Religious statues from Cyprus show evidence of astronomical writing

Religious statues from Cyprus show evidence of astronomical writing

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

An analysis of five late Bronze Age Terracotta religious statues , dating back around 3,300 years and found at various sites in Cyprus, has revealed the presence of astronomical ‘writing’, which has also been found on a number of other much older artefacts distributed across several continents.

The study of the items was conducted by Dr Derek Cunningham, author of The Long Journey: 400,000 years of Stone Age Science , who has hypothesised that our ancient ancestors developed writing from a very archaic geometrical form that is based on the study of the motion of the moon and the sun.

Dr Cunningham found that all five Cyprus Bronze Age statues share virtually identical features and that the angles of the lines correspond exactly to archaeological phenomena, such as the prediction of eclipses, and the measurement of time.

The most important of these astronomical values is the sidereal month, which is drawn in early astronomical texts as an angular value at either 13.66 or 27.32 degrees to represent the half and full month values. After the sidereal month value is known it is then a simple matter for astronomers to calculate that the earth is moving approximately 1 degree per day around the sun, and through more careful observations to deduce there is an eclipse season every 6.511 draconic months, this being a time period a time period equivalent to 6 synodic months. Other parameters important for predicting eclipses are the 5.1 degree angle of inclination of the moon’s orbit, and the 9.3/18.6 year lunar nutation cycle. Finally a value of 11 degrees is found on many early Stone Age artefacts, which corresponds to the 11 day difference between the lunar and solar year.

Dr Cunningham found that these values could be found in the form of an angular array carved into statues and figurines, offset to either above or below the horizon, or to the right or left of vertical. In order to test the theory, the figurines or statues are rotated until the prominent lower line on the left leg of each figure aligns to 27.3 degrees – this is the angular value representing the sidereal month value. The remaining lines are then analysed to determine their orientation. It was found that all of the figures showed alignments towards astronomical phenomena, such as the sidereal month, the moon’s orbital plane to the ecliptic, the half lunar nutation cycle, and the difference between the solar and lunar year.

The values found on the figurines and statues have been found to explain data from a wide range of archaeological samples dating from as old as circa 400,000 years before present, all the way through to the development of Celtic Ogham writing. The findings reveal there is still much about our ancient ancestors that is not yet understood.

The below diagrams depict the astronomical values found on the figures.

Images: Midnight Science Journal


    • 88 BC Ptolemy X Alexander I bequeathes Egypt and Cyprus to the Roman Republic the Romans choose not to act on this will and Cyprus passes to the next Ptolemaic heir
    • 88-58 BC Reign of King Ptolemy of Cyprus
    • 58 BC Cato the Younger implemented the Lex Clodia de Cyprus making Cyprus part of the Roman province of Cilicia Cato was proconsul of Cyprus from 58-56 BC
    • 52-51 BC M. Tullius Cicero Minor, son of the famous orator, becomes proconsul of Cilicia and Cyprus
    • 47 BC Cyprus given over to Egyptian rule by Cleopatra VII by Julius Caesar
    • 31 BC Battle of Actium, Marc Antony and Cleopatra VII were defeated by Augustus and Cyprus returns to Roman rule
    • 22 BC Cyprus became a senatorial province separate from Cilicia with Nea Paphos as its capitol
    • 21-12 BC Cypriot calendar created in honor of Augustus and Imperial family
    • 18, 17 and 15 BC Sizable earthquakes, the worst being in 15 destroy most of Paphos.
    • 2 BC Revisions made to Cypriot calendar
    • 16 AD Another large earthquake caused damage across the island
    • 45 AD Christian mission of Paul and Barnabas throughout the island
    • 49 AD Barnabas visited a second time
    • 65/66 AD Kourion's Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates rebuilt after earthquake
    • 66 AD Paphos was given the title Claudian
    • 70 AD Destruction of Jerusalem and influx of Jews into Cyprus
    • 76/77 AD Large-scale rebuilding after destructive earthquakes
    • 116 AD Jewish Revolt at Salamis
    • 269 AD Brief Gothic invasion
    • 293 AD Diocletian reorganizes the Roman Empire into East and West regions Cyprus falls into the East
    • 342 AD Salamis and Paphos were destroyed by a massive earthquake
    • 346 AD Salamis was refounded as Constantia, the capital of Cyprus
    • 365/70 AD Earthquake destroys Kourion

    Cyprus had been a part of the Ptolemaic Kingdom prior to becoming a Roman province. Ptolemy X Alexander I bequeathed his kingdom, which at the time included Egypt and Cyprus, to the Roman Republic upon his death in 88 BC. [4] However, the Roman Senate was reluctant to accept the kingdom as it was feared that whoever was sent to conquer the Ptolemaic Kingdom might become too powerful and threaten the democratic principles of the Republic. King Ptolemy, son of the King of Egypt Ptolemy IX Lathyros, reigned over Cyprus from 88 to 58 BC. [5] After Ptolemy refused to put up ransom when Publius Clodius Pulcher was kidnapped by Cilician pirate, Pulcher accused the king of colluding with pirates. [6] This accusation provided a pretext for the annexation of Cyprus by the Roman Republic. The Lex Clodia de Cyprus was passed by the Concilium Plebis in 58 BC and Cato was sent to conquer Cyprus and serve as its new proconsul. [6] Cato sent envoys ahead to offer Ptolemy the distinctive position of the High Priest at the Sanctuary of Aphrodite in Paphos but Ptolemy refused and instead took his own life. [6]

    Cyprus was abruptly annexed by Rome and Cyprus was added to the Roman province of Cilicia. Cato sold much of the royal possessions and brought back 7000 talents to Rome after taking his share of the profits. [5] During this time Cyprus was exploited by the Roman rulers who saw positions in the provinces as stepping stone in Roman politics.

    In 51 BC Cicero was given the proconsulship in Cyprus and was more sympathetic to the Cypriot people. [7] However, by the end of his proconsulship Rome was engulfed in Caesar's Civil War. In 47 BC, after coming to the aid of Cleopatra VII of Egypt in a civil war against her brother Ptolemy XIII, Julius Caesar agreed to return control of Cyprus to the Ptolemaic Kingdom. [8] Caesar appointed Cleopatra's younger siblings Arsinoe IV and Ptolemy XIV as joint rulers of Cyprus. [9]

    Marc Antony and Octavian, later Augustus, were struggling for power after Julius Caesar's death and in 40 BC Marc Antony reaffirmed that Cleopatra was ruler of Cyprus at the Donations of Alexandria. [5] The Battle of Actium in 31 BC marked the end of last war of the Roman Republic, resulting in Octavian gaining control of all of Egypt and Cyprus. Cyprus was left under control of Octavian's legate until it could be further dealt with. In 22 BC Cyprus was separated from the Cilicia and became a senatorial province without a standing army.

    Cyprus was divided into four regions with thirteen known cities with Nea Paphos becoming the capital. [7] Cyprus was allowed a large amount of autonomy remaining mainly Greek in culture while adopting and adapting Roman customs. No Roman colonies were settled on the island. During this time period there are very few primary literary sources that mention Cyprus, let alone provide a detailed history. [5] However, epigraphic and archaeological evidence indicates thriving economic, culture and civic life in Cyprus throughout the Roman period.

    In 45 AD Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas visited Cyprus as part of Paul's first missionary journey to convert the people to Christianity. [10] St. Barnabas returned for a second visit in 49 AD but the spread of Christianity was slow, especially in the rural areas. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by Vespasian, the Roman Emperor, and his son Titus there was a large influx of Jewish refugees into Cyprus. In 115-117 AD a widespread Jewish revolt (Kitos War) resulted in thousands of deaths in Cyprus and around the Eastern Empire and in the expulsion of Jews from Cyprus. [11] In 269 AD there was a brief Gothic invasion (Battle of Naissus) throughout the eastern empire including Cyprus. In 293 AD Cyprus became part of the Eastern Empire as the Roman Empire was divided under the Diocletianic reforms. [5]

    Roman military on Cyprus Edit

    There was very little significant Roman military presence on Cyprus, with the exception of two notable incidents a local council was barricaded into their own council house by an equestrian troop and the Jewish massacre at Salamis which required outside military intervention. The proconsul had a legatus subordinate, which points to at least a token military presence, but there is almost no evidence of there being anything larger than the praetorian bodyguards on the island.

    Every province of the Roman Empire was required to send men to fill the ranks of the Roman army as conscripts and Cyprus was no exception. The Cypriots contributed some 2000 men to the foreign auxilia at any one time, but there are no notable military figures from Cyprus. There are two cohorts of auxiliary troops that performed well enough to be given the honor of citizenship before their 25 years of service was up, but other than those there is no other known outstanding Cypriot units.

    Roman administrative system Edit

    The Roman administrative system was also fairly light it seems that only unfavored citizens were sent to govern the island. The basic structure consisted of a proconsul at the top representing the Roman Senate and the emperor with two assistants in the form of a legatus and a quaestor. The proconsul had several duties, including:

    • High court judicial duties if the magistrate and the local council couldn't rule on it, it was brought to the proconsul
    • investing the high priest (of the Imperial cult) with his power as the representative for the emperor
    • consecrating Imperial statues and buildings in the name of the emperor
    • he promoted public and civic (construction) works such as aqueducts, roads, and centers of entertainment (such as theaters)
    • it was his responsibility to decide on funding for "extravagant projects" such as honorary equestrian statues or repaving sanctuaries
    • he was also responsible for the internal security of the island

    The Cypriots were essentially peaceful there is no mention of outlaws needing to be dealt with or crimes severe enough to need police intervention, there was no real policing force on the island for the proconsul to oversee. The closest thing to a police force was a hipparch in office in Soli under Hadrian's rule, but this seems to have been a temporary situation.

    Under the proconsul and the legate were the local councils these were led by archons who were elected annually from among the members of the council. There were several other positions associated with the councils, but they are all local officials and not directly part of the Roman administrative structure.

    The quaestor handled tax collection on the island he had a board of ten Cypriots in each city to help him with his duties. In addition to this force, there were publicani who would bid for the right to collect taxes in each region.

    The terms of office for the proconsul and the legate were staggered with that of the quaestor, that is to say the proconsul and the legate would see the last six months of the old quaestor's term and the first six months of the new one's term.

    Economy Edit

    The Roman period was one of the most prosperous in Cyprus' history. Evidence of luxury items acquired through trade, impressively large administrative buildings in cities like Salamis, and richly decorated mansion homes like those found in Paphos point to a thriving economy. The island was mostly self-sufficient and prospered through the utilization and trade of natural resources. After the Romans annexed Cyprus in 58 B.C., it entered into a period of production and widespread trade facilitated by the pax romana. This is shown in the archaeological evidence of the coastal cities flourishing, Cypriot markets in Syria and Palestine, and extensive coin circulation. [12]

    The City was the basic economic unit of the Roman Empire it could interact with its surrounding agricultural hinterland in one of two ways. In the first, a sort of symbiotic relationship, the city would act as a redistribution center and manufactured goods needed by the agricultural area supporting it. In the second, a more parasitic relationship, the city center would redistribute agricultural surplus while manufacturing goods to be sold or traded with other centers. [13] The role of the city was determined by its proximity to an important trade route. The major coastal cities of Cyprus which showed this kind of economic growth were Paphos, Amathous, and Salamis.

    The Roman emphasis on the importance of cities was indicated by its dedication to constructing a network of roads. In Cyprus, roads were initially funded by the Emperor, but the island soon grew rich enough to finance its own construction in the period of Severan dynasty.

    The great wealth of Cyprus came from its vast system of trade. Cypriot trade economy was based on resources of the island: wine, oil, grain, copper, minerals, timber, glass, and shipbuilding. With the port cities acting as distribution centers, Cyprus had connections with other locations across the Mediterranean, and seafaring was an important aspect of Cypriot daily life and culture. The extent of trade can be proven archaeologically through the wide array of foreign items found on the island, particularly coins.

    Despite the destruction caused by six earthquakes that wracked the island in the Roman period, the Cypriot economy remained relatively steady. The role of the port cities in trade were crucial to the Roman administration after an earthquake in AD 76 destroyed the city of Kourion, Imperial Rome sent immense amounts of funding to rebuild the city, as evidenced by a large influx of coins in the following year.

    Roads Edit

    Ancient roads can be studied through literary, epigraphic (e.g. milestones), topographical, and archaeological evidence. The division of Cyprus into two, the buffer zone and military occupied areas make many parts of the island unavailable for study. It is estimated that 10% of the island is inaccessible for various reasons. [14] Studying the Roman road system and its milestones helps in partially establishing the boundaries of territories in Cyprus. [15]

    There are several sources that can be used to get information about Cyprus' ancient roads. The Geography of Strabo (23 AD) gives several distances and mentions the highway between Palaiaphos and Neo Paphos. Pliny the Elder, in Natural History (77-79 AD) talks about the size of Cyprus and lists fifteen cities, including three no longer extant. [14]

    The Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger Table) is a 13th-century AD copy of an older map of Roman Cyprus. The exact date of the original Peutinger Table is unknown, but is estimated to be from the 2nd to 4th century BC. [16] It is an illustrated version of an itinerary, which is a list of notable places with descriptions and the distances between each place. The map is distorted, north-south is compressed and east-west is stretched out. The roads on Cyprus are shown as an oval which is bisected by a diagonal section of the road. No other roads are depicted. [14]

    The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy also talks about Cyprus but the accuracy of this information varies for different areas of Cyprus. For example, some distances are overestimated, underestimated, or come very close to reality. Ptolemy doesn't mention any roads. Another map is the Kitchener map (1885). It is useful because it helps to distinguish older roads from the twentieth century roads. [14]

    There are also travellers' reports and local informants. Claude D. Cobham compiled travellers' reports and descriptions in Excepta Cypria (1918). There are also the works of Luigi de Palma Cesnola and D.G. Hogarth, both of whom used local informants. Their works are useful because it has information about Cyprus during its late Ottoman stage, before the British changed anything. [14]

    Milestones are an important source because they give route information and they can be dated. Thirty Roman milestones have been found and recorded. Most of them were in mountainous regions and all are located in the coastal highway circling the island. In other areas of the island, where building materials were scarce, milestones were reused. Milestone inscriptions included the mileage and the names and titles of the rulers that contributed to the milestone placement. [14] From these inscriptions other types of information can be inferred. For example, we know that the major road along the southern coast was a part of the Imperial network. Mitford uses the inscriptions to describe the Emperors' and other government involvement in the roads. He says that three phases of the Roman Cyprus road network emerges from the inscriptions. First, Augustus and Titus are the self-proclaimed creators of the road system. Second, in the Severan period the responsibility of road repairs was given to cities while the proconsul coordinated their activities. The third phase was a century and a half of stagnation and milestones were reused for Imperial propaganda or to express loyalty. [15]

    In the Roman Empire, roads were open for everyone to travel. People traveled on foot, by two and four-wheeled vehicles, or by horse and donkey. In the ancient world, where very few people had maps, roads offered predictability and a guarantee that there were no natural obstacles ahead, which usually meant long detours. Traveling on a road also meant greater speed and the possibility of encountering inns, shrines, and springs. [14]

    Before the Roman period Cyprus already had a system of main roads and during Roman rule secondary roads were added. The roads in Cyprus often did not meet Roman standards and preexisting roads were not changed to meet them. [14] Although, milestone inscriptions indicate renovations in AD 198, at least in West Cyprus. During the Severan period road maintenance was a civic duty. Throughout the Roman period it is uncertain if the central government paid for the roads completely or shared the costs with nearby cities. [15]

    Informal cross-country roads were used in addition to the formal roads. The roads converged on the main economic center, Salamis. Along with the main roads, minor roads radiated from a city. This layout shows the influence of economic forces in creating roads. These minor roads connected the surrounding areas to the urban market. There were also the benefits of ensuring the import of food into cities, thus reducing the risk of famine. [14]

    Coinage Edit

    Although the minting and circulation of Cypriot coins has not yet been exhaustively studied, there is sufficient evidence to show widespread trade routes and interaction with other cultures in the Roman world. There are two main types of evidence in coinage: coins minted in or for Cyprus, and all coins circulating within the province during Roman times. [17] After 30 B.C. the nature of coinage became more "Romanized" coin type and manufacture did not remain static over time, and styles and imagery of coins changed frequently. Provincial coins were minted at Paphos and Salamis, as well as "regal" coins specific to each reigning Emperor in his time. [18] The Koinon was responsible for the coinage, as well as the emperor cult and organization of festivals. For a detailed compilation of each type of coin for each Emperor during this period. [18]

    Copper Edit

    Copper mining in Cyprus has an extensive history which flourished in the Bronze Age and continued into the Roman Period. The extent of copper mining in the Roman Period was scaled down significantly, and were under direct imperial control. The three important cities that continued copper mining in the classical period were Amathous, Tamassos, and Soli. [19] The well-preserved mining site located near Soli was Skouriotissa, which contains chaclopyrite deposits that were extensively mined during Roman Period. [20] Recent analysis and location of slag heaps from Roman mines suggests a shift in the social organization of mining in classical times. [21] Some slag heaps were located almost 2 miles away from the mining location [19] suggesting that the copper workers transported the copper ore away from the mines before they decided to smelt the copper out and work with it. This is a significant change from earlier mining settlements in which the copper was melted on site or very near the place where it was extracted.

