Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'POMPEII OF THE NORTH'
UNEARTHED IN NORTHERN ENGLAND



EXPERTS at a dig in northern England have unearthed some of the best-preserved Roman ruins outside Pompeii ... raising hopes of finding an indication that Hadrian and possibly Antinous visited there ... or that Antinous was worshiped there after his death.

Just a year ago, a the stone HEAD OF A DEITY resembling Antinous was found at this site.

The site at Binchester Roman Fort near Bishop Auckland in County Durham near Hadrian's Wall, has produced an ancient bathhouse, an altar to the goddess Fortuna and a piece of jewelry that offers early evidence of Christianity in Roman Britain.

Known as "Vinovia" to the Romans, the outpost once commanded the crossroads of the River Wear and Dere Street, an ancient road that linked the Roman headquarters at York with Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall near Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Researchers with the Binchester excavation project have been digging at the fort since 2009, and they now say the site includes some of the most exquisitely preserved ruins ever unearthed in Britain. 

"These findings are hugely significant as they are virtually intact and present a graphic illustration of life under the Roman Empire," said Dr. David Mason, principal archeologist with the Durham County Council, in a press release. "They are so stunning and spectacular that we can claim we have our very own 'Pompeii of the north' right on our doorstep."

Chief among the discoveries is an 1,800-year-old Roman bathhouse that would have served as the hub of the fort's social and recreational life. 

The baths still feature original floors, windows and doorways, and plaster shards indicate that their seven-foot-high walls were once adorned with colorful designs and drawings. 

"The most unique feature of these remains is the sheer scale of their preservation," said Dr. David Petts, archeologist at Durham University. 

"It is possible to walk through a series of Roman rooms with walls all above head height; this is pretty exceptional for Roman Britain." 

Further digging in the bathhouse uncovered evidence of plumbing, including a drain and gaps in the walls that may have once held lead piping to channel water.

In an adjacent changing room, the archeologists excavated a carved stone altar to Fortune the Home-Bringer, one of several aspects of Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck, chance and fate. 

The altar bears an inscription by a trooper garrisoned at the fort with a unit of Spanish cavalry. The etching identifies his rank as "architectus," offering some of the first evidence that military architects may have operated on staff at provincial Roman outposts.

Excavations at the Binchester site have also yielded a silver ring with an engraving that features two fish dangling from an anchor, often considered an early symbol of Christianity. The design appears widely in Roman artifacts, but the researchers say the ring is only the second time it has cropped up in Britain. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

NEW FINDS SHOW DIVERSITY
OF ANTINOUS-ERA THEATRE IN ROME




ONE of the places Antinous must have frequented in Rome was the Theatre of Balbus and adjacent gardens and markets ... one of the liveliest corners of Rome before a fire razed the area in the 2nd Century AD.

Now, archaeologists have unearthed a shrine and other finds at the garden courtyard, now called the "Crypta Balbi" (Crypt of Balbus), buried under the ruins.

The new excavations, described Friday, July 18th to the press by the Director Laura Vendittelli (State Superintendent of the Archaeological Heritage of Rome), have revealed a fullonica - workshop of the fullers, workers who washed clothes and linens - and a shrine (altar with sacred enclosure) dedicated to Greek and Eastern deities and the East.

The theater was an ancient Roman structure in the Campus Martius of Rome

It was built in 13 BC by proconsul Lucius Cornelius Balbus (minor), likely from the spoils of a military campaign by order of Augustus Caesar.

Excavations of the theatre began in 1981 and are still ongoing, however, the main portion of the crypta finished in 2000. 

Today what has been excavated can be seen at the Museo Nazionale Romano Crypta Balbi (National Museum of Rome), which is located at Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 31, (corner of Via M. Caetani).

Few tourists ever stray into this museum. But it is worth an extra visit. The museum is located in what was the crypta or courtyard in the rear of the theater's complex behind the stage. 

This courtyard was the smallest of all of Rome's major theatres. Here patrons would stroll between acts of a performance and seek refreshment.

Perhaps Antinous strolled here between acts.

Monday, July 28, 2014

NEED TO MAKE A HASTY EXIT?
HEAD FOR THE VOMITORIUM



NEXT time you are in a theatre, look to see if it has a vomitorium in case you need to make a quick exit.

We have all heard lurid tales of extravagant banquets in Ancient Rome at which guests would over-indulge in food and drink and would need the help of a slave to help them vomit.

The slave would use a feather to assist in the regurgitation process ... and would hold a vessel in front of the person's mouth.

There is a popular misconception that Roman villas had a special room for this purpose ... a vomitorium.

According to Cicero, Julius Caesar escaped an assassination attempt because he felt ill after dinner. 

Instead of going to the latrine, where his assassins were waiting, he went to his bedroom and avoided assassination. This may be the origin of the misconception.

