3rd century ce

A collection of ancient Roman rings, all of which are gold save for the ring in the middle of the top row, which is gilt bronze. The rings with gems have cabochons of either amethyst, carnelian, or glass. They all date to sometime between the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE. Image from Bonhams.

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The Legacy of Ancient Palmyra

The intentional destruction of Palmyra’s best-preserved monuments by ISIS in 2015 and 2017 was an attempt to erase its illustrious history and deprive current, and future, generations access to these remarkable vestiges of a past civilization.

The devastation unleashed in Syria today forces a renewed interpretation of the early prints and photographs presented in an new online-only exhibition about the Legacy of Ancient Palmyra.

They gain more significance as examples of cultural documents that can encourage a deeper investment in understanding humanity’s past achievements relevant to all historic sites. Understanding Palmyra through these invaluable accounts preserves its memory and connects us with its grandeur and enduring legacy.

Statue of the Carthaginian goddess Tanit, 5th-3rd century CE, found in Ibiza. She was considered by Carthaginians to be queen of the gods, emerging around 500 BCE as a goddess in historical sources. After Carthage fell to the Romans, worship of her was combined with worship of the Roman goddess Juno.

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Nymphaem of the Tritons

Hierapolis, Phrygia, Turkey

3rd century CE

70 m long

The Nymphaem of the Tritons, along with the Nymphaeum near the Temple of Apollo, was one of the two large monumental fountains of the city. The building was composed of a basin 70m long, opened onto the street, and had a façade with two flaps, on which were niches to accommodate statues.
The systematic excavations of the monuments began in 1993, lead to the recovery of the elements of the marble architectural and figured decoration, which had collapsed in the large basin and was covered by layers of travertine. Of particular interest were the slabs with battles between Greeks and Amazons and reliefs with personifications of rivers and springs. The style of the reliefs, the architectural elements, and the dedication to the Emperor Severus Alexander Severus engraved on the architrave, allow its construction to be dated to the first half of the 3rd century CE.

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Monument of the Incantadas

Thessaloniki, Greece

2rd-3rd century CE

~13 m. in height

The monument called the “Enchanted Ones” or the “Idols”, Las Incantadas in Judeo-Spanish (Ladino), probably belonged to an important public building in the center of Roman Thessaloniki. It dates to the late 2nd or early 3rd century CE, and was positioned somewhere between the church of Panagia Chalkeon, The Paradise Baths, and Agios Nikolaos, along modern-day Aristotelous Street. In the 17th and 18th century the monument, known from travelers and painters of the era, was an impressive sight for the city’s residents and visitors.

Its façade, which was about 13 meters in height, was a two-story colonnade with Corinthian columns on the lower level and pillars on the upper one. The four pillars were decorated on their two main faces by eight reliefs of mythological figures. A Maenad, Dionysus, Ariadne, and Leda and the Swan-Zeus were depicted on the inner sides, while Nike, Aura, one of the Dioskouri, and the abduction of Ganymede were depicted on the outer ones. Until the 19th century, the monument survived in the heart of the Jewish quarter of Rogos, incorporated into the courtyard of a merchant. 

As noted in travelers’ texts, this merchant broke off small pieces of the monument and sold them to tourists.  In 1864 the French paleographer Emmanuel Miller, with a permit from the Ottoman government and in spite of the general reaction by the city’s population, dismantled the monument, brutally cutting it into pieces and transporting the sculptures to France, where they are today on display at the Louvre.

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Mithraic Sanctuary Uncovered in Corsica 

A sanctuary dedicated to the god Mithras was uncovered in Corsica. The building was erected within the ancient port city of Mariana in the 2nd century CE.  It is the first evidence has been found of Mithraism practiced in ancient Corsica. 

Mithras is a Persian solar deity whose cult was appropriated by Roman military in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE.  Very little is known about the actual religion because it is mystery cult; ritual practices were conducted in secret and the information that was written about the religion is fragmentary and unreliable. What is known for sure about the religion is that it was exclusively for men and that ritual feasting was a common ritual practice.

Artifacts found at the sanctuary include, several bronze bells and a broken altar relief depicting Mithras slaying a bull (shown above).

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Hecate

Hecate or Hekate (Greek Ἑκάτη) is a goddess in Greek religion and mythology, most often shown holding two torches or a key and in later periods depicted in triple form. She was variously associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the Moon, magic, witchcraft, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, necromancy, and sorcery. She is a pre-Olympian chthonic goddess and appears in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and in Hesiod’s Theogony, where she is promoted strongly as a great goddess. In the post-Christian writings of the Chaldean Oracles (2nd-3rd century CE) she was regarded with (some) rulership over earth, sea and sky, as well as a more universal role as Saviour (Soteira), Mother of Angels and the Cosmic World Soul. She was one of the main deities worshiped in Athenian households as a protective goddess and one who bestowed prosperity and daily blessings on the family. source | edit

Of all the classical manifestations of the primordial Great
Goddess who called Hermes into the world as the prototype of the
secret lover, Hecate is the most Hermetic. As a messenger
(angelos) she must be winged, just like her purely celestial
Doppelgängerin, Iris. Like Hermes, Hecate guides souls; and at
crossroads, represented by the Hecataia which were built up on
three-cornered pillars, she appears just as out of place in the
classical world as do the four-cornered roadside Herms. At every
new moon she there received cakes and smoked offerings, as did
Hermes. With Hermes she guards the gates and with him, too,
brings wealth and good fortune to barns.
Karl Kerenyi “Hermes Guide of Souls”

A detail of a 3rd century CE Roman statue of Hecate (or Hekate), goddess of the Moon. As here, she is often depicted having three heads and bodies. (Vatican Museums, Rome).