Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TUTANKHAMUN HAD A SPACE DAGGER
WITH A BLADE FROM A METEOR



ONE of Tutankhamun's famous daggers was made of a meteoric iron that literally came from space, says a new study into the composition of the iron blade from the sarcophagus of the boy king.

And the metal came from a meteor that struck the desert west of Alexandria in pre-historic times.

Tutankhamun was buried with several weapons, including two daggers. One was a golden ceremonial dagger and the other had an iron blade. Both had golden sheaths.

While archaeologists knew that one of the blades was iron, there was no way of knowing where that cutting-edge alloy had come from at such an early date in history.

But now, using non-invasive, portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a team of Italian and Egyptian researchers have confirmed that the iron of the dagger placed on the right thigh of King Tut's mummified body a has meteoric origin.

The team, which include researchers from Milan Polytechnic, Pisa University and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, detailed their results in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.

The weapon, now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, was described in 1925 by Howard Carter, who three years before had discovered the treasure-packed tomb, as "a highly ornamented gold dagger with crystal knob."

Made of non-rusted, homogeneous metal, the finely manufactured blade features a decorated gold handle. It is completed by a gold sheath garnished with a floral lily motif on one side and with a feathers pattern on the other side, terminating with a jackal's head.

Now dramatic technological improvements have allowed the researchers to determine the composition of the blade.

"Meteoric iron is clearly indicated by the presence of a high percentages of nickel," main author Daniela Comelli, at the department of Physics of Milan Polytechnic, told Discovery News.

Indeed, iron meteorites are mostly made of iron and nickel, with minor quantities of cobalt, phosphorus , sulfur and carbon.

While artifacts produced with iron ore quarrying display 4 percent of nickel at most, the iron blade of King Tut's dagger was found to contain nearly 11 percent of nickel. Further confirmation of the blade's meteoric origin came from cobalt traces.

"The nickel and cobalt ratio in the dagger blade is consistent with that of iron meteorites that have preserved the primitive chondritic ratio during planetary differentiation in the early solar system," Comelli said.

Comelli and colleagues also investigated the possible source of the iron blade.

"We took into consideration all meteorites found within an area of 2,000 km in radius centered in the Red Sea, and we ended up with 20 iron meteorites," Comelli said.

"Only one, named Kharga, turned out to have nickel and cobalt contents which are possibly consistent with the composition of the blade," she added.

The meteorite fragment was found in 2000 on a limestone plateau at Mersa Matruh, a seaport some 150 miles west of Alexandria.

Earlier, experts determined that the Ancient Egyptians used meteoric iron for beads as early as 5,000 years ago ... long before the Iron Age began. The EGYPTIAN SPACE BEADS have been the subject of intense study.

It has also been long known that the Ancient Egyptians used METEOR GLASS in their jewellery.

THE ANCIENT RENAISSANCE MAN IMHOTEP
SET THE EGYPTIAN PRECEDENT
FOR ANTINOUS TO BECOME A GOD


SOME 3,000 years before Antinous, the Egyptians deified another mortal commoner ... the ancient "Renaissance Man" Imhotep ... Egyptian magician, physician, scribe, sage, architect, astronomer, vizier, and priest.

Imhotep's many talents and vast acquired knowledge had such an effect on the Egyptian people that he became the first individual of non-royal birth to be deified ... setting a precedent for Antinous to attain the status of a god.

 Imhotep, or "he who cometh in peace," was born in Ankhtowe, a suburb of Memphis, Egypt. 


The month and day of his birth are noted precisely as the sixteenth day of Epiphi, third month of the Egyptian harvest (corresponding to May 31) but the year is not definitely recorded. 

It is known that Imhotep was a contemporary (living in the same time period) of the Pharaoh, or king of Egypt, Zoser (also known as Neterikhet) of the Third Dynasty. But estimates of the era of his reign vary by as much as three hundred years, falling between 2980 and 2600 B.C.E.

Imhotep's father, Kanofer, a celebrated architect, was later known to be the first of a long line of master builders who contributed to Egyptian works through the reign of King Darius the First (522–486 B.C.E. ). His mother, Khreduonkh, who probably came from the province of Mendes, is known today for having been deified alongside her son, an Egyptian custom.



Vizier under King Zoser


The office of the vizier in politics was literally described as "supervisor of everything in this entire land." Only the best educated citizen could handle the range of duties of this position that worked closely with the Pharaoh, or king of Egypt.


The capital city was Mennefer (Memphis) called the city of the "White Walls" for the enormous walls around the Temple of Ptah compound (right).

As vizier, Imhotep was chief advisor to Zoser in both religious and practical matters, and he controlled the departments of the Judiciary (court system), Treasury, War, Agriculture, and the General Executive.

