This is the couple in the Zodiac.
I call this photo, also taken this April:
"Seasons Sarcophagus - 4."
"To mortal men peace giveth these good things;
Wealth, and the flowers of honey-throated song;
The flame that springs
On carven altars from fat sheep and kine,
Slain to the gods in heaven, and all day long,
Games for glad youths, and flutes and wreaths,
and circling wine."
Bacchylides (Greek poet, c.460 BC), Symonds translation, cited in "The Glory of Hera" (1968) by Philip E. Slater at 161
(May 6, 2009) The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland has 8 second century AD marble Roman sarcophagi, of which 6 are complete with lids.
See: this recent digital photograph taken in May 2009 - that I call the "Walters Sarcophagus." It was created c. 190-200 AD and is titled "Sarcophagus with Dionysus and Ariadne." Also see: "Walters Sarcophagus 2." In
this scene, a sleeping princess Ariade, on the right, awakens on the
isle of Naxos, Greece, to her new husband - Dionysus (whose face has
been carved off the marble).
The Walters sarcophagi were found in 1885 in a tomb near the Via Salaria outside Rome. The tomb has three chambers - two of which had Sarcophagi and the other imperial portraits. It was used by the Licinian and Calpurnian families from 135 AD until the 3rd century AD. The Calpurnian family belonged to the mystery cult of Dionysus Sabazius (perhaps having a link to ancient Saba.)
At the top left hand corner of the lid of this Sarcophagus is a Lenos motif - 3 erotes or children pressing grapes in a trough or lenos similar in shape to a sarcophagus. (This lid however, is a later addition.)
Walters also has a large collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts.
These artifacts have reinforced my insight that ancient Egypt had a
strong "Habesha" or modern-day Ethiopian flavor. See: for example this Roman-era mummy painting (170-180 AD). I call this digital photo "Roman Egyptian." (Walters link)
17, 2010) The Roman system elevated local elites to Roman citizenship.
This Roman Egyptian mummy portrait suggests that Egyptian elites looked
like modern day Ethiopians in 170 AD.
In contrast, a mummy portrait from the Ptolemaic or Greek period
of Egyptian history (305 BC - 30 BC) in the Smithsonian Museum of
Natural History suggests the Egyptian elites looked Greek during the
Ptolemaic period. I call this digital photo, taken in March 2010:
"Greek Egyptian." It is an Encaustic portrait from Fayum.
day Roma or Gypsies are probably descended from Greek Egyptians. The
word "gypsy" derives from Egyptian. Egypt was the Roman emperors
private colony, and Greek Egyptians were probably a privileged
community in the late empire. Compare with page 29 of this web site. (Roma are the only Aryan speaking community in Europe. Aryans like Greek Egyptians were originally Greek; or originally Phrygian ... See page 64 of this web site.)
18, 2010) In the same room at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
is a copy of fine mural depicting the meeting of Pharaoh and Osiris in
the afterlife. (Chapter 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead). No exact
location for the original is given.
the left of the mural, Anubis (the jackal-headed god of mummification
and guide in the underworld), and Thoth (the ibis-headed god of writing
and wisdom), preside over the weighing of Pharaohs heart against the feather of Ma'at (justice and wisdom). (I call this digital photo, taken in March 2010, "Weighing of the Heart.")
In this case, Pharaoh passes the test
and is lead to meet Osiris (the green-headed king of the underworld) by
Horus (the falcon-headed god of the sun). (I call this digital photo,
also taken in March 2010, "Meeting Osiris.")
Or, paraphrasing Wikipedia:
... This detail scene, from the Papyrus of Hunefer (ca. 1375 B.C.),
shows Hunefer's heart being weighed on the scale of Maat against the
feather of truth, by the jackal-headed Anubis. The Ibis-headed Thoth,
scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart is lighter than
the feather, Hunefer is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he
is eaten by the waiting chimeric devouring creature Ammut composed of
the deadly crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus. Vignettes such as these
were a common illustration in Egyptian books of the dead. ... "
Book of the Dead, Wikipedia
I also saw (at the Walters) a Roman-era Egyptian manuscript in "Demotic"
script - the late Egyptian script that was used until the end of the
Roman empire. Demotic has a resemblance to modern day Arabic script.
Arabic script is probably directly descended from Kufic script.
