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ancientplanet

ONLINE JOURNAL

H istor y • Arc hae o l o g y • Sc ie nce VOL. 03 • NOV EMBER • 2012

IN THIS ISSUE • Who Were The Denisovans • The Kingdom Of Akkad • Erroneous Terms In Archaeology And Popular Literature – The ‘Mother Goddess’ • An Egyptian Renaissance: The Kushite 25th Dynasty • Smash And Grab: Thomas Bruce – The Not So Honourable Earl Of Elgin • The Parthenon Sculptures: A Brief Introduction • A Study Of The Similarities Between Hinduism And Ancient Egyptian Religion • Solar Symbolism In Gebel el Silsila, Egypt • The Evolution Of Roman Forts ... and more


Also in this issue AncientPlanet Online Journal — VOLUME 03 —

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Whose Heritage? An Interview with Alexis Mantheakis on the Restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece

http://ancientplanet.blogspot.com/

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Souvenir from the Peloponnese Part 2

EDITOR/PUBLISHER

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A Cameo Glass Patera from Pompeii

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Gertrude Caton-Thompson: Pioneering the Prehistoric

The editors accept no responsibility for any loss, injury or inconvenience sustained by persons using the resources contained within the journal and/or websites mentioned herein. Editorial and contributors views are independent and do not necessarily reflect those of AncientPlanet.

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SOS Ratiaria

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Historic Preservation and Public Engagement in the United States

© 2012 AncientPlanet Online Journal, founded by Ioannis Georgopoulos. All rights reserved.

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Archaeology Feild Schools

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Letter to the Editor

November 2012 WEBSITE

Ioannis Georgopoulos email: ioangeorgopoulos@gmail.com NOTICE

Front Cover: From the I AM GREEK AND I WANT TO GO HOME CAMPAIGN by the Greek photographer and composer Ares Kalogeropoulos ANCIENTPLANET™ PATRAS, ACHAIA EΛΛΑΣ | GREECE ISSN: 2241-5157 2


The Kingdom of Akkad

Solar Symbolsim in Gebel el Sisila, Egypt

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A study of the similarities between Hinduism and ancient Egyptian religion

The Parthenon Sculptures: A brief introduction

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Who were the Denisovans

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Erroneous terms in archaeology amd popular literature: ‘The Mother Goddess’

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An Egyptian Renaissance: The Kushite 25th Dynasty

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Smash and Grab: Thomas Bruce, the not so Honourable Earl of Elgin

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Ioannis Georgopoulos, MA Archaeologist / General Editor whose research interests include Aegean archaeology and the writing systems of Bronze Age Crete and Greece.

Monty Dobson, PhD American archaeologist, historian and filmmaker, whose curiosity and passion for the human story has led him to travel the world.

Lisa Swart, PhD Egyptologist specializing in the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period, Egyptian art and iconography, funerary customs and theology

Aikaterini Kanatselou, MA Archaeologist whose research interests are mainly focused on Aegean prehistory, religion, language and art.

Jesse Obert, BA Classical Archaeologist specializing in Warfare in Antiquity and currently sitting for an MA in Ancient History.

Maria Nilsson, PhD Classical archaeologist/ancient historian specializing in Graeco-Roman iconography and religion in Egypt.

Joshua J. Mark, MA Historian and published author with advanced degrees in both English and Philosophy.

Charlotte Booth, MA Egyptologist who has written extensively on Egyptology, including magaizine articles as well as eleven books.

Andrea Sinclair, MA Classical scholar specializing on the interconnections and iconographic issues for the Egyptian, Aegean and Near Eastern Bronze Age.

Terrence Twomey, PhD Anthropologist whose research interests include the evolution of human language, consciousness and cooperation, and the ecological impacts of large and small scale societies.

Fiorenza Grasso, MA Works as a consultant for the Archaeological Museum of Naples for intern and international exhibitions, especially Roman and Classical archaeology.

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Melanie Chalk Freelance proofreader and owner of Spellsure Proofreading Services, based in the Costa del Sol, Spain.


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issue of the eventual return of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece and his very successful recent publicity campaign to this end.

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Staying in Greece, Aikaterini Kanatselou takes us on the second leg of her fascinating journey around the Peloponnese, showcasing sites like Mystras, Monemvasia, Pylos and Olympia among others. The next two articles have a distinctive Roman flavour. We begin with an account on the evolution of Roman forts by our ancient wartime correspondent Jesse Obert, followed by a brief description Next we present an informative article of a Roman glass patera from Pompeii by our by classicist Andrea Sinclair on the often newest team member Fiorenza Grasso. misleading term ‘Mother goddess’ frequently employed by archaeologists. This is followed Next, Dr. Lisa Swart presents the life and times by a brief history of ancient Akkad by our of archaeologist Gertrude Caton-Thompson. learned historian Joshua L. Mark and a while Dr. Krassimira Luka sends an SOS from fascinating account of the Kushite kings of ancient Ratiaria in Bulgaria. This is followed ancient Egypt from Egyptologist, Dr. Lisa by American archaeologist Monty Dobson, Swart. Next, Drs. Maria Nilsson and John Ward who lashes out on the issue of historical continue their research at Gebel el Silsila, preservation and public engagement in the focusing this time on quarry marks associated United States. We end this issue with a letter with solar religion during the Ptolemaic from a concerned British citizen regarding and early Roman periods. Concluding our the commercial development of a possible Egyptian theme, Charlotte Booth examines historical site in his local area without due the evident similarities between ancient archaeological investigation. Egyptian religion and modern Hinduism, identifying possible common sources for On a closing note, if YOU have something to these religious systems. say about our Ancient Planet or would like to share your research with the general public, The next three articles (by yours truly) we would certainly love to hear from you! discusses the Parthenon sculptures. The first Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the third issue describes the looting of the Parthenon by of the AncientPlanet Online Journal. Elgin and the subsequent acquisition of the sculptures by the British Museum, while the On behalf of the AncientPlanet team second presents a brief introduction of the Ioannis Georgopoulos actual sculptures. The third article takes the Editor/Publisher form of an interview with Alexis Mantheakis, chairman of the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee, on the pressing

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n this slightly overdue third issue of AncientPlanet we begin with an article by our resident anthropologist Dr. Terrence Twomey on the enigmatic Denisovans. According to recent genetic studies this hitherto unknown human species from Siberia was closely related to both Neanderthals and modern humans. In this article Dr. Twomey discusses the place of the Denisovans in the human family tree and how paleogenetics is enhancing our knowledge of human evolution.

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Who were the Denisovans? A shared ancestry By Dr. Terrence Twomey

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ur understanding of human evolution is constantly changing. Recent discoveries and advances in our methods have revealed a very different picture than we could have imagined even a

decade ago. This review discusses how genetic evidence has identified a previously unknown human species from Denisova Cave in Siberia that was closely related to the Neanderthals and modern humans. A new method of extracting genetic material from ancient humans has produced an almost complete genomic sequence from a young girl that lived about 50 thousand years ago (kya). Genetically we know the Denisovans better

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than any other extinct human species. The Changing Face of Human Evolution

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In the last decade our understanding of human evolution has changed dramatically. The discovery of the diminutive human species Homo floresiensis on the island of Flores in Indonesia dating to around 10 kya made world headlines. The origin of this species is shrouded in mystery and has sparked heated debates among paleoanthropologists. The effects of climate change, not only today, but throughout human evolution are beginning to be realized. It is possible that major human adaptations over the last 6.5 million years such as bipedalism and brain evolution were initiated by climate change (Grove 2012). Evidence of Homo georgicus from Dmanisi in Georgia indicates that 6

human species had migrated out of Africa by 1.8 million years ago (mya) (Sawyer & Deak 2007). Stone tools found in Arabia dating to about 125 kya suggest that Homo sapiens also migrated out of Africa earlier than previously thought (Armitage 2011). This is supported by fossil evidence of modern humans in South China dating to around 100 kya (Wu et. al. 2010). The relationship between earlier human species and later modern humans as they moved about the planet is proving to be far more complex than we initially realized. Genetics is also changing our understanding of early humans and our relationship to them. We now think that interbreeding occurred between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, although


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The reconstructed faces of Mzia, left, and Zezva, two hominids who lived in the area that is now the Black Sea country of Georgia. Their bones were found alongside 1.8 million year old stone tools, suggesting they are the oldest Europeans. Photo courtesy of the Georgia National Museum.

probably not to any great extent. Similarities between Neanderthal DNA and that of some present-day humans may be inherited from a common ancestor rather than interbreeding (Sankararaman et. al. 2012). Still, the fact that we now have Neanderthal DNA, and can begin to test hypotheses about ancient human relationships is testament to how far we have come in recent years. One of the more interesting discoveries genetics has recently revealed is the existence of a species closely related to the Neanderthals and modern humans that existed in Siberia during the Late Pleistocene, the curious Denisovans.

The Denisovans Over the last decade geneticists have been developing new and better ways of extracting

and deciphering the genetic codes of extinct species. While not in the realm of ‘Jurassic Park’ yet, paleontologists have been provided with a wealth of new information about our planets biological history. Paleoanthropologists have also benefited from these advances. Geneticists have partially sequenced the genomes of several human fossil specimens with good results. We now think that modern humans and the Neanderthals exchanged genes between about 40 to 80 kya, and that we shared a common ancestor between 200 – 600 kya. This supports the fossil evidence suggesting that we shared a common ancestor with the Neanderthals about 300 - 500 kya (Finlayson 2009). However, early efforts to sequence fossil DNA have adapted techniques used to sequence the genomes of living humans, and are subject to many problems such as contamination of the 7


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A Dutch-led archaeological team scrapes through layers of earth at Dmanisi, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Reid Ferring/ University of North Texas.


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Cranium D2700 from Dmanisi, Georgia (replica). Photo courtesy of Gerbil/Wiki Commons.

specimens. Over the last three years Matthias Meyer and his team has been developing a new method, which has led to an astonishing result (Meyer et. al. 2012). Working at the Max Plank Institute Matthias and his colleagues have sequenced the genome of a new human species that lived during the Late Pleistocene and was closely related to the Neanderthals and Homo sapiens: the Denisovans. After many years of debating the possible relationships and interactions between Neanderthals and modern humans, to discover the existence of a third species living in Europe at the same time was surprising to say the least. Amazingly, the new method provided a genome sequence so precise that we know as much about this ancient individual as we do of people living today. The archaeological site at Denisova Cave in Siberia has yielded a rich array of Middle and Upper Paleolithic artifacts, including ornaments and the earliest evidence for sewing needles in the Upper

Paleolithic layers. Until recently this important site was viewed as a typical example, with Mousterian technologies giving way to Aurignacian type artifacts after about 40 kya (Derevianko 2005). The fossil record from Denisova Cave is scant, consisting of a fragment of finger bone and two teeth dated to about 50 kya. This is not much, and we have more complete specimens of hominids that lived millions of years ago. However, the finger bone has revealed more than we could possibly have imagined or inferred from the archaeological evidence. Genetically we know this individual better than any other early human. The DNA tells us that the finger bone belonged to a young girl with brown hair, skin and eyes (Gibbons 2012). The Denisovan sequence also reveals a wealth of knowledge about this ancient population and their relationship with other populations. In particular, the high quality of genome has allowed Meyer and colleagues to posit the following hypotheses (Meyer et. al. 2012). 9


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Above: Denisova Cave entrance; Below: Excavation work at the Denisova cave where fossils of the extinct Denisovan people were found Photo courtesy of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

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Scientists have sequenced the entire genome of a species of archaic humans called Denisovans. The fossils include the molar tooth (above) and the finger bone fragment (below), seen here on a human hand. Photos courtesy of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,

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The Red Deer Cave skull from southwest China (above left) has revealed a previously unknown Stone Age people and gives a rare glimpse of a recent stage of human evolution with startling implications for the early peopling of Asia. The fossils are of a people with a highly unusual mix of ‘archaic’ and modern anatomical features and are the youngest of their kind ever found in mainland East Asia. Dated to just 14,500 to 11,500 years old, these people would have shared the landscape with modernlooking people at a time when China’s earliest farming cultures were beginning, says an international team of scientists led by associate professor Darren Curnoe, of the University of New South Wales, and professor Ji Xueping of the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. Recently it was announced that the bi-level nasal floor profiles of four eastern Eurasian archaic Homo specimens: match those of Neanderthals (below left). Photo courtesy of WU Xiujie.

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Evidence suggests that the Denisovans may be the product of Homo erectus and Neanderthals interbreeding and that Denisovan DNA is likewise found in many modern human populations (above right). The map (below right) shows the populations in Southeast Asia and Oceania with and without Denisova ancestry. The blackened circles (New Guineans, Aboriginal Australians, etc.) represent the groups with the most Denisovan genetic material discovered to date; an estimated 4 to 6 percent of their genetic material comes from archaic Denisovans. The pie charts show the other populations in relation to them. Denisovan genes are detected only in eastern Southeast Asia and Oceania; they are not detectable in mainland Asia Photo courtesy of Harvard Medical School.

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Denisovans and present day human populations diverged sometime during the Middle Pleistocene between about 170 – 800 kya, and the Denisovans have contributed through admixture to the genomes of some modern human populations. The genetic diversity of the Denisovan population to which the girl belonged was very low when contrasted with that of present day people. This is supported by genetic evidence from other sources that suggests the population size and density of Neanderthal, early Homo sapiens and their common ancestor, was relatively low (Premo & Hublin 2008). Interestingly, the Denisovan evidence suggests their population was declining at a time when the population of our modern human ancestors was expanding (Meyer et. al. 2012). The evidence also tells us about the genetic differences between this individual, modern humans and chimpanzees. While the DNA fragments of the Denisovan revealed joint repeats, a feature of modern human chromosomes, the genetic material of Chimpanzees and Bonobos reveals none. The evidence also indicates nucleotide changes different to present day people, although because we are dealing with only one individual some of these may not have been shared with other Denisovans.

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Significantly, the genome sequence of this archaic human has allowed Meyer and his team to identify derived features that have become fixed or almost fixed since we diverged from the Denisovans (Meyer et. al. 2012). Many single nucleotide changes have been identified, some of which may have functional consequences. While it is tempting to speculate on the nature of these consequences, such as those that may relate to cognitive function, we still have insufficient understanding of how genes relate to phenotypes in this regard. Nonetheless, sequencing the Denisovan genome is a milestone event in paleoanthropology that has produced spectacular results. We now have very personal and detailed information about a young girl who lived in a Siberian pine-birch forest some

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50 kya that we lack for any other fossil individual, including her genetic legacy to humanity.

The Future of Paleogenetics Geneticists have been buoyed by these results and are looking to possible differences in gene expression between early humans related to things such as neural development and disease, and are confident any differences could be cataloged over the next decade or two (Gibbons 2012). At the same time fossil samples are being tested using the new method developed by Meyer to see if other genomic sequences can be produced with the same sharp resolution as that of the Denisovan girl. We are entering a new frontier of genetic analysis in paleoanthropology and the future is promising. Ultimately, genetic information from past humans that we once shared our ancient planet with may provide clues as to the global expansion of our ancestors and why we are the last after 6.5 million years of human evolution. *** Author’s Affiliation Dr Terrence Twomey is currently affiliated with the School of Social and Political Sciences’ Anthropology Program at The University of Melbourne. His research interests include the evolution of human language, consciousness and cooperation, and the ecological impacts of large and small-scale societies. *** Further Reading

Armitage, Simon J., Sabah A. Jasmin, Anthony E. Marks, Adrian G. Parker, Vitaly I. Usik & Hans-Peter Uerpmann. The Southern Route “Out of Africa”: Evidence for an Early Expansion of Modern Humans into Arabia. Science (28 January) 331, (2011). 453-6. Derevianko, Anatoly P., Alexander V. Postnov, Eugeny P Rybin, Yaroslav, V. Kuzmin & Susan G. Keats. The Pleistocene Peopling of Siberia: A Review of Environmental and Behavioural Aspects. Bulletin of Indo-Pacific Prehistoric Association 25, (2005). 57-68.


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Finlayson, Clive. The humans who went extinct: why Neanderthals died out and we survived. Oxford: Oxford University Press, (2009) Gibbons, Ann. A Chrystal–Clear View of an Extinct Girl’s Genome. Science (31 August) 337, (2012). 1028-9. Grove, Matt. Orbital Dynamics, Environmental Hetrogeneity, and the Evolution of the Human Brain. Intelligence 40, (2012). 404-18.

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Premo, L. S. & Jean-Jacques Hublin. Culture, Population, and Low Genetic Diversity in Pleistocene hominins. PNAS 106(1), (2008). 33-7.

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Meyer, Matthias, Martin Kircher, Marie-Theres Gansauge, Heng Li, Fenando Racimo, Swapan Mallick, Joshua G. Schraiber,, Flora Jay, Kay Prüfer, Cesare de Filippo, Peter H. Sudmant, Can Alkan, Qiaomei Fu, Ron Do, Nadin Rohland, Arti Tandon, Michael Siebauer, Richard E. Green, Katarzyna Bryc, Adrian W. Briggs, Udo Stenzel, Jesse Dabney, JayShendure, Jacob Kitzman, Michael F. Hammer, Michael V. Shunkov, Antonio P. Derevianko, Nick Patterson, Aida M. Andrés, Evan E. Eichler, Montgomery Slatkin, David Reich, Janet Kelso & Svante Pääbo. A High-Coverage Genome Sequence from an Archaic Denisovan Individual. Science 338 (12 October), (2012). 222-6. Sawyer, G. J. & Viktor Deak. The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans. New Haven: Yale University Press, (2007). Sankararaman, Sriran, Nick Patterson, Heng Li, Svante Pääbo & David Reich. The Date of Interbreeding between Neandertals and Modern Humans. PLOS Genetics 8(10), (2012). e1002947. Wu, Liu, Chang-Zhu Jin, Ying-Qi Zhang, Yan-Jun Cai, Song Xing, Xiu-Jie Wu, Hai Cheng, R. Lawrence Edwards, Wen-Shi Pan, Da-Gong Qin, Zhi-Sheng An, Erik Trinkaus & Xin-Zhi Wu. Human Remains from Zhirendong, South China, and Modern Human Emergence in East Asia. PNAS 107(45), (2010). 19201-6. Xiu-Jie WU, Scott D. Maddux, Lei Pan, Erik Trinkaus. Nasal floor variation among eastern Eurasian Pleistocene Homo. Anthropological Science Vol. 120(2012) No. 2 (2012) ***

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The Roman goddess Pax as the embodiment of Mother Nature from the Ara Pacis monument in Rome: 13 CE. Credit Wiki Commons.


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Erroneous Terms in Archaeology and Popular Literature: ‘the Mother Goddess’ or By Andrea Sinclair M.A.

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Why I Can Be Tiresome at Social Engagements

his article examines the 19th and early 20th century origins for the term ‘mother goddess’ in literature. This epithet and the equally dubious

notion of early matriarchal societies have dogged the steps of archaeologists for decades. In the past (and the present) this term has been generously applied to describe prehistoric goddesses and female figurines of all shapes and sizes from prehistoric and early historic period regions across Europe and the Near East. As you may astutely surmise from my presence as a contributor to this magazine, I am an archaeologist by conviction, if not always by practical application. Determined adherence to this profession has its disadvantages, however, and may become controversial on those rare occasions when one pokes one’s head out from the cover of academia and makes tentative forays into the realm of man. What sort of controversy could ever dog the steps of an archaeologist you ask? Well, we have this uncontrollable urge to remain objective in our dealings with historical data and that does not blend well with the image of ancient history as it is gleefully portrayed in modern popular literature and in the media.

least of all, family members, who are quite ready to accept that I am qualified to speak on many things, but not to question the big issues like antiquated terminologies for mythological beings: in this instance the application of the term ‘mother goddess’, or indeed that other ambiguous term: ‘fertility goddess’. Both of which may be applied to goddesses from a plethora of regions and time frames from across the globe.

Since I perceive the biggest handicap to the spread of information appears to be the enormous gulf between academic literature (which no one reads) and popular literature (which everyone on the planet reads), I believe there is a genuine need for us academics to get off our comfy cushions and share Today’s case in point is an issue that can get me into information in a manner that is legible to all. Pria lively discussion with strangers, friends and not marily because the real people of my acquaintance 17


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are actually quite receptive to data. It is absolutely impossible to impress one’s peers with your eruditeness over a glass of Shiraz if you haven’t done a spot of reading first. Therefore today’s discussion will be an introductory course in the history of the use of the term ‘mother goddess’ in describing goddesses from antiquity. Yes, that is right, this misnomer has a long and illustrious history spanning centuries, which could inspire some of you to shout ‘then surely it must be true!’ from the stalls. Go, make a cup of tea, come back, sit down, take a deep breath and concentrate, we have a way to go. In order not to write a small dissertation, I shall restrain my zeal somewhat and limit my discussion to an area of which I have reasonable cognisance: the eastern Mediterranean and the broader Near East. In addition, there will be no attempt at an exhaustive listing of every text or author who contributed to the current overuse of the term ‘mother goddess’ in literature, for that would be entirely beyond the scope of any article. Isis-Aphrodite. The Egyptian goddess Isis was

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Where we need to start an examination of the idea popular in the Roman period and is here aligned with the goddess Aphrodite and displaying her of an omnipotent mother goddess in antiquity genitals in a style consistent with Near Eastern naturally rests firmly with Greek and Roman scholarrepresentations of ‘fertility’ goddesses: ca. 50-200 ship. But not just with classical scholarship, also with CE. George Steindorff Museum, Leipzig, Germany. later interpretations of the original texts, and the first Credit Wiki Commons. thing you need to consider is that if a classical scholar said something 2,500 years ago, it must be correct. more examples of reference to Asiatic cults in classical literature, but it is these three writers who Right? get the most press, and to an extent were used by later authors for their own sources. Those illustrious No, not necessarily correct at all. names are Herodotus, from his Histories, Strabo, from The Geography, and, last, but definitely not least, the Like all writers they had agendas. Ancient Greek and satirist Lucian of Samosata and The Syrian Goddess. Roman scholars wrote colourful and exotic tales of foreign lands and their strange customs with often Of these respectable pillars of literature, only one very little need for veracity or even for first-hand author may lay claim to an early date: Herodotus wrote his Histories in the 5th century BCE. The other experience. two gentlemen hail from Anatolia in the Roman If you read any contemporary discussion of the imperial period (Lucian: 1st century CE, Strabo: 2nd nature and cults of Near Eastern goddesses you century CE). What these three scholars each had in will no doubt come across citations of two or three common was a desire to describe the exoticness of primary sources from antiquity. There are many the foreign in their writings and, unlike today, they 18


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The most shameful Babylonian custom is that which compels every native woman to sit in the temple of Aphrodite once in her lifetime and have intercourse with a male stranger. Herodotus, Histories 1. 199.

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in 1849 when the German classical archaeologist, Eduard Gerhard, aired the notion that the plethora of ancient Greek goddesses from the Classical period may have originally stemmed from one primitive earth goddess in ‘On Metre and the Mother of Gods’. This rationale set the stage for the idea to develop within European scholarship and was soon followed by another academic, again employing the example of classical mythology.

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Ancient Near Eastern goddesses and their cult were described as licentious and orgiastic with appropriate relish and disdain. The Greeks and Romans were not so much shocked by the notion of sacred prostitution, as such, as by the idea that it affected women of all classes. However, these are the foundations upon which our popular description and understanding of ancient Near Eastern female deities now stands. This notion of sexual promiscuity can be seen as some association with fertility, assuming, of course, that fertility equates with sexual activity. But how does it relate to the term ‘mother goddess’? I set out to find if the term was actually cited in texts and, surprise, surprise, it was not.

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...celebrating the feast of the Mother of the Gods with great ceremony… Herodotus, Histories 4.76.2. Much literature translates the description of these deities from western Asia as mother goddesses and goes on to describe the cult of these goddesses at length. However, allow me to be pedantic a moment, where the title is used in classical texts, and I include other ancient references in this, the term is more correctly translated as the ‘mother of the gods’. This conveys a different meaning: a goddess as procreator of gods, rather than a goddess representing a notion of motherhood. So how did we end up here with this idea embedded in language so deeply that academics unwarily slip into the same error in their own writing? Perhaps the most convenient point to begin our discussion is in the 19th century when archaeology was in its infancy and much aligned with both antiquarianism and classical scholarship. The first academic reference to a mother goddess occurred

The statues of the Artemis of Ephesus were widely copied in antiquity and are often cited as examples of an Asiatic Great Mother Goddess. It may be worth noting that while this goddess probably denoted fertility, the ‘breasts’ are now considered to be bulls testicles or gourds: ca. 125-175 CE. Ephesus Museum, Seljuk, Turkey. Credit Bruce Allardice.

Johann Bachofen and Das Mutterrecht In 1861, the Swiss anthropologist Johann Bachofen published The Mother-right: an Investigation of the Religious and Juridical Character of Matriarchy in the Ancient World’ This volume was a lengthy academic exercise in theories of cultural evolution firmly 19


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based on the battle of the sexes and argued for the Jane Ellen Harrison existence of four phases of human social evolution. Subsequent scholars took up this interesting literary rationalisation and developed it to suit their own These were: needs. Thus, after Bachofen’s weighty publication, 1) Hetairism: from εταίρα, ‘a female companion’, but two British academics contributed substantially to also described a ‘prostitute’, hetaerism is a social the reinforcement of this tiresome generic term. system in which women were communally shared. At Cambridge the linguist and classicist Jane Ellen Also called ‘unregulated Mother-right’, this earliest Harrison adapted Gerhard’s and Bachofen’s ideas period was characterised by Bachofen as being both to her own research and laid the foundations for modern analysis of the origins of ancient Greek myth communistic and sexually promiscuous. in her Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion 2) Amazonium: was a transitional stage between (1903) and in the later Themis: A Study of the Social unregulated and organised matriarchy. Origins of Greek Religion (1912). 3) Gynocracy: female rule or ‘organised Mother-right’. 4) Father-right: represented the peak of human social evolution in which all trace of the licentious matriarchal past was eradicated and modern civilisation emerged.

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One can see two influences at work in this particular gentleman’s thought processes. One is the effect of a classical education on academic thought in the 19th century and the other is the impact of Charles Darwin’s theories on human evolution in On the Origin of Species (1859). For Bachofen has taken the Greek poet Hesiod’s concept of the Five Ages of Man from Works and Days (Golden, Silver, Bronze, Demigods and Men) and devised his own evolutionary theory which had human societies develop out of primitive chaos into civilised order.

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The Mother-right stems from below, is earthly in nature and earthly in origin, the Father-right, in opposition, stems from above, is celestial in nature and celestial in origin. Bachofen 1861: 130.

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It is perhaps ironic that the ideas of this 19th century scholar have had such a dramatic impact on subsequent western thought, but this actually wasn’t his intention with this theory. In his writings this clichéd vision of primitive matriarchy governed by an earth goddess was emphatically an example of moral and social inferiority, and yet this notion impacted heavily on critical thought in the next century. 20

If then we would understand the contrast between the Olympians and their predecessors we must get back to the earlier Themis, to the social structure that was before the patriarchal family, to the matrilineal system, to the Mother and the tribe, the Mother and the Child and the initiated young men. Harrison 1912: 492. Harrison argued that early Greece was inhabited by an idyllic society worshipping a primitive nature goddess that was later suppressed by incoming patriarchal tribes. To add insult to injury, she is the most likely historical source for the notion that this primitive mother goddess bore three distinct aspects related to some simplified notion of the female life cycle: the maiden, mother and crone. It hardly needs mentioning that Harrison, while influential, was not a supporter of the suffragette movement. The matriarchal goddess may well have reflected the three stages of a woman’s life. Harrison 1903: 317.

