Friday, July 31, 2015

ANTINOOPOLIS ERA EGYPTIAN PRIEST
WROTE A TALE OF PRIESTLY SEX


AN EGYPTIAN priest living in the heyday of the city of Antinoopolis wrote a steamy fictional story of priestly sex, according to a recently dediphered papyrus test.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

COMMODUS HAD A GLADIATOR ARENA
AT HIS VILLA OUTSIDE ROME



THE Roman emperor Commodus might have cultivated the skills showcased in Ridley Scott's blockbuster film "Gladiator" in a personal miniature Colosseum on his estate near Rome.

Archaeologists from Montclair State University, in New Jersey USA, believe that a large oval area with curved walls and floors made of marble is, in fact, the arena where the emperor killed wild beasts, earning the nickname "the Roman Hercules," as recorded in historical writings.

Found in Genzano, a village southeast of Rome which overlooks Lake Nemi, a crater lake in the Alban Hills, the oval structure measures 200 feet by 130 feet and dates to the 2nd Century AD.

It was found by the U.S. team as they excavated thermal baths at an estate known as the Villa of Antonines.

Based on literary references and the discovery in the 18th century of marble busts of imperial figures, the site is believed to have been the property of the Antonine Dynasty (138–193), which began with the reign of Hadrian and his successor Antoninus Pius and included emperors Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Commodus.

"We first noticed a small section of a curving structure next to the baths. Ground-penetrating radar mapped out the entire foundations revealing new specular curving structures," Deborah Chatr Aryamontri, a co-director of the excavation, told the Italian daily Il Messaggero.


Forming an ellipse, the arena could sit more than 1,300 people. It featured an imperial box and was richly decorated with mosaic tesserae and luxurious, imported marbles.

"The very numerous pieces and fragments of marble of varied thickness and dimensions include white marbles as well as colored ones such as serpentine, porphyry, giallo antico, pavonazetto, cipollino and africano — basically the most common decorative types imported from North Africa and the Aegean region," wrote Chatr Aryamontri, and co-director Timothy Renner.

"The tesserae, or cubic tiles used for mosaics, include many from black and white compositions (leucitite and white limestone), while the remainder are small colored glass tesserae that represent a large part of the color spectrum and include transparent examples covered with gold leaf," they added.

According to the archaeologists, several large blocks of worked peperino stone would have helped support an awning system (velarium) to shade spectators from the sun, just like at the Colosseum in Rome.

Most likely, it was in this opulent setting that Commodus practiced for his first semi-public appearances as a killer of animals and a gladiator.

Succeeding his father, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus ruled Rome from 180 AD until 192 AD, when he was strangled in his bath by a wrestler.

Immediately after he became emperor, he displayed his strength in gladiatorial combats at Rome’s Colosseum.

According to his contemporary Dio Cassius, Commodus killed men in his private gladiatorial bouts, and was known for "slicing off a nose, an ear or various other parts of the body."


An accomplished left-handed fighter, determined to cast himself as "Hercules reborn" (sculpture left), Commodus was also a skilled hunter, showing his ability in the Colosseum by killing bears, tigers, hippopotamuses, elephants, but also domestic animals.

He delighted the public by shooting crescent-headed arrows at ostriches, who continued to dash around even after they had been decapitated.

In the Oscar-winning film "Gladiator," Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix, fought to the death in the Colosseum in Rome with fictional army general Russell Crowe.

At the private mini-Colosseum in Genzano, Commodus might have enjoyed more elaborate shows.

Indeed, an underground canal around the amphitheater suggests that naval battles were staged there. Leading down to underground chambers, a spiral staircase brings to mind the arrangements at the Colosseum in Rome. Most likely, lifts were used in the Genzano Colosseum to raise scenery and possibly animals.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WORLD'S OLDEST TEMPLE
ALIGNED WITH THE DOG STAR



THESE are the "Dog Days" when the Dog Star Sirius rises above the horizon ... and now an expert has determined that the world's oldest temple, Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, may have been built to worship Sirius.

The 11,000-year-old site consists of a series of at least 20 circular enclosures, although only a few have been uncovered since excavations began in the mid-1990s.

Each one is surrounded by a ring of huge, T-shaped stone pillars, some of which are decorated with carvings of fierce animals. Two more megaliths stand parallel to each other at the centre of each ring.

Giulio Magli, an archaeo-astronomer at the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy, looked to the night sky for clues. After all, the arrangement of the pillars at Stonehenge in the UK suggests it could have been built as an astronomical observatory, maybe even to worship the moon.

Magli simulated what the sky would have looked like from Turkey when Göbekli Tepe was built. Over millennia, the positions of the stars change due to Earth wobbling as it spins on its axis. Stars that are near the horizon will rise and set at different points, and they can even disappear completely, only to reappear thousands of years later.

Today, Sirius can be seen almost worldwide as the brightest star in the sky – excluding the sun – and the fourth brightest night-sky object after the moon, Venus and Jupiter. Sirius is so noticeable that its rising and setting was used as the basis for the ancient Egyptian calendar, says Magli.