- Kufic is credited to Iraq, - however I think that it's from Nubia. A
show at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art a few years ago convinced
me of this.
Koran's prior to the 10th century AD were written in Kufic - Freer
Museum of Art. (Early Muslims were given shelter in Abyssinia from
religious persecution back home in South Arabia. If early Islam had had
a peaceful start Koran's would use a Sabaean script. Kufic points to
the hand of Egyptian scribes.)
I have seen at least 5 south-of-Aswan scripts - Greek on King Endubis' coins, Ge'ez on King Ezana's coins, Kufic on ancient inscriptions from Meroe, Sudan, Meroitic script, and "Old Nubian" a modified Coptic or Greek-Egyptian script used by the Nubian church (Coptic plus a few Meroitic letters.)
(Feb. 8, 2010) Regarding Coptic script: See "Coptic Egypt: History and Guide" by Jill Kamil (1987):
... Bilingual Egyptians realized long before the conquest of Alexander
that if they transcribed their own language into the Greek alphabet,
which was well known among the middle classes and was simpler to read
than demotic - the cursive form of hieroglyphics in its latest
development - communication would be easier. Scribes started
transliterating Egyptian sounds into the Greek alphabet, adding seven
extra letters from the Egyptian alphabet to accommodate the extra
sounds for which there were no Greek letters. The emergence of this new
script, known as Coptic, cannot be dated precisely. The earliest
attempt to write the Egyptian language alphabetically in Greek, feeble
but important, has survived in an inscription dating to the Kushite dynasty (750 - 656 BC)
at Abydos; and there was a time when Coptic and demotic were used
simultaneously. Demotic Instruction Literature for example, survived
well into the Roman period, and Demotic graffiti have been found in the
Temple of Isis at Philae that date to as late as AD 452, a time when
widespread use of script other than Coptic had long died out ... "
Coptic Egypt at 22
11, 2010) The Kushite or 25th dynasty of ancient Egypt was probably the
period when the Ark of the Covenant was allegedly relocated from
Jerusalem to Africa. (See page 43 of this site.) Ancient Israel was under the control of black pharaohs at this time.
"black" is a relative term here; - by contemporary American standards
most ancient Pharaohs would be considered "black." Pharaoh is an office
that became progressively Mediterranean. From "black" (ancient Sphinx;
Nubians) to Ethiopian and Libyan/Touareg (mixed race), to
Arab/Assyrian/Persian to Greek (Ptolemy's; - Cleopatra etc.) and finally to Roman. (And after Rome? - only conjecture ...).
(March 5, 2010) The primary source for information on pre-Greek Pharaohs is Manetho, who wrote the Aegyptiaca (History of Egypt) and is associated with the reigns of Ptolemy I (323-283 BC) and Ptolemy II (283-246
BC). My intuition tells me the Manetho was a remnant of the Kushite
dynasty - probably a member of my tribe, the Kikuyu. (This is probably
the best avenue for recovering ancient black African history.) For
Manetho, Isis is equivalent to Demeter, Thoth is Hermes, Horus is
Apollo and Set is Typhon (volume 1 of the Aegyptiaca).
This surprised me about Isis, because Demeter
is associated with the land of the dead. However, Isis is usually
depicted with a vulture on her head - indicating a link with death and
surprising is the Greek tradition that Memnon was an Ethiopian. Memnon
was killed by Achilles, indicating that ancient black Africa was on the
Trojan side of the Trojan war. Manetho equates Memnon with Amenopis.
This may refer to several ancient Pharaohs - the most famous being King
Akhenaten (1353 BC – 1336 BC) the father of King Tutankhamun. Akhenaten looks like a Maasai. King Tut and Queen Nefertiti look Ethiopian.
21, 2010) Correction: I think Wikipedia might have made a mistake on
the translation of Egyptian gods to Greek gods. In the Loeb Classical
Library version of Manetho, translated by W.G. Waddell (1940): Zeus is
Amun, the sun is Isis and the moon is Osiris.
