape, Isis II La Papesse, Nephthys III L'Emperatrise, Seth IV L'Emperor, Horus VII Le Chariot, Nut XVII Lestoille, Geb XVI La Maison Dieu, Tefnut XIX Le Soleil, Shu XIX Le Soleil), and other Egyptian Gods and Goddesses like Bes XV, Khepri XX Le Jugement, Wepwawet (Upuaut, Anpu, Anubis) XVIII, Hathor, Thoth I Le Bateleur, Sekhmet XI Force, Ptah IX Lermite, and Maat VIII Justice. To decipher the Trump symbolism, understanding the meaning of the Eye of Horus, the Eye of Ra, the double lions, the ankh, the Was and the djed is helpful. It helps to know the difference between Horus, Son of Isis (Harsiesis, Har-si-Ese, Hor-sa-isit), Horus-of-the-Two-Horizons (Ra-Horakhty) and Horus-the-Elder (Haroeris), the Falcon, the symbolism of the relationship between Isis, Osiris and Horus son of Isis. A background in interpreting Egyptian symbolism or Egyptology is highly recommended to interpret the Tarot trumps. Egyptology is the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, literature, religion, and art from the 5th millennium BC until the end of its native religious practices in the 4th century AD--Wikipedia.
Surviving remnant of Heliopolis: Al-Masalla obelisk (via greatarchaeology.com)
The Trumps and the Papyrus of AniThe trumps depict many Gods and Goddesses depicted in the Papyrus of Ani (c. 1250 B.C.) and other funerary papyri a.k.a. the "book of the dead". The Hall of Judgment vignette is a good place to start analyzing Ancient Egyptian Gods roles and responsibilities and their associated symbolism. Anubis is responsible for weighing the heart accurately while Thoth annotates the results like a court recorder might. Gods and Goddesses sit in judgment above the proceedings in a special seated section like a jury box in a courtroom. Osiris presides as judge (not shown). Ani kneels before Osiris awaiting Osiris' verdict. Will he be allowed passage to the heavens, a path previously traveled by Osiris himself?
Papyrus of Ani (via Wikimedia_Commons)
Myths about the Origin of the TarotPseudo-factual information has been disseminated about the origin of the Tarot to minimize Greek and Egyptian influence on our present day society. There is no "proof" the tarot originated from one particular era over another. It is no younger than the oldest extant deck, but there is no boundary on how old the Tarot can be.
For example, Marseille's oldest standing building dates to the 16th century. Does the lack of a tangible building proof the city did not exist before the Renaissance? Similarly, the ginkgo tree disappeared from the fossil record for the last two millenia. Does a lack of tangible evidence mean the it is extinct? Conventional wisdom based on strict "physical evidence" would dictate the ginkgo is extinct and Marseille was founded less than half a millennium ago and yet nothing could be further from the truth.
If we discovered the ginkgo during the Renaissance, would we conclude it was the product of it? Or would we conclude the tree is extremely ancient and narrowly escaped extinction based on the fossil record?
Re-naissance literally means "Re-birth", a rediscovery of things which had been previously known precipitated by "the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks" -- Wikipedia. The Renaissance was precipitated by transfer of knowledge from East to West and yet the Greeks rarely receive credit for it. Instead, it is described as a spontaneous period of enlightenment. Would Constantinople have included significant works from the Pergamon library which stored the surviving works from the Great Library of Alexandria? Would the Renaissance have taken place without the fall of Constantinople? Constantinople fell in 1453 and the Visconti-Sforza Tarot is dated to the 1450's. Coincidence? Why are these history facts missing from all the research on the Tarot?
As an advanced civilization, we should take care to give credit where credit is due. We often marginalize the existence of the American continent before 1492 even though it was present for several hundred millenia before (and no, it was not a product of the Renaissance simply because it was found at that time). If an ancient civilization "discovered" the continent first, could we give them their due credit?
Pseudo-wisdom has been the basis for claims the Tarot did not exist prior to the Renaissance primarily by those with limited knowledge or little interest in ancient civilizations. Can you spot any similarities between the Tarot symbolism and Egyptian doctrine? Does the Tarot fit perfectly into a fossilized print of the past? Could these similarities be coincidence? Is the Tarot a living fossil?
Ignorance does not know itself as ignorance until knowledge is gained.
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