There are no historical records of Imhotep's acts as a political figure, but his wisdom as a religious advisor was widely recognized after he ended a terrible famine (a severe shortage of food) that dominated Egypt during seven years of Zoser's reign. It is said that the king was failing in his responsibility to please the god Khnum, and his neglect was causing the Nile to fall short of a flood level which would support Egyptian farms. 


Imhotep, having a vast knowledge of the proper traditions and methods of worship, was able to counsel Zoser on pleasing Hapi, the the god of the inundation, allowing the Nile to return to its usual flood level.

The first miracle attributed to Antinous was a bountiful Nile inundation in the year 131 AD. 


Architect of the famous pyramid at Sakkara


 The Step Pyramid at Sakkara is the only of Imhotep's achievements that can still be seen and appreciated today. Its reputation is largely based on Imhotep's accomplishments as the pyramid's inventor and builder. 


This pyramid for King Djoser, also called "Netjerikhet" (Incarnation of the Gods), was the first structure ever built of cut stone, and is by far the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World, the seven structures of the ancient world that were astonishing accomplishments for their time. 

It took twenty years to complete—not very long, given the newness of the idea and the state of structural science in the Bronze Age (between 3000 B.C.E. and 1100 C. E.), the period of development where metals, particularly bronze, were used for the first time.

Imhotep wanted the tomb to accommodate the Pharaoh's rise into the heavens. To do this, he planned to improve upon the flat, rectangular mastabas, or built-in benches, which were the traditional tombal structures. 


The pyramid was raised on top of the base mastabas in five smaller steps, one on top of the other.

He added a passageway on the north side issuing upward within the structure from a sarcophagus chamber (where the stone coffin holding the mummy is kept) seventy-five feet below ground. 

The total height of the pyramid and base is just under two hundred feet, unimaginably large for a single structure before Imhotep's design.

The project at Sakkara was designed in its entirety as a way for the deceased to perform the rituals of the jubilee festival, or Hebsed. The complex consisted of many other buildings, as well as ornamental posts some thirty-seven feet high. 


The protection of the king and his burial gifts—about 36,000 vessels of alabaster, dolomite, aragonite, and other precious materials—was the other primary function of the burial site.

The entire complex was enclosed within a stone wall about thirty-five feet high. Imhotep added several false entrances to throw off possible tomb raiders. As a final measure, the king's treasure was lowered through vertical shafts around the tomb into a long corridor one hundred feet below ground. The digging of just this corridor without machines of any kind is an amazing accomplishment by modern standards.

When Antinous and Hadrian visited Egypt in the year 130 AD, they stood atop the plateau at Sakkara and marveled at the achievements of Imhotep.

It is likely that Imhotep was the architect and master builder of many other projects completed during a forty-year period of the Third Dynasty, though none of them compare in size or stylistic influence to the burial site at Sakkara. 


Imhotep was also the author of an encyclopedia of architecture that was used as a reference tool by Egyptian builders for thousands of years.
 

Physician-magician, God of medicine


As a god of medicine, Imhotep was beloved as a curer of everyday problems who could "provide remedies for all diseases," and "give sons to the childless."


Members of the cult of Imhotep in the Twenty-sixth and Twenty-seventh Dynasties (between 525 B.C.E. and 550 C. E.) would pay tribute to the God at his temple just outside Memphis. 

The temple also contained halls devoted to the teaching of medical methods, and to the preservation of the materia medica, which details the entirety of Egyptian medical knowledge which may actually have originated with Imhotep.

Imhotep's name was often grouped with such powerful deities as Thoth, God of Wisdom, Isis, the wonder-worker, and Ptah, a healer and the ancient God of Memphis. 


Although royal individuals were deified by the Egyptians, Imhotep is unique as the first non-royal man to be known by his own name as a god inferior in power only to Re (chief Sun-God). With that precedence in mind, the Egyptians had no objections to accepting Antinous as a God.

Imhotep was also a member of the great triad of Memphis, with Ptah, Imhotep's father among the gods, and Sekhmet, a goddess associated with childbirth.

It is a matter of debate today how much of Imhotep's reputation as a curer of disease stems from medical skill and how much comes from his command of magic and healing rituals.


More than 3,000 years before Antinous died in the Nile ... Imhotep set the precedent for deification of mortal non-royals in Egypt.

Monday, May 30, 2016

JOAN OF ARC, SAINT OF ANTINOUS


ON MAY 30th the Religion of Antinous honors Saint Joan of Arc who was burned as a heretic on this day in 1431.

She was a peasant girl who led the armies of the King of France against the occupying forces of the English. She claimed to have been chosen by God to drive the English from France and deliver the country to her King.

Joan of Arc said she conversed daily with Saints Catherine and Margaret and St. Michael the Archangel. Her greatest victory was the liberation of Orleans, where Charles, then Dauphin, was crowned as King of France.