Frazer and The Golden Bough The other scholar to contribute to this fracas has to be the great-granddaddy of all things anthropological and, to give credit where credit is due, to the neo pagan movement: Sir James George Frazer. His voluminous and now legendary (if completely out of date) study of comparative religion The Golden Bough was published in two volumes in 1890. In this voluminous tome Herodotus, Strabo and Lucian were again dusted off and cited as reliable evidence


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three successive stages from the simplest: primitive magic and totemism, which was replaced by religion proper, which in turn was superseded by science. His work on comparative religion resonates even today, even though his ideas on Near Eastern religion have not stood the test of time nor are they substantiated by subsequent archaeological research.

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The Minoan Utopia and Sir Arthur Evans

Maiden, Mother and Crone: the Greek goddesses that have informed our vision of a primal mother: Core, Demeter and Hekate. Hekate (the crone) is here represented as a triple goddess with attendant Charites on an Attic vase: ca. 300200 BCE. Glyptothek Museum, Munich, Germany. Credit Wiki Commons.

for the cult practices and identities of ancient Near Eastern goddesses. Whatever its motive, not as an orgy of lust, but as a solemn religious duty performed in the service of that great Mother Goddess of Western Asia whose name varied, while her type remained constant, from place to place. Thus at Babylon every woman, whether rich or poor, had once in her life to submit to the embraces of a stranger at the temple of Mylitta. Frazer 1976: 435. Frazer was a Victorian social anthropologist and classicist who, in turn, under the influence of Darwin’s theories, proposed his own theory of social evolution. He argued that human belief progressed through

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Following hard on these venerable footsteps, in the early 20th century British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans excavated the Bronze Age site of Knossos in Crete and bequeathed us a legacy of matriarchal and pacifistic Minoan culture which even now is difficult for archaeology to shake off. This Victorian gentleman interpreted the absence of combative scenes and the predominance of female figures in Minoan iconography as indicative of a pacifistic society and of the worship of a mother goddess. …where the habit prevailed of forming these Mother idols…under varying names and attributes, of a series of Great Goddesses who often combined the ideas of motherhood and virginity. In Crete itself it is impossible to dissociate these primitive images from those that appear in the shrines and sanctuaries of the Great Minoan Goddess’ Evans 1921: 52. The discovery of faience ‘snake goddesses’ (there is no evidence that they are deities) from a temple repository at Knossos with voluptuously naked breasts also augmented this fertility goddess rationalisation. Evan’s conclusions were equally strongly influenced by findings of female ‘fertility’ figures from Neolithic sites in Europe and the Near East. Again the foregoing contributed considerably to an idea within scholarship of matriarchal societies preceding the patriarchal in prehistory.

The Syrian Goddess The next step in this evolution of the fictionalisation of an ancient Near Eastern ‘Mother’ was Herbert Strong and John Garstang’s translation of Lucian’s, The Syrian Goddess in 1913. While there is no reason that a 21


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Goddesses, worshippers or priestesses? The faience figurines from the excavations at the palace of Knossos in Crete in 1901. Middle Minoan: ca. 1700-1600 BCE. Heraklion Archaeological Museum, Crete. Credit Wiki Commons.

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translation of a classical text by respectable early 20th century archaeologists should substantially affect the spread of erroneous terms, apart from making an obscure text accessible to the general public, the introduction to this text adequately demonstrates popular thought about Near Eastern goddesses at that time:

behaviour to argue that matriarchy universally preceded patriarchy in human prehistory. He drew heavily on Bachofen’s work and argued that primitive societies practiced a form of ancestor worship where each clan worshipped a form of primal mother.

Robert Graves

To return to the power of classical scholars to dramatically effect generations of readers, one can but mention that other literary giant and exhaustive compiler of Greek myth: Robert Graves. For in 1946 Graves published his personal musings on ancient Greek, Roman and Welsh poetic inspiration: The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. This novel ranks with the Golden Bough as the handbook of reconstructing paganism in antiquity for a modern Strong and Garstang 1913: 4. audience and is a voluminous exercise in reiterating The notion of early and primitive societies being by the idea of an omnipotent triple goddess who was nature matriarchal also took off within the discipline composed of three primal aspects: maiden, mother of anthropology with Robert Briffault’s The Mothers: and crone. I do not think I need to point out to you the Matriarchal Theory of Social Origins in 1927. This the obvious literary inspirations for Graves’ writings. British doctor employed comparison with animal From the 1950s to the 1960s the disciplines of

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The dawn of history in all parts of Western Asia discloses the established worship of a naturegoddess in whom the productive powers of the earth were personified. She is our Mother Earth, known otherwise as the Mother Goddess or Great Mother. Among the Babylonians and Northern Semites she is called Ishtar: she is the Ashtoreth of the Bible, and the Astarte of Phoenicia’

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psychology and anthropology contributed to the fracas with influential publications from esteemed scholars in their fields. Beginning in 1954 the Romanian historian and mythographer Mircea Eliade published Mother Earth and Celestial Sacred Marriage. This was ably followed by the German-American psychologist Erich Neumann’s The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype in 1955, and in 1959 British anthropologist and prolific writer on comparative religion and the ancient Near East Edwin James published his own volume, The Cult of the Mother Goddess.

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In the 1960s the psychologist Carl Jung (1964) and mythologist Joseph Campbell (1960) produced volumes which are landmarks of their time; Man and his Symbols and four volumes of The Masks of God. Each was heavily influenced by Frazer’s Golden Bough and again the mythology of a great mother goddess presiding over idyllic Neolithic agrarian cultures in the prehistoric Near East was substantially reinforced, yet still employing existing antiquated notions of cultural evolution and female deity. However, it is back to the field of archaeology that Goddess of Çatalhüyük: Clay figurine from Çatalhüyük in we must return in order to view the evolution of southern Turkey. Anatolian Neolithic: ca. 6000-5500 BCE. the usage of this misnomer in the second half Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, Ankara, Turkey. Credit of the 20th century. For parallel to the fields of Bruce Allardice. psychology, anthropology and classics, professional archaeologists were augmenting the cliché with supported by the evidence. The vast majority of literature of their own. figurines do not imitate the original mother goddess style touted by Mellaart. Instead of a matriarchal culture, overseen by a goddess, Hodder maintains Çatalhüyük and James Mellaart that the site gives little indication of matriarchy or In the early 1960s the archaeologist excavating the patriarchy, rather, the roles of women and of men Neolithic site of Çatal Höyük in southern Anatolia, appear equal and of similar social standing, but James Mellaart, described the proliferation of naked this does not prevent the site in Anatolia being the female figurines excavated from the site as statues major focus of pilgrimage for New Age goddess of a supreme deity, the ‘Mother Goddess’. Displaying worshippers. the influence of the classicist Robert Graves he rationalised this great mother goddess to be again Indeed academic criticism of the argument for a threefold in nature, with stock maiden, mother and mother goddess based on the plethora of female crone attributes. figurines was not lacking in the 1960s. Peter Ucko (1962, 1968) and Andrew Fleming (1969) both This hypothesis has since been refuted by the current argued convincingly for a less narrow approach to excavator of the site, Ian Hodder who now argues that interpreting these figurines from Neolithic Europe the claims originally posited by Mellaart are no longer and the Near East and by the 1970s archaeology 23


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The Venus of Willendorf, a limestone figurine discovered at Willendorf in Austria in 1908. Palaeolithic: ca. 2400022000 BCE. Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria. Credit Wiki Commons.


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had moved away from the notion of a matriarchal ideal for the prehistoric period. However, this has not stopped perfectly sound scholars from using the term mother goddess to describe Near Eastern goddesses of varied description in publications.

Marija Gimbutas and Old Europe

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Ten years after Mellaart, in the early 1970s, the Lithuanian-American archaeologist Marija Gimbutas decisively finished the work that Eduard Gerhard so ably started, with her own theories in The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe. In this work she argued, like Mellaart, that the nude female figurines occurring in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic of south-eastern Europe and Anatolia demonstrate the important status of women and the existence of a cult of a mother goddess in prehistoric society. Like many before her she argued for an ideal of ‘Old Europe’ wherein the worship of a female supreme deity preceded the warlike masculine culture and gods of the subsequent Bronze Age.

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Gimbutas, a colleague of Joseph Campbell, went on to an illustrious career extolling these theories, The earliest known example, the Venus of Hohle Fels, a publishing two more books on the subject before her mammoth ivory figurine found at Schelklingen, Germany death in 1994. She was the ‘pin up’ girl for late 20th in 2008. Upper Paleolithic: ca. 38,000-33,000 BCE. Early century feminism and for neo-paganism, although History Museum, Blaubeuren, Germany. Credit Wiki some branches of feminism have since justifiably Commons. rejected her theories as perpetuating antiquated mythology regarding female deities in prehistory models for gender. and not historical verity. ...since she was so steeped within the ‘establishment’ This outdated term has emerged from questionable epistemological framework of polar opposites, beginnings in conservative 19th century classical rigid gender roles, barbarian invaders and culture scholarship and from there has branched out stages which are now regarded as outmoded. It is to envelope the entirety of cultures from the unfortunate that many archaeologists interested in continent of Europe and those flanking the eastern gender are drawn to historical fiction and emotional Mediterranean over a period which spans the narratives. Neolithic, Chalcolithic and even the Bronze Age. This Meskell 1995: 83. is a ludicrous state of affairs which undervalues the Since the late 20th century the term mother goddess sheer plurality of cultures and polytheistic pantheons has gradually lost favour within academic circles. This that have inhabited this region and truly vast time is not to say that the term has lost ground elsewhere span. There is also currently no material evidence to as the sheer breadth of alternative literature in print support these outmoded theories. and on the internet pays tribute to the power of the past to inspire the present. But what we actually The spread of this erroneous term appears to be have is the construction of a compelling modern dependent on the basic inability of western scholars 25


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from monotheistic backgrounds to fathom the multiplicity of deities that can exist simultaneously within polytheistic religions. There is no limit to the applications for divinity in polytheism. But ultimately the biggest impediment to progress is the inability for literature to shrug off antiquated 19th century notions which are grounded in excessive sensibility, misguided fantasies about social evolution and prim notions regarding the role of the female in society. My own issue with the term mother goddess is this narrow approach to gods of the female gender, as though by virtue of their gender their function could only relate to reproduction and to nurture. To illustrate my point I will refer back to that phrase from Strong and Garstang in 1913: Among the Babylonians and Northern Semites she is called Ishtar: she is the Ashtoreth of the Bible, and the Astarte of Phoenicia’ There are three Near Eastern goddesses named here: Ishtar, Ashtoreth and Astarte. It does none of us credit when we lump them all equally under the umbrella of one supreme ‘mother goddess’. Each goddess was considerably more complex than this idea implies and each embraced her own unique characteristics.

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One goddess may serve as an example: Ishtar was a state goddess, the patron of kings whose standard rode into battle at the head of armies. She governed sexuality, yet could cause sterility as easily as promote fertility. She was a goddess not defined by gender stereotypes and sat squarely in the divide between masculine and feminine. She had a celestial origin, bore no offspring and fits very poorly into the mould of a nurturing figure. It would be convenient if in the future we could move away from this outdated terminology and accept the sheer breadth of goddesses that were available to polytheism in antiquity, just as we have always accepted the variety of roles that male gods may govern. To reiterate, the term ‘mother goddess’ has become so associated with a narrow vision of female deity in literature that the words have become almost meaningless. Perhaps it is worth closing with my 26

own approach when viewing an image that has cult significance and may be reliably associated with a female deity. There are few characteristics that would lean one towards this assumption: a recognisably pregnant (not just obese) figure, perhaps bearing a child or breastfeeding, and finally, (this is a clincher) bearing an inscription reading ‘this is a mother goddess’. *** Further Reading Bahrani, Z. Women of Babylon: Gender and Representation in Mesopotamia. London: Routledge. (2001). Eller, C. The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why An Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future. Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon. (2000). Fleming, A. The Myth of the Mother-Goddess. World Archaeology. 1 (2) (1969). 247-261. Hackett, J.A. ‘Can a Sexist Model Liberate Us? Ancient Near Eastern ‘Fertility’ Goddesses’. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 5 (1) (1989). 65-76. Hodder, I. ‘Women and Men at Çatalhöyük’. Scientific American Magazine 290 (1) (2004). 67-73. Hutton, R. ‘The Neolithic Great Goddess: A Study in Modern Tradition’. Antiquity 71 (1997). 91-99. Meskell, L. ‘Goddesses, Gimbutas and ‘New Age’ Archaeology’. Antiquity 69 (262) (1995). 74-86. Renfrew, C. & P. Bahn. Archaeology, Theories, Methods and Practice. London: Thames and Hudson. (2001) Ucko, P. ‘The Interpretation of Prehistoric Anthropomorphic Figurines’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 92 (1962). 38-54. Whitehouse, R. ‘Gender Archaeology in Europe’. In Handbook of Gender in Archaeology, editor S.M. Nelson, Oxford: Rowman Altamira. (2006). 733-783.

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This breastfeeding female figure from Cyprus may be an example of a mother goddess, or it may be a votive statuette offered at a sanctuary intended to promote lactation: ca. 600-400 BCE. Museum of Lyon, France.. Credit Wiki Commons.

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Bronze head of a king, most likely Sargon of Akkad but possibly Naram-Sin. Unearthed in Nineveh (now in Iraq). In the Iraqi Museum, Baghdad. Height 30.5 cm. Akkadian period, ca. 2300 BCE. Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Directorate General of Antiquities.


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The Kingdom of Akkad The rise and fall of the first multinational empire in history

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By Joshua J. Mark M.A.

he city of Akkad, located in northern Mesopotamia, gave rise to the first multinational empire in the world stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean

Sea. Trade, writing, religion, science, and agriculture all flourished in Mesopotamia under the Empire but, today, no one knows for certain where the city was even located. This article provides a brief history of the rise and fall of the great Akkadian Empire.

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, The lone and level sands stretch far away. Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley Shelley’s famous poem is universally understood to be referencing the Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses the Great but the message could as easily be applied

to any great ancient ruler, city, or empire and, most certainly, to Akkad. Today no one knows where the city of Akkad was located, how it rose to prominence, or how, precisely, it fell; yet once it was the seat of the Akkadian Empire which ruled over a vast expanse of the region of ancient Mesopotamia. It is known that Akkad (also given as Agade) was a city located along the western bank of the Euphrates River possibly between the cities of Sippar and Kish (or, perhaps, between Mari and Babylon or even elsewhere along 29


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Limestone Victory Stele of Naram-Sin brought back from Sippar to Susa as war prize in the 12th century BCE. Louvre Museum. Courtesy Rama/Wiki Commons.


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Map showing the extension of the Akkadian Empire. Courtesy of Crates/Wiki Commons.

the Euphrates). According to legend, it was built by the king, Sargon the Great (2334-2279 BCE), who unified Mesopotamia under the rule of his Akkadian Empire and set the standard for future forms of government in Mesopotamia. Sargon (or his scribes) claimed that the Akkadian Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf through modern-day Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Syria (possibly Lebanon) through the lower part of Asia Minor to the Mediterranean Sea and Cyprus (there is also a claim it stretched as far as Crete in the Aegean Sea). While the size and scope of the empire based in Akkad is disputed, there is no doubt that Sargon the Great created the first multinational empire in the world.

of Uruk, Lugalzagesi, had already accomplished this, though on a much smaller scale, under his own rule. He was defeated by Sargon who, improving on the model given to him by Uruk, made his own dynasty larger and stronger. The historian Gwendolyn Leick writes, “According to his own inscriptions, he [Sargon] campaigned widely beyond Mesopotamia and secured access to all the major trade routes, by sea and by land”, (The A-Z of Mesopotamia, 8). While Lugalzagesi had succeeded in subjugating the cities of Sumer, Sargon was intent on conquering the known world. The historian Durant writes, “East and west, north and south, the mighty warrior marched, conquering Elam, washing his weapons in symbolic triumph in the Persian Gulf, crossing western Asia, reaching the Mediterranean, and establishing the first great empire in history”, (121-122). This empire stabilized the region of Mesopotamia and allowed for the development of art, literature, science, agricultural advances, and religion.

The language of the city, Akkadian, was already in use before the rise of the Akkadian Empire (notably in the wealthy city of Mari where the vast number of cuneiform tablets found have helped to define events for later historians) and it is possible that Sargon restored Akkad, rather than built it. It should also be noted that Sargon was not the first ruler to unite the According to the Sumerian King List, there were five disparate cities and tribes under one rule. The King rulers of Akkad: Sargon, Rimush, Manishtusu, Naram-

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Statue of Narundi wearing the kaunakes, with Elamite and Akkadian inscriptions. Limestone, reign of Puzur-Inshushinak, ca. 2100 BCE. From the Acropolis at Susa. Louvre Museum. Photo courtesy of MarieLan Nguyen/Wiki Commons.


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Treaty of alliance concluded between Naram-Sin of Akkad and Khita (?), a prince of Awan; Elamite language written in Akkadian script. Clay, ca. 2250 BCE. From Susa, Iran. Louvre Museum. Photo courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wiki Commons.

Sin (also known as Naram-Suen) and Shar-Kali-Sharri who maintained the dynasty for 142 years before it collapsed. In this time Akkadian came to replace Sumerian as the lingua franca except in sacred services, and Akkadian dress, writing, and religious practices infiltrated the customs of the conquered in the region. A thorough understanding of the rise and fall of Akkad (relatively speaking) is best gained through an examination of the rulers of the city and the empire they maintained.

improved irrigation, a wider sphere of influence in trade, as well as the above mentioned developments in arts and sciences. The Akkadian Empire created the first postal system where clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform Akkadian script were wrapped in outer clay envelopes marked with the name and address of the recipient and the seal of the sender. These letters could not be opened except by the person they were intended for because there was no way to open the clay envelope, save by breaking it.

Sargon the Great either founded or restored the city of Akkad and ruled from 2334-2279 BCE. He conquered what he called “the four corners of the universe”and maintained order in his empire through repeated military campaigns. The stability provided by this empire gave rise to the construction of roads,

In order to maintain his presence throughout his empire, Sargon strategically placed his best and most trusted men in positions of power in the various cities. The “Citizens of Akkad”, as a later Babylonian text calls them, were the governors and administrators in over 65 different cities. Sargon also 33


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Victory stele of an Akkadian king, fragment. Diorite, Akkad Period (ca. 2300 BCE), brought to Susa as a war spoil in the 12th century BCE. Found in Susa. Louvre Museum. Photo courtesy of Jastro/ Wiki Commons.


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5-mina diorite weight inscribed with the name of Shu-Shin, king of Sumer and Akkad, c.2030 BCE. Louvre Museum. Photo courtesy of Rama/Wiki Commons.

cleverly placed his daughter, Enheduanna, as High Priestess of Inanna at Ur and, through her, seems to have been able to manipulate religious/cultural affairs from afar. Enheduanna is recognized today as the world’s first writer known by name and, from what is known of her life, she seems to have been a very able and powerful priestess in addition to creating her impressive Hymns to Inanna.

of governing his lands. He increased trade and, according to his inscriptions, engaged in longdistance trade with Magan and Meluhha (thought to be Upper Egypt and the Sudan). He also undertook great projects in construction throughout the empire and is thought to have ordered the construction of the Ishtar Temple at Nineveh which was considered a very impressive piece of architecture. Furthermore, he undertook land reform and, from what is known, improved upon the empire of his father and brother. Manishtusu’s obelisk, describing the distribution of parcels of land, may be viewed today in the Louvre Museum, Paris. His death is somewhat of a mystery but, according to some scholars, Leick among them, “Manishtusu was killed by his courtiers with their cylinder seals”, though no definite motive has been offered for the killing ( The A-Z of Mesopotamia, 111).

Sargon reigned for 56 years and after his death was succeeded by his son Rimush (reigned 2279-2271 BCE) who maintained his father’s policies closely. The cities rebelled after Sargon’s death and Rimush spent the early years of his reign restoring order. He campaigned against Elam, whom he defeated, and claimed in an inscription to bring great wealth back to Akkad. He ruled for only nine years before he died and was succeeded by his brother Manishtusu (reigned 2271-2261 BCE). There is some speculation that Manishtusu brought about his brother’s death Manishtusu was succeeded by his son Naram-Sin (also Naram-Suen) who reigned from 2261-2224 to gain the throne. BCE. Like his father and uncle before him, NaramHistory repeated itself after the death of Rimush Sin had to suppress rebellions across the empire and Manishtusu had to quell widespread revolts before he could begin to govern but, once he across the empire before engaging in the business began, the empire flourished under his reign. In the

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List of the victories of Rimush, king of Akkad, upon Abalgamash, king of Marhashi, and upon Elamite cities. Clay tablet, copy of a monumental inscription, ca. 2270 BCE. Louvre Museum. Photo courtesy of Jastrow/Wiki Commons.

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Face B of an Akkadian victory stele. Limestone, ca. 2300-2250 BCE. Found in Telloh (ancient Girsu), Louvre Museum. Photo courtesy of Jastrow/Wiki Commons.

an answer from the gods by force; and that man is Naram-Sin. According to the text, the great Sumerian god Enlil withdrew his pleasure from the city of Akkad and, in so doing, prohibited the other gods from entering the city and blessing it any longer with their presence. Naram-Sin does not know what he could have done to incur this displeasure and so prays, asks for signs and omens, and falls into a seven year depression as he waits for an answer from the god. Finally, tired of waiting, he draws up his army and marches on Enlil’s temple at the Ekur in the city of Nippur which he destroys. He “sets his spades against its roots, his axes against the foundations until the temple, like a dead soldier, falls prostrate”, (Leick, The Invention of the City, 106). This attack, of In spite of his spectacular reign, considered the course, provokes the wrath not only of Enlil but of height of the Akkadian Empire, later generations the other gods who send the Gutium “a people who would associate him with “The Curse of Agade”, know no inhibition, with human instincts but canine a literary text ascribed to the Third Dynasty of Ur intelligence and with monkey features” (106) to but which could have been written earlier. It tells invade Akkad and lay it waste. There is widespread the fascinating story of one man’s attempt to wrest famine after the invasion of the Gutians, the dead

36 years he ruled, he expanded the boundaries of the empire, kept order within, increased trade, and personally campaigned with his army beyond the Persian Gulf and, possibly, even to Egypt. The Victory Stele of Naram-Sin (presently housed in the Louvre) celebrates the victory of the Akkadian monarch over Satuni, king of the Lullubi (a tribe in the Zagros Mountains) and depicts Naram-Sin ascending the mountain, trampling on the bodies of his enemies, in the image of a god. Like his grandfather, he claimed himself “king of the four quarters of the universe” but, in a bolder move, began writing his name with a sign designating himself a god on equal footing with any in the Mesopotamian pantheon.

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Limestone foundation tablet with a cuneiform inscription of Sin-iddinam on two faces, dating to between 1849 and 1843 BCE. Walters Art Museum. The obverse reads: (For) Utu, lord of justice of heaven and earth, learned in decision, the one who choses in favor of innocence, the king of Ebabbar, his king, Sin-iddinam, the shepherd who decorates everything for Nippur, the provider of Ur, king of Larsa, king of Sumer and Akkad, the Ebabbar, his beloved house; The reverse reads: for the sake of his life, he built (it) For abundant distant days he enlarged that dwelling place. With the thing that he (Sin-iddinam) has done, (may) Utu, rejoice. A life of sweet things (and) bright days as a reward, may he (Utu) give to him (Siniddinam). Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.

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written to express “an ideological concern for the right relationship between the gods and the absolute monarch” (Leick, 107) whose author chose Akkad and Naram-Sin as subjects because of their, by then, legendary status. According to historical records, Naram-Sin honoured the gods, had his own image placed beside theirs in the temples, and was succeeded by his son, Shar-Kali-Sharri who reigned from 2223-2198 BCE.

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remain rotting in the streets and houses, and the city is in ruin and so, according to the tale, ends the city of Akkad and the Akkadian Empire, a victim of one king’s arrogance in the face of the gods. There is, however, no historical record of NaramSin ever reducing the Ekur at Nippur by force nor destroying the temple of Enlil and it is thought that “The Curse of Agade” was a much later piece 38

Shar-Kali-Sharri’s reign was difficult from the beginning in that he, too, had to expend a great deal of effort in putting down revolts after his father’s death but, unlike his predecessors, seemed to lack the ability to maintain order and was unable to prevent further attacks on the empire from without. Leick writes, “Despite his efforts and successful military campaigns, he was not able to protect his state from disintegration and, after his death, written sources dried up in a time of increased anarchy and confusion” (The A-Z of Mesopotamia, 159). Interestingly, it is known that “his most important building project was the reconstruction of the Temple of Enlil at Nippur” and perhaps this event, coupled with the invasion of the Gutians and a widespread famine, gave rise to the later legend which grew into “The Curse of Agade”. Shar-Kali-Sharri waged almost continual war against the Elamites, the Ammorites and the invading Gutians but it is the Gutian Invasion which has been most commonly credited with the collapse of the Akkadian Empire and the Mesopotamian Dark Age which ensued. Recent studies, however, claim that it was most likely climate change which


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caused a famine and, perhaps, disruption in trade, weakening the empire to the point where the type of invasions and rebellions which, in the past, were crushed, could no longer be dealt with so easily. The last two kings of Akkad following the death of Shar-Kali-Sharri, Dudu and his son Shu-Turul, ruled only the area around the city and are rarely mentioned in association with the empire. As with the rise of the city of Akkad, its fall is a mystery and all that is known today is that, once, such a city existed whose kings ruled a vast empire, the first empire in the world, and then passed on into memory and legend.

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*** Acknowledgements: A version of the article was first published in Ancient History Encyclopedia http://www.ancient.eu.com/ akkad/ on 28 April 2011. Grateful acknowledgement is made to Editor and Founder Jan van der Crabben. *** Further Reading: Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, Simon & Schuster, NY, 1954 Gwendolyn Leick, The A to Z of Mesopotamia, Scarecrow Press, NY, 2002 Gwendolyn Leick, Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City, Penguin Press, London, 2001 Two Examples of Abrupt Climate Change: http://www. ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/arch/examples.shtml Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley: http://www. online-literature.com/shelley_percy/672/ ***

The Manishtusu obelisk, Akkad, ca. 2270 BCE. Louvre Museum. Photo courtesy of Mbzt/Wiki Commons.

