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Invasion of Britain






THE LOST TOWN of Dunwich



THE VIKINGS OF THE FALL OF THE GREENLAND KNIGHTS TEMPLAR The story of the 10th century explorers in search of new lands

What happened to one of the most secretive fighting forces of all time

THE LEGIO IX HISPANA The Lost Roman Legion


The siege Of Masada The Siege of Masada was one of the final chapters during the First Jewish-Roman War, resulting in the Romans encircling and storming the mountain fortress of Masada held by Sicarrii rebels.

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In this issue


14 The Star Wars The “Star Wars” were periods of intense conflict between rival Maya polities or city states.

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In this issue


The Real Dracula Examine the evidence behind Stoker’s Dracula

28 Caesar’s Invasion of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain commenced in the year AD 43, but the Romans led two expeditionary campaigns almost a century earlier in 55 BC and 54 BC under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar.

The Gladiatrix The female equivalent of the Roman Gladiator

Contents 06

The Real Assassin’s Creed


The Vikings of Greenland



Julius Caesar’s invasion of Britain




The Star Wars

How Chariot Racing Teams Saved Constantinople from the Huns

Cahuachi - The Ceremonial Centre of the Nazca Orongo - The Birdman-Cult Centre Built on a Volcano


Matthew Hopkins - The Real Witch-Hunter


The Siege of Masada




The Fall of the Knights Templar

The St. Brice’s Day Viking Massacre

The Inca Cave Temple of the Moon





The Roman Villa of Tiberius


The Jade Burial Suits



The Annulment of Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon at Dunstable Priory

The Roman Penises Carved into Hadrian’s Wall



Legio IX Hispana - The Lost Roman Legion

The Limes Arabicus - The Desert Frontier of the Roman Empire

Who Were the Sea People?

History of Mead

Yasuke - The African Samurai

Krampus the Demon Devil of Christmas






The Mystery of Greek Fire


The Real Dracula

April 22nd 1778 - The Day America Invaded England



The Lost Town of Dunwich


The Sacred Band of Thebes - The Elite Military Unit of Same Sex Lovers

Lucius Tarquinius Superbus – The Last King of Rome


Sarmizegetusa Regia - The Mountain Capital of the Dacians


The Great Heathen Army


Germania - Hitler’s Megacity

28 4

The Gladiatrix


Ani - The Abandoned Medieval City


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Image Credit : Dmytro Vietrov

The Real Assassins Creed HE word “Assassin” is a term that was used to describe a fedayeen group within the Nizari Ismailis State, that formed when followers of Nizarism split within an Ismailism branch of Shia Islam.


The true origins of the name have been debated for centuries among historians, with one such theory believing that “assassin” has roots in “hashshāshīn” - meaning hashish smokers or users.

ORIGINS The Nizari Ismailis State was founded by Hassan-I Sabbah. Hassan was born around AD 1050 into a family of Twelver Shī‘ah in the city of Qom, Iran. Early in life, Hassan developed a keen interest in metaphysical matters and academia, studying palmistry, languages, philosophy, astronomy and mathematics.

The first known use of the term “hashshāshīn” has been traced back to AD 1122, when the Fatimid caliph al-Āmir used it to mean a derogatory reference for the Syrian branch of the Nizaris Ismailis.

Much of Hassan’s life is speculated or written by third party sources, but the biographer Rashid-al-Din Hamadani records Hassan’s arrival in Egypt to study as a missionary on the 30th of August in AD 1078.

The spread of the term was further facilitated through encounters with European Crusaders, whose historians and chroniclers further disseminated it across Europe, telling lurid stories about a warlike sect hidden away in remote mountain fortresses.

Hassan toured extensively throughout Persia, debating with religious leaders his teachings and views on religious doctrine.


His travels reached as far as the shores of the Caspian Sea and the mountains of Alborz in the Rudbar region, where he searched for a base from which to guide his mission. Around AD 1090, Hassan and his followers took the castle of Alamut using an elaborate strategy of infiltration to fool the garrison. With an established foothold in the region, he extended his influence by conquering strongholds across Rudbar and constructed new fortresses at strategic points for defence and trade. The rapid expansion of his territory didn’t go unnoticed and Alamut was soon raided by the larger forces of the nearest Saljuq amir, marking the initiation of an endless series of Saljuq-Isma‘ili military clashes.


In less than two years since the capture of Alamut, Hasan and his followers had seized several towns across the region of Quhistan – building the foundation for an independent territorial Nizari state for the Persian Isma‘ilis in the midst of the Saljuq sultanate, for which Hasan would be the ruling Imam. THE STRATEGY OF ASSASSINATION In AD 1092, the Saljug launched several major expeditions against the Isma‘ilis in both Rudbar and Quhistan. These skirmishes came to a sudden halt with the assassination of the Saljug Vizier, Nizam al-Mulk, by a Nizari fighter disguised as a Sufi mystic, followed by the death of Sultan Malik-Shah only weeks later.

This disorder allowed Hassan to consolidate his power and seize the strategic fortress of Lamasar (Lanbasar) to the west of Alamut and the stronghold of Girdkuh near Damgan. Hassan designed a strategy to decentralise the political and military power of the Saljuq sultanate. He established a network of agents or fedā īs, who would infiltrate the households of prominent enemy figures and assassinate them. This strategy of killings soon became identified with the Nizari Isma‘ilis, marking them in history as a feared elite group of assassins.

Alamut Castle - Image Credit : Morteza Safataj

various assassination attempts and shifting alliances with Salah al-Din (Saladin), the Crusaders, and other regional powers to safeguard the independence of his community.

AN AFFILIATED CREED From the 12th century AD, Hassan began to send his own da‘i into Syria to propagate the teachings of the Nizari da‘wa. However, it would take almost half a century before a Syrian affiliated branch would gain a foothold in the region and establish themselves under the leadership of Hassan’s subordinate, Rashid ad-Din Sinan. Rashid was able to enjoy considerable independence from the Persian Nizari. Writings even attribute him with a semidivine status usually given to the Nizari Ismaili Imam and was known as the “Old Man of the Mountain”. Rashid would play a prominent role in the regional politics of the time, orchestrating

The most notable assassination by the Syrian order was of Conrad of Monferrat days before he was to be crowned King of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem in AD 1192. During the mid-12th century, the Syrian affiliated branch captured several fortresses in the Nusayriyah Mountain range but were later annexed by the Mamluk sultan Baibars. From then on, the Syrian affiliated Ismailis maintained limited autonomy over those former strongholds as vassals to the Mamluks.

The current Nizari Ismaili Imam Ala alDin Muhammad joined with the Abbasid caliph and appealed to the European monarchs of England and France to coalesce in a Christian-Muslim Alliance, but the request for an alliance was ultimately declined. The first Mongol attack on the Nizari Ismailis came in April AD 1253, when many of the Quhistani fortresses were lost to the Christian Mongol general Ket-Buqa. The Mongols eventually reached the founding stronghold of Alamut in AD 1256, changing hands over the next two decades until the Nizari Ismaili resistance was finally crushed.

THE MONGOL INVASION During the reign of the Mongol warlord Güyük Khan (AD 1206 – 1248), the Mongols plan for expansion required the conquest of the Islamic States to reach Western Asia. At this time, the Nizari Ismaili state was one such significant barrier, fortified with over fifty strongholds that could slow the Mongol advance. 9

Alamut Castle - Image Credit : Catay

Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo

THE NIZARI ISMAILIS LEGACY With the fall of the Nizari Ismailis State, the remnants of the Syrian branch were absorbed into the territories of the Mamluk Sultan Baibars, passing on their expertise in exchange for their continued existence. The historian Yaqut al-Hamawi speculates that the Böszörmény, (Izmaleita or Ismaili/Nizari) denomination of Muslims who lived in the Kingdom of Hungary from the 10th to the 13th centuries AD were employed as mercenaries by the Kings of Hungary.

Dr. Ismail Balic writes in “Traces of Islam in Hungary” that “Islam was first brought to Hungary by the Ismailites (in Izmaelitak or Boszormenyek)”. The Institute of Ismaili Studies states that the assassins of the Nizari Ismailis State had been “elaborated over the years, the legends culminated in Marco Polo’s account according to which the Nizari leader, described as the ‘Old Man of the Mountain’, was said to have controlled the behaviour of his devotees through the use of hashish and a secret garden of paradise.”

So influential were these tales that the word “assassin” entered European languages as a common noun for murderer, and the Nizari Ismailis were depicted not only in popular mythology but also in Western scholarship as a sinister order of assassins.


Image Credit : Radek Hájek



HE Roman conquest of Britain

commenced in the year AD 43, but the Romans led two previous expeditionary campaigns almost a century earlier in 55 BC and 54 BC under the command of Gaius Julius Caesar. Britain was known to classical Greek writers as early as the 4th century BC, but to the Romans it was portrayed as a mythical island on the edge of the known world. Much of what we know about the expeditions comes from a first-hand account by Caesar in the Commentarii de Bello Gallico, in which Caesar claims that the Britons had supported the Gauls and the neighbouring tribes during his conquest of the Gallic region. The First Invasion Rather than pressing further north in Gaul, in 55 BC Caesar turned his attentions towards Britain. He questioned several merchants as to their observations of the islands tribal defences and obtained


information about possible landing sites on the south-eastern coast. The tribune Caius Volusenus was despatched with a single ship to undertake a week-long survey of the coastline, but Volusenus hesitated in going ashore since he “dared not leave his ship and trust himself to barbarians”. Upon returning to Gaul five days later, the Britons had already been warned about Caesar’s intent by passing merchants and sent several ambassadors to offer hostages and promises of submission. The ambassadors returned to Britain along with Commius, king of the Belgae Atrebates, to persuade as many nations as possible to embrace the “protection of the Roman people”, and apprise Britain’s inhabitants of the impending arrival of Roman forces to their shores. Caesar gathered a fleet of eighty transport ships to carry up to two legions, numerous warships under a quaestor, and eighteen transports containing cavalry.

The fleet sailed for Dubris (Dover), however, upon reaching sight of the shoreline it was apparent that the Britons had planned to resist and gathered a force of defenders to repel the Roman landing. After waiting in anchor for the remainder of the Roman fleet to arrive, they sailed seven miles to what is believed to be Pegwell Bay on the Isle of Thanet in Kent. Caesars account states that “the barbarians, upon perceiving the design of the Romans, sent forward their cavalry and charioteers, a class of warriors of whom it is their practice to make great use in their battles, and following with the rest of their forces, endeavoured to prevent our men landing.” The Roman ships were too low in the water to land the troops, resulting in soldiers having to wade ashore whilst weighed down by heavy armour and attacked by the enemy from the shallows.

The Romans hesitated to advance, but the standard bearer holding the eagle of the 10th Legion exclaimed: “Leap fellow soldiers, unless you wish to betray your eagle to the enemy. I for my part will perform my duty to the commonwealth and my general”. This rallying call drove the Romans foward to establish a beach head. Caesar was approached yet again by ambassadors of the Britons, accompanied by Commius who had been imprisoned upon his arrival to Britain. The ambassadors claimed that the resistance the Romans faced were the “common people” and promised reparations by offering further hostages. Days later, a storm surge in the English Channel forced the ships carrying Caesar’s calvary to return to Gaul, whilst an unusually high tide caused the beached warships to fill with water and wrecked several of his transports. Realising the Romans lacked provisions, the Britons planned to protract hostilities again in the hope that they could vanquish the invaders or cut off their return so that “no one would afterward pass over into Britain for the purpose of making war.” After several skirmishes, the ambassadors approached Caesar to sue for peace, for which Caesar doubled the tribute of hostages and set sail with his fleet back to the continent.

Caesar and his troops landed relatively unhindered, suggesting that “being alarmed by the great number of our ships, more than eight hundred of which, including the ships of the preceding year, and those private vessels which each had built for his own convenience, had appeared at one time, they (the Britons) had quitted the coast and concealed themselves among the higher

points.” The bulk of the expedition force ventured further inland to engage the Britons, who by this time were harrowing the Roman march towards a fortified woodland enclosure (possibly the hillfort at Bigbury Wood, Kent). The next morning, Caesar received word from Quintus Atrius that a large number of his ships at anchor were yet again in a storm. The expedition force returned to the coast

The Second Invasion For the next campaign season, Caesar planned to return to Britain and assembled a much larger army consisting of five legions and around 2,000 cavalry. Learning from the difficulties he faced in the previous year’s expedition, he designed many of the ships to be more suited for amphibious landings and established supply lines from Portus Itius to ensure regular transports of provisions.

and worked day and night for ten days to repair the fleet and build a fortified encampment to defend the beachhead. Caesar headed inland and found that the Britons had used the time to amass a large army under the leadership of Cassivellaunus, a tribal warlord from north of the Thames.

Several tribes eventually surrendered, including the Cenimagni, Segontiaci, Ancalites, Bibroci and Cassi, revealing to Caesar the location of Cassivellaunus’s stronghold (believed to be Devil’s Dyke in present-day Wheathampstead).

By now, Caesar was determined to return to the continent for the After several indecisive winter to subdue unrest in Gaul, skirmishes, Cassivellaunus and agreed to an annual tribute realised he could not defeat from the Britons. He then simply Caesar in a pitched battle and left, leaving not a single Roman disbanded a majority of his forces soldier in Britain until the arrival to slow the Roman advance. of Emperor Claudius’s legions in AD 43.


The Star Wars The “Star Wars” were periods of intense conflict between rival Maya polities or city states.


HE term derives from a Maya

glyph which depicts an EK’ (star) element or a “shellover-Star” that appears in the Classic Maya period (AD 300-900) and lowland Maya monuments. Scholars have identified four main examples of Maya hieroglyphs that relate to warfare, with the Chucʼah (possibly meaning to capture), the Ch’ak (decapitation), the Hubi (destruction), and the Star War. Most of what we know about warfare in Maya society comes from the depictions carved into stone monuments and stucco facades, as the Spanish burned a number of Maya codices and erased approximately 5000 Maya cult images. Only three pre-Columbian books of Maya hieroglyphics (also known as a codex) and fragments of a fourth book are known to have survived. Warfare was mainly for political control/influence, or for gaining new resources and territory between city states. The goal may also have been to acquire sacrificial victims to legitimise the ruler of a polity or to intimidate rivals into submission and tribute. The first example of a “Star War” was in AD 562 during a conflict between the peoples of Caracol and Tikal.


