Sunday, September 30, 2012

ANTINOUS STEALS EVERY SCENE

FROM HADRIAN IN NYC STAGE DEBUT


ANTINOUS steals every scene from Hadrian, according to reviews of the emperor's Off-Broadway stage debut in New York City.

OPEN UP, HADRIAN closes tonight at Brooklyn's Magic Futurebox after a two-week run.

A generally positive critic for THE NEW YORK TIMES wrote that, while the play is focused on Hadrian (played by David Skeist), it is Marcos Toledo's portrayal of Antinous which steals the show.

"Antinous (Marcos Toledo) has more shrugs and scowls than lines — he’s more pet than confidant — but manages to hold our attention better than the leader of the unfree world," reviewer Catherine Rampell wrote. 

He is also the most interesting character, she pointed out.

"Sure, the food is rich, the booze flows freely and those sex parties are to die for. But the distrust from fellow slaves, the resentment from the emperor’s humiliated wife and the emperor’s unwavering, adoring, smothering gaze can make life unbearable," said Rampell.

"Likewise, Hadrian’s adoptive mother, Plotina (a hunched, slinking, bloodshot, chain-smoking Doris Mirescu), hijacks much of the story for herself," the critic added.

Written byJavierantonio González and directed by Meiyin Wang, Open up, Hadrian is an immersive promenade production that jumps more than 2,000 years and 20,000 square feet, transforming the enormous Sunset Park warehouse into Ancient Rome by way of an excavated film set not so long abandoned.

The ambitious new play with lavish sets traces Hadrian's life with elements of Greek drama and dark comedy—his anguished love, lofty ideals, and his big, famous wall.

It presents an overweaningly positive view of Hadrian as Rome’s most philosophical emperor, caught in the midst of two bloody wars of expansion. He loved poetry, theatre, and all things Greek. He was also gay.

Open up, Hadrian was advertised as "an irreverent and contemporary play that looks back to a world 2,000 years younger and reads it variously as the nadir of imperial exploitation, a hotbed of radical political thought, a renaissance of engineering, and a raunchily naïve adolescent sex party."

As "downtown theatre" comes more and more to mean "outer borough theatre," this production celebrates an anarchic artistic "empire" throughout New York, voracious as ancient Rome itself, according to a report in BROADWAYWORLD.COM

The report quotes Kevin Laibson, Co-Artistic Director of Magic Futurebox, as saying: "We were thrilled when Caborca came to us with Open up, Hadrian. To work with artists of such integrity and humor on a piece as high-flying as this is exactly why we started making theater in the first place."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

ANTINOUS EXPERT SPEAKS IN LONDON

ON LATEST RESEARCH FINDINGS



ONE of the world's leading authorities on Antinous will discuss the latest research discoveries and insights into the Beauteous Boy during a popular lecture in London on October 24th.

 John J Johnston will give the lecture, entitled "A Boy and His Empire: Antinous — Last God of the Ancient World", on October 24th at the IT'S ALL GREEK gallery and emporium located at  65 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3BL.

Seating is exceedingly limited, so it is advisable to reserve tickets well in advance from the store's owner, the delightful Elinor Wynne Lloyd, by emailing her via hello@itsallgreek.co.uk.

Johnston, shown above with the famous Berlin Green Head, is well known for giving lectures which offer a very thorough and precise outline of the historical person Antinous and his elevation by the Emperor Hadrian from provincial obscurity to the dizzying heights of Imperial Rome — and upon his death, to the celestial realm of divinity. 

He has spoken on the subject of Antinous twice at the renowned Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, drawing standing-room-only crowds each time.

This lavishly illustrated lecture draws upon artistic, archaeological, and textual sources to examine the enigmatic life and death of Antinous, before going on to consider his religious and artistic legacy throughout the Roman world and his continuing influence in the modern world from his adoration by Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the father of art history, through the works of Victorian artists and writers, and into the 21st Century where Antinous and his image have provided the basis for numerous "blockbuster" exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the world and continue to inspire artists, writers and film-makers.
 

Bringing the discussion right up-to-date, he will also be addressing our own Priesthood of Antinous and the online TEMPLE OF ANTINOUS as exemplars of Antinous' influence on modern popular culture.

Earlier this year, he presented a conference paper focused upon the effect of Antinous upon western gay culture, entitled The Cult of Antinous: 1,882 Years and Counting?
  
John J Johnston is Vice-Chair of the Egypt Exploration Society and serves on the Committee of the Friends of the Petrie Museum. He has lectured extensively at institutions such as the British Museum, the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal College of Surgeons and the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen. 


His varied research interests encompass mortuary beliefs and practices, gender and sexuality, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, the history of Egyptology and the reception of ancient Egypt in the modern world. 

He is co-editor of the book, Narratives of Egypt and the Ancient Near East: Literary Linguistic Approaches (Peeters, 2011). He is presently editing two further publications and sits on the Editorial Board of Egyptian Archaeology magazine.

John J Johnston read Egyptology and Classics at the University of Liverpool and Open University, respectively. He obtained an MA in Egyptian Archaeology from University College London, where he is currently reading for a PhD.
 


 

Friday, September 28, 2012

ANTINOUS AT THE GREAT PYRAMID


ANTINOUS and Hadrian visited the Pyramids at Giza on this date in the year 130 AD, exactly one month before the tragic death of the Beauteous Boy.

Flamen Antonyus Subia explains the spiritual significance this way:
"The Entourage visited Giza and explored the ancient Pyramids, accompanied by the highest priests of Egypt who were aware of the deeper mysteries of the structures. Antinous was given a full explanation.

"The celestial configuration of the Pyramids and their geographical relationship to the Nile, corresponding to the belt of Orion and the Milky Way, is similar to the location of the City of Antinoopolis and the Nile, to the constellation Aquila along the shore of the Milky Way.

"The celestial-terrestrial alignment of Pyramids of Giza was a presage of the coming mystery of Antinous, and it is in this spirit that we consecrate this day, one month before the death of Antinous to our own alignment in the universe."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

ANTINOOPOLIS ERA EGYPTIAN PRIEST
WROTE A TALE OF PRIESTLY SEX


AN EGYPTIAN priest living in the heyday of the city of ANTINOOPOLIS wrote a steamy fictional story of priestly sex, according to a recently deciphered papyrus text.

The crumbling papyrus was found at the famed Tebtunis Library a cache of thousands of papyrus scrolls at a temple complex in the Fayoum Oasis not far from Antinoopolis. 

The papyrus is believed to be 1,900 years old, which would make the author a contemporary of the nearby Priests of Antinous at Antinoopolis, only a short boat ride up the Nile from Tebtunis.