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An Egyptian Renaissance The Kushite 25th Dynasty

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By Dr. Lisa Swart ar from being a cultural and geographic backwater, the Kushite 25th Dynasty created one of the largest empires along the Nile in ancient and medieval times. A dynasty of charismatic Kushite kings

assumed Egyptian titles and postures for over a century. Their sovereignty over Egypt was acknowledged by the Egyptians, all while retaining their own unique identities. The Kushites not only united a previously fragmented Egypt, which had slid into political and economic decline, but reinvigorated Egyptian material culture with a blend of their own distinctive characteristics with Egyptian prototypes. Introduction

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prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Confounding matters further, unlike Egypt, there Extending south, along the Nile River from the First is not an excess of textual artifacts, and of those Cataract to the Shubaluqa Gorge (Sixth Cataract), is found, many have been written in the undeciphered the land of Nubia. Today, this region is mostly located Meroitic language. within the borders of modern Sudan, with a small portion crossing into southern Egypt. Known as Kush As ancient as its neighbour in the north, the history by the Egyptians, Assyrians, Hebrews and Persians; of Nubia is deeply interwoven with that of Egypt, a and Ethiopia by the Greeks, Romans and 19th and long-time rival, trading partner, colonial master, and early 20th century writers, it is one of only two African subsequent colony. From obscure origins, the Kushite civilizations so far to have produced significant kings conquered and established their domination archaeological or written records from before 1000 CE over Egypt as the Twenty-fifth Dynasty during the (Depuydt, 1996: 531). However, even with rich Kushite mid-eighth century BCE. They ruled Egypt for over a archaeological remains along the course of the Nile century, until they were ousted by the Assyrians in Valley, compared with other great civilizations of the the 650s BCE. ancient world, relatively little is known about Nubia. Previously considered a geographical backwater, “Wretched Kush” – The Egyptian View of the Nubia has been traditionally viewed with the flawed Kushites perception by scholars from within the shadow of the monolithic Egyptian empire. This opinion has its Long before the rise of classical maritime trade and roots in the preconceptions of early African societies Islamic trans-Saharan trade, Nubia provided the 40


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ancient Egyptians access to the interior of Africa, and was therefore an economically strategic area whoever controlled the middle Nile area, controlled the flow of goods from the south. Moreover, the lands of Kush contained vast mineral resources and good quality stone for building and sculpture. To the Egyptians, the greatest appeal was ivory, and the gold mines in the Wadi el Allaqi and Wadi Gabgaba. Thus, serving to focus the attention of Egyptian rulers southwards for millennia. These resources formed the backdrop, and set the scene for frequent bouts of heated rivalry for control of territory and trade routes. Therefore, the Nubians were considered a traditional enemy of the Egyptian state. In commemorative monuments of the Egyptian pharaohs, Kushites were referred to as “vile” and the land of Kush was known as “Wretched Kush” emphasizing the negative, foreign aspects of the Kushites. The “otherness” of the Nubians was always emphasized in traditional Egyptian artworks, and they were depicted with short, cropped hair, large lips, and dark brown skin. In art, the pharaoh was customarily shown either trampling his Nubian enemies, or smiting his enemies with a mace. A boundary stela of Senusret III from the Middle Kingdom denounces them for, “they are not people one respects; they are wretches, cravenhearted…”

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An Ancient Rivalry – The Relationship Between Kush and Egypt Interaction between the two civilizations dates to before the First Dynasty in Egypt, and the Egyptians undertook frequent trading trips to Kush during the Old Kingdom. For example, during the reign of Pharaoh Mernera (c. 2200 BCE), Harkhuf records that he made the first of four expeditions south, to a region he called Yam. Harkhuf mentions that on his third trip, he brought back three hundred donkeys laden with incense, ivory, ebony, leopard skins, and other exotic goods. He also brought Kushite warriors back with him from Yam to act as guards, or possibly to act as mercenary soldiers in Egypt (Shinnie, 1996: 64). Massive consumer demand in Egypt, trade, and rich mineral reserves served to bolster the economy of the early civilization of Nubia. By the Third Millennium BCE (2400 BCE), a powerful state emerged along the trade routes, with the capital of Kerma, 50 kilometres south of the Third Cataract. It is speculated that this

Map of Egypt and Sudan, showing modern day borders and the city of Napata. The cataracts listed from the first in the north at Aswan to the sixth, south of the ancient city of Meroe. Credit: Wiki Commons.

may have been the region called Yam that Harkhuf was describing. Egyptian penetration into Nubia during this era consisted of military raids and trade. However, by the reign of Amenemmes I (c. 2000 – 1970 BCE) in the Middle Kingdom, there were military campaigns and incursions to “overthrow” the Wawat (the Egyptian name for Lower Nubia). Nevertheless, Upper Nubia remained independent, developing 41


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Glass and faience inlays depicting the traditional enemies of Ancient Egypt, from the royal palace adjacent to the temple of Medinet Habu, from the reign of Ramesses III (1182-1151 BCE). From left to right are two Nubians, a Philistine, an Amorite, a Syrian, and a Hittite. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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into a powerful Nubian kingdom. By the end of the Middle Kingdom (1700 BC E), Egyptian occupation came to an end, and Upper Nubia gained control of Lower Nubia shortly thereafter.

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After the consolidation of power after the defeat and expulsion of the foreign Hyksos kings from Egypt, attention was once again focused south, with the Egyptian monarchs determined to take over full control of Nubia. The Kushite Kingdom was crushed by Thutmosis I and Thutmosis III during the New Kingdom. This occupation was done in pure colonial style, by the imposition of direct rule in the form of an Egyptian viceroy for the next five hundred years. Egyptian occupation left a permanent impression on the Kushites, with the inhabitants becoming increasingly acculturated and Egyptianized.

the Egyptian kings. Due to civil strife, famine, and economic depression in Egypt, the rulers of Egypt gradually lost control of their southern territories and abandoned Nubia. After 1000 BCE, Egypt was fragmented into eleven separate states ruled by regional kings many of foreign descent, commonly termed the Twenty-second, Twenty-third, and Twenty-fourth Dynasties. By 900 BCE, the power vacuum left by the Egyptians was filled by a rapidly growing, strong, centralized Nubian Kingdom, giving rise to the Kushite rulers of the 25th Dynasty. The strength of this dynasty is evidenced by the sheer magnitude of their kingdom, comprising of Southern, Lower and Upper Nubia, and all of Egypt, “creating the largest state ever found along the Lower Nile River in ancient and medieval times” (O’Connor, 1993: 71).

By the end of the New Kingdom, c. 1086 BCE, the Egypt on the Eve of the Kushite Invasion Kushite Kingdom saw a reversal in political fortune with the decline in economic and political power of During the late 20th Dynasty, Egypt sustained 42


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Relief of bound Nubian prisoners from the entrance of Ramesses II’s Great Temple, Abu Simbel (1279-13 BCE). Credit: Wiki Commons.

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persistent incursions from the Sea People, and the Libyan tribes from the Western desert, such as the Mesh-Wesh and the Libu. The Egyptians ultimately defeated the invaders but, during the final years of the Twentieth Dynasty, the country fell into a state of steady decline. The Libyans, especially the MeshWesh had gradually filtered into Egypt, where they were hired as mercenaries in the Egyptian army. Later, they succeeded in accumulating considerable authority within the Egyptian power structure.

of the late New Kingdom, were able to increase their autonomy. Consequently, a number of principalities developed, each based at an important town, and at each strategic point controlled by a Libyan chief.

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Consequently, it was no surprise that shortly after marching his army into Thebes, Shoshenq I (c. 945 – 924 BCE) a powerful Libyan dynast from the north, proclaimed himself pharaoh with the divine approval of the oracle of Amun. Thus, successfully founding the 22nd Dynasty, also known as the Bubastid Weakened by the influx of the new settlers, Egypt’s Dynasty after the city of Bubastis, which functioned earlier hold on her neighbours loosened; and as the principal centre of the goddess, Bastet. the economy appears to have simultaneously deteriorated. At this time, the economy was severely Under the Bubastid Dynasty, Egypt was united once undermined by bad harvests which led to famine again, and the title “Lord of Two Lands” once more and this, in turn, encouraged extensive criminality applied to the ruler. The reunited Egyptian empire and corruption. The succeeding rulers, Ramesses developed into a strong political and military power. IV to Ramesses XI presided over a weakening state However, after nearly a century of stability, new after failing to establish a strong central authority in generations of Libyan commanders sprang up in the face of the ongoing discord both within Egypt the important administrative and religious centres, and beyond her borders. The reign of Ramesses XI each vying for a piece of the crown. The successors (c. 1098 – 1069 BCE), the last Ramesside ruler, was of the 22nd Dynasty tried to unify the realm, but the characterized by a civil war with Panehsy, the viceroy regrowth of the provincial power bases increasingly of Nubia, who was vying for control of the Theban weakened royal control, and once again led to the area. Ramesses XI responded by sending General division of the country. By the eighth century, there Piankh, who waged a successful campaign against were numerous kings in the country, with the 22nd the southern upstart. The conflict weakened the to the 25th Dynasty ruling simultaneously. The Egyptian economy further, consequently ending deteriorated state of kingship and the priesthood the Egyptian occupation of Nubia. Accordingly, the of Amun paved the way for the subsequent Kushite failure to restore Nubia as a colony resulted in the loss invasion into Egypt. of control of important resources from sub-Saharan Africa. By the beginning of the 21st Dynasty, Egypt was The Kushite Twenty-fifth Dynasty Kings and politically divided in two, with the legitimate lineage the Renaissance in Egypt of kings ruling from Tanis and army commanders in the south, who functioned simultaneously as the The Kushite Dynasty comprised of some forty kings high priests of Amun establishing their own “line” at ruling in succession from the vicinity of Napata, hence the designation “Napatan” to describe this Thebes. time period. The initial kings, buried in the el Kurru Due to the growing military and political efficiency cemetery near Napata, were shadowy figures of the Libyan settlers towards the end of the New originating from murky origins that have been lost Kingdom, the Libyan chiefs were able to secure to time. The first king mentioned by name and positions of local influence, as they had been known only from later texts is Alara. His descendants rewarded with land for their services and were invoked his name as the founder of the royal dynasty promoted to high positions within the government. of Kush in their royal inscriptions, most likely as a The initial decentralization of government during means of conferring legitimacy to their own reigns. the 21st Dynasty also contributed to the growth of Not much is known about Alara himself, and it is provincial power bases. As a result, local dynasties postulated that he was possibly the brother of Kashta, of Libyan chieftains, the descendants of the settlers a better attested Kushite king, and successor to the 44


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The north pyramids, near Gebel Barkal. All the Kushite kings were buried in Egyptian-style pyramids with steep sides. Credit: Wiki Commons.

Kushite throne. Congruently, Kashta’s successors also recorded his name in their inscriptions as the founder of the Kushite Empire extending from Upper Egypt to Butana. This tantalizing claim is maintained by three artifacts, which record his name in a royal cartouche (the Egyptian convention of designating royalty in written form): a fragment of an offering table, a stela fragment from Elephantine, and a metal aegis with counterweight. On the stela, Kashta claimed to be the “King of Upper and Lower Egypt… Son of Re, Lord of the Two Lands”. This traditional Egyptian royal epithet referred to the union of Upper and Lower Egypt in the early Dynastic Period, and was still utilized by the Kushite kings centuries after the Kushite occupation of Egypt had ended. It is not known whether this incursion into Egypt was an aggressive undertaking or peaceful undertaking on Kashta’s part. Torok (1995: 50) has put forward a possibility that Kashta was encouraged by some elite Theban citizens to come to Upper Egypt, and offered

him kingship of Egypt (this is not a rare event and is attested to more recently in the Glorious Revolution in England). Kashta’s claim to the Egyptian throne is evidenced on the iconography of the counterweight. Here, Kashta is depicted as being suckled by the goddess, Mut. Known to scholars as the “allaiment royal”, this scene was employed exclusively by the Egyptian rulers in their enthronement rites and legitimization of kingship. Whatever inroads Kashta made into establishing control over southern Egypt, authority of Egypt was firmly cemented under Kashta’s son, Piye, some twenty years later. For posterity, Piye recorded his military conquest of Egypt in hieroglyphs on his granite “Victory Stela” at Gebel Barkal, and had reliefs carved in the second court of the Temple of Amun at Gebel Barkal. The records state that in the twentieth year of his reign, he crushed an incursion led by Prince Tefnakhte from Lower Egypt. He led his army north to Thebes, stopping to worship at the temples 45


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of Amun, and advanced further to Hermopolis where he captured the town and its ruler, Nimlot. Piye, a Kushite and traditionally one of the enemies of the Egyptian state, now ruled over a vast kingdom. It appears that he viewed his conquest, not as an invasion of a foreign country, but as a campaign to restore Egypt back to the status quo. Piye’s younger brother, Shabaqo succeeded him on the throne, fought campaigns against the factious Saite kings of northern Egypt, and installed himself as king in Memphis, the capital of Egypt at the time. The Kushite sovereignty of Egypt was clearly recognized as legitimate in the international arena, with the Kushites establishing diplomatic and trade relationships with the Assyrian Empire in the East. Assyrian cylinder seals bearing Shabaqo’s name from the time of Sargon II have been excavated in Assyria. His successor, Shebitku, is also mentioned in an Assyrian inscription of Sargon II. Monument building reached great heights under Taharqa, who became the next ruler in c. 690 BCE. His building projects approached the scale of Ramesses II and he constructed monuments all over Kush and Egypt; fragments of his statues have also been found in Assyria.

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Not only did the new Kushite rulers have political bonds with Egypt, they enthusiastically revived the religious, intellectual, and cultural achievements of the Egyptians. “Piye’s successors left behind many constructions in Egypt, especially in the Theban region, where they renovated and enlarged existing temples, and built new structures of a smaller size” (Brooklyn Museum, 1978: 45). The vision and undertakings of these rulers in Nubia and Egypt exhibit the features of a renaissance after a long period of stagnation. In this case, due to the dissolution of a centralized Egyptian state at the end of the New Kingdom.

Kushites did not conquer Egypt as barbarians, but as champions of the age-old traditions of the pharaohs. With direct access to an artistic tradition dating back two millennia, they also had the wealth and skilled artists at their disposal (Wellsby, 1996: 177). The Kushite rulers judiciously edited and sewed together texts and iconography, in a style distinguished by archaizing tendencies. The tendency to draw inspiration from the Old Kingdom’s artistic tradition has often created confusion on the dating of certain artworks on stylistic grounds. Why they turned to the Old Kingdom for inspiration is not known. The early Kushite kings, Piye, Shabaqo, Shebitku, Taharqo and Tanwetemani, created archives of Egyptian writings that were regularly augmented in Napata, and most likely other major temples in the country. The process of selection of aspects of the Egyptian civilization points to a discerning and innovative attitude toward Egyptian culture. It is not known how much indigenous Kushite culture was changed by their occupation of Egypt due to the lack of knowledge about the earlier material culture of the Kushites. The Kushite pharaohs are credited with bringing back a renewed vigour to Egyptian art, and inspiring the development of a new and more humanistic style. In a style termed “brutal realism”, the portraits of individuals are depicted realistically in a “warts-and-all-approach” with balding heads, wrinkles, and bags under the eyes. The amalgamation of reality with the traditional Egyptian canon of representation led to a lack of stylistic unity, local variations dependent upon the artists’ interpretation of a wide selection of themes at their disposal. However, a distinct Kushite-type representation was developed in the rounded face, high cheekbones, pronounced folds at the corners of the nose (the Kushite folds), thick lips, and often coupled with an emphasis on the musculature of the body.

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The Kushite rulers stayed true to their southern origins, integrating and clothing them in Egyptian Emulation and Innovation structures. They seemed to revel in their foreignness, Throughout their history, the Kushites had turned to and had their southern features naturalistically Egypt for inspiration. Twenty-fifth Dynasty Kushite depicted. In paintings, their skin tone was depicted architecture, artworks, ritual practices, and worship darker than that of the Egyptians and in sculpture, of Egyptian deities followed the same time-honoured the lips are frequently represented thick and swollen, Egyptian practices laid down centuries before. To this with a thick cylindrical neck characteristic of Kushite point, it has been argued by a few scholars that the art. Employing Egyptian symbols of kingship, they

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Up close and personal. The face of a statue of Shebitku, from the Nubian Museum in Aswan. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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The Taharqa Sphinx from Temple T at Kawa, Sudan, c. 680 BCE. Taharqa’s utilization of Egyptian symbols of authority and power can be seen in this unique twist on a well known Egyptian icon. Credit: Wiki Commons.

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intermingled their own indigenous iconography, and while adopting Egyptian titularly and postures. In royal representations, most notably, the skullcap crown was a typical Nubian symbol of authority. The Nubian cap was depicted as encircled by a headband, with a pair of streamers hanging from the back. Two uraei (spitting cobras) were often hung from the back.

in Egyptian-style coffins. Piye’s funerary ensemble consisted of a wooden coffin with Egyptian-style shabtis and dummy-canopic jars, all contemporary with Egyptian non-royal funerary customs. However, it must be noted that all Kushite kings were buried in Nubia.

Very little remains of secular architecture, so no formal analysis can be conducted. Temple architecture was often based on Egyptian prototypes, but with variations in their decoration. In Taharqo’s temple built at Qasr Ibrim, fragments of wall paintings were excavated. This in itself is unique, as temples were typically decorated in relief sculpture. Aspects of royal and elite mortuary culture were heavily impacted by Egyptian traditions during this time. All the 25th Dynasty kings were buried beneath steep sided pyramids connected to a small mortuary temple, and Piye and his descendants were all buried

The reign of the great Taharqa saw the beginning of the end of Kushite domination of Egypt, when the Assyrians advanced towards Egypt, ending all diplomatic relations.

Conclusion

With the advent of war, the Kushites won but a brief respite, and renewed fighting broke out against King Esarhaddon of Assyria after three years. This time, the Assyrian army took control of Memphis, and Taharqa withdrew to the south, however, members of his family were captured and taken hostage. The provincial rulers who had been suppressed by


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the Kushites became vassals of the Assyrians. After two campaigns to take back Memphis, Taharqa was driven out and died. After a brief stint in Napata to establish his newly gained authority in Kush, Tanwetamani, Taharqa’s successor, launched a campaign and successfully recaptured Memphis, albeit for a short time. In 661 BCE, Assurbanipal, the new Assyrian king, sent a new military force against him, recaptured Memphis, and annihilated Thebes. A new vassal pharaoh was subsequently installed at Sais. From this point, Tanwetamani’s actions and responses become murky, and not much more is known about him. It does appear that there was a Kushite presence in Upper Egypt until at least the 590s BCE when conflict between the Kushites and Saites broke out and all connections were dissolved. The Kushite culture continued uninterrupted for the next few centuries and continued to produce great monuments and works of art in Nubia. Thus, it can be seen that the intellectual and cultural achievements of the 25th Dynasty were abundant, with the Kushite rulers blending their own indigenous style with that of Egyptian exemplars.

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With the rise of the Kushite Dynasty, Egypt was once again united, politically and culturally. Through the integration and implementation of Egyptian culture, Egypt gained a fresh stimulus, and experienced a renaissance in arts and architecture. *** Further Reading: Brooklyn Museum. Africa in Antiquity: The Arts of Ancient Nubia and the Sudan. Brooklyn. Brooklyn Museum. (1978). Depuydt, L. Review of Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s Rival in Africa. By David O’Connor. Philadelphia: The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. 1993. Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.3 (1996). 531-532. Edwards, D. The Nubian Past: An Archaeology of the Sudan. London: Routledge. (2004). Mysliwiec, K. The Twilight of Ancient Egypt, First Millennium BCE. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. (2000).

Head inscribed with the name of Tanwetamani, the last Kushite king to rule Upper Egypt. Oxford Ashmolean Museum. Credit: Wiki Commons. Tyson Smith, S. Wretched Kush: Ethnic Identities and Boundaries in Egypt’s Nubian Empire. London: Routledge. (2003). Shinnie, P. L. Ancient Nubia. London: Kegan Paul International. (1996).

O’Connor, D. Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s Rival in Africa. Philadelphia: The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. (1993).

Török, L. The Birth of an African Kingdom: Kush and Her Myth of the State in the First Millennium BC. Lille: Université Charles-deGaulle. (1995).

Redford, D. From Slave to Pharaoh: The Black Experience of Ancient Egypt. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press. (2004).

Wellsby, D. The Kingdom of Kush: The Napatan and Meroitic Empires. London: The British Museum Press. (1996).

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S ola r Sy m b oli s m i n G e b e l e l Silsila, Egypt

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By Drs. Maria Nilsson and John Ward ontinuing on the topic presented in the last issue of Ancient Planet (2012/2), which introduced the topic of pseudo script in the ancient quarries at Gebel el Silsila in Egypt, this article

will look closer at one group of quarry marks and their symbolic association with solar religion during the Ptolemaic and early Roman periods.

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Archaeological material shows that stone was extracted from the ancient Egyptian quarries of Gebel el Silsila from (at least) the New Kingdom onwards; although epigraphic material such as rock art and graffiti demonstrate that the site itself was in use as far back as prehistoric times. The quarry marks that are to be discussed here belong to the latter part of Egypt’s ancient history, the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, which for obvious reasons can cause problems when interpreting the meaning of these engravings. Not only do we have to consider the traditional, native Egyptian cultural heritage and religious expressions, but it is necessary to include also Greek/Hellenistic and Roman influences; and, of course, the assimilation and at times syncretism of all three cultures. The deities of the traditional Egyptian pantheon were likened with and given the names of Greek gods, crossassumed qualities and attributes; or as in the case of Sarapis, amalgamated several godly characters into a completely “new” deity. Thus, from the time of Herodotus (who suggested that all Greek gods except for Poseidon had an Egyptian counterpart/ origin), Amun became Zeus (or Zeus-Ammon), Hathor Aphrodite, Ptah Hephaistos, Ra Helios, 50

Horus Apollo, Thoth Hermes, etc. By doing so, the often mystified Egyptian religion and mythology was explained and made more accessible to the country’s new inhabitants. Within this assimilation or at least comparison of Egyptian and Greek (and later Roman) gods lies a much more profound universal comparison based on the pictorial depiction of divine symbols and/or attributes. In any primitive religion, humans have followed a similar pattern when creating their initial pantheon inspired by their natural environment and its life-giving forces. For this reason most ancient cultures count the sun as their most important and powerful deity, made prominently into a male figure with his female counterpart represented by the moon. Traces of this distinction remain still today as we use a male determiner for the sun and a female for the moon in Latin based languages. It is therefore hardly surprising to find the representation of the sun and moon in almost every ancient culture, but what separates them is the various details that were added to the basic divine depictions as the cultures developed. Largely based on social, geographical, economic


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Nile view with an Egyptian sailing boat bringing modern visitors to the rock-cut temple of Horemheb. Photo courtesy of the authors.

and political reasons each basic nature-inspired divine form grew into more complex compositions, and assumed human-like qualities or forms from the animal world. In addition to the human-like figures, the ancient Egyptians worshipped animals based equally on admiration and fear, awarding them mythological qualities resembling their natural behaviour and instincts of survival. The Greeks on the other hand represented their deities purely in a human form, with the exception of “lesser” mythological creatures, and treated them as almost human, providing them with a social “life” based on our own psychological make-up. It is initially, however, the basic divine qualities that are important here as we will explore a series of quarry marks associated with solar symbolism that once again binds the cultures together.

represented in the more modern scientific forum. Following a compilation of very brief comments made by early European travellers and scientists, Gebel el Silsila’s quarry marks drew some attention from G. Legrain when visiting the site in the late 19th Century in connection with a survey of the quarries of el Hosh farther north. Briefly having published a corpus of quarry marks from el Hosh (suggesting a possible linguistic meaning for the quarry marks) Legrain’s career was set to deal with the overwhelming material that was excavated from the so-called Karnak cachette. Thankfully, his documentation of the quarry marks at Gebel el Silsila was not totally forgotten as he handed over his drawings and notes to his colleague and friend W. Spiegelberg, who several years later published a selection of the material (without having visited the site himself ). Focusing primarily on textual The quarry marks inscriptions, Spiegelberg did not, however, give Turning to the quarry marks in question, something much room for a discussion on the quarry marks’ short needs to be said about how they have been significance or their correlation with contextual 51


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Left: Boat engraving at Gebel el Silsila, one of Spiegelberg’s examples of profane representations; Right: Series of quarry marks including the swastika surrounded by a pylon, (unfinished) ibis, pentagram, a mark possibly representing the winged solar disc at the horizon, and a symbol similar with the Greek letter My 3b) drawing of the same object. Photos courtesy of the authors.

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inscriptions, thus leaving large areas of research for later generations. Later publications on Gebel el Silsila, which was surveyed by R. Caminos on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Society, focused on the cenotaphs (symbolic tombs) and stelai on the West Bank.

Spiegelberg includes the pentagram, swastika and the star, but as we will see below, this group can be made much larger, incorporating quarry marks listed in other groups by Spiegelberg. Let us now explore the solar symbols of Gebel el Silsila and we will begin with the swastika.

In his short discussion, Spiegelberg divided the quarry marks into two main groups: 1) religious symbols, and 2) profane representations. Included in the first group were thirteen groups of symbols: a) altars, b) offering tables/tablets, c) the situla, d) the vessel, e) the sacrificial bread, f ) plants and flowers, g) the ankh, h) eyes, i) the harpoon (labelled as the Horus-harpoon), j) the hourglass, k) sacred animals, l) solar symbols, and m) building material. In the second group Spiegelberg lists a) boats, b) statues and c) palm trees. Here we will focus on one particular group, that of solar symbols, in which

Swastika Using the Sanskrit name for this hooked cross or gammadion, the symbol appears in various individual quarries at Gebel el Silsila as well as on extracted stone blocks within Egyptian temples. While its universal symbolic significance is accepted as a good luck charm, for fortune and safe guard, little is actually documented among the ancient writers on its deeper meaning and/or origin within the Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures. Yet, it was one of the more commonly used decorating


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Overview of the foundations of Serapeion in Alexandria. Photo courtesy of the authors.

symbols in all three cultures. Scholars have given various explanations as to the physical origin of the symbol, there among being an emblem for a fortress, or, as more commonly accepted, a solar symbol based on its similarity with the rungs of the solar chariot wheel. In Egyptian iconography it is documented from the Old Kingdom onwards and in Greece at least from the Mycenaean Period. We have documented the swastika as a quarry mark on extracted blocks in several Egyptian temple locations, from the foundation stones of Alexandrian Serapeion to the Temple of Khnum and belonging terrace at Elephantine Island, where it primarily appears as a singular mark. So it does also at Gebel el Silsila, but it is occasionally placed in a series, and of importance here is a combination with a pylon, a pentagram, an ibis, and a mark that may represent the winged solar disc at the horizon, which, of course, strongly

suggests a solar connection.

Swastika made up by four horses When viewing this symbol from afar it appears as a double outlined regular swastika or an uneven crossed square but, with a closer inspection, its details emerge showing four horses placed in an anti-clockwise direction. So far, we have been able to document this particular quarry mark only in one quarry section of Gebel el Silsila, and without any examples on extracted blocks within temple structure. The solar symbolism expressed in the swastika is mentioned above, and to depict such a symbol by using four horses emphasises its absolute solar connection and original intent. Most ancient cultures, especially those located around the Mediterranean Sea, present a myth 53


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Left: Obelisk and four horses swastika; Above: Quarry mark depicting the four horses swastika (detail). Photos courtesy of the authors.

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about their solar god being drawn in a chariot over the sky, or, as for the Egyptians, sailing on a daily journey in a solar boat. Since the horse is an animal that is not represented in the main, traditional Egyptian mythology, we need to turn to the Greek tradition instead, in which two main mythological stories can be considered when interpreting the four horses’ meaning: 1) the four steeds of Apollo, or 2) the mares and daughters of Helios. Other than the fact that the horses are represented as drawing the sun god’s chariot, there is little information that can be attached to the myth to separate the two stories, at least when considering the horses alone (although a separation of solar deities can be made into the daily journey and that in the Underworld). From a larger perspective, however, 54

maybe the gender of the horses, thus the exact myth, is of lesser importance since both stories focus on the journey of a solar deity. Thus, the swastika with four horses may be interpreted as a solar symbol. Furthermore, if not convinced by the solar symbolism expressed either in the swastika or four horses, little doubt can exist about the solar symbolism expressed in the obelisk – a symbol which appears in the form of a large (1.5 m) quarry mark placed next to one of the horse swastikas. Now, if considering a comparison with a somewhat later group of ancient material – representations on magical amulets – Helios is depicted driving his four-horse chariot, and Apollo assumes the qualities of Helios as the sun god while also being likened with Horus. Now this string of information


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Overview of section from the terrace of the Khnum Temple, Elephantine Island. Notice the sun disc with its rays on the central block. Photo courtesy of the authors.

turns very interesting since within the location of the quarry marks depicting the four horses swastika (which is limited to the corridor that leads into the main quarry) an inscription written in the demotic, cursive style, is dedicated to Horus of Edfu, the local sun god. Magical amulets depicted with the motif of Helios driving his four-horse chariot were considered by the ancients as a propitious symbol; a superstitious significance which could well explain the quarry marks’ presence in Gebel el Silsila, protecting the workers from any harm.

