North Africa, Spain, The Roman Empire

Debod, a Ptolemaic temple in Madrid

The Templo de Debod was once located in the south of Egypt, in Lower Nubia, very close to the first cataracts and to the religious centre dedicated to the Goddess Isis, on Philae Island. This region, bordering with the powerful realm of Meroe, was the object of a dispute between the Egyptian and Meroite Governors up to the 1st century BCE, when Rome definitely established the frontier of Maharraqa. As of the 3rd century CE the region came under the control of the desert nomads and Roman control was lost.

Construction of the temple was started by Adijalamani, king of Meroe, at the beginning of the 2nd century BCE. He constructed a chapel dedicated to the Gods ’Amón of Debod’ and Isis. The chapel, decorated with reliefs, is one of the few monuments that makes reference to the life of this monarch. Subsequently, Ptolemy VI built new rooms around the original nucleus and gave it an appearance that bore more resemblance to its current appearance. His successors, Ptolemy VIII and Ptolemy XII ordered the construction of two side chapels, or naoi, also dedicated to Isis and Amón.

After Egypt was annexed to the Roman Empire, emperors Augustus, Tiberius and, possibly Adrian, decorated the entrance of the temple and added a special chapel, the mammisi. The temple was abandoned with the closure of the sanctuaries to Isis in the 6th Century. Debod in Madrid. Construction of the great Aswan Dam began in 1960. The huge lake that was created, more than 500 Kilometres in length, brought about the end of the archeological monuments and sites of the Lower Nubia, forever submerged under its waters.

At the request of Egypt and Sudan, UNESCO made an international plea for help to save the temples and monuments that were in danger. Four of the temples and monuments that were saved were donated by Egypt to the countries that contributed most to the salvage tasks. In 1968 Spain recieved the Templo de Debod in gratitude for its help in saving the temples of Abu Simbel. In 1970 the ashlars arrived in Madrid and were installed on the site of the former Cuartel de la Montaña

Sources and further reading:

The Song in the film is ’Principles My Ass (new version)’ by Hands Of Doom.

Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2016

Spain, The Roman Empire

Roman Zaragoza

Caesaraugusta is the only Roman city bearing the full name of its founder, Caesar Augustus. Its thought to have been founded in 14 BCE, perhaps 23rd December, coinciding with the 54th birthday of the Emperor. Caesaraugusta received the status of tribute-exempt colony of Roman citizens. During the 1st and 2nd century CE it experienced a period of splendour in which large public works were undertaken. The Roman City Walls, Theatre and River Port are just some of the remains from the Roman period still visible in Zaragoza where the former colony’s commercial, economic and cultural activities took place.

The Roman Theatre was discovered by chance in 1972 when construction of a new building began on Verónica street. After archeological campaigns Zaragoza City Hall took over the final excavations 1998-2002, and the museum was built. Of the Roman buildings from Caesaraugusta, the theatre is the best preserved of the city. For 200 years it was a meeting place, a focal point for social life and leisure activities for both the city and its surrounding area, transmitting the cultural, political and religious values of the Roman Empire.

Its location, at the highest point of the city meant that it overlooked a line of monumental buildings of which important archeological remains are preserved in the city’s different museums: the forum and its area devoted to the river port, and the public baths. The theatre, built in the 1st century within the town perimeter, stood out from the rest of the buildings as a point of reference in an essentially flat landscape. As time passed the theatre’s activity declined and during the 2nd half of the 3rd century the building was looted for its materials that were then used to build the nearby city wall during a period of political instability. Visiting its ruins today its difficult to appreciate the grandiosity of the building which once stood some 25 metres high, the hight at which the present roof has been installed.

During the demolition of a series of old buildings in 1989, remains of the Roman River Port were discovered, from the northeast boundary of the Roman Forum of Caesaraugusta. The structures remaining from this sector of the forum, dating from between the end of the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE, are the arches of a spectacular facade oriented toward the river, leading onto a vestibule and the flight of steps that joined the port docks and the forum square. In some of the ashlar stones in this sector there are still the quarry marks made by the builders: soldiers belonging to the VI Victrix legion which, together with the IV Mecedonia legion, founded the city of Caesaraugusta.

The Ebro River was navigable in Antiquity from the town of Vareia (Logroño) and its banks were dotted with wharfs and large ports. The port of Caesaraugusta occupied most of the right bank of the city along a straight, protected stretch of quiet waters after a tight meander. The port became the most supplying point in the centre of the valley. Imported goods were brought upstream from Dertosa (Tortosa) a sea and river port. The raw materials of the valley were transported downriver towards the Mediterranean. The coins minted by Dertosa bear images of the boats that sailed the Ebro in Roman times. Cables were used to pull the boats upriver, an activity requiring great physical strength and which was still used well into the 20th century.

Information and illustrations from Museums of the Ceasaraugusta Route and ‘Alexander Omega’ by Hands Of Doom.

Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2016