Also of interest is Manetho's take on Moses. According to Josephus, a Jewish Roman writer:
... The first writer upon whom I shall dwell is one whom I used a
little earlier as a witness to our antiquity. I refer to Manetho. This
writer who had undertaken to translate the history of Egypt from the
sacred books, began by stating that our ancestors came against Egypt
with many tens of thousands and gained mastery over the inhabitants;
and then he himself admitted that at a later date again they were
driven out of the country, occupied what is now Judea, founded
Jerusalem, and built the temple. ... It is said that the priest who
framed their constitution and their laws was a native of Heliopolis,
named Osarseph after the god Osiris, worshiped at Helipolis; but when
he joined this people, he changed his name and was called Moses. ..."
from Josephus, Contra Apionem, in the Loeb version of Manetho at 119 - 131
Manetho the 3 kings of the 25th dynasty were Ethiopian: Sabacon,
Schichos (or Sebichos) and Taracus (or Saracus) as was the first king
of the 26th dynasty, Ameres.
for Manetho, Persians made up 8 kings of the 27th dynasty: Cambyses,
Darius, Xerxes, Artabanus, Artaxeres, Xerxes, Sogdianus and Darius.
Manetho, translated from the Greek by W.G. Waddell (1940), at 167-175
(March 26, 2010) Finally, in the Loeb Manetho, for Egyptians the Nile was P-year-o, or Pyearo, and water was Mo-y. Madji in Swahili, Ma-e in Kikuyu ("Ma" as in "Map", "e" as in "edit").
am not a fluent Kikuyu speaker though until I was 4 years old, Kikuyu
was the only language that I spoke. When my dad was a diplomat in New
York city he ordered my mother to force us to switch to English. So
today I can hear Kikuyu, but have a bizarre mental block when it comes
to speaking it - I can't do it. Strangely enough, sometimes when I'm
dreaming I speak fluent Kikuyu.
Many English settlers in Kenya were fluent in Kikuyu. A famous example is the anthropologist L.S.B. Leakey
(1903-1972). As a young man Louis Leakey went through Kikuyu initiation
ceremonies before entering Cambridge University. (His father translated
the Bible into Kikuyu.)
of my aunt's, when she was in Zimbabwe, had a funny encounter with an
elderly ex-white Kenyan who had moved to Rhodesia after independence
(1963). She was complaining about him on an airplane in Kikuyu and he
complained back in Kikuyu!
lot of new information on here. Now I know why I was so fascinated with
Mithradates on page 29 of this site: his family's claim to descent from
Darius was really a claim for descent from Pharaoh. The 27th dynasty of
ancient Egypt left a heavy Persian imprint upon the Mediterranean
world, Africa and the Middle-East.
Old Nubian script was used in Sudan until the 15th century AD - i.e. up until the end of Byzantium
(1453). After this time Arabic is the only script used in Sudan. The
Maasai began migrating south into Kenya and Tanzania at around this
But it's more
than the Maasai - many tribes in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia speak
"Nilotic" languages. Today Old Nubian is assigned to a small population
living on the Sudan-Egyptian border - however Nubia was a much larger
entity in ancient times and therefore a larger lens is required.
(May 27, 2009) For more detail on Nubian Christianity see: "Nubian Rescue" (1975) by Rex Keating.
I always speak of the last page in the history of ancient Egypt,
because while Christianity in the fifth and sixth centuries was
flourishing in Egypt itself and while, we might say, the Sutton Hoo
treasure was being buried in England and Saxon England was flourishing,
at that time there down in the far south were the last remnants of
ancient Egypt, with these X-Group kings whoever they are - still
considering themselves Pharaohs. Wearing silver jewelled crowns with
the ancient Egyptian emblems, the ancient Egyptian crowns and the
figures of the goddess Isis on the saddles of their horses. All that
mixed up with other objects that they'd obviously plundered from Egypt
itself, objects with the crucifix and other Christian emblems on them.
And again their weapons appeared to be all very African in character,
their rather shovel-headed spears similar to what you get far south
with the Masai tribes at the present day."
Nubian Rescue (1975) at 182 -183. (Rex Keating quoting W.B. Emery who excavated the so-called X-group kings in Sudan in 1927.) X-Group crown photo.
end of Byzantium was not necessarily a win for Islam. This is a clouded
area of history - full of mythology. And from an objective point of
view it has been an unrelenting tragedy for Islam.
as if an unseen dark cloud fell over the entire middle east. From this
cloud we get the birth of Russia and an entire corpus of dark myths -
vampires, "Aryans" etc.... It's almost as if the Greeks of Byzantium
made a faustian bargain and turned into something else ...
