Saturday, October 31, 2015



NEW saints of Antinous were announced by the Hollywood Temple of Antinous tonight during Foundation Day ceremonies shared globally with worshipers in the Americas and in Europe via Skype.

Foundation Day commemorates the founding of the city of Antinoopolis by Emperor Hadrian on 30 October 130 AD on the shores of the Nile where Antinous died a few days earlier.

That was 1,885 years ago, and Foundation Day marks the beginning of our liturgical calendar ... Happy New Year 1886!

After weeks of deliberations, FLAMEN ANTONIUS SUBIA announced the following New Year's List of SAINTS OF ANTINOUS for the new liturgical year.


Henry Moses III, Henry was a gay man and partner of Antinous worshiper Jim Crawford for 15 years who died of HIV related cancer. He worked for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) International Union in Washington, DC. Henry was responsible for adding same-sex health benefits to the HERE contracts with hotels and restaurants. He was director of Pride At Work, the LGBT advocacy group within the AFL-CIO.


Lucas Leonard from Chadwicks, New York was only 19 years old when he stood up courageously against anti-gay hatred in his church. He was beaten to death during an hours-long counseling session at his Pentecostal church. Among those arrested in connection with the beating were Leonard's own parents and his sister.

Draven Rodriguez was a 17-year-old US high school student who gained a following in 2014 for his humorous yearbook photo with his cat. He committed suicide in 2015.


Tori Johnson, an openly gay man who had been with his partner Thomas Zinn for 14 years, was the manager of Lindt Chocolat Café in busy Martin Square in the heart of the financial district of Sydney, Australia. He was on duty in December 2014 when an Islamic radical held the staff and customers as hostages for 11 hours. Tori, 34, charged the gunmen and enabled the hostages to escape. He was killed.


Gaius Julius Caesar was bisexual and the lover of Nicomedes IV. He was arguably the first emperor of Rome thus establishing the position which ultimately allowed Hadrian to succeed. Caesar did not invade Nicomedia which he could have done to stem the rumours of his gay affair in the Roma senate. By leaving Nicomedia and Bithynia free, he allowed the circumstances for Hadrian and Antinous to meet.


King Nicomedes IV of Bithynia was the lover of young Gaius Julius Caesar. On his death, still in love with Caesar, Nicomedes bequeathed the kingdom of Bithynia to Rome. Without him it is unlikely that Hadrian would have diverted to the regional capital, Nicomedia, thus passing through Claudiopolis and finding Antinous.

Simeon Solomon was a Pre-Raphaelite painter who was arrested in 1873 at a public toilet on Oxford Street in the heart of London and thrown in jail. He was in and out of prison the rest of his life on similar public "sodomy" convictions. He continued to paint in prison. He died in ignominy in 1905.

Sascha Schneider was a German painter and illustrator in the "Symbolist" style who was blatantly gay in uptight Germany and was constantly on the run from the police. He was rescued many times by the German best-selling author Karl May who was straight but who loved Sascha's work and insisted he illustrate his best-selling adventure novels and who collected his work so that much of it survives.

João Francisco dos Santos, an infamous ex-convict black gay drag performer and expert in the dance-inspired martial art form called capoeira whose stage name was Madame Satã (Madam Satan), became a living legend who glorified the values and lives of outcasts. He was a skilled street fighter trained in they style of capoeira, and his battles against the police forces were legendary. He routinely fought barehanded against platoons of armed policemen, forcing them to flee. He died in 1976 at the age of 75.

Brian Sewell was an English writer and art critic who has been described as the most famous and controversial art critic in Britain. Sewell died on 19 September 2015 at the age of 84.

Sylvester was an American singer-songwriter who boldly erased gender boundaries in the 1970s. Born as Sylvester James Jr., Sylvester gained the moniker of the "Queen of Disco" and was so famous in San Francisco that he was awarded the key to the city. He died December 16, 1988, of AIDS at the age of 41 and left his fortune to AIDS charities.

Luchino Visconti was an Italian theatre, opera and film director best known for "The Leopard" and "Death In Venice." He was openly gay but his films have few explicitly gay characters. Instead there is often an undercurrent of homoeroticism.