Thousands of scrolls were found at Tebtunis, few of which have been translated. This scroll is currently in Florence, Italy, in the Istituto Papirologico "G. Vitelli."

The newly deciphered tale refers several times to priests dressing up, wearing makeup, partying and having sex. At one point a speaker implores a person to "drink truly. Eat truly. Sing" and to "don clothing, anoint (yourself), adorn the eyes, and enjoy sexual bliss."

The narrator of the story adds that the chief deity of his temple, the vulture goddess Mut, will not let you "be distant from drunkenness on any day. She will not allow you to be lacking in any (manner)."

The narrator defends his views by saying, "As for those who have called me evil, Mut will 'call' them evil."

Christian writers at the time harshly condemned Egyptian priests in general, and the Priests of Antinous in particular, for engaging in what they called "debaucheries" and "wanton sexual perversities" in the name of religious ecstasy.

So it is possible this story was a reaction to the prudishness of the fanatical Christians, who insisted that Jesus was virginal and sexually abstinent, as were his priests.

Researchers know the story is fictional because it employs an Egyptian noun used only in fiction to mark separate sections of a story.  They know when it was written because the priest wrote in DEMOTIC, which was the Egyptian script used during the Roman occupation of Egypt.

Reconstructing the overall plot narrative of the papyrus is tricky. The text is fragmentary, and researchers cannot be certain how the full story unfolded since there are large "lacunae" or gaps where bugs have eaten away sections of the text.

"Conceivably, we have here the remains of an account of how an adherent of the goddess Mut persuaded another individual to devote himself to her worship or join in her rites," according to the researchers, professors Richard Jasnow and Mark Smith, who published their translation and analysis of the papyrus in the most recent edition of the journal Enchoria.

Jasnow, from Johns Hopkins University, and Smith, from Oxford, write that evidence of ritual sex is  rare in ancient Egypt and the act probably would have been controversial in earlier ages.

"There is surprisingly little unequivocal Egyptian evidence for the performance of the sex act as such in ritual contexts," Jasnow and Smith write.

Thus it is possible that the ancient priest was writing a tongue-in-cheek satire lampooning the prudishness of contemporary Christian writers who accused Egyptian pagans of lasciviousness in their temples.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

DICTIONARY SHOWS HOW EGYPTIANS SPOKE

WHEN HADRIAN AND ANTINOUS VISITED THEM



A revolutionary new dictionary is giving Egyptologists new insights into the way the Ancient Egyptians spoke and lived in the days when Hadrian and Antinous visited the land of the Nile.

Since decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs, there have been several dictionaries over the past two centuries for translating hieroglyphic texts written in the language of the pharaohs, primarily Middle Egyptian. But there has been no proper dictionary for Demotic, which was the post-pharaonic form of the Egyptian language which was in use when Egypt was a Roman province.

Demotic Egyptian, a name given by the Greeks to denote it was the tongue of the demos, or common people. It was written as a flowing script and was used in Egypt from about 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., when the land was occupied and usually dominated by foreigners, including Persians, Greeks and Romans. The language lives on today in words such as adobe, which came from the Egyptian word for brick. The word moved through Demotic, on to Arabic and eventually to Spain during the time of Islamic domination there, explained Janet Johnson, editor of the Chicago Demotic Dictionary. Ebony, the dark wood that was traded down the Nile from Nubia (present-day Sudan), also comes from Demotic roots. The name Susan is indirectly related to the Demotic word for water lily. "Demotic was used for business and legal documents, private letters and administrative inscriptions, and literary texts, such as narratives and pieces of wisdom literature," said Johnson, the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor at the Oriental Institute. "It was also used for religious and magical texts as well as scientific texts dealing with topics such as astronomy, mathematics and medicine. It is an indispensible tool for reconstructing the social, political and cultural life of ancient Egypt during a fascinating period of its history," she continued. "The University of Chicago is pretty much Demotic central," said James Allen, PhD'81, the Wilbour Professor of Egyptology and chair of the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University. "Besides the Demotic dictionary, the University also has some of the world's top experts on Demotic on its faculty. "This dictionary will be very useful, as there are more unpublished documents in Demotic than any other phase of ancient Egyptian," he said. The Demotic language was one of the three texts on the Rosetta stone, which was also written in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek. In addition to being used on stone carvings, the script was left behind on papyrus and broken bits of pottery.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-chicago-demotic-dictionary-refines-knowledge.html#jCp
Demotic Egyptian, a name given by the Greeks to denote it was the tongue of the demos, or common people. It was written as a flowing script and was used in Egypt from about 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., when the land was occupied and usually dominated by foreigners, including Persians, Greeks and Romans. The language lives on today in words such as adobe, which came from the Egyptian word for brick. The word moved through Demotic, on to Arabic and eventually to Spain during the time of Islamic domination there, explained Janet Johnson, editor of the Chicago Demotic Dictionary. Ebony, the dark wood that was traded down the Nile from Nubia (present-day Sudan), also comes from Demotic roots. The name Susan is indirectly related to the Demotic word for water lily. "Demotic was used for business and legal documents, private letters and administrative inscriptions, and literary texts, such as narratives and pieces of wisdom literature," said Johnson, the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor at the Oriental Institute. "It was also used for religious and magical texts as well as scientific texts dealing with topics such as astronomy, mathematics and medicine. It is an indispensible tool for reconstructing the social, political and cultural life of ancient Egypt during a fascinating period of its history," she continued. "The University of Chicago is pretty much Demotic central," said James Allen, PhD'81, the Wilbour Professor of Egyptology and chair of the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University. "Besides the Demotic dictionary, the University also has some of the world's top experts on Demotic on its faculty. "This dictionary will be very useful, as there are more unpublished documents in Demotic than any other phase of ancient Egyptian," he said. The Demotic language was one of the three texts on the Rosetta stone, which was also written in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek. In addition to being used on stone carvings, the script was left behind on papyrus and broken bits of pottery.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-chicago-demotic-dictionary-refines-knowledge.html#jCp
Demotic Egyptian, a name given by the Greeks to denote it was the tongue of the demos, or common people. It was written as a flowing script and was used in Egypt from about 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., when the land was occupied and usually dominated by foreigners, including Persians, Greeks and Romans. The language lives on today in words such as adobe, which came from the Egyptian word for brick. The word moved through Demotic, on to Arabic and eventually to Spain during the time of Islamic domination there, explained Janet Johnson, editor of the Chicago Demotic Dictionary. Ebony, the dark wood that was traded down the Nile from Nubia (present-day Sudan), also comes from Demotic roots. The name Susan is indirectly related to the Demotic word for water lily. "Demotic was used for business and legal documents, private letters and administrative inscriptions, and literary texts, such as narratives and pieces of wisdom literature," said Johnson, the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor at the Oriental Institute. "It was also used for religious and magical texts as well as scientific texts dealing with topics such as astronomy, mathematics and medicine. It is an indispensible tool for reconstructing the social, political and cultural life of ancient Egypt during a fascinating period of its history," she continued. "The University of Chicago is pretty much Demotic central," said James Allen, PhD'81, the Wilbour Professor of Egyptology and chair of the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University. "Besides the Demotic dictionary, the University also has some of the world's top experts on Demotic on its faculty. "This dictionary will be very useful, as there are more unpublished documents in Demotic than any other phase of ancient Egyptian," he said. The Demotic language was one of the three texts on the Rosetta stone, which was also written in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek. In addition to being used on stone carvings, the script was left behind on papyrus and broken bits of pottery.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-chicago-demotic-dictionary-refines-knowledge.html#jCp
Demotic Egyptian was the tongue of the demos, or common people. It was written as a flowing script and was used in Egypt from about 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., when the land was occupied and usually dominated by foreigners, including Persians, Greeks and Romans.