Actually, however, a vomitorium is a passage situated below or behind a tier of seats in an amphitheatre or a stadium, through which big crowds can exit rapidly at the end of a performance. They can also be pathways for actors to enter and leave stage.

The Latin word vomitorium, plural vomitoria, derives from the verb vomō, vomere, "to spew forth." In Ancient Rome, vomitoria were designed to provide rapid egress for large crowds at amphitheatres and stadiums, as they do in modern sports stadiums and large theatres.

The Circle in the Square Theatre, designed to reflect the theatres of ancient Greece and Rome, is the only Broadway theatre that has a vomitorium. The vomitorium is still used in many of their productions as an entrance and exit for the actors.

The Cockpit Theatre, built in London in the 1960s, is one of the very few purpose-built theatres in the round in London and features four vomitoria as corner entrances between four banks of raked seating arranged in a square.

In addition the Mark Taper Forum, one of the three theatres making up the Los Angeles Music Center, has two vomitoria. It has a strong thrust stage such that the audience sit in an amphitheatre-type array.

If a performance makes you sick, just head for the vomitorium ... to find your way outside fast.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

YOU MAY SOON CARESS YOUR OWN ANTINOUS
THANKS TO 3-D SCULPTURAL COPYING


SOON you may be able to acquire an exact copy of a famous statue or bust of Antinous ... indistinguishable from the original ... thanks to 3-D imaging technology.

Not everyone can afford to seek out every Antinous statue or bust in museums scattered around the world.

And of course no one is permitted to touch them, or even use a flash camera to take a snapshot.

Imagine how compelling it would be to be able to not only look at an artifact but also to handle it and feel the skill and artistry of the who created the piece on Imperial commission from Hadrian himself.

Now, a team of research engineers from Lancaster University in the UK have tried to achieve just that by offering schoolchildren the chance to handle ancient Egyptian artifacts at the nearby KENDAL MUSEUM – without any fear of damaging the 3,000-year-old relics.

Using a simple digital SLR camera used to photograph objects from every angle, readily-available software to stitch the images together into a 3D model, and the university’s simple SLS printer, the team reproduced a range of objects including pottery, a clay head and a figurine of a warrior.

"These Ancient Egyptian items are so rare that normally we don’t let anybody touch them," says the museum's archaeology curator Morag Clement, pictured here holding some of the replicas. 

"With these copies, people can pick them up, touch and interact with them instead of just viewing them behind glass," he adds. "We can also put them into loan boxes sent out to schools to teach the children about history."

The use of this technique could also make it easier to digitally repair broken antiquities. 

The replicas were created by PhD student John Kaufman and Dr Allan Rennie from the Department of Engineering at Lancaster University. John Kaufman painstakingly photographed every object from 360 degrees. 

"Normally this would be done with a laser scanner," he says. "But as part of my research, I used a much cheaper digital camera to see if I could make this method more accessible."

Up to 150 photos of each object were then digitally stitched together to create a 3D virtual image of the original.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN SOLDIER OF ROME
WROTE OF HOMESICKNESS FOR THE NILE


A newly 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).

Friday, July 25, 2014

THE INUNDATION OF THE NILE
THE FIRST MIRACLE OF ANTINOUS THE GOD


ON JULY 25 the Religion of Antinous joyfully commemorates the First Miracle of Antinous — the Bountiful Inundation of the Nile which ended a drought which had caused food shortages throughout the Empire.

The famine had overshadowed the tour of Egypt by the Imperial entourage in the year 130. The half-starved Egyptians looked to Hadrian, whom they worshipped as pharaoh, to perform a miracle which would end their misery.

But as Hadrian and Antinous traveled up the Nile during the summer and autumn of 130, the Nile once again failed to rise sufficiently to water the fields of Egypt — Rome's "Bread Basket" and chief source of grain and other staple foodstuffs.

It was a humiliating disappointment for the Emperor following the jubilant welcome by peoples during the earlier part of his tour through the Eastern Empire. In Ephesus and other cities he had been welcomed as a living god.

But the Egyptians had given him and his coterie what little they had in the way of food and wine — and he had failed to convince the Inundation Deity Hapi to bless them with bounty. Hapi is one of the most extraordinary deities in the history of religion.

Hapi is special to us especially because Hapi is hermaphroditic. With many other such deities, the gender division is down the middle of the body (like some Hindu deities) or the top half is one gender and the bottom half is the other.

But Hapi is very complex and the genders are mixed throughout his/her body. Male deities invariably have reddish-orange skin in Egyptian Art and female deities have yellowish skin. Hapi has bluish-green skin. Hapi has long hair like a female deity but has a square jaw and a beard. Hapi has broad shoulders yet has pendulous breasts like a nursing mother. Hapi has narrow hips and masculine thighs, but has a pregnant belly. Nobody knows what sort of genitals Hapi has, since they are covered by a strange garment reminiscent of a sumo wrestler's belt.