Jonathan Legaria Vargas, known as San Padrino Edoque, was a young priest of Santa Muerte who was one of the foremost advocates of the new cult in Mexico. He was assassinated in a hail of gunfire, a strangely appropriate and very Mexican way to die for a Priest of Our Lady Death. He advocated for gay rights and openly included gay and tranz people in the Santa Muerte cult. Already venerated as a saint, LGBT youths carry an image of San Padrino Edoque for protection because they cannot openly carry an image of Santa Muerte without suffering discrimination and he has become a protector of LGBT youth.

We will introduce each saint in depth next week.


ANTINOUS the mortal is dead. Antinous the God is born!

On this day, October 31st, we surrender ourselves, body and soul, to the joy of Lord Liber, and join in the festival of Halloween, spreading the Love and Liberation of Antinous to the world of the living and the dead. This is the second day of the Ecclesiastic Year.

The festival of Antinous Liberator, the New Dionysus, is the place from which life comes and all love-joy with the ever-present specter of Our Lady death by its side.

The New God Antinous Liberator, sets us free with a wave of his hand. 
He destroys the bondage that holds our immortal spirit prisoner to the cycles of life and death, as the chains of time and matter fall of their own accord.

In benediction, Antinous Liberator confers the flame of Homotheosis upon the hearts of his chosen lovers so that we may indulge and burn in the ecstasy of being One with HIM.

We are free from the masquerade of the spirit in this world of illusion, we are unclothed before him. 

From his lips we drink the winged intoxication of the flesh and abandoned all reason and logic at his feet.

Antinous stands upon the crescent of the Moon. He passes through the Arches of the spheres, the 7 Archons bow down before HIM.

The god-power of Antinous shines over the face of darkness. The Spirits of the Dead awaken to dance as the wine of freedom flows down into the spider-heart of Tartarus.

As Dark as events in the world may become ... a powerful light is shining stronger for Gay, Bi, Lesbian and Transgender people everywhere in the world!

Every day, more and more of us come together,

Every day, the fire of Antinous spreads

His name becomes less a strange, unheard of and difficult to pronounce name from Ancient times ... and more a realization that once there was a time when being gay was a sacred state of being, and that there was a god who represented us, and spoke on our behalf to the immortal powers.

Antinous is with us again ... his power is growing stronger in our hearts.

Antinous is within all of US!

The Blessing of Antinous is with us all!

The Arisen Antinous has Come Again!

Ave Antinous!

Friday, October 30, 2015


ON this day we commemorate the founding of the Sacred City of Antinous, the glorious city of ANTINOOPOLIS in Egypt as it originally was called and later Ansenand Antinoé.

Our Lord Hadrian Augustus, Emperor of Rome, Pontifex Maximus, the New Jupiter, Hercules reborn, consecrated the shore of the Nile where Antinous fell, and solemnly founded the Holy City of Antinoopolis in Egypt in the year 130 AD

Antinous had risen again from the depths of Tartarus, he had conquered death and returned to the place of the living.

By Victory and Proclamation, Antinous was elevated to godliness, and the ancient religion of Our God was set in motion. 

The Priesthood of Antinous was ordained, sacred statues and images proliferated, and Temples rose up in every corner of the world, for the glory of Antinous the God.

We exalt in the deification of Antinous, and marvel at his assumption into heaven. 

On this day we concelebrate the Foundation of Antinoopolis by re-founding the sacred city within our hearts, declaring ourselves the New Stones of Antinoopolis. 

With love for Antinous in our hearts, the New Temple of Antinous was founded in 2002, called Ecclesia Antinoi, and the New Priesthood of Antinous initiated.

We recognize the Foundation of Antinoopolis as the first day of the New and Holy Year of Religion of Antinous.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


ANTINOUS is dead. Hadrian is weeping over his limp body on the banks of the Nile where his beloved perished in late October of the year 130 AD.

While mourners wail in the world of the living, Antinous descends into the Underworld. The modern Religion of Antinous commemorates this descent into the Egyptian Duat on October 29th.

Flamen Antonius Subia says:
Antinous is embraced by Osiris beneath the water of the Holy Nile, and he is given over to Hermes-Anubis and led into the underworld.

He appears before the Lords of the scale of Maat, but his spirit is divine and the scales crumble at his touch.

Hermes-Anubis escorts Antinous into the Hall of the Queen of the Dead, Persephone, and because he is a witness of the Mysteries of Eleusis, he obtains from her the pomegranate of immortality.