Sun disc Little needs to be said about the transparent symbolism expressed in quarry marks depicting the sun disc. In Gebel el Silsila and on extracted stones in various Egyptian temples the sun disc is generally depicted with rays, the number of which can vary from place to place, or even from one stone block to another. Often the quarry mark appears as a singular, but one example in the main

quarry at Gebel el Silsila places it with a series of harpoons, a tree branch, hourglasses and an ankh, possibly indicating not only solar symbolism, but also that of fertility.

Pentagram, star and solar cross The quarry mark depicting a five pointed star, the pentagram, is a recurring feature in various individual quarries at Gebel el Silsila, appearing as an individual mark as well as in a group. One example depicts a smaller pentagram placed within a larger one and surrounded by another three stars. It is very rare to find an example that is perfectly carved, with all angles equal, and while a regular upward orientation is preferred other directions (downward/sideways) occur too. Quarry marks depicting the pentagram seldom appear in direct connection with textual inscriptions, and those inscriptions that are in a larger context simply provide a name of a worker/visitor/ soldier. We have documented the pentagram on 55


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Detail of solar quarry mark (left) and pentagram (right). Photos courtesy of the authors.

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undressed stone blocks in a variety of temples, and it is one of the more commonly used decorative patterns on pottery as well as graffiti along the ancient trade routes. Spiegelberg lists the pentagram as a solar symbol in addition to which ancient records list it being a token of protection, stability and wisdom. Its oldest representation in Egypt is found on prehistoric pottery and from the Middle Kingdom it appears in the form of amulets, usually connected with fertility and prosperity. The symbol of a pentagram, when appearing on ancient Hebrew amulets, was considered to protect the health of the owner. Without having the advantage of contextual inscriptions providing information on a possible meaning we cannot, at this point, conclude an absolute solar symbolism for the pentagram but, since it is one of the more frequently depicted items on both earlier and later archaeological material, expressing such an identity, and being used as a protective charm, Spiegelberg’s original categorization seems valid.

Gebel el Silsila, they are found in the ceiling of many Egyptian temples and tombs, often on sarcophagi and as a smaller element in the elaborated relief scenes. The mark that we refer to as a solar cross is distinguished from the star by the additional points, being built up by three or four crossed lines that create a pattern similar to a snowflake. This latter type is the one which is depicted more often in Gebel el Silsila, with either six or eight points, as a singular mark or as part of a more elaborate series. None of the quarry marks of these types are located in connection with an inscription, and it is worth questioning the form of the latter type regarding the title solar cross since its original form of inspiration may very well have been a solar wheel, similar to that of the swastika. However, the presence of multi-pointed stars identified with Phosphor (the morning star) on later magical amulets, especially those depicting Helios in his quadriga, supports our choice of terminology as well as the solar connection.

The quarry mark which Spiegelberg refers to as a star is here subdivided into a) a star and b) a solar cross. The pictorial character of a star follows the traditional Egyptian five pointed star, which from the earliest times represents the inhabitants (the souls of the dead) of the Duat, commonly known as the Underworld. Except for a few examples in

Obelisk In accordance with Egyptian beliefs this pillar-like stone was identified with the sacred monolithic benben stone, upon which the rising sun’s first rays fell, creating a perfect dwelling place for the Egyptian sun god, Ra/Amun-Ra. Its pyramidion


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Obelisk of Ramses II at Luxor Temple. Photo courtesy of the authors.

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Above: Scene from Deir al Medina showing the traditional Egyptian stars; Below: Wadjet-eye in the ceiling of the Hathor Temple at Dendera. Photos courtesy of the authors.

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(pyramid-shaped capstone) was likened with the primeval mound that rose from the dark waters of Nun/chaos, on which the sun god first manifested, thus symbolising the eternally repeated creation. Later obelisks functioned as purely abstract representations since they were made of other lithic material.

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Within Egyptian architecture the obelisk, a solar symbol in itself, was placed in the centre of sun temples or, later, in pairs in front of the main pylon of the temples. Also, the obelisks were made in a smaller scale to be placed outside tombs, and from the Late Period they were worn or placed by the dead as protective amulets. As a quarry mark Gebel el Silsila presents various examples of obelisks, and they are always depicted with a clearly marked pyramidion. They appear as individual marks or in a group surrounded by was-sceptres. Rising 1.5 meters high, the example that is placed next to the horse swastika, as mentioned above, accounts for the largest quarry mark in Gebel el Silsila.

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Eyes Placed in its own group by Spiegelberg, the eyes depicted in one of the many individual quarries at Gebel el Silsila are very much connected with solar symbolism. Although the eye also appears as a solar and protective symbol in Greece, the form identifies it with the traditional Egyptian symbol that has been given many different names. The most commonly known name is, of course, the Wadjet eye, representing the snake goddess Wadjet (or Hathor) in her role as the sun god Ra’s daughter – a fiery and destructive force believed to blind its enemies and protect (its wearer) against all evil. Another myth accredits the eye with a creator role as she gave life to the first human beings by weeping. When both eyes are depicted, like they are in Gebel el Silsila, they are more likely to represent the eyes of Ra or the eyes of Horus, with the right eye being the more important in symbolising the sun, while the left eye represents the moon. As such the eye is described as the ‘all-seeing Eye of Horus,

Detail of quarry mark depicting a stylised right eye, Gebel el Silsila. Photos courtesy of the authors.

whose appearance strikes terror, Lady of Slaughter, Mighty One of Frightfulnes’. Already during the Old Kingdom this symbol was considered one of the most potent protective amulets. Traditional Egyptian eyes are always depicted as falcon’s eyes, so too are the examples in the quarry. Yet another solar connection has been established among the quarry marks of Gebel el Silsila.

Lotus Gebel el Silsila presents a great variety of not only the lotus itself, but also forms and styles. On the West Bank, for example, the most common quarry mark shows a rather stylised lotus flower made up by a half circle (downward curvature) surmounted by two inward pointing triangles. These stylised 59


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Left: Detail of quarry mark depicting a stylised lotus with a more elaborated lotus growing from its top; Right: drawing of a more elaborate lotus within a series of quarry marks, Gebel el Silsila; Opposite page: detail of Roman relief work (hieroglyphs) in the Hathor Temple at Dendera showing the lotus. Photos courtesy of the authors.

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variants are occasionally adjoined with either an ankh or a tree/branch rising from its top, indicating the birth-giving force so often connected with the lotus in the Egyptian religious stories. On the East Bank we can document more advanced examples that clearly depict the details of a long, often slightly curled stem, side buds, and a fully bloomed lotus flower. Others show a flower sitting on a very short stem, or, as in one example, held in the hand by an unfinished human arm. Except for the stylised half circle lotus, all bloomed flowers are made up with four or more petals surrounding the diamond-shaped centre piece.

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Symbolically the lotus, or the water lily as it is called too, represents life’s eternal reincarnation. In nature the lotus shut their flowers at dusk, withdrawing far beneath the water surface. Once more touched by the first rays of the morning sun it strives upwards and opens its flower to the light. For these qualities the lotus became a symbol of the daily journey of the sun god, who equally rose from the dark waters of the Underworld each morning. Traditional Egyptian texts describe the young Horus with the title “he who came forth from the lotus�. During the Ptolemaic and Roman periods the story of Harpocrates and the lotus soon became a popular theme, often represented 60

within the temples, in magical papyri, and later as depictions on magical amulets. The significance of Harpocrates sitting on a lotus on magical amulets is generally accepted as a solar design, worn to gain control of an attendant spirit, occasionally associated with invocations of the Greek Apollo. For this reason it is interesting to note that one quarry places the lotus (with a branch growing from its top) in a series consisting of ankhs and other lotuses, next to which a demotic inscription calls upon the spirit of the local Agathodaimon. Could we consider this set of quarry marks as an early Graeco-Roman representation of superstition, such as expressed in the magical amulets a couple of hundred years later?

Conclusions The material presented here gives a brief insight into the complex system of quarry marks that we currently study in the quarry of Gebel el Silsila, Egypt. Most of the early European travellers and scientists ignored the quarry marks in favour of the more spectacular cenotaphs and stelai that decorate the West Bank, and when mentioned at all by early scholars the marks fell behind yet again, being neglected in favour of Greek and demotic inscriptions. Little blame can be put on these


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scholars since the quarry mark system has proven to be far more complex than simply representing team marks, transportation marks, or the more generally acknowledged masons’ marks. Although never visiting the site in person Spiegelberg did his best to (at least) briefly present his thoughts on the quarry marks, providing a platform for later scholars to work from. Among his religious symbols is included a group of solar symbols, here expanded to also include obelisks, swastikas of four horses, Horus’ eyes and the lotuses. We hope that we have demonstrated in this article that one aspect of the quarry marks can be interpreted as having a symbolic significance, with their symbolic roots in primarily the Graeco-Egyptian religious mythology.

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*** Further reading: Caminos, R. & James, T., Gebel es-Silsilah, Vol. 1: The Shrines, London (1963). Jaritz, H., Elephantine III. Die Terrassen von den Tempeln des Chnum und der Satet. Architektur und Deutung (Archäologische Veröffentlichungen, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Kairo 32), Mainz (1980). Klemm, D. & Klemm, R., Stone and Stone Quarries in Ancient Egypt, London 2008. Legrain, G., ‘Inscriptions in the Quarries of el Hosh’, Society of Biblical Archaeology (1906), 17-26, with plates I-III. Preiskge, F. & Spiegelberg, W., Ägyptische und griechische Inschriften und Graffiti aus den Steinbrüchen des Gebel Silsile (Oberägypten) - nach den Zeichnungen von Georges Legrain, Strassburg (1915). Sayce, A., ‘Excavations at Gebel Silsila’, Annales du Service des Antiquités de l´Égypte 8, 1907, 97-105.

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A study of the similarities between Hinduism and Ancient Egyptian Religion

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By Charlotte Booth M.A. developed slowly over hundreds if not thousands of years before being written down.

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ver the years many comparisons have been made between ancient Egyptian religion, especially during the Amarna period, and Christianity. However, whilst the studies are interesting, their value is limited as they compare a polytheistic and a monotheistic religion; two different entities. Even the religion of Akhenaten was not truly monotheistic and cannot be compared with one that is.

One of the key points of comparison is the pantheon of gods. Both have hundreds of deities, and it is acceptable to worship one or all of them. In the past, new deities were introduced as society changed, meaning the religion developed and evolved with the community it served.

More value can be gained from comparing ancient Egyptian religion with another polytheistic religion, which is what I endeavour to do here. This article is part of a larger study which looks at similarities between Egyptian religion and various polytheistic religions, although this initial article focuses purely on Hinduism; a religion contemporaneous with ancient Egypt and yet one we are able to actively witness in modern society.

Both religions have a supreme deity, the creator of all life, although the choice of supreme deity changes depending on region, politics, period and preference. In ancient Egypt this deity could be Atum, Amun, Ra, Aten (in the Amarna period), or Ptah and in modern Hinduism the supreme deity is Vishnu, Shiva or Brahma. Most of the deities in the Hindu and Egyptian pantheon are connected in one way or another with this supreme deity, and it has been argued that both religions have a monotheistic The main points of comparison for this article will be element. the pantheon of gods, the creation mythology, the concept of cosmic order and religious practice; all of In general the supreme deities are considered too which show remarkable similarities. complex for the population to comprehend and bring into their lives so they take on different forms, The earliest religious texts in Egypt are the Pyramid with different personalities or characteristics, which Texts, from the pyramid of Unas (2375- 2345 BCE), and can be approached for particular things, appealing the earliest known Hindu texts are the Vedas (1500- to the population on many levels. 1000 BCE). It can be argued that there are religious texts earlier in both religions, although in the In Egypt, for example Sekhmet, the lioness headed Indus Valley these are written in an un-deciphered goddess, the consort of the creator god Ptah, was language. It is perhaps more accurate to state that approached in time of illness, and a Hindu approaches these are the earliest records of a developed religion. Ganesha, the elephant headed god, and the son of By the time these texts were written the religions Shiva and Parvati, before embarking on an exam or a were both fully formed, but they undoubtedly had new business venture. 63


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Ganesha. Amber Fort, Jaipur. Photo courtesy of the author.

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This connection with the supreme deity and therefore with each other is an element developed in the form of familial relationships. In both religions the gods form couples and often have a child creating a divine triad and a family unit. Personal relationships are extremely important in the mythology of these two pantheons. Sometimes the consort does not have a major role in the mythology and is almost a “token” wife, included for completeness. The key aspect of these relationships is the male and female elements required to make a whole. If fertility is an important element of the god/goddess then often a child is added to the divine couple. In Egypt two of the most important groupings are Osiris, Isis and Horus, and Amun, Mut and Khonsu (Karnak). In the Hindu faith, divine couples are also extremely important, especially Shiva and Sati/Parvati and Krishna and Radha. However a major difference is that in Hinduism both elements can be present in one deity, and in artwork a god may be depicted as half male and half female. Some may argue it was this dual imagery that Akhenaten was trying to depict in his unusual depiction of himself. 64

The divine relationships are explained in elaborate myths and there are certain themes which can be matched between mythologies. An important myth in both religions involves dismemberment and resurrection. In Egypt, Osiris was dismembered by his brother Seth, and the parts spread throughout Egypt. Isis (Osiris’s wife) and Nephthys (her sister) were able to gather the pieces and resurrect Osiris long enough to impregnate Isis with the god Horus, before he was banished to the world of the dead. The story of Shiva and Sati is similar in the Hindu mythology. When Shiva’s consort Sati died he was so overcome with grief, he carried her body the full length and breadth of India. The other gods saw his grief and decided he needed to part with the body of his wife and continue with his life. Vishnu cut up the body of Sati, until there was nothing left in Shiva’s arms. Shiva then retired to a mountain to meditate. His wife Sati was reincarnated into Parvati who persuaded Shiva to marry her. In both myths in the places where the dismembered


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Once the earth reverted back to the primordial chaos it would remain in this state, with no hope of new life, until the sun (Atum) decides to leave the underworld. This catastrophe could be averted by rituals, prayers and offerings to the sun god.

... destroy all that I have made; the earth shall return to the Abyss, to the surging flood, as in its original state; but I will remain with Osiris.

In Egyptian mythology the lotus also has fertility and solar connections. The creation myths describe a mound of earth rising from the primordial waters

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body parts fell onto the earth, there arose a sacred centre or temple, and although the motivation for the dismemberment is different there are similarities; the deceased were reborn into another form, Sati into Parvarti and Osiris into the god of the Underworld. Gods do not die in either religion as they move on and live again.

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For modern Hindus this idea of returning to primordial chaos is also a very real possibility, as the A Hindu myth with even closer similarities with the earth is currently in an era called the Kali Yuga which Isis/Osiris myth is that of Pattini and Palanga. The will last for 4,320,000 years. After this period the goddess Pattini is distraught when her husband universe will be destroyed and reabsorbed back into Palanga is killed, and she searches for his body in the supreme deity residing in the primordial waters. the same way Isis searches for the body of Osiris. After a further prescribed number of years he will When they find their husbands they lament over then start the creation of a new Universe. his death. The power of Pattini’s grief resurrects her dead husband. Isis also has personal powers of This return to primordial chaos is an inevitable resurrection. It has been suggested that Pattini was event and cannot be averted by prayer and worship. an Indian version of Isis, transported to India during However, it has a positive angle, as once the earth is the Roman period. As the idea of resurrection rather returned to the primordial state the whole creation than reincarnation is particularly un-Hindu it could process starts again. support this idea of an adoption of ideas from an external source. Whilst the Egyptian daily solar and Indian yuga cycles are on vastly different time scales, both religions The greatest common elements can be identified believe they will return to a state of primordial chaos, in the creation myths themselves. As would be which can only be ended on the decision of the expected the earliest texts, the Pyramid texts and the creator god. Vedas are both concerned primarily with elemental The creation process itself also has some similarities. gods, the ritual of sacrifice and cosmic balance. In Hinduism, at the dawn of time the supreme deity, Vishnu, existed in the primordial waters and as he Before creation the universe consisted of primordial awoke began creation. A lotus flower sprouted waters, with no light and no movement. It was a from his navel, with Brahma, the deity of spiritual time of chaos, nothingness and darkness, until from awareness and consciousness, seated in the centre. these waters the creation of the Universe began. The flower splits into three petals creating the earth, This description refers to the time before creation in the sky and the abode of the gods. The outer petals both ancient Egypt and India. The ancient Egyptians are the inaccessible continents of foreign people and feared the world falling back into this primordial the underside of the petals are where the demons chaos. The introduction of the solar cult ensured and serpents reside. the daily cycle of the sun would continue. For the Egyptians, if the sun failed to rise, they would be Hindu goddesses are often shown standing in a plunged into darkness and chaos. In the Book of the lotus flower, representing self-creation and fertility. Dead (spell 175) the creator god Atum describes how Through these associations the lotus is connected to the creative powers of solar deities. he will;

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Tutankhamun emerging from a lotus flower, Cairo Museum, Egypt. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons and Jeff Dahl.

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Weighing of the Heart against the feather of truth, Deir el Medina, Egypt. Photo courtesy of Brian Billington.

and sprouting the first flower; the lotus. From this lotus the sun rose, starting the first dawn, and the beginning of all creation. People are often depicted making offerings of lotus flowers to the gods, and in a funerary context holding them, indicative of their role in rebirth. Some kings are depicted emerging from a blue lotus flower as the sun god and creator of the universe; a direct parallel to Brahma emerging from the flower at the dawn of creation.

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The blue lotus (Nymphaea cerulea) and the white lotus (Nymphaea lotus) were native plants to Egypt and it is the blue that is traditionally depicted in art. In the late period (525-332 BCE) the pink (Nelumbo nucifera) was introduced from Persia. It is this one which is depicted in Indian art, as a native plant of India. Therefore the artwork depicts two different breed of lotus but with very similar ideology. Goodyear suggested the lotus religious imagery reached India in the third century BCE at a time when there is evidence of direct contact between Egypt and India

In ancient Egypt this cosmic law was called Maat and was personified as a goddess with a feather, the symbol of truth and righteousness, on her head. The most famous usage of this feather is in the ‘Weighing of the Heart’ ceremony in the Hall of Judgement. Here the newly deceased’s heart is weighed against this feather, and if it balances they are reborn into the afterlife. If it does not balance, the creature Ammut, standing nearby, will pounce and devour the heart making it impossible for the deceased to be reborn, resulting in an eternal death.

A particularly fundamental element of the Egyptian and Indian religions is that of cosmic balance, which can be summarised thus; In order to keep the universal equilibrium balanced it was essential to uphold the cosmic laws, through correct and moral behaviour.

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General worship in both religions starts with a temple dedicated to a particular deity, with shrines within that temple dedicated to lesser gods associated with the patron deity. The most important part of the temple is the inner sanctum, the main shrine of the patron deity and the centre of the temple. However in ancient Egypt the temples were closed to the public, whereas Hindu temples are open to everyone, and are the centre of the community.

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This concept of cosmic balance was central to funeral beliefs and everyday life of the Egyptians. The king in particular had to uphold the law of Maat in order to prove his worthiness as king, ensuring that order was always maintained and that the forces of chaos (e.g. foreign invaders, natural disasters) did not occur. Certain tasks needed to be done to appease the gods who would in turn favour Egypt and allow order and prosperity to reign.

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Many kings are shown in religious artwork offering a small figure of the goddess Maat to Amun to show that they live by her rules. Any monarch who went against the principle of Maat, was erased from the king lists and subsequently from history by those who ruled after them.

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Each morning, the statues housed in the temples are “woken up”, washed, anointed, and given new clothes. The Egyptians on occasion also applied cosmetics and perfume. Then the statue is fed. In Hindu temples this consists of fruit, flowers, or sweets, and in ancient Egypt fruit, vegetables, meat and wine. Hindu gods bless the food which is returned to The Hindu concept of universal cosmic law is known the devotees to eat and is called prashad or ‘blessed as rta, which has many meanings including order, food’. In ancient Egypt symbolically the god eats the balance, harmony, law, unified life-energy and the food, gaining nourishment from it; the remainder principle of intelligence. If you live your life as a was distributed amongst the priesthood. At the end modern Hindu according to this cosmic law, it lays the of the day the statue is again washed, dressed and foundation for morality and intelligence. Everyone given an evening meal, before being sealed in the has to uphold this cosmic law, gods included, or face shrine until the morning rituals. universal instability. To make it easier for this concept to be understood by the individual the everyday These rituals are carried out in both a temple Hindu lives according to their personal dharma or environment and in the home although in ancient duty, which constitutes the specific duties that you Egypt temple deities were very different from should perform, according to your caste and stage household deities. In the Hindu faith this is not the in life. Even though this is sometimes difficult, if all case. In both religions there is a household shrine, Hindus uphold the laws of personal dharma, the with statues of the family’s favourite gods, and universal concept of rta is maintained. If dharma images of their ancestors inside. The same daily is not carried out correctly, the wider concept of rituals of offerings and prayers are carried out in the rta is not maintained and the universe will fall into home. primeval chaos before the end of the kali yuga. Both religions hold a great deal of importance to Both maat and rta are very similar concepts, with the public processions through the streets. In the Hindu main difference being that maat is primarily governed religion one of the most important things about by the behaviour of the king, and rta is maintained worship is what is known as darshan, which means by everyone through the practice of dharma. “to see”; the worshipper seeing the god and the god seeing the worshipper. This reflects an interaction and Although there are many similarities in the funda- a relationship between the worshipper and the god. mentals of the two religions, the practical rituals Processions in India are a way for many people to see which are carried out provide a very visual represen- the statue of the god and offer prayers and devotion to it. It is believed that the god is actually present in tation of common elements. this statue for the duration of the procession.

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Opet Festival, Medinet Habu Temple. Photograph courtesy of Brian Billington.

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In ancient Egypt during these processions the deity was placed in a sealed shrine so viewing it was not possible for the general populace. However it was considered important by the Egyptians to approach the god even in the shrine. They offered prayers and devotions as the god was carried past and it was also a time to ask the god for help in the form of an oracle, asking for advice and answers to various problems. Although they could not physically see the statue they were conversing with the deity, albeit via the priests. This relationship between worshipper and god was an essential part of the procession, and was an opportunity for the ordinary people to be close to their gods, at a time when the temples were closed to the public. External influence? The few examples discussed give an insight into the common elements existing between these two religions. Whilst being interesting, we have not yet considered the reasons for these similarities. Of course, it is possible that all the ideas developed 72

independently of each other rendering the similarities as simply coincidental. The other option is to consider the contact between Egypt and India and with it the potential diffusion of ideas. Direct trade between north-west India and Egypt may have started as early as the sixth century BCE when they both became part of the Persian Empire and by the Ptolemaic and Roman periods it was common. At this time, along the Egyptian Red Sea coast evidence shows there were various ports of trade. Berenike is one of the richest in archaeological remains. Amongst many other things from India discovered at Berenike, the cordia myxa (Indian cherry, or plum), a stone fruit was found. The earliest example of an Indian cherry in Egypt comes from Saqqara dating to the third dynasty (2686-2613 BCE), and Deir el Medina from the eighteenth dynasty (1570-1293 BCE). Also during the pharaonic period spice may have been imported for use in the temples and a number of Indian products including indigo, and


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It is some years until there is evidence of Indians actually in Egypt. A record of the royal procession of Ptolemy II Philadelphos (285-246 BCE) included Indian women, hunting dogs, cows and camels. Petrie suggested there were Indians residing at the city of Memphis at this time, although there is too much debate regarding the interpretation and dating of the archaeological remains to be able to say this with any certainty.

Brockington J.L. 1996. The Sacred Thread. Edinburgh University Press.

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tamarind wood, bearing the names of eighteenth dynasty kings have been found in tombs, showing what could possibly be an indirect trade route from India to Egypt in the New Kingdom.

Asthana S. 1976. History and Archaeology of India’s Contact with Other Countries. New Delhi. D.K. Publishers Distributors.

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Doniger O’Flaherty W. 1975. Hindu Myths. London. Penguin. Eck D.L. 1998. Darshan – Seeing the Divine Image in India. New York. Columbia University Press.

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Faulkner R.O. 1972. The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. London. British Museum Press. Fowler J. 1997: Hinduism. Beliefs and Practices. Brighton.

Whilst this late evidence of trade is interesting, it is Sussex Academic Press. the earlier examples of Indian goods in Egypt which is more useful, and this is one aspect that needs more Goodyear W.H. 1891: The Grammar of the Lotus. London. research. The Egyptian and the Indian religions were Sampson, Low, Marston and Company. both fully formed by the Ptolemaic period, and any Mark S. 1997. From Egypt to Mesopotamia; A study of Preinfluence and diffusion would be minor at this late dynastic Trade Route. London. Chatham Publishing. stage. Although we know there was some contact as early as the third dynasty, it is difficult to say what the nature of this was, and therefore how much influence this relationship had over the cultural practices and beliefs of those involved. So, whilst it is clear from this study that there were numerous common elements between ancient Egyptian religion and Hinduism, the reasons for them, if any, are uncertain. As a number of the similarities are environmental it is quite likely that these aspects of the two religions developed independently, based on their own environment and spiritual needs.

Possehl G.L. 2002. The Indus Civilisation. Oxford. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers. A contemporary Perspective. Ray H.P 2003. The Archaeology of Sea Faring in Ancient South Asia. Cambridge University Press. Zimmer H. 1974. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilisation. New Jersey. Princeton University Press.

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Until we are able to identify clearly the connection between the two countries at crucial times in the religions’ development, we shall have to be content in knowing that from an ethnographical, or even social history point of view, in the modern world, Hinduism possibly offers a glimpse into the lively and colourful practices and rituals carried out by the ancient Egyptians. *** 73


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Reclining figure of Dionysos? from the East Pediment of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.


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Smash and Grab

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Thomas Bruce — The not so honourable Earl of Elgin By Ioannis Georgopoulos M.A.

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QUOD NON FECERUNT GOTI, FECERUNT SCOTI That which the Goths did not do, was done by the Scots Latin text inscribed on the plastered base of a missing looted statue from the Acropolis, widely attributed to Lord Byron.

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n December of 1798, Thomas Bruce, the seventh Earl of Elgin was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty to the Sublime Porte of Selim III, Sultan of Turkey, with which country England had recently forged an alliance against the French. Even before taking up his new post, Bruce had already approached several British Government officials regarding the possible employment of artists to take drawings and casts of the famous Parthenon sculptures. Bruce justified his request claiming he was determined to make his embassy “beneficial to the progress of the Fine Arts in Great Britain”.

British Government cordially declined his request, Bruce decided he would undertake this task at his own expense and promptly employed several artists, under the supervision of an Italian called Giovani Lusieri, to document and reproduce the sculptures.