Caracol had been a client state of the more powerful city of Tikal, but after a series of battles between Lord Water (Yajaw Te’ K’inich II) of Caracol and Lord Double Bird (Wak Chan K’awiil) of Tikal, Double Bird was defeated, and Tikal spiralled into a period

Image Credit : Leon Rafael

Image Credit : Oleg Elkov

known as the Tikal mid-Classic hiatus. Subsequent “Star War” events Calakmul/Caracol (winner) and Naranjo (loser) in AD 631 Caracol (winner) and Naranjo (loser) in AD 636 Tortuguero (winner) and an unnamed polity (loser) in AD 644 Dos Pilas (winner) and Tikal (loser) in AD 670 Palenque (winner) and anunnamed polity (loser) in AD 672 Tikal (winner) and Dos Pilas (loser) in AD 672 La Corona (winner) and Tikal (loser) in AD 677 Naranjo (winner) and Caracol (loser) in AD 680 Dos Pilas (winner) and Tikal (loser) in AD 705 Tonina (winner) and Palenque (loser) in AD 711 Dos Pilas (winner) Seibal (loser) in AD 735 Piedras Negras (winner) and an unnamed polity (loser) in AD 781.

It is during these periods where scholars have applied statistical modelling to propose that many of these conflicts coincide with the appearance of the planet Venus (called Chak Ek’). The Dresden Codex (one of the only surviving Maya books) includes astronomical tables for calculating the position of Chak Ek’, although any association to the “Star War” has been heavily disputed in recent studies. It is also argued that Chak Ek’ may have been considered a bad omen for celestial battles by all the Maya

rulers, or could refer to stars or planets other than Venus. In some instances, conflicts would escalate to a “Star War”, resulting in the fall of a dynasty or the complete dominion of one polity by another. An inscription from a monument found at Tortuguero (dating from AD 669) describes the aftermath of a “Star War” where “the blood was pooled; the skulls were piled”. “Star Wars” also appear to have had a seasonal bias, clustering in the dry season from November through to January. Few were recorded to have happened during the planting season, and none during harvest time between mid-September and late October.

Image Credit : Francisco Sandoval Guate


Matthew Hopkins The Real Witch-Hunter M

ATTHEW Hopkins was an

infamous witch-hunter who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647.

His witch-hunting methods would go on to be used as a manual during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts. From the 16th century, England was in the grips of hysteria over witchcraft and the occult, caused in part by King James VI’s obsession with the dark arts. James had been influenced by his personal involvement in the North Berwick witch trials and amassed various texts on magical studies that he published into three books to describe the topics of magic, sorcery and witchcraft. His books tried to justify the persecution and punishment of a person accused of being a witch under the rule of canonical law. The published works assisted in the creation of the witchcraft reform that led to the English Puritan Richard Bernard to write a manual on witch-hunting in 1629 called “A Guide to Grand-Jury Men”. Historians suggest that both the “Daemonologie” and “A Guide to Grand-Jury Men” was an

influence that Matthew Hopkins would draw inspiration from and have a significant impact in the direction his life would take many years later. Matthew Hopkins was born in the English village of Great Wenham and was the fourth son of James Hopkins,

a Puritan vicar of St John’s of Great Wenham. After his father’s death, Hopkins moved to Manningtree in Essex and used his inheritance to present himself as a gentleman to the local aristocracy. Hopkins’ witch-finding career began in March 1644, when his associate, John Sterne, alleged that a group of women in Manningtree were conducting acts of sorcery and were trying to kill him with witchcraft. Hopkins conducted a physical examination of the women by looking for deformities and a blemish called the “Devil’s Mark”. His investigation would lead to 23 women (sources differ in the number) being accused of witchcraft and formally tried in 1645.


The trial was presided over by the justices of the peace (a judicial officer of a lower or puisne court), resulting in nineteen women being convicted and hanged, and four women dying in prison. Following the convictions, Hopkins and Stearne travelled with an entourage of female assistants, falsely claiming to hold the office of Witchfinder General and as part of a fake official commission by Parliament to uncover witches using a practice called “pricking”. Pricking was the process of pricking a suspected witch with a needle, pin or bodkin. The practice derived from the belief that all witches and sorcerers bore a witch’s mark that would not feel pain or bleed when pricked. Although torture was considered unlawful under English law, Hopkins would also use techniques such as sleep deprivation to confuse a victim into confessing, cutting the arm of the accused with a blunt knife (if the victim didn’t bleed

then they’d be declared a witch) and tying victims to a chair who would be submerged in water (if a victim floated, then they’d be considered a witch). This proved to be a lucrative business venture, although Hopkins states in his book “The Discovery of Witches” that “his fees were to maintain his company with three horses”, and that he took “twenty shillings a town”. Historical records from Stowmarket shows that Hopkins actually charged the town £23 (taking into account inflation, that would be around £3800 today). Between the years of 1644 and 1646, Hopkins and his company are believed to be responsible for the execution of around 300 supposed witches and sent to the gallows more accused people than all the other witch-hunters in England of the previous 160 years. By 1647, Hopkins and Stearne were questioned by justices of the assizes (the precursor to the English Crown Court) about their activities, but by the time the

court took session both Hopkins and Stearne had retired from witch-hunting. That same year, Hopkins published his book “The Discovery of Witches”, which was used as a manual for the trial and conviction of Margaret Jones in the Massachusetts Bay Colony on the east coast of America. Some of Hopkins’ methods were also employed during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692–93, resulting in hundreds of Salem’s inhabitants being accused of witchcraft and 19 people executed. Matthew Hopkins died at his home in Manningtree on the 12th August 1647 of pleural tuberculosis, where he was buried in the graveyard of the Church of St Mary at Mistley Heath. Within a year of his death, Stearne retired to his farm and wrote his own manual “A Confirmation and Discovery of Witchcraft”, hoping to further profit from the infamous career both men had undertaken at the cost of hundreds of innocent souls.


The fall of

THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR the Temple of Solomon, or the Order of Solomon’s Temple, was a religious military order of knighthood who served the Catholic church.


Following the successes of the 1st Crusade, a number of Crusader states were formed in the Holy Land, leading to an influx of pilgrims from Western Europe to travel to the sacred sites of Christendom. Many pilgrims were either killed by banditry or whilst crossing through hostile Muslim controlled territory. This led to the founding of the Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon in 1118 by Hugues de Payens with the sole purpose of protecting travellers on their pilgrimage.


The Knights Templar swore an oath of poverty, chastity, obedience, and were expected to honour the fasts and vigils of the monastic calendar just as the Cistercians and other monks.

With the patronage by Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, the Knights were headquartered on Temple Mount, establishing a large economic infrastructure described as the first multinational corporation that spread across all the kingdoms of Europe and the Holy Land. By the 12th century, the strength of Christian rule in the Holy Land was diluted, in part by dissension among Christian factions and internecine feuds, and by the partial unification of the Islamic world with effective leaders such as Saladin. The loss of Jerusalem and key strongholds to the Ayyubid dynasty forced the Templars to relocate to outlining city strongholds such as Acre, Tortosa, and Atlit, but these too fell in the 13th

century, resulting in their headquarters moving to Limassol on the island of Cyprus. A garrison was maintained at the fortress of Ruad on the small island of Arwad, but this was lost to the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate in the early 14th century, marking the fall of the last crusader outpost in the Holy Land. Without a mission, the influence and support for the Templars dwindled, but the order continued to maintain a strong economic power base through their network of Templar houses and holdings spread across Europe. The order was not subject to local government, making it essentially a state within a state and a standing army that could pass freely without borders. The Templars were also one of the largest independent military organisations across Europe, answerable only to the Pope. The situation caused heightened tensions with European nobility. In 1305, Pope Clement V was intent on merging the Templars with the Knights Hospitaller and sent for the Templar Grand Master Jacques De Molay and the Hospitaller Grand Master Fulk de Villaret. Whilst waiting for the arrival of Villaret, De Molay and the Pope discussed several malicious charges made against the order which had become gossip in the court of King Philip IV of France. The Pope asked for Philip to support an investigation into the rumours, but Philip seized upon the situation for his own political and monetary gain. Historians suggest that he was motivated by his own piety to destroy what he perceived as a heretical group, but also because he owed the Templars a small fortune from France’s war with England. On Friday 13th in 1307, Philip ordered the arrest of De Molay and the Templars in the Paris Temple, with the warrants

Image Credit : Morphart Creation

to investigate the Templars’ guilt or innocence, but Philip superseded and threatened military action against the church unless the Pope agreed to disband the Templar order.

stating “God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom”. Further accusations were made against the order involving the admission ceremonies, claiming that they forced recruits to deny Christ and spit on the cross, as well as engage in indecent kissing. The wider order was also charged with homosexual practices, financial corruption, fraud, and the crime of idolatry by worshiping false idols.

At the Council of Vienne in 1312, the Pope issued a series of papal bulls, including ‘Vox in excelso’ which officially dissolved the order and ‘Ad providam’, which turned over most of the Templar assets to the Knights Hospitallers.

Historians believe that Philip’s intent was to stoke contemporary fears of heretics, witches and demons, similar to allegations Philip had used against Pope Boniface VIII to ruin his reputation amongst other rulers across Europe. Many of the accused confessed to the charges under torture and their confessions were used by Pope Clement to issue the papal bull ‘Pastoralis praeeminentiae’, instructing all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest the Templars and seize their holdings.

The remaining Templars were arrested and tried (mostly without conviction) and were absorbed into other military orders or pensioned off for a peaceful monastic life. In Portugal, the order was reconstituted as the Order of Christ in 1319 after King Dinis I refused to support the Templar cleansing (largely for the aid given by the order during the Reconquista and in the reconstruction of Portugal after the wars). The order was secularised in 1789 by Queen Maria I, which today exists as the Military Order of Christ.

De Molay protested and repudiated his confession, but was burned at the stake on the Ile des Javiaux in the Seine, along with countless Templars across Europe who refused to confess. The Pope called for further papal hearings

Paris Temple engraving - 1877



Jade Burial Suits The Jade burial suits are hand-crafted jade suits from the Han Dynasty of China, used for the ceremonial burials of China’s elite and members of the ruling class

Image Credit : Maksim Gulyachik

The Chinese developed a fascination with Jade as early as 6000 BC during the Neolithic period, producing ritual and ornamental tools or weapons as symbols of political power and religious authority. One of the first known centres of Jade manufacturing occurred in the Yangtze River Delta of China by the Liangzhu culture (3300– 2300 BC), sourcing nephrite jade for utilitarian and ceremonial jade items from the now depleted deposits in the Ningshao area. Jade was also heavily sourced in an area of the Liaoning province in Inner Mongolia by the Hongshan culture (4700–2200 BC), producing jade objects in the shapes of pig dragons or zhūlóng and embryo dragons. With the emergence of the Han Dynasty (the second imperial dynasty of China) from 202 BC, jade objects were increasingly embellished with animal and other decorative motifs, whilst low relief work in objects such as the belt-hooks became part of elite costume. Because of its hardness, durability, and subtle translucent colours, jade became associated with Chinese conceptions of the soul, protective qualities, and immortality in the ‘essence’ of


stone (yu zhi, shi zhi jing ye). The association with jade’s longevity is apparent from text by the Chinese historian Sima Qian (145 – 86 BC) which mentions Emperor Wu of Han (157 BC –87 BC), who was described as having a jade cup inscribed with the words “Long Life to the Lord of Men”, and indulged himself with an elixir of jade powder mixed with sweet dew. The Han thought that each person had a two-part soul: the spirit-soul which journeyed to the afterlife paradise of immortals (xian), and the body-soul which remained in its grave or tomb on earth and was only reunited with the spiritsoul through a ritual ceremony. The early Han rulers came to believe that jade would preserve the physical body and the souls attached to it in death, with various burials being found with large and small jade bi discs placed around the deceased. This developed into the practice of being buried in ornate jade burial suits, completely encasing the deceased in thousands of pieces of cut and polished jade sewn together with thread, believing that the suit ensured the body would remain immortal.

It is estimated that it would require hundreds of craftsmen more than 10 years to polish the jade plates required for a single suit, emphasising the power and wealth of the deceased. According to the Hòu Hànshū (Book of the Later Han), the type of thread used was dependent on status. An emperor’s jade suit was threaded with gold, whilst lessor royals and high-ranked nobility with silver, sons and daughters of the lessor with copper, and lowly ranked aristocrats with silk. It is believed that the practice ceased during the reign of the first emperor of the state of Wei in the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280), in fear of tomb robbers who would burn the suits in order to retrieve the gold or silver thread. The mention of jade suit burials in historical text was long suspected as merely legend, until the discovery of two complete jade suits in the tombs of Prince Liu Sheng and his wife Princess Dou Wan in Mancheng, Hebei in 1968, with a total of 20 known jade burial suits being discovered in China to date.

The Roman

Image Credit : Carole Raddato


ADRIAN’S Wall was one of the

largest construction projects in Roman Britain, involving the Legio VI Victrix, Legio X XValeria Victrix and the Legio II Augusta, supported by auxiliary units and the Classis Britannica (Roman Fleet). At military installations across the length of the wall are 59 etchings of male genitalia, otherwise known as a fascinus or fascinum to symbolise the male phallus. The Romans believed that the phallus was the embodiment of a masculine generative power and was one of the tokens of the safety of the state (sacra Romana) that gave protection and good fortune. Phallic imagery can be found across the Roman world in sculptures, mosaics and frescoes. Romans would often carry portable objects such as pendants or bulla to ward off evil from preying on children (in particular young boys), or from the wandering evil eye (malus oculus) of men. The 59 phalli carved on Hadrian’s Wall are defined in architectural terms as incised (39 phalli), relief (19 phalli) or sculpture (1 phallus.

Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most recognised landmarks from the legacy of Roman Britain, scaling the width of the province of Britannia over a length of 73 miles (116km) from Mais at the Solway Firth to Segedunum at Wallsend by Newcastle.

Image Credit : P J Photography

Each architectural type has been grouped into one of nine morphological traits, including: the rocket, the hammer, the kinky-winky, the splitcock, the pointer, he double-dong, running hard, the beast, and the lucky dip (see Un-Roman Sex by Tatiana Ivleva, and Rob Collins). The number of phalli carvings are primarily associated with active military sites and river crossings, such as: Condercum (1 phallus), Banna (3 phalli), Brocolitia (1 phallus), Cilurnum (4 phalli), Coria (8 phalli), Vercovicium (4 phalli), Arbeia (4 phalli), Vindolanda (12 phallus),

Luguvalium (3 phalli), and Alauna (4 phalli). Whilst phalli within the wall structure itself are less frequent, the section between Birdoswald Roman Fort (Banna) and Harrows Scar Milecastle has a concentration of phallic symbols and inscriptions. To the west of turret 49b further phalli are visible on the south face of the stone curtain, pointing towards the direction of the fort with an erection.



Who Were the Sea People?

URING the late

Bronze Age and early Iron Age, civilisations of the Near East, Aegean, Anatolia, North Africa, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean mysteriously collapsed. Historians suggest that the period was violent and culturally disruptive, marking the end of the Hittite Empire, the Mycenaean Kingdoms, the Kassites, the Ugarit, the Amorite states, and the disintegration of the palace economy of the Aegean. Some states survived the collapse (although saw a period of economic and social decline), including the New Kingdom of Egypt, Assyria, Phoenicia and Elam. Historians describe the period as “the worst disaster in ancient history”, with various theories behind the collapse suggesting environmental factors, drought, a general systems collapse, technological changes in warfare, disruption in trade, a volcanic eruption or an elusive warlike people known simply as the Sea People. Virtually nothing is known about the Sea People, with the only evidence of their existence coming from sparse contemporary sources. It has been proposed that the Sea People were a seafaring confederation who may have originated from Western Asia Minor, the Aegean, the Mediterranean islands or Southern Europe. The term “peuples de la mer” (literally meaning “peoples of the sea”) was first concocted by French Egyptologist, Emmanuel


Image Credit : Oliver Denker

de Rougé whilst studying reliefs at Medinet Habu in Egypt. The historical narrative for identifying the Sea People relies primarily from seven Ancient Egyptian sources and some inscriptions from the Hittite civilisation. These sources name nine possible contemporary cultures responsible: the Denyen, the Ekwesh, the Lukka, the Peleset, the Shekelesh, the Sherden, the Teresh, the Tjeker and the Weshesh. Further proposals from narratives in other civilisations includes the Etruscans, Trojans, Philistines, Mycenaean’s and even the Minoans. One such source (the Tanis Stele II) notes an event during the reign

of Ramesses II, where the Nile Delta was attacked by raiders of the Sherden.

invaders during the “Battle of the Delta” around 1175 BC.

An inscription on the Stele notes: “The unruly Sherden, whom no one had ever known how to combat, they came boldly sailing in their warships from the midst of the sea, none being able to withstand them.”

An inscription on the Medinet Habu mortuary temple states: “Now the northern countries, which were in their isles, were quivering in their bodies. They penetrated the channels of the Nile’s mouths. Their nostrils have ceased (to function, so that) their desire is [to] breathe the breath. His majesty is gone forth like a whirlwind against them, fighting on the battlefield like a runner. The dread of him and the terror of him have entered in their bodies; (they are) capsized and overwhelmed in their places. Their hearts are taken away; their soul is flown away. Their weapons are scattered in the sea.”

A narrative from the reign of Ramesses III (2nd Pharaoh of the 20th Dynasty) also records waves of invasions by seafaring peoples, with the most detailed account being found at the Medinet Habu mortuary temple in Thebes. The temple depicts Ramesses III forcing back the

A study on text referencing the Sea People have highlighted hundreds of possible mentions in historical text (see “The ‘Sea Peoples’ in Primary Sources” by Matthew J. Adams), with the elusive Sea People remaining just a footnote in history and as the bogeyman of the Bronze Age.


Yasuke The African Samurai A

LMOST 450 years ago, an

African man in the service of the Jesuit would become the first foreign-born person to obtain the title of samurai in Japan. The Samurai were an officer cast of hereditary military nobility who followed the bushido (meaning the “warrior way”) codes of martial virtues, loosely analogous to the European concept of chivalry. Little is known of Yasuke’s early life, although accounts of him in the “Histoire ecclésiastique des isles et royaumes du Japon” written by Jesuit priest François Solier of the Society of Jesus in 1627, claims that Yasuke was likely from Mozambique, although some sources suggest he was a Dinka from South Sudan or from Ethiopia. In 1579, the Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano, accompanied by Yasuke, arrived in Kyoto to conduct Jesuit missions on an inspection tour.

Image Credit : Olaf Tausch


According to historian Lawrence Winkler, the novelty of an African man caused a sensation amongst the local townsfolk, with an account by the samurai Matsudaira Ietada stating that “his height was he was black, and his skin was like charcoal.” Shortly after their arrival, Yasuke was presented to the Daimyo Oda Nobunaga, a feudal lord who would later overthrow the ruling shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki and become regarded as the first “Great Unifier” of Japan. The “Shinchō kōki”, a chronicle of Lord Nobunaga compiled in the Edo period describes the meeting: “On the 23rd of the 2nd, a black page came from the Christian countries. The man was healthy with a good demeanour and Nobunaga praised Yasuke’s strength. Nobunaga’s nephew gave him a sum of money at this first meeting.”

It is likely that Yasuke could speak or was taught Japanese, endearing him to the attentions of Lord Nobunaga. This endearment led to Yasuke entering Nobunaga’s service and was gifted a short ceremonial katana, bestowing him the rank of samurai with the duty of a retainer. Yasuke served in Nobunaga’s campaigns during the Battle of Tenmokuzani, but in 1582 Nobunaga was betrayed by his general Akechi Mitsuhide in a coup. Akechi’s armies surrounded Nobunaga at the Honnō-ji temple in Kyoto, who chose the path of seppuku, a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. The fate of Yasuke has been speculated by historians. He may have been exiled to a Jesuit mission in Kyoto, but after the death of Nobunaga and Yasuke’s capture there are no further historical text giving mention of the African Samurai.


LL the information we know

about Greek Fire comes from references in Byzantine military manuals and a number of secondary historical sources or contemporary chroniclers of the period. The substance was referred to as “sea fire”, “Roman fire”, “liquid fire”, “sticky fire” or “manufactured fire” and was inextinguishable by water, with some sources suggesting that water actually intensified the flames.

The Mystery of Greek Fire Greek fire was an incendiary weapon invented by the Byzantine Empire during the 7th century AD, giving the Byzantines a technological advantage during naval and land battles.

Incendiary and flaming weapons have been used in warfare as early as the 9th century BC, with combustible substances such as sulfur, petroleum, and bitumen-based mixtures. The first mention of Greek fire comes from the chronicler Theophanes the Confessor (AD 758–760), who credited the invention to the chemist Callinicus of Heliopolis (although Theophanes also documents that the Byzantines used fire-carrying ships equipped with nozzles prior to the arrival of Callinicus to Constantinople). The invention of Greek fire came at a critical period when the Empire was weakened by wars with the Sassanids of Persia. The Byzantines deployed Greek fire against the Arab fleets during the first and second Arab sieges of Constantinople, naval battles against the Saracens, the Rus’ raids on the Bosporus during the Rus’– Byzantine Wars, the Byzantine civil wars and the Sviatoslav’s invasion of Bulgaria. The chief method of deploying Greek fire was by projection through a tube called a siphōn, placed aboard ships or on siege engines called cheirosiphōnes. A handheld portable siphōn was also invented, considered the earliest analogue to a modern flamethrower.

Byzantine military manuals also give mention of grenade-like jars, caltrops, and cranes called gerania that would pour Greek fire onto enemy ships. The Byzantines ascribed the discovery of Greek fire to “divine intervention”, for which the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetos (AD 945–959) would later account in his book De Administrando Imperio that it was “shown and revealed by an angel to the great and holy first Christian emperor Constantine” and that the angel bound him “not to prepare this fire but for Christians, and only in the imperial city.” The only account of the partial composition comes from the Byzantine princess Anna Komnene (AD 1083 – 1150s) who authored the “Alexiad”, providing a description of the weapon

used against the Normans in the Alexiad text: “This fire is made by the following arts: From the pine and certain such evergreen trees, inflammable resin is collected. This is rubbed with sulfur and put into tubes of reed, and is blown by men using it with violent and continuous breath. Then in this manner it meets the fire on the tip and catches light and falls like a fiery whirlwind on the faces of the enemies.” When and how the use of Greek fire was discontinued is not exactly known, but from the Fourth Crusade (AD 1202-1204) onwards the secret of Greek fire appears to have been lost, remaining a mystery that many chemists throughout the centuries have tried to replicate in vain.




The Sacred Band of Thebes The Sacred Band of Thebes was an elite force of shock troops in the Theban army, consisting of 150 paired male lovers that were famed in the classical world for their legendary courage and military strength in battle.

Davide Mauro - CC BY-SA 4.0


HE view of homosexuality or same sex relations in

Ancient Greece was distinguished not by sexual desire, but instead was perceived by the role that each participant played by either being the penetrator, or passively penetrated. The role of the penetrator corresponded with attributes of being dominant, masculine, and of high social status, whilst the passive role was associated with femininity, lower social status, and youth, with the latter often being the subject of social stigma in Greek society. According to the philosopher and historian Plutarch (AD 46 – 119), the Sacred Band consisted of 300 hand-picked men, identified as either an older erastês or a younger passive erômenos, who would exchange sacred vows and worship at the shrine of Iolaus (claimed to be one of the lovers of Heracles) at Thebes. The earliest record of the Sacred Band was in the oration “Against Demosthenes” by the Athenian logographer Dinarchus in 324 BC, but accounts of their full story is given by Plutarch, who likely drew on earlier text from contemporary chroniclers whose works are now lost. Plutarch describes how the Sacred Band was formed by the boeotarch Gorgidas, shortly after the expulsion of the Spartan garrison occupying the Theban citadel of Cadmea. Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives” from the second century AD records: “The sacred band, we are told, was first formed by Gorgidas, of three hundred chosen men, to whom the city furnished exercise and maintenance, and who encamped in the Cadmeia; for which reason, too, they were called the city band; for citadels in those

days were properly called cities. But some say that this band was composed of lovers and beloved.” The Sacred Band was first deployed during the Boeotian War in 378 BC, but gained a legendary reputation for their participation in the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, in which the Sacred Band fought at the head of the Theban column against the Spartans. They remained undefeated until the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, where a Macedonian army under the command of Phillip II and his son Alexander, crushed an alliance of Greek city-states led by Athens and Thebes. In Plutarch’s accounts of the battle: “It is said, moreover, that the band was never beaten, until the battle of Chaeroneia; and when, after the battle, Philip was surveying the dead, and stopped at the place where the three hundred were lying, all where they had faced the long spears of his phalanx, with their armour, and mingled one with another, he was amazed, and on learning that this was the band of lovers and beloved, burst into tears and said: Perish miserably they who think that these men did or suffered aught disgraceful.” The Greek geographer Pausanias (AD 110-180) in his “Description of Greece”, mentions that the Thebans had erected a lion statue near Chaeronea to commemorate the Thebans killed in the battle. During the 19th century, pieces of a large stone lion were rediscovered along with a quadrangular enclosure containing the remains of 254 men, that many historians argue is the final resting place of the fallen soldiers from the Sacred Band of Thebes.




HE Gladiatrix were the female equivalent of the

Roman gladiator, that fought other Gladiatrix or wild animals during rare occurrences in arena games and festivals.

There are no defining Latin words from the Roman period for a Gladiatrix (which is a modern invention), and documented accounts or historical evidence is limited. To the Romans, combat involving a Gladiatrix was a novel event (although contemporary accounts often report in a derogatory manner), in which the combatant would most likely be pitted against fighters of similar skill and capacity. According to the Roman poet, Decimus Junius Juvenalis, the Gladiatrix trained for gladiatura using the same training methods and weapons as men, however, there is no evidence to support a dedicated female ludus (gladiator school). Juvenalis also implies that women of all classes, both high class (feminae), and common women (mulieres) trained in gladiatura, but it seems unlikely that a feminae would fight in the arena due to the stigma attached. Roman society rarely cared about the actions of a mulieres, so appearing on stage as a performer (ludi), or in the arena would have little social scorn, or was unlikely to bring one’s family into disrepute. Evidence of this can be found in an inscription at Ostia Antica, which marks the arena games held in the 2nd century AD. The inscription refers to a local magistrate’s provision of “women for the sword”, which defines them as mulieres rather than feminae.

In recounting the Neronian games, Publius Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56-120) states that “Many ladies of distinction, however, and senators, disgraced themselves by appearing in the amphitheater”. In terms of supporting physical evidence, an elaborate funeral pyre was excavated from Roman London (Londinium) containing rich grave goods and oil lamps. A forensic examination of bone fragments revealed that the individual was a woman in her twenties. Archaeologists also uncovered lamps depicting a fallen gladiator and gods associated to the sport, along with pinecones (traditionally burned at the arena for purification), leading to the proposition that the deceased was a Gladiatrix, referred to in UK media as “Gladiator Girl”. Another example is the Halicarnassus Relief, a 1st or 2nd century AD depiction from Bodrum in Turkey that commemorates two female Gladiatrix being released from service. Both of the figures appear bareheaded, equipped with a greave, loincloth, belt, rectangular shield, dagger and manica (arm protection). By AD 200, Emperor Septimius Severus witnessed a gymnastic (and possibly a Gladiatrix) contest, resulting in a ban of all women of either class from the arena. Cassius Dio accounts that “women took part, vying with one another most fiercely, with the result that jokes were made about other very distinguished women as well. Therefore, it was henceforth forbidden for any woman, no matter what her origin, to fight in single combat”.