At the latitude of Göbekli Tepe, Sirius would have been below the horizon until around 9300 BC, when it would have suddenly popped into view.


"I propose that the temple was built to follow the 'birth' of this star," says Magli. "You can imagine that the appearance of a new object in the sky could even have triggered a new religion."

Magli used existing maps of Göbekli Tepe and satellite images of the region.


Magli drew an imaginary line running between and parallel to the two megaliths inside each enclosure. Three of the excavated rings seem to be aligned with the points on the horizon where Sirius would have risen in 9100 BC, 8750 BC and 8300 BC, respectively (arxiv.org/abs/1307.8397).

The results are preliminary, Magli stresses. More accurate calculations will need a full survey using instruments such as a theodolite, a device for measuring horizontal and vertical angles.


Also, the sequence in which the structures were built is unclear, so it is hard to say if rings were built to follow Sirius as it rose at different points along the horizon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

EXPERT SUGGESTS NEFERTITI IS BURIED
BEHIND WALLS OF TUTANKHAMUN'S TOMB



AN extraordinary investigation by a British Egyptologist suggests that the tomb of Tutankhamun was built for Nefertiti ... and that there are more rooms to be found in the tomb.

Writing in a paper published at ACADEMIA.EDU, Nicholas Reeves bases his theory on new, high-definition color photography of painted scenes in Tutankhamun's burial chamber released in recent months online by Madrid-based art-replication specialists Factum Arte.

"Cautious evaluation of the Factum Arte scans over the course of several months has yielded results which are beyond intriguing: indications of two previously unknown doorways … both seemingly untouched since antiquity," writes Reeves,  Associate Curator of Egyptian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

"The implications are extraordinary," he adds, "for, if digital appearance translates into physical reality, it seems we are now faced not merely with the prospect of a new, Tutankhamun-era storeroom to the west; to the north appears to be signalled a continuation of (Tutankhamun's) tomb KV 62 and within these uncharted depths an earlier royal interment … that of Nefertiti herself, celebrated consort, co-regent, and eventual successor of pharaoh Akhenaten."

Reeves points out that archaeologists have always wondered why Tutankhamun's tomb is so tiny. They have also always wondered why it was crammed full of funerary equipment clearly intended for other royal persons.

Nefertiti was co-regent to her husband Akhenaten and in the tumultuous days after his death, she became full regent. 

"After a brief, independent reign of perhaps no more than a few months … Nefertiti disappears from view, presumably havingdied or been killed. Responsibility for the subsequent funeral fell to her immediate successor, Tutankhamun," Reeves writes.

"At the time of Nefertiti's burial, there had surely been no intention that Tutankhamun wouldin due course occupy this same tomb. That thought would not occur until the king's early and unexpected death a decade later," he writes. 

(Forensic study of Tutankhamun's mummy produced the portrait seen here below right.)

With no tomb yet dug for pharaoh's sole use, Nefertiti's tomb was reopened and enlarged to receive a second burial.

Reeves theorizes: "Possibly, by the time Tutankhamun's burial came to be robbed shortly after the funeral Nevertiti's presence behind the north wall 'blind' was already forgotten; perhaps, and more likely, the robbers simply had insufficient time to investigate, choosing tofocus instead on those abundant riches readily to hand."

Three and a half thousand years later, Howard Carter had the time, but he lacked the technology to see beneath the tomb's painted walls.

Reeves concludes: "Accepting the oddly positioned rock-cut niches as evidence that the Burial Chamber's walls were completely solid, he brought his search to a close … wholly unaware that a more significant find by far may have been lying but inches from his grasp."

Monday, July 27, 2015

DEPRAVED PEOPLE BRING THEIR CHILDREN
TO WATCH 'GAY' MAN BEING KILLED



YET another huge crowd has gathered to watch DAESH Islamic State barbarians execute a man accused of being gay – some even brought their children.

The latest execution took place in Mosul, northern Iraq.

The man, accused of being gay, was thrown from a high building.

He was first led out by two ISIS killers, who carried out the execution, and was “found guilty” by a man posing as a judge, wearing a mask.

The photos, which show a crowd of hundreds, some with children, were the latest to be released by ISIS.


They show the victim being led to the top of the building, and then his body at the bottom.

Only two days ago, DAESH released a video showing two men accused of being gay THROWN OFF A BUILDING and then stoned by a crowd in Palmyra, a city visited by Antinous.

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

ANCIENT GREEK GRAFFITI
DESCRIBES GAY SEX IN POSITIVE TERMS


AN archaeologist in Greece has uncovered ancient inscriptions celebrating gay sex, in what is believed to be some of the oldest erotic graffiti in the world.

And unlike most other Ancient Greek written records, these inscriptions refer to male-male sexual relations in positive terms.

Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos of the University of Ioannina, has been working on the Aegean island of Astypalaia for four years. 

(The image reproduced here is by famed British gay artist Roger Payne, whose illustrations for popular historical publications delighted a generation of young readers, just as his more candid illustrations have delighted adult gay readers.)

Vlachapoulos reports finding inscriptions describing gay male sex alongside large phalluses carved into the rock.