In 1800 the Turkish Sultan granted Bruce a firman allowing his artists to make sketches of the Parthenon’s sculptures, but expressly forbade the taking of casts or the erection of scaffolding on or near the ancient temple. The Sultan, for his part, was not particularly concerned about the Parthenon’s safety, nor did he fear offending his already restless Greek subjects for whom the This seemingly noble gesture on Bruce’s behalf monument had special meaning. His decision was was in reality motivated by his personal desire to simply dictated by the fact that a mosque had been decorate his newly built mansion in Scotland with built within the confines of the now hollowed out “the finest examples of Grecian Art”. When the ancient temple and therefore deemed ‘off-limits’ 75


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A view of the city of Athens, painted by Richard Temple in 1810. Credit: Hellenic Foundation for Culture.

to all western ‘infidels’.

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A few short months later, Bruce’s resident architect in Athens, one Thomas Harrison, sensing that a Greek uprising was inevitable, wrote an anxious letter urging Bruce to act quickly. “The opportunity of the present good understanding between us and the Porte should not be lost,” stressed Harrison, “as it appears very uncertain, from the fluctuating state of Europe, how long this part of Greece may remain under its present master - Greece may be called maiden Ground.”

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Bruce acted quickly. Using his position as British ambassador, he managed to renegotiate the conditions of his firman. By the start of 1801 Bruce had secured permission from the Sultan not only to make casts of the sculptures, but also to excavate and carry away “blocks of stone having inscriptions or figures upon them.”

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Lord Elgin about 1795 from a drawing by G. P. Harding. Credit: British Museum.


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The Parthenon in 1766, from a drawing by W. Pars. Credit: P. Papahatzidakis.

The looting of the Parthenon began immediately. Bruce’s workmen stripped the great temple of over sixty percent of its surviving sculptures within months. By December of that same year, the spoils were crated and shipped to England. The haul included one Doric capital, some fourteen figures from the East and West pediments, fifteen metopes from the temple’s south flank and fifty-six of the surviving ninety-seven blocks of the Panathenaic frieze. By 1806, various architectural members and sculptures from the Propylaia, the Erechtheion and the temple of Nike had also been removed from the Acropolis, as well as numerous inscriptions, gravestones and many other priceless artefacts.

of the temple’s marble edifice had collapsed under the weight of the cranes in the attempt to dislodge one of the sculptured panels. Even the Turkish commander, Clarke notes, wept at this unfortunate incident. Clarke then goes on to complain that many other sculptures were similarly hacked from the temple with no regard given to its structural integrity and that the vast majority of these were subsequently cut into smaller blocks for easier shipment.

To make matters worse, one of the British barges transporting the sculptures was caught in a violent storm and sank near the island of Kythera. Though the priceless cargo was eventually retrieved, the A startling account of the reckless manner with costly salvage operation lasted two years. To which Bruce’s workmen stripped the Parthenon add insult to injury, when in 1804 the first sixtyof its precious sculptures is given by one Edward five crates finally arrived in London their final Daniel Clarke who actually witnessed the removal destination was a damp coal shed on the grounds of the South Metopes. In his book Travel to European of Bruce’s Park Lane house, where they languished Countries, published in 1811, Clarke, writes that part until they were finally moved to the Duke of 77


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The Erechtheion from the south-west in 1750 by James Stuart. Credit: P. Papahatzidakis.

were considered to be poorly preserved sculptures. The intervening years, however, saw a growing Bruce’s voracious appetite for Greek antiquities interest in Classical Greek Art and in June of 1816, was, unfortunately, not confined only to the a series of Parliamentary hearings were conducted Acropolis, but extended to many other areas of by the House of Commons to determine the fate of Greece, including the great temple of Apollo at the stolen artworks. Phigalea and the treasury of Atreus at Mycenae. By 1817, the last of Bruce’s plundered booty had During the course of these hearings, the British MP been loaded onto British warships. In total, some Sir John Newport objected that the “Honourable 253 crates of priceless antiquities were pilfered by Lord has taken advantage of the most unjustifiable Bruce and dispatched to England. Four short years means and has committed the most flagrant later, the Greek War of Independence broke out pillages ...” adding that Bruce “looted what Turks and all looting of the country’s cultural heritage and other barbarians considered sacred.” The speaker of Parliament duly announced that “Lord was immediately stopped. Elgin’s petition has been filed. His ownership rights on the collection have been contested; his conduct T he Sale of the Century has also been censured.” In 1811 Bruce tried to sell his ill-gotten booty to the British Museum, but the British Government Bruce’s primary line of defence was that the showed little interest. Bruce’s asking price of Ottomans had provided him with written £74,000 was simply deemed too great for what permission to remove the sculptures and that his

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Devonshire’s Burlington House in 1808.

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The Elgin Museum at Park Lane in 1808. Credit: P. Papahatzidakis.

motives were driven solely by the desire to save these great works of art from suffering further damage. When he was asked to produce the documents, however, Bruce admitted that he had “retained none of them.” The chief witness called to corroborate Bruce’s claims was a certain Dr Hunt, who had “accompanied Lord Elgin as chaplain to the [[British]] embassy”. Dr Hunt, we are informed, submitted an Italian translation of the “fermaun” to the Committee of the British Museum based solely upon “his recollection” given that “he had it not with him in London” at the time. According to Dr Hunt, the “substance” of the “fermaun” which the Turks granted “the Ambassador of Great Britain … with whom they The Report from the Select Committee to the House of Commons regarding the were now and had long been in the strictest purchase of the Parthenon marbles by the alliance” gave Bruce “and the Artists employed British Museum. by him, the most extensive permission to view, draw, and model, the ancient Temples of the excavations, and to take away any stones that Idols, and the sculptures upon them, and to make might appear interesting to them.” He added “that 79


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no remonstrance was at any time made, nor any displeasure shown, by the Turkish government, either at Constantinople or at Athens, against the extensive interpretation which was put upon this fermaun.” The Committee of the British Museum were also careful to stress that: “Among the Greek population and inhabitants of Athens it occasioned no sort of dissatisfaction: but, as Mr. Hamilton, an eye-witness, expresses it, so far from exciting any unpleasant sensation, the people seemed to feel it as the means of bringing foreigners into their country, and of having money spent among them. The Turks showed a total indifference and apathy as to the preservation of these remains, except when in a fit of wanton destruction they sometimes carried their disregard so far as to do mischief by firing at them. The numerous travellers and admirers of the Arts committed greater waste, from a very different motive; for many of those who visited the Acropolis tempted the soldiers, and other people about the fortress, to bring them down heads, legs, or arms, or whatever other pieces they could carry off.”

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Elsewhere the Committee also stressed possible French rivalry, pointing out “that the only other piece of Sculpture which was ever removed from its place for the purpose of export was taken by Mr. Choiseul Gouffier, when he was Ambassador from France to the Porte; but whether he had it by express permission, or in some less ostensible way, no means of ascertaining are within the reach of the Committee. It was undoubtedly at various times an object with the French Government to obtain possession of some of these valuable remains; and it is probable … that at no great distance in time they might have been removed by that government from the original site, if they had not been taken away, and secured for this country, by Lord Elgin.”

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The House of Commons, as was expected, exonerated Bruce and offered him £35,000 for the looted artwork … which Bruce promptly accepted. The deal closed, the sculptures were taken immediately to the British Museum where they have remained ever since.

Contemporary Reactions The ‘Advertisement’ prefacing The Report from the Select Committee to the House of Commons, Respecting the Earl of Elgin’s Collection of Sculptured Marbles, published in 1816 states: “The highest praise and sincerest thanks are due from an enlightened Public to Lord Elgin, for stepping forward at the critical time, and rescuing these precious remains of ancient art from the destroying hand of time, and from the more destroying hand of an uncivilized people.” Despite this high rhetoric, many prominent British figures considered the looting of the Parthenon nothing short of an act of vandalism and sacrilege. Lord Byron was among the first to denounce Bruce as “a dishonest and rapacious vandal”, though officials of the British Museum dismissed the poet’s derision as sentimental tripe devoid of any substance. The Reverend Thomas Smart Hughes, who had the misfortune to visit the Acropolis soon after Bruce’s pitiless onslaught, could not believe his sorry eyes: “Tympana capitals, entablature and crown,” he writes, “all were lying in huge heaps that could give material for the erection of an entire marble palace.” The great English traveller and painter Edward Dodwell publicly expressed his “humiliation” at being present at the looting of these great sculptures and argued that the Arts in Britain would equally have benefited from casts of the originals.


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Employees of the British Museum taking a section of the Parthenon’s frieze to be ‘cleaned’ in the 1930’s. Credit: IPSACI.

Edward Clarke, who we met earlier, pointed out that if Bruce really had the interest of the sculptures at heart, he could have simply exerted pressure on the Turks to take adequate measures for their protection. Clarke himself was nonetheless able to build up a fine collection of ancient coins and Byzantine manuscripts during his Greek tour in 1801-2. The colossal statue of Ceres from Eleusis, which today adorns the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, was in fact acquired by Clarke during this obvious looting excursion. By and large, however, the removal of the Parthenon marbles was completely warranted and justifiable in the eyes of the British intelligentsia. In 1809, the renowned English painter Benjamin Haydon expressed both his admiration for the sculptures and his gratitude to Bruce for rescuing them from the barbarian Ottomans. “Thank God! “he exclaims. “The remains of Athens have flown for protection

to England, the genius of Greece still hovers near them; may she with her inspiring touch, give new vigour to British Art, and cause new beauties to spring from British exertions! May their essence mingle with our blood and circulate through our being.” Haydon’s comment is not uncharacteristic. The Elgin marbles, as these most celebrated examples of classical Greek art came to be known, were called in to validate the supposed cultural and racial affinity between the classical Greeks and the modern Britons! That this is not overstating the case is borne out by the so-called ‘physiognomic studies’ of Robert Knox, which categorically proved that the ancient Greeks were not only of “Scandinavian or Saxon origin”, but that the “classical racial type” was “not to be found in Greece but on the streets of London.” Not surprisingly, the display of the Parthenon Marbles in the British

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Detail of the damage and discolouration caused by the chemicals and scouring utensils used to clean the sculptures.

Museum became “an instant success” among a grateful English public.

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The newly formed Greek State, as was quite natural, formally petitioned Britain for the return of the Parthenon marbles, claiming that they had been illegally taken from Greece when it was under foreign domination. In 1833, the Committee of the British Museum formally expressed their regret “that these sculptures should have been taken from the spot where they had remained for so many ages; that the most celebrated temple of Greece should have been stripped of its noblest ornaments.” They further admitted that “the method of obtaining these antiquities was … dishonest and flagitious.” And that, insofar as the British Museum was concerned, was the end of the matter!

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White is Right In 1838, one Michael Faraday was hired to remedy the problem of the deteriorating surface of the marbles which had suffered from nineteenth century maltreatment and pollution. In a letter sent to Henry Milman, a commissioner for the National Gallery, Faraday writes: “The marbles generally were very dirty ... from a deposit of dust and soot. ... I found the body of the marble beneath the surface white. ... The application of water, applied by a sponge or soft cloth, removed the coarsest dirt. ... The use of fine, gritty powder, with the water and rubbing, though it more quickly removed the upper dirt, left much imbedded in the cellular surface of the marble. I then applied alkalis, both carbonated and caustic; these quickened the loosening of the surface dirt ... but they fell far short of restoring the marble surface to its proper hue and state of


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Left: Torso of Poseidon from the West Pediment, now in the British Museum; Right: Cast of the same torso in the Acropolis Museum with the original fragment from the chest in place.

cleanliness. I finally used dilute nitric acid, and even this failed. ... The examination has made me despair of the possibility of presenting the marbles in the British Museum in that state of purity and whiteness which they originally possessed.” In 1857 a second attempt was made to clean the marbles by one Richard Westmacott. A year later, Westmacott wrote to the British Museum’s Standing Committee: “I think it my duty to say that some of the works are much damaged by ignorant or careless moulding - with oil and lard - and by restorations in wax, and wax and resin. These mistakes have caused discolouration. I shall endeavour to remedy this without, however, having recourse to any composition that can injure the surface of the marble.” A third attempt to clean the marbles was made

in the years 1937-38, this time occasioned by the building of the Duveen Gallery which was to house the collection. Lord Duveen, the sponsor of the gallery, instructed his team of masons working in the project to remove the ‘discolouration’ of the marbles to suit his perception of classical sculptures as being gleaming white. The cleaning, which had not been authorized by the British Museum, was carried out with copper chisels, metal brushes and strong chemicals. The unfortunate process was so thorough that it actually scraped away as much as 2.5mm of the finer surface details of many of the sculptures. When the matter eventually came to the British Museum’s attention, an unsuccessful attempt was made to cover it up, but the story had already leaked to the British press causing a minor scandal. The British Museum’s response to these allegations was simply that “mistakes were made at that time.”

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Visitors at the New Acropolis Museum admiring the remaining Parthenon Sculptures. Credit: Orestis Panagiotou/European Pressphoto Agency.

The removal of the ancient patina that confirmed the sculptures authenticity was not simply a case of the application of an inappropriate ‘cleaning’ technique to some of the most valued works of classical Greek art. It goes much deeper than that. It represents, for all intents and purposes, a skinning of the marbles to suit the racist propaganda of British colonialism ... White is Right!!!

neighbour you do not become the sole owner of that property.”

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Insofar as Greece concerned, the country’s archaeological monuments have always been a symbol of their racial and cultural identity and the Acropolis is held to be the most sacred of all. It is therefore understandable that the Greeks, who see the Parthenon Sculptures as a vital part of this sacred heritage, have been demanding the return Beware of Greeks Building Museums of the marbles ever since their removal. In the early It is worth noting that in today’s parlance the 1980s the case for restitution was given added practice of plundering artefacts from their original momentum by the country’s charismatic Minister setting is often referred to as ‘elginism’, while the of Culture, Melina Mercouri, and has since been at claim made by looters and collectors, that they the top of every Greek Government’s agenda. are in fact rescuing the artefacts they recover, is called the ‘Elgin Excuse’. As the English journalist The Greeks have not only challenged the legality Christopher Hitchens recently reminded his fellow of the British Museum’s ownership but further countrymen: “Even people who claim that Lord argue that the presentation of all the surviving Elgin rescued the Marbles from a worse fate - an sculptures in their original historical and cultural argument which does have some truth to it - are environment is vital for their “fuller understanding dimly aware that by saving the property of a and interpretation”. In 1989 the then Greek 86


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The New Acropolis Museum. Image courtesy of Hellenic Foundation for Culture

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Minister for Culture, Eleutherios Venizelos, made the following statement: “The request for the restitution of the Parthenon Marbles by the Hellenic Government is not submitted in the name of the Hellenic Nation or Hellenic History. It is submitted in the name of World Cultural Heritage and with the voice of the mutilated monument itself which demands the return of its Marbles.” In response the British Musem claimed that Greece lacked a suitable facility in which to exhibit the sculptures. In a brilliant tactical maneuvre, the Greek Government built the new Acropolis Museum just south of the Acropolis. The $178 million museum is not only equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the protection and preservation of its 4,000 plus exhibits, but was specifically designed by the Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi and Greece’s Michalis Photiadis to house the Parthenon sculptures. Built above the preserved and accessible ruins of an ancient Athenian neighbourhood and with a spectacular view of the Acropolis, the sculptures and other artefacts left behind by the revenous Bruce are displayed in much the same way they would have appeared on the Parthenon itself, bathed in the natural sunlight of Attica.

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The British Museum, not surprisingly, still refuses to return the Parthenon sculptures to Greece, claiming it is the custodian of the world’s cultural heritage. But who entrusted the British Museum with this grandiose role in the first place? Certainly not the peoples whose cultural heritage was systematically plundered by socalled ‘enlighteners’. The truth is that the return of the Parthenon marbles would set a precedent for the return of countless other stolen antiquities to their original homelands and this would literally spell the end of the world’s so-called great museums! As one commentator noted, the sun may have set on the British Empire, but old habits die hard… ***

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Casts and originals of the Parthenon Sculptures on permananet display at the New Acropolis Museum. Credit: Hellenic Foundation for Culture.

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Detail of horse’s head from the eastern pediement of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum


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The Parthenon Sculptures

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A Brief Introduction By Ioannis Georgopoulos M.A.

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“[The Parthenon marbles] belong to a period in the history of sculpture which has been acknowledged by all succeeding ages as the greatest epoch in the history of the art: they adorned one city, Athens, the centre of ancient civilization, the fruitful mother of many illustrious sons, whose works, after surviving the changes of so many centuries, still delight and instruct the world. These marbles chiefly ornamented one edifice dedicated to the guardian deity of the city, raised at the time of the greatest political power of the state, when all the arts which contribute to humanize life were developing their beneficial influence.” The Committee of the British Museum. 1833.

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t is widely acknowledged that all the sculptural compositions adorning the Parthenon were conceived by the master sculptor Pheidias, and that he may even have worked personally on some of these. Closer examination of the carving techniques employed, however, suggests that as many as ninety individual sculptors may have been involved in their execution.

production of these great works of art. Pheidias is known to have personally made three statues for the Acropolis: the colossal chryselephantine statue of Athena Parthenos, which stood in the centre of the Parthenon, and two others of bronze which stood in the open air: the gigantic Athena Promachos and the so-called Athena Lemnia.

The Pediments We know from the many building records which have survived and which give details about the construction of the Parthenon, that Agoracritos, Alcamenes and Kalamis were just some of the sculptors who collaborated with Pheidias in the

The subject matter of the Parthenon’s pediments, which were carved between the years 438-432 BCE, depict the mythical past of the goddess Athena. The East Pediment, located above the Parthenon’s 93


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The southeastern half of the Eastern Pediment of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

In the southeast corner we encounter Helios, the sun, as he emerges from the shadowy waters guiding the horses of his chariot. He is followed by a reclining figure variously identified as Dionysos, Theseus or Herakles. Next to him are the seated figures of Demeter and Kore, while Iris runs frantically behind them to announce the birth of the goddess to the Unfortunately, the central group has long since world. vanished, destroyed by early Christian zealots to make way for an apse when converting the All that survives to the right of the missing central Parthenon into a church. The remaining sculp- group is part of a male torso which may belong to tures were irreparably damaged by the Venetian Hephaistos or Poseidon, a fragment of a winged Victory and the group known as the Fates. Finally, bombardment of 1687. the chariot of Selene, of which only a horse’s head It is generally agreed that the central group was survives, was shown sinking into the ocean at the dominated by Zeus, the King of the Gods, seated on northern end of the pediment. his throne with Athena, crowned by Victory, standing to his left. It is conjectured that Hera, Hephaistos, The West Pediment faced the Propylaia and was thus Poseidon and the other Olympians were arranged the first group of sculptures to be seen by a visitor about Zeus and Athena, looking on in disbelief at to the Parthenon, portrayed the contest between the wondrous event taking place before their eyes. Athena and Poseidon for the possession of Attica.

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great doorway, adorned the main façade of the temple and is often claimed to be the nobler of the two pediments both in interpretation of subject and in composition. It portrayed the moment of Athena’s miraculous birth from the head of her father Zeus, fully fledged and armed for battle.

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Three figures from the northern portion of the Eastern Pediment of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

We know from drawings made by one Jacques Carrey in 1674 that Athena and Poseidon stood in the centre of the composition, while between them were the olive tree brought forth by Athena and the salt spring produced by Poseidon. They were flanked, at either side, by two-horsed chariot groups, behind which stood the gods and heroes commonly associated with them. Near Athena were various figures of the city’s legendary past, among whom were the sisters Pandrossos, Herse and Aglauros with their father Kekrops, while a winged Victory steered the chariot and its rearing horses. Behind Poseidon stood Thetis and Amphitrite, divinities of the sea, followed by the Aphrodite, born on the waves. The corners of the pediment were occupied by the reclining river gods Ilissos and Kephissos.

Venetian general Francesco Morosini, attempted to remove the central figures of Poseidon and Athena along with their chariots, but they fell to the ground and were smashed to pieces. The identification of many of the figures is still disputed and it is in fact likely that several groups are entirely missing. In 1801, Giovanni Battista Lusieri, the agent of Lord Elgin, removed the greater part of the surviving pedimental sculptures and shipped them to London. Of the twenty-six preserved figures from both pediments, fourteen are in the British Museum and twelve are in the Acropolis Museum. Several fragments belonging to six different figures are split between the two museums. One female bust is in the Louvre.

The West Pediment sculptures were severely The Metopes damaged in 1687 when the Turkish powder magazine stored inside the Parthenon exploded A Doric frieze comprised of ninety-two metopes, after the Venetian bombardment. In 1688, the each set in between triglyphs, adorned the exterior 95


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Above: The reclining river god Ilissos from the Western Pediment of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum; Below: Figures from the Western Pediment of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

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Detail of Southern Metope from the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

of the Parthenon. According to the building records of the time, these sculptures were carved between the years 446-440 BCE. The metopes stand 1.35m tall and are all n high relief. The metopes portrayed four different subjects taken straight from mythology, each developed on a different side of the building, whose common underlying theme was war and victory. Those on the West Façade showed the battle between the Athenians and the Amazons, while on the East Façade was depicted the triumph of the Olympians over the Titans. Those on the long South flank of the temple illustrated the fight between the Centaurs and the Lapithae, while scenes from the sack of Troy formed the subject of the metopes on the North flank. All the metopes were still in place up until the time of the Venetian bombardment of 1687, though only those of the temple’s South flank were relatively

Detail of Southern Metope from the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

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Detail of horserider from the Western Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.


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Detail of horserider from the Western Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

well preserved. The remainder had, regrettably, long been chiselled down by early Christian fanatics when the Parthenon was converted into a church. After the bombardment only thirteen were left on the building’s North side and seventeen on the South. Many of the metopes decorating the East and West façades, which were still in place after the bombardment, suffered further damage at the hands of the Turks. Of the sixty-four surviving metopes, fortyeight are in Athens, fifteen were removed by Elgin to London and one is in the Louvre. Needless to say, the fifteen metopes in the British Museum were the best preserved.

BCE and took only four or five years to complete, originally comprised one hundred fifteen blocks (or one hundred nineteen relief surfaces, since the corner stones are counted twice) that were carved in situ around the exterior walls of the cella. In its entirety it measured some 160m in length and was about a metre in height. Unlike the metopes, it is rendered in very low relief, carved slightly deeper at the top for greater visibility. In total, there are more than three hundred and fifty human figures and about one hundred twenty-five horses depicted on the frieze, no two of which are alike.

The fact that the frieze could only be seen with great difficulty from below (it stood some 12m above The Panathenaic Frieze the marble pavement of the colonnade) suggests The Ionic Frieze is today without question the most that it held special meaning in the eyes of Pericles celebrated feature of the sculptural decoration that and Pheidias because of its subject. It representonce adorned the Parthenon. Certainly it is the ed, transferred into a world where gods and men best preserved. The frieze, which was begun in 442 were on familiar terms, an idealized view of the 99


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Horseriders from the Northern Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum .

procession of the Great Panathenaea Festival, which gathered together the entire population of the city every year to carry the peplos, woven by the noblest young women of Athens (known as Ergastinai), to the ancient cult statue of Athena Polias that would later be housed in the Erechtheion. The procession begins at the southwest corner of the temple, from where it advances in two groups, each of which makes its way along the longer North and South Friezes of the building, and which finally converge at the centre of the East Frieze above the Parthenon’s great bronze doors.

directional flow is from right to left, though a few figures turn to the right in order to create a compositional unity with the South Frieze. Indeed, the preparations overlap at the corners at each end of the North and South Friezes, thus providing an effective link with the West Frieze. All sixteen blocks of the West Frieze have been preserved. Of these, thirteen are in the Acropolis Museum and two are in the British Museum. One block is split between the two museums.

The North and South Friezes continue with the procession of the cavalry, which takes up more than The West Frieze shows the preparations of the half of the long sides of the temple. The directional young Athenians about to join the procession. flow on the North Frieze is from right to left, whereas Some are already mounted and advancing towards on the South Frieze it is from left to right. Here the the northwest corner; others are adjusting their horses are shown bounding impetuously forward, bridles or are giving the last touches to their attire, sometimes in irregular order, sometimes in regular assisted by youthful attendants; and still others are formation, six or seven abreast. The nearer horses standing beside their horses ready to mount. The typically hide the hinder parts of the preceding, and 100


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Detail of horserider from the Southern Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

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Corner block from the Western Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.


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Detail from the procession on the Southern Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

sometimes parts of the riders behind. The riders themselves are mostly shown wearing short tunics or cloaks pinned over one shoulder. A few wear distinctive caps with ear and neck flaps.

A window was cut into sections of both the North and South Friezes in late antiquity, effectively destroying parts of the processional scene. The greatest damage to these sections, however, was inflicted by the 1687 explosion that tore out the guts of the Parthenon as well as the central portions of both the North and South Frieze, which took the full brunt of the blast. As a result, large junks of these Friezes are either completely missing or are in a very fragmentary state. Of the forty-six preserved blocks from the North Frieze, twenty-four are in the Acropolis Museum and fifteen are in the British Museum. Seven blocks are split between the two museums. Likewise, of the forty-one preserved blocks from the South Frieze, fourteen are in Athens and twenty-four are in the British Museum. Three are split between the two museums.

In front of the riders come the chariots, each with an armed warrior, who either accompanies the driver in the car or mounts or dismounts while it is in motion. In front of the chariots on both the North and South Friezes is a series of groups walking on foot. Among them is a gang of bearded men conversing as they advance, identified as Thallophoroi or ‘bearers of olive branches’. In front of them march the musicians playing on the flute and the lyre, preceded by men carrying water jars, sacred vessels or sacrificial implements. The eastern portion of both sides is occupied by the procession of sacrificial victims – cows on the South Frieze, the Athenian offering; cows and sheep on the North Frieze, the gifts of the The East Frieze shows the culmination of the procession. It begins at each end with a series of AtheAthenian colonies.

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Detail of seated Olympians from the Eastern Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

nian-born maidens bearing bowls, jugs and a variety of sacrificial implements. They approach from either side a group of men engaged in conversation – five on the one hand and four on the other – identified as the archons of the city, who have gone on ahead of the procession and are awaiting its arrival. The procession itself is received at either side by marshals, distinguishable by their long cloaks, and who also appear at intervals throughout the Frieze to order and regulate the advancing throng. Between the two groups of archons are the gods, seated on low stools ready to receive the hospitality of Athena and her chosen city. The gods themselves are divided into two groups, separated by the central peplos scene which depicts the sacred rites performed in honour of Athena Polias by the maidens known as Arrhephoroi. All the gods represented here had sanctuaries on or near the Acropolis. To the left of the centre sits Zeus, followed 106

by Hera, raising her veil, and her attendant Iris. Ares, Hermes and other Olympians are also shown. To the right of the centre sits Athena, followed by Asklepios and Hygeia, Poseidon, Aglauros and Pandrossos. Unfortunately, only nine blocks of the East Frieze have survived, three of which are in the Acropolis Museum and one in the British Museum. Fragments belonging to five blocks are split between the two museums. One block is in the Louvre. It is worth noting that all the sculptural decoration of the Parthenon – pediments, metopes and frieze was once painted with vivid colours. Indeed, colour was used extensively throughout, not only in the backgrounds of the gable, metopes and frieze, but also for the finer details such as the borders and the hems of draperies, the accessories and details of the garments and equipment, as well as certain features such as the eyes, lips and hair. There was also widespread use of bronze adjuncts and accessories such


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Detail of a youth from the Eastern Frieze of the Parthenon, now in the British Museum.

as weapons, wreaths, reins, bridles of horses and so on, for the most part now lost, which were fastened into the marble. Holes bored into the marble indicate where these objects were once attached. ***

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Whose Heritage? An interview with Alexis Mantheakis on the restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece

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By Ioannis Georgopoulos M.A. n the 260 years since the British Museum was established, it’s “collection” has grown to well over 13 million “objects”. Like the Parthenon Sculptures, many of these so-called “objects” were systematically ransacked from their ancient

homelands, especially during the 19th century when the British Museum “acquired” its most prestigious items. The vast majority of these precious works of art are today locked away in storage facilities, hidden from public view. As in the case of the Parthenon Sculptures, the British Museum’s ownership of many of these priceless works of art is disputed by their respective countries of origin which demand the return of their stolen cultural heritage. The British Museum, however, stubbornly refuses to even discuss the possibility of restitution arguing that it is an “appropriate custodian” of the world’s cultural heritage and that it “has an inalienable right to its disputed artefacts under

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British law”. In this interview we speak with Alexis Mantheakis, chairman of the activist group the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee (IPSACI), regarding Greece’s demand for the return of the looted artworks and his recent campaign to rekindle the public’s awareness on this vital issue.