Image Credit : Luis Louro

Written sources include a contemporary account by the historian and chronicler, Cassius Dio (AD 155-235), who writes of a festival held in honour of Emperor Nero’s mother, in which women “drove horses, killed wild beasts and fought as gladiators, some willingly, some against their will”. Cassius also mentions that “Often he [referring to Emperor Domitian] would conduct the games also at night, and sometimes he would pit dwarfs and women against each other.”


THE Knights Templar, also known as the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of

Image Credit : Digital Storm





REENLAND, or Groenland in Old Norse, was settled by Norwegian and Icelandic explorers during the 10th century AD, where two major Viking settlements emerged until their mysterious abandonment.

According to a medieval text called the Landnámabók, translated as “Book of Settlements”, Greenland was supposedly first sighted by Gunnbjörn Ulfsson, also known as Gunnbjörn Ulf-Krakuson during the early 10th century AD when his ship was blown off course. In AD 978, Snæbjörn galti Hólmsteinsson is said to have set sail for Greenland with about two dozen companions, and settled on the islands of Gunnbjarnar Skerries, a small group of islands lying off the coast of Greenland. A map by Johannes Ruysch from AD 1507 described the landscape as “completely burned up” (possibly by volcanic activity). After spending a terrible winter on the islands, the settlers murdered Snæbjörn and his foster father, abandoning the settlement and returning to Iceland. The first successful settlement of Greenland was by Erik Thorvaldsson, otherwise known as Erik the Red. According to the sagas, the Icelanders had exiled Erik during an assembly of the Althing for three years as punishment for Erik killing Eyiolf. Erik went in search of land that had been reported to lie to the north and reached the coastline of Greenland, spending three years of his exile exploring the new land. Upon returning to Iceland, he is said to have brought with him stories of “Greenland”, an auspiciously named land in order to sound more appealing than “Iceland” to lure potential settlers. Erik returned to Greenland in AD 985 or 986 with a large number of colonists, who established two colonies on the southwest coast: The Eastern Settlement or Eystribyggð, in what is now Qaqortoq, and the Western Settlement or Vestribygð close to present-day Nuuk. A later Middle Settlement emerged in what is now Ivittuut,

but this is generally considered to be associated with an expansion from the Eastern Settlement. According to legend, Erik had planned to journey with his son Leif Erikson (who is believed to have established a Norse settlement at Vinland), but Erik fell off his horse on his way to the ship. He later died from a pandemic that killed many of the island’s colonists in the winter after his son’s departure. At the peak, the settlements are estimated to have had a combined population of between 2,000-10,000 inhabitants (sources differ), with archaeologists identifying the ruins of approximately 620 farmsteads spread across Greenland’s south-western fjords. The settlers shared the island with the late Dorset culture who lived in the northern and western parts of Greenland, and later with the Thule culture (who the Norsemen called the Skræling) that entered from the north around AD 1300 after migrating from Alaska. In AD 1126, the Roman Catholic Church founded a diocese at Garðar in the Eastern Settlement at present-day Igaliku which was subject to the Norwegian archdiocese of Nidaros and constructed several churches. By AD 1261, the Greenlanders had accepted rule by the King of Norway, entering into a union with the Kingdom of Denmark in AD 1380. The settlements continued to prosper until the 14th century AD, where they entered a period of decline until their abandonment in the 15th century AD. Various theories have been proposed to explain the abandonment, with the most prominent being gradual climate change, loss of contact and support from Denmark, plague, failing agriculture, economic factors, or conflicts with the Inuit peoples. The last written record from the Viking Greenlanders dates from AD 1408, which documents a marriage between Thorstein Olafsson and Sigrid Björnsdóttirin. 31



“ludi circenes” was one of the foremost sports of the Roman and Byzantine Empire, where competing teams would race either in four-horse chariots (quadrigae), or two-horse chariots (bigae) around a hippodrome or circus. The Romans imitated the sport from the ancient Greeks, turning the races into a grand spectator event in venues like the Circus Maximus in Rome and the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Once the cloth known as a “mappa” was dropped, the charioteers jostled to move in front of each other in an attempt to cause their opponents to crash into the central “spinae”, whilst being the first to complete 7 laps of the race (later reduced to 5).

How Chariot Racing Teams Saved Constantinople from the Huns 32

The races created a rivalry between spectators who passionately supported their favoured chariot team (distinguished by a different colour: red, white, blue, and green), often leading to violence between the supporters of the competing factions. The races also became heavily politicised, both through the associations of social and religious ideas, but also through the direct patronage and management by wealthy benefactors or state officials. With the collapse of the Western Empire, the races faded along with

Image Credit : Fernando Cortes

the decline of Rome, but in the Eastern Empire the races continued to thrive and were celebrated on a much grander scale. To the Byzantines, the races were seen as a way to reinforce social class and political power, and for the Emperor a focal event to bring his subjects together in celebration. In AD 447 to 448, the Constantinian and Theodosian walls of Constantinople were severely damaged by a series of earthquakes. The city was already under threat of invasion by the Huns led by their leader Attila.

their section before the other, winning the honour of victory for their team.

and Constantinople almost came into danger and most men fled from it.”

The Blue team worked the stretch of walls from the Gate of Blachernae to the Gate of Myriandrion, and the Green team from there to the Sea of Marmara.

Hearing of the completion of the walls, the Huns abandoned their plans for conquest of Constantinople and instead turned their attentions further west into the Balkans, capturing many Byzantine cities and settlements.

In just sixty days, the great walls of Constantinople were restored and the defensive moat cleaned of debris. Callinicus, in his “Life of Saint Hypatius” wrote: “The barbarian nation of the Huns, which was in Thrace, became so great that more than a hundred cities were captured,

Theodosius was forced to sue for peace, leaving Attila to focus on invading the former lands of the Western Roman Empire.

Image Credit : Heracles Kritikos

Theodosius II ordered the praetorian prefect, Constantine Flavius, to quickly repair the walls (that previously took nine years to build). Realising the monumental task before him, Constantine Flavius reached out to the factions of the chariot teams for aid, gathering a work force of some 16,000 supporters. Each faction was tasked with a stretch of wall, working in competition to complete 33

The siege Of Masada T

HE Siege of Masada was one of

he final chapters during the First Jewish-Roman War, where Sicarrii rebels and their families were besieged in the mountain palace/fortress of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea in Israel. The First Jewish-Roman War, also called the Great Revolt, was the first of several uprisings by the Jewish population of Judea against the Roman Empire. The seeds of the revolt were in response to increasing religious tensions and high taxation that caused attacks against Roman citizens. In response, the Roman Governor plundered the Second Temple and launched raids to arrest senior Jewish political and religious figures. This escalated into a wide-scale rebellion, resulting in the Roman garrison of Judea being quickly overrun by the rebels and the abandonment of Jerusalem by

Image Credit : Goran Vrhovac


the pro-Roman King Herod Agrippa II and his officials. At the same time, the fortress of Masada was taken by the Sicarii (meaning “dagger-man”), a splinter group of the Jewish Zealots and one of the earliest organised groups that specialised in the act of assassination. The Romans mobilised four Legions (supported by forces of Agrippa) to subdue the rebellion and punish the Jewish people as an example to others that might follow similar acts of insurrection against the Roman Empire. The legions reached Jerusalem in AD 70, placing the city under siege for four months. After several battles the entire city and the Second Temple was destroyed, with contemporary historian Titus Flavius Josephus stating: “Jerusalem … was so thoroughly razed to the ground by those that demolished it to its foundations, that nothing was left that could ever persuade visitors that it had once been a place of habitation.” In AD 72, the legion X Fretensis, commanded by Lucius Flavius Silva marched on Masada to break one of the last strongholds of resistance. The legion was supported by several auxiliary units and Jewish prisoners of war from the uprising (totalling some 15,000 men and women according to Josephus’s accounts).

The Romans encircled Masada with a circumvallation siege wall running for 6.8 miles around the mountain plateau, supported by a series of fortified encampments and temporary forts for the Roman soldiers. After several attempts to breach Masada’s defences, the Romans constructed a giant siege ramp scaling the western side of the fortress to a height of 61 metres. A siege tower and battering ram was slowly moved up the ramp, breaching the fortress walls on April 16 AD 73. What follows has divided historians and archaeologists. According to Josephus: “it [was] by the will of God, and by necessity, that [they, the Sicarrii] are to die” and that the defenders drew lots and killed each other in turn, down to the last man (as Judaism prohibits suicide). He further stated that their leader, Eleazar ben Ya’ir’s, ordered all provisions to be destroyed, to demonstrate to the Romans that they defiantly chose death over slavery.



St. Brice’s Day refers to an event that took place in Saxon England under the rule of Æthelred II, also known as “Æthelred the Unready”, that led to the extermination of Danes in the English realm.


THELRED was the son of King

Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth, having been crowned king in AD 978 at the young age of between 9 to 12 years old.

During his early kingship, England was subjected to repeated raids by Danes who pillaged the coastlines of Hampshire, Thanet, Cheshire, Devon, Dorset and Cornwall. The raiding parties were given shelter in Norman courts as a base to operate, that led to Pope John XV to ratify a peace agreement at Rouen in AD 991 to prevent hostilities that could lead to war between the two kingdoms. That did little to deter the Danes, who sent a sizeable Danish fleet that same year against the South East of England, resulting in a defeat of Saxon forces at the Battle of Maldon in the Blackwater Estuary. Despite attempts to pay a tribute of a gafol of £10,000 to the Danes, the invading army continued to ravage the English coast and sailed up the Thames estuary towards London. Æthelred met with the Danish leaders and signed an uneasy accord

granting lands to settle, a payment of £22,000 of gold and silver to ensure an end to hostilities, and employment as mercenaries in the king’s service. After a brief period of peace, the Danes (including the king’s mercenaries) started to raid again in AD 997, with successive raids through to AD 1001 being paid off with tributes that became known as a Danegeld, ‘Dane-payment’. Æthelred’s court advised the king that the Danes “would faithlessly take his life, and then all his councillors, and possess his kingdom afterwards”. This led to a royal mandate that the AngloSaxon Chronicles records: “In that year the king ordered to be slain all the Danish men who were in England – this was done on St Brice’s Day (13th November)”. The extent of Danish killings is unknown, with some scholars suggesting that the intended target was the frontier Danish settlements and the mercenaries who had turned on the king. Among those thought to have been killed is Gunhilde, who may have been the sister of Sweyn Forkbeard King of Denmark) along with her husband Pallig Tokesen and the Danish Ealdorman

of Devonshire. The massacre was justified by Æthelred in a royal charter of AD 1004, explaining the need to rebuild St Frideswide’s Church in Oxford (now Christ Church Cathedral): “For it is fully agreed that to all dwelling in this country it will be well known that, since a decree was sent out by me with the counsel of my leading men and magnates, to the effect that all the Danes who had sprung up in this island, sprouting like cockle amongst the wheat, were to be destroyed by a most just extermination, and thus this decree was to be put into effect even as far as death, those Danes who dwelt in the afore-mentioned town, striving to escape death, entered this sanctuary of Christ, having broken by force the doors and bolts, and resolved to make refuge and defence for themselves therein against the people of the town and the suburbs; but when all the people in pursuit strove, forced by necessity, to drive them out, and could not, they set fire to the planks and burnt, as it seems, this church with its ornaments and its books. Afterwards, with God’s aid, it was renewed by me.”




at Dunstable Priory T

HE Priory Church of St Peter (Dunstable Priory)

marries his brother’s wife, the couple will be childless”.

is the remaining nave of a former Augustinian priory church and monastery, located within the Diocese of St Albans in the town of Dunstable, England.

As Catherine’s nephew was Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, Pope Clement VII would not accede to Henry’s wishes and forbade Henry to marry again before a decision was given in Rome.

The Augustinian priory of Dunstable was founded in the late 12th century AD by King Henry I (also known as Henry Beauclerc), who also granted the priory all such liberties and rights in the town of Dunstable and a quarry at Totternhoe. Around the same time, Henry also constructed a royal palace known as Kingsbury directly opposite the priory on, or near the site where the Old Palace Lodge now stands in Church Street. The palace was mainly used by Henry for celebrating Christmas, with consecutive monarchs gifting the palace for the disposal of the priory. The priory attracted many pilgrims as they made their way to the shrine of Alban, and over the following centuries expanded to include several monastic buildings consisting of a dormitory, an infirmary, a hostel, stables, workshops, bakehouse, brewhouse and buttery. It was on the 23rd May 1533 that the priory would be witness to an event so significant in English history, that it would shape the direction and religious identity of the English church. Henry VIII had asked the Catholic Church to invalidate his marriage to Catherine of Aragon on the grounds that their marriage had been wrong in the eyes of God. Catherine had previously been married to Henry’s older brother Arthur Tudor, which Henry used as an argument for an annulment through an interpretation of the bible, that “if a man

In response, Henry instructed Archbishop Cranmer, together with the bishops of Winchester, London, Bath and Lincoln to judge their royal master’s “grete and weightie cause”. The bishops met in the Lady Chapel of the conventual church at Dunstable Priory, agreeing to the pronouncement that the marriage between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon to be null and void. In 1534, Henry also made himself the supreme head of the church in his lands by the Act of Supremacy and commissioned the Valor Ecclesiasticus to survey the finances of the church in England, Wales and English controlled parts of Ireland. This resulted in the dissolution of the monasteries to appropriate their income, assets and lands to be sold off for the benefit of the crown. Although the church and priory at Dunstable were closed in January 1540, they had initially survived the destruction by the dissolution, as the intention was to create a Holy See at Dunstable with the priory church serving as its cathedral. However, the scheme for the creation of new bishoprics and the elevation of Dunstable was abandoned, and the priory (except for the parochial nave which still stands) was plundered for its assets and left in ruins.


