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T - Rex at the Dinosaur exhibit in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Tyrannosaurus Rex (cast). 65 million years old. Original found in Harding County, South Dakota.

I call this digital photo, taken in March 2010:




T-Rex and Diplodocus at the same exhibit.

Diplodocus Longus. One of the largest Dinosaurs - grew up to 90 feet long (27 meters). 145 million years old; late Jurassic. Found in 1923 in the Utah Dinosaur National Monument.

I call this digital photo taken at the same time:


(March 31, 2010) Are "Dragons" really the souls of ancient Dinosaurs? There is a very strong Dragon archetype in the collective unconsciousness. Maybe a species of dinosaur attained consciousness millions of years before humans and left traces of itself in the collective psyche.

This is not a new thought: for example more than 2,000 years ago in China, dinosaur bones were associated with dragons:

" ... Dinosaur and mammalian fossils were occasionally mistaken for the bones of dragons and other mythological creatures; for example, a discovery in 300 BC in Wucheng, Sichuan, China, was labeled as such by Chang Qu. ...'

Dragon, Wikipedia

Compare with the 3 giant pyramids at Teotihuacan, Mexico. The Indians called them: the pyramid of the sun, the pyramid of the moon and the pyramid of the feathered serpent: the dragon Quetzalcoatl.

(April 7, 2010) Also compare with science fiction. In Sir Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhoods' End," (1953) a race of reptiles - that look like the Judeo-Christian version of the devil - land on the National Mall and spend 50 years altering human consciousness.


(Feb. 10, 2017) Recently discovered the ancient Egyptian reptile god Sobek.

According to Wikipedia:

" ... Sobek enjoyed a longstanding presence in the ancient Egyptian pantheon, from the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BCE) through the Roman period (c. 30 BCE – 350 CE). He is first known from several different Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom, particularly from spell PT 317. The spell, which praises the pharaoh as living incarnation of the crocodile god, reads:

"Unis is Sobek, green of plumage, with alert face and raised fore, the splashing one who came from the thigh and tail of the great goddess in the sunlight ... Unis has appeared as Sobek, Neith's son. Unis will eat with his mouth, Unis will urinate and Unis will copulate with his penis. Unis is lord of semen, who takes women from their husbands to the place Unis likes according to his heart's fancy."

The origin of his name, Sbk in ancient Egyptian, is debated among scholars, but many believe that it is derived from a causative of the verb "to impregnate".

Though Sobek was worshipped in the Old Kingdom, he truly gained prominence in the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 BCE), most notably under the Twelfth Dynasty king, Amenemhat III. Amenemhat III had taken a particular interest in the Faiyum region of Egypt, a region heavily associated with Sobek. Amenemhat and many of his dynastic contemporaries engaged in building projects to promote Sobek – projects that were often executed in the Faiyum. In this period, Sobek also underwent an important change: he was often fused with the falcon-headed god of divine kingship, Horus. This brought Sobek even closer with the kings of Egypt, thereby giving him a place of greater prominence in the Egyptian pantheon.The fusion added a finer level of complexity to the god’s nature, as he was adopted into the divine triad of Horus and his two parents: Osiris and Isis.

Sobek first acquired a role as a solar deity through his connection to Horus, but this was further strengthened in later periods with the emergence of Sobek-Ra, a fusion of Sobek and Egypt's primary sun god, Ra. Sobek-Horus persisted as a figure in the New Kingdom (1550–1069 BCE), but it was not until the last dynasties of Egypt that Sobek-Ra gained prominence. This understanding of the god was maintained after the fall of Egypt's last native dynasty in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt (c. 332 BCE – 390 CE). The prestige of both Sobek and Sobek-Ra endured in this time period and tributes to him attained greater prominence – both through the expansion of his dedicated cultic sites and a concerted scholarly effort to make him the subject of religious doctrine. ... " Wikipedia


According to the Walters Gallery of Art, Baltimore, which recently hosted a show on Sobek:

" ... The Book of the Faiyum is an exquisitely illustrated ancient papyrus depicting Egypt’s Faiyum oasis, a center of prosperity and ritual during the Greco-Roman period. Major sections of the manuscript—reunited for the first time in 150 years—are displayed alongside Egyptian statues, reliefs, jewelry, and ritual objects to illuminate the religious context that gave rise to the enigmatic tale of Sobek, the crocodile god who brings sun to the Faiyum. ...

Two papyrus rolls, together measuring nearly twenty feet, form the centerpiece of this fall’s special exhibition. Looking closely at the elaborate detail in black, and occasionally red, ink, it is hard to imagine that lines that appear fresh to our eyes were inscribed nearly 2,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptian scribes covered the surfaces of these long rolls with a copy of the Book of the Faiyum, a mysterious text that describes Egypt’s Faiyum region as a center of prosperity and religious ritual. The book celebrates the ancient Egyptian crocodile god Sobek and his special relationship with the Faiyum. Divided and sold in the 19th century, sections of the Book of the Faiyum currently reside at the Walters Art Museum, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, and the Egyptian Antiquities Museum in Cairo. Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Faiyum reunites the Morgan and Walters sections for the first time in 150 years.

This exhibition offers a new look at ancient Egypt. First, it goes beyond the usual exhibition subject matter of mummies and tombs, preparations for the afterlife, and the famous pharaohs. Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Faiyum explores ancient Egyptian artistry, mythology, and religious iconography. Second, the exhibition focuses on a period thousands of years after the Pyramids at Giza or Tutankhamun’s rule. The Book of the Faiyum dates to some time between the late 1st century BCE and the second century CE, when the Romans ruled Egypt. The exhibition, centers on the Faiyum, an oasis in the desert to the West of the Nile. This region is most famous among scholars of ancient art for the so-called Faiyum portraits, which are some of the only panel paintings surviving from the ancient Roman tradition. Lake Moeris, the centerpiece of the Faiyum, was also the source of its prosperity. The modern name Faiyum, derived from the ancient Egyptian word “Pa-yom,” meaning “the sea,” is a testament to Lake Moeris’s great size. In satellite images of Egypt,the green Faiyum contrasts starkly with the beige desert surrounding it; as a result, the oasis somewhat resembles a leaf of ivy branching off of the green stem of the Nile Valley.

When 19th-century scholars and enthusiasts first saw the Book of the Faiyum, some thought it represented the legendary Egyptian labyrinth, described by ancient Greek and Roman authors including Herodotus, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder. Egyptologists today, however, recognize the maplike features of the papyrus as a depiction of Lake Moeris and the canal that feeds it. This bird’s-eye view of the region is only visible once the entire composition is revealed—a feat that requires a large display area. Most ancient Egyptians would have encountered the Book of the Faiyum one short section at a time; readers often held papyrus rolls in one hand, while using the other to unroll the text across their laps.

Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Faiyum displays approximately 80 works of ancient Egyptian art, including statues, reliefs, parts of coffins, papyri, and jewelry. Moving through the galleries, as if traversing the lake or walking through the narrative of the book itself, visitors will encounter works of art that portray the divine figures illustrated in the book. Most prominent among these gods is Sobek, the crocodile god. The ancient Egyptians both feared and revered the crocodile, one of Egypt’s most voracious and deadly animals. Lake Moeris was a popular habitat for crocodiles, and as a result the Faiyum region became a religious center for the worship of Sobek. Temples of Sobek often were home to sacred crocodiles, which were mummified after they died. Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Faiyum brings together a number of rare depictions of Sobek, drawn from prestigious museum collections. The Book of the Faiyum offers a window onto cultural, intellectual, and religious life in a unique ancient Egyptian place. Over the course of many centuries, the ancient Egyptians depicted the gods and myths seen in the Book of the Faiyum countless times. Stories of divine creation and the sun god’s nightly regeneration, featured prominently in the book, frequently appeared in ancient Egyptian art. The Book of the Faiyum, however, creates a local context for universal narratives, tailoring them to suit the Faiyum’s specific history and geography. The story of the Ogdoad, eight primeval gods who took the form of snakes and frogs, provides a good example of this. One section of the Book of the Faiyum illustrates these gods in an act of creation: creating Lake Moeris by digging it out with their own hands. The complex, layered imagery of the Book of the Faiyum continues to challenge scholars today. This exhibition encourages reflection on the mysteries surrounding the Book of the Faiyum, including why it was made and for whom.

This exhibition emerges from a partnership with the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim, Germany, and its director and chief executive officer, Prof. Dr. Regine Schulz. As a result, the exhibition will display a number of the treasures of ancient Egyptian art from the Roemerund Pelizaeus-Museum’s esteemed collection. Egypt’s Mysterious Book of the Faiyum will travel to the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum and the Reiss- Engelhorn-Museen in Mannheim, Germany.

—Marden Nichols, Assistant Curator of Ancient Art ... " Walters Gallery


There's a massive African labyrinth in Egypt devoted to Sobek - Herodotus' Egyptian labyrinth:

" ... Even more generally, labyrinth might be applied to any extremely complicated maze-like structure. Herodotus, in Book II of his Histories, describes as a "labyrinth" a building complex in Egypt, "near the place called the City of Crocodiles", that he considered to surpass the pyramids:

It has twelve covered courts — six in a row facing north, six south — the gates of the one range exactly fronting the gates of the other. Inside, the building is of two storeys and contains three thousand rooms, of which half are underground, and the other half directly above them. I was taken through the rooms in the upper storey, so what I shall say of them is from my own observation, but the underground ones I can speak of only from report, because the Egyptians in charge refused to let me see them, as they contain the tombs of the kings who built the labyrinth, and also the tombs of the sacred crocodiles. The upper rooms, on the contrary, I did actually see, and it is hard to believe that they are the work of men; the baffling and intricate passages from room to room and from court to court were an endless wonder to me, as we passed from a courtyard into rooms, from rooms into galleries, from galleries into more rooms and thence into yet more courtyards. The roof of every chamber, courtyard, and gallery is, like the walls, of stone. The walls are covered with carved figures, and each court is exquisitely built of white marble and surrounded by a colonnade.

During the 19th century, the remains of the Labyrinth were discovered "11½ miles from the pyramid of Hawara, in the province of Faioum." The Labyrinth was likely modified and added upon "at various times. The names of more than one king have been found there, the oldest name being that of Amenemhat III. "It is unnecessary to imagine more than that it was monumental, and a monument of more than one king of Egypt."

In 1898, the Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities described the structure as "the largest of all the temples of Egypt, the so-called Labyrinth, of which, however, only the foundation stones have been preserved."

Herodotus' description of the Egyptian Labyrinth inspired some central scenes in Boleslaw Prus' 1895 historical novel, Pharaoh. ... " Wikipedia


This African labyrinth, at Hawara, is where the famous Roman-era Faiyum portraits were discovered:

" ... Hawara is an archaeological site of Ancient Egypt, south of the site of Crocodilopolis ('Arsinoe', also known as 'Medinet al-Faiyum') at the entrance to the depression of the Fayyum oasis. The first excavations at the site were made by Karl Lepsius, in 1843. William Flinders Petrie excavated at Hawara, in 1888, finding papyri of the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, and, north of the pyramid, a vast necropolis where he found 146 portraits on coffins dating to the Roman period, famous as being among the very few surviving examples of painted portraits from Classical Antiquity, the "Fayoum portraits" illustrated in Roman history textbooks.

Amenemhat III was the last powerful ruler of the 12th Dynasty, and the pyramid he built at Hawara ... is believed to post-date the so-called "Black Pyramid" built by the same ruler at Dahshur. It is this that is believed to have been Amenemhet's final resting place. At Hawara there was also the intact (pyramid) tomb of Neferu-Ptah, daughter of Amenemhet III. This tomb was found about 2 km South of the king's pyramid.

In common with the Middle Kingdom pyramids constructed after Amenemhat II, it was built of mudbrick round a core of limestone passages and burial chambers, and faced with limestone. Most of the facing stone was later pillaged for use in other buildings— a fate common to almost all of Egypt's pyramids— and today the pyramid is little more than an eroded, vaguely pyramidal mountain of mud brick, and of the once magnificent mortuary temple precinct formerly enclosed by a wall there is little left beyond the foundation bed of compacted sand and chips and shards of limestone.

From the pyramid entrance a sloping passageway with steps runs down to a small room and a further short horizontal passage. In the roof of this horizontal passage there was a concealed sliding trapdoor weighing 20 tons. If this was found and opened a robber would find himself confronted by an empty passage at a right angle to the passage below, closed by wooden doors, or by a passage parallel to the passage below, carefully filled with mud and stone blocking. He would assume that the blocking concealed the entrance and waste time removing it (thereby increasing the likelihood of detection by the pyramid guardians).

In fact there was a second 20-ton trapdoor in the roof of the empty passage, giving onto a second empty passage, also at a right angle to the first. This too had a 20-ton trapdoor giving onto a passage at a right angle to its predecessor (thus the interior of the pyramid was circled by these passages). However this passage ended in a large area of mud and stone blocking that presumably concealed the burial chamber.

This, however, was a blind and merely filled a wide but shallow alcove. Two blind shafts in the floor, carefully filled with cut stone blocks, further wasted the robbers' time, for the real entrance to the burial chamber was even more carefully concealed and lay between the blind shafts and opposite the alcove.

Despite these elaborate protective measures, Petrie found that none of the trapdoors had been slid into place and the wooden doors were open. Whether this indicated negligence on the part of the burial party, an intention to return and place further burials in the pyramid (when found there were two sarcophagii in the quartzite monolith described below and room for at least two more), or a deliberate action to facilitate robbery of the tomb, we cannot know.

The burial chamber was made out of a single quartzite monolith which was lowered into a larger chamber lined with limestone. This monolithic slab weighed an estimated 110 tons according to Petrie. A course of brick was placed on the chamber to raise the ceiling then the chamber was covered with 3 quartzite slabs (estimated weight 45 tons each). Above the burial chamber were 2 relieving chambers. This was topped with 50 ton limestone slabs forming a pointed roof. Then an enormous arch of brick 3 feet thick was built over the pointed roof to support the core of the pyramid.

