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

Italy, The Roman Empire

Hadrian’s Mausoleum

Castel Sant’Angelo was originally the tomb of Hadrian. He was Trajan’s adopted son and emperor of Rome 117-138 CE. Hadrian was a military man but also well versed in politics, art, music, philosophy and literature.

He built a large mausoleum for himself and his family comparable to that of Augustus. It was built in Ager Vaticanus amongst villas, tombs and gardens and linked to the centre of Rome by Pons Aelius, also built by Hadrian.

Only the base remains from roman times. The surrounding walls and top were added during late antiquity and medeival times. It was sacked by both Visigoths and Goths and then rebuilt and used as a castle by many subseqent popes.

Song used in the film: ‘Dark Heart’ of the Woods’ by Hands Of Doom

Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2016

Anatolia, The Roman Empire

The Cotton Castle: A visit to an ancient Health Spa

Pamukkale, meaning cotton castle, is an ancient health resort in present day Turkey and a wonderfully different experience up close. A characteristic set of white terraces cover it’s hillsides giving rise to it’s name. They’re actually made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by the warm mountain springs.

This stone has typically been used for construction and the romans made bases for statues or egyptian obelisks from it, letting harder materials like granite settle into the softer travertine. Travertine is also the main building material for the Colosseum.

People have enjoyed the warm springs in Pamukkale for millenia and during the 2nd centruy BCE it became a health resort at the behest of heirs to Alexander the Great. The Greco-Roman city of Heirapolis was founded on near the springs and would eventually have 100.000 inhabitants well into the Byzantine era.

Inside the former roman bath complex, later convertet to a Byzantine basiclica, is an archeological museum today with artifacts from Heirapolis and the surrounding area. Among the ruins strewn across the hills is the roman theatre, built in the time of Hadrian in 129 CE. Heirapolis suffered large earthquakes during both Nero and Tiberius and was rebuilt several times.

The city was renovated again under Septimus Severus (193-211) who did much renovating across the empire and Caracalla also visited the city in 215 CE bestowing it with the title of neocoros (imperial sanctuary rights) which ensued a golden age. Hierapolis prospered into the Byzantine era until the 6th century after 7th century attacks by persian armies and another major earthquake resulted in it’s decline and eventual abandonment.

Song in the film: “Doomsday Trilogy” by Hands of Doom
Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2015

Africa, The Roman Empire, Tunisia

Antonine Baths

Carthage, North Africa.

Antoninus was roman emperor between AD 138 until his death in AD 161. He was adopted in his 50’s by Hadrian, who probably waited for his favorite – later emperor Marcus Aurelius – to be ready. He was given the name “Pius” for declaring Hadrian a God, as was customary, but the Senate hade previously said no. He expanded the Roman Empire to Scotland, otherwise maintaining a defensive military policy. Antoninus also cancelled many of Hadrian’s death sentences not yet enforced. He commissioned many building like these public baths, the largest in the Roman Empire.

The Baths of Antoninus Pius.

Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2014