She was later captured by the English and subsequently tried by the Church and burned as a heretic. The focus of her trial was upon the nature of her visions, which the inquisitors condemned as Demonic, and upon her refusal to wear traditional women's clothing.

Joan of Arc was in essence the most courageous of all who defy gender stereotypes, whose insistence upon male dress and hair style, and occupation as a warrior was the excuse used by the Church for her condemnation and subsequent burning as a heretic. The Church however reversed this decision in 1909 by beatifying her, and then finally consecrating her as a saint in 1920.

Though she is a saint of the Catholic Church and a devoted Christian, it is for her gender stereotype-defying courage that she is included as a Heroic Martyr Saint of the Religion of Antinous.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

JAMES WHALE, SAINT OF ANTINOUS


ON MAY 29th the Religion of Antinous celebrates the life of Saint James Whale (22 July 1889 — 29 May 1957), the openly gay British-born director of such films as Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man.

His movies were modern parables about the cruelty of "normal" people towards "monsters" in their midst. 

All of those 1930s films are recognized as classics of the genre. Whale directed over a dozen films in other genres, including what is considered the definitive 1936 film version of the musical Show Boat.

He became increasingly disenchanted with his association with horror, but many of his non-horror films have fallen into obscurity. Whale was openly gay throughout his career, something that was very unusual in the 1920s and 1930s.

He tended to use gay actors who were friends of his, including Colin Clive, Ernest Thesiger, Charles Laughton and Laughton's wife Elsa Lanchester, who played the "Bride". Thesiger has tea (below) in mad-scientist garb. 

Bride of Frankenstein, in particular, is widely interpreted as having a gay subtext and it has been claimed that Whale's refusal to remain in the closet led to the end of his career.

James Whale's true genius was in making movies which made the audience sympathize with the "monster" instead of the "normal" people, who invariably were portrayed as ridiculous, comic fools.


James Whale's soaring career was dashed by homophobic studio bosses who objected to having a "pansy" directing major movies. He spent the last decade of his life as an outcast in Hollywood.
He "accidentally" drowned in his own swimming pool in the mid-1950s after having become a chronic depressive following a stroke.


His life was brought to the screen in the award-winning movie Gods and Monsters, which is a masterful adaptation of a very wonderfully written gay novel entitled Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram.


The book and the movie are about his final weeks of life with flashbacks to his childhood in poverty in northern England and his traumatic experiences during World War I and to his heyday as the toast of Tinseltown, and his plunge into obscurity — and his final plunge into the watery arms of Antinous.


It is a great irony that the only out-and-proud Hollywood director of the 1930s is remembered as a man whose name is equated with monsters.


Sir Ian McKellen, who is also from conservative Northern England and is an openly gay star of stage and screen, was nominated for a Golden Globe and for an Academy Award for his role as James Whale in the 1998 movie Gods and Monsters.


Brendan Fraser also won critical acclaim in that film as Whale's yard boy who identifies with the Frankenstein monster. His compelling portrayal suggests to the audience that all of us are gods and monsters, to some degree. But then, even Antinous was a god to pagans — yet a monster to early Christians.


And Lynn Redgrave won a Golden Globe and got an Oscar nod for her scene-stealing performance as James Whale's disapproving Swedish housekeeper — a tongue-in-cheek characterization drawn from the real-life eccentrics who performed supporting roles in Whale's wonderfully campy old movies.


NOT ANTINOUS THE GAY GOD
BUT ANTINOUS THE SATURN MOON CRATER



THE STAR OF ANTINOUS is well known. And many people are aware that there is also an ANTINOUS ASTEROID ... but few people have heard of the ANTINOUS CRATER.

It is located on one of the moons of Saturn, the moon named for the Titan sea goddess Tethys, daughter of Uranus and Tellus/Gaea. The Antinous Crater is located at the bottom of this photo taken by the Cassini probe in a flyby. The bigger crater is Penelope.

This crater was named in 1982 after the "OTHER" Antinous — the infamous Antinous of Homer's Odyssey and the Iliad. That is obvious from the association with Penelope. It is highly possible that our God Antinous was in fact named for Homer's Antinous.

For the Ancients, names were not a matter of coincidence. A person's name MEANT something. Nomen est omen 
— a name is a sign. So why was Antinous given the name of someone who is generally considered to be a scoundrel?

Homer's Antinous was one of the "Suitors of Penelope," the group of moochers who showed up at her doorstep while her husband Odysseus was off fighting the Trojan wars and attempted to woo her and abscond with as much of Odysseus's fortune as they could before he returned 
— if he EVER returned. 

After all, he had been gone for years. Their argument was that he was a "dead beat" spouse and that he had abandoned Penelope and, at any rate, was most probably dead.