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Mr. Mantheakis, I would like to begin with the Inter- possibility of the items being “borrowed” by Greece. Their national Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee position was that the question of ownership was “water (IPSACI). When and why was this committee established? under the bridge” and “of little importance”. For the first time in 2,500 years a Greek official had been prepared to I had been following the Parthenon Sculptures put aside the ownership right of Greece to the Sculptures. issues on and off for several years but in 2009 Seeing this I, my wife, who is an archaeologist, and a I panicked when I read that three of our government childhood friend living in New Zealand, Alan Smith, ministers, in rapid succession, had put the issue on established IPSACI as a vehicle to oversee a campaign another footing when they started discussing the for the immediate restitution of the looted treasures to

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Alexis Mantheakis at the British Museum

Greece while I set up two facebook activist sites to do the street level and recruiting work. We had a massive response from the public. We were able to change the position of the Greek government to rejecting any discussion of us borrowing the items (a loan would have meant the Sculptures would officially belong to the British Museum) and had statements to this effect by the then culture minister Mr. Samaras who spoke against any form of lending or borrowing.

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Is it an exclusively Greek organization or are other nationalities involved?

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Ever since I first visited the Acropolis when I was five and the British Museum a little while later I have been haunted by the beauty of what our ancestors created and by the extent of cultural criminality in what Elgin did to saw off, mutilate and remove 60% of the Parthenon Frieze that had stood for 2,300 years before the arrival of the Scottish diplomat. Every time I force myself to enter the Duveen Room in the British Museum I feel a surge of indignity, humiliation, anger and exasperation to see these wonderful Greek statues, almost living, in that dark room of the British Museum. These are Greek countenances and Greek bodies that have no place there.

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IPSACI is an international organisation Can you tell us something about your recent ‘If registered in New Zealand. Its board of directors Elgin was in…” campaign? is evenly split between Greek members and non-Greeks. This was done in a very simple graphic manner Britons, a Syrian, Australians and New Zealanders make to illustrate something that many people in the up the board with us. The 210,000 members of our internet cause sites under IPSACI are of every nationality past had discussed, and it was one of the points my late under the sun, including many from the UK, and this is father made when he first took me to the British Museum. The question of Elgin and others stealing and mutilating very important to us. foreign cultural iconic objects is one that affects us all and Why is the return of the Parthenon Marbles so im- the campaigns helped people everywhere see the issue portant to you personally? for what it is – a work of vandalism. I should mention in passing that IPSACI also supports Ares Kalogeropoulos’ “I

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am Greek» campaign and I work closely with Ares as we did with the If Elgin video and posters.

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How successful has this campaign been?

Extremely, along with everything else we have done in the last 3 years. The Greek government finally established a committee for the return when our campaigns hit the internet.

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What is the demographic profile of the audience?

Extremely wide – the issue is one of a nation’s central cultural symbol being looted and divided, with the looted and damaged pieces being taken away as booty to be put on provocative show in another country.

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Is IPSACI concerned only with the return of the Parthenon sculptures? That is to say, are other items looted by Elgin and other British nationals an issue? The sculptured balustrade from the Temple of Nike and the Phigalean Marbles, are two that spring immediately to mind. 112

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One step at a time. Once we have these back we will look at other items, and indeed we can help other nations like Egypt and India that have had items looted and stolen. Nefertititi, the Rosetta Stone, the Kohinoor are some that come to mind.

IG

There has in fact been a steady increase in recent years in the number of countries seeking the restitution of their looted antiquities. Italy and Turkey, for example, have been leading very aggressive and successful campaigns against several American museums. Likewise several Latin American countries have literally retrieved troves of stolen artefacts from the USA. Britain and Germany have maintained an explicitly negative stance on this issue, while France is suspiciously quiet. Is IPSACI partnered or working with similar organizations in other countries of the world to develop a common front regarding the restitution of stolen cultural heritage?

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We are an activist organisation and as such we are independent, but will help anyone who requests our know-how or support, including governments and individuals.


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Many would argue that the world’s great museums are the custodians of our global cultural heritage. Would not the return of disputed antiquities to their respective homelands in fact mark the end of these institutions?

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colours that faded in time into the patina that the Athens Parthenon has today. The restoration damaged the items in the British Museum.

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What do you make of the British Museum’s argument that Elgin in fact saved the Parthenon Sculptures from being destroyed?

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A comparison of the BM sculptures with those in Greece demonstrates the fallacy of this. The BM in the early 20th century applied chemicals and iron instruments to scrape the surface of the sculptures to remove the honey gold patina that is an integral element of the Sculptures in order to return them to what they believed was their appearance in ancient times – ie white, whereas these sculptures were originally painted in lively

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Sunday Times, Point de Vue, VSD, Madison, Playboy, O Globo, Observer, USA Today, etc. He studied at Stanford University and currently lives in Athens. He is the founder and chairman of the International Parthenon Sculptures Action Committee Inc (http://www.ipsaci.com/) which has over 210,000 members worldwide through its two facebook groups.

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So what? National Museums that house stolen, looted and otherwise illegally acquired treasures of other nations acted as a showcase in an age when it was acceptable to steal whole countries and I am not aware of the extent of looted items claim them as “oversees possessions”! If indeed the so from around the world in this museum. One called “floodgates theory” frightens some then let it be so. It was the same with Britain’s colonies when the UK could very easily compare it with Ali Baba’s Cave. claimed to actually own 130 foreign countries. If they I would like to close by asking you what IPSACI’s could give back India they can certainly empty one room plans are for the future? in a museum in London. With perfect copies able to be made today let the BM and the others return the originals. Depending on our reserves of energy there is If they feel they have no domestic items of their own of only one plan, to do what it takes to reunite the value to display, then let them shut their doors, the age of museums as showplaces of looted foreign cultural items Parthenon Sculptures in Greece has had its day. Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Mantheakis. Do you believe the British Museum will ever return Thank you for your interest in this most the Parthenon Sculptures to Greece? important world cultural issue. Yes, and this will be done by an act of parliament. The BM has no legal say in the matter. It *** is a wholly government supported institution (without any gate receipts) and its board is government appointed. The claim that it is independent is fallacious and purpose- Alexis Mantheakis is a Tanzanian-born Greek political analyst, writer of the bestselling Onassis biography Athena - In the Eye ly misleading. The decision must come from the British of the Storm, and has published several articles in Vanity Fair, government to amend the 1933 Museums Law that does Esquire, etc. In his former position as press spokesman and not allow the restitution of looted and other important adviser to the Onassis-Roussel family, Mr. Mantheakis has also given numerous interviews in all major media-CNN, NBC, BBC, foreign items.

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According to the British Museum, its collection numbers well over 13 million objects. Is there some sort of formal list detailing what these items are, when and where they came from, or how they came to the British Museum?

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By Aikaterini Kanatselou M.A. he present piece comes as a second part of the “Souvenir from the Peloponnese”, published in the previous issue of the Ancient Planet online journal. The brain wave of this article was a recent trip

around the Peloponnese, a weekly sally of a small group of archaeologists. Its aim is to picture a random choice of exciting Peloponnesian sites and places from different periods (Palaeolithic to Byzantine), areas (six out of the seven regional units) and natural landscapes (coasts, bays, peninsulas, plains, hills, caves). The subjective structure and the personal narration reflect a diary-like content, marking the diversity of the Peloponnesian historical landscape, open to the adventurous individual with a labyrinth

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of choices. The following narrative explores the south and west of the Peloponnese, focusing on both popular and inconspicuous sites and locations.

Day 4 We leave Sparta early in the morning and head north-west. Our archaeological journey is expanding in both time and space, leaving prehistory behind us for the time being. Some members of the team are not familiar at all with the medieval history of the Eastern Roman Empire: the Byzantine world. It is hard to communicate the philosophy of a culture that developed for eleven centuries over three continents and prevailed in all aspects of the material and spiritual sphere, encompassing crucial developments in 114

European politics and ideas, as well as Islam and the world of the East. However, the remnants of Mystras, exceptional in technical and artistic skill, akin to contemplation, incubating the concept of the Renaissance and the germ of a new Hellenism, through their humble majesty and noble isolation, stimulate the viewer to discover more about the provocative glory of Byzantium. The unwary visitor is struck with awe: “Is it the hill over there? Oh, now I see why we need to spend half a day here!”


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Map of the Peloponnese, marked with the sites visited.

Mystras The castle townscape of Mystras was built on a conical foothill (621 m) of the Taygetus mountain range. Also known as Myzithras (Chronicle of the Morea 2990-2991), it was first fortified in 1249 by William II of Villehardouin, who chose this naturally impervious summit to build a castle. The castle became the seat of the Latin Principality of Achaea, established after the conquest of the Peloponnese during the Fourth Crusade (1205). No traces of ancient occupation have been discovered around Mystras, though there are many inscriptions and classical fragments in secondary use. After the battle of

Pelagonia (1259) between the Empire of Nicaea, the Despotate of Epirus, Sicily and the Principality of Achaea, the Byzantine recovery of Greece begins. William is captured and, in exchange for his release, is obliged to hand over the castles of Mystras, Monemvasia and Maini (1262) to the Greeks. After 1262, the Greek-held region of the Peloponnese is governed by a Byzantine general based in Mystras. Invasions around the region force people to move into the castle. Gradually Mystras becomes a town. The Metropolis church is built, as well as monasteries and royal buildings. The first Byzantine dynasty to rule at 115


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Plan of Mystras after works by G. Millet (1910) and M. Chatzidakis (1981). Credit: Wiki Commons. 1. Main entrance; 2. Metropolis; 3. Evangelistria; 4. Saint-Theodores; 5. Hodigitria-Afendiko; 6. Monemvasia’s Gate; 7. Saint-Nicolas; 8. The Despot’s Palace and the square; 9. Nauplia’s Gate; 10. Upper entrance to the citadel; 11. Saint-Sophia; 12. Small Palace; 13. Citadel; 14. Mavroporta; 15. Pantanassa; 16. Taxiarchs; 17. Frangopoulos’ House; 18. Peribleptos; 19. Saint-Georges; 20. Krevata House; 21. Marmara (entrance); 22. Aï-Yannakidis; 23. Laskaris’ House; 24. Saint-Christopher; 25. Ruins; 26. Saint-Kyriaki.

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Mystras was the Kantakouzenos family during the 14th century. Manuel Kantakouzenos (13481380), the first Despot of Mystras, managed to tranquilize the civil conflicts and regional revolts. His successor was his brother Demetrios. The latter was dethroned by Theodore II Palaiologos, who founded his own dynasty at Mystras. The Palaiologos family established a close 116

association with Constantinople and the political importance, as well as the spiritual influence of Mystras, quickly increased. At the same time, economic problems and the Ottoman threat were tightening the noose around the neck of the empire. In 1429 the entire Peloponnese is under the rule of Theodore I Palaiologos. The Peloponnese, or the Moreas as it was then known,


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View of Mystras

becomes the ultimate rampant of Byzantium and Hellenism against the Ottomans. In order to ensure their dominance over smaller conflicting sides, the Palaiologos family addressed the Ottoman leader Mehmet II, who was willing to help in a bid to consolidate his presence in the Peloponnese. Ironically, it was Constantine XI Palaiologos, Theodore’s brother, who headed to Constantinople right after he was crowned at Mystras to sacrifice himself, fighting with his people against Mehmet II. Precisely seven years after the Fall of Constantinople, in 1460, his brother Demetrios, delivered Mystras to Mehmet and retired to Italy.

monuments of art and architecture. Gates, walls, temples, manor houses, palaces, roads and squares, ruined yet still grandiose, offer the visitor and the researcher a unique example of a medieval castle town.

The first building complex we see after entering the site is the Metropolis, a church devoted to Saint Demetrios. According to an inscription opposite the entrance, the temple was renovated by Nikephoros, the Governor of Crete and metropolitan bishop of Lacedaemon (Laconia), who actually added the narthex. A pillar on our right-hand side, as we enter the temple, has been inscribed with a text dating Mystras has been the centre and the soul not only the temple to 1311/12. The architecture of the of the Peloponnese, but also of the Hellenic spirit temple reveals different building phases. During during the late medieval period. The influence the 15th century, Bishop Matthew attempted to of Constantinople, as well as mainland Greece change the architectural style by pulling the roof and the West, is clearly visible in the exquisite down and adding a second floor. The older part 117


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The Metropolis Church dedicated to Saint Demetrios

is distinguishable inside the central arch of the sanctuary. The external part of the temple has elaborate isodomic masonry (an ancient building style common since the Helladic churches of the 10th century) as well as relief decorations. As for the wall paintings, two chronological phases are noted. Parts of the scenes depict the martyrdom of Saint Demetrios and another part the Miracles of Jesus. The most interesting part is probably the narthex, where we have the composition of the Second Judgement. The Preparation of the Throne, the Torments of Hell, the Angel reading the Gospels, are all scenes transmitting vivid movement and agitation, always subjugated under the rhythmic action of the composition. Figures, though often malformed, are elegant in posture and of gentle expression.

Pachomius, around 1290-1295. Pachomius was also the founder of Hodegetria as documented by four edicts painted on the walls of the temple (1313/4, 1318, 1320, 1322). Hodegetria’s architectural style combines a basilica with a cross-in-square temple, characteristic of Mystras churches, as well as in early temples in Constantinople. This “endemic� style is supplemented with pillared stoas, reminscent of Classical and Hellenistic peripteros temples. Colonnades and eaves are decorated with carved marble. The complex of spaces benefitted the composition of different iconographic units inside the temple. The Society of the Apostles, the Holy Hierarchs and the evangelical circle reveal a wide variety of themes and painting styles. Secondary scenes are classically dense and rhythmic, with background scenery of Brontochion Monastery includes two of the buildings in the atmosphere of an agora. The biggest and most imposing churches of Mystras: divine figures, on the contrary, are calm, severe Agioi Theodoroi and Hodegetria or Aphentikon. and grandiose. Colours are restricted, simple Founders of Agioi Theodoroi were Daniel and and bright. Particularly impressive are the

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Angel reading the book, from Metropolis


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The Monastery of Perivleptos

renditions of the biblical patriarchs and the cherubim depicted on the roof of the north gallery. Abraham’s hair and beard are flowing in blue, white and brown scattered brush strokes. The Cherubim’s wings have a yellowish tone, culminating with flamboyant red, glimmering feathers.

Constantinople during the second half of the 14th century. Always in the context of Byzantine idealistic conservatism, the masterpieces of the Perivleptos Monastery convey what western art would not see until the avant-garde style of the 20th century: expressionism, annihilation, transcendence. Bodies result from lines and colour shades; they are slender and buoyant, The Monastery of Perivleptos, close to the slightly dilated in the middle, while standing south-east edge of the external wall, leans on precariously on tiny feet. the cavernous rock and forms a niche. We are not sure who founded the temple, which combines The Monastery of Pantanassa, on the eastern both Byzantine and Venetian regalia (under slope of the mountain, was founded by Ioannis the influence of Kantakouzenos and Lusignan Frangopoulos (“minister” of Mystras) who houses). The Perivleptos Monastery is a simple inscribed his name and title inside the temple. distyle temple, combining both Helladic and The inauguration took place in September 1428 Constantinopolian characteristics. The temple’s and the monastery is still in use today. The interior decoration is once again rich with wall architectural style of the temple is unique. Local paintings. Different artistic manners appear on styles and Latin influences are combined with the numerous scenes. The level of aesthetic eclecticism. The wall paintings of Pantanassa quality is as high as the most representative are the only surviving examples from this pieces of the finest tradition known from period (around 1430). Having seen these last 120


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St John the Baptist, from Perivleptos


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The Monastery of Pantanassa.

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View of the Palace at Mystras

masterpieces of Byzantine art it soon becomes obvious to us why this style survived well into the 16th century in the so-called Cretan School (Theophanes the Cretan, Michael Damaskenos, Georgios Klontzas and Domenikos Theotokopoulos). On the upper part of the town, two massive buildings ordered in a right angle form the complex of the Palace. The two storey buildings include kitchens, chambers, balconies and a large “Golden Reception Room� (Chrysotriclinium). The numerous windows (arched, circular, gothic) flooded the building with light, together with stoas, niches, arches, pillars and stairways. The walls often preserve traces of plaster, indicating fresco decorations. According to the Greek architect and archaeologist A. Orlandos, the palace complex was built up in different phases (1249-1400).

dwellings, usually tangent and rarely including small yards. There are four basic house types. The first is common and simple, two storeyed, with no tower. The second includes a porch overlooking the valley. The third and fourth types represent the stately houses, with a solid tower protecting the dwelling. Families would spend most of their lives on the first floor which consisted of a spacious room with large windows and closets. The ground floor was used as a storeroom or barn, with narrow openings instead of windows, for defence purposes. In some instances, these served as connecting passageways between streets. The roofs were gabled, both for climate and stability reasons. The best preserved houses are those of Laskaris and Frangopoulos, close to Pantanassa (early 15th century). Perched high on the summit, overlooking the town, are the defensive walls and castle that served to protect both the sacred and secular sides of Mystras.

Around the palace and all over the Mystras slope, Apart from the material remains that testify to the restricted in space, are the abundant private immense spiritual and cultural life characterized 123


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Stately houses and castle at Mystras

by the term “Last Byzantine Renaissance� (Steven Runciman), the history of Mystras is also distinguished by its contribution to philosophy. This part of the history is epitomized in the face of a single person: Georgios Gemistos/ Plethon. Plethon settled in Mystras in 1393, in order to develop his ideas away from the strict environment of Constantinople. He was a scholar of Neoplatonic philosophy, an enemy of apophatic theology and Aristotle, remotely interested in Christianity, and highly influenced by classical Hellenic culture. He envisaged a socio-economic system for the Peloponnese which, despite its totalitarian character, reveals a bold, independent and subversive genius. In 1438, under the urge of the emperor, Plethon participated in the Council of Florence on the issue of unifying the Greek and Latin churches. Plethon soon realised the unavailing character of negotiations and set up a school to lecture on the difference between Plato and Aristotle. 124

The impact of Plethon, as well as his student Bessarion, over the Florentine scholars was profound, and helped set the stage for the Italian Renaissance and Humanist studies. We continue our journey through medieval Peloponnese by heading to Monemvasia, the next important Byzantine castle, located in the southeast of Laconia. We drive for 92 km before we see the outstanding peninsula invading the Myrtoan Sea.

Monemvasia The town and fortress were founded in 583 CE by people seeking refuge from the Slavic and the Avaric invasion of Greece. A history of the invasion and occupation of the Peloponnese was recorded in the medieval Chronicle of Monemvasia. From the 10th century onwards, the town developed into an important trade


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View of Monemvasia

and maritime centre. William II of Villehardouin took it in 1248 and retroceded it to Michael VIII Palaiologos, after the battle of Pelagonia (1262). The emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos granted great privileges to Monemvasia and linked his name with the place. In 1395 the Ottomans conquered the castle; however, the inhabitants favoured a Venetian “protection” from 1419 to 1431. In about 1401, the historian George Sphrantzes was born in the town. After the fall of Constantinople the despot Thomas Palaiologos, having no forces to defend the castle, offered it to the sultan and finally sold it to Pope Pius II. By 1464 the inhabitants found the Pope’s representative feeble and the Pope unable to protect them and thus admitted a Venetian garrison until the treaty of 1540, which cost the Republic both Monemvasia and Nauplion. The Ottomans then ruled the town until the brief Venetian recovery in 1690 (Francesco Morosini), then again from 1715 to 1821. Monemvasia was

the first castle to become liberated from the Turks at the outset of the Greek War of Independence. Today, amongst the cobbled roads, we see the signs of both the Byzantine and the Venetian rule: churches, walls, house pipes; the escutcheon of Venice. The most elaborate churches are the Elkomenos Christos and Agia Sophia, both built by Andronikos Palaiologos. The icon with the Elkomenos representation and a few frescos in the octagonal temple of Agia Sophia (a scarce Helladic architectural type) are the most prominent monuments of Byzantine art in Monemvasia. We enjoy a breathtaking view from outside the temple of Agia Sophia until the sunset. We look out to Cythera and imagine Crete further to the south. We can almost feel the taste of the medieval red wine Malvasia in the salty air. We leave at dusk and head further south, towards “hard core” Laconia, 125


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View of defensive walls at Monemvasia

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The Church of Agia Sophia, Monemvasia

the area called Mani. We will spend the following day based in a tiny settlement, rather than village, called Kippoula. We are transferred into a world of myth, surrounded by rocky and dry scenery, dense and direct, just like its inhabitants. Nature is the strongest element here. We obey its forces and begin the coming day by visiting one of the most important natural sites in Greece: Diros Caves.

Day 5 Diros Caves In the south of Areopolis, very close to the village of Pyrgos, the coastal cave site called Alepotripa/Glyfada is one of a kind worldwide. It was initially explored in 1958, by Greek speleologists Yannis and Anna Petrocheilos. The exploration has revealed 16,700 sq m of 2,800 water paths, with the deepest point reaching 30 m. Water temperature is stable at 18째C, while air temperature fluctuates from 16 to 19째C. Stalactites

and stalagmites, with a chemical composition of CaCo3 (and rarely other substances such as Feoxides and Al-oxides), cover the whole surface. Archaeobiological research has revealed the remains of fossilised Pleistocene fauna: panther, hyena, lion, deer, marten and one of the largest hippopotamus repositories in Europe. Human occupation is traced back to the Neolithic age. The caves were occupied by early farmers from ca. 5000 to 3200 BCE. A secondary deposit contained the disarticulated remains of at least 20 individuals, including adults and children. Many of them suffered from anaemia, indicating an iron deficient cereal diet, as well as the presence of high pathogen and parasitic loads resulting from poor hygiene and contamination of the communal water source. Some of the individuals displayed healed cranial depressed fractures, indicating evidence of violent confrontations. Stable isotope analysis reveals a predominantly terrestrial diet (probably products of agriculture), with little evidence of marine food consumption, 127


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The Diros Caves

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View of Tigani castle

despite close proximity to coastal resources. The cave has been used as a shelter, habitat, cemetery and cult place. Unfortunately, only a small part of the caves is open to the public. After our 40 minute tour we get back in our car and head south to visit the castle at Tigani peninsula, close to the village of Mezapos. We walk amongst the ruins, on a day with a strong wind and we discuss the possible origins of this castle as we look out to the dark rough sea.

Tigani Castle The first occupation of the castle in the early Christian period is attested by a basilica complex with three building phases. The first dates to the late 5th century, when the whole area was covered with cist tombs. It was at this time that the first episcopacy of Mani was established. The second phase, dating to the 7th century, includes many architectural remains of a triapsidal

basilica, typical of this period. In the third phase the temple was restricted to the middle aisle. A reconstruction was attempted in the 12th century, identified as an effort by the Komnenos dynasty towards the maritime defence against the West. The Tigani peninsula is possibly the location of the castle variously known as Máïni, Megáli Máïni, and Palaiá Máïni in Greek texts and Grant Maigne or Grand Magne in the French version. Most of the documentary references to Máïni occur in the Chronicle of the Morea which was written about a century after the castle). The chronicle states that after the erection of Mystras castle, William of Villehardouin decided to build another one to gain control of the entire region. Thereupon, the prince himself made a tour on horseback and, following the directions of the people of the land, he journeyed to Máïni, and there he found an awesome crag on a promontory. The castle was built around 1249. Following his capture in 129


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Basilica at Tigani castle

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1261, he gave up Máïni together with Mystras and Monemvasia.

Day 6

We leave Mani early in the morning asking for We spend the rest of the day in the area of Cape directions to Messenia. After a small stop at Tainaron, or Cape Matapan. There is a cave at the the superb museum of Kalamata, where we are tip of the cape that Greek legends claim as the gate presented with an overview of almost all the of Hades, the god of the dead. On the hill situated archaeological sites and finds of Prehistoric, above the cave lie the remnants of an ancient temple Classical and Byzantine Messenia, we drive 55 km (death oracle) dedicated to the sea god Poseidon, westerly to Pylos and the Palace of Nestor. mentioned by Pausanias and Plutarch. Under the Byzantine Empire, the temple was converted into a Pylos Christian church, and Christian rites are conducted there to this day. The bays around Tainaron have Homer’s “Sandy Pylos”, the gulf of Pylos called been used as pirate dens for centuries. Pirates from Navarino, is one of the biggest natural ports in Mani were notorious around the Mediterranean Greece, 4,800 m long and 3,600 m wide. The during the 17th and 18th centuries. The old towers, gulf faces the Ionian Sea, protected by a natural a typical architectural feature of the region, are barrier, the island of Sphakteria. Neolithic often a sign of wealthy piratic families. Family occupation was traced in the so-called Cave bonds and death customs are of high value in of Nestor, in the neighbouring Voidokilia Bay. the small communities of Mani. We visit the small According to Pausanias Homeric Pylos was in cemetery of Kippoula to burn incense for the dead Koryphasion. Nestor’s palace was discovered on of the family that hosts us. the hill of Epano Englianos, some 6 km north130


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Hearth, Pylos palace

west of Koryphasion and 17 km north of Pylos. The site had first been occupied by a settlement of the Middle Bronze Age. After the palace was erected (early 13th century BCE) the hill seems to have been reserved for the administrative centre and related buildings. On the slopes and terraces below, C. W. Blegen excavated small parts of a lower town.

framed by four wooden columns on stone bases. The throne was centrally placed against the right-hand wall, facing the hearth. The hall was bright with multi-coloured painted decoration (linear patterns, flames, notches, spirals, an octopus, and dolphins). All four walls were covered with frescoes. The lion and griffin, the hunting dogs, the banquet scene and the male figure seated on a rock and playing the lyre are just some of the various scenes. Despite the traditions, no king is definitely identified in the inscribed tablets. If there ever was a Nestor, though, he probably lived here. The exact date of destruction is not easily fixed to a year, but it occurred when Mycenaean pottery of the style called Late Helladic IIIB was reaching its end, and a few pieces of LHIIIB were beginning to appear (around 1200 BCE, the same as Mycenae and Tiryns).

The palace is a complex consisting of various buildings. The central unit evidently housed the administrative offices of the Pylian kingdom, storage facilities and residential quarters. It included two shaded porches, each with a single column to support the roof. On entering the outer porch one encountered a guard house at the left of the doorway. Here were found nearly one thousand clay tablets and fragments, inscribed in the Linear B script, documenting economic and administrative records. The main building is centred on the throne room, a large After visiting Nestor’s cave and the archaeological rectangular room with a central hearth. It was museum of Chora Trifilia, which houses objects

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View from the Cave of Nestor, Pylos

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Temple of Apollo Epikourios, Bassai

yielded by excavations around Messenia and a few important finds from the palace itself, we take the long way to the highlands of Elis and Arcadia. Sunset finds us driving to Phigaleia, our last night stop in the Peloponnese. The landscape is the most magnificent view of our trip. We now see what mythical Arcadia was inspired from, while we almost hear Pan’s flute.