Legio IX Hispana

The Lost Roman Legion One of the most debated mysteries from the Roman period involves the disappearance of the Legio IX Hispana, a legion of the Imperial Roman Army that supposedly vanished sometime after AD 120.


EGIO IX Hispana was first recorded being active during the 1st century BC, with the 9th participating

during the siege of Asculum in the Social War, also called the Italian or Marsic War. The legion was incorporated into the forces commanded by Julius Caesar during the Gallic Wars and the Great Roman Civil War (also called Caesar’s Civil War), before being disbanded and the veterans awarded lands in the historical region of Picenum. The veterans were then recalled into service by Gaius Octavius (soon to be Caesar Augustus) to campaign against a rebellion orchestrated by Sextus Pompeius Magnus Pius after the defeat of Cassius and Brutus. The 9th remained with Octavius during his war against Mark Antony in 31 BC, supporting his rule as the Republic transitioned into an Empire. The name “Hispana”, meaning “stationed in Hispania” probably dates from around this period when the 9th was sent to campaign against the Cantabrians during the Cantabrian Wars, the final stage of a two-century long conquest of Hispania. In AD 43, the Roman invasion of Britannia was led by Emperor Claudius and General Aulus Plautius. Historical accounts are inconclusive as to whether the 9th was involved in the initial conquest, but accounts show the 9th fought against Caratacus of the Catuvellauni tribe at Caer Caradoc in


present-day Shropshire, and garrisoned the Fort of Lindum Colonia which is now the City of Lincoln in Lincolnshire. The 9th suffered their first major defeat in Britannia during the rebellion orchestrated by Boudica at the Battle of Camulodunum around AD 60 or 61.

The fate of the legion has been the subject of considerable research and speculation. One theory proposes that the legion was wiped out campaigning in Northern Britain after AD 108 by the northern tribes, a theory which was popularised in a novel called “The Eagle of the Ninth”. This theory is now contested by modern scholars after the discovery of successive inscriptions of IX Hispana at the Roman fortress of Noviomagus Batavorum in Nijmegen (Netherlands). The inscriptions suggest that elements of the 9th were stationed there from AD 120, although some scholars argue that this was simply a detachment of the 9th and not the whole legion. Image Credit : Radek Hájek

According to the 19th-century German classicist Theodor Mommsen, the 9th was wiped out during Brigante raids against A large vexillation of the Legio IX Hispana

Eboracum, with Mommsen stating

was destroyed by the rebel tribes whilst

“under Hadrian there was a terrible

attempting to relieve the besieged colonia of

catastrophe here, apparently an attack on

Camulodunum (Colchester, Essex).

the fortress of Eboracum and the annihilation of the legion stationed there,

With the arrival of Quintus Petillius Cerialis

the very same 9th that had fought so

Caesius Rufus as the governor of Britannia a

unluckily in the Boudican revolt.”

decade later, the 9th was deployed to the North to campaign against the Brigantes, establishing

Other theories propose that the 9th

a new military fortress (castra) called

suffered a major defeat during the Second

Eboracum which is now the City of York.

Jewish Revolt in AD 132, with another theory suggesting that the 9th was wiped out

Elements of the 9th were involved in

during the Parthian War (AD 161–166)

other theatres of war across the Empire,

against King Vologases IV, where a

with contemporary records showing that

Parthian army led by the general

a detachment was battling with the Chatti

Chosroes surrounded and annihilated an

tribe near Mainz in present-day Germany,

unspecified Roman legion in Armenia.

and a force being sent to subdue the tribes of Caledonia (Scotland) around AD 82 to

The fate of the 9th is one that continues

83 under the command of Gnaeus Julius

to elude historians and archaeologists,


bringing about the image of a legion marching to its doom as portrayed in the

The last attested record of the 9th in

recent movies “The Centurion” or “The Eagle”.

Britannia is noted in the rebuilding of Eboracum in AD 108 by a stone tablet.

Was the legion simply disbanded into

However, by the reign of Marcus Aurelius

smaller detachments to fortify outposts of

(reigned AD 161-180) the 9th was no longer

the Empire, or was one of Rome’s most

listed on the strength of the Roman army and

glorified legions wiped out in one last

had vanished from all military lists during

battle and struck from the annals of

the reign of Septimius Severus (reigned AD

Roman history?


Image Credit : Radek Hájek





Nicolas rewards the well-behaved with gifts, children who misbehaved are visited by Krampus (sometimes with Saint Nicolas), a horned, anthropomorphic figure described as a “half goat, half demon” on Krampus Night or Krampusnacht (December 5th). Krampus derived from the German word “krampen” (meaning claw) has appeared in various depictions - most commonly as a hairy creature with cloven hooves, the horns of a goat and a large snake-like tongue. In some depictions, he is presented carrying chains thought to symbolise the binding of the Devil by the Christian Church. Naughty children would find themselves beaten with birch branches or a whip, with the most sinful being snatched away in a sack or basket with the intent to devour, drown, torture, or carry back to hell.

Around Christmastime, many European countries are celebrating Saint Nicholas Day, usually observed on the 6th of December for the feast day of Nicholas of Myra.

Folklorists have postulated that Krampus was associated with the son of Hell in North mythology, or may date to pre-Germanic paganism in remote mountain valleys of Austria as a custom to cast out winter and its evil spirits, but these beliefs most likely emerged from an origin story deliberately disseminated by folklorists in the twentieth century.

Saint Nicolas had many miracles attributed to his intercession, but is also known for his generous practice of gift giving that gave rise to the traditional model of Santa Claus (“Saint Nick”) through Sinterklaas.

The suggested pagan association may stem from an intermingle with the Perchtenlauf that abounded during the sevententh and eighteenth centuries.


The Perchtenlauf was a procession where people dressed as a devilish two-legged humanoid goat figure known as Percht (a goddess in Alpine paganism in the Upper German and Austrian regions of the Alps). The earliest mention of the Percht comes from the Bavarian town of Diessen in AD 1583, where those who ‘hunted the Percht’ received a monetary reward.

the Fatherland’s Front (Vaterländische Front) banned the Krampus tradition, even distributing pamphlets titled “Krampus is an Evil Man”.

where young men dressed as Krampus parade through the streets, although the tradition has been arguably appropriated for celebration, even being popularised in the United States.

Krampus is still celebrated today in traditional parades known as the Krampuslauf (English: Krampus run),

Like Krampus, Percht would reward children with a small silver coin for good behaviour, but bad behaviour resulted in disembowelment and being stuffed with straw and pebbles. Krampus rose in popularity during the late nineteenth century in Austria-Hungary, often featured in European greeting cards that was sometimes introduced with Gruß vom Krampus “Greetings from Krampus”. This practice would become prohibited in the aftermath of the 1932 election in Austria, when the Dollfuss regime under

Image Credit : Ralf Siemieniec




RACULA, published in 1897 by the Irish Author Bram Stoker introduced audiences to the infamous Count and his dark world of sired vampire minions.


Stokers’ work would go on to influence a cultural fascination and establish the conventions of vampire fantasy that we’ve come to popularise across various media. Before the story of “Dracula” was concocted, the concept of a blood sucking spirit or demon consuming human flesh was told in the mythology and folktales of almost every civilisation through the centuries. Stoker would spend several years researching Central and East European folklore for mythological stories on the supernatural. One of the earliest vampiric depictions he encountered stems from cuneiform texts by the Akkadians, Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians, where they referred to demonic figures such as the Lilu and Lilitu. This myth became synonymous in Jewish folklore in the Babylonian Talmud, giving rise to the demon “Lilith” (translated as “night creature”) around 300-500 AD. She would often be depicted as a sexually wanton demon who steals babies in the 42

night to feast on their blood. Lilith would also appear as Adam’s first wife in the Alphabet of Sirach written between AD 700 to AD 100.

“The Land Beyond the Forest (1890)” and essay “Transylvania Superstitions” by Emily Gerard which introduced Stoker to the term “Nosferatu”.

It wasn’t until the late 17th and 18th century that the folklore for vampires as we imagine began to be told in the verbal traditions and lore of many European ethnic groups.

According to the 1972 book “In Search of Dracula”, Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally championed a theory (that was originally proposed by Basil Kirtley) that Stoker’s research culminated in him basing Dracula on the Voivode of Wallachia, Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Tepes.

They were described as the revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, witches or corpses, possessed by a malevolent spirit or the victim of a vampiric attack who has turned. During the 18th century, vampire sightings across Eastern Europe had reached its peak, with frequent exhumations and the practice of staking to kill potential revenants. This period was commonly referred to as the “18th-Century Vampire Controversy”. 18th century poetry and literature reflect the public hysteria of the time with poems like The Vampire (1748) by Heinrich August Ossenfelder and stories such as John Polidori’s “The Vampyre” (1819), featuring the vampire Lord Ruthven that culminated in Stokers pre-eminent vampire novel. The catalyst for Stoker’s work is argued to stem from the tales regaled by the Hungarian-Jewish writer, Ármin Vámbéry, whilst another arguable source is the book

The scholars had connected the two figures through a matching biographical namesake. Both Count Dracula and Vlad III Dracula also shared similarities in their personal clashes with the neighbouring Ottomans, highlighted during a conversation in Chapter 3 of the book. In this conversation, Dracula refers to the Voivode of the Dracula race who fought against the Turks after the defeat in the Battle of Kosovo: “Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed! Woe was it that his own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them! Was it not this Dracula, indeed, who inspired that other of his race who in a later age again and again brought his forces over the great river

into Turkey-land; who, when he was beaten back, came again, and again, though he had to come alone from the bloody field where his troops were being slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph!” This is reinforced in chapter 18 when the character, Professor Van Helsing, referred to a letter from his friend Arminius: “He must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk, over the great river on the very frontier of Turkey-land”.

Vlad III Dracula lad III Dracula was the Voivode V of Wallachia, having lived between AD 1428-1431. He is often considered one of the most important rulers in Wallachian history and a national hero of Romania to this day. The second son of Vlad Dracul, (a member of the Order of the Dragons called the Drăculești), Vlad III and his brother were known as “Dracula”, translated as “son of Dracul”.



Vlad Dracul was supplanted and murdered by Vladislav II in AD 1447, which led to a series of successive wars by Vlad III to retake the throne of Wallachia. In AD 1456, Vlad III defeated Vladislav II and started to strengthen his hold of the region. He began by purging the Wallachian Boyers (nobility of the Danubian Principalities) who he believed

played a role in the death of his father and brother.

and plundered the villages around Brașov and Sibiu.

Laonikos Chalkokondyles’s chronicles state that Vlad “quickly effected a great change and utterly revolutionised the affairs of Wallachia” through granting the “money, property, and other goods” of his victims to his retainers.

German propaganda tells stories of Vlad ordering all the inhabitants to Wallachia and had them impaled or burnt alive.

He then turned his attentions to the Transylvanian Saxons who supported his enemies

The real threat to Vlad and his nation was the neighbouring Ottoman Empire. Vlad had failed to pay the jizya (tax on non-Muslims) to Sultan Mehmed II for the past three years, culminating in Vlad taking the offensive. Vlad campaigned across the Danube by attacking villages and stormed the fortress of Giurgiu, resulting in the death of over 23,000 Turks and Bulgarians. Having learned of Vlad’s invasion, Mehmed raised an

army of more than 150,000 strong with the objective to conquer Wallachia and annex it to his empire. The two leaders fought a series of skirmishes, culminating in a failed night attack near the city of Târgoviște by Vlad in an attempt to kill Mehmed. Mehmed proceeded to march on the city finding little resistance, but after leaving Târgoviște he discovered the horrific remains of 23,844 impaled Turkish prisoners arranged in concentric circles. During his reign, Vlad is said to have also killed 40,000 to 100,000 European civilians (political rivals, criminals and anyone that he considered “useless to humanity”), mainly by impaling. 43

For the character concept and appearance of Dracula, Stoker would have drawn on his real-life experiences and acquaintances for inspiration. Stoker was a deeply private man, but his intense adoration of actors such as Walt Whitman, Henry Irving, Hall Caine and shared interests with Oscar Wilde, as well as the homoerotic aspects of Dracula have led to scholarly speculation that he was a repressed homosexual who used his fiction as an outlet for his sexual frustrations. This is certainly emphasised in the book, “From the Shadow of ‘Dracula’” by Paul Murray, who describes ‘The powerful sexual charge which runs through Dracula has caught the attention of modern commentators, who see in it deviant and taboo forms of sexuality, including rape, incest, adultery, oral sex, group sex, sex during menstruation, bestiality, paedophilia, venereal disease and voyeurism, among other things.

As convincing as the Vlad III theory suggests, this was always contested by Stoker’s son, Irving Stoke, who claimed that the creation of Dracula was due to a nightmarish dream his father had after eating dressed crab. Further footnotes copied from Wilkinson’s book by Stoker state that “DRACULA in Wallachian language means DEVIL.” This footnote further explained that “Wallachians gave the name Dracula to people who were especially courageous, cruel, or cunning”. They never mention the name of Vlad III, the connection to the order of the dragons, nor that Vlad III’s life was a direct source of inspiration for Stoker despite previous assumptions. Another theory by Barbara Belford argues that Stoker’s close friend and employer, the actor Sir Henry Irving (1838-1905) 44

was actually Stokers inspiration for the character traits of Dracula. In “Bram Stoker: A Biography of the Author of Dracula,” Barbara Belford connects the venerated actor to the fictional vampire, describing Irving as an egotist, a striking, mesmerising figure, and a demanding employer. Belford notes, “Somewhere in the creative process, Dracula became a sinister caricature of Irving as mesmerist and depleter, an artist draining those about him to feed his ego. It was a stunning but avenging tribute.” So who is the real Dracula? We have no definitive evidence, but most scholars generally agree that the idea of Dracula stems from the stories of Vlad III, or at least from the history of the Voivodes of Wallachia where Stoker borrowed scraps of miscellaneous information in his research.