 Antinous was the craftiest of the suitors and plied Penelope with costly gifts. 

Then at last — at long last — Odysseus returned in the disguise of a beggar. 

Only his faithful dog recognized him. Penelope did not! 

Antinous did not recognize him either and, thinking he was just a homeless street schizo, attacked him with a chair to drive him off.

Later on, during an archery tournament, Odysseus "accidentally" shot Antinous and killed him.

As with much of the Odyssey and the Iliad, it is hard to tell who the "good guys" are and who the "bad guys" are. Homer's Antinous is not exactly a saint, but he in't really guilty of any crime either.

Penelope is the guilty one. As so often in Greek mythology, the women are treacherous and untrustworthy (just think of Pandora). One small detail which you probably did not learn in school was that Penelope had sex with Homer's Antinous and with ALL the other suitors. 


FLAMEN ANTINOALIS ANTONIUS SUBIA explains:
"And the resulting child from that pan-sexual tryst was born a little monstar with horns and hooves. He was called Pan because he was the son of Antinous and ALL the suitors. Penelope couldn't look at him, so she abandoned him, and he was taken in by Mercury, who absolutely adored the little monster.

"Ah yes, Penelope gave birth to Pan in Mantinea!"

Mantinea/Bithynia is the ancestral homeland of our own Antinous. So the name was of regional origin.

But that is not all because, in actual fact, Homer's Antinous was associated with magic. He was something of a wizard. 

According to legend, Homer's Antinous possessed the fabled Mirror of Vulcan/Hephaestus, which enabled him to peer into the past and the future.

So the name Antinous was always associated with myth and magic, even in ancient times. Hadrian, who was fascinated with all things Greek, would have recognized the association between young Antinous and the ancient Greek myth and magic.

As for the fabled Mirror of Vulcan/Hephaestus — that is the stuff of Antinoian myth and magic for a future blog entry ....

Saturday, May 28, 2016

ANTINOUS THE ASTEROID IS A NEIGHBOR
WHO COULD VISIT US WITH A BANG



IF you look hard you can see Antinous ... or rather with Antinous the near-Earth asteroid, which could one day pay us a visit ... with a bang.


The Antinous Asteroid … officially called "1863 Antinous," was discovered in 1948 by an American astronomer named Carl. A. Wirtanen. 

Astronomers had known for some time that asteroids were plentiful between Mars and Jupiter. But no one had expected to find any in the Inner Solar System ... certainly not near Earth.

But Wirtanen turned his Lick Observatory telescope inward and discovered eight asteroids in our own vicinity. 

These Inner Solar System bodies are called "Apollo Asteroids" all named for Classical deities, including of course Antinous.

Apollo Asteroids are collectively named after the first one to be discovered. The asteroid "1862 Apollo" was sighted in 1932 and then lost until 1973. 

Apollo asteroids are so small and faint that they are difficult to see except when close to the Earth.

Astronomers fear 1862 Apollo may one day strike Earth, however, they currently do not expect 1863 Antinous to hit Earth … assuming it does not stray from its current admittedly erratic orbit.

Antinous is about 2 km (1.2 miles) in length and spins on its axis one revolution every seven hours. It takes more than three years to orbit the sun.

Antinous Asteroid is a "Mars Crosser" and also an "Earth Crosser" or even "Earth Grazer" planetoid ... meaning it crosses the orbit of Mars and also the orbit of Earth ... and comes very close to Earth.

Antinous came close to the Earth in 1992 and 1999 ... 18 million miles (30 million km) and it is supposed to come past Earth again in the 21st Century ... but hopefully won't hit us! 

A collision with an "Apollo Group" asteroid 65 million years ago may have been one of the causes of the extinction of the dinosaurs. A closely related group, the "Amor Group" of asteroids, come close to Earth but do not cross its orbit.

The art of Asteroid Astrology is very arcane ... only a minority of astrologers employ "Astrals," as astrologers call these planetoids ... and then usually only a couple of major ones such as Chiron and Lilith. 

Quite honestly, they are so new that astrologers haven't quite agreed on what they mean.

The whole focus on asteroids got a boost when astronomers officially down-graded Pluto from a "planet" to a "minor planet" or "dwarf planet" ... the same category to which Chiron belongs.

So astronomers and astrologers alike are having to take another look at their definitions as humankind's knowledge of the cosmos grows by quantum leaps.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A TRANS-ATLANTIC TALE OF TWO CITIES
BRINGS TOGETHER THE FACE OF ANTINOUS



AFTER more than a century of speculation and mystery, two halves of a marble face of Antinous have been brought together ... from both sides of the Atlantic ... to be joined as one for the first time in centuries in a stunning new exhibition.

Computer forensic imaging and cutting-edge investigative museum restoration skills have brought together the famous Chicago Antinous face fragment with the equally famous Ludovisi Bust of Antinous.