Temple of Apollo Epicurius

The temple was built on a plateau of the Kotilion Mountain, part of the Lykaion range, between 420 and 400 BCE and dedicated by the inhabitants of Phigalia to Apollo Epicurius, the god of healing, who had come to their aid when they were beset by the plague. A number of different sanctuaries constitute the context of the temple. According to Pausanias the architect Day 7 was the Athenian Iktinos, who also designed During our last day in the Peloponnese, we will visit the Temple of Hephaistos and the Parthenon in two of the most popular sites around Greece: the Athens. The temple combines the Archaic style temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae and Olympia. with the serenity of the Doric rhythm. Doric 133


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columns, six by fifteen in number, form the outer colonnade or peristyle. In keeping with the strict Doric order the metopes were not sculptured. The front of the pronaos and opisthodomos, with their two in antis columns, are likewise Doric in style, while a series of embedded Ionic columns stand against low support walls in the naos. On the southern side where the adyton is located, stood a proto-Corinthian column in the centre of the temple. The walls, as well as the bases and tambours of the columns, are built from a local grey limestone, while the Ionic capitals and the Corinthian capital are in Doliana marble, as are the sculptured metopes of the exterior frieze of the naos, the plates of the Ionic frieze which runs along the inside of the sanctuary, the guttae, the roof supports and the roofing tiles. Owing primarily to limitations of space, the temple is aligned north-south, unlike the majority of Greek temples which are aligned east-west.

devoted mainly to Zeus. The first monumental buildings were erected in the Archaic period and new structures were gradually added to meet the continuously growing needs of the sanctuary. The area of the sanctuary received its final form at the end of the 4th century. In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, it underwent a number of modifications dictated by the conditions of the times. The games, which were held in the area already in prehistoric times, were recognised in the 8th century by Iphitos, King of Elis, Kleisthenes of Pisa and Lykourgos of Sparta, who instituted the “sacred truce”. From that time on, the Olympic Games were held every four years and acquired a panhellenic character. The athletes competing in the games had to be true-born, free Greek men. Women were not allowed to watch the games. Victors in the games were crowned with a branch of the “beautiful crowned wild olive tree” that stood near the temple of Zeus. This crown bestowed the greatest honour on the competitor, his family and his native city, and could not be compensated for by either money or high office. When the pagan religions were suppressed by Emperor Theodosius II (426 CE) the institution of the Olympic Games, which had flourished for twelve centuries as a religious, cultural and sporting centre, a pole of attraction for Hellenism and the bond that linked Greece with the colonies of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, fell into disuse.

It is unclear whether there was a cult statue or not. It is possible that a Corinthian column was the aniconic representation of the god. The Ionic frieze includes 23 relief marble plates. 11 of them depict the Centauromachy and the other 12 the Amazonomachy. Artistic elements of the sculptor Paionios are recognised on the frieze. The sculptures were wrested off the temple by the first excavators in 1812 and bought by the British Museum in 1815. They are still to be seen in the British Museum’s Gallery 16, near the Elgin Marbles. The rest of the finds are kept in the National Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Olympia. Starting from the north, the Gymnasium, one of the most important buildings, is dated to the Excited to discover the treasures of Olympia we 2nd century BCE, consisting of an open area drive for 66 km to the north. We arrive at Kronos surrounded by stoas, in which athletes trained Hill, tired but enthusiastic about our last, majestic for running events and the pentathlon. A large stop. propylon was built at the south end in the late 2nd century. The Palaestra, a square building Olympia dating from the 3rd century BCE, consists of an open peristyle courtyard with rooms round The Altis, the sacred grove at Olympia, took it. It was an area in which athletes trained for shape in the 10th - 9th centuries BCE, and was wrestling, boxing and jumping. The Theikoleon, 134


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Olympia, site plan. Credit: of Wiki Commons. 1: North-East Propylon; 2: Prytaneion; 3: Philippeion; 4: Temple of Hera; 5: Pelopion; 6: Nymphaeum of Herodes Atticus; 7: Metroon; 8: Treasuries; 9: Crypt (arched way to the stadium); 10: Stadium; 11: Echo stoa; 12: Building of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II; 13: Hestia stoa; 14: Hellenistic building; 15: Temple of Zeus; 16: Altar of Zeus; 17: Ex-voto of Achaeans; 18: Ex-voto of Mikythos; 19: Nike of Paeonius; 20: Gymnasion; 21: Palaestra; 22: Theokoleon; 23: Heroon; 24: Phidias’ workshop and paleochristian basilica; 25: Baths of Kladeos; 26: Greek baths; 27 and 28: Hostels; 29: Leonidaion; 30: South baths; 31: Bouleuterion; 32: South stoa; 33: Villa of Nero.

a rectangular building with a peristyle courtyard, was the official residence of the Theikoloi, the priests of Olympia. The Baths were built in the 5th century and modified in later periods. The workshop of Pheidias, in which Pheidias created the chryselephantine statue of Zeus that stood in the god’s temple. In the 5th century CE a Christian basilica was erected on its ruins. The Leonidaion was built in 330 BCE by Leonidas of Naxos and was used as a guesthouse for official visitors to the sanctuary. The Bouleuterion (Council chamber) was built in the 6th century and underwent many additions and modifications down to the 2nd century. The athletes swore the required

oath before the games at the altar of Zeus Horkios in the Bouleuterion. The South Stoa, dating from the 4th century, marks the southern boundary of the sanctuary. In the South-east building, dating from the 4th century, was an altar of Artemis. In the 1st century CE Nero built a villa on its ruins. The Echo Stoa separates the Altis from the stadium. It was built about 350 BCE. The Crypt, a vaulted passageway linking the stadium with the Altis, was built at the end of the 3rd century. The Stadium, where the athletic games were held, was 212.54 m long and 28.50 m wide. There were no seats, apart from the stone exedra of the Hellanodikai standing opposite the 135


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Temple of Zeus, Olympia 137


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Nike of Paionios, Olympia Musem

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Papathanasiou, A., C. Spencer Larsen, L. Norr, Bioarchaeological inferences from a Neolithic ossuary from Alepotrypa Cave, Diros, Greece, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology (10) 2000, 210-228. Δρανδάκης, Ν., Ν. Γκιολές, Χ. Κωνσταντινίδη, Ανασκαφή στο Τηγάνι Μάνης, ΠΑΕ 1981, Α’, 241-253. Πετροχείλου, Α., Τα σπήλαια της Ελλάδας, Εκδοτική Αθηνών, Αθήνα 1992. Davis, Jack L., Sandy Pylos: An Archaeological History from Nestor to Navarino. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.

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Cooper, F.A., The Temple of Apollo at Bassae: A Preliminary Study, New York 1978. Dörpfeld W., Alt-Olympia, Berlin 1966.

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We spend our afternoon in the 12 rooms of the Olympia museum. On our way back, during sunset, we reflect on all the places we’ve visited. They are many and we feel rejuvenated after this spellbinding road trip. However, we look back to all the mountain peaks, plains and sea shores that we missed and are already visualizing our future explorations in this small, yet great land.

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altar of the goddess Demeter Chamyne, and the embankment could easily seat 45,000 spectators. The Hippodrome was to the south of the stadium. The sixteen bases of Zanes, or statues of Zeus, were dedicated by athletes who were fined for cheating. The Treasuries were small temple buildings, housing dedications (6th and 5th centuries). The Metroon, temple of Cybele (4th century). The Nymphaion, built by Herodes Atticus in 160 CE. The temple of Hera, where the Hermes of Praxiteles was found. The Pelopion, grove of Pelops. The altar of Zeus, to the southeast of the temple of Hera, where sacrifices were held in honour of the god. The Philippeion, a circular building begun by Philip II, king of Macedonia and completed by his son, Alexander the Great. The Prytaneion, official residence of the prytaneis, in which was the sacred hearth and the fire that was never extinguished. The temple of Zeus, the most important building in the Altis, was a Doric peripteral building with 6x13 columns, built between 470 and 456 BC. It was the work of Libon, an architect from Elis. In its cella stood Pheidia’s masterpiece, the chryselephantine statue of Zeus.

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Sinn, U., OLYMPIA, Cult, Sport and Ancient Festival, Princeton 2000. Links http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/511/ http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/10991212(200005/06)10:3%3C210::AIDOA523%3E3.0.CO;2-2/abstract http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1291698?uid= 3738128&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101116627001 http://www.archmusmes.gr/eng/main.htm http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh351.jsp?obj_ id=2358

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*** Further Reading: Runciman, S., Mistra, Byzantine Capital of the Peloponnese, London 1980. Mouriki, D., Paleologan Mistra and the West, Byzantium and Europe, Α΄ Διεθνής Βυζαντινολογική Συνάντηση (Δελφοί 1986), Athens 1987, 209-246. Demetriou, C., The Metropolis of Monemvasia, Athens 1929.

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Above: Roman soldiers (Legio XV) with centurio, aquilifer, signifer, cornicen at Pram, Austria; Opposite� Reconstruction of the fortifications at the site of the siege of Alesia. Photo courtesy of Christophe.Finot/Wiki Commons.


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The Evolution of Roman Forts

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n the eight centuries that the Roman Empire dominated ancient antiquity their militaristic culture had a profound

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By Jesse Obert B.A.

impact on the sociopolitical network of Europe and the

Mediterranean. Rome’s influence on their conquered provinces is clearly illustrated in the evolution of the Roman fort. The Empire’s military strategy shifted from aggressive conquests to a defensive reactionary force. Initially, these forts were designed to temporarily house campaigning armies, but as borders became permanent and in a near constant state of war, forts had to adapt to allow for long term occupation. Later Roman Emperors utilized the forts as tools to expand Roman authority, demarcate territorial control, and quell unrest. Their importance to the military authority of Rome encouraged these sites to become important centers of trade and culture. What started as a shift in military policy led to the establishment of some of Europe’s most important cities which had a vital impact on European history.

The organization and strategies of the Roman military changed the social and political framework of the Western world. One of their most influential developments was their almost ritualistic system of military forts. Every night the Roman army would build a large defensive fort, and every morning they would burn it down before continuing their campaign. This routine ensured that the army was always prepared for an engagement and their abandoned forts could not be reused. These forts

had to be constructed as quickly and efficiently as possible, so the plan was predetermined and uniform. Every soldier knew what to build, where to build it, and where to pitch his tent for the night. As the Romans expanded their empire across the known world, their forts adopted new roles in order to ensure their control over their empire. This transition from a temporary camp to a permanent fort imitated the transition in military thought that changed Rome from an expanding 143


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Top left:. Plan of Polybian Camp; Top right: Plan of Hyginian Camp; Bottom left: Plans of Roman Camps: A, Towford; B, Raedykes; C, Chew Green; D, Pigwn; E, Rey Cross; F, Dealgin Ross; Below right: Plan of Roman Fort, Gellygaer. Credit: John Ward, The Roman Era in Britain.

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Roman legionary (X Fretensis) fort at Masada, Israel, constructed 72-73 CE. Photo courtesy of David Shankbone/Wiki Commons.

republic into a dominant empire. Ancient historians recorded two phases of Roman forts. Named after the authors who reported on Roman forts, the Polybian fort layout was employed by early Roman armies on campaign. These forts needed to be defensive yet quick to assemble and disassemble. The Hyginian fort was built as both a camp of war, but also a centre of authority for the surrounding countryside. Although the Hyginian fort plan was employed hundreds of years after the Polybian plan, they display numerous similarities. They should not be viewed as independent plans, but rather two stages in a constantly evolving military strategy (Johnson 27).

which were razed after use. Little archaeological evidence survived. Hyginian forts are much more common, as they ultimately evolved into sedentary and permanent structures. Many eastern forts were built into pre-existing urban settlements while European forts were built in key defensive positions. Despite their initial placement, the Roman fort was often the political and economic centre of the Roman province and this frequently solidified the local social significance of the geographic location. As such, many forts evolved into permanent settlements which continued to be occupied through the centuries and into the modern day. Urban archaeology can be very complicated.

Archaeologically, the study of Roman forts is rather complicated. Every Roman fort had a unique design, yet there are telltale similarities which become quickly apparent on an archaeological site. Earlier forts tended to be short term structures

The layout of the Polybian camp resembled the formation of the army as it marched (Johnson 30). It was a rectangle or square with four gates. The palisade walls were built upon a hill which enclosed the camp. This hill was the by-product


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Top: Section of Ditch and Rampart at Gellygaer, showing restoration of latter; Centre: Fortification Turrets on Column of Trajan; Bottom: Gate of Town or Fort, from Mosaic in the Avignon Museum. Credit: John Ward, The Roman Era in Britain. 146


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Reconstruction of the fortifications at the site of the siege of Alesia. Covered pits and outward-facing spikes were common defensive additions on contemporary Roman forts Photo courtesy of Christophe. Finot/Wiki Commons.

of an encircling trench. The camp was segregated into three parts by two roads. The forward-most section, which was intended to be the closest to the enemy, was split further into two symmetrical groups of tents by a central road which connected the forward-most gate to the second section. These tents were organized by rank with the highest ranking soldiers, the horsemen, in the centre and the lowest ranking soldiers, the allied troops, along the outer edge. The middle section of the camp contained the officers’ tents, the general, and his personal bodyguard. The general’s tent was at the very centre of the camp across from the central road that divided the first section. This layout ensured the general’s central location amongst his soldiers while simultaneously allowing direct access to the forward-most gate. The third section of the camp was for the baggage train and the various merchants who followed the army. The unorganized nature of the third section might have transformed it into a temporary market (Polybius 6.29-32).

This camp design maintained the army’s formation through the night and ensured that the officers were in an accessible and convenient location. When it was time to leave, the army could easily destroy their camp site and march on without having to disturb their marching order. Should an enemy attack a Roman fort, they were ready to offer battle at a moment’s notice. The camp was oriented so that the first section was closest to any nearby enemies and the third section was the furthest. This ensured that the soldiers were the first to meet the enemy and the baggage train could easily travel from the rear of the camp back to Roman territory (Ramsay). Unfortunately, the temporary nature of the early Roman forts left a vacuum of power in unguarded territory which could then be occupied by foreign powers. As the Roman army evolved into a force of paid professionals, standing armies became available and semi-permanent forts became a logical method to maintain territorial control.

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Lunt Roman Fort was first established on the banks of the River Sowe in Coventry, UK, around 60 CE, and was likely developed in three separate phases; Top: reconstruction of the eastern gateway. It is not known how the gateway would have looked here, but this is based on depictions from Trajan’s column; Below: the reconstructed ‘gyrus’ (horse training ring) granary (behind). Photos courtesy of Stephen McKay/Wiki Commons. 148


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Reconstructed Roman Watchtower near the Fortress ‘Vechten’, Utrecht, in the Netherlands. Photograph courtesy of Niels Bosboom/Wiki Commons.

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The reconstructed West gate at Arbeia Roman Fort, in South Shields, near Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England. Photo courtesy of Chris McKenna/Wiki Commons.

By the first century CE, many forts along the borders of the empire had become permanent stations for the Roman army. The constant state of war in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa had transformed the offensive Roman armies into a defensive force, waiting for the next inevitable foreign invasion. Initially, the Roman army used the forts as supply bases and launching points into foreign territory. However, after the famous massacre in the Teutoburg forest which disturbed and deterred Augustus’ campaigns into Germany, the forts became the physical border of the empire (Cassius Dio 56.18-24). The role of the Roman fort changed forever. The second evolutionary stage of Roman forts is described in the ancient works of Hyginus. These forts, like the Polybian model, were rectangular, had four gates, and were split into three sections by two parallel roads. Unlike the earlier camps, the Hyginian fort was designed to be defensive from all directions and did not resemble a standard 150

marching formation. The Roman soldiers placed their tents around the entire fort along the inside of the wall. Each centurion, a standard officer in charge of eighty men, placed his tent adjacent to the fortification wall. Aligned directly behind his tent were ten smaller tents for his unit. This pattern continued around the entire camp but each unit was usually associated with the interior designations (Ramsay). The first section was dedicated to the general soldiery. This portion of the camp contained the workshops, smiths, hospitals and general meeting places. Additionally, the non-citizen soldiers and military officials placed their tents in the first section. The second section, like the earlier camps, held the administrative aspects of the army. The central most spot in the camp had turned from the general’s tent into the army headquarters. This large building usually had meeting rooms, a library, and a general armoury, but was never used as a residence (Johnson 104). At the crossroads in


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The reconstructed barrack-block at Arbeia Roman Fort, in South Shields, near Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England. Photo courtesy of Chris McKenna/Wiki Commons.

front of the headquarters was an altar for general assemblies and religious sacrifices (Johnson 126). The religious officials and the general placed their private tents near the altar in the central section. Additionally, the middle section held the granaries and the general’s bodyguards. The soldiers camped on either side of the middle section guarded the legion’s eagle, the symbolic soul of the army. The third section of the camp held the prison, the mercenaries, and the auxiliary troops (Johnson 29). Ultimately, the restructured Roman fort was designed for continuous occupation. The camp was significantly more self-sufficient than the earlier Polybian model, which relied on maintenance goods and supplies from the homeland. The Hyginian fort was built to last long periods of time but initially neglected to address some basic aspects of permanent settlement. The Hyginian model did not include a water source or a system of waste management. The former was usually satisfied by building forts near lakes or rivers.

The water would then be hauled by hand into storage basins until aqueducts could be built (Johnson 204). Then an elaborate system of clay and wood pipes moved the water throughout the fort. Additionally, this plumbing system allowed for internal latrines, though they tended to be concentrated in the corners of the fort (Philp 108). When water was not readily available to a new fort, wells were dug and a primitive drainage system was constructed. Nevertheless, some forts had to relocate due to improper waste removal (Sallust 44.5). In order to achieve his long term goals along the European borders, Emperor Claudius further adapted the role of the Roman forts. In 46 CE, a major road was built along the Danube which allowed transportation of goods into the previously isolated province of Raetia. Raetia was one of the few border provinces that did not have a reliable string of Roman forts along its hostile border with Germany. Claudius ordered a massive 151


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Culvert at the Roman fort, Piercebridge, County Durham, England. Photo courtesy of Linda Spashett/Wiki Commons.

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and private gardens (Johnson 132). As Roman forts became permanent and reliable military establishments, the archaeological record reveals strong evidence for growing civilian settlements in the immediate countryside (Johnson 239).

ration of grain, but the arms and armour had to be maintained and the grain had to be baked into bread. In a Polybian fort, soldiers were expected to maintain their own equipment and bake their own bread, but soldiers in permanent forts could pay trained locals to do these tasks for them. In this When Roman forts became reliable landmarks way, forts encouraged trade, spread cultural ideals, they became symbols of culture and authority. and created jobs. It is no surprise that many forts Through further attempts to improve their military evolved into powerful and wealthy cities. effectiveness, they evolved into centres of society and economy. Stationed Roman soldiers gradually Emperor Claudius further altered the application of yearned for the luxuries that reminded them of Roman forts in his campaign to conquer England. home. These soldiers were paid professionals As he marched north, conquering local tribes, with an expendable income, and their desire for he established a new fort every night. However, exotic goods fuelled a lucrative intercontinental instead of destroying the fort the following trade network (Johnson 195). Roman forts became morning, he left a small garrison and continued important trade destinations. Additionally, north. Claudius attempted to use the Roman structures that allowed personal luxuries, such as fort as a tool to occupy and ultimately pacify bathhouses and bakeries, were constructed just new territory under Roman rule. Unlike the forts outside forts (Johnson 220). Roman soldiers were along the German border, which were built along given arms, armour, a weekly allowance, and a daily a hostile border, the English forts established a 152


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The final stage in the evolution of Roman forts occurred in the reign of Hadrian. Emperor Hadrian openly encouraged Roman forts to rebuild their deteriorating structures and fortification walls in stone. Ultimately, these walls became wider and fitted with missile towers as further defensive measures were taken (Lendon 287). Additionally, he decided to further establish a physical border with long walls. These massive building projects solidified the physical boundaries of the empire, but also allowed interior forts to focus on their roles as cultural, political, and economic centres. Though their military presence was still necessary, the settlements surrounding the forts took the forefront.

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widespread military presence throughout the Many important modern cities grew from entire province (Johnson 239). Hyginian forts. York, Cologne, Leon, Strasbourg, Budapest, Homs, and many more all started as The occupation of England established the Roman forts. While the original structures were Roman fort as a tool against tumultuous territory built in order to establish and maintain peace that needed to be pacified and assimilated into through military readiness and intimidation, the Roman Empire. After Emperor Nero’s suicide they effectively reworked the social and political in 68 CE, the Roman Empire was thrown into a networks of the Roman world. The construction civil war. Four generals from four regions of the and employment of Roman forts established empire claimed the title of emperor, but a man their role in the development of European from the east, Vespasian, ultimately won the title history and the modern world. and inherited a devastated and crumbling empire. He immediately ordered the reconstruction *** and expansion of the devastated Roman forts throughout Europe. Additionally, Vespasian Further Reading: encouraged the practice of constructing forts in Campbell, Duncan B. Roman Auxiliary Forts, 27 BC-AD 378. areas of civil unrest. These new forts successfully Oxford: Osprey, 2009. Print. countered potential rebellion but also established Cassius Dio. Roman History. Trans. Earnest Cary. Roman forts as the authoritative centres of the Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1961. Web. provinces. They were intentionally built exactly Johnson, Anne. Roman Forts. London: Adam & Charles one day’s march apart and connected with an Black, 1983. Print. ingenious series of roads (Johnson 252). This Lendon, J. E. Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in expedited the passage of goods throughout the Classical Antiquity. New Haven: Yale UP, 2005. Print. empire, and furthered the Roman fort’s role as an Philp, Brian. The Excavation of the Roman Forts of the economic centre. Classis Britannica at Dover, 1970-1977. Dover: Kent Archaeological Rescue Unit, 1981. Print. Ser. 3.

Polybius. The Histories. Trans. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh. Bloomington, 1962. Web. Ramsay, William. “Castra.” William Smith. A Dictionary of Greek & Roman Antiquities (1875). LacusCurtius. Bill Thayer. Web. Sallust. The War with Jugurtha. Trans. J. C. Rolfe. Loeb Classical Library, 1921. Print.

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Cameo-glass patera from Pompeii. Photo courtesy of the author


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A cameo glass patera from Pompeii A look at a luxury product from the Roman Empire

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by Fiorenza Grasso M.A.

In form, our Pompeiian example resembles that of other mesomphalic paterae typically found in Rome during the 1st century CE., and used primarily as bathing accessories or tableware. It was almost certainly a luxury item in that it was made with cameo glass, a particular style of glassware produced by etching and carving through fused layers of differently coloured glass to obtain the various decorative elements. The most common colour scheme for cameo glass was an opaque white layer over a dark blue background; rarely were other colour combinations used and multiple layers were applied to give a polychrome effect. These precious objects saw only two brief periods of production: the Augustan/Julio-Claudian period (from 27 BCE to 68 CE) and in the 4th century CE. In the early Roman period these products were quite rare: only 15 complete or fully restored cameo glass vessels (plates, cups, skyphoi…) and some 200 fragments have been found to date [Painter and Whithouse 1990, p.126; Cameo Glass 1982, p.18].

ranging from drinking vessels, plaques and perfume bottles to small items of jewellery. The patera was discovered during the 19th century in Pompeii, the city buried by Vesuvius in the year 79 CE. It was found on November 3rd 1832, when excavators explored the area of the Regio VII, Insula 4, between the House of Parete Nera (VII, 4, 59) and the House of Forme di Creta (VII, 4, 62). It was found scattered in many fragments near the room to the right of the tablinum of the House of Parete Nera and the room of the adjoining House of Forme di Creta. It was probably smashed during the earthquakes prior to the volcano’s eruption and left behind by its owners as they ran for their lives. The decorative elements of the dish, taken from the world of Dionysus, are mainly shown in the inner register. A white opalescent glass rim bounds a vine leaf crown terminating in a sacred knot with bunches of corymbs and sacred ribbons. In its centre, where there would usually be a medallion, there is a Satyr’s head.

The dish has a fluted handle terminating in a ram’s head, though the horns, eyes and nostrils are not very clear thanks to 19th century restoration methods. A horizontal white rim runs around the beginning of the handle. Every decorative element is symbolic and serves to enhance the ritualistic function of the object on which they appear. Here the main elements This particular patera represents one of the finest of Dionysus’ cortege are depicted and summarized: examples of Roman glasswork. Our object was the ram’s head, the Satyr’s head and the vine leaf crafted during the 1st century CE, when the Romans crown. Dionysus’ presence is represented by the were producing as assortment of cameo glassware, wine in the patera used during libations. 155

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he item I’d like to introduce is a Roman patera from Pompeii. Paterae were broad, shallow dishes, corresponding to the Greek phiale, used by the Romans for pouring libations to the gods or for collecting the blood of sacrificial victims. These vessels were very common throughout the Roman world, more so in Rome, and are made from both metal (bronze and silver) and clay.


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Above left: Interior of the Patera, with white decoration; Above right: Detail showing sacred knot with bunches of corymbs and sacred ribbons. Photos courtesy of the author.

The subject of the relief decoration is clearly reminiscent of Neronian rather than Augustan times., where the subject matter was dominated by the ‘sobriety and purity’ demanded by the new political ideology as exemplified by the Ara Pacis Augustae, the commemorative altar built in Rome by the Senate to celebrate Augustus, his victories in the occidental provinces of the Empire, and his family. *** Acknowledgements: A version of the article was first published in ATIV I with a contribution by Dr. Marinella Lista. The photographs, not published in ATIV I, are the property of MANN. Further Reading: M. LISTA, F. GRASSO, La patera di vetro cameo del museo archeologico nazionale di Napoli, ATIV I, 2008. HARDEN D. B., New Light on the History and technique of the Portland and Auldjo Cameo Vessels I, in Journal of 156

Glass Studies, n. 25, 1983, pp. 45-54. HARDEN D. B., H. HELLENKEMPER, PAINTER K., WHITEHOUSE D., Glass of the Caesars, cat. Exhibition, Milan 1987, pp. 41-42. MORETTI C., Le tecniche di fabbricazione dei vetri archeologici. Riesame critico delle ipotesi avanzate, Atti della V Giornata Nazionale di Studio Vetri di ogni tempo, Massa Martana (Perugia) 30 ottobre 1999, Milano, 2001, pp. 57-71. STERNINI M., La fenice di sabbia. Storia e tecnologia del vetro antico, Bari, 1995, pp.120-121. SIMON E., Die Portlandvase, Magonza, 1957. TRENTINELLA R., “Roman Cameo Glass”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. ZIVIELLO C., Le verre en Italie: Ragion: Campania. Napoli, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Bullettin de l’AIHV 9, 19811983, p. 159-164.


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Gertrude Caton-Thompson (1888 – 1985) Pioneering the Prehistoric

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The Shaping of a Pioneer Born in 1888, into a well-to-do family, CatonThompson’s father was the head of the legal department of the London and North Western Railway. With the death of her father at the tender age of five, his estate was divided into three, one third each for his wife, son and daughter. Through astute financial investments, the family continued to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. While her brother was enrolled at Eton, Caton-Thompson was educated by governesses, and attended high school at a girls’ boarding school. After completing finishing school, she set forth on a carefree career of leisure and enjoyment. However, it was during this time that she was active in the women’s suffrage movement, becoming the joint secretary of the London association.