    Koinon Edit

    In order to maintain some degree of autonomy after control of the island shifted to the Roman Empire, the various cities of Cyprus maintained a collective administrative body that reflected Hellenistic values introduced by the Ptolemaic dynasty at the end of the 4th century. Under the Ptolemies, the cities of Cyprus were allowed a degree of autonomy that was unfamiliar and somewhat unexpected. In order to maintain solidarity throughout the kingdom, the cities formed parliamentary committees with each other. Though the resulting confederation of Cypriot cities does not have an exact date of origin, the term Koinon—meaning "common"—began to appear on inscriptions around the middle of the 2nd century B.C. Little is known about the exact function of the Koinon, though it seems to have been grounded in religion due to its initial associations with religious festivals at the Temple of Aphrodite, which was located at Palaiaphos. The large number of people that gathered at the Temple likely realized a need for religious unity amongst all of them thus, the Koinon was formed to coordinate pancyprian religious festivals. Soon, the meetings of the Koinon began to stray from strictly religious matters and focus more on the social and political aspects of the country, including unifying the various districts and cities in terms of political representation. These assumptions are based on inscriptions on statues and other dedicatory epigraphical evidence around the island that implies that the Koinon had a presence all over Cyprus, as well as the money and influence to affect many different cities. Thus, the purpose of the Koinon shifted from autonomous parliamentary committees during the Hellenistic period to a religiously motivated pancyprian political body. The administrative privileges of the Koinon, by the end of the Roman period, included minting its own coins, participating in political relations with Rome, and bestowing honorary distinctions upon notable individuals. [22] Inscriptions on statues, as previously mentioned, attest to this final function and indicate the fact that the Koinon was most likely a funded organization which received its dues in the form of an annual contribution from each city. The Koinon therefore maintained a great deal of power because it essentially controlled all forms of religion on the entirety of Cyprus. This power is later utilized to deify some of the Roman emperors starting with Augustus and ending with the dynasty of Septimius Severus. Known evidence in the form of inscriptions and dedications indicates with certainty that the emperors Augustus, Caracalla, Titus, Tiberius, Trajan, Vespasian, Claudius, Nero, and Septimius Severus and his succeeding dynasty all formed imperial cults that were represented on Cyprus. These cults were mostly formed by the emperors in an attempt to solidify their right to rule and gain religious support as peers of the Roman pantheon of gods. [22] [23]

    Religion and imperial cults Edit

    As far back in Cyprus' history as archaeological evidence exists, so too do examples of religion. Around the middle of the 4th century B.C., a new ruling dynasty—the Ptolemies—gained power over Cyprus and established imperial cult over the existing religions on the island. This imperial cult put the king at the head of religious observance on the island, and dictated that he was on an equal footing with other gods. To the average citizen, the king was considered a direct representative or descendant of the gods. It is easy to see the extent to which politics and religion became intertwined not only with each other, but with society as well the king maintained control over the Koinon, an administrative body founded by the various cities scattered across Cyprus for the purpose of coordinating religious activities and festivals. [23] Imperial cult continued to exist throughout Roman occupation of Cyprus, and a number of unique cults emerged from this transition to the Roman period.

    After Augustus gained control of Rome—and Cyprus with it—the island's inhabitants seemed perfectly willing to accept the divinity of the new emperor. Much of our information about Roman religion on the island comes from five sources: ancient literature, Cypriot numismatics, excavations and archaeological work, epigraphy, and burials. Through an analysis of these sources, where appropriate, scholars have been able to come up with an idea of how Roman involvement affected Cypriot religion.

    One example of epigraphy that illustrates the Roman Imperial cult is found on a white marble slab that originated from the Sanctuary of Aphrodite at Palaiaphos. Essentially, this text contains an oath of obedience that the priests at the temple would be forced to abide by. The oath invokes the names of the Roman gods in a manner that suggests that the ruler—in this case, the emperor Tiberius Augustus—is comparable or equal to the pantheon of other gods. Each god and goddess named represents a different region of Cyprus thus, the tablet is basically confirming the entire island's allegiance to the Roman empire. The tablet leaves little doubt that future generations must continue to support the emperor and his family in all regards. Evidence of imperial cult through inscriptions can be found as far back as the earliest Ptolemaic rulers, and continue on until 391 A.D., when the Roman emperor Theodosius I outlawed all pagan worship in the empire. [24]

    The pagan Temple of Aphrodite at Palaiaphos retained its religious importance to the island even after the founding of Paphos at the dawn of the Hellenistic period. [25] Ancient literary sources tell us that men and women from all over the island would walk from Paphos to Palaiaphos as part of a religious ceremony honoring Aphrodite. It seems that the importance of this religious festival helped maintain the status of the city throughout the Roman period.

    The importance of the cult of Aphrodite is unquestionable, along with its wealth. For this reason, the high priest at Paphos was granted far more power than his involvement in mere religious functions instead, the priesthood became more like a theocracy. Evidence from inscriptions suggests that the high priest may have had a hand in all religious matters across the entirety of the island. [26]

    The temple at Palaiaphos was the leading center for the emperor cult. At the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., a statue of the Roman emperor Caracalla was consecrated at Paphos. In the year proceeding, a second statue of the emperor was erected, this time at Palaiaphos. Inscriptions at the old city suggest that aside from Aphrodite, only the Roman emperor was worshiped there. Even at the new city, worship was reserved to only a few gods and the emperor. These gods were most likely Zeus Polieus, Aphrodite, and Hera, while the emperor was worshiped down to the end of the Severan Dynasty--Septimius Severus—the final emperor who enforced imperial cult. Beginning with Augustus in the early first century, Paphos welcomed the emperor as a living god, and inscriptions prove the promised fidelity of the inhabitants of not only Paphos, but all of Cyprus to the new emperor.

    Despite seeming reluctant to acquire the title, Augustus, the first Roman emperor, was treated as a god on Cyprus. Even the emperor's daughter, Julia, and his wife, Livia, became "the Goddess Augusta and the Goddess the New Aphrodite," respectively. [27] [28] It seems that there was no shortage of priests and other religious figures more than willing to acknowledge the emperor's divinity in exchange for recognition from Rome. Titles began to be conferred between Rome and the priesthood to solidify each other's right to authority. As previously mentioned, the main method by which the imperial cult ordained its members was through an oath of allegiance to the emperor. Countless statues and other monuments were erected in nearly all of the cities of Cyprus for instance, a statue of the emperor Vespasian was erected in Salamis by the gymnasiarchs there, but was consecrated by a religious figure. This monument to the emperor reinforces the idea that there was a strong connection between the activities of the state and the pagan cults.

    A number of other pagan cults are known to have existed across the island, centered primarily around the major cities of Cyprus. These cities usually had large temples that were dedicated to a specific patron god of the city: in Amathus as in Palaiaphos, Aphrodite had her own cult in Salamis, Zeus Olympius Paphos contained cults for the gods Asclepius, Hygieia, and Apollo in Curium, Apollo Hylates. [29] Though these are but a few examples of the many numerous cults, it is important to note that many gods had temples and dedications in many different locations, but not every god is represented. Because Aphrodite is said to have been born from the sea foam around Cyprus, she appears to be consistently worshiped across the island, as evidenced by recurring temples dedicated in her honor. For each of these cults, the method of worship was different it is hard to say with certainty what each temple did specifically, but we do know from numismatic evidence and literary records that the cult of Aphrodite likely involved prostitution but not blood sacrifice of animals. It is assumed that a majority of these cults followed similar worship services to those found in the corresponding temples in Rome and other locations around the Empire. Despite this assumption, there does not seem to be much evidence to pinpoint specific details surrounding the cult procedures.

    While Roman imperial cult maintained significance up until the late 4th century, the ancient pantheon of gods slowly faded out of existence along the way. Following the emperor Caracalla's death in 217 A.D., inscriptions have nothing more to say about cults such as the Paphian Aphrodite, the Zeus of Salamis, or the Apollo of Hyle at Curium. [30] Each of these cults had enjoyed a long and prosperous history on the island, and, like the imperial cult, seemed to disappear rather suddenly around the 3rd and 4th centuries—the period of Severan rule. All across the island, both imperial cult and the traditional gods began to lack the necessary power to sustain religious faith after the Roman period, the citizens of Cyprus began to turn to newer, more private gods that were easily accessible and suited to the needs of the individual.

    Jewish Revolt Edit

    Under the reign of Ptolemy I, there was a large exodus of Jews from Palestine to other areas of the Mediterranean. [31] Their increasing presence on Cyprus most likely occurred due to the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD. [32] A large representation of the Cypriot population, the Jews were also strongly involved in the copper industry. As noted by inscriptions on the construction of a local synagogue, the community of Jews were also possibly on the island to supply wine for the services at the Temple of Jerusalem. [33] With years of building tension with the Romans, during the reign of Trajan in 116 AD, the Jews revolted at Salamis, as well as in Egypt and Cyrene. [34] The most destruction however occurred at Salamis, where there were no stationed Roman garrisons or troops. Led by Artemion, it is estimated that over 240,000 perished in the revolt. [34] Detailed by the writings of Cassius Dio, the Jews brutally massacred every non-Jew in the city. [33] The revolt was quickly quelled by the Roman General Lusius Quietus. [34] All Jews were expelled permanently from the island and even those that were driven there by storm were executed immediately. [32] Although archaeological evidence suggests that in later centuries the Jewish community was re-established.

    Introduction and spread of Christianity Edit

    In AD 45, St. Paul went on his first missionary journey to Cyprus with St. Barnabas, a native Cypriot Jew, and John Mark. Starting at Antioch, they traveled to the port of Seleucia and onwards to Salamis to preach Christianity. As noted in the Acts of the Apostles 13:1-14:27, on their journey to Paphos, Paul and Barnabas encountered the Roman Proconsul Sergius Paulus and a Jewish sorcerer, Elymas Bar-Jesus. [35] [36] Upon hearing Paul's words, Bar-Jesus was temporarily blinded, and this act convinced Sergius Paulus to convert to Christianity. He was the first Roman governor to do so.

    After a quarrel with Paul, Barnabas and John Mark traveled back to Cyprus on his second missionary journey. During his preaching at Salamis, Barnabas was murdered by a group of Jews. [37] John Mark buried him with a copy of the gospel of St. Matthew, which Barnabas always carried with him. [38]

    Major basilicas and churches Edit

    The ancient village of Kopetra in the Vasilikos valley contains the remains of three churches dating to the Late Roman period. The first, a small basilica located at the site of Sirmata, dates to around the beginning of the 7th century. The basilica contains a crypt with two tombs. The construction styles of the tombs suggest the second was added later, around the middle of the 7th century. The central courtyard of the basilica was surrounded on three sides by rooms which may have served as domestic spaces for the religious community living there. A cistern had also been cut into one corner of the courtyard. The basilica was close to and yet separate from the nearby village, reflecting the spirit of monasticism in early Christianity. The second church, which was located to the south of Kopetra, was similar in design and proportions to the Sirmata basilica. The remains of a mosaic floor have been found in the sanctuary, although the original subject remains a mystery. The third and largest of the three churches lies to the northeast of Kopetra. The architectural style is similar to the other two Kopetra churches, yet also reflects many characteristics of churches built across the island during the 5th and 6th centuries. The dome covering the sanctuary once held a colorful glass mosaic. All three churches were likely maintained and used until they were abandoned some time in the 7th century. [39]

    The basilica of Kourion was built over the remains of the buildings destroyed in the earthquake of A.D. 365. Although its proportions were a little longer than other examples, the basilica was internally similar in architecture to other 5th-century churches and basilicas. The ruined buildings provided all the limestone, granite, and marble needed to build the new church. Remains of a mosaic between the windows in the sanctuary have been found among the ruins. A well-preserved mosaic belonging to one of the previous buildings has been found beneath the floor of the diakonikon. A total of forty inscriptions have been found in and around the basilica, although most remain only in fragments and were only preserved by the reuse of materials after the basilica was abandoned. The earliest inscription dates from the 3rd century BCE, during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphos. The inscriptions dating to the Roman Period on Cyprus include one honoring the proconsul Julianus, and another which mentions the gymnasium of Kourion. The basilica was destroyed by an earthquake in the 7th century. Remains suggest that the building was not immediately abandoned, but was still used until the 8th century. [40]

    The Late Roman site of Maroni Petrera is located along the south coast of Cyprus in the Maroni Valley near the modern village of Maroni. The remains of a church have been uncovered at this site as part of the Maroni Valley Archaeological Survey Project (MVASP) founded in 1990. The Petrera church was the religious center for the Maroni valley, yet archaeological evidence of a complex of rooms and courtyards separate from the church indicate that the site was also associated with storage and agricultural production. Recovered remains indicate that the decoration of the church was relatively plain there is almost no evidence of mosaics, wall-paintings, or the use of marble. Otherwise, the Petrera church was architecturally similar to contemporary Christian buildings in Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean. [41]

    Roman Cypriot burials Edit

    Burial customs are typically slow to change, even during times of social transition and foreign influence. [42] Burial customs on Cyprus during the Hellenistic period were largely retained during the Roman period. [43] Nevertheless, the study of these customs can still provide a great deal of insight into who was living in Cyprus at the time and the extent of their influence. [42]

    The tombs of Roman Cyprus typically were cave-like chambers with sloping dromos, the ends of which were sealed with earth and occasionally with stone. [43] The number, size, and ornamentation of these chambers in differed according to wealth, ethnicity, and the dates of construction. [42] Multiple burials, in which all members of a family shared a tomb, continued to be popular into the Roman period. The typical burial chamber was an elongated rectangle, with side niches or accompanying chambers. Loculi, or rectangular bed-like areas for the dead, were often attached to the chambers, radiating in a symmetrical fashion. Plaques next to loculi with inscriptions of the names of the dead or proverbs in honor of the dead were not uncommon. Epitaphs containing ethnic adjectives, or titles indicating rank or status, have proved helpful in determining the context of certain burials. [43] Identification of the dead was also located on cippi, located directly above the tomb. Cippi are carved-stone altars comprising a base, a narrow shaft, and a cap. Inscriptions labeling the tombs were made on the shafts of the cippi, and other forms of ornamentation (such as foliage) were common. The living could honor their dead by placing flowers on the cippus or pouring libations on the cippus. Gifts continued to be incorporated into burial, as seen in early period of Cypriot history. [43] Jewelry, imported Roman pottery, local imitation pottery, gold wreaths, and glass were common burial gifts. Mummy portraits, depicting the deceased wearing gold wreaths and busts or stelae of the dead, began to emerge as a result of Alexandrian influence. Lamps, cookware, and libation vessels have been excavated in these tombs, suggesting the continuation of funerary feasts of the living during the Roman period on Cyprus. [42]

    Tomb structures that are unique or scarcely located are assumed to be those of the elite, or foreign. Uncommon burial practices that occurred during Roman Cyprus included cremation, tumulus tombs, sarcophagi, and peristyle tombs. [44] A multitude of tombs in Nea Paphos, excavated by M. Markides in 1915, represent Peristyle tombs. Peristyle tombs typically had a long, stepped dromos, a long rectangular vaulted room with radiating loculi, and several minor chambers (one located directly behind the other). These are attributed to either Egyptian-born individuals, or Cypriot elite who wished to be buried in the Alexandrian fashion, because Nea Paphos was a significant site of contact with Egypt. [44] Luigi palma di Cesnola and others extensively excavated the site of Kourion. The Roman tombs excavator here were elaborate and highly representative of Roman burial outside of Cyprus. Tomb 8, detailed my George McFadden had a stepped dromos with oblong ashars along the sides. The tomb had a saddled roof, and two large chambers with doorways. The doorways were accented by decorated posts and lintels. The interpretation of the complexity of this tomb is under debate. [44] Another example of a tomb likely belonging to a foreign family is tomb 26 of the Swedish Cyprus excavation in the early 20th century at Amathus. The tomb is an unusual, large, flat tumulus tomb built upon a rock. The tomb has a circular shaft with a stone pithos in middle. Inside the pithos is an alabastron containing carefully washed, cremated bones. [44] Other rare discoveries of Roman-period cremation remains have been found in cylindrical lead urns. [42]

    Unfortunately, Cypro-Classical and Hellenistic tombs have been difficult for archaeologists to define because of haphazard excavation of tombs on Cyprus, as with other sites. Looting or treasure-seeking individuals often left tombs in unpreferable conditions, void of archaeological context, making modern research difficult, if not impossible. [42] Additional prime examples of burials during the Roman period on Cyprus can be observed at the sites of Agioi Omologites - Nicosia, the necropolis at Marion, the necropolis near Skouriotissa, and tombs of Paphos, Curium, Kition, and Salamis. [43]

    Women in Cyprus Edit

    For women in Cyprus during the Roman period, life was restricted mainly to domestic activities. Based on the large amount of epigraphical material from Mesaoria and the southern coast of Cyprus, women did have a part in public life. One-third of these epitaphs are to women. Most of these women mentioned are married to men of status and wealth, or come from wealthy families. This was the most common way for a woman to have a public life. For example, a woman from Salamis, the wife of a Salaminian High Priest of the Augusti, was honored by the Koinon for her public spirit. In addition, a Claudia Appharion, the High Priestess of Demeter for the entire island, was distinguished publicly as well. A woman belonging to a Senatorial family, and a benefactress of Paphos were also honored for their public spirit. Women were mainly left to household duties, but those of particular wealth, or married to men of political or high social status could make a name for themselves. Religion was really the only other avenue left to women to create a public identity. [45]

    Glass in Roman Cyprus Edit

    Before the invention of glass blowing in the mid first-century BC, glass had been a fairly rare and expensive luxury commodity, the use of which was mostly confined to containers for perfume and cosmetics. However, with the invention of glass blowing, glass became much more widely available and affordable and began to be produced on a much larger scale with factories dedicated to the production of glass being established throughout the Roman world, including Cyprus. Though it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between locally produced Cypriot glass and imported glass in Cyprus, it can be conclusively stated that glass was in fact being manufactured locally within the island. Evidence for this can be found in sites such as Salamis, Tamassos, Limassol and Amathus. [46] A glass workshop was discovered at Tamassos by Ohnefalsch Richter though he was unfortunately unable to fully publish his findings. He does however mention the discovery of a glass furnace which points to glass being manufactured at the site. [47] Although his discoveries were never dated precisely, many consider it likely that they dated to the 2nd to 3rd centuries AD. Blocks of glass were discovered at Salamis which seems to indicate that this was another glass production center though a furnace associated with this site has not yet been discovered. [46] Cypriot glass is thought to have flourished in the Antonine and Severan periods, or from 140 AD to 240 AD and indeed most of the glass discovered is dated to this time. [46] The fact that the economy in Cyprus was flourishing during this period further supports this conclusion.

    Olaf Vessberg studied the large quantities of glass found in the tombs of Limassol and Amathus and made several discoveries. [46] First of these was that Cypriot glass is fairly homogeneous. Its function was for the most part limited to daily use, being employed either toward cosmetic purposes or as tableware. The principal shapes being produced by Cypriot glass blowers consisted predominantly of jars, beakers and unguentaria, or flasks that contained oil or perfume. Though it is often difficult to distinguish between beakers and jars, the word beaker is mostly used to describe drinking-vessels while jars are considered to be containers for salves and cosmetics. [48] Distinguishing between the two can often be done through examination of the rim of the vessel which would often be unworked if it was not a drinking vessel. Furthermore, jars often had decorated lids that had a design enamelled on the side facing the interior. Among the unguentaria, there were bell-shaped, candlestick, and tubular. As stated before, many held oil or perfume but some think the tubular unguentaria, named tear-bottles by archeologists, may have contained the tears of relatives or the deceased. Glass was also being used in Cyprus to produce sack-shaped beakers. These are significant as they are only found in Cyprus. This, and the presence of several defective pieces in Cyprus gives further evidence of glass manufacturing in Cyprus. [46]

    Cypriot sculptures of the Roman period Edit

    Roman influence can be seen in the use and import of marble as a medium for sculptures, and the display of these sculptures within civic centers and private homes. [49] This use of marble was limited to economically and politically powerful cities located near harbors such as Salamis and Paphos, where there was easier access to imported marble and means to afford and display these statues. It is unknown whether the marble was carved prior to shipment to Cyprus, or if the marble was shipped as blocks and carved on the island. Although marble was a key part of Roman period sculptures on Cyprus, limestone was still being used for sculptures. The use of limestone has been seen to reflect the easy access, and more likely cheaper material from which to carve from, but it has also been viewed as a reflection of Cypriot art style. Limestone may have been a deliberate choice made by the artist, or buyer, to have a Roman style sculpture carve in Cypriot limestone. This is assumed to reflect the idea of a Roman Cyprus, by combining the Roman art style with the Cypriot limestone. [49] The sculptures discovered on the island do not cover the full Roman style, for example togate figures and busts have yet to be found. There are however many Roman-style portraits, statues, and a few reliefs found on the Island [50] (Vessberg and Westholm, 1956). Inscribed bases attest to the existence of bronze sculptures during the Roman period. The one surviving statue is of the emperor Septimius Severus. [50]

    Another key change to sculptures during the Roman period, was how the Cypriots displayed their work. Cypriots had reserved their sculptures generally to sanctuaries, and were not meant for large public displays. This changed with the Roman period, as Cypriots began to move their sculptures into the public eye, and into large urban areas. This allowed the island to show off the grandeur and splendor of Rome, and to honor the Roman emperors.