The immortal spirit of Antinous does not taste death, and he is given to drink of the fountain that restores memory because he has learned from Orpheus that he is from the Earth but is a Child of the Stars.

Antinous conquers death and returns from darkness. At midnight Antinous the God arises from the Nile and steps onto the shore from which he fell. The spirits of the entourage of Dionysus attend his resurrection and he is reborn as the New Osiris-Dionysus.
In the Religion of Antinous, this is the last day of the Ecclesiastic Year, it is spent in darkness and in solemn devotion.

As Antinous journeys through the underworld, we confront the weakness of being without our god, we reflect on the passage of the year, and on the influence of Antinous upon our lives, and we pray for the triumph of his return. 

At midnight, a pure candle is ignited to symbolize the deification of Antinous Our God. 


ON three continents tonight, adherents of Antinous took part via a Skype video call in a candlelight vigil in memory of Brazilian victims of homophobia.

The vigil coincided with the October 28 observance of the Death of Antinous on that date in the year 130 AD.

Worshipers in Brazil, Holland, Germany and both the East Coast and West Coast of the United States took part in the candlelight ceremonies.

At the Hollywood Temple of Antinous, the founder of the modern religion of Antinous, ANTONIUS SUBIA, related the true-life story of how Antinous drowned in the Nile at the end of October in the year 130 AD, and how Hadrian proclaimed him the last deity of the Classical Era.

Then Novice Priest DECO RIBEIRO, participating via Skype from São Paulo (photo below left), solemnly read out the 314 names of Brazilian LGBTIU victims of homophobic murders over the past 12 months ... and linked them to the tragic death of Antinous.

With a quavering voice, Deco paused from time to time to remark on individuals whose names were on the list. 

He spoke of the youngest homophobia victim ... a 13-year-old trans girl.

Then there was a 14-year-old straight schoolboy who was stoned to death by classmates ... because he had gay parents.

Sadly, 36 of the people on the list were listed as "Unidentified" either because their families had withheld their names out of shame ... or because they were street people whose identities were never determined by authorities.

Antonius noted that the list of 314 names represents only one nation ... and only one 12-month period. Countless thousands more suffer and are murdered on a daily basis around the world.

"These were people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time," Antonius said. "But it could have happened to any of us."

On October 28th we commemorate the death of Antinous and his descent into the Underworld.

"Antinous passes out of the world of the living tonight and enters the Underworld, where he hears the names of all these people and gathers them to him and embraces them and saves them from oblivion," Antonius told worshipers.

"I pray to Antinous to watch over them, now as his divine spirit sinks down into the place of the dead ... and when he returns, that he will bring for hope again, that these deaths will stop," Antonius said. "This is what I wish for."

On October 30th, another international Skype-relayed ceremony will be held celebrating the return of Antinous from the Underworld and the establishment of the city of ANTINOOPOLIS by Emperor Hadrian on that date in 130 AD.



Antinous passes from the world of the living
To the Kingdom of the Dead
Where he will meet Our Lord Osiris
And become as one with the ruler of the underworld.
He will pass through the chambers of darkness
He will cross the rivers of blood
He will traverse the lakes of fire
The light of his beautiful heart will shine like a beacon
For all the lost and forgotten souls 
of the Gay, Lesbian and Trans Dead
He will gather them together
And give them safe passage out of the land of shadows
He will welcome them all upon his Barque of Millions of years
Not a single one will be left behind, forgotten and unloved
They will find a place of peace by his side
This is the Day that Antinous Died
Our Love for him brings him back from the dead
He will never be forgotten
Gay Men and Women and Trans will lift up their voices in praise to him
Forever, form now on, until the end of time!

Ave Antinous

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Today is the day that Antinous died,
Whenever this day returns it is always an occasion for sorrow,
just to consider what might have happened,
how his life was cut short,
how he might have gone on to live a long full existence,
He would have lived a normal life died a normal death and been forgotten.
But instead he was deified and lives forever and 
we are all in love with him 2000 years later.

This is what Hadrian wanted,
For all of us to share his love for Antinous.



ON October 28 the Religion of Antinous commemorates The Death of Antinous.

Near the village of Hir-wer, Antinous fell into the Nile and drowned.