As for Irving, the role of Count Dracula in a failed stage play reading was not one that Henry Irving wanted. When Stoker asked him if he liked the reading, Irving’s response was “Dreadful.” Six years later, Irving died, but Stoker would describe his admiration as “So great was the magnetism of his genius, so profound was the sense of his dominancy, that I sat spellbound” for which parallels to the magical, dominating character of Count Dracula can certainly be compared. Image Credit : Sebastian Photography



Dunwich in Suffolk, England, was an important port and trading centre, until storms and coastal erosion engulfed the town, making it now the largest underwater medieval site in Europe.


ARLY settlement in the area dates from the Roman period, with the construction of a late Roman coastal fort and a

Dunwich from the Malet family, allowing the chartering of the yearly fee-farm payments to be directed towards the crown. Between the 11th and early 13th century AD,

proposed associated settlement.

Dunwich’s economy and population boomed

Sparse remains discovered in the vicinity

industry in the North Sea. The town emerged

includes a Roman tumulus and masonry trawled from the nearby seabed, in addition to Roman material re-purposed for the construction of Greyfriars monastery and the chapel at Minsmere. During this period, four major Roman roads appear to converge on Dunwich, suggesting that it was an important

through the development of the marine fishing as England’s 6th wealthiest commercial centre and trading port, with extensive trade networks exporting grain, salt, cloth and wool to ports across Europe. Contemporary accounts described Dunwich as a “Towne of good note abounding with

site even during Roman times.

much riches and sundry kind of merchandise”.

According to the Historia ecclesiastica, written

on par with medieval London, with an

by Bede the Venerable, an Anglo-Saxon settlement at Dunmoc (it is claimed that Dommoc is an older name-form of Dunwich, although this is the subject of scholarly debate) became the capital of the Angles under King

At its peak, Dunwich covered an area almost estimated population of between 3,000 to 5,000 inhabitants. Dunwich was planned along four main streets – Bridgegate, Middlegate, Gildengate

Sigebert early in the 7th century AD.

and Southgate – connecting to a market

Sigebert gave Felix of Burgundy a “see” at

ecclesiastical buildings of which two still

Dunmoc, and established the seat of the Anglo-

remain – the Greyfriars monastery, and St James Chapel connected to the Leper Hospital.

After the Norman conquest of England in AD

By the 13th century AD, a shingle split known

of the “Great Survey” of England, gives mention to the title of “Lord of Dunwich”, and lands being granted to William Malet by William the

as Kingsholme began to partially block the port, preventing large merchant vessels from using the town as an import/export destination hub.


Combined with severe flooding events, many

Upon the accession of Henry I in AD 1101, the

further away from the coast or leave Dunwich

prosperity of the town led to the confiscation of

A national economic crisis and the Black Death in AD 1348 exacerbated a rapid drop in the town’s economy and the abandonment by many of the inhabitants. One of the final lasting blows to Dunwich was the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the 16th century AD. The loss of income generated by the monastic complexes of Greyfriars, Blackfriars and the Templar church of St Marys, meant that there was little revenue left to maintain coastal defences. Over the following centuries, long-shore drift erosion proceeded in progressively invading the town, eventually wiping almost every trace of Dunwich from the Suffolk coastline.

square, town hall, a mint and at least eighteen

Saxon bishops in the Kingdom of East Anglia.

1066, the Domesday book, a manuscript record

Severe coastal storms led to the erosion of the Suffolk coastline, resulting in parts of the town to be relocated (evidenced by the Greyfriars monastery which was originally built on the town’s east side, but relocated to the western town boundary).

of the town’s population began to relocate altogether.

As a legacy of its previous significance, the parliamentary constituency of Dunwich retained the right to send two members to Parliament as one of Britain’s most notorious rotten boroughs until the Reform Act of 1832. In more recent years, an acoustic imaging study by the University of Southampton and the Touching the Tide project has revealed the ruins of churches, shipwrecks and hundreds of medieval buildings, submerged up to 10 metres beneath the waves.


Sarmizegetusa Regia

The Mountain Capital of the Dacians S

ARMIZEGETUSA Regia was the capital and

political centre of the Dacians, located in the Orăştie Mountains of the Grădiștea Muncelului Natural Park in present-day Romania.

The Dacians were a Thracian people who inhabited the cultural region of Dacia, an area that incorporated parts of modern Romania, Moldova, as well as smaller parts of Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Ukraine. During the reign of the Thracian King Burebista (82/61 BC to 45/44 BC), the Getae and Dacian tribes were unified into the Dacian Kingdom, with the capital being moved to Sarmizegetusa Regia (possibly from the Geto-Dacian stronghold at Argedava).

During the First Dacian War in AD 102, Dacia was invaded by the Emperor Trajan as part of the Roman eastward expansion. The Dacians were defeated and made concessions by surrendering the territories of Banat, Tara Haţegului, Oltenia, and Muntenia in the region south-west of Transylvania. During the years AD 103–105, the Romans claimed that the Dacians failed to respect the peace conditions of their surrender, resulting in Sarmizegetusa Regia being sacked and burned in AD 106 (which is recorded on Trajan’s Column in Rome). The Romans established a military garrison at Sarmizegetusa Regia and moved the capital of Roman Dacia 40 km from the ruined Dacian capital, naming it – Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa.

Sarmizegetusa Regia was situated at an elevation of 1200 metres near a mountain summit, serving as a nucleus of a strategic defensive system that included the fortresses of Costești-Blidaru, Piatra Roșie, Costeşti-Cetățuie, Căpâlna and Băniţa. The stronghold was built over five terraces, covering an area of 7.4 acres that is split into a ceremonial zone, a residential district and a fortress for state and civic functions. The ceremonial zone contained some of the largest Dacian sanctuaries, consisting of a number of rectangular temples, an altar grouped on two large terraces and a circular sanctuary with a setting of timber posts in the shape of the letter D. The sanctuary is surrounded by a low stone kerb possibly used for astronomical observations or as a solar calendar. Archaeological findings suggest that the Dacian god Zalmoxis and his chief priest played a central role in Dacian religious worship at Sarmizegetusa Regia, a deity who Herodotus gives mention in his Histories Book IV, 93–96: “the Getae are the bravest of the Thracians and the most just. They believe they are immortal forever living in the following sense: they think they do not die and that the one who dies joins Zalmoxis, a divine being; some call this same divine being Gebeleizis. Every four years, they send a messenger to Zalmoxis, who is chosen by chance.”

Image Credit : Balate Dorin


Image Credit : Stefan Sorean



The Abandoned Medieval City Ani is a ruined medieval city and the former capital of the Bagratid Armenian kingdom, located in the Eastern Anatolia region of the Kars province in present day Turkey. HE Bagratid Kingdom was founded by Ashot I Bagratuni of the Bagratuni dynasty around AD 880 following centuries of Abbasid rule.


The kingdom emerged as a buffer state between the Byzantine Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate, centred on the capital city of Ani. The earliest description of Ani comes from the 5th-6th century Armenian chronicler Ghazar Parpetsi, who gives mention of a hilltop fortress constructed by the Kamsarakan House (one of the Seven Great Houses of Iran closely associated to the Arsacids). The Kamsarakan ruled over “two princely states” in the historic region of Ayrarat-Arsharunik, but were forced to sell their princedoms (including Ani) to the Bagratids after a failed insurrection against the Abbasids during the 8th century AD. In AD 961, King Ashot III transferred the Bagratid capital from Katholikos to Ani, ushering in the “Armenian Golden Age” and the rise of Ani as the chief political, cultural and economic centre in the South Caucasus. 50

Empire) captured the city after twenty-five days of siege and slaughtered many of its inhabitants. According to historian Sibt ibn al-Jawzi: “Putting the Persian sword to work, they spared no one… One could see there the grief and calamity of every age of humankind. For children were ravished from the embraces of their mothers and mercilessly hurled against rocks, while the mothers drenched them with tears and blood… The city became filled from one end to the other with bodies of the slain and became a road. The army entered the city, massacred its inhabitants, pillaged and burned it, leaving it in ruins and taking prisoner all those who remained alive.”

King Ashot’s own philanthropy led to the sponsorship of large construction projects such as the “Ashotashen” walls and several churches, earning him the nickname of “Voghormats” or “the Merciful.” By the start of the 11th century, Ani had peaked with a population over 100,000 inhabitants and became known as the “city of forty gates” and the “city of a thousand and one churches”. This population growth sprawled over the city walls into the surrounding Tsaghkotsadzor canyon and the Gayledzor and Igadzor valleys. Complex networks of subterranean rockcut dwellings, churches, dovecotes and storage rooms were constructed that were still inhabited by goat herders through to the start of the 20th century. Bagratid rule ended with the death of Hovhannes-Smbat III of Armenia when in AD 1046 Ani was surrendered during a brief war of succession between the Byzantine Emperor Michael IV the Paphlagonian and Gagik II King of Ani, resulting in the collapse of the Bagratid dynasty. Ani’s decline began in AD 1064, when a large Seljuk army commanded by Alp Arslan (the second Sultan of the Seljuk

In the following centuries, Ani would change hands several times between the Shaddadids (a Kurdish Sunni Muslim dynasty who ruled parts of Armenia and Arran) and the Christian Kingdom of Georgia, with a brief period of prosperity under the Zakarids Armenian-Georgian dynasty. The Mongols unsuccessfully besieged Ani in AD 1226, but in AD 1236 they captured the city and like the Seljuk’s massacred thousands of its inhabitants. Under the Mongols the Zakarids continued to rule Ani, but as the vassals of the Georgian monarch. A succession of Turkish dynasties ruled over the city from the 14th century AD until it became part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire in AD 1579. By this time, earthquakes and the successive conquests of Ani had left the city little more than a small town sparsely populated. In AD 1735, the last vestiges of Ani’s populace and monks abandoned the crumbling walls, leaving the former centre of the Armenian Golden Age to ruin.



The Ceremonial Centre of the Nazca Image Credit : Matthias Kestel

Cahuachi is a large ceremonial complex built by the Nazca, located in the basin of the Rio Grande in the Central Andes of Peru.

HE Nazca emerged as a distinct archaeological culture around 100 BC, having settled in the valley of the Rio Grande de Nazca drainage and the Ica Valley.


The culture is characterised by its pre-fire slip polychrome pottery that demonstrates a shift from the previous Paracas culture post-fire resin method. The Nazca are most widely known today for the Nazca lines, a series of giant linear features and geoglyphs, or the construction of large underground aqueducts called “puquios” to provide water in the arid environment. Evidence of occupation at Cahuachi dates as far back as 400 BC, but during the Early


Image Credit : Daniel Prudek

Intermediate Period the site became an important Nazca centre in the Nazca 2 Phase (100 BC to AD 1).

terraced on different levels, whilst on the lower platform is several quadrangular enclosures.

By the Nazca 3 Phase (AD 1 to 450), Cahuachi’s status was elevated to serve as the main ceremonial complex of the region.

Unlike other contemporary Nazca sites, Cahuachi lacks the domestic material evidence and residential structures to suggest it was a population centre. Instead, the site appears to be occupied periodically for religious activities and as a site for sacred pilgrimages.

During this period, a series of major construction projects was initiated that terraced parts of the existing topographical features to give the appearance of monumental architecture.

The function of Cahuachi changed during the apogee in the Nazca 4 Phase where it was used largely for burials. The architecture during this time was mostly abandoned, but did have “postapogee” offerings through the Nasza 6 and 7 Phases until Cahuachi was completely abandoned around AD 450-500.

Image Credit : Daniel Prudek

Over 40 terraced mounds have been identified, some topped with adobe structures such as temples, room constructions, cylindrical shafts and walls. The largest mound is called the “Great Temple” that exceeds 150 x 100 metres at the base and reaches a height of 100 metres. At the top of the mound is a large square, behind which rises a pyramidal structure that has four platforms


Image Credit : Angela Meier




Orongo is a stone settlement and seasonal ceremonial centre, built by the indigenous Rapa Nui people on the edge of the Rano Kau Volcano caldera, located on the South Western tip of Easter Island.


HE overpopulation of

Easter Island and limited resources meant that the traditional maio culture was in decline, giving rise to the Bird Man Cult around AD 1540. The cult deified Make-make (the creator of humanity and the god of fertility) as their chief god, along with Hawa-tuu-take-take (the chief of the eggs), his wife Vie Hoa, Vie Kenatea and their four servant gods.

The settlement served as the finale of the Tangata Manu annual games, a traditional competition to facilitate the transfer of power between competing clans. During the Tangata Manu, the rock carvings were painted to evoke the mana of the previous sacred Birdmen and clans would perform sacred rituals whilst chanting the names of all eight gods. Competitors were revealed in dreams by ivi-attuas or prophets, who in turn would then appoint a hopu (man of lesser status) and task them with collecting the first

Orongo was founded in the sacred precinct of Mata Ngarau during the HuriMoai period between AD 1680-1867, where 50 dry laid stone masonry houses were laid out in a plan of overlapping clusters. Evidence of prior activity on the summit has been identified by various pictographs and rock carvings, consisting of images depicting 375 tangata manu (Birdmen), 195 komari and 140 faces.

Image Credit : Alfredo Cerra

sooty tern (manu tara) egg of the season from the islet of Motu Nui. The hopu would then swim back to Rapa Nui and climb the sea cliff of Rano Kau to Orongo, where they would ceremoniously present the egg to their patron. The winner was the first patron to receive the egg and declared tangata-manu, receiving the sole rights for their clan to collect the seasons harvest of wild bird eggs and fledglings from Motu Nui. The tangata-manu would then go into seclusion in a ceremonial house, wearing a headdress made from human hair and grow his nails.

By the mid to late 19th century, many of the islanders had died of disease introduced by European explorers or were enslaved by Peruvian slavers. With the arrival of Christian missionaries to the island, the Tangata Manu was suppressed and Orongo was left abandoned.