    With the transition to Christianity the older sculptures were modified to reflect Christian values, such as covering or destruction of nudity, or modification of old Greek gods into Christian figures. [49]

    Presently, Salamis is the most important city for Roman period sculptures, but Paphos, Kourion, and Soli are also important archeological sites.

    Cyprus is located at the boundary between the African and Eurasian plate, an active margin in which the African plate is colliding with the Eurasian plate. [51] [52] [53] This collision between two plates is the cause for the large magnitude and frequent earthquakes, especially seen in the southern portion of the Island where a portion of the African plate is thought to be subducting underneath Cyprus. [51] Historically Cyprus has been affected by 16 destructive earthquakes, 7 or higher on the modified Mercalli scale, from 26 B.C. to 1900 A.D. [54] Six earthquakes of note affected Cyprus during the Roman period. In 26 B.C. an earthquake with an intensity of 7 with an epicenter located southwest of Cyprus caused damage in the city of Paphos. In 15 B.C. many towns in Cyprus experienced a magnitude 8 earthquake, but at Paphos and Kourion it registered as a magnitude 9. Its epicenter was southwest of Paphos and it left the city in ruins. Paphos was subsequently rebuilt and renamed Augusta by the Romans. The earthquake of 76 A.D. was among the most destructive earthquakes, with a magnitude between 9 and 10, and it was reported to have created a tsunami. Its epicenter was located southeast of Cyprus. Salamis and Paphos took the brunt of this earthquake, and fell into ruin, with other cities such as Kition and Kourion have been assumed to share the same fate due to magnitude of the earthquake. [52] The destructive nature of the earthquakes can also be recorded in the transfer of Roman mint to Cyprus, as a means to alleviate the island from this disaster. [55] A magnitude 7 earthquake that left Salamis and Paphos in ruins occurred sometime between 332-333 A.D. [54] Its epicenter was located east of the island. In 342 A.D. a magnitude 10 earthquake struck Paphos [53] and Salamis, [55] destroying the cities. It may also have changed the course of some small rivers, as well as causing a series of landslides and fault displacements. The final Roman-period earthquake, a magnitude 7 to 8, occurred in 365 A.D. The south coast of Cyprus was greatly affected by the quake, especially Akrotiri and Kourion. A series of earthquakes following upon the initial quake laid waste to Kourion, and marked the transition into Christianity.

    Nea Paphos ("New Paphos") Edit

    Nea Paphos officially became a city in 312 BC under Nikokles, the last king of the Pafian kingdom. It wasn't until the second century that the city grew in importance and became the capital of Roman Cyprus. The earliest account of Paphos as the capital of the island actually comes from "The Acts of the Apostles" in the New Testament, where Paul and Barnabas stayed to preach to Sergius Paulus, who then converted to Christianity. [56] Roman Paphos reached its golden age under the Severan Dynasty (and it is attested that there was even an imperial cult to Septimius Severus). Nea Paphos is not to be confused with Palaiaphos ("Old Paphos"). However, it is difficult to separate the two, because they were considered to be the same city under Roman rule, and were connected by "a sacred way". [57] Nea Paphos was the city center, whereas Palaiaphos, where the Temple of Aphrodite was, acted as a religious center.

    The temple of Aphrodite at Palaiaphos was one of the most important temples in all of Cyprus. It seems that the importance of this religious festival helped maintain the status of the city throughout the Roman period. It is even said that the emperor Titus visited the Temple of Aphrodite at Paphos on his way to Syria. [56] Once there, Titus was awed by the lavishness of the sanctuary and inquired as to his future endeavors as emperor. The high priest and the goddess Aphrodite herself, supposedly, confirmed the ruler's favorable future and successful journey to Syria.

    The temple at Palaiaphos was the leading center for the emperor cult. At the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., a statue of the Roman emperor Caracalla was consecrated at Nea Paphos. In the year proceeding, a second statue of the emperor was erected, this time at Palaiaphos. Inscriptions at the old city suggest that aside from Aphrodite, only the Roman emperor was worshiped there. Even at the new city, worship was reserved to only a few gods and the emperor. These gods were most likely Zeus Polieus, Aphrodite, Apollo, and Hera. The Sanctuary to Apollo was to the southeast, right outside of the ancient city. It was composed of two underground chambers – a front rectangular one and a back circular one with a dome. This Sanctuary might be contemporary with the foundation of the city. The emperor, on the other hand, was worshiped down to the end of the Severan Dynasty--Septimius Severus—the final emperor who enforced imperial cults.

    Imperial cults were not the only way in which Paphos showed its devotion to the empire. In fact, Paphos created a calendar, called either the Imperial or Cypriot calendar, sometime between 21 and 12 BC. This was done to praise Augustus and the Imperial family. It is likely that the calendar was created in 15 BC when the emperor provided funds to rebuild the city after a large earthquake. [58] Although it originated in Paphos, it quickly grew popular and dominated the western and northern areas of Cyprus, and perhaps the southern coast as well. However, it was not the only calendar used throughout the island. The other was the Egyptian calendar used in Salamis, a city who remained loyal to her Egyptian past rather than the empire. Paphos was also given several titles under various emperors. After it was damaged by an earthquake in 15 BC, it received financial aid from the Augustus and the title "Augusta." The additional name of Flavia, which Paphos bore in Caracalla's reign (Paphos Augusta Claudia Flavia), was evidently added as a result of the rebuilding of the city under the Flavians after it suffered from another earthquake. [59] It was at this time that the mint was transferred from Syrian Antioch to Paphos. These silver coins, however, were short lived. The city was given the title of "Claudia" in A.D. 66. Paphos was also the favorite city of Cicero, a prominent Roman orator and politician. [60]

    The Koinon was a confederation of the various Cypriot cities that maintained political and religious power over Cyprus. Acting as a representative body for all of Cyprus' cities, the Koinon was likely founded at Palaiaphos because the Temple of Aphrodite located there hosted a number of religious festivities which attracted Cypriots from all corners of the island. By the end of the Roman period, the Koinon had gained the power to mint its own coins, bestow honorary titles on important individuals (including erecting statues), determine games and other religious events, and even control politics to a degree. It is unclear when the Koinon began to meet at Paphos, though it certainly occurred by the end of the 4th century B.C. Despite this shift in locations, the old city maintained importance as the center for religious activity on Cyprus for centuries after, up until the end of the 4th century A.D., when the Roman emperor Theodosius I outlawed all pagan religions.

    Nea Paphos was located on the western coast of Cyprus, where modern day Kato Paphos now stands. It was among the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest city in Roman Cyprus. The city had walled with towers disposed at regular intervals, and had a harbor (and although it was not of significant size, it was protected by two breakwaters and is still serviceable today). There was also an odeon and a theatre, and two large houses have been excavated. An agora has been found, but only the foundation exists today and excavations are still ongoing. What might have been an acropolis is now covered by a modern-day lighthouse. [61]

    The odeon, although damaged by the hands of quarrymen, has been partially restored. It was a semi-circle and consisted of an auditorium and a stage. It was built entirely out of stone and faced the agora it was destroyed under the earthquakes of the fourth century. The theatre was built as a result of the urbanization of Paphos. It was located on the northeast corner of the town, built against the southern face of a low hill, and positioned so that the audience could look across the town and in the direction of the harbor. It held approximately 8000–8500 people and was one of the few times the entire community came together. The orchestra was in the flat area between the curve of the seating and the stage building. There is very little left of the stage and the stage building today. The use of the theatre ended in the later part of the fourth century, possibly around the earthquake in 365AD. It was excavated by the University of Sydney in 1995 and a series of exploratory trenches were opened by the University of Trier in 1987. [62]

    The two houses that have been excavated, the House of Theseus and the House of Dionysus, are both large and luxurious houses, another sign that indicates that Paphos was a very wealthy city. [63] The former of the two, the House of Theseus, was a public building that probably belonged to the Roman governor of Cyprus. It was named after a mosaic of Theseus killing a Minotaur that was found in the house and dates to the fourth century. The house is located a short distance from the northwest harbor. The main entrance is to the east and the principal room is in the south wing, along with the baths. Most of the mosaics have been badly damaged and excavations of the house are ongoing. [61]

    The House of Dionysus, on the other hand, was a private house, probably belonging to a very wealthy citizen. It was given the name because of the frequent appearance of the god on the mosaic floors and dates to the latter half of the second century. On top of the mosaics in the principle rooms, the walls were also decorated with beautiful designs. The bedroom and bathrooms lie in the east wing of the house, whereas the kitchen and workshops lie to the west. Facing the bedrooms to the south is a fish pond "equipped with niches around its bottom in order to serve as a refuge for the fish in hot weather." [61] Excavations of the house began in 1962.

    Hellenistic cemeteries for Palaiaphos are found at the south and southwest areas of the city cemeteries of geometric, archaic, and classical periods found North, East, Southeast of Palaiaphos. The "Tombs of the Kings" can be found at the northernmost end of the northern necropolis of Paphos. The tombs themselves are not "royal" but "owe their name to their impressive character." [61] They date back to the third century BC, but some of the tombs were used in the Early Christian period.

    The city suffered severely from earthquakes in the fourth century AD. It was around this time, in 346, that the capital was transferred back to Salamis. Cyprus continued to grow and enjoy several prosperities in the 400s and 500s, but Paphos was already in ruins by this point. [56]

    Palaiaphos ("Old Paphos") Edit

    In Roman Cyprus, Palaiaphos was known primarily for the Sanctuary of Aphrodite Paphia. Palaiaphos is located on a limestone hill in southwestern Cyprus, at the mouth of the Diarrhizos river, about one mile inland from the coast. Myth claims that the goddess Aphrodite was born from the sea foam and rose on the rock at the coast called Petra tou Rhomiou. [64] The sanctuary is located a few miles east of the modern Cypriote town of Kouklia, and surrounded, to the west and southwest, by Hellenistic and Roman cemeteries. This sanctuary has one of the longest traditions of cult worship on the island, lasting about 1600 years. Even after the foundation of Nea Paphos in the late 4th century BC, Palaiaphos did not lose its significance. It remained a central place of worship in the Mediterranean world and cult worship of Aphrodite continued at this site until the Christian Roman emperor Theodosius I outlawed all pagan worship in 391 AD. [65]

    Modern construction in the town of Kouklia has unfortunately obliterated much of the remains at Palaiaphos. However, enough remains that Roman built temples can be identified apart from earlier constructions. These buildings are situated on an East/West orientation, and are located in the Northern part of the sanctuary complex. The two buildings, built sometime between the late first and early second century AD, keep to the traditional open court plan for the Paphian cult. It is thought that these were built after the earthquake in 76/77 AD that may have caused some destruction to the sanctuary complex. Reconstructions of the Roman sanctuary show the buildings to surround a rectangular open court, possibly left open on the West side, and enclosed by a South Stoa, an East wing, and a North Hall. The north and south halls are thought to have housed cultic banquets for the goddess. A shrine with an aniconic (non-human form) representation of the goddess Aphrodite was most likely moved from the Old Temple to the new Roman temple. During festivals and celebrations, this conical shaped stone that was a symbol of the fertility goddess was anointed with oils incense were offered. Other religious activities included a procession from the new city to the sanctuary and some form of religious prostitution. [65]

    The sanctuary to Aphrodite was one of the primary religious centers on Cyprus. The site was famous and attracted visitors from all over the Mediterranean world. There were many Imperial patrons of the sanctuary and a few emperors even visited the temple, including Trajan and Titus. The importance of the sanctuary is what kept Palaiaphos on the map after Nea Paphos was founded. There was a paved road from Nea Paphos to Palaiaphos that Cypriots would travel in procession for festivals.

    Salamis Edit

    Salamis, located by the modern city of Famagusta, was one of the most important cities on Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean during the reign of the Ptolemies. It represents a shift of center to the north, which coincided with the opening of the 'south harbor' at the southern end of the protecting reef—a harbor which was to remain in commission until the flooding of the entire coast-line, possibly in the 4th century. But Salamis, despite this new harbor, was supplanted by Paphos in the early 2nd century BC as the capital of this island and this distinction, once lost, was not recovered until AD 346, when the city was re-founded as Constantia. [66]

    An inscription of the middle Hellenistic date appears to attest to the existence of four gymnasia, which puts Salamis on par with Ephesus and Pergamum. The largest gymnasium, or panegyrikon, which has been excavated, was enlarged during the early Roman Empire by the addition of a bathing establishment and palaestra. Salamis also contained an amphitheatre, also excavated and partially restored, which had a capacity of no less than 15,000 spectators. The amphitheatre, as well as a Roman Bath House, are attributed to the Flavian Ser. Sulpicius Pancles Veranianus. Also discovered at Salamis was a massive temple to Zeus with a ramp constructed in the late Republican or Augustan times and a vast colonnaded agora, which was in use throughout the Roman Imperial period. Salamis, if not the political, remained the industrial capital of the Cyprus, and indeed the most important city on the island. [66]

    In AD 22, the temple of Zeus Olympius was one of only three temples in all Cyprus to receive confirmation of its right of asylum. However, there are only eight references, Hellenistic and Roman, to Zeus Olympius, and, as compared with the popularity of the Pafian, the god of Salamis was not esteemed by the emperors and their families. Salamis, unlike Paphos, appears to have been ill at ease with Rome and used, down to the days of Epiphanius, the Egyptian rather than the Roman Imperial calendar. But inscriptions which honor Emperors are by no means uncommon. There are honors accorded to Augustus, to Livia and to his adopted sons to Tiberius, Nero, Vespasian, Hadrian, Plotina, Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. There is particular enthusiasm for Hadrian, who came to the aid of Salamis, devastated in AD 116 by the Jewish insurrection of Artemion. Salamis shared in the Severan floruit, which is attested by numerous Severan inscriptions, one of which records the erection of a tethrippon to carry the statues of Septimius Severus, his wife and sons. Also during this time, the orchestra of the theatre was converted into a pool for aquatic games. To the west of the city vast cemeteries extended, but, as compared to Archaic and Classical burial, the Roman tombs are conspicuous for their poverty. The Imperial cult was prominent in Salamis, together with the very erratic incidence of Roman civitas. The city received her water under Nero from the famous spring at Chytri, some 24 miles distant, by rock-cut channel and aqueduct. [66]

    Salamis was destroyed by repeated earthquakes in the middle of the 4th century AD, but was quickly rebuilt as a Christian city by the Emperor of Constantinople, Constantius II—hence its new name, Constantia. This was a much smaller city than it was previously, centered around the harbor and fortified by walls. Some of the pagan public buildings that lay outside the boundaries of the Christian city, such as the gymnasium and even the theatre, were partly rebuilt, the former as baths and the latter to stage mimic productions. [67]

    Kourion Edit

    Kourion, located on the Southern coast of Cyprus and protected by cliffs on the north and east, was a walled acropolis with a necropolis to the southeast, and a well-preserved stadium and the sanctuary of Apollo Hylates in the west. However, it is said to have made "no palpable impact upon the Roman world of its day". [68] We know most about this city through the many inscriptions found on the site and through the excavations of two large residences, the House of Achilles Mosaic and the House of the Gladiators.

    Inscriptions found in Kourion have been an invaluable source to the study of Kourion. They are important as they tell us about the various building projects conducted in Kourion under the Romans and the involvement of various emperors. They even provide a record of several of the proconsuls in Kourion and their achievements. They give us insight into the Neronian restoration, repairs done to the Hellenistic theatre under Augustus, the remodeling of the theater into a hunting-theatre under Caracalla, and other important events in the city. Kourion has a fair number of inscriptions on statues of important figures during the Roman period, including Nero, Trajan, and various proconsuls. There are also a few plaques in honor of Caracalla, Septimius Severus, and other important figures. Inscriptions in and around the Sanctuary of Apollo detail the stages of construction and improvements made to the Sanctuary. Several defixiones, or curse tablets, have also been found at Kourion, often targeting other citizens over legal disputes and of a sufficient quantity to distinguish Kourion from other sites. Several funerary inscriptions left by relatives of the dead were also found although these were not particularly common in Kourion. [68]

    The Sanctuary of Apollo, located approximately 1.5 km (1 mi) west of Kourion [69] was a significant feature of the city, being described as the most impressive cult-centre in Cyprus. [68] It is thought to have been built around 65 or 66 AD, during the reign of Nero and would have undoubtedly been destroyed by the massive earthquake of 365 AD. [69] It was first discovered and excavated by Louis Cesnola, whose account of the site proved invaluable as it was later plundered and devastated by stone-seekers. Though Cesnola mentions the presence of columns in his account, none were found by later excavators. The temple would later be rediscovered by George McFadden, whose greatest impact regarding the study of the sanctuary of Apollo was his discovery that the temple had two phases, one Hellenistic and the other Roman. However, the most significant contributor to the study of this temple would have to be Robert Scranton who made many notable findings. It was he who suggested that the temple was never completely rebuilt but instead had its front remodeled, interior divided, and floor level raised under the Romans. Though there is still some debate regarding the exact dating of the temple, many believe it to have been constructed during the reign of Nero. This is supported by the fact that the Neronian period was a time of relative prosperity in Kourion as attested to by the fact that the Theater of Kourion was rebuilt around 64 or 65 AD, only a year or two before the construction of the temple. [69] Overall, it seems that the temple was modernized under the Romans but no dramatic changes appear to have been made. Flowing water (provided to the temple and the city during the reign of Claudius) and a tighter organization of the space constitute two examples of Roman modernization of the temple. The temple also seems to have had strong Near Eastern connections, evidenced by coins, architecture, and pottery. Because of Kourion's association of Trajan as Apollo Caesar with Apollo Hylates, he contributed to the building of several structures including the Curium Gate, SE Building, the Bath House, S Building, and the NW Building, as indicated by inscriptions bearing his name. [68] However, after his death worship of Apollo Caesar ended.