A FASCINATING EXHIBITION now through 28 August 2016  at the Art Institute of Chicago tells the story of how the museum managed to reunite the truncated face of a Roman marble portrait, long held in its collection, with its original sculptural bust housed at the Museo Nazionale Romano Palazzo Altemps.

Next stop after Chicago? In September the exhibition will travel to Rome where it will be on display at the Museo Nazionale Romano at Palazzo Altemps. It opens 15 September 2016.

Here is the basic story. 

At some point in its history, perhaps even before it entered the Ludovisi collection, the Antinous bust lost its ancient face. 

A new one was added by the mid 18th century at the latest. For it has emerged from the Art Institute’s investigation that the pioneering gay German art historian (saint of Antinous) JOHANN JOACHIM WINCKELMANN had noted that feature in the notes of his visit to the Villa Ludovisi in the year 1756.

The bust was in fragments and clearly came from a statue of Antinous. 

No one knows where the fragments of the torso and limbs are.

Someone combined the existing fragments into a bust and added bits to fill out the face … but no one knows who. 

And who reassembled the bust (which itself was in fragments) and carved the early modern face that Winckelmann already noted?

And where was the missing fragment of the face all this time?

Meanwhile,  the Art Institute of Chicago's first president, Charles L. Hutchinson (1854-1924) bought the missing Antinous face-fragment in Rome in April 1898 for his personal collection.

It was part of a bas-relief plaque. 

But as early as 1913, art history experts realized the face had once been part of a statue or bust. It was cut away from the plaque and mounted as an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 2005, an Egyptologist at the University of Chicago, W. Raymond Johnson, suggested to the Art Institute that the museum’s fragment was originally part of the bust of Antinous that is housed at the Palazzo Altemps in Rome.

Enter Karen Manchester, Chair and Curator of Ancient and Byzantine Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

In short (to borrow from the AIC's press release announcing this curatorial triumph), Manchester "led a decade-long quest to explore Johnson’s hypothesis through a first-of-its kind international partnership and collaborative endeavor between the Palazzo Altemps and the Art Institute. 

"Archival research of published and unpublished documents in Chicago and Rome provided new details about the history of the two works, and the two museums brought into play the tools of contemporary technology … laser scans, 3-D printers … to create a reproduction of the sculpture as it originally appeared."

"In the end," Manchester told this weblog, "we concluded that the two pieces were indeed once one, and we used 3D measurements and modeling techniques to create a plaster cast that approximates the sculpture's original appearance."

The eureka moment?

"In April 2013, I took [the] cast of our head to Rome to compare the two, and then again in June, when digital measurements were taken of both pieces, the 'modern' head [was] 'removed,' and our head put in its place." 

What is more, isotopic and petrographic analysis of samples extracted from the Chicago portrait and the Altemps bust reveals that both pieces were carved from Carrara marble, and very probably from the same block of stone.

We need not tell the whole complicated and engrossing tale here: the video (below) and especially Karen Manchester's entry in the online scholarly catalogue, Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (cat. #9) do that especially well.

As for the Chicago exhibition itself, the AIC press release rightly notes that it "is focused and rich in detail, exploring the modern methods used to rebuild the ancient past and featuring related portraits of Hadrian and Antinous, including one depicting Antinous in the guise of the Egyptian god Osiris which was re-discovered in 2010 and makes its first museum appearance here."

That Antinous-Osiris is said to be from Hadrian’s Villa, and was formerly in the collection of Thomas Hope (1769-1831). (When found, it was exhibited outdoors at Thornbridge Hall in Derbyshire.) Support for this exhibition is provided by Fred Eychaner and the Jaharis Family Foundation, Inc.

See for yourself how this face of Antinous came together across the Atlantic:



EMPRESS REGINA FONG
BELOVED SAINT OF ANTINOUS


ON MAY 26th the Religion of Antinous celebrates the life of Reg "Regina Fong" Bundy, a blessed saint of Antinous, who was born on this day in 1941 and died on April 15, 2003. A brazenly gay cabaret artiste — she disliked being called a drag queen — she was a well-known AIDS charity host who influenced a generation of post-Stonewall gays in Britain with acerbic send-ups of politics and popular culture.

Regina Fong was not just a "queen", she was an "empress" — the last of the Russian Imperial Dynasty of the Romanoffs. Forget Anastasia (and Ingrid Bergman in a '50s film), Regina Fong was the REAL heir to Russian nobility. Like so many Russian aristocrats, she sought asylum in monarchical Britain after the Russian Revolution. There were indeed members of the Russian Imperial family who lived (albeit rather modestly) on the grounds of Windsor Castle during the 20th Century. Empress Regina lived (albeit rather immodestly) in London's West End.

