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

Pantheon: A temple to all the gods

The Pantheon is the best preserved architectural monument of ancient Rome. It’s long history notwithstanding it had a somewhat rough start. It was first commissioned by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 27-25 BCE under Augustus rule. That building was then destroyed in a fire, rebuilt under Domitian and in 110 CE lightning struck causing it to burn down again. It was finally rebuilt to its present form under Hadrian around 125 CE and it still bears Agrippa’s inscription above the portico as Hadrian would often commemorate the original builder during his own restorations.


“M[arcus] Agrippa L[ucii] f[ilius] co[n]s[ul] tertium fecit,” meaning “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made [this building] when consul for the third time.”

The Pantheon’s interior, though restored extensively during the Baroque period, is of  incalculable significance, both historically and architecturally. Its dome, the largest in Western Europe before The Renaissance, continues to inspire admiration for the sheer ingenuity and splendor of Roman civilization. It has remained a place of perpetual worship for nearly two millennia. The marble flooring and much of the interior survive from Hadrian’s time (with extensive restoration in places) and there were once numerous marble statues of all the most important Roman gods.

The Pantheon’s original function is not clearly known but it’s probably safe to assume it was commissioned by Agrippa in honor of the emperor Augustus. It’s innovative architectural features echoes both other temples and the spaciousness of public baths. Two monumental statues (probably of Augustus and Agrippa) each occupied sizable niches in the outer façade on both sides of the entrance. The statues themselves are of course long gone along with many other valuable materials removed through the ages.

An famous example of the pillaging that went on is how the original bronze-ceiling of the portico was stripped by Pope Urban VIII in the 17th century and later used (at least in part) by Bernini in creating his baldachin above the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. The Pantheon and it’s riches possibly functioned as a tribute to the emperors. By being dedicated to all the Roman gods it could perhaps facilitate public appearances by the emperor in surroundings suited for the status of both themselves and their deified predecessors.

Animations in the film by and ‘Space Pneumonia’ is by Hands Of Doom.

Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2016


Temple of Artemis

The remains of the Temple of Artemis outside Ephesus. A single pillar is now all that remains of a building once comparable to the Parthenon. The temple famously crumbled on the same day that Alexander the Great was born but was later rebuilt. It was one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the whole Mediterranean area in ancient times and is one of seven wonders of the ancient world.