Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Lost Roman Legion

The Lost Roman Legion
The Roman Legion – Subject of Great Interest

A Roman legion operated from the first century BC till the mid-2nd century AD and fought in several provinces of the late Roman Republic as well as early Roman Empire. It was based in Britain following the invasion of the Roman in 43 AD.

Thereafter the legion disappeared from the Roman records towards the first half of the second century and there are no details of what happened to it. For 1900 years, the mystery of Rome’s missing ninth legion is puzzling and its ultimate fate is debated by several generations of historians.

It is said that it was the first in a chain reaction of disasters, where the Roman were forced to halt expansion and create the only two massive frontier walls that were ever built in the Roman Empire.

There are written evidence and a raft of new archaeology which portrays how and where the ninth met its end in the tribal bad lands of northern Britain.The fate of the legion has been the subject of great interest and research and it was recorded in 108 in York.

One theory states that it was destroyed in action around 120 in northern Britain during a rising of northern tribes and this view became popular by the 1954 novel – The Eagle of the Ninth, wherein the legion is considered to have marched into Caledonia in Scotland and thereafter was never heard of again.

The Lost Roman Legion 1
Tile Stamps - Nijmegen

The theory seemed to be discredited till tile stamps found later in Nijmegen portrayed that the legion was based there between 121 and 130 though this evidence became disputed. There came up other possibilities that it could have had an end in the Bar Kokhba revolt or in Armenia in 161.

The Ninth does not seem to appear in a list of legions compiles in 165, in any event. Archaeologists reveal how Hadrian built a huge innovative timber rampart in order to protect Roman forces before his monumental stone wall and later sent one of his best generals which include the infamous Julius Severus who was a ruthless soldier, engaged in devastating new tactics against the insurgents. Beyond the frontier, there were tribes with powerful new alliance and harried Roman military in a guerrilla war of attrition.

 Fifteen wars were fought and the three Roman generals together with an estimate of over 20,000 troops lost their lives while fighting the hostile tribes. Huge resources were put into trying to maintain the frontier system.

Ninth Legion - Historical/Science Fiction, Fantasy

The mysterious disappearance of the legion from the records was noted first by John Horsley, a scholar in the 18th century in his book `Britannia Romana and by late 19th century, there were evidence that the disappearance of the legion coincided with unrest in the north of Britain.

Bartolomeo Borghese an Italian scholar found an inscription about the life of one Lucious Ligarianus suggesting that he served with the legion around 116. Conclusion was drawn with the combination of this together with the evidence which was sent by Legion VI Victrix to Britain, that ninth was destroyed during an invasion or rebellion where no details had been preserved. The mysterious disappearance of the Ninth Legion has become a popular subject for historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy.


Unseen Passages
Presented by ETO Doors

Monday, October 20, 2014


Rongorongo – Mysterious Glyphs 

Rongorongo is believed to be a script or glyphs which was discovered in the 19th century on Easter Island after the visit of the Spanish in 1770 and seems to be a system of enigmatic glyphs which were found written on several artifacts.

Many are of the opinion that they portray a system of writing or proto writing. It was probably inspired by some written document or annexation which was given to the islander to be signed, though from 1860, they seemed to lose the interest to read it resulting in the inability to understand it and no inhabitant of Easter Island was then capable of reading it.

Several attempts have been made at decipherment with none of them being successful. The glyphs however, remains undecipherable resulting in its true messages which according to some hints on the perplexing collapse of the statue building Easter Island civilization, being lost forever.

Though some calendrical and some which seemed to be genealogical information have been identified, none of these glyphs are readable. Around two dozen wooden objects with rongorongo inscriptions, some of which heavily weathered, burned or damaged were collected in late 19th century but are now scattered in various museums and private collections with none of them available on Easter Island.

These are typical tablet shaped from irregular pieces of wood, at times like driftwood which include a chieftain’s staff, a bird man statuette and two reimiro ornaments. Besides these there are also a few petroglyphs which include short rongorongo inscription.