Her Imperial Highness (HIH) Regina Fong did in fact become an Iconic cult figure on the European Cabaret stage. Known to friends as Reg (pronounced "Redge"), she lost her battle to cancer April 15, 2003.

But Reg, by creating Her Imperial Highness Regina Fong, a flame-red-wigged champion of gay rights, was insistently committed to being the knight in shining red armour who carried the banner of charities involved in transforming the AIDS epidemic from mortal tragedy into spiritual triumph. She reminded us all that gay cabaret, especially in London at that time, was (and continues to be) a central part of gay life.

After the "Gay Liberation" in the late '60s and '70s, drag queens and cabaret artistes were pushed to the back of the room, to more mainstream, homogenized images of gay life.

Regina Fong, and other Gay pioneers like Lily Savage, changed this forever and brought Gay Cabaret back to its rightful spot in the London Gay Scene. The Cabaret Tent at London Gay Pride events as the epicenter of Gay culture in good times and bad is the direct legacy of this valiant drag queen — er, ahm — cabaret artiste!

Our own Knight Stephanos personally knew Empress Regina Fong and conferred with her often in the legendary Black Cap gay bar in the heart of the Camden Town District of London. And so it is fitting that KNIGHT STEPHANOS (pictured right with Her Imperial Highness) explains her Sacred Significance to us:


"Happy Birthday Regina Fong even though you and the Black Cap are now gone.

"What can one say in this current day except to pay a tribute to the one and only Reg...Regina Fong, Queen if them all….

"Regina Fong the Empress of Camp. Queen of the Black Cap.

"You Reigned supreme. Sage of the rejected, muse to all that were affected.

"Daily she held court at the corner of the front bar, vodka and tonic, laughter, dialogue quite chronic. Nightly you drew the crowds: shaking us from the  melancholy of the expected life, denial waking strife.

"Cabaret Artiste beacon of hope, torch carrier of all who could but strive to such heights.

"Black cap memories to be had everyday at the end of the front bar at 11:00 am. Sitting to Michael Jeffries swapping war stories giving advice...in comes Steffens and Camp David...last of the Polari...Vada, Vada, Naff, Convo...Laughter, drinks, and scams galore.

"Always aching for the next adventure of days gone by…. If you could smell and hear the wonder of the front bar of the black cap...nicotine stains and morning shakes...characters and creatures of a world gone by...but not forgotten...bastions of an age of defiance, survival, and overwhelming urge to be fabulous.

"Happy Birthday H.I.H. Regina Fong...the likes of you could never be wrong."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

SHIPWRECK SPARED THESE ANCIENT ROMAN
TREASURES FROM BEING MELTED DOWN



THE ancient world had something in common with the modern one: a penchant for recycling. Plenty of historical treasures were melted down and turned into something else ... although some escaped this fate, Reuters has reported.

Some 1,600 years ago, a ship sailed from the Mediterranean seaport of Caeserea in Israel stuffed with Ancient Roman equipment and artefacts which had been slated for recycling.

However, the merchant vessel sailed into a storm at the entrance to the port and sank.

Recently, divers discovered the remains of the ship and its contents on the sea bed. 

In the end, they brought to the surface the largest stash of marine artefacts found in Israel in three decades, including iron anchors, coins and bronze statues ... all of which had been protected by the sand.

The treasures also featured a bronze lamp featuring the sun god Sol.

There was also a figurine of the moon goddess Luna as well as a lamp shaped like the head of an African slave, the remnants of three life-size bronze statues, and various objects shaped like animals.

"A marine assemblage such as this has not been found in Israel in the past 30 years," according to Jacob Sharvit and Dror Planer of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Marine Archaeology Unit. 

They stress that such metal statues represent rare finds in the world of archaeology because these were nearly always "melted down and recycled in antiquity."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

HADRIAN'S PRAETORIAN GUARD BARRACKS
FOUND IN ROME BY SUBWAY WORKERS



NEWS that construction crews in Rome recently stumbled upon archaeological ruins during the expansion of a subway line isn't really surprising.

What makes this latest discovery fascinating is that they may have uncovered the barracks of the elite Ancient Roman Praetorian Guard dating back to the reign of Emperor Hadrian.

The find has the potential to uncover as-yet unknown details about this legendary force of soldiers.

The discovery was made as crews attempted to continue a long-delayed construction project to expand Metro C near an interchange at the Colosseum, the Atlantic reported.

Construction at this spot in the city's metro system has been delayed constantly for a decade as crews unearth archaeological treasures and run out of money.

Not much has been revealed about the find, but photos of the site have been released. 

They reveal a sprawling barracks that date to the 2nd Century AD, which is about the time Hadrian ruled the Empire, Forbes explained.