There are those who believe that he was murdered, or that he willingly gave himself over to human sacrifice to prolong the life of his beloved Hadrian, or that his death was the suicidal effect of teenage melodrama, or that is was merely an accident, but there is no way to know, no way to be certain.

Grief-stricken Hadrian only said he "plunged into the Nile" but never elaborated on the circumstances of the death of his beloved.

Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia says:
We priests of Antinous do not take a definite position and leave the matter as an unknowable mystery. The manner in which Antinous died is not important, only the effect that his death had upon the world has significance.

On this day, we solemnly and silently mourn the Death of Antinous whom Hadrian loved and for whom he wept, and we sorrow for the loss of such great beauty at so young an age.

We pray for the Bithynian boy who died so far from home.

With his death, our religion was set in motion.

We lament and exalt in the grief of Hadrian that was so strong and so powerful that it spread to the whole face of the world, and affects us still today.

We pray also for all those homosexuals who have died in youth as a consequence of repression, we mourn the suicides, and commit them to the soothing arms of Antinous, who was assumed into the Nile for all of us.

It is one of the great ironies of history that, by dying dramatically, a young person who was unremarkable except for his beauty became irrevocably bound with the most powerful man in the world. 

Emperor Hadrian proclaimed Antinous a God. He established a city on the bend of the Nile where the young man died — Antinoopolis. 

He named a constellation in the heavens after Antinous.

And without gentle Antinous at his side, Hadrian became an embittered and broken man. He became capricious and at times cruel. A reign which had been marked by Hellenistic principles of tolerance descended into bloodshed.

It is indeed remarkable how one young man, a commoner with no wealth or political influence, changed the course of history simply by dying. And the thousands of statues sculpted on orders of grieving Hadrian became the iconic image of Classical beauty — the last deity of Ancient Greece and Rome.

Antinous fell into the Nile, beneath the swirling waves, but when his body was pulled from the water ... a God emerged. Antinous is our God, he has accomplished the salvation of all lovers of his beauty. His is our salvation. He is Antinous the Gay God. He is the last pagan God of Classical Rome.

For centuries, he was worshiped in secret by gay men who were afraid to worship him publicly. Men such as Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman sang his praises. When the Nazis marched into the offices of gay-rights advocate Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin, they smashed a ceramic wall relief of Antinous which Dr. Hirschfeld had set in a place of reverence over the doorway.

And now, in the 21st Century, the "Most Great and Good God" (as he was known among his followers) is being discovered by a whole new generation of people seeking gay spirituality. 

We dedicate our lives and our souls to fulfilling the Divine Hadrian's command to establish the Religion of Antinous for all who seek gay spirituality. We dedicate our lives and our souls to serving Antinous the Gay God.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


ANTINOUS would see only one more sunset and sunrise on this date in the year 130 AD. And after that final sunrise, he would never see another sunset ...

On October 27th Antinous and the Imperial entourage were in the ancient city of Hermopolis, the Sacred City of Thoth/Hermes during the celebration of the Death and Resurrection of Osiris.

We believe that the spiritual forces of this occasion, and the Mysteries divulged to him by the Hermetic priests of the god Thoth, were the inspiration for this ascension into godliness.

The Passion of Isis and Osiris was played out annually in Ancient Egypt and formed the cornerstone of the Egyptian belief system, a belief system which taught that you could die horribly and tragically and yet you could be revived and restored and in fact you could become a god.

Sacred players acted out the roles of Osiris, his murderous brother Set and his faithful consort Isis. It was through the magical spells contained in the fabled "Scroll of Thoth" that Isis brought Osiris back from the dead.

At Oxyrhynchus Antinous had seen just how potent the magical spells of Isis were.

The festival of Osiris celebrated at Hermopolis and observed by Hadrian and Antinous commemorated the rending of the body of Osiris and the searching of Isis for each of the parts.

We believe that something of a cathartic nature happened within the soul of Antinous at Hermopolis just before he plunged into the Nile on the opposite bank across from Hermopolis.

We will never know precisely what happened. Did Antinous get a glimpse at the fabled Scroll of Thoth? Did some Egyptian magician-priest teach him a bit about spellcasting? Did Antinous perhaps believe that he could use a spell to prolong Hadrian's life?