He has described the inscriptions, which date to the fifth and sixth centuries BC, as “monumental in scale” and “triumphant”.

One inscription, believed to date from the mid-6th century BC, states: “Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona”. It lacks the invective and negative tone found in similar graffiti which describes hypothetical sex acts in insulting terms.

Dr Vlachopoulos said: “They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself. And that is very, very rare.”

“We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo. But this graffiti… it not just among the earliest ever discovered. 

"By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasising the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork,” he told the London newspaper.

“Few Greek islands have been properly explored or excavated and these findings are testimony to why it is so important that they are," he added.

The inscriptions are also believed to be an important indicator of early literacy rates in Greece.

Homosexual relationships have long been recognised as an integral part of Ancient Greek culture, where sexual power was defined not by the gender of the participants but by the roles of penetrator and recipient.

Ancient Greek commentators saw in the earlier literature of Homer’s Iliad a gay relationship between heroes Achilles and Patroclus which matched on to elements of their own society, such as the Sacred Band of Thebes, an army made up of pairs of gay lovers.

The term ‘lesbian’ derives from an Ancient Greek female poet, Sappho of the isle of Lesbos, who wrote about her love for other women in her close circle of friends.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

EMMERICH'S GAY TAKE ON 'STONEWALL'
HITS MOVIE SCREENS IN SEPTEMBER



AT LAST, gay filmmaker Roland Emmerich’s long-awaited LGBT rights drama “Stonewall” will be released on September 25, distributor Roadside Attractions announced this week.

Best known for his blockbusters INDEPENDENCE DAY, GODZILLA, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, 10,000 BC and 2012, Emmerich has been a staunch supporter of LGBT causes and has fought homophobia in Hollywood for years. 

The new film stars Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Caleb Landry Jones, Joey King, Ron Perlman, Matt Craven and newcomer Jonny Beauchamp.

Written by Jon Robin Baitz, the story chronicles the 1969 Stonewall riots that started the modern LGBT rights movement. 

Irvine plays Danny Winters, a fictional young man who’s forced to leave behind friends and loved ones when he is kicked out of his parent’s home and flees to New York.

Alone in Greenwich Village, homeless and destitute, he befriends a group of street kids who soon introduce him to the local watering hole The Stonewall Inn; however, this shady, mafia-run club is far from a safe-haven.

As Danny and his friends experience discrimination, endure atrocities and are repeatedly harassed by the police, we see a rage begin to build.

This emotion runs through Danny and the entire community of young gays, lesbians and drag queens who populate the Stonewall Inn and erupts in a storm of anger. With the toss of a single brick, a riot ensues and a crusade for equality is born.

“I was always interested and passionate about telling this important story, but I feel it has never been more timely than right now,” says Emmerich, who took a break from directing big-budget blockbusters to direct and produce this important film.

Less than 50 years ago, in 1969, being gay was considered a mental illness; gay people could not be employed by the government.

It was illegal for gay people to gather and police brutality went unchecked. 

Today, thanks to the events set in motion by the Stonewall riots, the gay rights movement continues to make incredible strides towards equality. 

In the past several weeks in the US alone, the Boy Scouts of America has moved to lift its ban on gay leaders, the Pentagon will allow transgender people to serve openly in the military, and the US Supreme Court has declared that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide in all 50 states.

“It was the first time gay people said ‘Enough!'” explains Emmerich.

“They didn’t do it with leaflets or meetings, they took beer bottles and threw them at cops. Many pivotal political moments have been born by violence," he notes. 

"If you look at the civil rights movement, at Selma and other events of that kind, it’s always the same thing. Stonewall was the first time gay people stood up and they did it in their own way," Emmerich says.

"Something that really affected me when I read about Stonewall was that when the riot police showed up in their long line, these kids formed their own long line and sang a raunchy song. That, for me, was a gay riot, a gay rebellion," he adds. 

"What struck me was that there was a story in there, which I felt had an important message.

"It’s the people who had the least to lose who did the fighting, not the politically active people," the German-born director says. 

"It was the kids that went to this club that consisted of hustlers and drag queens, and all kinds of people that you think would never resist the police, and they did it.”

And the events they set in motion would have a profound impact on the future.

Emmerich has claimed that he witnessed overt racism when producers and studio executives were opposed to allowing him to cast Will Smith for the lead in Independence Day, and reluctant to allow him to portray an interracial couple in The Day After Tomorrow.

He has also claimed he has encountered homophobia from the same forces in Hollywood and is vocal in his opposition of such behavior.

"I grew up in Germany, and when I went to film school, I didn't want to say 'I'm gay' because I was worried that I cannot do the movies I want to make," Emmerich recalls. 

"I wanted to go and make movies like Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, and when you're in Germany, a gay director, it meant something. You know they would always be like, 'the gay director who's trying to attempt a certain kind of film'. And so I was kind of like ... I was out to my friends but never in public."

The director, who turns 60 this year, says: "When I was 33, I came to America, and it was, for me, quite an awakening because there were no openly gay directors who were shooting action movies. And that really got me going, and I became more and more open and more public and then became a big supporter for some of the big organizations, you know, because I wanted to, and now I've made a gay movie."