The language lives on today in words such as adobe, which came from the Egyptian word for brick. The word moved through Demotic, on to Arabic and eventually to Spain during the time of Islamic domination there, explained Janet Johnson, editor of the Chicago Demotic Dictionary.

Ebony, the dark wood that was traded down the Nile from Nubia (present-day Sudan), also comes from Demotic roots. The name Susan is indirectly related to the Demotic word for water lily.

"Demotic was used for business and legal documents, private letters and administrative inscriptions, and literary texts, such as narratives and pieces of wisdom literature," said Johnson, the Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor at the Oriental Institute.

"It was also used for religious and magical texts as well as scientific texts dealing with topics such as astronomy, mathematics and medicine. It is an indispensible tool for reconstructing the social, political and cultural life of ancient Egypt during a fascinating period of its history," she continued.

"The University of Chicago is pretty much Demotic central," said James Allen, the Wilbour Professor of Egyptology and chair of the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University.

"Besides the Demotic dictionary, the University also has some of the world's top experts on Demotic on its faculty. "This dictionary will be very useful, as there are more unpublished documents in Demotic than any other phase of ancient Egyptian," he said.

The Demotic language was one of the three texts on the Rosetta stone, which was also written in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek. In addition to being used on stone carvings, the script was left behind on papyrus and broken bits of pottery. The new dictionary combines all three:


Chicago Demotic Dictionary refines knowledge of influential language

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

THE ETRUSCANS BUILT PYRAMIDS?

ARCHAEOLOGISTS SAY YES!



ETRUSCAN pyramids have been located underneath a wine cellar in the city of Orvieto in central Italy, according to a team of U.S. and Italian archaeologists.

Carved into the rock of the tufa plateau --a sedimentary area that is a result of volcanic activity -- on which the city stands, the subterranean structures were largely filled. 

Only the top-most modern layer was visible.

"Within this upper section, which had been modified in modern times and was used as a wine cellar, we noticed a series of ancient stairs carved into the wall. They were clearly of Etruscan construction," David B. George of the Department of Classics at Saint Anselm, told Discovery News.

As they started digging, George and co-director of the excavation Claudio Bizzarri of the Parco Archeologico Ambientale dell'Orvietano noted that the cave's walls were tapered up in a pyramidal fashion. 

Intriguingly, a series of tunnels, again of Etruscan construction, ran underneath the wine cellar hinting to the possibility of deeper undiscovered structures below.

After going through a mid-20th century floor, George and Bizzarri reached a medieval floor. Immediately beneath this floor, they found a layer of fill that contained various artifacts such as Attic red figure pottery from the middle of the 5th Century B.C., 6th and 5th century B.C. Etruscan pottery with inscriptions as well as various objects that dated to before 1000 B.C.

Digging through this layer, the archaeologists found 5 feet of gray sterile fill, which was intentionally deposited from a hole in the top of the structure.

"Below that material there was a brown layer that we are currently excavating. Intriguingly, the stone carved stairs run down the wall as we continue digging. We still don't know where they are going to take us," Bizzarri told Discovery News.

The material from the deepest level reached so far (the archaeologists have pushed down about 10 feet) dates to around the middle of the fifth century B.C.

"At this level we found a tunnel running to another pyramidal structure and dating from before the 5th century B.C. which adds to the mystery," George said.

Indeed, the Etruscans have long been considered one of antiquity's greatest enigmas.

A fun-loving and eclectic people who among other things taught the French how to make wine, the Romans how to build roads, and introduced the art of writing to Europe, the Etruscans began to flourish in Etruria (an area in central Italy area that covered now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna and Umbria) around 900 B.C., and then dominated much of the country for five centuries.

Known for their art, agriculture, fine metalworking and commerce, they started to decline during the fifth century B.C., as the Romans grew in power. By 300-100 B.C., they eventually became absorbed into the Roman empire.

Their puzzling, non-Indo-European language was virtually extinguished and they left no literature to document their society. Indeed, much of what we know about them comes from their cemeteries: only the richly decorated tombs they left behind have provided clues to fully reconstruct their history.

The subterranean pyramids in Orvieto could offer a unique insight into this civilization as the structures appear to be unique.

"The caves have indeed a shape unknown elsewhere in Etruria," Larissa Bonfante, professor emerita of classics at New York University and a leading expert on the ancient Etruscans, told Discovery News.

According to Bizzarri, there are at least five Etruscan pyramids under the city. Three of these structures have yet to be excavated.

"Clearly, they are not quarries or cisterns. I would say that there is nothing like these structures on record anywhere in Italy," Bizzarri said.

According to George, the underground pyramids could represent some sort of a religious structure or a tomb. In both cases, it would be a discovery without precedent.

"Most likely, the answer waits at the bottom. The problem is we don't really know how much we have to dig to get down there," Bizzarri said.

For all the details, read the original report by Discovery News.

Monday, September 24, 2012

MURDER MOST FOUL AT HADRIAN's WALL


THE savage murder of a small child at a Roman fort has become Britain's oldest cold case to be successfully solved: 1,800 years after the murder, according to British news reports.

Detective work began when archaeologists unearthed a hastily buried skeleton, the arms tied together, under a legionnaires' barracks at Hadrian's Wall, said a report in the Daily Express.

After two years of research, it has emerged the victim was a 10-year-old child, possibly a girl and probably a slave sent to the Roman Empire's most northerly outpost from North Africa in about 213 AD.