    The House of the Achilles Mosaic, with its open courtyard surrounded by rooms on both sides and colonnaded portico to the northeast, was dated to approximately the first half of the fourth century AD and is most notable for the large mosaic depicting the famous Greek myth in which Odysseus, by sounding a false alarm, was able to fool Achilles, then disguised as a woman, to reveal his true identity, thus bringing about his participation in the Trojan War which is famously described in Homer's Iliad. The building had mosaic floors, one of which, although damaged, seems to portray the Trojan prince Ganymede being abducted by Zeus. [70]

    More is known about the other famous residence, the House of the Gladiators, which was located in close proximity to the city wall and several meters east of the House of Achilles, seems to have been the residence of a fairly affluent patrician. [70] This house is dated to the second half of the third century AD, apparently having been built prior to the House of Achilles. It consisted of a central courtyard with corridors lining all four walls. The rooms open directly into these corridors. The floor was once covered with mosaics, with cisterns underground to collect rainwater. [70] The house unfortunately did not escape the devastating earthquake of 365 AD unscathed. The walls, roof, and mosaics were all severely damaged. Located in the central courtyard is a mosaic, remarkably preserved, depicting a gladiatorial combat scene, This is significant as such scenes were extremely rare in Cyprus. [70] Only two of the three panels depicting this scene survive unfortunately.

    The theater, which was built in the northern part of the acropolis and excavated by the Pennsylvania University Museum from 1949 to 1950, was renovated under Roman rule sometime around 100 AD and once more around 200 AD. Though the auditorium was originally a fully formed circle, under the Romans it was reduced to a half-circle. Around the second century AD it was enlarged to its current size and several buttresses were added to support it. Around 200 AD, it was remodeled to accommodate hunting and gladiatorial games, only to later be converted back into a traditional theater around 300 AD. It is thought to have accommodated somewhere around 3500 spectators. [70] The theater appears to have been abandoned sometime during the fourth century. It still stands today but suffered much from stone-seekers. [70]

    The stadium, also excavated by the Pennsylvania University Museum, was located in the northwestern region of Kourion with its U-shaped foundation [70] and three entrance gates still standing today and remarkably preserved. It is thought to have been built around the 2nd century AD under the Antonine emperors and remained in use until around 400 AD. [70] It likely accommodated around 6,000 spectators and consisted of a long oval race track for runners and chariot races. An account can be found of its last race and destruction, provided by a Cypriote writing a fictional account of the Life of St. Barnabas in the fifth century. [70]

    The necropolis was excavated by Cesnola in 1876, and then more reliably under George McFadden who dug 95 pits and uncovered 9 tombs, only one of which he published. This tomb, named Tomb 8, was likely constructed in the third century BC and used up until the first century AD. The other unpublished tombs also seemed to have had similarly extended periods of use. The knowledge regarding Kourion's tombs is not at this point extensive. We only know that they were "extremely large and elaborate". [71] However, they are certainly worth further study. Tombs are significant sources of information as they are crucial in determining burial practice and are often rich in pottery and other grave goods which can be fairly well preserved.

    The fall of Roman Kourion can be attributed to the massive earthquake that occurred on April 21, 365 AD. Based on the descriptions of the quake, it appears to have caused a tsunami and has been tentatively given the measurement of 11, [72] other sources state a magnitude 10, [73] on the Modified Mercalli scale of 0 to 12, with 12 indicating total destruction. This earthquake marks the end of antiquity and the start of the Middle Ages as well as the transition to Christianity.

    Kition (Citium) Edit

    The ancient city of Kition is completely overlaid by the modern city of Larnaka, and is therefore largely unexcavated. It possessed an acropolis at Bamboula to the southeast of the acropolis lay a large natural harbor, which has since silted in. It was very important in trade as a port city and the administration changed hands many times in its history, notably by the Phoenicians prior to the Roman administration. Even under the rule of the Romans, aspects of the old city life remained. For example, the cult of Eshmun continued into the Augustan age through a transition to the worship of Asclepius. Kition not specific about using its own name, and was often referred to as simple "the city". ("e polis" or "o demos"), which was reflective of its old Phoenician name. There is an abundance of inscriptions in Kition, especially funerary inscriptions, many of which show influences of other cultures, such as Semitic names that have been Hellenized. However, Imperial influence is still apparent in the finding of two statues to the emperor Nerva. [74]

    Three small areas of the site have been excavated at the present it was first excavated by the Swedish Cyprus expedition in 1929 second, by Vassos Karageorghis in 1976 and most recently by Marguerite Yon in 1985.

    Arsinoe Edit

    Arsinoe (immediately north of the modern city of Polis) was founded in 270 B.C. and continued with varying levels of prosperity into the Roman times and so it is well recorded by the geographers of the Roman period as being an important regional city. Arsinoe's importance depended on its proximity to the south Anatolian coast and the Aegean for trade as well as being a major center of exportation for the Imperial copper mines at Limni through the natural harbor at the site. [75] However, Arsinoe's civic importance in the Roman world is attested to the mile-markers found in the region, which were measured in distance from the city. A Roman theatre and a gymnasium from the Ptolemaic period are the only major ruins left at the site. However Strabo, the Greek geographer, tells about a sanctuary to Zeus and Aphrodite a short distance outside the Roman city. [76] Although there are a few archaeological remains, there is a surprising lack of epigraphical evidence for a city that played such an important role in Roman Cyprus. In the past there have been no major excavations done at the site except for a survey in 1960 conducted by the Department of Antiquities. Recent excavations undertaken by Princeton University are still ongoing but a preliminary exhibition of the artifacts found at Arsinoe is available at the Princeton Art Museum. (

    Minor cities Edit

    Amathus Edit

    The ancient city of Amathus, near modern-day Limassol (village of Ag. Tychonas) was a city of importance before Roman rule. After Nea Paphos was established as the center of Roman administration on Cyprus, Amathus began to decline. [77] Only the granting of asylum for the sanctuary of Aphrodite by the senate in 22 AD preserved its existence. The city remained unexcavated until 1975, when Pierre Aupert and the French School at Athens discovered remains on the acropolis, including the temple to Ahprodite, a Christian basilica, palace storerooms, and explored the port. The temple of Aphrodite was renovated in the first or second century AD to combine both Greek and Near Eastern architectural styles. The new structure included a pronaos, a cella, and an adyton. Systematic destruction of the building by later inhabitants makes any further detail for the interior of the structure unidentifiable. [77] The excavator also cannot determine if there was a cult statue housed in the temple. One distinct feature is the style of capitals used on the columns. They are Nabataean style, which is thought to have originated in Egypt. [77] Unlike the sanctuary to Aphrodite in Palaiaphos, pilgrims did not visit the temple in Amathus. In addition to the temple on the acropolis, remains of a typical Roman style bath house were found. A vast necropolis surrounds the city, the south being largely Hellenistic and Roman burials, and the east being strictly Imperial burials. Hundreds of cippi were found widespread throughout the city that suggest "a vigorous village life, seemingly less dependent on the polis then elsewhere in Cyprus.". [78] Other structures that have been attested to, but not yet discovered, in Amathus are the temple to Hera and the temple to the mysterious Seven within the Stelae.

    Carpasia Edit

    Carpasia, near modern Rizokarpasso, remains mostly unexcavated. The site itself consists of about 3 square kilometers on the Karpaz Peninsula next to a natural harbor. The remains of walls which surrounded the entirety of the city can still be seen. An aqueduct, built in Roman times, brought water to the city from natural springs. The remains of columns suggest the presence of a temple near the city's harbor. The chief deity of the Karpaz Peninsula was Aphrodite Acraea, whose temple was located at the tip of Cape Andreas, and farmlands near modern Rizokarpasso were dedicated to the goddess. Carpasia is mentioned by historians in the Classical era, and in inscriptions dating to the Julio-Claudian and Hadrianic eras. [79]

    Ceryneia Edit

    Ceryneia, now overlaid by modern-day Kyrenia, was a port city on the northern coast of Cyprus. [80] There is much evidence for the ancient city but epigraphic and archaeological evidence from the Roman era is inconclusive. Although it remains unexcavated, the ancient harbor still stands and occasional finds are made and reported. Three inscription were found that dated the city to the Roman time period an oath of allegiance to Tiberius the "Apollo of Ceryneia," a dedication to the "demos of Ceryneia" on a statue, and one mentioning the construction of a water-system during Claudius' reign.

    Chytri Edit

    Chytri (east of modern Kythrea) was one of only two inland cities on Roman Cyprus (the other was Tamassus). Chytri's most important topographical feature — and the reason for its continued existence — is its bounteous spring. The site has not been excavated, though an acropolis and extensive cemetery have been identified. Geographers and a single inscription attest to Chytri's independence during the Roman period. Inscriptions indicate a close relationship with Salamis, Chytri's most convenient access to the Mediterranean. Salamis, on the other hand, valued access to Chytri's springwater and under Nero a rock-cut channel and aqueduct was built to bring water to the coastal site. By the time of Caracalla, Chytri may have been subordinate to Salamis. Source: Mitford 1980, 1329–1330.

    Lapethus Edit

    Lapethus was a harbor town located along the northern coast of Cyprus near modern-day Karavas. It was most famous for its copper and earthenware processing, though it was an important commercial site regardless. Copious springs nearby provided the city with a constant supply of freshwater. Remains of the harbor's breakwater and city walls are still visible today, though no other ancient structures can be identified. The city had long been Phoenician in culture, and maintained Semitic speech for a long period of time before Hellenization kicked in. Although the site still remains unexcavated (due to its location in the north), the few inscriptions that originated from this area indicate that the city was extremely important from an economical standpoint so much so, in fact, that Ptolemy says that it is one of the four conventi that divided the island. Neither temples nor theatres can be found at the site, but it is obvious that the city was accepting of Roman influence because of inscriptions suggesting a gymnasium where the Actaean games were performed in honor of Augustus' victory. Other inscriptions suggest statues of Augustus, Tiberius, Trajan, and Hadrian within the city walls. It is also important to note that the consular of the island during the mid third century, Cl. Leontichus Illyrius, is the first example of Imperial distinction bestowed upon a family native to the island of Cyprus. [22] [23]

    Soli Edit

    Soli was the most important city of North-Western Cyprus and the ruins cover a wide area with a low hill that supported the acropolis that is coved by a modern village. This city had great importance to agriculture on the Morphau plain the copper mines in Skouriotissa. The acropolis boasted a large cavea that can hold up to 3500 spectators. The most impressive feature of the site was the broad paved and colonnaded street that ran from east to west across the city. There was also an excavated temple to an unidentified deity as well as an attested gymnasium and temple of Zeus that was once at the site. Statues of important Roman figures such as Emperor Trajan and Marcus Aurelius were erected at the site as well as dedications to Nero, Augustus, and Trajan. The city had great economic importance in Roman Cyprus due to the attested presence of a curator civitatis and a public records office. [81]

    Tamassos Edit

    Tamassos (covered in part by modern Politiko) is an extensive and unexcavated site named in the 2nd century B.C. The major topographical features is an outline of the walls to the city, a probable acropolis, and necropolis. The evidence for civic status of the city is determined from geographers. Under Roman rule cities and villages located in the hinterland with no viable economic assets tended to decay, however the copper mine of Tamassos allowed the city to maintain itself, albeit only modestly as seen in only one valuable funerary inscription was found. The mine was Tamassos was the most important aspect of the city, with the copper transported to the port of Soli for trade. [82]

    Ancient episcopal sees of the Roman province of Cyprus listed in the Annuario Pontificio as titular sees: [83]

    Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

    The most striking examples of monumental architecture during the British colonial period were schools built by Greek Cypriots emphasizing a Greek classical facade. After 1960 school buildings utilized a "modern" and functional style. The most imposing examples of contemporary monumental architecture are the glass and marble-covered bank buildings on the more affluent Greek Cypriot side. In terms of officially built monuments, which abound on both sides, the largest ones are those

    From the middle of the twentieth century, the dominant trend was for people to move towards the urban centers and abandon the villages, a trend exacerbated by ethnic conflict. These demographic shifts took place as people searched for employment in government jobs, in the expanding industry, and later in the tourism sector. The social and political upheavals caused significant numbers of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to become, at one time or other, dislocated. This meant that town planning could never be seriously enforced, giving a rather cluttered character to urban space. The 'traditional' one room-type village house gradually disappeared as the emergence of a more individualized society necessitated separate rooms, at least for each adult. Related to this were changes in settlement patterns. While in the past relatives often formed neighborhoods, as land plots were divided and subdivided among children, the emergence of the nuclear family gradually changed this pattern. Overall, despite rapid industrialization and other changes of a capitalist nature, once couples are married, they build on the assumption of marital, occupational and geographical stability. This entails the construction of often large and expensive houses, which may place the couple in debt for ten to twenty years.

    Religious statues from Cyprus show evidence of astronomical writing - History

    Ancient Bull Worship
    Ancient Manners and Customs, Daily Life, Cultures, Bible Lands

    Ancient Bull Fresco from Knossos

    In the ancient world the bull was a symbol of strength and power. Every culture in the ancient world was connected to bull worship in one way or another. Many people would seek the bull deity for divine blessings, whether for rich crops and a fertile harvest or for victory in battles. Even today in the modern world certain countries recognize the bull is a sacred animal, for example in India the bull is never killed. The ancient Egyptians worshiped the God Hapi, the powerful bull of the Nile River. The Babylonians, the Canaanites, and all the cultures of the near East worshiped bulls.

    The Apis bull was worshiped in ancient Egypt also, it was rare and valuable and had peculiar markings. It had a square mark on its forehead, and also a peculiar mark on its tongue like that of a beetle. The Egyptians would embalm a dead Apis and bury it in a granite coffin. Going way back into Egyptian history even as far back as the second dynasty there were certain animals that symbolized an incarnation of the actual gods. The sacred bull of Memphis, Apis, who had his temple in Egypt, was thought to be an incarnation of Osiris himself. There were certain marks as mentioned upon the body of the Apis which the Egyptians believed were the marks of the inhabitation of Osiris. In fact the very breath of an Apis bull would be considered an Oracle conferring the gift of prophecy. When an Apis bull died there was a great mourning in the land. Throughout the period of the Kings in Israel's history bull worship was prevalent.

    The Golden Calf (Exodus 32:1-32:45)

    After the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea they journeyed to Mount Sinai, it was here that God gave Moses the 10 Commandments and the plans for his dwelling place, the tabernacle. While Moses was at the top of Mount Sinai, the people of Israel were at the bottom of the mountain and they made a golden calf to worship. Moses had been gone for several days and we can only imagine how Moses felt when he came down the mountain after just having received the laws of God, and the fact that God had forbidden graven images.

    Exodus 32:19-24 - And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses' anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt [it] in the fire, and ground [it] to powder, and strawed [it] upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink [of it]. And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them? And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they [are set] on mischief. For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for [as for] this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break [it] off. So they gave [it] me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.

    Apis the Sacred Bull of Memphis

    Was it a Golden Calf or a Bull?

    Was the golden "calf" actually the image of a young bull? The most probable answer is yes, but why did they choose a golden calf or bull? Some say that they were slaves of Egypt were familiar with the bull worship. Others say that in Egypt the people worshipped a living bull and not an image and the Israelites must have got it from the Canaanites, or the Phoenicians who worshiped Astarte who was symbolized in the form of a bull, as was the Phoenician god Baal.

    Regardless the bull stands as a powerful animal that symbolizes strength, fierceness, and vital energy.

    Later in the history of Israel King Jeroboam led the children of Israel into idolatry and calf (bull) worship was prevalent.

    2 Kings 17
    Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin. For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.

    Bull going into a violent rage, an ancient symbol of power, strength, and rage.

    The ancient Babylonians and Assyrians had giant winged bulls and lions guarding the entrance to the palaces with inscriptions. The inscriptions contained detailed invocations to the gods, they were written on small cylinders and placed in the temple corners. Many of these cylinders have been discovered.

    Transporting the Colossal Bulls

    The details in transporting a colossal stone bull was graphically portrayed in a bas-relief excavated at Koyunjik, and now in the British Museum.

    The Assyrian god Nin was sometimes called the fish-god and his emblem was the man-bull. Nergal was the winged lion of Assyria. Bel was also a favorite god but Nin and Nergal were the gods who "made sharp the weapons" of kings, and who presided over war and hunting They were most devotedly worshiped. The race of kings was traditionally derived from the god Nin, and his name was given to the mighty capital (Nineveh).

    The statues found at Persia were very similar to those found at Assyria. At Persepolis the carvings reveal the King of Persia in combat with monsters, and he is also seen sitting on his throne surrounded by his attendants with long processions of royal guards. there are also carvings of many prisoners bringing tribute. Some of the most interesting carvings are the symbolic combats between bulls and lions. There are colossal winged bulls discovered at ancient Persia with human heads guarding the palaces. The mighty hall of Xerxes with all of its elegance and splendor much more elaborate than the great Hall of Karnak and far surpassed anything in ancient Assyria.

    The Extinct Giant Bull

    In ancient Mesopotamia, bulls were long venerated as symbols of majestic strength and potency. Savage wild bulls, called aurochs, once roamed the region, some weighing up to 3000 pounds and the size of an elephant. Julius Caesar wrote about aurochs in Gallic War Chapter 6.28, ". those animals which are called uri. These are a little below the elephant in size, and of the appearance, color, and shape of a bull. Their strength and speed are extraordinary they spare neither man nor wild beast which they have espied. These the Germans take with much pains in pits and kill them. The young men harden themselves with this exercise, and practice themselves in this sort of hunting, and those who have slain the greatest number of them, having produced the horns in public, to serve as evidence, receive great praise. But not even when taken very young can they be rendered familiar to men and tamed. The size, shape, and appearance of their horns differ much from the horns of our oxen. These they anxiously seek after, and bind at the tips with silver, and use as cups at their most sumptuous entertainments." Read More..

    Whatever it was the children of Israel were worshippers of Idols.

    The Bible Mentions Idols Often

    Romans 2:22 - Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?

    2 Kings 21:21 - And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them:

    Ezekiel 22:4 - Thou art become guilty in thy blood that thou hast shed and hast defiled thyself in thine idols which thou hast made and thou hast caused thy days to draw near, and art come [even] unto thy years: therefore have I made thee a reproach unto the heathen, and a mocking to all countries.

    Jeremiah 50:2 - Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard publish, [and] conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.

    Micah 1:7 - And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered [it] of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.