The entrance to the pyramid is today flooded to a depth of 6 metres as a result of the waters from the Bahr Yusuf (Joseph's Canal) canal, which flows around two sides of the site and passes within 30m of the pyramid.

Petrie unearthed a number of vivid Fayoum mummy portraits in 1911. The huge mortuary temple that originally stood adjacent to this pyramid is believed to have formed the basis of the complex of buildings with galleries and courtyards called a "labyrinth" by Herodotus, and mentioned by Strabo and Diodorus Siculus. (There is no historicity to the assertion of Diodorus Siculus that this was the model for the labyrinth of Crete that Greeks imagined housed the Minotaur,) The demolition of the "labyrinth" may date in part to the reign of Ptolemy II, under whom the Pharaonic city of Shedyt (Greek Crocodilopolis, the modern Medinet el-Fayum) was renamed to honour his sister-wife Arsinoë; a massive Ptolemaic building program at Arsinoe has been suggested as the ultimate destination of Middle Kingdom limestone columns and blocks removed from Hawara, and now lost.

Queen Sobekneferu of the Twelfth dynasty also built at the complex. Her name meant "most beautiful of Sobek", the sacred crocodile.

Among the discoveries made by Flinders Petrie were papyrus manuscripts, including a great papyrus scroll which contains parts of books 1 and 2 of the Iliad (the "Hawara Homer" of the Bodleian Library, Oxford). ... " Wikipedia


Fayum mummy portraits:

" ... The patrons of the portraits apparently belonged to the affluent upper class of military personnel, civil servants and religious dignitaries. Not everyone could afford a mummy portrait; many mummies were found without one. Flinders Petrie states that only one or two per cent of the mummies he excavated were embellished with portraits. The rates for mummy portraits do not survive, but it can be assumed that the material caused higher costs than the labour, since in antiquity, painters were appreciated as craftsmen rather than as artists.The situation from the "Tomb of Aline" is interesting in this regard. It contained four mummies: those of Aline, of two children and of her husband. Unlike his wife and children, the latter was not equipped with a portrait but with a gilt three-dimensional mask. Perhaps plaster masks were preferred if they could be afforded.

It is clear that those depicted are of mainly Greek origin. The name of some of those portrayed are known from inscriptions, they are predominantly Greek. Hairstyles and clothing are always influenced by Roman fashion. Women and children are often depicted wearing valuable ornaments and fine garments, men often wearing specific and elaborate outfits. Greek inscriptions of names are relatively common, sometimes they include professions. It is not known whether such inscriptions always reflect reality, or whether they may state ideal conditions or aspirations rather than true conditions.One single inscription is known to definitely indicate the deceased's profession (a shipowner) correctly. The mummy of a woman named Hermione also included the term grammatike (γραμματικ?). For a long time, it was assumed that this indicated that she was a teacher by profession (for this reason, Flinders Petrie donated the portrait to Girton College, Cambridge, the first residential college for women in Britain), but today, it is assumed that the term indicates her level of education. Some portraits of men show sword-belts or even pommels, suggesting that they were members of the Roman military. ... " Wikipedia


There is a difference between Greek and Hellenic. Having Hellenic culture does not make you Greek. Many of these "Greeks" are probably other things - Rome was a huge empire. ...

Roman Egyptians were still producing mummy's. This is unusual. Most upper class Romans cremated their dead.

What do the gold laurels mean?

According to Wikipedia: " ... " ... A laurel wreath is a circular wreath made of interlocking branches and leaves of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis), an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher's broom (Ruscus hypoglossum) or cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). In Greek mythology, Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head. In ancient Greece wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics made of wild olive-tree known as "kotinos" (κ?τινος),(sc. at Olympia) and in poetic meets; in Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph. ... " Wikipedia.


Also of interest are the royal purple robes of some of the portraits - purple being restricted to the imperial family on pain of death by Nero; and a few fully black African portraits.

For example:

- Hawara Portrait 1

- Hawara Portrait 2

- Hawara Portrait 3 (Soldier)

- Hawara Portrait 4

- Hawara Portrait - Green Eyes


Hawara Golden Laurels:

- Hawara Portrait - Golden Laurels 1

- Hawara Portrait - Golden Laurels 2 (Ethiopian?)

- Hawara Portrait - Golden Laurels 3


Hawara Royal Purple Robes:

- Hawara Portrait - Golden Laurels 4


Hawara portraits - Various

- Hawara Portrait - Purple Stripes

- Hawara Portrait - African

- Hawara Portrait - African 2

- Hawara Portrait - Purple Robes

- Hawara Portrait - Purple Robes 2

- Hawara Portrait - Fashion Model

- Hawara Portrait - Soldier

- Hawara Portrait - Purple Robes 3

- Hawara Portrait - Purple Robes/Golden Laurels

- Hawara Portrait - Golden Laurels 5 (Ethiopian?)

- Hawara Portrait - Greek

- Hawara Portrait - Soldier/Golden Laurels

-Hawara Portrait - Red Dress

- Hawara Portrait - Red/Golden Laurels

- Hawara Portrait - Greybeard

- Hawara Portrait - Youth (Ethiopian?)

- Hawara Portrait - Youth/Golden Laurels

- Hawara Portrait - Green Dress

- Hawara Portrait - Brown Eyes/Golden Laurels



- Sobek and Ptolemy VI Philometor (Relief), Temple of Sobek and Haroeris, Kom-Ombo, Egypt, 2nd-1st BC

- Sobek with Amenhotep III (18th Dynasty), Sobek Temple, Dakamsha, Egypt, c. 1350 BC

- Sobek found at Amenemhat III's mortuary temple at Hawara in the Faiyum, Egypt (12th dynasty,c.1830 BC) Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

- Sobek and Horus, Kom Ombo Temple, Egypt, Ptolemaic dynasty, 180–47 BC.



The spirit of Sobek today is Islam. Sobek-Ra in a modern form. Or, you could say, Sobek-Ra is the Deus absconditus of the middle east and Africa.


Also see:Kom Ombo and the Temple of Sobek and Haroeris by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews:

" ... The earliest king named in the temple at Kom Ombo is Ptolemy VI Philometor, though most of the decoration was completed by Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos. In the early Roman Period the forecourt was decorated and the outer corridor added.