The Inca Cave Temple of the Moon The Temple of the Moon is an Inca ceremonial site, constructed in the open face of a shallow cave near the ancient city of Machu Picchu in Peru. HE temple boasts niches and fake doors inserted beneath the overhanging cave, with an enormous 8 metre high by 6 metre wide entrance and a rock sculpted in the shape of an altar.


It has been speculated that the site was either used for burials, was a ceremonial bathing complex, or was an observation post due to the elevated position beneath the peak of Huayna Picchu. Historical sources note that the Inca perceived cave entrances as a place from which the first ancestors came and often buried their dead so that the souls could return to reside there. The Inca also considered caves as sacred places for leaving offerings in dedication to the mountain deities. Recent studies near the site found a structure with two small holes cut into niches. Looking through the holes reveals the Cerro Yanantin, a sacred mountain which was deified at Macchu Picchu. Image Credit : Javier Lopezzani

The temple is said to contain each of the three planes of the Inca religion: the Hanan Pacha (the heavens), the Kay Pacha (the earth), and the Ukju Pacha (the underworld), represented respectively by the condor, the puma and the snake. The purpose of the Temple of the Moon is not exactly known. Despite the given name, there is no evidence of lunar ceremonial worship, with the associated name deriving from modern observations during the night of a full moon when the interior becomes illuminated in moonlight.

AKSUM HE Aksumite Empire emerged in the former historical kingdom of D’mt, first documented in a trading guide called


Aksum – The Capital of the Aksumite Empire

the “Periplus of the Erythraean Sea” from around the mid-1st century AD. According to the Periplus text, the position of the Aksumite Empire in

international terms, played an important role in the transcontinental trade route between Rome and India from an early stage. Aksum was sufficiently remote so as to never come into open conflict with Rome, nor suffered from punitive expeditions from nearby kingdoms such as Egypt or Meroë. The Aksumite Empire began to mint coins from about AD 270, mimicking the design of traditional Roman coins with a bust of the ruler in profile. Coinage gave the Aksumite economy a central emphasis from which every aspect of the state’s functions could operate, with the Aksum monetary system of coinage linked with that of the Romans and Byzantines for trade.


The Empire extended across most of present-day Eritrea, northern Ethiopia, Western Yemen, and parts of eastern Sudan. The Aksumites developed a civilisation of considerable sophistication and a unique alphabetic system called the Ge’ez script (also known as Ethiopic), evolving into an abugida segmental writing system. The Empire was centred on the capital of Aksum near the base of the Adwa mountains, situated to control both the highland and coastal regions of northern Ethiopia. Water appears to be an important element to the Aksumites, as the name of Aksum is thought to be composed of two works, ‘ak’ and ‘shum’, the first of Cushitic and the second of Semitic origin, roughly translated as ‘water’ and ‘chieftain’. The city reached its apex during the 3rd and 4th century AD by the construction of monumental royal tombs, each marked by a huge monolithic stelae. The stelae were ornately carved with false doors and windows, the largest of which measures 33 metres in height (comparable in size to the larger obelisks of Ancient Egypt), supported by a massive underground stone counterweight.

How widespread the city was formerly is not yet known, but it has been assumed that less permanent habitations were constructed around the substantial dwellings of the Ta’akha Maryam, the Dungur, and other large structures such as the Enda Sem`on and Enda Mikael (as described in the 15th century “Book of Aksum”). The slow collapse of the Empire started around the 7th century AD, further escalated by the Persian presence in the Red Sea that caused Aksum to suffer economically. The population of the city went into decline due to intensive farming that caused severe erosion, in combination with a loss of the international profits generated from the exchange network it had developed over the centuries. The Aksumite Empire ended with the last King, Dil Na’od, who was defeated by his former General Mara Takla Haymanot, founding the Agaw Zagwe dynasty. According to legend, a son of Dil Na’od fled in exile, whose descendants eventually overthrow the Agaw Zagwe and established the Solomonic dynasty around AD 1270.

In the centre of the city was the Ta’akha Maryam, a giant 6th century palace complex that covered an area of 103,334 square metres, much larger than many contemporary palaces found across Europe at the time. To the west is the Dungur, known locally as the Palace of the legendary Queen of Sheba. The Dungur was a multi-storey palace complex that dates from the 7th century AD, covering an area of around 3,250 square meters.


Roman Villa of Tiberius



name derives from the “Spelunca” (Latin for cave or grotto), where a Republican villa was first constructed sometime between 30 and 20 BC. During the reign of Emperor Tiberius (AD 14 to 37), the villa was expanded to serve as a coastal retreat for the Emperor to unwind away from his duties in Rome. The expansion included a peristyle surrounded by various rooms, a gymnasium, baths, terraces, private moorings and several pools fed by natural springs and salt water from a coastal lake. The interior of the cave was embellished with coloured opus sectile flooring, artificial stalactites and encrustations, statues called the Sperlonga sculptures, and a triclinium (a dining space with couches) centred on an island at the mouth of the cave.

The Villa of Tiberius is a ruined Roman villa complex located in the present-day town of Sperlonga, in the province of Latina on the western coast of Italy.


Grand statues depicting mythological compositions had been popular during the time of the Julio-Claudians and can often be found in villas owned by members of the Imperial family.

Image Credit : pavel068

In Sperlonga, scenes derived from Greek Hellenistic literature of Homer and Virgil show four episodes of Odysseus’ travels, depicting Odysseus and the giant Cyclops Polyphemus, Odysseus’ encounter with the sea monster Scylla, Odysseus’ trials during the Trojan War, and Odysseus stealing the Palladion (a statue of Athena) from Diomedes. On a niche in the cliff face above the entrance to the cave was also Ganymede carried up by the Eagle, a disguise of Zeus. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, In AD 26 Tiberius was dining in the cave with his confidant Sejanus, when the roof suddenly collapsed. Tacitus documents: “They were dining in a country house called the cave, between the gulf of Amuclæ and the hills of Fundi, in a natural grotto. The rocks at its entrance suddenly fell in and crushed some of the attendants; thereupon panic seized the whole company and there was a general flight of the guests. Sejanus hung over the emperor, and with knee, face, and hand encountered the falling stones; and was

found in this attitude by the soldiers who came to their rescue.” After the accident, Tiberius withdrew to Capri and spent the rest of his years removed from the administration of the Empire. He trusted Sejanus and Naevius Sutorius Macro to oversee the affairs of the Empire in his stead, but the two men

instead plotted and tried to overthrow him. In AD 31 Sejanus was summoned to a meeting of the Senate, where a letter from Tiberius was read condemning Sejanus and ordering his immediate execution. Sejanus was tried, and he and several of his colleagues were executed within the week.

Image Credit : essevu


The Limes Arabicus The Desert Frontier of the Roman Empire HE Limes Arabicus was a defensive line that formed part of the wider Roman limes system, demarcating the border of the Roman province of Arabia Petraea to the frontier lands of Arabia, known as Arabia Magna and Arabia Felix.


Arabia Petraea was a frontier province from the 2nd century AD that included the former Nabataean Kingdom in Jordan centred on Petra, the Southern Levant, the Sinai Peninsula, and the North Western Arabian Peninsula. A major trading route called the Via Traiana Nova or Via Nova Traiana (meaning ‘Trajan’s New Road’) was constructed by the Emperors Trajan and Hadrian to stabilise Arabia Petraea and facilitate troop movement and commerce. Some scholars argue that the Limes Arabicus served to mainly monitor and control nomadic desert tribes, but the


military function is clearly also linked to the economic and political control of natural resources such as water and seasonal pastureland. During the Severan dynasty (AD 193–235), the frontier was reinforced with castra (forts), mainly centred in the strategic Wadi Sirhan region in the North Western Arabian Peninsula that served as a gateway for trans-Arabian trade. During the 3rd to 4th century AD, a system of castella, watchtowers and fortresses were constructed at intervals of every 100 kilometres (62 miles), such as the fortresses of Qasr Bshir, Qasr eth-Thuraiya, Qasr el-Al, Qasr Abu alKharaqah, el-Lejjun, Jurf al-Darawish and Da’janiya. Troops were progressively withdrawn from the Limes Arabicus in the first half of the 6th century and replaced with native Arab foederati, chiefly the Ghassanids

until they were overrun during the war with the Sasanians in AD 611. After the Muslim Arab conquest, the Limes Arabicus was largely left to ruin, though some fortifications were used and reinforced in the following centuries.


EAD or “honey-wine” is a fermented honey drink

with water that has been produced for thousands of years throughout Europe, Africa and Asia.

Mead – “fermented honey drink” – derives from the Old English meodu or medu and ProtoGermanic meduz. The name has connections to Old Norse mjöðr, Middle Dutch mede, and Old High German metu, among others. The earliest recorded evidence of mead dates from 7000 BC, where archaeologists discovered pottery vessels from the Neolithic village of Jiahu in the Henan province of China. The vessels contained the chemical signatures of honey, rice and compounds normally associated with the process of fermentation. Mead became present in Europe between 2800 to 1800 BC during the European Bronze Age. Throughout this period, the Bell Beaker culture or short Beaker culture was producing the “All Over Ornamented (AOO)” and the “Maritime Type” beaker pottery. The beakers are suggested to have been produced primarily for alcohol consumption, with some examples of these pottery forms containing chemical signatures for mead production. During the Golden Age of Ancient Greece, mead “hydromeli” proceeded wine and was a stable beverage of Grecian culture. Hydromeli was even the preferred tipple of Aristotle, in which he discussed mead in his Meteorologica. The German classical scholar, W. H. Roscher, suggested that mead was even the nectar or ambrosia of the Gods. He compared ambrosia to honey, with their power of conferring immortality due to the supposed healing and cleansing powers of honey (which is actually an anti-septic). Also because fermented honey (mead) preceded wine as an entheogen in the Aegean world; on some Minoan seals, goddesses were represented with bee faces (compare Merope and Melissa).

within the Early Middle Ages and Medieval Europe. This was especially so among the Native Brythonic cultures, Anglo-Saxons, Germans and Scandinavians. However, wines remained the preferred beverage in warmer climates in what is now Italy, Spain and France. Anglo-Saxon literature such as Mabinogion, Beowulf and the Brythonic writings of the Welsh poet Taliesin (who wrote the Kanu y med or “Song of Mead ) describe mead as the drink of Kings and Thanes. In the Old English epic poem of Beowulf, Beowulf comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel. In Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales – The Miller’s Tale”, mead is described as the draught of townfolk and used to court a fair lady. Chaucer also makes mention of spiking his claret with honey. “He sent her sweetened wine and well-spiced ale And waffles piping hot out of the fire, And, she being town-bred, mead for her desire For some are won by means of money spent And some by tricks and some by long descent.” In later years, tax and regulation drove commercial mead out of popularity when beer and wine became the predominant alcoholic drinks. Some monasteries in England and Wales kept up the traditions of mead-making as a by-product of beekeeping, but with the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century mead all but disappeared. Finally, when West Indian sugar began to be imported in quantity (from the 17th century), there was less incentive to keep bees to sweeten foods and the essential honey to ferment mead became scarcer across Europe.

This is supported in the archaic versions of the stories of the gods. The Orphists preserve a tale about the cruel guile of Zeus who surprised his father Kronos when he was drunk on the honey of wild bees and castrated him. Mead “aquamulsum” or just “mulsum” was also common during the Imperial Roman era and came in various forms. Mulsum was a freshly made mixture of wine and honey (called a pyment today) or was simply honey left in water to ferment; and conditum was a mixture of wine, honey and spices made in advance and matured (arguably more a faux-mead). The Hispanic-Roman naturalist Columella gave a recipe for mead in 60 BC: “Take rainwater kept for several years, and mix a sextarius of this water with a [Roman] pound of honey. For a weaker mead, mix a sextarius of water with nine ounces of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for 40 days, and then left on a shelf near the fire. If you have no rainwater, then boil spring water.” Alcoholic drinks made from honey would become very popular 61

APRIL 22ND 1778 The Day America Invaded England On April 22nd, 1778, a lone USS Naval ship carried out a daring raid during the American Revolutionary War on the town of Whitehaven in England.


T was a clear night and the frost

had begun to settle across the west coast of Cumbria.

Two boats were lowered around 11.00 pm from the USS Ranger, a 308 long ton sloop-of-war in the Continental Navy, armed with 18 × 6-pounder guns. The Ranger was commanded by John Paul Jones, often referred to as the “Father of the American Navy” (a sobriquet he shares with John Barry and John Adams). John Paul Jones was born in 1747 and grew up in Scotland, serving as a commander of several British merchant ships. After having killed one of his crew members with a sword, he fled to the Colony of Virginia in 1775 and joined the newly founded Continental Navy in their fight against the British. The raiding party comprised of about 2030 men led by John Paul Jones, Lieutenant Wallingford and Midshipman Ben Hill. Their plan was a two-prong strategy to torch the British merchant ships sitting anchored in the town’s harbour and to take the two forts defending Whitehaven and spike the guns. The plan started to become unstuck when their landing near Saltom Pit to take the Half-moon Lunnette battery (commanding 8 guns of the 32-pounder caliber) was thwarted due to the rough seas and rocky shoreline.


The alarm was quickly spread across Whitehaven and the flames were subdued before the fires could take hold. Only the Thompson, a ship full of coal bound for Dublin appeared to suffer any considerable damage.

John Paul Jones had more luck landing at the old fort and was able to silently scale the walls and take the fort’s garrison by surprise. Having secured his position, John Paul Jones along with Midshipman Joe Green travelled to the Lunnette battery on foot to incapacitate the guns. Whilst this was happening, it is said in some accounts that Lieutenant Wallingford and his men landed the other boat at the Old Quay slip in Whitehaven and headed straight to the local pub to make merry with an abundance of the local tipple. Upon the two groups of saboteurs finally mustering, they used matches made from canvas covered in sulphur and threw them into the holds of several ships. Amongst the commotion, one of Jones’s men called David Freeman, began knocking on the doors of the townsfolk to warn them of the burning ships which threatened to consume the whole town. A local publication, the Lloyd’s Evening Post referred to Freeman’s actions in an account of the raid stating that “he rapped at several doors in Marlborough street, (adjoining one of the piers) and informed them that fire had been [benn] let to one of the ships in the Harbour, matches were laid in several others; the whole would be soon in a blaze, and the town also destroyed; that he was one belonging to the privateer, but had escaped for the purpose of saving, if possible, the town and shipping from destruction.”