The child's sex cannot be confirmed but experts think it was a girl and have named her Georgie. She died after being hit over the head with a heavy object.

It is believed up to eight legionnaires from one of the most feared units in the Roman Army, the Fourth Cohort of Gauls from what is now France, whose trademark in battle was to scalp their victims, were involved in the child's killing.

"It's the French that did it," said Dr Trudi Buck, a Durham University biological anthropologist who has pieced together Georgie's tragic story.

"This child’s death is sad and horrible. It shows human nature does not change, we still get crimes like this today."

Dr Buck, who has helped British police on recent murder investigations, says it is impossible to say why Georgie was murdered.

All eight soldiers living in the barracks, a stone building about half the size of a modern house, must have helped cover up the crime, said Dr Buck.

Georgie was naked when dumped in the shallow grave, the position the bones were found in suggests her arms were tied in front of her.

Andrew Birley, director of excavations at Vindolanda, a Roman complex on the wall in Northumberland where Georgie's remains are now on show, said: "There is no way that everyone in the barracks did not know what had gone on."

"They would all have to have been compliant, if not in the crime, then certainly in the cover-up.

"There were strict rules at the time about not burying bodies within settlements but they could never have got the body past the checkpoints at the gates so they were stuck. If they could have got rid of the remains they would have."

Sunday, September 23, 2012

HOW TO GET A UNIVERSITY DEGREE

BY WATCHING GLADIATOR FLICKS IN CLASS



STUDENTS at the University of Buffalo in the US state of New York will be able to work toward a degree by watching movies about Ancient Greece and Rome in class.

More than 600 films have been set in Ancient Greece or Rome over the past century, from the early days of the silent flicks up to today's digital 3-D blockbusters.

"The Ancient World in Movies" will screen 13 films during the fall semester which began last week.

Included in the screening list of Greek films is Troy, Homer's epic drama that stars Brad Pitt and Eric Bana. 


Another now-forgotten picture is 1954's Ulysses, starring Kirk Douglas in the title role and Anthony Quinn as Antinous the suitor of Penelope (not "our" Antinous) ...

In addition, students will see the 1977 horror Iphigenia with Irene Papas along with O Brother Where Art Thou? featuring George Clooney, and the the Spartan epic 300.

Also on offer will be two films which only tangentially touch on Ancient Greece: Chinatown and Orfeu Negro, the award-winning 1950s retelling of Orpheus in the Underworld set in Rio de Janeiro during Mardi Gras.

The Romans in film part of the class will showcase: Cabiria (1914), a silent melodrama set during the Punic Wars (featuring the child-eating god Moloch); Spartacus (1960); Gladiator with Russell Crowe; Quo Vadis (1951) and Ben Hur (1959).

Donald McGuire, PhD will teach the course and says, "I guarantee that students will come away with a great deal of knowledge of the real and 'reel' ancient Greece and Rome, and the horror, splendor and weirdness that continues to gallop from the ancient rocks of the Mediterranean shores all the way to the Hollywood hills."

The University will also offer weekly screenings for free and open to the public on Sundays at 7 p.m. from now through December 2, in Room 330 of the Student Union, UB North Campus.


So, students get out your netbooks and take notes on the following scene. Remember, you will be tested on this:





Saturday, September 22, 2012

LOUVRE OPENS NEW GALLERY TODAY

DEVOTED TO EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE ART


TODAY in Paris the Louvre formally opens a refurbished gallery housing art from the Eastern Mediterranean Provinces of the Roman Empire.

The large new permanent exhibition rooms, located around the Cour Visconti, are designed to showcase a collection of artworks representing Late Antiquity in the East Mediterranean provinces of Rome between the 1st Century BC and the 4th Century AD.

This period was characterized by the emergence of a civilization founded on the dual heritage of Greece and Rome. To help visitors understand how the collection was put together, a unifying theme runs throughout the department:  "acculturation"—the process by which local populations assimilated and adapted to the Greco-Roman culture.

The collections of objects dating from the Roman period (1st Century BC - 4th Century AD) and originating in Egypt and the Near East (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Turkey) were initially divided between the Louvre's three archaeological departments  according to stylistic criteria such as Hellenistic, Near Eastern or Egyptian.

The new gallery brings together all items which originated in "The East Mediterranean in the Roman Empire" so that these long-dispersed items could at last be assembled in a single space, and thereby placed in their geographical, cultural, and artistic context.

The exhibition space comprises nine thematic rooms focusing on different aspects of the art and civilization of this period.

The visit begins with a gallery devoted to Egyptian funerary art, which sheds light on the religious beliefs and artistic adaptations of a multicultural society including Egyptians, Greeks, and Hellenized Romans. The second gallery is dedicated to Near Eastern funerary art, and this juxtaposition of two geographical areas (Egypt and the Near East) helps visitors visualize and understand the differences of conception and mindset in this field.

Cult statues and furniture, presented on two levels, illustrate the religious practices that were so closely linked to the belief in an afterlife.

On the lower level, Near Eastern mosaics and Coptic tapestries illustrate the decoration of Byzantine churches and Roman houses in the 6th Century AD.

The visit continues with a section devoted to public life, followed by an evocation of everyday life through ceramics, glass and metalware, furnishing fabrics, clothing and adornment.

Finally, a small room devoted to pre-Christian and Christian Nubia serves as an antechamber to the rooms exhibiting objects from Coptic Egypt.

Friday, September 21, 2012

THE DAY ANTINOUS WAS INITIATED

INTO THE ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES






ON SEPTEMBER 21 the Religion of Antinous commemorates the FEAST OF THE PERSEPHONEA — the initiation of Antinous into the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES in Greece at the outset of Emperor Hadrian's Imperial Tour of the Eastern Provinces.

Historical records state that, in the late summer of the year 128, the Imperial Court embarked on a grand tour of the East. The Empress Sabina, Hadrian's wife, and her attendants were members of the entourage.

But on this particular journey, Antinous was the most favored of Hadrian's companions. Their love affair was openly, and gracefully displayed before the eyes of the world. This journey through the East, what we call the SACRED PEREGRINATION, is the only part of the short life of Antinous that history has conveyed to us. 

For this reason it takes on the importance of a sacred epic. Antinous was in the very flower of his beauty and vigor, he was a shining star held in the wings of the Imperial Eagle, and it is no coincidence that this court of demigods should travel through the lands of Ganymede, Attis, Adonis, Jesus and Osiris, who were all beautiful souls taken from life before their time.

The court stayed in Athens for five or even six months, they arrived in time for the celebration of the MYSTERIES OF ELEUSIS, which symbolically portrayed the rape of Proserpina by Hades, the mourning of her mother Demeter, and the return of Spring. 