The Egyptians believed anyone who drowned in the Nile would become "a deified Osiris". Some Egyptian magical spells call for the magician to "deify a scarab beetle" -- which means to drown it in Nile water and thus make it sacred and magical.

We will never know for sure what happened as a result of the ceremonies on October 27th, the last day and the last sunset of the brief mortal life of Antinous. The sun would rise on October 28th and, although the mortal Antinous would die, there would never be another setting of the sun for Antinous the Gay God!


Like Osiris, Antinous descended into the Nile, and arose to bring the blessing of eternal life to the world. The Religion of Antinous, like the body of Osiris was scattered over the face of the world, and we who worship him, are like Isis, gathering the fragments together again.

Hermopolis was the last city that Antinous ever saw, and the Passion of Osiris was the last religious ceremony in which he took part. Certainly it was here and at this time that an Awakening occurred, dark in its implications, causing Antinous to relinquish his life.

But it was of splendid power in that, from the death of the boy, a god emerged. We observe that in Hermopolis, the scattering of the body of Osiris was the moment when the sperm of the blessed one was planted in the immortal spirit of Antinous, Our God.

The Sacred Nights of Antinous begin tomorrow ....


IN their quest to come up with ever-more fiendish ways to kill people and destroy ancient artefacts, DAESH Islamic State barbarians have tied three prisoners to Ancient Roman columns at Palmyra ... and then blown up the columns.

Antinous and Hadrian passed by these columns when they entered this fabled "Garden City" in 129 AD.

The new atrocity was reported by a monitoring group. Independent verification is not yet available, since DAESH restrict the flow of information from their occupied areas in Syria.

Since sweeping to power across Iraq and Syria last year, Isil has been systematically erasing signs of their pluralistic histories. 

Palmyra has been a particularly egregious target of their hatred.Palmyra was called the "Garden City of the Sands" and scientists say it was TERRA-FARMED to create a lush green oasis of life and civilization in the midst of the desert.

Islamic State fighters have already destroyed two ancient temples at the site, described by Unesco as one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.

In early October, DAESH destroyed the PALMYRA TRIUMPHAL ARCH through which Hadrian and Antinous strode.

Just weeks ago DAESH blew up the BAALSHAMIN Temple in Palmyra. The photo at right shows how impressive even its ruins were prior to its being blown to bits by DAESH.

We know Antinous & Hadrian saw it because Hadrian decreed a vast expansion of the temple.

Earlier it was reported that KHALED ASSAD, an 81-year-old antiquities scholar who devoted his life to understanding Palmyra, was beheaded by DAESH militants, his bloodied body hung on a pole. He had even named his daughter after Zenobia, the queen that ruled from the city 1,700 years ago.

DAESH claims ancient relics promote idolatry and say they are destroying them as part of their purge of paganism. However, they are also believed to sell off looted antiquities, bringing in significant sums of cash.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has been told that DAESH militants have killed 30 suspected gay men for "sodomy" in recent months.

DAESH released a video showing CHILDREN STONING two gay men to death after they had been thrown off a building in Homs Syria. It is one of a grisly series of such gay execution videos. 

Last month, DAESH released a video showing two other men accused of being gay THROWN OFF A BUILDING and then stoned by a crowd in Palmyra.

Only a few weeks earlier, more than 25 men were EXECUTED BY CHILDREN at the famous theater in Palmyra.

Monday, October 26, 2015


THE famous golden mask of Tutankhamun is being scrutinized inside and out for tell-tale clues that it may have been designed for Nefertiti rather than the boy king Tut, according to a top expert.

German conservator Christian Eckmann made the disclosure in an exclusive interview with AHRAM ONLINE about the ongoing restoration work on the golden mask.

British archaeologist Nicholas Reeves claims 
NEFERTITI may be buried in hidden chambers behind secret doors in Tutankhamun's tomb. He suggests that the tomb may have been built for Nefertiti, but was hastily rededicated to Tut when he died unexpectedly.

Reeves says the fact that the golden mask has pierced ears for earrings indicates it was designed for a queen.

"This hypothesis was suggested long ago but has never been profoundly investigated," Eckmann told Ahram. 

"We are taking this opportunity to study the technique used to manufacture the mask as well as investigating the controversial areas mentioned by Reeves (face, the holes of the ears and the cartouche) to gain more knowledge about it," he said. 