    Ezekiel 6:6 - In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.

    Habakkuk 2:18 - What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

    2 Kings 21:11 - Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, [and] hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which [were] before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:

    Ezekiel 18:12 - Hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination,

    2 Corinthians 6:16 - And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them] and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    Isaiah 19:1 - The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

    Ezekiel 18:6 - [And] hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,

    Ezekiel 23:37 - That they have committed adultery, and blood [is] in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through [the fire], to devour [them].

    Ezekiel 30:13 - Thus saith the Lord GOD I will also destroy the idols, and I will cause [their] images to cease out of Noph and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt: and I will put a fear in the land of Egypt.

    Zechariah 13:2 - And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, [that] I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.

    2 Chronicles 15:8 - And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that [was] before the porch of the LORD.

    Ezekiel 14:7 - For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me I the LORD will answer him by myself:

    Revelation 2:14 - But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

    2 Kings 23:24 - Moreover the [workers with] familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.

    Ezekiel 18:15 - [That] hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour's wife,

    Leviticus 26:1 - Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up [any] image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I [am] the LORD your God.

    Psalms 106:38 - And shed innocent blood, [even] the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.

    Revelation 2:20 - Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

    Ezekiel 20:8 - But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.

    Ezekiel 20:31 - For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be enquired of by you, O house of Israel? [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I will not be enquired of by you.

    Isaiah 19:3 - And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.

    Ezekiel 44:12 - Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and caused the house of Israel to fall into iniquity therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord GOD, and they shall bear their iniquity.

    1 Corinthians 10:19 - What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

    Ezekiel 6:9 - And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.

    Ezekiel 36:25 - Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. Some experts believe that Joseph, who was cast into a pit by his brothers, was actually dropped into a cistern:

    Idolatry in Smith's Bible Dictionary
    Objects of idolatry.--The sun and moon were early selected as outward symbols of all-pervading power, and the worship of the heavenly bodies was not only the most ancient but the most prevalent system of idolatry. Taking its rise in the plains of Chaldea, it spread through Egypt, Greece, Scythia, and even Mexico and Ceylon. Comp. De 4:19 17:3 Job 31:20-28 In the later times of the monarchy, the planets or the zodiacal signs received, next to the sun and moon, their share of popular adoration. 2Ki 23:5 Beast-worship, as exemplified in the calves of Jeroboam, has already been alluded to of pure hero-worship among the Semitic races we find no trace. The singular reverence with which trees have been honored is not without example in the history of the Hebrew. The terebinth (oak) at Mamre, beneath which Abraham built an altar, Ge 12:7 13:18 and the memorial grove planted by him at Beersheba, Ge 21:33 were intimately connected with patriarchal worship. Mountains and high places were chosen spots for offering sacrifice and incense to idols, 1Ki 11:7 14:23 and the retirement of gardens and the thick shade of woods offered great attractions to their worshippers. 2Ki 16:4 Isa 1:29 Ho 4:13 The host of heaven was worshipped on the house-top. 2Ki 23:12 Jer 19:3 32:29 Zep 1:5 (The modern objects of idolatry are less gross than the ancient, but are none the less idols. Whatever of wealth or honor or pleasure is loved and sought before God and righteousness becomes an object of idolatry. Read Full Article

    Calf Worship in the ISBE Bible Encyclopedia
    Ancient Calf Worship. The origin of animal worship is hidden in obscurity, but reverence for the bull and cow is found widespread among the most ancient historic cults. Even in the prehistoric age the influence of the bull symbol was so powerful that it gave its name to one of the most important signs of the Zodiac, and from early historic times the horns of the bull were the familiar emblem of the rays of the sun, and solar gods were very commonly represented as bull-gods (Jensen, Kosmologie, 62-90 Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, 1901-5, passim Jeremias, Das Alter der bah. Astronomie, 1909, passim). The Egyptians, close neighbors of the Hebrews, in all eras from that of the Exodus onward, worshipped living bulls at Memphis (not Mendes, as EB) and Hellopolls as incarnations of Ptah and Ra, while one of the most elaborate rituals was connected with the life-size image of the Hathor-cow (Naville, Deir el Bahari, Part I (1907), 163-67), while the sun was revered as the "valiant bull" and the reigning Pharaoh as "Bull of Bulls." But far more important in this connection is the fact that "calf" worship was almost if not quite universal among all the ancient Semitic peoples. If the immediate ancestors of Abraham did not revere this deity, they were certainly quite unlike their relatives, the Babylonians, among whom, according to all tradition, they lived before they migrated to Israel (Gen 11:28,30 Josephus, Ant, I, vi, 5), for the Babylonians revered the bull as the symbol of their greatest gods, Ann and Sin and Marduk--the ideograph of a young bullock forming a part of the latter's name--while Hadadrimmon, an important Amorite deity, whose attributes remarkably resemble those of Yahweh (see Ward, AJSL, XXV, 175-85 Clay, Amurru (1909), 87-89), is pictured standing on the back of a bull. In Phoenicia also the bull was a sacred animal, as well as in northern Syria where it ranked as one of the chief Hittite deities its images receiving devout worship (see further, Sayce, Encyclopedia of Rel. and Ethics, under the word "Bull"). Among all these peoples the cow goddess was given at least equal honor. In Babylonia the goddess Ishtar has the cow for her symbol on very ancient seal cylinders, and when this nude or half-nude goddess appears in Israel she often stands on a bull or cow (see William Hayes Ward, Cylinders and Other Ancient Oriental Seals), and under slightly different forms this same goddess is revered in Arabia, Moab, Phoenicia, Syria and elsewhere, while among the Semitic Canaanites the bull was the symbol of Baal, and the cow of Astarte (see particularly Barton, Hebraica, IX, 133-63 X, 1-74, and Semitic Origins, chapter vii Driver, "Astarte" in DB). Recent excavations in Israel have shown that during all eras no heathen worship was as popular as that of Astarte in her various forms (see S. A. Cook, Rel. of Ancient Israel, 1909). That she once is found wearing ram's horns (PEFS (1903), 227) only reveals her nature more clearly as the goddess of fertility. Her relation to the sacred fish at Carnion in Gilead and to the doves of Ascalon, as well as to female prostitution and to Nature's "resurrection" and fruitage, had been previously well known, as also her relation to the moon which governs the seasons. Is there any rational motif which can account for this widespread "calf" worship? Is it conceivable that this cult could so powerfully influence such intelligent and rather spiritually-minded nations as the Egyptians and Babylonians if it were wholly irrational and contained no spiritual content? And is there no rational explanation behind this constant fusion of the deity which controls the breeding of cattle with the deity which controls vegetation? How did the bull come to represent the "corn spirit," so that the running of a bull through the corn (the most destructive act) came to presage good crops and how did the rending of a bull, spilling his life blood on the soil, increase fertility? (See Fraser, Golden Bough, II, 291-93, 344.) The one real controlling motif of all these various representations and functions of the "calf" god may be found in the ancient awe, especially among the Semites, for the Mystery of Life. This seems to offer a sufficient reason why the bull, which is a most conspicuous example of life-giving power, should be so closely connected with the reproductive processes of the animal and vegetable kingdoms and also with the sun, which from earliest historic times was considered as preeminently the "giver of life." Bull worship was not always an exhibition of gross animalism, but, certainly in Bible times, often represented a concept which was the product of reflection upon one of the deepest mysteries of Nature. Few hymns in Egypt or Babylon express higher spiritual knowledge and aspiration than those addressed to the bull gods or to others honored with this title, e.g. this one to the god Sin of Ur, the "heifer of Anu," "Strong young bull with strong horns, . with beard of lapislazuli color . self-created, full of developed fruit . Mother-womb who has taken up his abode, begetter of all things, exalted habitation among living creatures O merciful gracious father, in whose hand rests the life of the whole world O Lord, thy divinity is full of awe like the far-off heaven and the broad ocean!" (Rogers, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria (1908), 164). Many modern scholars believe that the primitive Egyptians and Babylonians really thought of their earthly and heavenly gods as animals Read Full Article

    Golden Calf in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    The golden calf which Aaron made (Ex. 32:4) was probably a copy of the god Moloch rather than of the god Apis, the sacred ox or calf of Egypt. The Jews showed all through their history a tendency toward the Babylonian and Canaanitish idolatry rather than toward that of Egypt. Ages after this, Jeroboam, king of Israel, set up two idol calves, one at Dan, and the other at Bethel, that he might thus prevent the ten tribes from resorting to Jerusalem for worship (1 Kings 12:28). These calves continued to be a snare to the people till the time of their captivity. The calf at Dan was carried away in the reign of Pekah by Tiglath-pileser, and that at Bethel ten years later, in the reign of Hoshea, by Shalmaneser (2 Kings 15:29 17:33). This sin of Jeroboam is almost always mentioned along with his name (2 Kings 15:28 etc.). Read Full Article

    Calf Worship in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
    The Israelites "in Egypt" had served the Egyptian idols (Joshua 24:14), including the sacred living bulls Apis, Basis, and Mnevis, and sacred cows Isis and Athor worshipped for their utility to man, and made symbols of the sun and Osiris. In fact Nature, not the personal Creator, God, was symbolized by the calf and worshipped. But Aaron's golden calf he expressly calls, "thy Elohim which brought thee up out of Egypt" and the feast to it "a feast to Jehovah" (Exodus 32:4-8 Exodus 32:17-19). Israel too had just seen that "upon Egypt's gods Jehovah executed judgments" (Numbers 33:4). What they yearned for therefore was not the vanquished Egyptian idols, but some visible symbol of the unseen Jehovah the cherubic emblem, the calf or ox, furnished this. So Psalm 106:20, "they changed their glory (i.e. God) into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass" indeed the Egyptians used to offer a bottle of hay to Apis. The rites of Mnevis' feast at Heliopolis, boisterous revelry, dancing, offerings, etc., which the Israelites were familiar with in Egypt, they transferred to Jehovah's calf image. Acts 7:40-41 marks this first stage of idolatry. The second more glaring stage surely followed: "God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven" (Acts 7:42-43). Jeroboam's calves, which his exile in Egypt familiarized him with, and which he subsequently set up at Dan and Bethel similarly, were not set up to oppose Jehovah's worship, but to oppose His worship by Jeroboam's subjects at Jerusalem, lest they should thereby be alienated from him (1 Kings 12:26-29). It was notorious that it was Jehovah who delivered Israel out of Egypt and, like Aaron, Jeroboam says of the calves, thereby identifying them with Jehovah, "Behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of Egypt." Jehu's worship of the calves is markedly distinguished from the Baal worship of Ahab which he overthrew (2 Kings 10:18-29). Baal worship breaks the first commandment by having other gods besides Jehovah. The calf worship breaks the second by worshipping Jehovah with an image or symbol Rome's sin in our days. Moreover, there was only one Apis, there were two calves answering to the two cherubim. Hence, this was the only idolatry into which Judah never fell. As having the original cherubim in the temple at Jerusalem, she did not need the copies at Dan and Bethel. The prophets of the calves regarded themselves as "prophets of Jehovah" (1 Kings 22:5-6). Hosea denounces the calf worship, and calls Bethel Bethaven, the house of vanity, instead of the house of God (Hosea 8:5-6 Hosea 10:5-6). Kissing them was one mode of adoration (Hosea 13:2) contrast God's command," Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and ye perish" (Psalm 2:12). Tiglath Pileser carried away the calf at Daniel Shalmaneser, 10 years later, carried away that at Bethel (2 Kings 15:29 2 Kings 17:6). In Hosea 14:2 we read "calves of our lips": instead of calves which we can no longer offer in our exile, we present praises of our lips so Hebrews 13:15. Read Full Article

    Calf Worship in Naves Topical Bible

    -Golden, made by Aaron
    Ex 32 De 9:16 Ne 9:18 Ps 106:19 Ac 7:41

    -Images of, set up in Beth-el and Dan by Jeroboam
    1Ki 12:28-33 2Ki 10:29

    -Worshiped by Jehu
    2Ki 10:29

    -Prophecies against the golden calves at Beth-el
    1Ki 13:1-5,32 Jer 48:13 Ho 8:5,6 10:5,6

    -Altars of, destroyed
    2Ki 23:4,15-20

    -"Calves of the lips," a metaphor signifying worship
    Ho 14:2

    Illustration of a bronze Apis Figure

    The Bible Mentions the Idolatry Often

    1 Samuel 15:23 - For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.

    Colossians 3:5 - Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

    Galatians 5:20 - Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    Acts 17:16 - Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.

    1 Corinthians 10:14 - Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

    The Sacred Bull on Wikipedia

    The worship of the Sacred Bull throughout the ancient world is most familiar to the Western world in the biblical episode of the idol of the Golden Calf. The Golden Calf after being made by the Hebrew people in the wilderness of Sinai, were rejected and destroyed by Moses and his tribe after his time upon the mountain peak (Book of Exodus). Marduk is the "bull of Utu". Shiva's steed is Nandi, the Bull. The sacred bull survives in the constellation Taurus. The bull, whether lunar as in Mesopotamia or solar as in India, is the subject of various other cultural and religious incarnations, as well as modern mentions in new age cultures.

    The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh depicts the killing by Gilgamesh and Enkidu of the Bull of Heaven, Gugalana, first husband of Ereshkigal, as an act of defiance of the gods. From the earliest times, the bull was lunar in Mesopotamia (its horns representing the crescent moon).[1]

    Hathor as a cow, wearing her necklace and showing her sacred eye ? Papyrus of Ani.
    In Egypt, the bull was worshiped as Apis, the embodiment of Ptah and later of Osiris. A long series of ritually perfect bulls were identified by the god's priests, housed in the temple for their lifetime, then embalmed and encased in a giant sarcophagus. A long sequence of monolithic stone sarcophagi were housed in the Serapeum, and were rediscovered by Auguste Mariette at Saqqara in 1851. The bull was also worshipped as Mnewer, the embodiment of Atum-Ra, in Heliopolis. Ka in Egyptian is both a religious concept of life-force/power and the word for bull.

    We cannot recreate a specific context for the bull skulls with horns (bucrania) preserved in an 8th millennium BCE sanctuary at ?atalh?y?k in eastern Anatolia. The sacred bull of the Hattians, whose elaborate standards were found at Alaca H?y?k alongside those of the sacred stag, survived in the Hurrian and Hittite mythologies as Seri and Hurri (Day and Night)?the bulls who carried the weather god Teshub on their backs or in his chariot, and grazed on the ruins of cities.[2]

    The Bull-Leaping Fresco: Knossos
    The Bull was a central theme in the Minoan civilization, with bull heads and bull horns used as symbols in the Knossos palace. Minoan frescos and ceramics depict the bull-leaping ritual in which participants of both sexes vaulted over bulls by grasping their horns. See also "Minotaur and The Bull of Crete" for a later incarnation to the Minoan Bull.

    Nandi appears in the Hindu mythology as the primary vehicle and the principal gana (follower) of Shiva. Bulls also appear on the Indus Valley seals, but most scholars agree that the horned bull on these seals is not identical to Nandi.[3]

    In Cyprus, bull masks made from real skulls were worn in rites. Bull-masked terracotta figurines[4] and Neolithic bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus.

    The Canaanite (and later Carthaginian) deity Moloch was often depicted as a bull.

    Exodus 32:4 "He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf and they said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt'."

    Nehemiah 9:18 "even when they made an idol shaped like a calf and said, 'This is your god who brought you out of Egypt!' They committed terrible blasphemies."

    Calf-idols are referred to later in the Tanakh, such as in the Book of Hosea,[5] which would seem accurate as they were a fixture of near-eastern cultures.

    King Solomon's "bronze sea"-basin stood on twelve brazen bulls.[6][7]

    Young bulls were set as frontier markers at Tel Dan and at Bethel the frontiers of the Kingdom of Israel.

    Much later, in Abrahamic traditions, the bull motif became a bull demon or the 'horned devil' in contrast and conflict to earlier traditions.The bull is familiar in Judeo-Christian cultures from the Biblical episode wherein an idol of the Golden Calf is made by Aaron and worshipped by the Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai (Exodus). The text of the Hebrew Bible can be understood to refer to the idol as representing a separate god, or as representing the God of Israel himself, perhaps through an association or syncretization with Egyptian or Levantine bull gods, rather than a new deity in itself.

    When the heroes of the new Indo-European culture arrived in the Aegean basin, they faced off with the ancient Sacred Bull on many occasions, and always overcame him, in the form of the myths that have survived.

    In the Olympian cult, Hera's epithet Bo-opis is usually translated "ox-eyed" Hera, but the term could just as well apply if the goddess had the head of a cow, and thus the epithet reveals the presence of an earlier, though not necessarily more primitive, iconic view.[citation needed] Classical Greeks never otherwise referred to Hera simply as the cow, though her priestess Io was so literally a heifer that she was stung by a gadfly, and it was in the form of a heifer that Zeus coupled with her. Zeus took over the earlier roles, and, in the form of a bull that came forth from the sea, abducted the high-born Phoenician Europa and brought her, significantly, to Crete.

    Dionysus was another god of resurrection who was strongly linked to the bull. In a cult hymn from Olympia, at a festival for Hera, Dionysus is also invited to come as a bull, "with bull-foot raging." "Quite frequently he is portrayed with bull horns, and in Kyzikos he has a tauromorphic image," Walter Burkert relates, and refers also to an archaic myth in which Dionysus is slaughtered as a bull calf and impiously eaten by the Titans.[8]

    For the Greeks, the bull was strongly linked to the Bull of Crete: Theseus of Athens had to capture the ancient sacred bull of Marathon (the "Marathonian bull") before he faced the Bull-man, the Minotaur (Greek for "Bull of Minos"), whom the Greeks imagined as a man with the head of a bull at the center of the labyrinth. Minotaur was fabled to be born of the Queen and a bull, bringing the king to build the labyrinth to hide his family's shame. Living in solitude made the boy wild and ferocious, unable to be tamed or beaten. Yet Walter Burkert's constant warning is, "It is hazardous to project Greek tradition directly into the Bronze age"[9] only one Minoan image of a bull-headed man has been found, a tiny seal currently held in the Archaeological Museum of Chania.

    In the Classical period of Greece, the bull and other animals identified with deities were separated as their agalma, a kind of heraldic show-piece that concretely signified their numinous presence.

    The bull is one of the animals associated with the late Hellenistic and Roman syncretic cult of Mithras, in which the killing of the astral bull, the tauroctony, was as central in the cult as the Crucifixion was to contemporary Christians. The tauroctony was represented in every Mithraeum (compare the very similar Enkidu tauroctony seal). An often-disputed suggestion connects remnants of Mithraic ritual to the survival or rise of bullfighting in Iberia and southern France, where the legend of Saint Saturninus (or Sernin) of Toulouse and his prot?g? in Pamplona, Saint Fermin, at least, are inseparably linked to bull-sacrifices by the vivid manner of their martryrdoms, set by Christian hagiography in the 3rd century CE, which was also the century in which Mithraism was most widely practiced.