In the modern Religion of Antinous, we commemorate these ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES on September 21st, the Autumnal Equinox, for it is believed that Antinous underwent the secret initiations provided by the priests of Eleusis. Through them he received the consecration of the dark goddess of the underworld Proserpina, which prepared him for his own death and resurrection.

In the Mysteries of Eleusis, the initiates are led into the realm of death and are confronted with immediate death. Two years later, in 130 AD, Hadrian and Antinous would indeed be confronted by physical death. In the Mysteries of Eleusis (and indeed in the Underworld after Death), the initiates cannot go back the way they have come. And they cannot go forward without knowing the Words of Power that will allow the gatekeepers to throw open their gates.

But we face such situations not only in secret initiations, or on our deathbeds. No, we face such "mysteries" every day of our lives. We put off our dreams and aspirations so we can cope more effectively with the challenges of the present, ostensibly to have more time and leisure to realize our purpose in the future. Or we tell ourselves that we will chase our dreams someday once we have accomplished other lesser goals.

In truth, it is our fear that keeps us from seeking fulfillment in the here and now — because we view failure as a possibility, our reasons for delaying our inevitable success seem sound and rational. If we ask ourselves what we are really waiting for, however, we discover that there is no truly compelling reason why we should put off the pursuit of the dreams that sustain us.

That is what "mystery initiations" are all about. Hadrian and Antinous were forced by the Eleusinian priests to confront their fears and to find a way to go forth into life — NOW. They had no options. It was now or never. Life or Oblivion. In our own lives, we face the same question every day. And usually we try to find a way to avoid the question.

The idols, the images, the icons, the gilded statues and the gods themselves are as nothing.

YOU YOURSELF HOLD THE KEYS TO FINDING AND FULFILLING YOUR OWN DESTINY.

 It is yours to find and to fulfill. No one else's. Not even the gods'.

That is what the ELEUSINIAN MYSTERIES are all about. And that is what the PERSEPHONEA is all about. And the Journey Up the Nile by Hadrian and Antinous to their Fateful Destiny with Eternity. And it is also what the symbolism of the Equinoxes is all about.

Even if the days are getting shorter, they are also getting longer — it is all a matter of perspective. The days ARE getting longer — our brothers in South America, South Africa and Australia can look out the window and see the lavender blossoms of the jacarandas in springtime bloom.

Remember Hadrian and Antinous in the Underworld (or on their Fateful Voyage Up the Nile) and understand what they understood: That the keys of fate are in your hands and you can venture forth RIGHT NOW wherever you wish to go.

FOR IT IS WRITTEN ON THE OBELISK OF ANTINOUS:  

 

He is able to enter any place he wishes.
The Guardians of the Gates
Of the Underworld
Say "Praise to You!" to Him...
They loosen their bolts
And throw open their Gates before Him ...
Millions of years ... daily ...
As His duration of life is as the sun,
Never in eternity elapsing!"

 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

ACACIA TREE

BY STEPHANOS KILGORE 

SACRED KNIGHT OF ANTINOUS


Silent I have been
Silent I will be
Sitting under an acacia tree
Pondering the turning
Wheel of all
Gods returning
Vibrations strong
Past lives converging
Great Sphinx
Waiting
Knowing all
Saying nothing
Antinoo
Standing tall
Obelisk
Reminder to all

Bambikilgore
Sept 16 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

THE BIRTH OF ANTONINUS PIUS




SEPTEMBER 19 the Religion of Antinous celebrates the birth of the Divine Emperor Antoninus Pius.

Caesar Titus Aurelius Fulvius Boionius Arrius Antoninus was born on this day 86 A.D. at Lanuvium, near Rome.

Under the Divine Hadrian he served as Proconsul of Asia minor from 130 to 135, the most crucial years in the development of the Religion of Antinous. After that he was summoned to Rome to be close to Hadrian as his health failed.

With the untimely death of the emperor's chosen heir, the blessed Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, Hadrian chose Antoninus to be his successor. Thus Hadrian adopted him as his son and successor on the 25th of February 138, on condition that he himself adopted Hadrian's great nephew-by-marriage Marcus Aurelius, and Lucius Aelius Verus's son Lucius Verus, who was only 7 years old.

Hadrian's choice in successors proved to be infinitely wise. 

Following decades of political turmoil, civil strife and imperial excesses, Hadrian and his successors ushered one final period of peace and prosperity for Rome which would go done in history as the Sacred and Golden Age of the Antonines.

On Hadrian's death, Antoninus Pius was enthusiastically welcomed to the throne by the Roman people, whose hopes of a happy reign were not disappointed. For Antoninus came to his new office with simple tastes, kindly disposition, extensive experience, a well-trained intelligence and the sincerest desire for the welfare of his subjects.

One of his first acts was to persuade the Senate to grant divine honors to Hadrian, which they had at first refused (but later agreed to). This gained him the title of Pius (dutiful in affection). He built temples, theaters, and mausoleums, promoted the arts and sciences, and bestowed honors and salaries upon the teachers of rhetoric and philosophy.

Unlike his predecessors Trajan and Hadrian, Antoninus Pius was not a military man. His reign was comparatively peaceful. Insurrections amongst the Moors, Jews, and Brigantes in Britain were easily put down. The one military result which is of interest to us now is the building in Britain of the Wall of Antoninus (a few miles north of Hadrian's Wall), which was proclaimed in 2008 to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

During his reign, Antoninus issued coins celebrating the religious glory of Rome in celebration of the nine hundredth anniversary of the city in 147. The coins asserted the superiority of Romanism over the Empire.

Antoninus is said to have restored the sanctity of the ancient Roman faith, and to have reinvigorated its ceremonies, which is another possible reason why he was surnamed Pius.

The Religion of Antinous was in its infancy when Antoninus Pius came to power. The Blessed Boy's temples were under construction. The Sacred City of Antinoopolis was unfinished. It would have been easy for Antoninus Pius to pull the plug on the expense involved in the new religion. After all, Antoninus Pius was known as a penny-pincher who demanded fiscal restraint.

Instead, Antoninus Pius generously supplied the fledgling religion with imperial largess and was instrumental in the spread of the Faith of Antinous in those early years. Without him, the religion would have vanished at Hadrian's death. Instead, it flourished for centuries.

After the longest reign since Augustus (surpassing Tiberius by a couple of months), Antoninus died of fever on March 7, 161. His last public utterance was when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password — "aequanimit as" (equanimity). It was a fitting epitaph.