The site is located 10 meters (30 feet) below street level and stretches over 1,000 square meters (10,000 square feet), with 39 rooms and a 100-meter-long (328-foot-long) hallway, BBC News reported.

As subway construction continues around them, archaeologists have found a bronze coin, bronze bracelets, black-and-white mosaics, and frescoed walls, the Associated Press reported.

They've also found the skeletons of 13 adults in a collective grave.

Culture Ministry spokesperson Rossella Rea called the find “exceptional.”

The Praetorian Guard have played a significant, and frequently bloody, role in Roman history. They were created by Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, and acted as his bodyguards and private military force.

According to bio-archaeologist Kristina Killgrove, who wrote about the find for Forbes, the men who enlisted in the force served to protect Roman generals during the Republic and then the Emperor during the Imperial period.

Thousands of men served on this elite force. At first, when August created them, they were spread among nine legions of 500 men each; eventually, he increased that number to 1,000.

Their primary role was to protect the Emperor, but they also patrolled Rome on foot and horseback. 

They also dabbled in politics, usually violently, assassinating Caligula in 41 AD and installing Claudius as his successor. 

The guard also deserted Nero, helped overthrow Galba, and declared Domitian emperor after Titus' death.

While the Praetorians hailed from Italy during the 1st and 2nd centuries, by the time of Septimius Severus in the 3rd century, their composition became much more worldly, reflecting the geographic breadth of the Roman empire.

Thus, the guard’s demographics changed, and the new recruits potentially introduced diseases and other genetic markers from their far-flung homelands.

The 13 skeletons found during the subway construction could show where they came from and how diverse this elite force actually was in the 2nd Century. 

Certainly, Killgrove speculated, examination of the remains will offer a fascinating insight into the lives of these Roman soldiers.

Although few details have been leaked about the subway construction find, the photos released of the remains raise a few questions. 

Notably, the skeletons appear to have been found in a mass grave, which is odd in Rome. The Roman people were more often buried individually.


Photos reveal the bones piled together as if the location were a secondary burial site (meaning the remains were reinterred there after the body decomposed). However, context is needed to better understand the nature of their burial.

Monday, May 23, 2016

WAS ANTINOUS AS CHUBBY AS THIS STATUE
AT LONDON SUNKEN CITIES EXHIBITION?



WAS Antinous really this chubby? And did Hadrian really look like a lowly bureaucrat as these two sculptures suggest?

Experts on Antinous and Hadrian are hotly discussing this question ... despite the fact that the Alexandria Museum insists they are sculptures of the two lovers.

You can take a first-hand look yourself because both are on view in London at the exhibition entitled SUNKEN CITIES: EGYPT'S LOST WORLDS which runs through 27 November 2016 ... the birthday of Antinous!

They are among some fabulous Egyptian monuments and treasures which Antinous himself may have seen ... but which were lost at the bottom of the sea for centuries.

This 2nd Century AD statue (allegedly) depicts Antinous in a Romanized-Egyptian style as a royal personage striding with his left foot forward ... as was the traditional depiction of Egyptian pharaohs and gods.

He is wearing the traditional dynastic kilt which gods and pharaohs were always shown as wearing.

In addition, he appears to have a Uraeus stylized spitting cobra as the centerpiece of his wig-like headdress.


One fist is visible, clinched in the ages-old symbol of divine power seen on countless statues of deities and pharaohs throughout the ages.

It is one of the most unusual statues depicting Antinous as Osiris. The workmanship is more Greco-Roman than Egyptian around the head and face ... but the body adheres to traditional Egyptian artistic style mandates.

He has a rather pensive expression on his face, as if he is gazing off into the far distance.

Originally, of course, the eye sockets would have had gemstone-and-ivory eyes, perhaps outlined with copper "eyeliner."

This splendid statue is part of the stunning exhibition currently on show in London which includes sunken treasures.

You have all heard of Franck Goddio, the French marine archeologist who made headlines in the 1990s with his discovery in the Bay of Alexandria of ruins and artefacts which appear to have come from royal palaces, temples and perhaps even the Pharos lighthouse.

It is intriguing to think that Antinous may have gazed on those treasures when he and Hadrian visited Egypt in 130 AD.

Since first discovering the Alexandria treasures, Monsieur Goddio has gone on to trawl the waters a few kilometres east of Alexandria in hopes of discovering the fabled "Lost Cities" of Canopus and HERAKLEION (Heracleion), which he succeeded in finding in 2000.

Goddio's exhibition of "Egypt's Sunken Treasures" has traveled the world.

Now, Goddio is back with even more artifacts retrieved from the bottom of the sea … at the BRITISH MUSEUM Sunken Cities exhibition in London.

The exhibition opened 19 May runs through 27 November 2016 ... which is the birthday of Antinous.

