Belly dancing is not a new invention. Etymology confirms it has religious roots in temples in Mesopotamia. Sumerians built huge temples, and they invented some of the most advanced music instruments in their world so it is possible dancing was part of temple rituals.
The Sumerians had their own culture and language but about 4,000 years ago they were attacked from the east and north and their empire crumbled. To guarantee a future, a process of integration began with Babylonians during the Amorite era, and hundreds of religious and other words were absorbed by Akkadian, some of which are in texts of the three religions including the Quran.
The Old Testament claims girls were offered in Babylonian temples but its texts are not objective. What looks more likely is that annual celebrations were held centred on temples which occupied a prime location in the main street of Babel, the Babylonian capital. The celebrations included dancing but dancing is believed to have been a stable presentation in major temples. If sex was involved we cannot tell but will keep analysing ancient words for clues.
The root *DR is part of a category of movement, forward and backward. From it is ‘*DRb’ “road”, but one of the several meanings of the root is a dance that included twirling, a feature very common in traditional and modern dancing. Of course ‘belly dancing’ is a misnomer, so we don’t know what the heck the Englishmen who coined the term was looking at. The correct name is ‘khasr dancing’ “waist dancing” which makes sense because dancers don’t move their belly but their entire waist including the hips.
It could be presumed that girls, and boys, danced in weddings or in celebrating a newly born baby but the words hat survived are for group dancing. One such word is ‘darbak’. This is a nucleitic compound made of two roots ‘*DR’ and ‘*BK’. The first means to twirl or turn round, the second “grand dance involving many dancers”.
Note this pls: if the letter ‘d’ is affixed to the root *BK we have ‘d*bk’. This is the name of the most famous dance in Arabia. It involves group stamping of the feet while dancing the “dabka” either for men or women or both.
The compound ‘*DR/*BK’ is ‘darbak > durbakka’ “drum”. So we know now the drum was used as an instrument for the group feet stamping dance.
How did they play the drum? It was placed on the ground upside down because the word for ‘drum’ is ‘ṭabl’ or ‘ṭubla’ (ṭ = ‘t’ in ‘tub’). The literal meaning of the word is “to turn upside down”. The English ‘table’ is from Latin ‘tabula’. The Spanish word is ‘tabla’. They look to us from the ‘ṭabl’ but they can use it.
Baalbek, in Lebanon, has one of the largest theatres, and temples, in the Middle East. ‘Bel’ (Baal) is the well known god. ‘Bek = *BK’ is the group dance to celebrate the god.
And here is a little linguistic bombshell.
Mecca has two names, this one and ‘Bakka’ (بكّة)which is mentioned in the holy Quran. Clearly, Mecca in ancient times provided the ground for group religious dancing. However, the two names are from different roots, Mecca from *MG. Is ‘magnum’ related? Absolutely (*MaGnum), ‘magnificent’ and ‘majestic’.
We would like to avoid shock by explaining, again, that our ancestors were alone so they couldn’t borrow words from other nations. Their most important teacher was nature and that’s where they got most of the letters in our alphabets today.
*ʻN (ʻ = ayin) is a category for a large number of animals except predators. The linguistic cluster is *ʻN and its reveres *Nʻ. *Nʻja “ewe; female sheep”.
It appears that ewes inspired our ancestors to sing, but in later times the word was changed to *NĠ (Ġ = French ‘r’). From it is ‘NaĠm’ “croon, to hum or sing gently, music”. The reversed root, ĠN produced ĠNa “singing”, ‘oĠNiah’ “song”, ‘muĠaNi’ “singer”.