His body was placed in Hadrian's Mausoleam, a column was dedicated to him on Mars Field, and the temple he had built in the Forum in 141 to his deified wife Faustina was rededicated to the deified Faustina and the deified Antoninus. The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina still stands today in the Roman Forum (at right, now called the Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda).

We pay tribute to Antoninus Pius, who truly lived up to his title as a man of wisdom and piety.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

PAMELA COLMAN SMITH

SAINT OF ANTINOUS





MAGINATION is the key word. Just imagine the cramped artist's studio in London's Chelsea district and, with the help of the artist's images, you are there. It is December 1909. The solid-black walls of the apartment contrast starkly with the red-orange drapes. 

Jamaican folk artefacts share space on a Victorian curio shelf with photographs of friends and relatives — a mother in Jamaica, a father in Brooklyn Heights, a famous actress in a West End production, Bram Stoker, W.B. Yeats. The jet-black walls form a void-like exhibition space which highlights the dazzling Caribbean art as well as the dozens of paintings and sketches which line the walls. Suffragette posters. Oil landscapes. But particularly watercolor illustrations of dreamscapes and fairy tales.

A brightly painted miniature theatre with ornate proscenium and cloth curtain stands proudly in one corner, with its cast of tiny cardboard cut-out "actors" waiting patiently for their entrances.

An enormous gramophone stands in the opposite corner, and Debussy's La Mer is playing at full volume, as it has been all morning. The neighbours have long since stopped complaining about the music.


The artist, Pamela Colman Smith, is a petite woman in her early 30s who sits in the middle of the studio with paint brush in hand, mixing watercolors, her eyes trance-like as the music envelops her. She is wearing a vividly hued kimono with broad sleeves made even more colorful by splotches of paint.

One of the two Japanese combs pinning back her long dark hair has loosened, causing her tresses to sag to one side, but she is oblivious. The paint is dripping from her brush, but she pays no mind, keeping her eyes firmly shut as Debussy transports her to a place she calls "the unknown country" of her artistic inner heart.

On the easel in front of her is a small canvas showing an androgynous person wearing a short kimono-like tunic with sleeves and an abstract floral design uncannily like the kimono she is wearing. The figure is striding to a precipice as a small white animal dances at his heels.

The painting is almost finished. The outline was done in pen. Only a few more brush strokes are needed for the hand-coloring. Debussy will provide the musical sunrise which will be the cue that the illustration is finished.

And then the small illustration will join all the others (about 80 in all, give or take one or two) which are carefully arranged on drying shelves around the studio. The printer is waiting. The cards must be delivered by the end of December.


She has been working on the Tarot card project for about a year, since Arthur E.A. Waite asked her to illustrate "his" new pack of Tarot cards in his long-running one-upsmanship feud with other occultists in London. 

He had very strong ideas about the design of the 22 Greater Trumps but was unconcerned with the 56 Lesser Trumps. Only one other artist had ever illustrated all 78 cards, an unknown 15th Century artist whose dazzling cards were jealously guarded by the Sola Busca family of Italy. 

The Sola Buscas had grudgingly permitted photographic copies of the cards to be put on view at the British Museum in 1908.

And so it was, that a petite 30-something sufragette took a tweedy advertising executive for the Horlick's bedtime powdered milk drink (Waite's "day job" when he wasn't doing occult spellwork) and dragged him to the British Museum and said she would do the job but only on condition that she illustrate all 78 cards with artistic license for design and color.

It had taken months of pain-staking work. "A big job for very little cash!" she would write to her friend and benefactor Alfred Stieglitz, who had made room in his famed New York photography gallery for exhibitions of some of her "Pictures in Music", watercolors she painted in a trance-like state while listening to her favorite composers, such as Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Debussy. On a visit to Paris, she had even been bold enough to introduce herself to Debussy and show him paintings she had done to his music. She was greatly flattered when he said she had captured the very essence of his music.


"You ask me how these pictures are evolved," she said. "They are not the music theme — pictures of the flying notes — not conscious illustrations of the name given to a piece of music, but just what I see when I hear music-thoughts loosened and set free by the spell of the sound."

She explained that, for example, "Often when I hear Bach I hear bells ringing in the sky, rung by whirling cords held in the hands of maidens dressed in brown."

Stieglitz had shown her music paintings to rave reviews in New York in 1907. The New York Sun critic wrote: "Pamela Colman Smith is a young woman with the quality rare in either sex — imagination."

Pamela — "Pixie" to her few close friends (mostly women) — had grown up in London and New York City, as well as in Jamaica. Her father was a globe-trotting businessman who spent little time at home. Her mother came from a long line of women poets and children's story-book writers. The details of her childhood are fuzzy. She had a dark complexion and facial features which prompted speculation that she had been adopted during her father's many trips to Jamaica. At any rate, she spent her formative years in Jamaica, where she learned the patois dialect perfectly and became a master story-teller of Jamaican tales of magic and wonder.


But when her mother died at an early age, little Pixie moved to Brooklyn Heights where she lived with her father and pursued art classes at the renowned Pratt Institute, a progressive school which encouraged students to explore new avenues of expression.

And when her father also died suddenly, she was shipped back to England to live with a troupe of actors who were friends of her eccentric father. She was relieved to be back in England, since her skin color had exposed her to racist discrimination in the States.

The rarified atmosphere of London's Leicester Square theatre district was an invigorating change. In New York she had been "a mulatto". 

In London's West End she was simply exotic. She lived with the high-profile actress Ellen Terry, who became her mother, mentor and best friend. Sir Henry Irving, a leading thespian and empresario, became her ersatz father. The three of them toured Britain in productions when they weren't staging their own plays in the West End. Pixie lived in Irving's theatre. She learned set design, costume design (and how to mend costumes between acts) and she learned how the stage is the world-in-small.

A century on, it is hard for us to appreciate how mind-opening the theatre was. There was no radio, no television. Even the cinema was in its infancy. To see the world, you went to the theatre. Pamela didn't just go to the theatre. Surrounded by actors and directors 24 hours a day, she truly LIVED the theatre. She said it was the perfect place for a budding artist.


"Go and see all the plays you can," she advised young artists. "For the stage is a great school — or should be — to the illustrator — as well as to others."

She openly admitted she had learned more in the theatre than at her famous New York art institute.

"The stage has taught me almost all I know of clothes, of action and of pictorial gestures," she said, and her advice to other artists was to throw away the textbook and just open their eyes and ears. An artist should always have a sketch pad at hand. She even took her sketch pad to the ballet to see Nijinsky dance.


"Learn from everything, see everything, and above all feel everything! And make other people when they look at your drawing feel it too!"

She was dismissive of painters who are interested only in their medium and who shun other liberal arts.