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Gertrude Caton-Thompson cut an extraordinary figure during the pioneering era of archaeology. One of the first women archaeologists, she called to question many preconceived notions about ancient African civilization, and her contribution as a pioneer of African archaeology cannot be underestimated. She was also the first archaeologist to conduct excavations in Arabia, and her groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of prehistory in Egypt were of utmost significance. All the more remarkable for eschewing a life of leisure and luxury, she opted for the rugged, and then very dangerous world, of archaeology. Caton-Thompson was an excellent archaeologist, whose fieldwork, methods, and publications were ahead of her time (Wendrich, 2010: 3). Gertrude Caton-Thompson in 1921. Photo courtesy of Corbis.

Her volunteer work during World War I was a pivotal episode in her life, and indirectly set her on a trajectory toward archaeology. Working first with refugees and then munitions workers, Caton-Thompson later joined the staff of Arthur Salter in the Ministry of Shipping and Supply. Working her way up the ranks, she became Salter’s personal assistant, even accompanying him to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. It was here that she befriended Gertrude Bell and T. E. Lawrence, major figures in the archaeology and contemporary politics of the Middle East. After the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919, Caton-Thompson claimed her destiny: archaeology with a focus on Paleontology and the Near East. This choice was not surprising as her visits abroad 157


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to France, Malta, Sicily and Italy, frequent museum trips during her youth, and work as a “bottle washer” on Chanoine de Villeneuve’s excavations in southern France in 1915, all served to engender a strong interest in archaeology. By 1921, she enrolled in Egyptology classes at the University College London under Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray, additionally studying paleontology, Arabic, and surveying. At the end of 1921, she joined the Petrie excavations at Abydos, and set to work scouring the desert for flint artifacts. Her subsequent work on a Paleolithic site in Malta convinced her that she needed more expertise in geology and physiography. Attending Newnham College, Cambridge, she studied geology, zoology, paleontology, anthropology, prehistory, and surveying.

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The First of Many Firsts Armed with additional expertise, she went back to Egypt. After a brief stint with the Petries in Antaeopolis, near Asyut, Caton-Thompson joined the excavations of Guy and Winifred Brunton in the prehistoric cemetery at Badari. It was here that she discovered a Badarian settlement, and became the first archaeologist to utilize Petrie’s scientific excavation techniques on settlements. Additionally, proving Petrie’s sequence dating of the time period to be correct. Her next project, excavating Neolithic silos in the Fayum added a new chapter to the history of agriculture. Perhaps Caton-Thompson’s greatest challenge and most significant contribution came at the behest of the British Association in 1929, to commence a fresh investigation of the Zimbabwe Ruins in the former Rhodesia. It was a highly controversial and difficult undertaking, as many people had incorrectly determined that the ruins could not possibly have been built by Africans. The site was not well known and it was difficult to obtain comparative archaeological material. However, through close observation and logical analysis, she established that the ruins were the creation of a powerful Bantu culture dating to 158

Black-top vessels from the Badarian, Naqada I period (ca. 4000 BCE). Credit: Wiki Commons.

medieval times. Standing by her results, her findings caused quite a stir in the press. The controversy was only resolved by radiocarbon dating three decades later. Returning to Egypt, she decided to excavate the Kharga Oasis for evidence of prehistoric occupation, which she found in abundance. Her work there was supplemented with aerial photography, the first use of an airplane in Egyptian archaeology. In what turned out to be her last field expedition, Caton-Thompson then directed her attention east, to Hueidha in the Middle East. Consequently, she made history as the first archaeologist to excavate the Arabian Peninsula. She discovered many artifacts, tombs, and temples dating to the sixth and seventh centuries BCE; however, her stay was cut short when she contracted malaria. Caton-Thompson retired from fieldwork after World War II, but became very involved in the advancement of archaeology as an academic discipline. Full


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The Great Enclosure, part of the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. Credit: Wiki Commons.

of vigour and with a boundless passion for her work, she travelled extensively. Later, going back to southern Africa, and journeying to East Africa to visit Louis Leakey, an old friend from her days in Cambridge.

the field. She received commendations from several universities, including an honorary D.Litt. in 1954 from Cambridge University, and recognition from a number of professional societies.

After 60 years as an archaeologist, Caton-Thompson passed away at a very ripe age of 97.

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Conclusion Caton-Thompson’s research interests were wideranging, spanning Egypt, North Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula, contributing significantly to our knowledge of these areas. Her excavations at Badari, the Fayum and Kharga Oasis in Egypt contributed substantially to the understanding of the prehistory of Egypt and North Africa, proposing a sequence of prehistoric cultures, some previously unknown, forming the basis for later work. Not afraid to defend her work, she stood up to the storm of criticism over the findings of her work on the Zimbabwe Ruins. For all her work in archaeology, she never held a professional or academic post, but was recognized for her service to

Further Reading Drower, M. “Gertrude Caton-Thompson (1888-1985)”. In Cohen, G. and Sharp Joukowsky, M. (eds). Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists. University of Michigan Press. 351-379. Obituary: Gertrude Caton-Thompson, FBA, D. Litt., 1888-1985. The Geographical Journal, Vol. 151, No. 3 (Nov., 1985), pp. 437438. Wendrich, W. Egyptian Archaeology: From Text to Context. Chichester: Wiley Blackwell. (2010).

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. . . m o r f SOS a i r a i t a R The “hidden” face of Bulgarian archaeology

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By Dr. Krassimira Luka The ancient city of Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria is the most significant Roman and Byzantine centre in what is today north-western Bulgaria. Ratiaria was established in the first century CE as a Roman military camp and a civilian settlement quickly grew around it. It was in fact one of five colonies founded by the emperor Trajan in 106 CE. The full name of the settlement is known from an inscription dating to 125 CE – “Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria”. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries Ratiaria was a model Roman town, enjoying great prosperity as an emerging craft and trade centre. After 272 CE Ratiaria was proclaimed capital of the newly established province of Dacia Ripensis and was the primary headquarters of the military and administrative governors of the region. By the fourth century, Ratiaria had become an important Christian centre and written sources mention several local bishops (e.g. Paulinos, Sylvester, Palladius). Writing in the first half of the fifth century, the historian Priscus refers to Ratiaria as a “large and populous city.” An inscription, discovered during the excavation of the western wall, proclaims: “Ratiaria of [Emperor] Anastasius will flourish forever”.

impressive building interpreted as the residence of the Governor of Dacia Ripensis, were unearthed. Studied architectural remains have been restored and preserved. In 1991 the excavations were cancelled. Unfortunately the last 20 years have seen the site subjected to an ever escalating invasion of treasurehunters engaged in the illegal traffic of cultural artefacts. Recent investigations have shown that an area some 2 km. (East-West) by 1 km. (NorthSouth), covering virtually the entire site, has been systematically ransacked. In some instances, treasurehunters have dug trenches 10 metres deep, revealing the remains of numerous buildings.

In 2009 the Bulgarian Archaeological Association (BAA) started the campaign: “Help preserve the largest archaeological site in Northern Bulgaria – Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria”. More than 600 scientists from all over the world have signed the petition to save Ratiaria (http://www.ipetitions.com/ petition/ratiaria/). Reports describing this cultural catastrophe have been published in many leading international journals and other media. Voluntary donations were received by the BAA from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Austria, France, The first excavations at Ratiaria were carried out by Germany and Spain to help save Ratiaria. the archaeologist V. Velkov between 1958 and 1962. Excavations were also variously undertaken between The problem is not new, however. It has been going 1976 and 1991, including work conducted by Italian on for at least 20 years and occasionally the Bulgarian specialists. During this period, the Eastern Gate of government is forced to take action. Primarily, the the city, parts of the Eastern defensive wall, and an duty lies with the Regional Heritage Museum of Vidin 160


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Above: Residence of the Governor of Dacia Ripensis at Ratiara; Below: Evidence of looting at the site is widespread. Photos courtesy of the author.

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Matble door sill and Corinthian columns at Ratiaria. Photo courtesy of the author.

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Latin inscription proclaiming: “Ratiaria of [Emperor] Anastasius will flourish forever”. Photo courtesy of the author.

which is responsible for all historic sites in the area but seems to do nothing. Furthermore, in 2006, the museum’s director Fiona Filipova was accused and convicted of involvement in illegal traffic of antiquities but continues to hold her position. In 2012 the director of National archaeological Institute in Sofia Mr. Liudmil Vagalinski tried to stop the reopening of the archaeological excavations in Ratiaria stating that the most famous Roman-era archaeologist in Bulgaria, Prof. Dr. Hab. Rumen Ivanov, was unable to conduct excavations at the site. Moreover, a report outlining the grave situation at Ratiaria was shelved at the International Limes Congress held in Rousse and in Bulgaria later that same year held by Bulgaria’s National Archaeological Institute.

creates a huge web of confusion and a meaningless dependence of some archaeologists upon those who abuse their power and take every opportunity to hide crime.

Why is Ratiaria being left to the mercy of looters? There seems to be no clear answer. What is clear is that the Bulgarian Heritage Law system is incapable of protecting the country’s cultural assets. Unfortunately, the legacy of Bulgaria’s communist past is ever present. A monopolistic system is stifling independent action and preventing young scientists from getting involved in the preservation of Bulgaria’s cultural heritage. According to current laws in Bulgaria, only the National Archaeological Institute can authorize archaeological digs. This

Further Reading:

Ratiaria is a part of the world’s cultural heritage. The young generation of archaeologists in Bulgaria definitely needs the support of other European countries in their fight to preserve their country’s legacy. The scientific study of this archaeological site will ultimately compensate the efforts of our supporters, who are not indifferent to the fate of Europe’s cultural heritage. *** http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/treasurehunters-strip-bulgaria-of-its-ancient-treasures-destroyinga-cultural-legacy/2012/10/26/1cd94c5a-1f38-11e2-881741b9a7aaabc7_story.html Lolita Nikolova, Possible changes in Bulgarian Archaeology, http://www.examiner.com/article/possible-changesbulgarian-archaeology

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Historic Preservation and Public Engagement in the United States By Dr. Monty Dobson

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ou don’t have to spend much time at academic conferences in the United States before the subject of public engagement comes up. At history, archaeology and preservation conferences, academics bemoan the lack of interest and participation on the part of the American public. The refrain usually goes something like this: “why is it that Americans don’t care about archaeology or history or historic preservation?”

volve people in archaeology and to promote the appreciation and care of the historic environment for the benefit of present and future generations.” The CBA actively encourages public involvement in a number of ways including: publicizing and supporting efforts of local organizations; support of an active youth organization, The Young Archaeologists Club; professional networking; and public information. In contrast the major American archaeological bodies like the Society for American Archaeology are first and foremost interested in the academic profession of archaeology. There is no mission statement readily available, no obvious statement of interest in encouraging public participation. They have a “For the Public” page, but I doubt too many of the “public” will bother to dig their way through the uninviting and forbidding SAA site.

However, I think the question looks in the wrong direction for the answer and makes several erroneous assumptions. That mindset assumes that the blame rests solely on the shoulders of the American public: assuming that they are not interested in history and preservation. It also assumes that the public should make the effort to connect to ‘our’ research. I would like to argue the case for a robust effort on the part of academics to engage the public in To be sure there are challenges in the UK, meaningful ways. particularly from cuts in public funding Some of the difficulty rests in institutional for outreach programs like the CBA as traditions and cultural norms in the United well as cuts to museums and preservation States. Having worked professionally as an organizations. This underfunding threatens archaeologist and museum professional to undo much of the progress that has been in both the US and UK I am struck by the made in the last decade or so in terms of differences between the approach each public engagement. Be that as it may, the country takes to public engagement. In the situation in the United States is different, United Kingdom, The Council for British because here, we lack even the tradition Archaeology website is headed by this of public funding seen in the UK. However, statement: “The CBA is an educational with public funding under constant threat charity working throughout the UK to in- in the UK and Europe, robust and active

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It’s much more than saving old buildings! Historic preservation champions and protects places that tell the stories of our past. It enhances our sense of community and brings us closer together: saving the places where we take our children to school, buy our groceries, and stop for coffee – preserving the stories of ancient cultures found in landmarks and landscapes we visit – protecting the memories of people, places, and events honored in our national monuments. Historic preservation is also about getting involved in saving these monuments, landscapes, and neighborhoods. It doesn’t have to be complicated – it can be fun! The Smithsonian Museum of American History states:

These institutions understand that tailoring their message to the appropriate audience is essential when encouraging public engagement. I am convinced that the American public is not losing interest in history and preservation; they are turning to more welcoming sources for it. Unfortunately these sources: The History Channel, Discovery, and popular websites, are often peddling second rate ideas wrapped up in attractive packages. Despite this, all is not bleak. I know from my own work in Museums in the US, and the UK with the Jorvik Viking Centre, that children and adults are passionately interested in our shared human past. The real situation my colleagues here in the US need to face up to is that the public isn’t much interested in a message that makes no attempt to speak to them. Know your audience is one of the basic rules of good writing. We can’t merely shove an article abstract into a press release and expect it to connect to the general public. If we hope to connect to the wider public, we have to put as much effort into crafting the message aimed at the public as we do our academic writing. ***

More than ever before, the National Museum of American History today shines new light on American history. The museum works to ensure that our collections, exhibitions, research, publications and educational programs all support the Museum’s basic mission—

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What exactly is historic preservation?

to inspire a broader understanding of our nation and its many peoples—and to make our exhibitions and programs as accessible as possible to all visitors.

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Nor does the United States have the same tradition of public engagement by academics working in the heritage sector that exists in the UK and much of Europe. That being said, there are institutions and citizens groups here in the US that do a terrific job of connecting to the public. The National Trust for Historic Preservation understands the need to engage with the public on a number of levels. Their website defines preservation:

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engagement on the part of academics and heritage professionals is no less essential.

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Balkan Heritage Field School Projects, 2013 The Balkan Heritage (BH) Field School has just opened the application session for nine projects (in 2013) in the following areas: Archaeology, Art History, Restoration and Conservation of Artifacts, Monuments and Christian Art and Culture. Thanks to the partnership with the New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria 6 academic credits (for twoweek projects) and 9 academic credits (for four-week projects) will be granted upon request to students who attend to these projects.

Detailed information about all Balkan Heritage Field School Projects in 2013 is available on their website at: http://www. bhfieldschool.org Projects’ location: Bulgaria, FYROM Projects’ language: ENGLISH Historical periods covered by the projects (with dates related to the Balkan Heritage projects’ sites): Early Balkan Neolithic (60005500 BCE); Balkan Copper Age (5000 - 4200 BCE), Archaic Greek (650 - 480 BCE), Classical Greek (4th century BCE), Classical Thracian (5th-4th century BCE), Hellenistic (4th-3rd century BCE), Roman and Late Roman (1st century BCE - 4th century CE), Early Byzantine (4th-6th century CE), Medieval and Late Medieval (14th - 17th century CE)

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Affiliated partner institutions/organizations/ teams: New Bulgarian University, Regional Museums of History Blagoevgrad and Pazardzhik, Archaeological Museum of Sozopol, Excavation teams of Apollonia Pontica, Pistiros and Tell Yunatsite (Bulgaria); National Institute of Stobi (Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia); Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Projects in 2013 Nanterre (France); Queen’s University and Conservation Of Sculptures, Monuments And “FRESCO-HUNTING” PHOTO EXPEDITION TO Objects (CSMO) (Canada) MEDIEVAL BALKAN CHURCHES (Western Bulgaria) Balkan Heritage (BH) Field School (est. 2003) functions as a legal part of Balkan Heritage Foundation – a Bulgarian public, non-profit, non-governmental organization. It implements various educative projects in the areas of Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, Folklore, Art History, Restoration and Conservation of artefacts and monuments, Fine Arts and Theology with participation of students, scholars and volunteers from all over the World. Balkan Heritage Mission is to support study, protection, restoration and promotion of sites, artefacts and practices belonging or related to the cultural heritage of SouthEastern Europe.

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An expedition for documentation of medieval frescoes preserved in abandoned churches and chapels in remote areas of Western Bulgaria.The task of the expedition envisioned for 2013 is to enhance the database created during the previous seasons by documenting frescoes and their condition as well as collecting new data on history, architecture, artefacts and environment of the ecclesiastical buildings they belong to. Standard Field School Session: 11 – 25 May, 2013 Extended Field School Session: 11 May - 1 June, 2013


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Stara Zagora Heritage work-camp. Photo courtesy of Balkan Heritage Projects.

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Academic credits available for students: up be based on Roman pottery found in the to 9 ancient city of Stobi. During the workshop participants will work with authentic BIRTH OF EUROPE - EXCAVATION OF THE Roman shards. EARLY NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENT ILINDENTSI (Bulgaria) Dates 15 - 29 June, 2013

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Excavations of one of the very first Neolithic Academic credits available for students: 6 settlements in Europe (6000-5500 BCE), near Ilindentsi, Southwestern Bulgaria. Two field RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN school sessions are available: CIVILIZATION - TELL YUNATSITE EXCAVATIONS (Bulgaria) NEW PROJECT! Session 1: 11 June - 29 June, 2013 Excavations of Tell Yunatsite - one of the Session 2: 30 June - 14 July, 2013 very first urban settlements in Europe (50004200 BCE) belonging to the FIRST EUROPEAN Academic credits available for students: up CIVILIZATION, near Pazardzhik, Southern to 9 Bulgaria. Beside other areas of exploration of Copper age culture, the field school program WORKSHOP FOR CONSERVATION AND will focus on prehistoric warfare and metalDOCUMENTATION OF ROMAN MOSAICS processing. Special Two field school sessions (FYROM) are available: The workshop will guide the participants through the history, techniques and consequent stages of archaeological study, conservation and documentation of Roman and Late Roman (first - sixth century CE) mosaics. Both the theoretical and practical courses will be based on authentic Roman mosaics/ mosaic fragments found in the ancient city of Stobi – the capital of ancient Macedonia Secunda. Dates: 15 - 29 June, 2013 Academic credits available for students: 6 WORKSHOP FOR CONSERVATION, RESTORATION AND DOCUMENTATION OF ROMAN POTTERY (FYROM) The workshop will guide the participants through the history and technology of Roman and Late Roman pottery and consequent stages of archaeological conservation, restoration, documentation and study. Both the theoretical and practical courses will 168

Standard Field School Session: 20 July – 3 August, 2013 Extended Field School Session: 20 July - 10 August, 2013 Academic credits available for students: up to 9 APOLLONIA (Bulgaria)

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Excavations at the sacred precinct (temenos) of the Ancient Greek city of Apollonia Pontica on St. Kirik Island, Sozopol, Bulgaria. Periods of occupation: Archaic and Classical Greek and Early Byzantine (seventh - fifth century BCE and fifth - seventh century CE). Two field school sessions are available: Session 1: 3 - 17 August, 2013 Session 2: 18 August - 1 September, 2013 Academic credits available for students: up to 9


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The workshop will guide the participants through the history of ancient Greek pottery, its production and consequent stages of archaeological conservation, documentation, study, and restoration. It will take place consequently in Emona and Sozopol (ancient Apollonia Pontica) on the Black sea coast, Bulgaria. Both the theoretical and practical courses will be based on Ancient Greek pottery found in Sozopol. During the workshop participants will work with authentic Ancient Greek shards.

Discounts off the participation fees are available in case of: 1) Early Registration in any BHFS Project - by DECEMBER 31st, 2012 2) Membership in the Archaeological Institute of America. 3) Small Groups (two or three people, who participate in a BH project in 2013 4) Larger Groups (four or more people, who participate in a BH project in 2013

Dates: 4 - 18 September, 2013

5) Participation in any BH project/s in the past.

Academic credits available for students: 6

6) Participation in more than 1 BH project or project session in 2013

ANCIENT GREEKS IN THE LAND OF DIONYSUS - EXCAVATION OF EMPORION PISTIROS, THRACE, BULGARIA NEW!

On-line applications can be submitted at: http://www.bhfieldschool.org/apply.php

Excavations of ancient Greek emporion Pistiros in Thrace (5th-3rd century BCE) began in 1988. Pistiros is among the rare points of ancient Greek trade located far inland, deep in Thrace - the land of Dionysus and Orpheus. It was located on the riverbank of the Maritsa River (Ancient Hebros) providing probably the last river-port for ancient merchants and

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Academic credits available for students: up Session 1: 2-16 July, 2013 to 9 Session 2: 16-30 July, 2013 WORKSHOP FOR RESTORATION AND DOCUMENTATION OF ANCIENT GREEK Academic credits available for students: up POTTERY (Bulgaria) to 9

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adventures and starting point of merchant and caravan routes leading to important Thracian castles, settlements and shrines Excavations of the impressive ancient (Late around. Once Pistiros was fortified anĐ° looked Hellenistic, Roman, Early Byzantine) city of as a small town. Nowadays the site is outside Stobi, FYROM. Two field school sessions are Septemvri - a small town in Southern Bulgaria, available: not far from the capital Sofia. The field school program will focus on both civilizations: Session 1: 3 - 17 August, 2013 Ancient Greek and Thracian and esp. on their commericial and cultural ties and interactions. Session 2: 18 August - 1 September, 2013 Two field school sessions are available:

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Argilos Field School, Northern Greece

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The literary tradition dates the foundation of Argilos to 655/654 BCE, which makes Argilos the earliest greek colony on the Thracian coast. Argilos occupied a privileged area and thus benefitted from the trading activities along the Strymona and probably also from the gold mines of the Pangeion. Ancient authors rarely mentioned the site, but nevertheless shed some light on the important periods of its history, seeming to indicate that the city enjoyed economic prosperity, at least until the foundation of Amphipolis in 437 BCE. In the last quarter of the 6th century BCE, Argilos founded two colonies, Tragilos, in the thracian heartland, and Kerdilion, a few kilometers to the East of the city. Herodotus says that in 480, after crossing the Strymona, the persian king Xerxès stopped at Argilos and forced its inhabitants into his army. After the persian defeat, Argilos became member of the first athenian confederation, paying 1,5 talents, a sum that proves that it was a rich city. But the foundation of Amphipolis, which took control of the trade along the Strymona, brought an end to this. Thucydides tells us that some Argilians took part in this foundation but that the relations between the two cities quickly deteroriated and, during the Peloponnesian war, the Argilians joined with the spartiate general Brasidas to attack Amphipolis.

Only 30 students will be accepted for this campaign (4 or 6 week sessions), which will combine three components: 1. Theoretical: lectures and workshops on the history of the site and the vast region of Macedonia/Thrace, architecture and urbanism, pottery styles, etc. 2. Practical: methodology and excavation techniques, work on the site and at the museum, study and cataloging of artefacts, sherd drawing, etc. 3. Discovery: field trips to various archaeological sites and museums in the region. Dates: 4-week session: June 3 – June 29, 2013 6-week session: June 3 – July 13, 2013 Age: Minimum 19 years of age. No previous experience necessary but godod physical condition. Students participate to all aspects of the dig, assisted by trained professionals. Students can receive university credits (3) if they enroll in the field school course.

An inscription from the temple of Asklepios in Epidauros attests that Argilos was an On-line applications can be submitted at: independant city during the 4th century. Like other colonies in the area, the city was http://www.argilos.org/index.html conquered by the Macedonian king Philip II in 357 BCE. Historians thought that the city was then abandoned, but our excavations have brought to light an important agricultural settlement on the acropolis, which dates to the years 350-200 BCE. No Roman or Byzantine ruins have been uncovered. 170


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Escavations at Argilos, 2012. Photo courtesy of the Argilos Field School.

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r o it d E e h t Letter to The River Wey was modified in 1610 to irrigate the valley with the “running river”, a water course 8 feet wide and 4 feet deep, running around the west contour line of the flood plain. During the 1630’s the river’s ‘navigation’ was formed by one of the first water control ‘lock gates’ in the country which deepened the river to ‘boat depth’ from the river Thames to Godalming. This changed the river depth and the course of the road which crossed the river adjacent to Burpham Court Farm. The road, which appeared to go straight onto the river crossing, diverted 90 degrees right and then 90 degrees left Well history, walking and engineering make strange to the new “Wey Navigation River” bridge and down bedfellows but it has led to a theory, officially the gravel bank to Burpham Court Farm where it undocumented as yet, but then what ancient then crossed the original course of the ox bow and history is? This small village/hamlet is mentioned in up the valley side to the next village. In1897, on the the Doomsday Book (1068) on the edge of the River hill which lined up with the old road, a ‘complete’ Wey: Roman Bowl was found along with other minor artefacts dating to around 200 CE.

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Where does one start? When a member of the public an untrained historian who watches TV’s Time Team out of curiosity for the past, his only real link with the past is his “family tree” going back to 1530. Until he gets involved in writing a community website and starts looking for history in his village – in this case the village is Burpham, now a suburb of Guildford Surrey in the UK, some 25 miles south of London on the Portsmouth road (Portsmouth being a historical naval yard famous for HMS Victory and the Battle of Trafalgar).

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Thorold holds of Earl Roger BURPHAM. Osmund held it of King Edward. It was then assessed at 4 hides; now at 3 hides. There is land for 5 ploughs. In demesne is 1 plough; and 7 villans and 2 bordars with 3 ½ ploughs, and a mill rendering 15s, and [partly in margin] 25 acres of meadow. [There is] woodland for 80 pigs as pannage. There are 4 slaves. Of these hides, Godric has 1 hide which is called Wyke, in which was the hall belonging to this manor TRE; and there is in demesne 1 plough; and 4 villans and 3 bordars with 1 plough and 1 slave. [There is] woodland for 3 pigs. The whole manor, TRE and afterwards, was worth 8l ; now the lord [has] 7l ; his men 20s.

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Now if we draw a line from the Cross Roads along the line of the road to the west, past the site of the Roman find and down the hill onto the river bank, there is a depth gauge similar to the one placed at the site of English Fords. No other depth gauge is found along this 2 mile stretch of the river. With engineering knowledge of the rivers flow pre-1600, this site would be the logical point to cross the river, a silt deposition point, and is less than half a mile from the suspected line of a Roman road past the oldest building (Sutton Place, c. 1500) in the area. Documented by the English Heritage dept., Sutton Place was searched for the missing Roman road but no trace was found. Moving east from the river Wey past the Roman find site to the Cross Roads is the last ‘open space’ left in Burpham, referred to in the UK as a “brown field site”, and which is at present the subject of a very contentious building project. Prior to the present owner’s demolition of the ‘Green Man’ public house in 2008, the site had been a meeting place even before the 1600s and is in fact marked on most maps of the area. This site could well date to before 1068


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given that the Doomsday Book refers to Burpham Area as extending from the mill to some distance from the river side. The estimated area would have covered the Cross Roads and any building on the site in question. If one continues along the line past the site from the river crossing, the paths can still be traced along the side of the hillside some 6 miles east. The general area and the line of the old road and current foot path to the north of Clandon Park can be seen in Google Maps of the area. No attempt has been made to trace the line further east or west as modern development has destroyed most logical lines till way past the point of ability to confirm the path lines.

picture. So if any archaeologist out there is looking for a site to excavate, which will be lost by June 2013 if the owner has his way, then please contact me via email (jim.allen1@talktalk.net) to discuss the way forwards. It may be that absolutely nothing is found – but if no-one looks then nothing can be found! As an engineer I can also explain how Stonehenge Blue stones, were moved using bellows and wine bladders – a theory no-one else has put forward to my knowledge! Sincerely Jim Allen

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So why is this retired engineer writing to the AncientPlanet Online Journal about the history of Burpham? Well it is born of frustration at the ‘English’ situation! Unless this potential pre-Saxon site is documented, then no-one will investigate it before it has been developed, and it can’t be documented unless it has been excavated– yes you are getting the

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Roman bowl found in the vicinity of Burpham Court.


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