(June 3, 2009) Perhaps the most persistent myths here are those surrounding Hassan-i-Sabbah (1034-1124 AD) - the "Old Man of the Mountain"; his earthly paradise in a hidden valley, and his legions of "Hashshashin" or "Assassins."
I was reminded of these myths by the character played by Mick Jagger in the 1970 movie "Performance," - "nothing is true, everything is permitted."
(September 5, 2009) Also compare with Italo Calvino's 1972 novel "Invisible Cities."
(Feb. 17, 2013) And the the 13th-century AD Turco-Mongol khanate the "Golden Horde." According the Wikipedia:
"... The territory of the
Golden Horde at its peak included most of Eastern Europe from the Urals
to the right banks of the Danube River, extending east deep into
Siberia. In the south, the Golden Horde's lands bordered on the Black
Sea, the Caucasus Mountains, and the territories of the Mongol dynasty
known as the Ilkhanate ..."
Wikipedia, The Golden Horde. (Feb. 2013)
Also see the Encyclopedia Britannica's "Golden Horde."
(Feb. 18, 2013) 50 years
before the Mongol invasion a letter from a
"Prester John" to Manuel Comnenus, the Emperor of Byzantium in
1165 AD proclaimed the existence of an middle-eastern and perhaps
African Christian realm.
My intuition is this network
integrated as the westernmost, Christian, portion of the Golden Horde.
(It's probably the Sabaean world surveyed on page 43 of this website.)
" ... If indeed you wish to know wherein
consists our great power, then believe without doubting that I, Prester
John, who reigns supreme, exceed in riches, virtue, and power all
creatures who dwell under heaven. Seventy-two kings pay tribute to me.
I am a devout Christian and everywhere protect the Christians of our
empire, nourishing them with alms ...
Our magnificence dominates the Three Indias,
and extends to Farther India, where the body of St. Thomas the Apostle
rests. It reaches though the desert toward the place of the
rising sun, and continues though the valley of deserted Babylon close
by the Tower of Babel. Seventy-two provinces obey us, a few of which
are Christian provinces; and each has its own king. And all their kings
are our tributaries. ...
During each month we are served at our table
by seven kings, each in his turn, by sixty two dukes, and by three
hundred and sixty five counts, aside from those who carry out various
tasks on our account. In our hall there dine daily, on our right hand,
twelve archbishops, and on our left twenty bishops, and also the
Patriarch of St. Thomas, the Protopapas of Samarkand, and the
Archprotopapas of Susa, in which city the throne of our glory and our
imperial palace are situated. ...
If you can count the stars of the sky and
the sands of the sea, you will be able to judge thereby the vastness of
our realm and our power ... "
Letter from "Prester John" to Manuel Comnenus, Emperor of Byzantium (1165 AD). Cited in Robert Silverberg's "The Realm of Prester John" (1972.)
(Feb 21, 2013) This letter was almost certainly written by a Nestorian Christian
nobleman of Persian extraction. Apparently, during the Sassanian
dynasty, besides the traditional Zoroastrian faith, the pre-Islamic
Persian world was Nestorian Christian.
- At its peak, during the reign of Oz Beg, (1313 - 1341), the Golden Horde adapted Islam as the official State religion.
23, 2011) Of all the alleged heirs to Byzantium, perhaps the strangest,
and strongest claim belongs to Venice. This point was brought home to
me at a recent show at the National Gallery of Art: "Canaletto and his rivals."
Apparently, before her surrender to Napoleon in 1797, the Venetian Republic and was the de facto
ruler of the Mediterranean world for 1,000 years. Also, it appears that
Venice, not the Turks, was responsible for the bulk of looting and
plunder of Constantinople before the end came in 1454.
See: Viscount Norwich's "A short history of Byzantium" (1997):
... On 1 August 1203, Alexius IV Angelus was crowned alongside his
father. Immediately he regretted the offers he had made in the spring.