"Keep an open mind to all things," she said. Even though you are a painter, listen to music, go to the ballet.


"Hear all the music you can, for sound and form are more closely related than we know."

And she dismissed turn-of-the-century painters who strove only for beauty, ignoring ugliness.

"For through ugliness is beauty sometimes found," she observed. She recalled having seen a very dark and brutal stage production which in a way reminded her of the gritty beauty of poverty-stricken Jamaica.

"All through that play I thought that ugly things may be true to nature, but surely it is through evil, that we realize good. The far-off scent of morning air, the blue mountains, the sunshine, the flowers, of a country I once lived in, seemed to rise before me — and there on the stage was a woman sitting on a chair, her body stiff, her eyes rolling, a wonderfully realistic picture of a fit."

Through Ellen Terry and Henry Irving, Pamela made friends with literary luminaries such as "Dracula" author Bram Stoker, "Peter Pan" playwright J.M. Barrie and and poet/playwright W.B. Yeats.

In fact, "Sherlock Holmes" was her uncle — because her real-life great uncle was the actor William Gillette, who brought Holmes to the stage in London and on Broadway. It was Gillette who introduced many of the mannerisms and props (the deerslayer cap, the meerschaum pipe) which have been intrinsically associated with Sherlock Holmes by succeeding generations. Her Uncle Bill even saw to it that Pamela illustrated the programs for his Holmes productions.



Pamela became well-known for her afternoon literary teas, at which Yeats, Stoker and other luminaries would gather in her studio while she put on the costume of a Jamaican wise woman and sat cross-legged on the floor, relating Jamaican folk tales in dialect.

She used a miniature theatre and tiny cardboard characters to illustrate her hugely delightful tales.

Her literary friends encouraged her to publish and illustrate the stories under her own name, which she did. The book is still in print.

One frequent male visitor described one such literary evening, saying, "The door was flung open, and we saw a little round woman, scarcely more than a girl, standing in the threshold. She looked as if she had been the same age all her life, and would be so to the end. She was dressed in an orange-colored coat that hung loose over a green skirt, with black tassles sewn all around over the orange silk, like the frills on a Red Indian's trousers. She welcomed us with a little shriek. She was very dark, and not thin, and when she smiled, with a smile that was peculiarly infectious, her twinkling gypsy eyes seemed to vanish altoghether. Just now, at the door they were the eyes of a joyous, excited child."

This was shortly after the turn of the 20th Century, and she had perfected her artistic style and was busy as a book and magazine illustrator. While publishers mandated style to some extent, Pamela Colman Smith advocated the Arts and Crafts style, also known as the Secession style or, in the US, as the Craftsman or, especially in California, called the Mission style.

The Arts and Crafts Movement was a style which dominated in the years before World War I, and which was between the Art Nouveau style of the 1890s and the Expressionist style which would revolutionize art after the Great War. The Arts and Crafts Movement was an attempt to reject superfluous Victorian "wedding cake" adornment and to simplify things to the basics of simple lines and solid colors, in defiance of bourgeouis homeowners who wanted clutter.

For one brief moment, in the cosy years before the war, idealistic artists such as Pamela depicted a magical world in which machines did not dominate humankind. They were artists who sought to recreate pre-industrial, even primitive styles in art, architecture and decoration. Lines were simple. Colors were bold and earthy.


Pamela's generation of artists saw that a world driven by steam pistons was heading blindly, full-steam ahead for collision with the cold and immutable forces of nature. The Titanic disaster in 1912 was only a symbolic inevitable disaster waiting to happen, as far as these artists were concerned.

The Arts and Crafts Movement flourished in the first decade of the 20th Century, and Pamela managed to get by financially with her illustrations in that style. She also provided illustrations and even wrote articles for Gustav Stickley's "The Craftsman" magazine which was a leading purveyor of the style.

Not surprisingly, her Tarot cards are an enduring monument to the Arts and Crafts Movement and its philosophy which holds that a return to timeless styles in the Arts can help the human race return to timeless virtues and ageless wisdom. She was seeking to create a world in which racist thought and moral hypocrisy would vanish along with high-button shoes and celluloid shirt collars. She wanted everyone to sit on the floor, cross-legged, and discover the childlike magic of just being alive.

The cards were published with very little fanfare in December 1909. Only a few occultists took notice, and most of them were engaged in feuds with each other. The general public did not notice. Tarot cards were considered to be "French". The only Tarot cards hitherto available were from France, and they were considered only slightly less objectionable than saucy French porn postcards. Pamela was keenly aware that her cards were not going to make inroads into popular culture.


"Oh, the prudishness and pompous falseness of a great mass of intelligent people!" she wrote in an article for Stickley's "The Craftsman". It was an article aimed at inspiring young artists. "Lift up your ideals, you weaklings, and force a way out of that thunderous clamor of the steam piston, the hurrying herd of blind humanity, noise, dust, strife, seething toil!"


Those 78 cards are a veritable map of the place which she called "the unknown country" within an artist's heart. Many of her book illustrations are variations on that theme, such as "The Hill of Heart's Desire" at left.

To look at each card in succession is to take a trip through a magical land where cosmic wisdom and virtue prevail. You can spot recurring landmarks, such as castles, bridges and towers, which recur from different vantage points throughout the "journey". This magical land is peopled by beings who at times wear Renaissance clothing and at other times wear chitons and togas. The whole magical world is a place beyond linear time and space.


Waite never adequately acknowledged her work. In the book accompanying the cards he failed to mention her by name, saying only that a "young woman artist" had illustrated them on his instructions. 
But in fact, Pamela had been a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn along with Stoker and Waite. In a way it was only natural since the English-speaking world's first esoteric book store, Watkins, had just opened its doors a few steps away from the Leicester Square theatre district.

Pamela never wrote about her initiation into occult mysteries. But the very first card in the deck, The Magician, is graphic proof that she was privy to occult knowledge of the most secret sort. In 1909 only a handful of people had read a badly translated copy of Das Buch Abramelin, a 15th Century German-language grimoire written by a German-Jewish sorcerer who claimed to have been initiated into ancient mysteries by a master living in a desert cave on the banks of the Nile.

Even now, a century after Pamela painted that card, very few people have read the Book of Abramelin, certainly not in the original German. To this day there is no full English translation. Those few who have read it immediately realize that The Magician card is a very precise portrait taken straight from the ancient book.

In it, the novice magician is instructed to wear a clean white tunic bound at the waist by a symbolic ouroboros serpent. He is to wear a crimson mantle over the tunic while standing before a simple wooden table upon which are his magical tools. The book then says that, for best results, the magician's magical work space should look out over a witch's garden of flowers and magical herbs.