The structure is built of local sandstone from Gebel el-Silsila. Apparently, troops stationed at Kom Ombo (it was a training ground for African elephants used by the army during the Ptolemaic Period) built much of the temple. The use of elephants was actually a Ptolemaic innovation, as was the use of camels in Egypt. Although the layout of the temple is similar to that of Dendera or Edfu, it is somewhat smaller and has a very pleasing architectural elegance based on the careful planning of its architects. The temple is oriented east to west according to the "local north" determined by the river, and today the temple is entered through the remains of the Ptolemaic portal at the southwest of the precinct. The main temple at Kom Ombo, originally cleared of debris by Jacques de Morgan in 1893, is dedicated to two triads of deities. One set consists of Sobek, Hathor and their child Khonsu, while the other consists of Haroeris (Harwer-equated with Apollo, or Horus the Elder), Tasenetnofret (the Perfect Companion) and their child Panebtawy (the Lord of the Two Lands). The last two have artificial names that express the goddess's function in such a group as a "consort," and the young god's to be kingly. Of course, the two most important gods were Sobek, whose part of the temple is on the south and Horus the Elder, whose part of the temple is on the north, to which the temple was dedicated equally. This was why the temple was called both "House of the Crocodile" and "Castle of the Falcon".

Overall, the relief sculpture is typical of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods, with very deeply carved sunken reliefs on the exterior walls and columns, and fine quality bas-relief on the interior walls. Much of the relief is covered with a very thin layer of plaster, and the original color survives in many places. The decorations of the inner rooms depict Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra II, and Ptolemy VII with Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III. The birth house, nearest to the river, has lost its western half, so little of it remains. However, the architects of Napoleon's expedition did find preserved the four Hathor columns and considerable parts of the walls of the birth house, with their splendid relief of Ptolemy VIII. The building measured 18 by 23 meters and was nine meters high. The plan was that of an ordinary temple with a room for visiting gods, an offering hall and a sanctuary that was laterally isolated. The platform commonly found at birth houses existed, but the equally typical ambulatory, which was included in the birth houses of Ptolemy VIII at Philae and Edfu, was apparently omitted. Therefore, it more closely resembled birth houses of the 30th Dynasty. The birth house abuts closely on the pylon of the main temple, perhaps because space was short in antiquity (the temple's rear is similarly cramped against the enclosure wall). Like elsewhere, the birth house is situated right of, and at a right angle to the main temple. It sits very near the gate of Ptolemy XII "Auletes", the "flute player". The small Roman Period shrine of Hathor east of the courtyard long stored the mummies of sacred crocodiles from a nearby necropolis, as they are today in clay coffins. There is also a well west of the temple which is complex in design and, because of the temple's elevation above the river, very deep. Like other wells in temple enclosures, it allowed pure water, in theory from the primeval waters themselves, to be drawn within the sacred area, avoiding pollution from the outside world. Near the well is also a small pond where live crocodiles are believed to have been raised.

From the first hypostyle hall runs a corridor that encloses the entire inner part of the temple and contains a number of small chambers at the back. This is enclosed in turn by a second, three meter thick wall and corridor that take in the courtyard. Thus the double axis goes together with other dual features. The pylon entrance in the outer enclosure wall to the main temple had a double gateway, 14.5 meters wide and approximately 15.75 meters high, that is the first sign of a complex plan with an axis for each main gateway. This impressive structure could be climbed through a staircase in the west wall. However, all that is left of the great entrance pylon is the right hand part, where the Roman emperor Domitian can be seen with various gods rendering homage to the triad of Sobek, Hathor and Khonsu, together with a long text of 52 lines in hieroglyphics.

... The whole temple reflects its dual ownership, and even the Roman forecourt built by Augustus within the pylon was divided into equal shares for Sobek (east side) and Horus the Elder. In fact, an altar base is situated in the court's center with small basins, meant to receive libations, sunk into the ground at each side for the respective gods. The court was surrounded in the south, west and north by colonnades (sixteen total columns). The western colonnade was divided into two by the double gate. The north and south colonnades ended before reaching the hypostyle hall. The relief carvings on some of the surviving columns of the colonnade along the forecourt's sides are well preserved and many maintain their original coloring. Many depict images of the Roman emperor Tiberius. Beyond the forecourt, the facade of the hypostyle hall built by Ptolemy XII, with its intercolumnar screen walls and small side doors for use by the priests, is typical of its period. On either side of the doors, Ptolemy XII Neo Dionysos is shown purified by Horus, Thoth and Haroeris (in the part on the left) and by Horus, Thoth and Sobek on the right. The capitals of the columns within, arranged in two rows of five free standing columns, are often wrought with ingenious compound forms. As would be expected, the decoration of the hall and remaining parts of the temple is divided between the two gods, with scenes of Sobek on the east and Haroeris on the west. The ceiling is decorated with astronomical scenes, with the vulture, the symbol of Nekhbet and Wadjet. The column shafts are all carved with reliefs: above with a band of hieroglyphs with the symbol of life (ankh) and below with the pharaoh rendering homage to the various gods. Some reliefs in the first hypostyle hall use the ancient technique of inlaying the eyes of the most important figures. The inlays, which must have given a special opulence and liveliness to the figure, are now lost, as they are on almost all ancient works that had this detail.

... ... A second hypostyle hall beyond the first repeats its design on a smaller scale and again allows two separate processional paths towards the inner sanctuaries behind the three narrow transverse halls or vestibules. The staircases to the roof were located at either end of the second hall. Similar to the arrangement at Edfu, the northern staircase was right-angled, while the southern one was straight. The drainage system of the roof included lion-headed water spouts.

Beyond the second hypostyle hall, side rooms branched off to either side of the first broad room and probably served for the production of ointments and other offerings. In these broad chambers there are scenes illustrating the goddess Seshat launching the building of the temple. There is also a scene of the completed temple with the king throwing natron (carbonate salt used in mummifying) in a purification ceremony. These chambers were built by Ptolemy VI, Philometer. Also in these rooms is a calendar recording important festival dates.

The twin sanctuaries, like much of the temple's interior, are broken down but still contain the black granite pedestals which supported the sacred barques of the two gods. Because the pedestals left no room for wooden statue shrines, the statues must have been housed in the barques or in the chambers behind the bark shrines. The reduced condition of the sanctuary chambers reveals the secret chamber beneath them which was used by priests to overhear petitions or deliver oracles on behalf of the deities. In fact, much of the inner part of the temple is honeycombed with crypts, some on three levels, and hidden passages, and many of these can be explored by visitors to the temple.

As at Dendera and Edfu, the sanctuary rooms are surrounded by smaller cult chapels (a total of ten), but unlike the other two sites, a small, internal hallway runs around the perimeter of the inner temple, between it and the outer wall of the building. The back wall of this area has six small rooms, three on either side of a stairwell leading to the roof, with varying degrees of decoration. The outer ambulatory which encircles this area, as at Edfu, is decorated with Roman period scenes of varying quality. Numerous reliefs in the inner corridor and its small rooms are unfinished, giving valuable insight into artists' methods during the Greco-Roman Period. Notably, among them, towards the left end of the rear wall, is the famous and controversial scene in which the king (Trajan) presents a group of ritual and/or surgical instruments. Some of these implements were certainly used in the practice of the cult, but other may very well be medically related. Furthermore, it is known that pilgrims came to Haroeris, Horus the Elder, who was also known as the healer, to be treated for their infirmities. They apparently waited on the god in the temple's hallways where game boards were scratched into the stones of the floor.