However, Eckmann said he has doubts about the theory that only queens had pierced ears, not kings.

"I am not an Egyptologist to confirm that, but as a professional restorer I can confirm that the mummy of king Tutankhamun has holes in both of his ears and if you look in Amarna depictions you will see depressions in the ears of all males," Eckmann said.

"So I cannot say definitely but I would not be surprised if you found ear holes on other depictions," he said.

Eckmann was flown in from Germany to head a team of conservators at the Cairo Museum.

They are attempting to restore and repair the golden mask of Tutankhamun.

The repairs were necessary after museum staff accidentally broke off the mask's beard and re-attached it with epoxy glue in a BOTCHED REPAIR JOB a year ago. 

"The mask is in a quite stable condition and is not in any kind of danger except for the beard and its botched restoration. The mask is made of gold metal that is not corroding," Eckmann said.

"We are using the chance now to gain a detailed microscopic study of the mask’s ancient manufacture technique, which has never been carried out since its discovery in 1922, to determine what materials and techniques were used," he added.

He expects the restoration work to take about two months. For the full interview: CLICK HERE.

Sunday, October 25, 2015


THE Sacred Nights of Antinous are fast approaching: The dark nights between the death of Antinous (28 October) and his Triumph over Death (31 October). 

This is a magical Space/Time event when the veil between the worlds is lifted. (Painting by RYAN MARTIN.)

This magical event is known by many names: Halloween ... Samhain ... Día de los Muertos ... All Saints/Souls Day ... it is also when we change the clocks (in most countries) ... an hour forward in some places ... or an hour backwards in other places ... the time displayed on the clock is unimportant ... your location in the Time/Space continuum is unimportant.

This Shoegazer video by Washed Out, which is a favourite of Antonius Subia, best illustrates what happens to each of us during the Sacred Nights of Antinous.

We become "Weightless" ... as the Time/Space boundaries between Dreaming and Waking evaporate ... we see waking life as a dream ... we "dreamscape" our dreams to make them real ... we see the world through the eyes of Antinous ... we see Antinous in the eyes of all around us ... the Ancient Priests in Rome see through our eyes ... we see through the eyes of the Future Priests on distant planets ... we see through the eyes of Antinous ... for whom all dimensions are HERE and NOW.

You open your eyes and see through the eyes of all your incarnations ... past incarnations ... your present incarnation ... future incarnations ... all simultaneously ... bundling and harnessing all the spiritual power from all your incarnations (and all the difficult lessons) in an illuminating flash of insight ... A moment which is eternity.

You become weightless. You take the leap of faith ... HOMOTHEOSIS ... Gay-Man-Godliness-Becoming-the-Same ... the same leap of faith that Antinous took when he plunged into the Nile on 28 October 130 AD.

He did not take that leap of faith in order to die ... he took that leap of faith in order to fill his lungs with the Semen of the First God ... in order to transcend Time and Space ... so that all moments in Time are NOW ... all points in Space are HERE ... so that he can LIVE CONSCIOUSLY.

It is his gift to each of us. All he asks is that we open our eyes to ...

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Scholar, author and blogger Mary Beard lists Antinous among the TEN BEST ANCIENT ROMANS in the 500-year history of the Roman Empire.

The list, published by The Guardian newspaper, puts Antinous in the Number Seven spot among the top ten.

He is below Livia, Caligula and Remus ... but still outranks Ovid and Cicero.

Here is how MARY BEARD describes Antinous:

"A young boy from the provinces, who became the companion – some say the lover – of the emperor Hadrian, and travelled around the empire with him, often leaving the empress Sabina at home. But he had a mysterious end. In a Robert Maxwell-like incident, he drowned in the river Nile in AD130. Did he fall? Did he jump? Or was he pushed? Whatever the truth, Hadrian was overcome with grief, made Antinous a god, named a city after him and flooded the world with his portrait. There are more surviving statues of Antinous than of almost any other Roman."

Friday, October 23, 2015


A vast underground passageway that allowed Rome's emperors … and privileged members of the Imperial coterie such as Antinous … to pass unseen from their hilltop palaces to the Forum is open to the public for the first time.

The 2,000-year-old "imperial ramp" descended from the top of the Palatine Hill, where successive emperors built lavish palaces, down to the temples, market places and courts of the Forum in the valley below, from where the Roman Empire was governed.