Whatever Waite thought of "his" cards — and he was very vague in saying what their purpose should be other than clearly to aggrandize himself — Pamela knew they were tools not for TELLING the future, but for SHAPING the future through ancient Abramelin magical spells. That occult secret, sealed in the colorful symbolism of her cards, was destined to die with her — to be rediscovered a century after she created the cards by priests of ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD.


With that first card, The Magician, and with Renaissance alchemical symbolism throughout the deck, Pamela shows she was highly knowledgeable in the occult arts.

The rest of her story is quickly told. The Titanic sank but the age of the steam pistons did not go down with it. Instead, the First World War swept aside the lofty dreams of Pamela's generation of artists. The Arts and Crafts Movement was the first casualty. By 1915 Gustav Stickley's "The Craftsman" magazine ceased publication and his design company went bankrupt.

Pamela's illustration assignments dried up. By the mid-1920s she was unable to get even one job a year. When a distant uncle died and left her a modest nest egg, she took the money and left London, buying a village cottage at the far western tip of England — not far, in fact, from the fictional location of Baskerville Hall, which had figured so prominently in Uncle Bill's Broadway-hit Sherlock Holmes plays.


She lived in isolation with a woman companion. She died penniless at age 72 on September 18, 1951. The cottage and all her possessions were auctioned to pay back taxes, leaving her companion with nothing.

In December 1909 she had told her New York gallerista friend Alfred Stieglitz that she would send him a pack of the Tarot cards which she said were being "printed in color lithography (probably very badly) as soon as they are ready" and that she would also "send over some of the original drawings as some people MAY like them." By "some people", she meant "buyers". But the original art work has never surfaced. Not one of the 78 originals is known to exist.

The printed card decks vanished into obscurity for decades until the American playing card connoisseur Stuart R. Kaplan resurrected them in about 1970. It is largely thanks to him that anyone knows anything about this extraordinary artist, who created a single work which is ageless and timeless and which continues to appeal to new generations.

The final word belongs to Pamela Colman Smith, and it is a statement of inner strength which could just as easily be the catch-phrase of The Fool card in her Tarot:

"Banish fear, brace your courage, place your ideals high up with the sun, away from the dirt and squalor and ugliness around you and let that power that makes the 'roar of the high-power pistons' enter into your work — energy — courage — life — love. Use your wits. Use your eyes. Perhaps you use your physical eyes too much and only see the mask. Find eyes within, look for the door into the unknown country."


Monday, September 17, 2012

CACHE OF 16 HUMAN RIGHT HANDS

FOUND AT EGYPTIAN THRONE ROOM


SIXTEEN human right hands have been found in ritual pits at the Ancient Egyptian city of Avaris, providing the first archaeological evidence that the Ancient Egyptians really did sever the hands of their enemies defeated in battle.

Two of the pits are situated at the front of an ancient throne room thought to have belonged to a Hyksos ruler named Seuserenre Khyan, and contain a hand apiece. 

"Each pit represents a ceremony," explains archaeologist and Egyptologist Manfred Bietak, who led the excavation. Bietak's team believes the remaining fourteen hands were buried some time later, in two pits located in the palace's outer grounds.

According to Bietak, the 3600-year-old hands are the first physical evidence of a practice referenced in Egyptian writing and art, wherein the right hand of a bested enemy would be severed from the rest of the body. 

Reasons for dismemberment were manifold. For one thing, it made counting victims easier, and severed hands could also be exchanged for gold. 

But it also robbed an enemy of his strength; in cutting off an opponent's hand, "you deprive him of his power eternally," Bietak explains.

No left hands were among the grisly cache of severed appendages.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

ANCIENT LOVE POEM PRAISES NERO'S WIFE



A POEM found in Upper Egypt sheds new light on the infamous wife of Emperor Nero, calling her a favorite of the gods.

The poem, written in Classical Greek, treats Poppaea Sabina, the wife of the controversial emperor, as a goddess - describing her ascending into the heavens and painting a touching portrait of the couple.

Due to the lettering style, researchers believe the poem was written around 300 AD - two hundred years after Nero's death, leaving a mystery as to why someone more than 1,400 miles from Rome would wish to write a tribute so many years later.

Nero has gone down in history as one of Rome's most cruel, depraved and megalomaniac rulers, often indulging in orgies and blamed for a devastating city fire which allowed the emperor to rebuild the city to his own tastes.

Poppaea was also criticised at the time and has gone down in history as one of the great villainesses of all time. She was portrayed with exquisite lasciviousness by Patricia Laffan in the splashy Technicolor epic Quo Vadis (photo). 

When, according to ancient records, Nero killed his first wife Octavia, Poppaea was said to have been presented with her head.

She then convinced Nero to commit matricide and was, according to the records, the real power behind the throne.

But the poem sees Poppaea in a different light, with the goddess Aphrodite welcoming her to the stars, telling her: 

My child, stop crying and hurry up: with all their heart Zeus' stars welcome you and establish you on the moon...

The poem was discovered 100 years ago - but was only recently translated.

Two excavators, Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, found hundreds of thousands of scrolls in ancient city dumps in Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

The town had a population of around 10,000 at the time of the Romans, and the papyri contained thousands of records and details of life in the era. 

While Nero has gone down as one of history's bad guys, Hadrian has gone down as one of history's good guys. His reign (from 117 to 138 A.D.) came at the beginning of the golden age of the Roman Empire, after the excesses of earler rulers such as Tiberius, Caligula and Nero and before the decline and fall set in.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

SPECTACULAR ROMAN HELMET

GOES ON DISPLAY IN LONDON TODAY


AN ANCIENT Roman parade cavalry helmet, which was found in a field in England two years ago, is going on public display for the first time today.

The helmet was discovered by a metal detector enthusiast in May 2010, and was named the Crosby Garret helmet after the village close to where it was found in Cumbria.

It will be on display at the Royal Academy in London through December 9, along side other bronze works spanning 5,000 years.

When the the helmet was unearthed, a Carlisle museum spent weeks trying to raise money to ensure it remained on display in the UK.

However, it was sold at Christie's to an anonymous bidder in October 2010 for $3.6 million (£2.3 million), and has been under wraps ever since.

The helmet is known for its haunting expression, complete with curls of hair and a face mask, and is one of only three of its type to be found.

At almost 2,000 years old, the helmet will join "the best bronzes" from Asia, Africa and Europe in the new show.

Various sculptures by Rodin, Picasso and Giacometti have been loaned from all over the world to the Royal Academy for its landmark exhibition entitled "Bronze".