Friday, February 27, 2015


ARCHAEOLOGISTS expressed fears Friday that after ransacking the Mosul museum in Iraq, Islamic State group jihadists would embark on a systematic destruction of heritage in areas under their control.

Particularly at risk are the ancient cities of Hatra, a UNESCO world heritage site, and Nimrud. Both are south of Mosul, which has been the jihadists' main hub in Iraq since June last year.

"This is not the end of the story and the international community must intervene," said Abdelamir Hamdani, an Iraqi archaeologist at New York's Stony Brook University.

IS released a video on Thursday showing its militants smashing ancient statues to pieces with sledgehammers at the Mosul museum.

Jihadists were also seen using a jackhammer to deface a colossal Assyrian winged bull at the Nergal gate in the large archaeological park that lies in the city.

"They told the guards they would destroy Nimrud," said Hamdani, who used to be based in Iraq with the department of antiquities.

"It is one of the very important Assyrian capitals, there are reliefs and winged bulls there... This would be a real disaster," he told AFP by telephone from the United States.

"Maybe they will also attack and destroy Hatra, it is a very isolated site in the desert," he said.

Hatra is a UNESCO-listed site that lies in IS-controlled territory around 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of Mosul.

UNESCO says the "remains of the city, especially the temples where Hellenistic and Roman architecture blend with Eastern decorative features, attest to the greatness of its civilization."

"I am afraid that more destruction is in their pipeline," said Ihsan Fethi, an Iraqi architect and heritage expert based in Jordan.

"They could do anything, they could move to the temples in Hatra, and say they're heathens and blow it up pretty easily. Who will stop them?," he said.

On Thursday, IS blew up a 12th century mosque "because it housed a tomb", Fethi said.

In the jihadists' extreme interpretation of Islam, statues, idols and shrines are a material corruption of the purity of the early Muslim faith and amount to recognising other objects of worship than Allah.

Their views are marginal however and most clerics, even those who promote a rigorist Islam, argue that what were idols in the day of the Prophet are now part of cultural heritage.


FOR those who don't keep up with trash movie slang, "peplum" is the meme for those cheaply produced vintage European gladiator movies that used to be called "sword and sandal" flicks ... because the men always had swords and sandals.

But the cheap costume worn by everyone in the movie was always a peplum ... a tunic gathered at the waist.

Voil√° ... a movie genre becomes a concise catchphrase that fits nicely in a Tweet!

Now PEPLUM is a popular new French television sitcom mini-series which wryly tweaks modern-day viewers into realizing we are all living in a civilization in decline run by buffoonish masters and slaves ... and it's hard to say who are the masters and who are the slaves.

The concept? With the Roman Empire in decline, Bravus - former slave - tries to avert chaos as adviser to the terrible Emperor Maximus... terrible in the sense of incompetent

Unfortunately, his efforts to maintain sanity are continually thwarted by his own crazy family and his equally mad boss.

And if that sounds like your own life, that's exactly what the producers intended for this series which has just premiered on M6 network starring French funny man JONATHAN LAMBERT.

Check out this promo:

Thursday, February 26, 2015


A recently deciphered letter home dating back to the time of Hadrian and Antinous reveals the homesickness of a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who was serving, probably as a volunteer, in a Roman legion in Europe.

In the letter, written mainly in Greek, Polion tells his family that he is desperate to hear from them.

This image of a plaintive young Egyptian in Roman toga dates from the era and was found at Antinoopolis, not far from where this letter was discovered.

In the letter, Polion says that he is going to request leave to make the long journey home to see his family and the Nile which he misses so much.

Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: "I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind," it reads.

"I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you ..." (Part of the letter hasn't survived.)

Polion says he has written six letters to his family without response.

"While away in Pannonia I sent (letters) to you, but you treat me so as a stranger," he writes. "I shall obtain leave from the consular (commander), and I shall come to you so that you may know that I am your brother …"

The letter was found outside a temple in the Egyptian town of Tebtunis over 100 years ago by an archaeological expedition led by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt.

They found numerous papyri in the town and did not have time to translate all of them.