    In some Christian traditions, Nativity scenes are carved or assembled at Christmas time. Many show a bull or an ox near the baby Jesus, lying in a manger. Traditional songs of Christmas often tell of the bull and the donkey warming the infant with their breath. This refers (or, at least, is referred) to the beginning of the book of the prophet Isaiah, where he says: "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib." (Isaiah 1:3)

    A prominent zoomorphic deity type is the divine bull. Tarvos Trigaranus ("bull with three cranes") is pictured on reliefs from the cathedral at Trier, Germany, and at Notre-Dame de Paris. In Irish mythology, the Donn Cuailnge ("Brown Bull of Cooley") plays a central role in the epic T?in B? Cuailnge ("The Cattle-Raid of Cooley") which features the hero C? Chulainn, which were collected in the 7th century CE Lebor na hUidre ("Book of the Dun Cow").

    Pliny the Elder, writing in the first century AD, describes a religious ceremony in Gaul in which white-clad druids climbed a sacred oak, cut down the mistletoe growing on it, sacrificed two white bulls and used the mistletoe to cure infertility:[10]

    The druids ? that is what they call their magicians ? hold nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and a tree on which it is growing, provided it is Valonia oak?. Mistletoe is rare and when found it is gathered with great ceremony, and particularly on the sixth day of the moon?.Hailing the moon in a native word that means ?healing all things,? they prepare a ritual sacrifice and banquet beneath a tree and bring up two white bulls, whose horns are bound for the first time on this occasion. A priest arrayed in white vestments climbs the tree and, with a golden sickle, cuts down the mistletoe, which is caught in a white cloak. Then finally they kill the victims, praying to a god to render his gift propitious to those on whom he has bestowed it. They believe that mistletoe given in drink will impart fertility to any animal that is barren and that it is an antidote to all poisons.[11] Read More

    Bible Study and Faith

    "The Bible is the most priceless possession of the human race." - Henry H. Halley

    "This handbook is dedicated to the proposition that every Christian should be a constant and devoted reader of the Bible, and that the primary business of the church and ministry is to lead, foster, and encourage their people in the habit."

    "The vigor of our spiritual life will be in exact proportion to the place held by the Bible in our life and thoughts."

    "Great has been the blessing from consecutive, diligent, daily study. I look upon it as a lost day when I have not had a good time over the word of God." - George Muller

    "I prayed for faith, and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the 10th chapter of Romans, 'Now faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.' I had closed my Bible, and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible, and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since." - D. L. Moody

    -H. H. Halley "Halley's Bible Handbook" (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1960) p. 4, 6

    Archaeological Study of the Bible

    "A substantial proof for the accuracy of the Old Testament text has come from archaeology. Numerous discoveries have confirmed the historical accuracy of the biblical documents, even down to the obsolete names of foreign kings. Rather than a manifestation of complete ignorance of the facts of its day, the biblical record thus reflects a great knowledge by the writer of his day, as well as precision in textual transmission."

    -Norman L. Geisler, William Nix "A General Introduction to the Bible" 5th Edition (Chicago: Moody Press 1983) p. 253

    Top 20 Proof Of Aliens On Earth

    The fact that aliens have been visiting earth since ancient times has been subjected to denial by many people over the last hundreds of years. However, when it comes to proving this to be wrong, there are no solid reasoning that can be produced by the debunkers to explain why they deny alien presence. On the other hand there are many proofs that make it certain that aliens are and were there on earth. Here are some of proofs.

    Proof in medieval paintings

    Many ancient paintings bear objects that look exactly like flying saucers and UFOs. Medieval painters must have drawn these things as they might have seen these things in action, which proves that aliens were there on earth. Some of these notable paintings include the following

    (1) ‘The Madonna and St. Giovannino’ has a flying saucer in the sky that emits yellow beams and is being gazed upon by a man and his barking dog.

    (2) ‘Baptism of Christ’ is another medieval painting that shows a UFO with laser beams coming down on the earth.

    (3) ‘The Life of Mary’ that was drawn in 1330 has a definite UFO shaped object flying in the background sky.

    (4) The 15 th century painting ‘The Annunciation with Saint Emidius’ also bears a spaceship looking object that emits a single laser beam that penetrates through the walls.

    Proof in ancient megalithic monuments

    Monuments that were built by men thousands of years ago were certainly not possible to be built if they had not been guided by some super intelligence from extraterrestrials. The very existence of these monuments proves that aliens were there on earth.

    (5) Pyramids of Egypt were too big to be built by the limited knowledge of engineering and technology of man five thousand years ago.

    (6) The great monuments of Puma Punku in Bolivia are too advanced to be built by men thousands of years ago. The precision and engineering skills with which hard rocks have been cut are only possible with super intelligence which must have been a gift from aliens who were on earth during that time.

    (7) The level of astronomical knowledge that is required to make the Stonehenge of England was not available by ancient man, and it proves that they were built under the guidance of aliens.

    (8) The Moai statues of Easter Islands are another example of alien intelligence as the way these statues have been carved out and placed requires high levels of craftsmanship and intelligence which was not there with the ancient men.

    Proof in prehistoric cave drawings

    There are many Cave drawings that bear images of aliens and flying saucers which make it obvious that these extraterrestrial things were there on earth.

    (9) Cave drawings of Kimberly, Australia are supposedly 5000 years old and depict beings that look exactly like aliens.

    (10) A flying object and four figures are seen in one of the cave drawings that are discovered in Querato, Mexico. The flying object resembles a UFO.

    (11) Niaux caves of France have some of the most intriguing cave drawings that would remind you of flying saucers and nothing else.

    (12) Two humanoids are seen wearing some sort of suits in a cave drawing that dates back to circa 10,000 BC. These cave drawings are found in Valcamonica in Italy.

    Proof in religious and ancient texts

    A good number of religious and ancient texts have mentioned about creatures that came down from the skies in flying vehicles and educated mankind with various technologies. These super intelligent creatures who were believed to be Gods are actually aliens that came from outer space. Here are some references.

    (13) Hindu religious texts talk about the ‘Vimanas’ which were flying crafts and carried the gods from the heavens to the earth. These vimanas can be nothing else but space shuttles which were used by aliens to visit the earth.

    (14) The Book of Ezekiel mentions about a flying chariot and four strange creatures that had four faces, one of a man, one of n eagle, one of an ox and one of a lion.

    Firsthand accounts of alien encounters

    There are numerous firsthand accounts of real life alien encounters which prove that aliens are very much present on earth as much as they are present in intergalactic planets.

    (15) Herbert Hopkins, a hypnotist and a doctor by profession was visited by a man dressed in black suit sometime in September, 1976. The man had no lips and he had applied lipstick to give the impression of lips and he was talking in monotonous robotic manner. The man appeared at his door right after the doctor spoke to him over phone and after the discussion was over, the man disappears almost instantly.

    (16) Betty and Barney Hill of New Hampshire were abducted and taken aboard a spaceship where they were subjected to a number of medical tests and physical examinations. The whole event of abduction had gone off their mind and they could recall it only when they underwent regressive hypnosis sessions.

    (17) Peter Khoury, a Lebanese Australian had an encounter with two alien female figures who had conjugal relationship with him forcibly. The event happened in 1992 and Khoury could recover some hair strands of the aliens that were subjected to DNA tests, to reveal that the DNA structures were unlike human structures.

    There are many places which are thought to be alleged alien bases in the surface of earth. Some of these bases are in remote locations, and some are right in the middle of military locations. The government refutes the existence of such bases, but as per eye witnesses, these are certainly there and prove the existence of aliens on earth.

    (18) Underground vaults of Area 51 are allegedly alien bases where the staff is a mixed bag of aliens and humans. Area 51 is a military testing ground that is located in the middle of deserts in Nevada.

    (19) There are 7 layers of building in an underground base at Dulce, commonly referred to as the Dulce Base in New Mexico that serves as a secret experimental ground operated jointly by aliens and the federal government. Each of these layers is being used by aliens to carry out various experiments on humans.

    (20) The Zhitkur Base in Russia is believed to be the home of a number of secret alien operations that are being carried out.

    Neolithic Temples of Malta

    Neolithic temple of Gigantija, Island of Gozo ( Enlarge)

    The Mediterranean island of Malta figures in the historical record of Europe due to its association with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who fled to Malta from the island of Rhodes in 1530. Yet this small island of 243 square kilometers has a far greater importance in European prehistory due to its extraordinary collection of megalithic temples. Situated 80 kilometers south of Sicily and 370 kilometers east of the Tunisian coast, the island of Malta appears to have been first settled during the early Neolithic period by a wave of immigrants from the island of Sicily. This appearance of Neolithic settlement is however strongly challenged by new research concerning a probable Paleolithic influence, details of which are presented throughout this essay. Before examining this new research, let us take a brief look at the orthodox, or conventional, theories regarding the origin and nature of human settlements on the island of Malta.

    According to the suppositions of orthodox archaeologists, the remains of bones, fragments of pottery, and marks of fire indicate that human beings have lived on Malta since at least 5200 BC. These early people lived in caves, but later built huts and villages. Approximately 1600 years after their arrival in Malta, these people began the erection of stupendous megalithic temples. The ruins now remaining are the bare skeletons of once magnificent structures, mostly roofed over, paved, furnished with doors and curtains, and beautifully decorated with sculptures and paintings. Some archaeologists assume that the period in which the early Maltese progressed from their first rock-cut common graves to their last massive temple complexes was between 3800 and 2400 BC (assume, because there is absolutely no carbon-datable material that is associated with the large temples). Around 2300 BC this extraordinary megalithic culture went into rapid decline. A major cause seems to have been the extreme deforestation and soil loss that accompanied the increase in population and the attendant clearing of land for agriculture. Other causes may have been famine, social disruption in response to an oppressive priesthood, and the arrival of foreign invaders. Following the decline of the temple culture, Malta may well have been deserted until the arrival of Bronze Age peoples around 2000 BC.

    On the islands of Malta and nearby Gozo, the remains of 50 temples have been found, with 23 in various states of preservation. No particular pattern emerges from the distribution of these temples and this may be explained by the probability that numerous temples were destroyed in antiquity and that others remain to be discovered. There are also numerous menhirs and dolmens scattered across the two islands, but their spatial relationship to the larger temple complexes has not been studied in any detail.

    Nearly all of the Maltese temples are constructed in the same basic design: a central corridor leading through two or more kidney-shaped (ellipsoidal) chambers to reach a small alter apse at the far end. The Herculean outer shell of the walls are formed of great blocks of stone propped on end or on edge as orthostats. Internal walls are either of piled rough coralline blocks, or well-cut slabs set as orthostats. All the walls consist of two faces, the space between being packed with earth or rubble. Doorways and passages all use the trilithon principle: two orthostats parallel to each other to support a horizontal lintel. Frequently doorways consist of a 'porthole', in which access is through a rectangular hole in the center of a slab. The temples were probably roofed over with beams, brushwood and clay (the walls could not have supported the weight of stone roofs, roofing slabs more than two meters in length would have cracked due to their own weight, and no remains of stone roofs have been found).

    Two different types of limestone were used in the construction of the temples the hard, gray coralline limestone and the soft, pale globigerina limestone. Both of these stones were deposited in the Miocene geological period. The construction tools available at the time were hand-axes made of flint and quartzite, knives and scrapers of volcanic obsidian, wedges of wood and stone, hammers of stone and levers of wood. No metal tools of any kind have been found at the temples. Malta has no mineral resources and the flint and obsidian found on Malta and Gozo were most probably imported from the islands of Lipari (north of Sicily) and Pantelleria (south-west of Sicily). After the great blocks of stone were quarried they were transported with rollers and levers to the temple sites. At the building sites, the rollers were exchanged for stone balls so that the massive blocks of stone could be moved in any direction, rather than the forward and backward motion possible with rollers.

    The earliest interiors were plastered and painted with red ochre. Later interiors were decorated with intricately carved spirals on steps and altars, friezes of farm animals, fish and snakes, and a simple pattern of pitted dots. Still evident are wall sockets for wooden barriers or curtains and niches for ritual activities. Some of the relief decoration is of such delicate work that it is difficult to understand how it could have been carried out using only stone tools. Artifacts and furnishings (now removed from the temples and placed in museums) indicate ancestor worship, oracular and fertility goddess cults. The temples seem to have been used only for ritual activity and not as cemeteries, for no burials have been found. Sacrificial flint knives are among the artifacts discovered in the temples but no human bones, indicating that sacrifices were solely of animals and not humans.

    Neolithic temple of Hagar Qim, Island of Malta ( Enlarge)

    The massive ruins of Hagar Qim (pronounced "agar-eem") and Mnajdra (pronounced "eem-na-eed-rah") stand on a rocky plateau on the southwest coast of Malta, overlooking the sea and facing the uninhabited islet of Filfla, 4.8 kilometers away. This plateau is composed of two types of limestone the lower, harder stone (gray coralline limestone) out of which Mnajdra is constructed, and the upper, softer stone (pale globigerina limestone) from which Hagar Qim is built.

    The name Hagar Qim means 'standing stones' and previous to the excavations of these ruins all that could be seen was a mound of earth from which only the tops of the tallest stones protruded. Hagar Qim, possibly constructed in several phases between 3500 BC and 2900 BC, is built with some of the largest stones of any temple on Malta one massive stone is 7 meters by 3 meters (22 ft by 10 ft) and weighs approximately 20 tons. The temple's soft globigerina limestone walls have weathered badly over the millennia and later temple builders used the harder coralline limestone such as is found at Mnajdra complex just down the hill. The ruins were first explored in contemporary times in 1839. Further excavations in 1885 and 1910 produced detailed surveys of the site and repair of some of the damaged structures.

    The Mnajdra temple complex is located about 500 meters to the west of Hagar Qim, closer to the edge of the promontory facing the sea. Mnajdra consists of two buildings, a main temple with two ellipsoidal chambers and a smaller temple with one chamber. Among their other possible uses, the temples of Mnajdra fulfilled astronomical observation and calendrical functions. The main entrance faces east, and during the spring and autumn equinoxes the first rays of light fall on a stone slab on the rear wall of the second chamber. During the winter and summer solstices, the first rays of the sun illuminate the corners of two stone pillars in the passageway connecting the main chambers. Writing in his fascinating book, Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, Graham Hancock gives more precise information on these alignments,

    • As the sun crests the horizon on the spring and autumn equinoxes, 21 March and 21 September (when night and day are of equal length) its rays exactly bisect the huge Trilithon entrance to Mnajdra's Lower Temple, projecting a spot of light into a small shrine in the deepest recesses of the megalithic complex.
    • On the winter solstice (20/21 December, the shortest day) a very distinctive 'slit-image' - looking something like the illuminated silhouette of a poleaxe or a flag flying on a pole - is projected by the sun's rays on to a large stone slab, estimated to weigh 2.5 tonnes, standing to there rear of the west wall of the Lower Temple's northern apse.
    • On the summer solstice (20/21 June, the longest day), the same distinctive slit-image appears - but now with the 'flag' oriented in the opposite direction - on a second large stone slab, this time weighing 1.6 tonnes standing to the rear of the west wall of the Lower Temple's southern apse.

    Similar to the Mnajdra temple, Hagar Qim has also been shown to have solsticial alignments. Concerning Hagar Qim, Hancock notes that,

    Hagar Qim offers several alignments of the summer solstice. One, at dawn, is on the north-east side of the structure, where the sun's rays, passing through the so-called oracle hole, project the image of a disk, roughly the same size as the perceived disk of the moon, on to a stone slab on the gateway of the apse within. As the minutes pass the disk becomes a crescent, then elongates into an ellipse, then elongates still further and finally sinks out of sight as though into the ground. A second alignment occurs at sunset, on the north-west side of the temple, when the sun falls into a V-shaped notch on a distant ridge in line with a forsight on the temple perimeter.

    Thus far, little serious research has been conducted on the celestial alignments of the Maltese temples. Further studies are likely to reveal a host of other astronomical orientations. However, one astonishing fact that has emerged from the studies so far done concerns an astronomical/mathematical dating of the temples that is many thousands of years older than that assumed by orthodox archaeology. Hancock writes that,

    It is well known that the sun's rising points at the solstices are not fixed but vary with the slowly increasing and then decreasing angle of the earth's axis in relation to the plane of its orbit around the sun. These changes in what is known technically as the 'obliquity of the ecliptic' (presently in the range of 23 degrees 27 minutes) unfold over a great cycle of more than 40,000 years and if alignments are sufficiently ancient they will incorporate a degree of error, caused by changing obliquity. From the error it is possible to calculate the exact date of their construction.

    In the case of Mnajdra, the alignment today is good, but not quite perfect because the rays that form the slit-image are projected two centimeters away from the edge of the large slab at the rear of the temple. However, Paul Micallef's calculations show that when the obliquity of the ecliptic stood at 24 degrees 9 minutes and 4 seconds the alignment would have been perfect with the slit-image forming exactly in line with the edge of the slab. This 'perfect' alignment has occurred twice in the last 15,000 years - once in 3700 BC and again, earlier, in 10,205 BC.

    Neolithic temple of Mnajdra, Island of Malta ( Enlarge)

    In addition to their celestial alignments the Maltese temples also reveal surprising evidences of mathematical and engineering sophistication. One researcher, Gerald Formosa (Megalithic Monuments of Malta), has discovered numerous examples of the so-called Megalithic Yard of 2.72 feet. This mathematical constant, found at megalithic sites throughout the ancient European world, was first brought to scientific attention through the studies of Oxford Professor, Alexander Thom. In Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, examples of the Megalithic Yard are found in the measurements of the portal stones and in triangles etched on the temple floors.

    These astronomical, mathematical, and engineering findings are mostly ignored by orthodox archaeologists because Maltese temple architecture is commonly assumed to have developed previous to and independent of any outside influence. D.H. Trump, a noted 'expert' on Malta (Malta: An Archaeological Guide), comments that, "That there is nothing looking remotely like one of these temples outside the Maltese islands, so we cannot use 'foreign influence' to explain them. The almost complete absence of imported pottery further strengthens the argument." But, how then, are we to explain the enigmatic presence of the Megalithic Yard. This undeniable artifact of great antiquity suggests that the temples of Malta, rather than being isolated ruins may in fact be part of a pan-regional (or global) sacred geography.