... ... The most striking feature of the rear part of the temple is the false door at the center of the back, outside wall of the sanctuary area, which is here modified and expanded in form to include a central niche flanked by hearing ears and seeing eyes and the figures of the two gods. Here we find Sobek, on the left, with a lion-headed scepter or baton, and Haroeris, on the right, with a strange human-legged knife. Between the two gods a double hymn extols them, and above the niche, along with the figure of Nut who holds up the sky, the figures of the four winds are represented by a lion, a falcon, a bull and a many-headed serpent. This oddly echoes the later Christian use of the ancient images of lion, eagle, bull and man as symbols of the four Gospel writers. The outer surfaces of the temple enclosure walls are decorated with colossal relief, predictably divided in the subject of their representations between the realms of the two gods. This work was completed by Nero and Vespasian.

Much of the temple has only recently been restored. Also, a new museum is also scheduled to be inaugurated that will display mummified crocodiles. ... " Kom Ombo and the Temple of Sobek and Haroeris by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews.


Attributes of Sobek:

" ... Sobek is, above all else, an aggressive and animalistic deity who lives up to the vicious reputation of his patron animal, the large and violent Nile crocodile. Some of his common epithets betray this nature succinctly, the most notable of which being: "he who loves robbery", "he who eats while he also mates", and "pointed of teeth". However, he also displays grand benevolence in more than one celebrated myth. After his association with Horus and consequent adoption into the Osirian triad of Osiris, Isis, and Horus in the Middle Kingdom, Sobek became associated with Isis as a healer of the deceased Osiris (following his violent murder by Set in the central Osiris myth).In fact, though many scholars believe that the name of Sobek, Sbk, is derived from s-bAk, "to impregnate", others postulate that it is a participial form of the verb sbq, an alternative writing of sAq, "to unite", thereby meaning Sbk could roughly translate to "he who unites (the dismembered limbs of Osiris)".

It is from this association with healing that Sobek was considered a protective deity. His fierceness was able to ward off evil while simultaneously defending the innocent. He was thus made a subject of personal piety and a common recipient of votive offerings, particularly in the later periods of ancient Egyptian history. It was not uncommon, particularly in Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, for crocodiles to be preserved as mummies in order to present at Sobek's cultic centers. Sobek was also offered mummified crocodile eggs, meant to emphasize the cyclical nature of his solar attributes as Sobek-Ra. Likewise, crocodiles were raised on religious grounds as living incarnations of Sobek. Upon their deaths, they were mummified in a grand ritual display as sacred, but earthly, manifestations of their patron god. This practice was executed specifically at the main temple of Crocodilopolis. These mummified crocodiles have been found with baby crocodiles in their mouths and on their backs. The crocodile – one of the few non-mammals that diligently care for their young – often transports its offspring in this manner. The practice of preserving this aspect of the animal's behavior via mummification is likely intended to emphasize the protective and nurturing aspects of the fierce Sobek, as he protects the Egyptian people in the same manner that the crocodile protects its young.

In Ptolemaic and Roman Egypt, a local monograph called the Book of the Faiyum centered on Sobek with a considerable portion devoted to the journey made by Sobek-Ra each day with the movement of the sun through the sky. The text also focuses heavily on Sobek's central role in creation as a manifestation of Ra, as he is said to have risen from the primal waters of Lake Moeris, not unlike the Ogdoad in the traditional creation myth of Hermopolis.

Many varied copies of the book exist and many scholars feel that it was produced in large quantities as a "best-seller" in antiquity. The integral relationship between the Faiyum and Sobek is highlighted via this text, and his far reaching influence is seen in localities that are outside of the Faiyum as well; a portion of the book is copied on the Upper Egyptian (meaning southern Egyptian) Temple of Kom Ombo. ... " Wikipedia


Sobek is new to me, but I have already met him: A massive ancient statue of Sobek is featured prominetly in the ABC series "Lost".

Remember reading in the Loeb classical Manetho that the 12th dynasty worshipped Set. I found this strange at the time. - But Sobek is a form of Set worship. Sobek is literally the son of Set ...

Green dragon in the water - similar icon in MesoAmerica in the temple of the winged serpent at Teotihuacan, Mexico


Lake Moeris is probably the original lake in the medieval legend of St. George and the dragon.


(July 28, 2017) The dragon, snake, winged reptile, reptile brain, Sobek, vampire, etc, is a universal symbol or archetype. In its positive manifestation it brings energy and fertility. In its negative manifestation - evil.

The ancient Romans had a trick to dispel the evil manifestation of this archetype: universal and open display of an erect Penis: the "Fascinus".

According to Wikipedia:

" ... In ancient Roman religion and magic, the fascinus or fascinum was the embodiment of the divine phallus. The word can refer to the deity himself (Fascinus), to phallus effigies and amulets, and to the spells used to invoke his divine protection. Pliny calls it a medicus invidiae, a "doctor" or remedy for envy (invidia, a "looking upon") or the evil eye.

... Public religion

The Vestal Virgins tended the cult of the fascinus populi Romani, the sacred image of the phallus that was one of the tokens of the safety of the state (sacra Romana). It was thus associated with the Palladium

Roman myths, such as the begetting of Servius Tullius, suggest that this phallus was an embodiment of a masculine generative power located within the hearth, regarded as sacred. When a general celebrated a triumph, the Vestals hung an effigy of the fascinus on the underside of his chariot to protect him from invidia.

Augustine, whose primary source on Roman religion was the lost theological works of Marcus Terentius Varro, notes that a phallic image was carried in procession annually at the festival of Father Liber, the Roman god identified with Dionysus or Bacchus, for the purpose of protecting the fields from fascinatio, magic compulsion:

Varro says that certain rites of Liber were celebrated in Italy which were of such unrestrained wickedness that the shameful parts of the male were worshipped at crossroads in his honour. …

" ... For, during the days of the festival of Liber, this obscene member, placed on a little trolley, was first exhibited with great honour at the crossroads in the countryside, and then conveyed into the city itself. … In this way, it seems, the god Liber was to be propitiated, in order to secure the growth of seeds and to repel enchantment (fascinatio) from the fields. ... " Varro

As a divinized phallus, Fascinus shared attributes with Mutunus Tutunus, whose shrine was supposed to date from the founding of the city, and the imported Greek god Priapus.

Magic symbols
A graphic representation of the power of the fascinus to ward off the evil eye is found on a Roman mosaic that depicts a phallus ejaculating into a disembodied eye. The motif is also known from multiple relief sculptures from Leptis Magna in present-day Libya. A 1st-century BC terracotta figurine shows "two little phallus-men sawing an eyeball in half."