Recently Grant Adamson, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, took up the task of translating the papyrus, using infrared images of it, a technology that makes part of the text more legible.

His translation was published recently in the Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists.

Adamson isn't sure if the soldier's family responded to his pleas, or if Polion got leave to see them (it's unlikely), but it appears this letter did arrive home.

"I tend to think so. The letter was addressed to and mentions Egyptians, and it was found outside the temple of the Roman-period town of Tebtunis in the Fayyum not far from the Nile River," Adamson wrote in an email to Live Science.

Polion, who lived at a time when the Roman Empire controlled Egypt, was part of the legio II Adiutrix legion stationed in Pannonia Inferior (around modern-day Hungary).

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


A new priest of Antinous took his formal vows in London Tuesday, the first representative of Hadrian's Beloved Boy there since ancient times when Britain was still the Roman colony of Britannia.

 MARTIN CAMPBELL (center) was invested as priest in solemn ceremonies officiated by PRIEST HERNESTUS (right) from Germany and by KNIGHT STEPHANOS KILGORE (left), a founding member of the Hollywood Temple of Antinous in Los Angeles.

Martin chose the priestly name of Martinus Aristotimus in honor of one of the seven earliest ancient priests of Antinous ... Aristotimus, priest of the Antinous Temple at Delphi.

Anointing Martin's brow with sacred oil, Priest Hernestus said: "I consecrate you Martinus Aristotimos as a Priest of Antinous."

Stephanos, standing between them with arms outstretched in a gesture of protection, said to the new priest: "May the doors be opened to you that need to be opened."

A novice priest in training for a period of years, Martin's greatest achievement was publication last August of his historical novel THE LOVE GOD about the life of Antinous.

In a statement issued in Hollywood, FLAMEN ANTONIUS SUBIA, founder of the modern-day religion of Antinous, said: 

"This is a momentous day, a new priest is to be added to the Sacerdotium.  

"Martinus Aristotimos will dedicate his life to serve Antinous and perpetuate our religion, he has proven his dedication and devotion and is now willing to answer the calling.  

"I give my deepest blessing as Flamen to Martinus Aristotimos, may his priesthood be blessed with power and sacredness, may his Temple grow and prosper and extend into the hearts of many people, in his own country and around the world," Antonius said.

In his first statement of faith as new priest, Martinus addressed the adherents in London: "Did I find Antinous or did Antinous find me? I suspect a little of both," Martinus said.

"I was captivated by his stunning and unusual images from the Roman past. These led me to research on the internet and there he was ... a god, a gay god and still worshipped.

"My spiritual and creative search was over ... here was my god. Here too was the subject for my long postponed novel. It felt I had come home," Martinus told his listeners.

"I heard Hadrian's voice welcoming me and commanding that I write the novel ... my greatest act of worship.

"Today I stand blessed and embraced by Antinous, Hadrian and my fellow priests," Martinus added.

"I dedicate myself to Antinous for the rest of my life.

"I honour Hadrian and the imperial family. I worship Antinous. Blessed be."

Monday, February 23, 2015


A new priest of Antinous will take his vows Tuesday in London following years-long training as a novice.

The investiture of British author MARTIN CAMPBELL (above in brown T-shirt) will take place in solemn ceremonies officiated by PRIEST HERNESTUS (above in black) from Germany and by KNIGHT STEPHANOS KILGORE, a founding member of the Hollywood Temple of Antinous in Los Angeles.

Martin's priestly name will be Martinus Aristotimus in honor of one of the seven earliest ancient priests of Antinous ... Aristotimus, priest of the Antinous Temple at Delphi.

Wednesday's blog entry will report on the investiture ceremony which makes Martin the fourth currently active priest of Antinous ordained by our branch of this modern-day religion.

Martin, Hernestus and Steve are in London on Tuesday also to see the historic live staging at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology of a readers' theatre production of the world's only radio play about Antinous: THE GLASS BALL GAME 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 24.

In past years the Petrie held Antinous-related lectures, art exhibits and film events to standing-room-only audiences. 