    Another mystery concerns the statues of grossly overweight figures found in many of the Maltese temples. Their pleated skirts, generous thighs and small hands and feet have led them to being called fertility goddess deities. But they are of indeterminate sex, and furthermore, it has been noticed that the "ladies" have no breasts. As a result, archaeologists have now revised their names to the more accurate term of "obese figures." D.H.Trump comments that, "It must be admitted at the start that to describe (these obese statues), as is usually done, as a goddess or 'fat lady' may be no more than male prejudice. The sex is not explicitly indicated. Corpulence in women is frequently, though mistakenly, held to be a sign of fertility. If we call her a goddess from now on, this is a matter of probability and convenience rather than proof." Additionally, statuettes of men in skirts, with braided and pig-tailed hair, and numerous examples of carved phalluses demonstrate that the Maltese temples had a general fertility function that included both masculine and feminine elements. Nonetheless, it is true that certain figurines found in Malta, such as the Sleeping Lady and the Malta Venus, show that the Neolithic people of the island possibly had some sort of specific goddess cult.

    Other important temple complexes are Tarxien, the Hypogeum, and Tas Silg on Malta and Gigantija on the nearby island of Gozo. The Tarxien site (pronounced "tar-sheen"), discovered by a farmer in 1915, is composed of three temples, one of which contains a famous statue of the lower body of a standing figure. Sometimes interpreted as a goddess statue by feminist writers (there is really no way of knowing this as the gender is indeterminate), it is one of the world's earliest known and most powerful representations of a deity (the statue in the temple is a replica, the original being in a museum in the nearby capital city of Valletta.)

    Neolithic temple of Mnajdra, Island of Malta ( Enlarge)

    Another important temple, the Hypogeum at Hal Saflieni, departs from the norm of Maltese temples. Located close to the Tarxien temple complex in the modern suburb of Paola, it was discovered by chance in 1902 during the digging of a well. The Hypogeum is a multi-storey underground labyrinth (25 x 35 meters) consisting of chambers, halls, corridors and stairs, which over the centuries were extended deeper and deeper in to the soft limestone. Constructed (according to the orthodox chronology) between 4000 and 5000 years ago, the Hypogeum was both a sanctuary and a cemetery, and the bones of some 7000 humans have been found. The most impressive chamber, commonly called "the holy of holies" has pillars and lintels that are architecturally remarkable. With its walls coated in red paint, it has been suggested that the chamber was used for animal sacrifices. Another chamber, the so-called Oracular room, has a square niche cut into the wall that may have been used so that a priest's voice could echo around the temple. A mysterious quality of this particular room is that a man's voice will powerfully reverberate around the chamber while a woman's voice is all but absorbed by the ancient stones. The Hypogeum has been closed for much of the 1990's for repair and restoration but is scheduled to be reopened sometime after the beginning of the new millennium.

    The recently excavated temple called Tas Silg is unique in Malta in that it shows evidence of continued religious use over thousands of years and by various cultures. Initially constructed as a goddess temple during the megalithic phase, it was used by Bronze Age peoples of the first millennium BC, next incorporated into a sanctuary of Astarte (the Goddess of fertility, beauty and love) established by the Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, maintained and improved by the Carthaginians, used by the neo-Punic natives as a shrine of Astarte-Tanit, adopted by the Romans as a temple of the goddess Juno, taken over by the Christians in the 4th century AD, and finally becoming the site of an Arab mosque in the 9th century.

    The largest and best preserved of all the Maltese temples is on the small island of Gozo (a 20-minute ferry ride from Malta). Constructed (according to the assumptions of conventional archaeology) between 3600 and 3000 BC, the temple of Gigantija covers 1000 square meters and its astonishing rear wall still rises 6 meters and contains megaliths weighing in at 40-50 tons. According to local legends, the massive blocks of Gigantija (the word means gigantic) were carved in the south of Gozo by a female giant.

    As mentioned above, orthodox archaeological opinion asserts that the islands of the Maltese archipelago remained uninhabited until roughly 5200 BC when Neolithic immigrants from the nearby island of Sicily first settled them. For a variety of reasons this settlement-dating scenario is now highly suspect. Research conducted by several scientists and synthesized, interpreted and reported by the ancient civilizations scholar, Graham Hancock, has conclusively shown a human presence on Malta many thousands of years before the dawning of the Neolithic. People did come from Sicily during the Neolithic but long before that time another group of people also journeyed to and lived on Malta.

    During the process of gathering research for his book, Underworld: The Mysterious Origins of Civilization, Hancock was repeatedly drawn to the study of prehistoric Malta and, particularly, to certain matters that contradicted the conventional archaeological assessment of island. Primary among these was the fact that Malta was simply too small in size to have developed and sustained the necessary civilization that gave rise to the enormously sophisticated construction techniques found in the temples of Mnajdra, Hagar Qim, Gigantija and the Hypogeum. In other words, how do we account for the presence of twenty-three megalithic temples with no architectural antecedents and with no evidence for the large amount of local domestic architecture that would have housed the people who built and used the temples? Discussing this matter, Hancock writes,

    How are we to explain the fact that the oldest free-standing stone monuments in the world, which by virtue of there size and sophistication unambiguously declare themselves to have been built by a people who had already accumulated long experience in the science of megalithic construction, appear on the archaeological scene on a group of very small islands - the Maltese archipelago - that had not even been inhabited by human beings until 1600 years ago? Isn't this counter-intuitive? Wouldn't one expect a 'civilization history' to show up in the Maltese archaeological record documenting ever-more sophisticated construction techniques - and indeed wouldn't one also expect an extensive 'civilization territory' capable of supporting a reasonably sized population (rather than tiny barren islands) to surround and nourish the greatest architectural leap forward of antiquity?

    This notion of a more extensive 'civilization territory' contributing to the development of prehistoric Malta is something that, until a few years ago, was considered impossible. Two scientific disciplines outside of the bounds of orthodox archaeology have recently presented evidence to contradict this notion. Paleoanthropologists excavating in the caves of Ghar Hasan and Ghar Dalam on Malta found evidence of Neanderthal humans along with the skeletal remains of animals (European deer, bear, wolf and fox) known to be extinct long before the end of the Paleolithic era. While the Neanderthal could conceivably have made the sea voyage from mainland Europe to Malta during early Paleolithic times (though there is absolutely no evidence of such sea migrations anywhere in the Neanderthal record), the animals could not have made such a sea journey and would therefore had to have somehow walked to the region of Malta. But isn't Malta an island remotely located in the midst of a vast sea?

    Malta has not always been an island and this fact we learn from oceanographers and the new science of inundation mapping. Around 17,000 years ago, at the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, when the level of the world's oceans was more than 120 meters lower than it is today, the islands of the Maltese archipelago were the mountain tops of one landmass joined by land-bridge to Sicily (90 kilometers to the north), which itself was joined to the southern end of what is today the Italian mainland. Therefore, until 16,400 years ago, Paleolithic humans and the animals they hunted could simply have walked from Europe all the way to Malta. These people would have lived, hunted (and perhaps farmed) mostly in the lowland areas and (like so many other cultures of antiquity) might have constructed some of their temples upon the peaks of sacred mountains. Given the many thousands of years of time during which Malta was connected by land to mainland Europe and the likelihood of information exchange from other cultural regions of prehistoric Europe, it is eminently possible that the extraordinary architectural style of the Maltese temples could have been developed.

    Then the ice caps began to melt and the level of the oceans slowly rose, relentlessly inundating coastal areas and the land-bridges between higher altitude regions. By 14,600 years ago, the land-bridge to Sicily had disappeared beneath the sea and by 10,600 years ago the waters had risen so high that only the peaks of Malta were above the seas, forming the islands we have today of Malta, Gozo and Comino. In the process of this inundation the social centers in the lowland regions would have been lost beneath the waters and the people would have retreated to the higher altitudes of the Maltese peaks or would have migrated northward to Italy and the mainland of the European landmass. The Maltese archipelago would henceforth be completely isolated from European cultural influences and would therefore display unique developmental characteristics, which is exactly the case found in the archaeological record. As Hancock says, "Perhaps this Paleolithic isolation rather than the Neolithic invasion (of 5200 BC from Sicily) was the real genesis of the distinctive character and achievements of Maltese civilization.

    Perhaps, too, the great temples of Malta were not actually constructed during Neolithic times but are in fact artifacts of a much older Paleolithic civilization (remember, there is no radio-carbon or other archaeological dating to substantiate the orthodox assumption of a Neolithic origin of the Maltese temples). Perhaps the elegant astronomical alignments of the temples and the presence of advanced mathematics in their construction indicate that the island of Malta was once part of a pan-regional (or global) sacred geography, itself formulated by a long lost civilization of high scientific and spiritual achievement. To determine the answers to these questions it will be necessary to conduct much more extensive archaeological excavations on Malta and, equally important, at the many underwater archaeological sites known to exist in the waters surrounding the islands. Whatever their ultimate genesis however, the Maltese temples are places of power not to be missed by any serious pilgrim and earth mysteries aficionado.

    Also of importance as a pilgrimage site, though of more recent origin than the great megalithic temples, is the Romanesque basilica of Ta' Pinu on the island of Gozo. Legends relate that in 1883, a local woman named Carmel Grima, when passing a small 16th century chapel, heard a voice telling her to pray. A friend, Francesco Portelli, affirmed that he had also heard the voice. They prayed together for Francesco's ailing mother and she soon experienced a miraculous recovery. More miraculous healings were thereafter reported and from thanksgiving offerings the present sanctuary was built in the 1920's. This sanctuary incorporates the early chapel, whose original caretaker, Pinu Gauci, lent his name to the site. In addition to being visited for its healing qualities, the Ta' Pinu shrine is sacred to sailors. Inside the shrine there is a corridor filled with paintings of shipwrecked sailors being saved by the Virgin Mary.

    Basilica of Ta'Pinu, Island of Gozo ( Enlarge)

    Martin Gray is a cultural anthropologist, writer and photographer specializing in the study and documentation of pilgrimage places around the world. During a 38 year period he has visited more than 1500 sacred sites in 165 countries. The World Pilgrimage Guide web site is the most comprehensive source of information on this subject.

    7. Knossos

    The Bronze Age archaeological site of Knossos was a significant turning point in reconstructing the Greek civilization of nearly 3,500 to 4000 years ago. Built around the city of Crete, the city finds several references in ancient Roman texts and coins – also deriving its name from it. When the site was re-discovered in 1878 by Arthur Evans (Britain) and Minos Kalokairinos (Greece) it triggered fresh interest in uncovering long lost legends about Minotaur’s labyrinth, not least because of an illustration of a raging bull at the entrance.


    Proponents of the ancient astronaut hypothesis often maintain that humans are either descendants or creations of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) who landed on Earth thousands of years ago. An associated idea is that humans evolved independently, but that much of human knowledge, religion, and culture came from extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times, in that ancient astronauts acted as a "mother culture". Some ancient astronaut proponents also believe that travelers from outer space, referred to as "astronauts" (or "spacemen") built many of the structures on Earth (such as Egyptian pyramids and the Moai stone heads of Easter Island) or aided humans in building them. [7]

    Various terms are used to reference claims about ancient astronauts, such as ancient aliens, [8] ancient ufonauts, [9] ancient space pilots, [10] paleocontact, [11] astronaut- or alien gods, [12] [13] or paleo- or Bible-SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence). [14] [15]

    Proponents argue that the evidence for ancient astronauts comes from documentary gaps in historical and archaeological records, and they also maintain that absent or incomplete explanations of historical or archaeological data point to the existence of ancient astronauts. The evidence is argued to include archaeological artifacts that they deem anachronistic, or beyond the accepted technical capabilities of the historical cultures with which they are associated. These are sometimes referred to as "out-of-place artifacts" and include artwork and legends which are interpreted in a modern sense as depicting extraterrestrial contact or technologies. [16]

    Scholars have responded that gaps in contemporary knowledge are not evidence of the existence of ancient astronauts, and that advocates have not provided any convincing documentary or physical evidence of an artifact that might conceivably be the product of ETI contact. According to astrophysicist Carl Sagan, "In the long litany of 'ancient astronaut' pop archaeology, the cases of apparent interest have perfectly reasonable alternative explanations, or have been misreported, or are simple prevarications, hoaxes and distortions". [17]

    Paleocontact or "ancient astronaut" narratives first appeared in the early science fiction of the late 19th to early 20th century. [ citation needed ] The idea was proposed in earnest by Harold T. Wilkins in 1954 it received some consideration as a serious hypothesis during the 1960s mainly due to Erich von Däniken. Critics emerged throughout the 1970s, discrediting Von Daniken's claims. Ufologists separated the idea from the UFO controversy. By the early 1980s little remaining support could be found. [18]

    Shklovskii and Sagan Edit

    In Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966) astrophysicists Iosif Shklovsky [Shklovskii] and Carl Sagan devote a chapter to the argument that scientists and historians should seriously consider the possibility that extraterrestrial contact occurred during recorded history however, Shklovskii and Sagan stressed that these ideas were speculative and unproven. [19] Shklovskii and Sagan argued that sub-lightspeed interstellar travel by extraterrestrial life was a certainty when considering technologies that were established or feasible in the late 1960s [20] that repeated instances of extraterrestrial visitation to Earth were plausible [21] and that pre-scientific narratives can offer a potentially reliable means of describing contact with aliens.

    Sagan illustrates this hypothesis by citing the 1786 expedition of French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse, which made the earliest first contact between European and Tlingit cultures. The contact story was preserved as an oral tradition by the preliterate Tlingit. Over a century after its occurrence it was then recorded by anthropologist George T. Emmons. Although it is framed in a Tlingit cultural and spiritual paradigm, the story remained an accurate telling of the 1786 encounter. According to Sagan, this proved how "under certain circumstances, a brief contact with an alien civilization will be recorded in a re-constructible manner. He further states that the reconstruction will be greatly aided if 1) the account is committed to written record soon after the event 2) a major change is effected in the contacted society and 3) no attempt is made by the contacting civilization to disguise its exogenous nature." [22]

    Additionally, Shklovskii and Sagan cited tales of Oannes, a fishlike being attributed with teaching agriculture, mathematics, and the arts to early Sumerians, as deserving closer scrutiny as a possible instance of paleocontact due to its consistency and detail. [23]

    In his 1979 book Broca's Brain, Sagan suggested that he and Shklovskii might have inspired the wave of 1970s ancient astronaut books, expressing disapproval of "von Däniken and other uncritical writers" who seemingly built on these ideas not as guarded speculations but as "valid evidence of extraterrestrial contact." [24] Sagan argued that while many legends, artifacts, and purported out-of-place artifacts were cited in support of ancient astronaut hypotheses, "very few require more than passing mention" and could be easily explained with more conventional hypotheses. Sagan also reiterated his earlier conclusion that extraterrestrial visits to Earth were possible but unproven, and improbable. [25]

    Erich von Däniken Edit

    Erich von Däniken was a leading proponent of this hypothesis in the late 1960s and early 1970s, gaining a large audience through the 1968 publication of his best-selling book Chariots of the Gods? and its sequels.

    According to von Däniken, certain artifacts require a more sophisticated technological ability in their construction than that which was available to the ancient cultures who constructed them. Von Däniken maintains that these artifacts were constructed either directly by extraterrestrial visitors or by humans who learned the necessary knowledge from said visitors. These include Stonehenge, Pumapunku, the Moai of Easter Island, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the ancient Baghdad electric batteries.

    Von Däniken writes that ancient art and iconography throughout the world illustrates air and space vehicles, non-human but intelligent creatures, ancient astronauts, and artifacts of an anachronistically advanced technology. Von Däniken also states that geographically separated historical cultures share artistic themes, which he argues imply a common origin. One such example is von Däniken's interpretation of the sarcophagus lid recovered from the tomb of the Classic-era Maya ruler of Palenque, Pacal the Great. Von Däniken writes that the design represented a seated astronaut. The iconography and accompanying Maya text, however, identifies it as a portrait of the ruler himself with the World Tree of Maya mythology.

    The origins of many religions are interpreted by von Däniken as reactions to encounters with an alien race. According to his view, humans considered the technology of the aliens to be supernatural and the aliens themselves to be gods. Von Däniken states that the oral and written traditions of most religions contain references to alien visitors in the way of descriptions of stars and vehicular objects travelling through air and space. One such is Ezekiel's revelation in the Old Testament, which Däniken interprets as a detailed description of a landing spacecraft (The Spaceships of Ezekiel).

    Von Däniken's hypotheses became popularized in the U.S. after the NBC-TV documentary In Search of Ancient Astronauts hosted by Rod Serling, and the film Chariots of the Gods.