Phallic charms, often winged, were ubiquitous in Roman culture, from jewelry to bells and wind chimes to lamps. The fascinus was thought particularly to ward off evil from children, mainly boys, and from conquering generals. Pliny notes the custom of hanging a phallic charm on a baby's neck, and examples have been found of phallus-bearing rings too small to be worn except by children.
The "fist and phallus" amulet was prevalent amongst soldiers. These are phallic pendants with a representation of a (usually) clenched fist at the bottom of the shaft, facing away from the glans. Several examples show the fist making the manus fica or "fig sign", a symbol of good luck. The largest known collection comes from Camulodunum. ... " Wikipedia


(August 4, 2017) Furthermore, according to Wikipedia:

" ... Vesta ... is the virgin goddess of the hearth, home, and family in Roman religion. She was rarely depicted in human form, and was often personified by the fire of her temple in the Forum Romanum. Entry to her temple was permitted only to her priestesses, the Vestals, who tended the sacred fire at the hearth in her temple. As she was considered a guardian of the Roman people, her festival, the Vestalia (7-15 June), was regarded as one of the most important Roman holidays. During the Vestalia matrons of the city walked barefoot to the sanctuary of the goddess, and gave offerings. Such was Vesta's importance to Roman religion that hers was one of the last republican pagan cults still active following the rise of Christianity until it was forcibly disbanded by the Christian emperor Theodosius I in AD 391.

The myths depicting Vesta and her priestesses were few, and were limited to tales of miraculous impregnation by a phallus appearing in the flames of the hearth - the manifestation of the goddess.Vesta was among the Dii Consentes, twelve of the most honored gods in the Roman pantheon. She was the daughter of Saturn and Ops, and sister of Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Juno, and Ceres. Her closest Greek equivalent is Hestia. ...

Depicted as a good-mannered deity who never involved herself in the quarreling of other gods, Vesta was ambiguous at times due to her contradictory association with the phallus. She was the embodiment of the Phallic Mother: she was not only the most virgin and clean of all the gods, but was addressed as mother and granted fertility. Mythographers tell us that Vesta had no myths save being identified as one of the oldest of the gods who was entitled to preference in veneration and offerings over all other gods. Unlike most gods, Vesta was hardly depicted directly; nonetheless, she was symbolized by her flame, the fire stick, and a ritual phallus (the fascinus).

While Vesta was the flame itself, the symbol of the phallus might relate to Vesta's function in fertility cults, but it maybe also invoked the goddess herself due to its relation to the fire stick used to light the sacred flame. She was sometimes thought of as a personification of the fire stick which was inserted into a hollow piece of wood and rotated - in a phallic manner - to light her flame.

Concerning the status of Vesta's hearth, Dionysius of Halicarnassus had this to say: "And they regard the fire as consecrated to Vesta, because that goddess, being the Earth and occupying the central position in the universe, kindles the celestial fires from herself." Ovid agreed, saying: "Vesta is the same as the earth, both have the perennial fire: the Earth and the sacred Fire are both symbolic of home." The sacred flames of the hearth were believed to be indispensable for the preservation and continuity of the Roman State: Cicero states it explicitly. The purity of the flames symbolised the vital force that is the root of the life of the community. It was also because the virgins' ritual concern extended to the agricultural cycle and ensured a good harvest that Vesta enjoyed the title of Mater ("Mother").

The fecundating power of sacred fire is testified in Plutarch's version of the birth of Romulus, the birth of king Servius Tullius (in which his mother Ocresia becomes pregnant after sitting upon a phallus that appeared among the ashes of the ara of god Vulcanus, by order of Tanaquil wife of king Tarquinius Priscus) and the birth of Caeculus, the founder of Praeneste. All these mythical or semilegendary characters show a mystical mastery of fire, e.g., Servius's hair was kindled by his father without hurting him, his statue in the temple of Fortuna Primigenia was unharmed by fire after his assassination. Caeculus kindled and extinguished fires at will. ...


Where most temples would have a statue, that of Vesta had a hearth. The fire was a religious center of Roman worship, the common hearth (focus publicus) of the whole Roman people. The Vestals were obliged to keep the sacred fire alight. If the fire went out, it must be lit from an arbor felix, auspicious tree, (probably an oak).Water was not allowed into the inner aedes nor could stay longer than stricly needed on the nearby premises. It was carried by the Vestales in vessels called futiles which had a tiny foot that made them unstable.
The temple of Vesta held not only the ignes aeternum ("sacred fire"), but the Palladium of Pallas Athena and the di Penates as well. Both of which are items said to have been brought into Italy by Aeneas.The Palladium of Athena was, in the words of Livy: "fatale pignus imperii Romani" ("[a] pledge of destiny for the Roman empire"). Such was the Palladium's importance, that when the Gauls sacked Rome in 390 BC, the Vestals first buried the Palladium before removing themselves to the safety of nearby Caere. Such objects were kept in the penus Vestae (i.e. the sacred repository of the temple of Vesta).

Despite being one of the most sacred of Roman Shrines, that of Vesta was not a templum in the Roman sense of the word; that is, it was not a building consecrated by the augurs and so it could not be used for meetings by Roman officials. It has been claimed that the shrine of Vesta in Rome was not a templum, because of its round shape. However, a templum was not a building, but rather a sacred space that could contain a building of either rectangular or circular shape. In fact, early templa were often altars that were consecrated and later had buildings erected around them. The temple of Vesta in Rome was an aedes and not a templum, because of the character of the cult of Vesta - the exact reason being unknown. ... "Vesta, Wikipedia


- Roman coin from the time of Hadrian depicting his wife Sabina and the goddess Vesta holding the Palladium.: Aureus Obverse: SABINA AVGVSTA IMP HADRIANIA VGPP - Diademed, draped bust right. Reverse: No legend - Vesta seated left, holding palladium and scepter. c.128-136 AD (Rome).

- An apotropaic relief of a phallus at a bakery in Pompeii.

- Roman terra-cotta pot painted with a Fascinus (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

- Bas-relief of a legged phallus ejaculating into an evil eye on which a scorpion sits ( Leptis Magna/Libya)

- Winged Fascinus from Pompeii

- Ceramic Roman Fascinum - woman riding a phallus-lion.

- Roman-Spanish marble relief panel depicting a winged fascinum.

(August 4, 2017) I call this the "female phallus" - CG Jung's "Animus" - or the male contents of the female unconsious pyche. For almost all American women, this image is projected onto the black male.

" ... Levels of animus development
Jung focused more on the man's anima and wrote less about the woman's animus. Jung believed that every woman has an analogous animus within her psyche, this being a set of unconscious masculine attributes and potentials. He viewed the animus as being more complex than the anima, postulating that women have a host of animus images whereas the male anima consists only of one dominant image.

Jung stated that there are four parallel levels of animus development in a woman.

Man of mere physical power
The animus "first appears as a personification of mere physical power - for instance as an athletic champion or muscle man, such as 'the fictional jungle hero Tarzan'".

Man of action or romance
In the next phase, the animus "possesses initiative and the capacity for planned action...the romantic man - the 19th century British poet Byron; or the man of action - America's Ernest Hemingway, war hero, hunter, etc."

Man as a professor, clergyman, orator
In the third phase "the animus becomes the word, often appearing as a professor or clergyman...the bearer of the word - Lloyd George, the great political orator".