Lit by flickering torches and protected by imperial guards, the high-ceiling passageway was so vast that emperors could have comfortably passed through it on horseback.

Originally 300 meters long (more than 300 yards), it consisted of seven zigzag ramps, four of which remain today.

The covered walkway, which is enclosed and would have been invisible to the soldiers, slaves and plebeians going about their business in the Forum, was first discovered in 1900.

The tunnel was partially excavated but then was then abandoned for another century, until archaeologists embarked on a major restoration project a few years ago.

It has now been completed, and tourists are now able to tread in the footsteps of the emperors.

"For centuries, this was the entrance to the imperial palaces on top of the Palatine Hill," said Francesco Prosperetti, the cultural heritage official in charge of the project.

"When it was discovered, this was a little-known corner of the Forum," he added.

Once tourists climb to its highest point, emerging from the arched passageway into the daylight, they have a panoramic view of the ruined temples, marble columns and ancient streets of the Roman Forum.

The entrance to the imperial ramp was a huge gateway which has been reconstructed using pieces of the original marble architrave.

The gate led to a reception hall which was converted into a church in the Middle Ages.

Halfway up the steep passageway archaeologists found the remains of a latrine, built from stone and marble, which would have been used by imperial guards.

The ceilings are 11 meters (36 feet) high, so it really is a big structure," said Patrizia Fortini, an archaeologist.

"We don’t know whether carts would have travelled up and down it with supplies, but certainly horses would have been able to."

Rooms that lead off the ramp – possibly used by detachments of guards – have been converted into a mini-museum of Roman artefacts found close to the passageway.

The small museum's artefacts include an exquisite statue of Hercules, his shoulders wrapped in the pelt of a lion.

Also found was this exquisite headless statue of AESCULAPIUS with a serpent coiling at his side … the serpent which survives as a symbol for pharmacies today. At his side, protected by the serpent, is a marble statue of a child sacrificing a rooster, which was found close to a nearby sacred spring.

The covered ramp was commissioned by the Emperor Domitian in the late first century AD at the height of his reign.

He constructed a vast new palace on the Palatine, which is the origin of the words "palazzo" and "palace."

Thursday, October 22, 2015


FOR most of the year, the inner sanctum of the main temple at Abu Simbel is shrouded in darkness.

On two days, traditionally the anniversary of the birthday and coronation of pharaoh Ramses II, a shaft of sunlight pierces the gloom, illuminating statues of gods and the king in the temple's inner sanctum.

On February 22, a day celebrating the king's birthday and again on October 22, a day celebrating his coronation, sunlight illuminates seated statues of the sun gods Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, as well as a statue of king Ramses II. The statues sit in the company of the Theban god of darkness, Ptah (who remains in the shadows all year).

The spectacle—which has endured more than 3,200 years of Egyptian history—draws thousands of tourists to Abu Simbel to watch this ancient tribute to a pharaoh whose name is still known up and down the Nile Valley for his military exploits and monumental building projects.

Ramses, who ruled Egypt for 66 years from 1270 to 1213 BC (about 50 years after the death of Tutankhamen, better known as King Tut) made a name for himself by battling the Hittites and the Syrians, Egypt's enemies to the north.

To celebrate his victories, Ramses erected monuments up and down the Nile with records of his achievements. He completed the hypostyle hall at Karnak (Thebes), and completed the funerary temple of his father, Seti I, at Luxor on the West Bank of the Nile.

The main temple at Abu Simbel, which Ramses ordered built near the border of Nubia and Upper Egypt, was dedicated to two sun gods, Amen-Re and Re-Horakhte. 

Standing 100 feet (33 meters) tall, the temple was carved into an already-standing sandstone mountain on the banks of the Nile.

Four colossal statues of Ramses, each 66 feet (22 meters) high, guard the entrance to the temple.

Rising to the pharaoh's knees are smaller statues of family members: his mother; favorite wife, Nefertari; and son, Prince Amonherkhepshef.

Inside the temple, three connected halls extend 185 feet (56 meters) into the mountain. 

Images of the king's life and many achievements adorn the walls. 

A second temple at Abu Simbel is dedicated to Nefartari, who appears to have been Ramses' favorite wife.