By now, John Paul Jones and his crew began their withdrawal to the USS Ranger, having taken three hostages as they fled. The Lloyd’s Evening Post reported, “by this time some of the guns at the Halfmoon battery were loaded, two of which were fired at the boats, but without the desired effect. The boats then fired their signal guns, and the ship immediately tacked and stood towards them till they got along-side, and then made sail to the North Westward.” Despite the raid proving a failure, it sent shock waves across England and awakened everyone to the threat of invasion. This resulted in several dispatches to all the capital seaports stating that “In the Kingdom, all strangers in this town are, by an order of the Magistrates, to be secured and examined: Similar notices have been forwarded through the country, &c. and, in short, every caution is taken that the present alarming affair could suggest.” John Paul Jones continued to have a colourful maritime career after the Whitehaven raid. He was honoured with the title of “Chevalier” by King Louis XVI of France, became the Russian rear admiral, was denigrated as a pirate and was even appointed a U.S. Consul until his death at the age of 45 on July 18, 1792. In 1906, the exhumed corporeal remains of John Paul Jones were interred into the crypt beneath the Annapolis Maryland Naval Academy in a ceremony presided over by President Theodore Roosevelt. John Paul Jones was also given an honorary pardon in 1999 by the Port of Whitehaven in the presence of Lt. Steve Lyons representing the US Naval Attaché to the UK, and Yuri Fokine the Russian Ambassador to the UK.



Lucius Tarquinius Superbus


EFORE the foundation of the Roman Republic,

Rome was ruled over by a succession of Kings (rex) starting with Romulus, the legendary founder.

Romulus traditionally founded Rome in 753 BC upon the Palatine Hill, after Romulus or one of his followers killed his brother Remus in an argument over where to construct the city. Another variation of the foundation legend states that the augurs favoured Romulus, who ploughed a square furrow to demarcate the walls of the future city. Remus leapt over the “walls” to mock the inadequacy, resulting in Romulus striking him down in anger. Over the next two centuries, Rome was ruled by a further six kings who held absolute authority over the people and the Senate through the king’s imperium (although the accuracy of this account has been doubted by modern historians). Each king was elected by the people sitting as the Curiate Assembly, who voted on a nominated candidate presented by an interim ruler called an interrex. When the king died, Rome entered a period of interregnum (a period of time between the reign of one monarch and the next), for which control of the kingdom was devolved to the Senate to find candidate kings for election. In 535 BC, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus usurped King Servius Tullius by claiming that Servius was illegitimate to rule due to his alleged servile origins, and claims that Servius’s ascension without election had strayed from traditional and legal practice via the Curiate Assembly and interregnum. When Servius came to the Senate to defend his position, he was thrown down the steps of the senate-house by Tarquinius and murdered on the streets by assassins (the place of which became known as Vicus Sceleratus, the Street of Crime). Tarquinius began his reign by purging senators who could still hold loyalty to Servius’s memory and judged capital crimes without counsel, thus removing the threat of opposition through the fear of a now corrupt legal system. After persuading the Latin chiefs of neighbouring tribes to renew their treaty with Rome, Tarquinius then set about waging war with the Volsci, an Italic Osco-Umbrian tribe, and the Latin Gabi that had rejected the terms of his treaty. Tarquinius used the spoils of these campaigns to fund a series of expensive construction projects and public works in Rome. The most ambitious was the levelling of the Tarpeian Rock on the south side of the Capitoline Hill in order to make way for a Temple

in dedication to Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Around 509-510 BC, Tarquinius went to war with the Rutuli and sent his son, Sextus Tarquinius, on a military errand to the home of Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, governor of Collatia. Lucius’ wife, Lucretia, entertained Sextus in her husband’s absence, but that night Sextus entered her bed chambers and gave her two choices: she could submit to his sexual advances and become his wife and future queen, or he would kill her and one of her slaves, claiming that he had caught the pair committing adultery. The next day, Lucretia went to her father who was a prefect of Rome, revealing the rape she endured the night before and stabbed herself in the heart out of grief. In the Dionysius of Halicarnassus it accounts: “This dreadful scene struck the Romans who were present with so much horror and compassion that they all cried out with one voice that they would rather die a thousand deaths in defence of their liberty than suffer such outrages to be committed by the tyrants.” In another account, Lucretia summoned Lucius Junius Brutus, a Tribune of the Celeres, along with her father and several witnesses. Believing that she and her family had been dishonoured, she committed suicide, resulting in Brutus proclaiming for the overthrow of the Tarquin family line. Brutus opened a debate and levelled a barrage of charges against the Tarquin’s that included: the rape of Lucretia, the tyranny of the king, forced labour of plebeians and the murder of Servius Tullius. A new form of republican government was proposed with two consuls and power that would later be divided among various elected magistracies. Hearing of the developments in Rome, the King (who was with his army at the time) sent ambassadors to the Senate and tried to draw support from his allies. Leaving Lucretius in charge of the city, Brutus departed to meet the King upon the field at the Battle of Silva Arsia, where his forces won a hard-fought victory against the King and his Etruscan allies. Tarquin’s final attempt to regain his kingdom was at the Battle of Lake Regillus, when he persuaded his son-in-law, Octavius Mamilius, to march on Rome at the head of a Latin army. Tarquin and the Latins were defeated, resulting in Tarquin going into exile to the court of Aristodemus at Cumae where he died in 495 BC.


The Great

Heathen Army The Great Heathen Army was a coalition of Viking warriors that invaded England in AD 865, which according to lore was in response to the death of the legendary figure Ragnar Lodbrok at the hands of King Ælla of Northumberland.


HE tales of Ragnar and his sons

in Norse poetry, the AngloSaxon Chronicles and the Icelandic sagas depict Ragnar leading an expedition of only two knarrs to ravage and burn England. His forces were overwhelmed by Ælla, resulting in Ragnar being captured and thrown into a snake pit to die. His sons Inwaer (Ivar the Boneless), Halfdan Ragnarsson and Hubba (Ubbe) led a Viking army that captures Ælla and supposedly performs the blood eagle (a ritualistic method of execution in which the ribs are severed from the spine with a sharp tool and the lungs are pulled through the opening to create a pair of “wings”) in revenge. Scholars debate the validity of the literature and historical provenance connecting Ragnar to the events that led to the invasion of England. Contemporary text is often regarded as fictitious, with the image of Ragnar being an amalgam of historical figures and literary invention. The true reason for the invasion is obscured although most likely for monetary gain. In AD 865 a sizeable force estimated to be no more than 1,000 men (although some historians believe the army numbered in the thousands) landed in East Anglia and wintered until the next season.


The Great Heathen Army then marched north and captured Northumbria and York, defeating both the recently deposed King Osberht of Northumbria and the usurper Ælla of Northumbria. A puppet ruler was placed on the Northumbrian throne called Ecgberht I, who simply served to tax the population to fund further Viking campaigns.

The Great Heathen Army was routed and gave flight, with many Viking warriors cut down in the Wessex advance. Three months later, Æthelred died and was succeeded by Alfred, who paid a danegeld to allow him to buy time and prepare for the next Viking incursion. In AD 874, the Great Heathen Army drove King Burgred of Mercia into exile and finally conquered the Mercian Kingdom leaving Wessex to stand alone. According to Alfred the Great’s biographer, Asser, the Vikings then split into two bands. One was led by Halfdan which raided north into Scotland and the other band by Guthrum, Oscetel and Anwend which campaigned against Wessex. With a northern power base established, the Great Heathen Army marched to the Kingdom of Mercia and wintered near present-day Nottingham. After several skirmishes between the Vikings and a combined Mercian/Wessex army, the Mercian’s agreed to pay a danegeld (a tax raised to pay tribute to prevent the land from being ravaged) and the Vikings returned north. In AD 869 the Great Heathen Army marched back to the kingdom of East Anglia and wintered in Thetford. Whilst there, the Vikings killed King Edward, who would later be known as Edmund the Martyr. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describes the event: “here the army rode across Mercia into East Anglia, and took winter-quarters at Thetford; and that winter King Edmund fought against them, and the Danish took the victory, and killed the king and conquered all that land.” In AD 871, reinforcements referred to as the ‘Great Summer Army’ arrived from Scandinavia, allowing the Viking to focus on the Kingdom of Wessex. After several small battles, the Great Heathen Army met the armies of Wessex led by King Ethelred and his younger brother (the future King Alfred the Great) at the Battle of Ashdown.

Over the next several years, Wessex continued to resist the Viking threat and eventually defeated the Great Heathen Army at the Battle of Edington. This culminated in the signing of the Treaty of Wedmore (no document survives), an accord referenced in Asser’s biography of Alfred in which Guthrum submits to be baptised and withdraw the remnants of the Great Heathen Army from Wessex lands. A formal treaty was later agreed called the ‘Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum’, setting the boundaries between Alfred and Guthrum’s territories as well as agreements on peaceful trade and the weregild value of its people. Although several Viking armies emerged to threaten Wessex, Alfred defended his kingdom and the armies would eventually disperse to East Anglia and Northumbria, establishing the demarcated territories between Wessex and the Viking Danelaw.



Hitler’s Megacity Germania was Hitler’s renewal of Berlin, planned to be a megacity at the centre of his Thousand Year Reich, which started construction prior to the outbreak of WWII in 1938 until it was abandoned in 1943. Hitler envisioned Berlin as a world capital, comparable with the achievements of the Ancient Egyptians, Romans and the Babylonians.

Reich Chancellery which was completed in 1939 and hailed by Hitler as the “crowning glory of the greater German political empire”.

Called the “Gesamtbauplan für die Reichshauptstadt” (translated as the “Comprehensive Construction Plan for the Reich Capital”), the intention was to give the greater Germanic world empire of the New Order a capital that would instil a sense of unity amongst those of Germanic descent.

Construction of Germania began in 1938 with the razing of buildings in the Alsen and Tiergarten districts, where many Berliners were evicted from their homes and resettled in properties seized from Jewish families (resulting in many Berlin Jews being resettled in ghettos and ultimately the concentration and extermination camps).

Historians suggest that Hitler first formulated plans for Germania as early as the mid 1920’s, where he drew sketches of elaborate monuments and mentions the rebuilding of German cities in his autobiographical manifesto “Mein Kemp”. Hitler first proposed the concept to architect Albert Speer in the spring of 1936, an ambitious man who had risen in prominence within the Nazi Party through his architectural achievements, resulting in him being appointed to the position of General Building Inspector of the Reich Capital (GBI) in 1937 and tasked to bring Hitler’s vision of a new Berlin to life. Speer had already been commissioned to rebuild the Borsig Palace into offices for the new Sturmabteilung SA leadership and would later build the enormous New


The demand for labour led to many work camps being built near quarries, among them Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald and Mauthausen. German police rounded up what the Nazis considered “undesirable”, targeting homosexuals, gypsies and beggars to be worked to death in quarrying stone or baking bricks, with prisoners of war used later in the war as slave labour. Several previous construction projects were to be incorporated into Germania, including the Tempelhof Airport, the revamped Olympic stadium, the Air Ministry, the Exhibition Hall (part of the International Convention Centre), the extended old Chancellery, the Propaganda Ministry and the Germans Workers Front Headquarters.

Central Berlin was to be reorganised along a north-south axis boulevard known as the “Prachtallee” (meaning “Street of Splendours”), running from just west of Tempelhof Airport from the new South Station. This and an east-west boulevard would have divided central Berlin into four quadrants, where the main routes would be closed off for parades and vehicles diverted to use underground highways (parts of which still exist today). At the northern end of the avenue on the site of the Königsplatz was a planned forum known as “Großer Platz” (meaning “Grand Plaza”). This was to be the focal centre of Germania, where on the western side was the Führer’s palace, the eastern side the Reichstag Building, and on the southern side the Reich Chancellery and high command of the German Army.



To the north of the Plaza was the “Volkshalle” (meaning “Peoples Hall”), an enormous monumental domed building inspired by Hadrian’s Pantheon in Rome. The temple-like nature of the domed Volkshalle was ultimately intended for public worship of Hitler and Nazi doctrine, with Speer stating in an interview after the war that “Hitler believed that as centuries passed, his huge domed assembly hall would acquire great holy significance and become a hallowed shrine as important to National Socialism as St. Peters in Rome is to Roman Catholicism. Such cultism was at the root of the entire plan.” Towards the southern end of the avenue would be a triumphal arch based on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, housing the names of 1,800,000 German soldiers who died during WWI. The arch was meant to erase the shame of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, instead transforming the 1918 defeat into a victory that would mark the beginning of the rise of Germany in dominating Europe. Doubts persisted at the time as to whether the marshy Berlin soil could hold the weight of these monumental structures, so Speer ordered the construction of the “Schwerbelastungskörper” in 1941, a large concrete cylinder located at the intersection of Dudenstraße to test the ground in preparation for building the arch. Construction of Germania was suspended at the beginning of World War II during the German invasion of Poland in 1939, but resumed after the decisive German victory. The defeat of France in 1940 led to Hitler decreeing: “In the shortest possible time Berlin must be redeveloped and acquire the form that is its due through the greatness of our victory as the capital of a powerful new empire. In the completion of what is now the country’s most important architectural task I see the most significant contribution to our final victory. I expect that it will be completed by the year 1950.” Hitler’s vision however would never be realised, setbacks during the invasion of the Soviet Union led to further construction of Germania to be permanently halted in 1943, with Berlin falling to the advancing Red Army during the Battle of Berlin in 1945. 69




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