Hapi is both father and mother to the Egyptians. Hapi provides them with everything necessary for life. As Herodotus wrote, "Egypt is the gift of the Nile". Hapi wears a fabulous headdress of towering water plants and she/he carries enormous offering trays laden with foodstuffs.

The Ancient Egyptians had no problem worshipping a mixed-gender deity. I think it is very important to draw the connection between Hapi and Antinous, especially since the First Miracle that Antinous performed as a god involved Hapi. The Egyptians accepted Antinous into their own belief system immediately and were among the most ardent followers of Antinous.

They had no problem worshipping a gay deity who had united himself with a hermaphroditic deity. It must have seemed very logical and credible to them.

It made sense to them and enriched their belief system, made it more personal since they could identify more easily with a handsome young man than with a hermaphrodite wearing a sumo belt (Hapi forgive me!).

Herodotus also said he once asked a very learned religious man in Egypt what the true source of the Nile was.

The learned man (speaking through an interpreter, since most Greeks never bothered to learn Egyptian) paused and finally told him the true source of the Nile is the thigh of Osiris.

We think of it as a strange answer. We think of the Nile as an "it" and the source as a "geographical location". But the Egyptians thought of the Nile as "us" and its true source as "heka" — the magical semen of the creator.

So, a learned Egyptian would have assumed that a learned Greek would understand what was meant: That Hapi is the equivalent of Dionysus, who was "incubated" in the inner thigh of Zeus after his pregnant mortal mother Semele perished when she could not bear the searing sight of her lover Zeus in all his divine panoply.

It's a very poetic way (a very Egyptian way) of saying that the "true source" of the Nile, which is to say Egypt itself, is the magical heka/semen from the loins of the original creator.

We will never know what happened during that journey up the Nile along the drought-parched fields with anxious Egyptian farmers looking to Hadrian for a miracle. All we know is that Antinous "plunged into the Nile" and into the arms of Hapi in late October of the year 130.

And then the following summer, Hapi the Inundation Deity provided a bountiful Nile flood which replenished the food stocks of Egypt — and the Roman Empire.

Our own Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia explains the more esoteric aspects of this special Religious Holy Day:

"The Dog Star Sirius appears, and the sacred Star of Antinous begins to approach its zenith in the night sky of the northern hemisphere. The appearance of the Dog Star once announced the rise of the Inundation of the Nile, though it no longer does due to the precession of the Equinox, which is the slight alteration of the position of the stars.
"After the Death and Deification of Antinous, the Nile responded by rising miraculously after two successive years of severe drought. It was on this day, July 25th, in the year 131 that the ancient Egyptians recognized that Antinous was a god, nine months after his death, following their custom of deifying those who drowned in the Nile, whose sacrifice insured the life-giving flood.

"Sirius is the brightest star in the sky, it is part of the constellation Canis Major, or the big dog, which is the hunting dog of Orion. Mystically, Sirius and the constellation Canis Major is Antinous Master of Hounds and Orion is Hadrian the Hunter.

"The position of Orion, along the banks of the Milky Way, our galaxy in relation to Sirius is a mirror image of Pyramids along the bank of the Nile, which is the same relationship as Antinoopolis to the Nile, with the Via Hadriani, the road which Hadrian built across the desert to the East, linking the Nile with the Red Sea — Rome to India.

"We consecrate the beginning of the Dog Days of Summer to the advent of the Egyptian deification of Antinous and the miracle of the Inundation of the Nile."

The First Miracle of Antinous the Gay God is enshrined in the hieroglyphic inscription on the OBELISK OF ANTINOUS which stands in Rome.

The East Face of the Obelisk, which is aligned to the rising sun Ra-Herakhte, speaks of the joy that fills the heart of Antinous since having been summoned to meet his heavenly father Ra-Herakhte and to become a god himself.

Then the inscription tells how Antinous intercedes with Ra-Herakhte to shower blessings upon Hadrian and the Empress Sabina Augusta.

And Antinous immediately calls upon Hapi ...

Hapi, progenitor of the gods,
On behalf of Hadrian and Sabina,
Arrange the inundation in fortuitous time
To make fertile and bountiful, the fields
Of Both Upper and Lower Egypt!
We joyfully celebrate this, the First Miracle of Antinous!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE HELIACAL RISING OF THE DOG STAR




Arise in Me…Sothis,

Let me be cleansed

Let me be renewed

Let the Inundation flood

Across the heart

Dog Star Returns

A New Antinous coming forth

To set the soul in order

To purify with clear water

That we may be whole again

~FLAMEN ANTONIUS SUBIA