    Critics argue that von Däniken misrepresented data, that many of his claims were unfounded, and that none of his core claims have been validated. [26] In particular the Christian creationist community is highly critical of most of von Däniken's work. Young Earth creationist author Clifford A. Wilson published Crash Go the Chariots in 1972 in which he attempted to discredit all the claims made in Chariots of the Gods. [27]

    In Chariots of the Gods?, regarding the Nazca Lines, von Däniken states that "Seen from the air, the clear-cut impression that the 37-mile long plain of Nazca made on me was that of an airfield." [28] Considering he was in the process of finding evidence of ancient aliens, von Däniken exhibits confirmation bias, as he doesn't consider the Nazca Lines to be man-made until after the publication of Chariots of the Gods?. This etic perspective that he presents could be easily accepted by a reader familiar with air travel, and an undeveloped knowledge of the nature of the geoglyphs. Furthermore, since the majority of readers of Chariots of the Gods? are not educated in viewing artifacts from ancient civilizations, their interpretations are highly subject to von Däniken's opinions of the artifacts. Kenneth L. Feder argues a reader seeing the Nazca Lines for the first time in a book about aliens would be much more likely to associate those features with extraterrestrial origins, rather than from a civilization that existed on Earth. [29]

    In 1970, von Däniken admits that the Nazca markings "could have been laid out on their gigantic scale by working from a model using a system of coordinates." [30]

    Zecharia Sitchin Edit

    Zecharia Sitchin's series The Earth Chronicles, beginning with The 12th Planet, revolves around Sitchin's unique interpretation of ancient Sumerian and Middle Eastern texts, megalithic sites, and artifacts from around the world. [31] [32] He hypothesizes that the gods of old Mesopotamia were astronauts from the planet "Nibiru", which Sitchin states the Sumerians believed to be a remote "12th planet" (counting the Sun, Moon, and Pluto as planets) associated with the god Marduk. According to Sitchin, Nibiru continues to orbit our sun on a 3,600-year elongated orbit. Modern astronomy has found no evidence to support Sitchin's ideas. [31]

    Sitchin argues that there are Sumerian texts which tell the story that 50 Anunnaki, inhabitants of a planet named Nibiru, came to Earth approximately 400,000 years ago with the intent of mining raw materials, especially gold, for transport back to Nibiru. With their small numbers they soon grew tired of the task and set out to genetically engineer laborers to work the mines. After much trial and error they eventually created Homo sapiens sapiens: the "Adapa" (model man) or Adam of later mythology. Sitchin contended the Anunnaki were active in human affairs until their culture was destroyed by global catastrophes caused by the abrupt end of the last ice age some 12,000 years ago. Seeing that humans survived and all they had built was destroyed, the Anunnaki left Earth after giving humans the opportunity and means to govern themselves. Sitchin's work has not received mainstream scholarly support and has been roundly criticized by professionals that have reviewed his hypotheses. Semitic languages scholar Michael S. Heiser says that many of Sitchin's translations of Sumerian and Mesopotamian words are not consistent with Mesopotamian cuneiform bilingual dictionaries, produced by ancient Akkadian scribes. [33] [34] [35]

    Alan F. Alford, author of Gods of the New Millennium (1996), was an adherent of the ancient astronaut hypothesis. Much of his work draws on Sitchin's hypotheses. However, he now finds fault with Sitchin's hypothesis after deeper analysis, stating that: "I am now firmly of the opinion that these gods personified the falling sky in other words, the descent of the gods was a poetic rendition of the cataclysm myth which stood at the heart of ancient Near Eastern religions." [36]

    Robert Temple Edit

    Robert K. G. Temple's 1976 book, The Sirius Mystery, argues that the Dogon people of northwestern Mali preserved an account of extraterrestrial visitation from around 5,000 years ago. He quotes various lines of evidence, including advanced astronomical knowledge inherited by the tribe, descriptions, and comparative belief systems with ancient civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Sumer. His work draws heavily on the studies of cultural anthropologists Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen. [37]

    His conclusions have been criticized by scientists, who point out discrepancies within Temple's account, and suggested that the Dogon may have received some of their astronomical information recently, probably from European sources, and may have misrepresented Dogon ethnography. [38] [39] [40]

    UFO religions Edit

    Various new religious movements including some branches of theosophy, Scientology, Raëlism, and Heaven's Gate believe in ancient and present-day contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. Many of these faiths see both ancient scriptures and recent revelations as connected with the action of aliens from other planetary systems. Psychologists have found that UFO religions have similarities which suggest that members of these groups consciously or subliminally associate enchantment with the memes of science fiction. [41]

    Among scientists, the consensus is that the ancient astronaut hypothesis is not impossible, but unjustified and unnecessary. The "mysteries" cited as evidence for the hypothesis can be explained without having to invoke ancient astronauts proponents look for mysteries where none exist. [6] Since ancient astronauts are unnecessary, Occam's razor should be applied and the hypothesis rejected according to the scientific consensus. [42]

    Ancient religious texts Edit

    Proponents cite ancient mythologies to support their viewpoints based on the idea that ancient creation myths of gods who descend from the heavens to Earth to create or instruct humanity are representations of alien visitors, whose superior technology accounts for their perception as gods. Proponents draw an analogy to occurrences in modern time when isolated cultures are exposed to Western technology, such as when, in the early 20th century, "cargo cults" were discovered in the South Pacific: cultures who believed various Western ships and their cargo to be sent from the gods as fulfillment of prophecies concerning their return. [43] [ user-generated source? ]

    The ancient Sumerian myth of Enûma Eliš, inscribed on cuneiform tablets and part of the Library of Ashurbanipal, says humankind was created to serve gods called the "Annunaki". Hypothesis proponents believe that the Annunaki were aliens who came to earth to mine gold for their own uses. According to the Enuma Elish story, the Annunaki realized mining gold was taking a toll on their race, and then created the human race as slaves. [44]

    Ramayana Edit

    In Hindu mythology, the gods and their avatars travel from place to place in flying vehicles called Vimana. There are many mentions of these flying objects in the Ramayana, which used by the Lankan king Ravana from Sri Lanka dates to the 5th or 4th century BCE. Below are some examples:

    From Book 6, Canto CXXIII: The Magic Car: [45]

    Is not the wondrous chariot mine,

    Named Pushpak, wrought by hands divine.

    This chariot, kept with utmost care,
    Will waft thee through the fields of air,
    And thou shalt light unwearied down

    In fair Ayodhyá's royal town.

    From Book 6, Canto CXXIV: The Departure: [45]

    Swift through the air, as Ráma chose,

    The wondrous car from earth arose.
    And decked with swans and silver wings

    Bore through the clouds its freight of kings.

    Erich von Däniken discusses the Ramayana and the vimanas in Chapter 6 of Chariots of the Gods? suggesting that they were "space vehicles". To support his hypothesis, he offers a quotation which he says is from an 1889 translation of the Mahabharata by C. Roy: "Bhima flew with his Vimana on an enormous ray which was as brilliant as the sun and made a noise like the thunder of a storm". [46] [47]

    Book of Genesis and Book of Enoch Edit

    The Book of Genesis, Chapter 6 verses 1-2 and 4, states:

    When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.
    The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them.
    — Genesis 6:1–4 (New International Version)

    Many Christians consider these groups to be the different families of Adam and Eve's children. Another interpretation is that the Nephilim are the children of the "sons of God" and "daughters of humans", although scholars are uncertain. [48] The King James Version translates "Nephilim" as "giants" (or Gibborim). Ancient Astronaut proponents argue that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in order "to be godlike", and this was the first step in human evolution. [ citation needed ]

    The first part of the apocryphal Book of Enoch expands and interprets Genesis 6:1: that the "sons of God" were a group of 200 "angels" called "Watchers", who descended to Earth to breed with humans. Their offspring are the Nephilim, "giants" who "consumed all the acquisitions of men". When humans could no longer sustain the Nephilim, they turned against humanity. The Watchers also instructed humans in metallurgy and metalworking, cosmetics, sorcery, astrology, astronomy, and meteorology. God then ordered the Watchers to be imprisoned in the ground, and created the Great Flood (or the numerous Deluge myths) to rid Earth of the Nephilim and of the humans given knowledge by the Watchers. To ensure humanity's survival, Noah is forewarned of the oncoming destruction. Because they disobeyed God, the book describes the Watchers as "fallen angels". [49] [ original research? ]

    Some ancient astronaut proponents argue that this story is a historical account of extraterrestrials visiting Earth, called Watchers because their mission was to observe humanity. Some of the extraterrestrials disobeyed orders they made contact with humans, cross-bred with human females, and shared knowledge with them. The Nephilim were thus half-human-half-extraterrestrial hybrids. [50] [ better source needed ]

    Chuck Missler and Mark Eastman argue that modern UFOs carry the fallen angels, or offspring of fallen angels, and that "Noah's genealogy was not tarnished by the intrusion of fallen angels. It seems that this adulteration of the human gene pool was a major problem on the planet earth". [51]

    Von Däniken also suggests that the two angels who visited Lot in Genesis 19 were ancient astronauts, who used atomic weapons to destroy the city of Sodom. [52]

    Marc Dem reinterprets the Book of Genesis by writing that humanity started on another planet and that the God of the Bible is an extraterrestrial. [53]

    Book of Ezekiel Edit

    In the Old Testament, Chapter 1 of the Book of Ezekiel recounts a vision in which Ezekiel sees "an immense cloud" that contains fire and emits lightning and "brilliant light". It continues: "The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures". These creatures are described as winged and humanoid, they "sped back and forth like flashes of lightning" and "fire moved back and forth among the creatures". The passage goes on to describe four shiny objects, each appearing "like a wheel intersecting a wheel". These objects could fly and they moved with the creatures: "When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose". [54] [ original research? ]

    In Chapter 4 of Chariots of the Gods?, entitled "Was God an Astronaut?", von Däniken suggests that Ezekiel had seen a spaceship or spaceships this hypothesis had been put forward by Morris Jessup in 1956 [55] and by Arthur W. Orton in 1961. [56] A detailed version of this hypothesis was described by Josef F. Blumrich in his book The Spaceships of Ezekiel (1974). [57]

    Elsewhere in the Bible Edit

    The characteristics of the Ark of the Covenant and the Urim and Thummim have been said to suggest high technology, perhaps from alien origins. [58]

    Robert Dione and Paul Misraki published books in the 1960s describing the events in the Bible as caused by alien technology. [59] [60] Barry Downing, a Presbyterian minister, wrote a book in 1968 arguing that Jesus was an extraterrestrial, citing John 8:23 and other biblical verses as evidence. [61]

    Some ancient astronaut proponents such as Von Däniken and Barry Downing believe that the concept of hell in the Bible could be a real description of the planet Venus brought to Earth by extraterrestrials showing photos of the hot surface on Venus to humans. [ citation needed ] Proponents of the hypothesis state that 'God' and 'Satan' were aliens that disagreed on whether or not human beings should be allowed the information that is offered by the tree of knowledge. David Childress, a leading proponent of ancient astronaut creation hypothesis, compares this story to the Greek tale of Prometheus, who gave mankind the knowledge of fire. Ancient Astronaut proponents believe the biblical concept of Satan is based on a misunderstood visit by extraterrestrials. Erich von Däniken posited that the descendants of extraterrestrials had children with hominids, and this was referred to in the Bible as the "Original sin." Von Däniken believes that the biblical great flood was punishment after an extraterrestrial 'God' discovered that earthbound, fallen angels were mating with ape-like early humans. [62]

    Irish Book of Invasions Edit

    Childress and others have written that the passage in the Book of Invasions describing the arrival of the Tuatha Dé Danann in Ireland, records "the arrival of aliens in spacecraft with cloaking devices" at Slieve Anierin. The text states “so that they were the Tuatha De Danand who came to Ireland. In this wise they came, in dark clouds. They landed on the mountains of Conmaicne Rein in Connacht and they brought a darkness over the sun for three days and three nights". [63]

    The Black Gods: Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization Part 4 – By John G. Jackson (1939)

    So far we have given little or no attention to the evidence of comparative religion. The study of ancient religious history is important, for religion, like philosophy, changes but slowly. Institutional religion, being conservative and static in its outlook, has preserved much ancient lore that would have otherwise been lost to the modern student.

    The Greek philosopher Xenophanes (572–480 B.C.), pointed out a profound truth when he observed that the gods men worship very closely resemble the worshippers. In the words of this ancient sage: “Each man represents the gods as he himself is. The Ethiopian as black and flat-nosed the Thracian as red-haired and blue-eyed and if horses and oxen could paint, they would no doubt depict the gods as horses and oxen.” This being the case when we find the great nations of the world, both past and present, worshipping black gods, then we logically conclude that these peoples are either members of the black race, or that they originally received their religion in toto or in part from black people. The proofs are abundant.

    The ancient gods of India are shown with Ethiopian crowns on their heads. According to the Old Testament, Moses first met Jehovah during his sojourn among the Midianites, who were an Ethiopian tribe. We learn from Hellenic tradition that Zeus, king of the Grecian gods, so cherished the friendship of the Ethiopians that he traveled to their country twice a year to attend banquets. “All the gods and goddesses of Greece were black,” asserts Sir Godfrey Higgins, “at least this was the case with Jupiter, Baccus, Hercules, Apollo, Ammon. The goddesses Benum, Isis, Hecate, Diana, Juno, Metis, Ceres, Cybele were black.” (Anacalypsis, Vol. I, Book IV, Chap. I.)

    Even the Romans, who received their religion mainly from the Greeks, admitted their debt to Egypt and Ethiopia. This may be well illustrated by the following passage from The Golden Ass or Metamorphosis, by Apuleius. The author, as an initiate of the Isis cult is represented as being addressed by that goddess: “I am present I who am Nature, the parent of things, queen of all the elements … the primitive Phrygians called me Pressimunitica, the mother or the gods the native Athenians, Ceropian Minerva the floating Cyprians, Paphian Venus … the inhabitants of Eleusis, the ancient goddess Ceres. Some again have invoked me as Juno, others as Bellona, others as Hecate, and others Rhamnusia and those who are enlightened by the emerging rays of the rising sun, the Ethiopians, Ariians and Egyptians, powerful in ancient learning, who reverence by divinity with ceremonies perfectly proper, call me by my true appellation, Queen Isis.” (Doane’s Bible Myths, Note, p. 478.)

    A study of the images of ancient deities of both the Old and New Worlds reveal their Ethiopic origin. This is noted by Kenneth R. H. Mackezie in T. A. Buckley’s Cities of the Ancient World, p. 180: “From the wooly texture of the hair, I am inclined to assign to the Buddha of India, the Fuhi of China, the Sommonacom of the Siamese, the Zaha of the Japanese, and the Quetzalcoatl of the Mexicans, the same, and indeed an African, or rather Nubian, origin.” Most of these black gods were regarded as crucified saviors who died to save mankind by being nailed to a cross, or tied to a tree with arms outstretched as if on a cross, or slain violently in some other manner.

    Of these crucified saviors, the most prominent were Osiris and Horus of Egypt, Krishna of India, Mithra of Persia, Quetazlcoatl of Mexico, Adonis of Babylonia and Attis of Phrygia. Nearly all of these slain savior-gods have the following stories related about them: They are born of a virgin, on or near Dec. 25th (Christmas) their births are heralded by a star they are born either in a cave or stable they are slain, commonly by crucifixion they descend into hell, and rise from the dead at the beginning of Spring (Easter), and finally ascend into heaven. The parallels between the legendary lives of these pagan messiahs and the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible are so similar that progressive Bible scholars now admit that stories of these heathen Christs have been woven into the life-story of Jesus. (These remarkable parallels are discussed and interpreted in a pamphlet, Christianity Before Christ, by John G. Jackson, New York, 1938.)

    The late Mr. Maynard Shipley, President of The Science League of America, made a very scholarly study of the various mythologies and religions of the world, and in the concluding passage of a brilliant essay, Christian Doctrines in Pre-Christian America, he offers a profoundly thought-provoking statement:

    That the ancient pagan creeds, legends and myths—part of the universal mythos—should be found embodied in the religion of the ancient Mexicans, and that all these again are found to be but the original sources of the modern orthodox Christian religion, is by no means inexplicable, and need not be attribute to the subtlety of the Ubiquitous Devil. The explanation is that all religions and all languages of the civilized races of men had a common origin in an older seat of civilization.

    Where that original center of culture was is another story.

    The evidence seems to show that the “original center of culture,” referred to by Mr. Shipley, was that vast domain known to the classical geographers and historians as Ethiopia. A study of religious images throws much light on this early civilization. The tau (T-shaped) cross is thought by many Christians to be a unique emblem of their faith. The fact is that this cross is of ancient Ethiopian origin. In the words of an outstanding student of symbolism: “The Ethiopic form of the tau is an exact prototype of the conventional Christian cross or, to state the fact in its chronological relation, the Christian cross is made in the exact image of the Ethiopian tau.” (Sex Symbolism. P. 9, by William J, Fielding, Little Blue Book No. 904.) The cross was known to all the great ancient nations, and was sometimes shown with the image of a man upon it. The Church Father, Minucius Felix, writing in the early part of the third century, severely rebukes the Pagans for their adoration of crosses: “I must tell you that we neither adore crosses nor desire them you it is ye Pagans … for what else are your ensigns, flags and standards, but crosses gilt and beautiful. Your victorious trophies not only represent a cross, but a cross with a man upon it.” Commenting on the preceding extract, the American scholar, T. W. Doane, notes that:

    It is very evident that this celebrated Christian Father alludes to some Gentle mystery, of which the prudence of his successors has deprived us. When we compare this with the fact that for centuries after the time assigned for the birth of Jesus Christ, he was not represented as a man on a cross, and that the Christians did not have such a thing as a crucifix, we are inclined to think that the effigies of a black or dark-skinned crucified man, which were to be seen in many places in Italy even during the last century, may have had something to do with it. (Bible Myths, p. 197, 7th Edition.)

    The same writer also refers to “the Mexican crucified god being sometimes represented as black,” and that “crosses were also found in Yucatan, as well as Mexico, with a man upon them.” (Ibid., p. 201.)

    The numerous black madonnas and infants in European cathedrals are discussed in detail by Sir Godfrey Higgins in The Anacalypsis, Vol. I, Book IV, Chap. I, to which the interested student is referred. However, the remarks of Mr. Shipley on this point are worthy of our attention:

    Very suggestive is the fact that representations of the virgin mother and infant savior are often black. This is true in the case of the paintings and images of Isis and Horus, of Devaki and Krishna, and in many cases of Mary and Jesus. The most ancient pictures and statues in Italy and other parts of Europe, which are adored by the faithful as representations of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus, reveal the infant draped in white, but with face black and in the arms of a black mother. … How does it happen that the Virgin Mother of the Mexican Savior-God so closely resembled the Black Virgins of Egypt and Europe? Had they not all a common origin?” (Sex and The Garden of Eden Myth, pp. 50–51, by Maynard Shipley, Little Blue Book No.1188.)

    Mr. A. H. Verrill, an American archaeologist, visited an Indian shrine in a small town in Guatemala a few years ago, and found that on a special festival day Indians traveled to this little church to bow down to the image of a Black Christ. From the attendant ceremonies, Verrill judged the rite to be of Mayan origin. (see Verrill’s Old Civilizations of the New World, New York, 1938.) The Mayas possessed knowledge of the arts and sciences equivalent to that of the ancients of the Old World, but upon that we cannot dwell, since limitations of space forbid it. The reader is referred to Professor Paul Radin’s fine book on the American Indians, where after surveying the marvelous scientific achievements of the Mayas of Yucatan and Central America , Dr. Radin admits that: “No excavations have ever revealed to us any civilization of a simpler nature from which this very elaborate culture could possibly have been developed.” (The Story of the American Indian, p. 77, Garden City, 1937.)

    Egypt and Western Asia tell the same story. “In each case we have a standard or measuring-rod of authentic historical record,” declares Samuel Laing, “of certainly not less than 8,000 and more probably 9,000 or 10,000 years, from the present time and in each case we find ourselves at this remote date, in the presence, not of rude beginnings, but of a civilization already ancient and far advanced. We have populous cities, celebrated temples, an organized priesthood, an advanced state of agriculture and of the industrial and fine arts writing and books so long known that their origin is lost in myth religions in which advanced philosophical and moral ideas are already developed astronomical systems which imply a long course of accurate observations. How long this prehistoric age may have lasted, and how many centuries it may have taken to develop such a civilization, from the primitive beginnings of Neolithic and Paleolithic origins, is a matter of conjecture. All we can infer is, that it must have required an immense time, much longer than that embraced by the subsequent period of historical record.” (Human Origins, by Samuel Laing, p. 30, London, 1913.)

    Much more could be said on this subject, but since this essay is addressed mainly to readers who have little time for the study of history, it must be made as concise as possible. The numerous citations from standard scientific and historical works, it is hoped, will be of some benefit to students who are out of reach of large public libraries, or who lack the leisure time necessary for reading and research along these lines.

    Watch the video: 11. The polychromy of Greek and Roman sculpture and architecture by Cecilie Brøns