Every once in a while, a site that collects archaeological stories relating to Rome lists one of my entries here at the blog…and, it’s often quite amusing to me, because the things they link to have almost nothing to do with archaeology. (I suspect the intelligence aggregating these stories is a bot of some sort, thus.) Nonetheless, all of the legitimate archaeological stories it also gives (though not all are…!) are often of interest to readers here, as well as myself, so I’ve chosen a few of them that pose some interesting questions or possibilities.
First, a curse tablet was found in Jerusalem recently, which invokes the deities Herems, Persephone, Pluto, Hekate, Ereshkigal, and Abrasax. I wish I could see the edited text, as I suspect that it might be one of the common magical syncretistic formulations where the goddesses are concerned: perhaps Persephone-Ereshkigal, perhaps Hekate-Ereshkigal, or maybe even Persephone-Hekate-Ereshkigal. (I wrote on that very subject in an essay here!)
Next, if you have the anatomic capabilities for such (whether naturally or artificially), you might ask yourself: where does your penis point on the morning of Winter Solstice? It seems such questions were rather relevant to the Emperor Augustus when he founded the city of Augusta Praetoria Salassorum (now Aosta in Northern Italy) when it was captured from the local Salassi people in 25 BCE. The apotropaic function of the god Priapus, as well as just phallic imagery in general, is well-known from Greek and Roman periods, but it seems that they served a calendrical function at that time as well. (Which brings up the question: might all such carvings have had a similar function on ancient Roman monuments? As most of them have been removed from their original sites, it’s probably difficult to determine that now, alas…)
Next, “that’s not a blob! That’s my adopted father!” A twice-life-size head found nearly two-hundred years ago in Roman Britain in Bosham might have been a monumental depiction of Trajan, set up by Hadrian, on analogy with such a statue that also existed in Ostia outside of Rome. This has been determined by some laser scanning techniques and then comparisons with extant statuary.
In a further Romano-British story that is interesting but also frustratingly lacking in some details, photographs, and good methodological processes, a villa near Stroud might have actually been a Romano-British temple, as evidenced by an octagonal-shaped building, a large bath house, a coin depicting “Cernunnos,” and a further figure shown on a winged horse. That “druids” might have used it, though, is a serious over-reading, I think…
And finally, a 2,500 year old Thracian horse grave! Very interesting indeed!
That’s all for today, I think! 🙂