This time they are offering this unprecedented live reading of Mike Walker’s 2005 BBC radio play. 

Set in Egypt, 130 AD, "The Glass Ball Game" examines the tragic relationship between the Emperor Hadrian and the beautiful youth.

It will be performed by a cast of professional actors, with Antinous being played by British actor Adam Slynn.

The production will be performed in the PETRIE MUSEUM gallery itself, with audience and actors surrounded by one of the world's largest collections of Egyptian antiquities.

"It's a fascinating and important work, which presents an interpretation of the shadowy events leading to the untimely death and subsequent deification of the enigmatically beautiful Antinous," says JOHN J JOHNSTON, Egyptologist and director of this production.

"The lustrous and instantly identifiable image of Antinous is to be found in museums and galleries throughout the modern world, from the Renaissance onwards," Johnston says.

Seating is limited so reservations are imperative: Doors open at 6 p.m. on 24 February for the performance at the Petrie Museum and the event begins at 6:30, allowing the audience to spend some time engaging with the museum's 80,000 artefacts.  

Tickets are £10.00 and include a glass of wine upon entry. Tickets are available at EventBrite:

Sunday, February 22, 2015


IN celebration of LGBT History Month, the PETRIE MUSEUM in London is holding a special gay-related evening on February 26 when some of the museum's more explicit artefacts are the focus of attention.

The event, entitled "Objects of Desire," will offer an evening of discussion with artists, writers, academics and creatives, prominent in the LGBT community, each of whom has chosen an item from the collection because of the ways in which it connects with their own interests or informs their understanding of the desire in the ancient—and modern—world. 

Organiser and host for the evening, Egyptologist John J Johnston commented: “I’m very excited by the gathering of fascinating individuals I’ll be chatting to at the Petrie Museum this February.  

"In 2013 we held a similar event at the Petrie and it was enormously popular with both the audience and our contributors, so it seemed sensible to revisit the concept with different people and different objects," he said. 

"At the present time, I don’t know what they’ve each chosen, so I’m genuinely curious to see what the objects will be andwhat they’ll be saying about them in our on-stage discussions. On the last occasion, the evening was engaging, though-provoking and hugely entertaining. I think we can promise our audience a similarly thrilling event this year.”

The contributors include: David Bryher: Author of novels, short stories, and audio draamas “of and about things that are not real” Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman – UCL Research Associate in the Philosophy of ‘Race’Rob Eagle: Documentary filmmaker and director of Having a Gay Old Time: Voices of LGBT HistoryHamish Steele: Graphic novelist and author of Pantheon: The True Story of the Egyptian DeitiesProfessor Sharon Morris: Senior lecturer at the Slade School of Fine Art and award shortlisted poetMark O'Connell: Author of Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan, shortlisted for a Polari Award Geoff Slack: Film and television costume designer 

Tickets are £3 including booking fee and drinks and can be booked via


Animals acting strangely? Children unruly? You feel nervous and anxious?  Don’t worry, you won’t be imagining it this weekend.  

Dogs barking at the sky, moments of madness and unexplained events could be triggered by a rare alignment of the planets.

Mars, Venus and the Moon are all due to come together in a beautiful and captivating star formation over the next few days.

The spectacular light show will see a sparkling and brilliant white Venus snuggle up to the Red Planet beside a crescent Moon.

Astronomers are hailing the event as one of the most dazzling space formations of the year with the luminescent orbs visible to the naked eye.

However ancient mythology warns the eerie phenomenon could have a darker and more sinister purpose.

A similar Venus-Mars alignment in May 2011 coincided with a spate of severe thunderstorms, floods and tornadoes in America.

Devastating winds ripped up trees and power cables as they tore through the state of Kansas, the most notable being the Joplin tornado.

Astronomers around the world will be closely watching as the three planets snuggle together.

Viewers should keep an eye out out for a dazzling white Venus, next to Mars which will appear as a dull red glow joined by a crescent moon.

Venus and Mars will edge closer together and will sit in alignment until Tuesday when Venus pulls away from Mars to continue its orbit.