Man as a spiritual guide
"Finally, in his fourth manifestation, the animus is the incarnation of meaning. On this highest level he becomes (like the anima) a mediator of...spiritual profundity". Jung noted that "in mythology, this aspect of the animus appears as Hermes, messenger of the gods; in dreams he is a helpful guide." Like Sophia, this is the highest level of mediation between the unconscious and conscious mind. ... " Anima and Animus, Wikipedia


We can date the end of Rome precisely: ie. the exit of the last Vestal Virgin and the extinguishing of the sacred fire in 394 AD.

According to Wikipedia: " ...

In ancient Rome, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins (Latin: Vestales, singular Vestalis ) were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being were regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome. They cultivated the sacred fire that was not allowed to go out. The Vestals were freed of the usual social obligations to marry and bear children, and took a vow of chastity in order to devote themselves to the study and correct observance of state rituals that were off-limits to the male colleges of priests.

Livy, Plutarch, and Aulus Gellius attribute the creation of the Vestals as a state-supported priestesshood to king Numa Pompilius, who reigned circa 717–673 BC. According to Livy, Numa introduced the Vestals and assigned them salaries from the public treasury. Livy also says that the priestesshood of Vesta had its origins at Alba Longa. The 2nd century antiquarian Aulus Gellius writes that the first Vestal taken from her parents was led away in hand by Numa. Plutarch attributes the founding of the Temple of Vesta to Numa, who appointed at first two priestesses; Servius Tullius increased the number to four. Ambrose alludes to a seventh in late antiquity. Numa also appointed the pontifex maximus to watch over the Vestals. The first Vestals, according to Varro, were named Gegania, Veneneia, Canuleia, and Tarpeia. In myth, Tarpeia, daughter of Spurius Tarpeius, was portrayed as traitorous.

The Vestals became a powerful and influential force in the Roman state. When Sulla included the young Julius Caesar in his proscriptions, the Vestals interceded on Caesar's behalf and gained him pardon. Augustus included the Vestals in all major dedications and ceremonies. They were held in awe, and attributed certain magical powers. Pliny the Elder, for example, in Book 28 of his "Natural History" discussing the efficacy of magic, chooses not to refute, but rather tacitly accept as truth:

" ... At the present day, too, it is a general belief, that our Vestal virgins have the power, by uttering a certain prayer, to arrest the flight of runaway slaves, and to rivet them to the spot, provided they have not gone beyond the precincts of the City. If then these opinions be once received as truth, and if it be admitted that the gods do listen to certain prayers, or are influenced by set forms of words, we are bound to conclude in the affirmative upon the whole question. ... " Pliny

The urban prefect Symmachus, who sought to maintain traditional Roman religion during the rise of Christianity, wrote:

" ... The laws of our ancestors provided for the Vestal virgins and the ministers of the gods a moderate maintenance and just privileges. This gift was preserved inviolate till the time of the degenerate moneychangers, who diverted the maintenance of sacred chastity into a fund for the payment of base porters. A public famine ensued on this act, and a bad harvest disappointed the hopes of all the provinces... it was sacrilege which rendered the year barren, for it was necessary that all should lose that which they had denied to religion. ... " Symmachus

The College of the Vestals was disbanded and the sacred fire extinguished in 394 AD, by order of the Christian emperor Theodosius I. Zosimus records how the Christian noblewoman Serena, niece of Theodosius, entered the temple and took from the statue of the goddess a necklace and placed it on her own neck. An old woman appeared, the last of the Vestals, who proceeded to rebuke Serena and called down upon her all just punishment for her act of impiety. According to Zosimus, Serena was then subject to dreadful dreams predicting her own untimely death. Augustine would be inspired to write The City of God in response to murmurings that the capture of Rome and the disintegration of its empire was due to the advent of the Christian era and its intolerance of the old gods who had defended the city for over a thousand years. ... "

Vestalis Maxima
The chief Vestal (Virgo Vestalis Maxima or Vestalium Maxima, "greatest of the Vestals") oversaw the efforts of the Vestals, and was present in the College of Pontiffs. The Vestalis Maxima Occia presided over the Vestals for 57 years, according to Tacitus. The last known chief vestal was Coelia Concordia, who stepped down in 394 AD with the disbanding of the College of the Vestals.
The Vestalium Maxima was the most important of Rome's high priestesses. The Flaminica Dialis and the regina sacrorum each held unique responsibility for certain religious rites, but came into her office as part of a couple.

Number of Vestals
According to Plutarch, there were only two Vestal Virgins when Numa began the College of the Vestals. This number later increased to four, and then to six. It has been suggested by some authorities that a seventh was added later, but this is doubtful.

Terms of service
The Vestals were committed to the priestesshood before puberty (when 6–10 years old) and sworn to celibacy for a period of 30 years. These 30 years were divided in turn into decade-long periods during which Vestals were respectively students, servants, and teachers. Afterwards, they were retired and replaced by a new inductee. Once retired, a former Vestal was given a pension and allowed to marry.The Pontifex Maximus, acting as the father of the bride, would typically arrange a marriage with a suitable Roman nobleman. A marriage to a former Vestal was highly honoured, and – more importantly in ancient Rome – thought to bring good luck, as well as a comfortable pension.

To obtain entry into the order, a girl had to be free of physical and mental defects, have two living parents and be a daughter of a free-born resident of Rome. From at least the mid-Republican era, the pontifex maximus chose Vestals between their sixth and tenth year, by lot from a group of twenty high-born candidates at a gathering of their families and other Roman citizens. Originally, the girl had to be of patrician birth, but membership was opened to plebeians as it became difficult to find patricians willing to commit their daughters to 30 years as a Vestal, and then ultimately even from the daughters of freedmen for the same reason.

The choosing ceremony was known as a captio (capture). Once a girl was chosen to be a Vestal, the pontifex pointed to her and led her away from her parents with the words, "I take you, Amata, to be a Vestal priestess, who will carry out sacred rites which it is the law for a Vestal priestess to perform on behalf of the Roman people, on the same terms as her who was a Vestal 'on the best terms'" (thus, with all the entitlements of a Vestal). As soon as she entered the atrium of Vesta's temple, she was under the goddess's service and protection.

To replace a Vestal who had died, candidates would be presented in the quarters of the chief Vestal for the selection of the most virtuous. Unlike normal inductees, these candidates did not have to be prepubescents, nor even virgins (they could be young widows or even divorcees, though that was frowned upon and thought unlucky), though they were rarely older than the deceased Vestal they were replacing. Tacitus (Annals ii.86) recounts how Gaius Fonteius Agrippa and Domitius Pollio offered their daughters as Vestal candidates in AD 19 to fill such a vacant position. Equally matched, Pollio's daughter was chosen only because Agrippa had been recently divorced. The pontifex maximus (Tiberius) "consoled" the failed candidate with a dowry of 1 million sesterces.

Their tasks included the maintenance of the fire sacred to Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home, collecting water from a sacred spring, preparation of food used in rituals and caring for sacred objects in the temple's sanctuary. By maintaining Vesta's sacred fire, from which anyone could receive fire for household use, they functioned as "surrogate housekeepers", in a religious sense, for all of Rome. Their sacred fire was treated, in Imperial times, as the emperor's household fire.