"Abu Simbel was one of, if not the largest, rock-cut temples in Egypt," says Bruce Williams of the Oriental Institute of Chicago, "The rock was sacred because the Egyptians believed the deity was living inside the mountain."

Rock-cut temples may have been especially significant in ancient Egypt because the bulge in the otherwise flat land may have signified the location where the gods emerged from the Earth, says Williams.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


THE ancient Romans may not have had access to modern dentistry, but they did boast strong, healthy teeth thanks to the absence of one key ingredient from their diet: refined sugar.

Researchers in Pompeii, Italy, working on the remains of those killed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD have found the ancient Romans to have been in surprisingly good dental health.

Lacking sugar cane and sugar beets, they sweetened foods with honey and fructose from fruit.

The rich dined on pheasant and the finest meats, as in the 1877 painting "Das Gastmahl" by Anton von Werner above.

The poor ate millet gruel, beans, vegetables and occasionally a bit of meat or wild game.

Over-indulgence in wine was common, as in the mural below showing a slave assisting an inebriated dining guest.

But in general, they did not need to worry about tooth decay because the only sweets they ate were naturally sweetened with honey or fruit sugar.

"They had really good teeth ... they ate a diet that contained few sugars, and was high in fruit and vegetables," orthodontist Elisa Vanacore said at a press conference. 

What the Pompeiians' ate resembles what is now known as the Mediterranean diet, which has been credited with higher life expectancy in southern Europe.

The team are in the process of performing CAT scans on 86 plaster casts containing the petrified corpses of Pompeii victims.

The almost 2,000-year-old remains are stored in human-shaped plaster casts in order to preserve them and allow them to be moved easily.

"(The process) will reveal much about the victims: their age, sex, what they ate, what diseases they had and what class of society they belonged to. This will be a great step forward in our knowledge of antiquity," said Massimo Osanna, archaeological superintendent of Pompeii.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


YES, there was an accident at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on the weekend.

Yes, one of the unique artefacts from Tutankhamun's tomb was knocked against its glass display case.

No, it wasn't damaged.

And no, it wasn't Tutankhamun's golden mask, as initially Tweeted around the world.

It seems that on Saturday, some overly energetic students on a school trip bumped the display case to the statue of Tutankhamun's head rising from a lotus flower.

The wooden sculpture was jostled and tipped to one side ... but was not damaged.

But before the internet explodes in outrage, it is worth remembering that unfortunately, the price of having priceless artefacts on public display is that sometimes accidents will happen.

Earlier this year in Taiwan a 12-year-old boy tripped over and punched a hole through a 17th Century oil painting. 

In 2006, a man tripped over his shoelace in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and smashed three 300-year-old Chinese vases. In 2010, a woman at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art fell into a Picasso, causing a 15cm tear.

Almost every museum around the world has a horror story or two.

And most of us agree with the General Supervisor of the Egyptian Museum, Khaled el-Enany, when he said that the Museum is "... always keen to encourage school trips and group visits to increase Egyptian students' awareness of their heritage and culture." 

Let's just hope they act a little more sensibly in the Museum from now on.

Tutankhamun's mask is currently in a secure, custom-built restoration lab in the museum, accessible only to experts and Egyptologists. 

Museum staff had panicked when they accidentally broke off the beard in 2014, and hurriedly glued it back on with epoxy resin (photo above). The restorers' job is to find a way to remove the beard, and then reattach it in a more non-permanent fashion.

The sculpture involved in Saturday's drama shows the head of Tutankhamun representing the sun god at dawn, emerging from a lotus blossom (JE 60723). 

The lotus flower is a powerful symbol of rebirth because the flower closes its petals at dusk and opens them again at dawn, facing east to greet the rising sun. 

In this way the emerging lotus became symbolic of the sun's renewal each morning, shining bright after its nightly journey through the Underworld.

Controversy has always surrounded the lotus head, which wasn't catalogued by Carter and was found by Egyptian workers in a small tomb in the Valley of the Kings that was being used for storage by Carter. The head was packed into a wooden case labelled 'Red Wine'.

Carter claimed that he had found it in the rubble of the tomb's entrance passage before the opening of the tomb proper and just hadn't got around to cataloguing it properly. However, many still suspect him of trying to smuggle the piece out of Egypt.