It offers a rare public viewing of newly discovered Canopus-Herakleion treasures since the two cities vanished below the waves in a series of floods and earthquakes, finally disappearing completely in the late 7th Century AD.

By that time, Egyptian priests had retreated to Canopus-Herakleion and Muslims were sweeping across the land.

Thus the exhibition offers a sort of time capsule of the waning days of paganism when the "barbarians" literally stood at the gates.

There are many statues, mostly fragmentary ones minus heads and limbs ... and one (alleged) statue of Antinous with a facial expression of pensive introspection.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

EXPERTS DECIPHER TWO MAGICAL SPELLS
FOUND NEAR ANTINOOPOLIS IN EGYPT



TWO ancient Egyptian papyrus magic spells in use in or near Antinoopolis have been deciphered by Italian archaeologists, who say the curious documents had a "fill-in-the-blanks" format for targeting people to bless ... or to curse.


They were written around 1,700 years ago and filed away at the famous library at the town of OXYRHYNCHUS (which Hadrian and Antinous visited) near Antinoopolis and have been translated for the first time. 

The names of those targeted are left blank to be inserted.

Antinoopolis was always a place of "magic, sorcery and strange religious fervor " according to Royston Lambert in his authoritative book about Antinous, BELOVED AND GOD

We know that the priests of Antinous wrote a LOVE SPELL. Lambert notes that even to this day local villagers believe the place to be haunted.

Just last year, scholars in Australia translated a GRIMOIR disguised as a Coptic prayer book which magician-priests at Antinoopolis could have used to cast spells.


But the latest discovery of two spells goes much farther towards enlarging our knowledge of magical skills in the Antinoopolis area.

One text invokes the gods to "burn the heart" of a woman until she loves the caster, said Franco Maltomini of the University of Udine in Italy, who translated the two spells. 

Another spell, targeted at a male, uses a series of magical words to "subject" him, forcing him to do whatever the caster wants.

The two spells were not targeted at a specific person. Rather, they were written in such a way that the person who cast the spell would only need to insert the name of the person being targeted.

The deciphered love spell invokes several gnostic gods. (Gnosticism was an ancient religion that incorporated elements of Christianity.) 

It says that the spell caster should burn a series of offerings in the bathhouse (the names of the offerings didn't survive degradation) and write a spell on the bathhouse's walls, which Maltominitranslated as follows:

"I adjure you, earth and waters, by the demon who dwells on you and (I adjure) the fortune of this bath so that, as you blaze and burn and flame, so burn her (the woman targeted)whom (the mother of the woman targeted) bore, until she comes to me…"

Then, the spell names several gods and magical words. It goes on to say, "Holy names, inflame in this way and burn the heart of her…" until she falls in love with the person casting the spell.

The text of the other deciphered spell calls for the person casting it to engrave onto a small copper or lead plaque a series of LEAD CURSE magical words, including the phrase translated as "subject to me the (name of the) man, whom (the name of the man's mother) bore…" and then to stitch the plaque onto something the man wears, such as a sandal.

The spell, if successful, was supposed to force the man to do whatever the spell caster wanted,the ancient text says.

On the back of that papyrus is a list of recipes that use droppings from animals to treat a wide range of conditions, including headaches and leprosy. Some of the recipes simply say that they help "promote pleasure." 

One recipe says that a combination of honey and droppings from a bittern bird, used in a way that isn't specified, will "promote pleasure," according to the ancient text. 


- Read the full story at: LiveScience.

EVEN A BROKEN ANTINOUS BUST
GETS 10 TIMES THE ASKING PRICE



THIS 1,800-year-old marble portrait bust of the Deified Antinous sold at auction at Sotheby's in New York back in 2010 for a staggering $23,826,500 — more than 10 times what it had been expected to fetch (officially estimated at $2/3 million). 

It proved anew that Antinous sells ... that any Antinous-related artefact is guaranteed to fetch a fortune ... even if it is in a ruinous state as this fractured bust was.

But his name was incised on the pediment, making this bust unique in art history.

The bust led the auction in December 2010 of antiquities from the collection of the late Clarence Day, known as one of the finest private collections of antiquities in the United States.

The "white glove" sale achieved a total of $36,769,250, far exceeding the high estimate of between $6/9 million. Proceeds from the sale benefited the charitable foundation established by Mr. Day.

The marble portrait bust of the Deified Antinous is the only known Classical representation of Antinous, outside of his coin portraits, to be identified by an inscription.

Auctioneer Hugh Hildesley opened the bidding at $900,000 and two clients in the room and one on the phone began to battle.

The winning bidder, a European collector, entered the fray at $6.5 million and prevailed against the three existing bidders as well as another client who only joined the competition at $11.2 million. In all, it took more than eleven minutes for the bust to sell, and when the hammer finally fell the room broke out in applause.