The Vestals were put in charge of keeping safe the wills and testaments of various people such as Caesar and Mark Antony. In addition, the Vestals also guarded some sacred objects, including the Palladium, and made a special kind of flour called mola salsa which was sprinkled on all public offerings to a god.

The dignities accorded to the Vestals were significant.

* in an era when religion was rich in pageantry, the presence of the College of Vestal Virgins was required in numerous public ceremonies and wherever they went, they were transported in a carpentum, a covered two-wheeled carriage, preceded by a lictor, and had the right-of-way;

* at public games and performances they had a reserved place of honour;

* unlike most Roman women, they were not subject to the patria potestas and so were free to own property, make a will, and vote;

* they gave evidence without the customary oath, their word being trusted without question;

* they were, on account of their incorruptible character, entrusted with important wills and state documents, like public treaties;

* their person was sacrosanct: death was the penalty for injuring their person and they had escorts to protect them from assault;

* they could free condemned prisoners and slaves by touching them – if a person who was sentenced to death saw a Vestal on his way to the execution, he was automatically pardoned.

* they participated in throwing the ritual straw figures called Argei into the Tiber on May 15.


Allowing the sacred fire of Vesta to die out was a serious dereliction of duty. It suggested that the goddess had withdrawn her protection from the city. Vestals guilty of this offence were punished by a scourging or beating, which was carried out "in the dark and through a curtain to preserve their modesty"

The chastity of the Vestals was considered to have a direct bearing on the health of the Roman state. When they entered the collegium, they left behind the authority of their fathers and became daughters of the state. Any sexual relationship with a citizen was therefore considered to be incestum and an act of treason. The punishment for violating the oath of celibacy was to be buried alive in the Campus Sceleratus or "Evil Field" (an underground chamber near the Colline Gate) with a few days of food and water. Ancient tradition required that an unchaste Vestal be buried alive within the city, that being the only way to kill her without spilling her blood, which was forbidden. However, this practice contradicted the Roman law that no person might be buried within the city. To solve this problem, the Romans buried the offending priestess with a nominal quantity of food and other provisions, not to prolong her punishment, but so that the Vestal would not technically be buried in the city, but instead descend into a "habitable room". Moreover, she would die willingly. The actual manner of the procession to Campus Scleretatus has been described like this:

" ... When condemned by the college of pontifices, she was stripped of her vittae and other badges of office, was scourged, was attired like a corpse, placed in a close litter, and borne through the forum attended by her weeping kindred, with all the ceremonies of a real funeral, to a rising ground called the Campus Sceleratus just within the city walls, close to the Colline gate. There a small vault underground had been previously prepared, containing a couch, a lamp, and a table with a little food. The pontifex maximus, having lifted up his hands to heaven and uttered a secret prayer, opened the litter, led forth the culprit, and placing her on the steps of the ladder which gave access to the subterranean cell, delivered her over to the common executioner and his assistants, who conducted her down, drew up the ladder, and having filled the pit with earth until the surface was level with the surrounding ground, left her to perish deprived of all the tributes of respect usually paid to the spirits of the departed. ... "

Cases of unchastity and its punishment were rare. In 483 BC, following a series of portents, and advice from the soothsayers that the religious ceremonies were not being duly attended to, the vestal virgin Oppia was found guilty of a breach of chastity and punished. The Vestal Tuccia was accused of fornication, but she carried water in a sieve to prove her chastity.

" ... O Vesta, if I have always brought pure hands to your secret services, make it so now that with this sieve I shall be able to draw water from the Tiber and bring it to Your temple. ... "

Because a Vestal's virginity was thought to be directly correlated to the sacred burning of the fire, if the fire were extinguished it might be assumed that either the Vestal had acted wrongly or that the vestal had simply neglected her duties. The final decision was the responsibility of the Pontifex Maximus, or the head of the pontifical college, as opposed to a judicial body. While the Order of the Vestals was in existence for over one thousand years there are only ten recorded convictions for unchastity and these trials all took place at times of political crisis for the Roman state. It has been suggested that Vestals were used as scapegoats in times of great crisis.

Pliny the Younger was convinced that Cornelia, who as Virgo Maxima was buried alive at the orders of emperor Domitian, was innocent of the charges of unchastity, and he describes how she sought to keep her dignity intact when she descended into the chamber:

" ... when she was let down into the subterraneous chamber, and her robe had caught in descending, she turned round and gathered it up. And when the executioner offered her his hand, she shrunk from it, and turned away with disgust; spurning the foul contact from her person, chaste, pure, and holy: and with all the deportment of modest grace, she scrupulously endeavoured to perish with propriety and decorum. ... "

Dionysius of Halicarnassus claims that the earliest Vestals at Alba Longa were whipped and "put to death" for breaking their vows of celibacy, and that their offspring were to be thrown into the river.

According to Livy, Rhea Silvia, the mother of Romulus and Remus, had been forced to become a Vestal Virgin, and when she gave birth to the twins, it is stated that she was merely loaded down with chains and cast into prison, her babies put into the river.

Dionysius also relates the belief that live burial was instituted by the Roman king Tarquinius Priscus, and inflicted this punishment on the priestess Pinaria. The 11th century Byzantine historian George Kedrenos is the only extant source for the claim that prior to Priscus, the Roman King Numa Pompilius had instituted death by stoning for unchaste Vestal Virgins, and that it was Priscus who changed the punishment into that of live burial. But whipping with rods sometimes preceded the immuration as was done to Urbinia in 471 BC.

Suspicions first arose against Minucia through an improper love of dress and the evidence of a slave. She was found guilty of unchastity and buried alive. Similarly Postumia, who though innocent according to Livy was tried for unchastity with suspicions being aroused through her immodest attire and less than maidenly manner. Postumia was sternly warned "to leave her sports, taunts and merry conceits." Aemilia, Licinia, and Martia were executed after being denounced by the servant of a barbarian horseman. A few Vestals were acquitted. Some cleared themselves through ordeals. The paramour of a guilty Vestal was whipped to death in the Forum Boarium or on the Comitium.

House of the Vestals

The House of the Vestals was the residence of the vestal priestesses in Rome. Behind the Temple of Vesta (which housed the sacred fire), the Atrium Vestiae was a three-story building at the foot of the Palatine Hill.

Vestal festivals
The chief festivals of Vesta were the Vestalia celebrated June 7 until June 15. On June 7 only, her sanctuary (which normally no one except her priestesses the Vestals entered) was accessible to mothers of families who brought plates of food. The simple ceremonies were officiated by the Vestals and they gathered grain and fashioned salty cakes for the festival. This was the only time when they themselves made the mola salsa, for this was the holiest time for Vesta, and it had to be made perfectly and correctly, as it was used in all public sacrifices.
... " Vestal Virgins, Wikipedia


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© 2010 by Waweru Njenga. All rights reserved.

First posted: 3/25/2010



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