The treasury was empty; the new taxes that he was obliged to introduce
were openly resented by his subjects, who knew full well where their
money was going. The clergy was scandalized when he seized and melted
down the church plate, and furious at his plans to subordinate them to
When a few
days later, a delegation of three Crusaders and three Venetians came to
the Emperor to demand immediate payment of the sum owing to them, there
was nothing that could be done: and so the war began. Neither the
Crusaders nor the Greeks wanted it. The people of Constantinople wished
only to be rid of these Western thugs who were destroying their city
and bleeding them white in the bargain. The Franks resented their
enforced stay among an effete and effeminate people when they should
have been getting to grips with the infidel. Even if the Greek debt
were to be paid in full, they would not benefit materially; it would
only enable them to settle their own outstanding account with the
The key to all this lay with Enrico Dandolo [the Doge
or elected chief magistrate of Venice]. He, at any moment, could give
his fleet the order to sail: the Crusaders would have been relieved and
the Byzantines overjoyed. Formerly, he had refused on the grounds that
the Franks would never be able to pay him their debt until they
received the money from Alexius. He had almost now forgotten that debt.
His mind was now fixed on a far greater objective: the overthrow of the
Byzantine Empire. And so his advice took a different tone. Nothing more
could be expected of the Angeli: if the Crusaders were ever to obtain
their due, they would have to take Constantinople by force. Once inside
the city, with one of their own leaders on the throne, they could
settle the debt and finance the Crusade. This was their opportunity, it
would not recur.
For the Crusaders, one chance only remained: an all-out attempt on the
city. It was exactly what Dandolo had been advocating for months, and
the old Doge, who was by now recognized by Venetians and Franks alike
as the leader of the entire expedition, called a series of council
meetings in the camp of Galata. They were concerned less with the plan
of attack than with the administration of the Empire after its
conquest. It was agreed that the Franks and the Venetians should each
appoint six delegates to an electoral committee, and that this should
choose the new Emperor. If it decided on a Frank, then the Patriarch
should be a Venetian; otherwise vice versa. The Emperor would receive a
quarter of the city and of the Empire, including the two chief palaces
- Blachernae on the Golden Horn and the old palace on the Marmara. The
remaining three-quarters should be divided equally, half going to
Venice and half in fief to the Crusading knights. For the Venetian
portion, the Doge was specifically absolved from the need to do the
Once the walls were breached the carnage was dreadful. Only at
nightfall did the conquerors call a truce and withdraw to their camp in
one of the great squares of the city. The next morning they awoke to
find all resistance at an end. But for the people of Constantinople the
tragedy had scarcely began. Not for nothing had the Franks waited so
long outside the world's richest city. Now that the customary three
days looting was allowed them, they fell on it like locusts. ...
While the Franks abandoned themselves to a frenzy of destruction, the
Venetians kept their heads. They too looted - but they did not destroy.
They knew beauty when they saw it. All that they could lay their hands
on they sent back to Venice - beginning with the four great bronze
horses which, from their high platform above the main door of St.
Mark's, were to dominate the Piazza for the next eight centuries.
three days of terror, order was restored. Then all the spoils were
gathered together and careful distribution made: a quarter for the
Emperor when elected, the remainder to be split equally between the
Franks and Venetians. As soon as it was done, the Crusaders paid their
debt to Enrico Dandolo. Both parties then applied themselves to the
next task: the election of the new Emperor. Dandolo had no difficulty
in steering the electors towards the easy-going and tractable Count
Baldwin of Flanders who on 16 May received his coronation in St. Sophia
- the third Emperor to be crowned there in less than a year. In return,
Venice appropriated the best for her own. She was entitled to
three-eighths of the city and the Empire, together with free trade
throughout the imperial dominions, from which both her principal
rivals, Genoa and Pisa were to be rigorously excluded. In
Constantinople itself, the Doge demanded the entire district
surrounding St. Sophia and the Patriachate, reaching right down to the
shore of the Golden Horn, for the rest, he took for Venice all those
regions that promised to give her an unbroken chain of colonies and
ports from the lagoon to the Black Sea including the Peloponnese and
the all-important island of Crete.
it was the Venetians who were to real beneficiaries of the Fourth
Crusade; and their success was due, almost exclusively, to Enrico
Dandolo. Refusing the Byzantine crown for himself - to have accepted it
would have created insuperable constitutional problems at home and
might have destroyed the Republic - he nevertheless secured a Venetian
majority and the success of his own candidate. Furthermore, while
encouraging the Franks to feudalize the Empire he had kept Venice
outside the feudal framework holding her new dominions not as an
imperial fief but by her own right of conquest. For a blind man not far
short of ninety it was a remarkable achievement ...
John Julius Norwich, A Short History of Byzantium (1997) at 303 - 306