Carved on Tablets or Staves – Ritual Chanting 

Rongorongo 1
Referring to oral history it was suggested that only few were literate and the tablets were considered as sacred. The word rongorongo was derived from the Polynesian island of Mangareva which was connected to the script that were carved on tablets or staves and used as mnemonic devices for the ritual chanting by the rongorongo men at that time.

The men here competed in annual ritual which were connected with the birdman cult and associated to the deity Makemake. Besides a part of one tablet which has portrayed dealing with a lunar calendar, none of the text can be understood and even the calendar itself cannot be accurately read.

 Three serious obstacles are there to be deciphered, the small number of the remaining text, which comprises only of 15,000 legible glyphs, the lack of context of interpreting the text like illustrations or parallels to the text that can be read and the modern Rapanu language that is mixed with Tahitian.

Written in Alternate Direction – Reverse Boustrophedon 

Rongorongo 2
This is unlikely to reflect the language of the tablets especially if they tend to record any special register like an incantations and the remaining few examples of the old language are either restricted in genre or would not correspond to the tablet.

Authentic rongorongo texts are written in an alternate direction which is a system known as reverse boustrophedon. The lines of text in the third tablets are inscribed in shallow fluting carved in the wood and the glyphs seem to be outlines of animal, plant, human, artefact and geometric shapes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Circlestones – Mysterious Ancient Circle Wall Structure

Circlestones is located in the high remote desert country, around fifty four miles toward the east of Phoenix in Arizona. It has a mysterious ancient circle wall structure which is quite impressive and has a thickness of 3 feet with a high wall which runs continuously in an almost perfect circle for around 430 to 440 feet which is interrupted by entry gateways.

 It has a slight elliptical shape to the overall circle in the dimensions of north-south as opposed to east-west which are similar to the sites in Great Britain. Besides, this there is also a flat section of wall towards the east which seems to run to around 44 feet till it reverts in a curve. Two clear spoke walls run from the centre towards the outer wall together with four faint spokes which are now somewhat difficult to identify.

The structure is on an elevation of 6010 feet above sea level and lies about 14 miles east of the Superstition Mountain and northeast of Mound Mountain making it the highest point in the Superstition Mountain Wilderness Area within the Tonto National Forest. The Superstition Wilderness has a variety of amazing pre-historic Native American dwellings and ruins which are a testimony to those who lived in these mountains ages ago.

Ancient Solstice & Equinox Sun Watch Station

It is presumed that the first Anglo-Americans to visit Circlestone were cavalrymen under Major Brown while the next Anglo-American visitor was probably Elisha Marcus Reavis, the `Hermit of the Superstitions’ when he shifted base to the high mountain valley below Circlestone in 1874.

The place where he lived is now known as Reavis Ranch and is a trail location in the Superstition Wilderness Area. After the discovery of the Circlestone, there were various theories for several years on what it really was which ranged from corral for cattle to ancient observatory and it is now an accepted fact that it is an ancient Solstice and Equinox Sun Watch Station which was built by ancient Sinagua, a pre-Columbian cultural group of people in Arizona. It has a site known as Casa Malpais near Springerville, in Arizona which has a somewhat similar circular structure.

Aligns with Summer and Winter Solstices

Besides this, there is also another site which is similar, in Wyoming which is known as Bighorn Medicine Wheel. Around 1000 yards from this structure, one will find a sandstone cliff with drawings of Ursa Major and the sun. An opening in Circlestone wall aligns with the summer and winter solstices. Moreover, a 17 foot square structure at the centre of the Circlestone has some astronomical alignments in the square while there are several others as well.

This structure is one of the several circular stonewall sites which has survived in the region with the other similar impressive site which is the Casa Malpais. There is a lot of speculation on the Circlestone structure, on how remote this high desert circle observatory is situated that is away from resources more conducive to a rational and a large population which is making it more interesting and intriguing.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cuicuilco Pyramid – Early Mesoamerican Site

Cuicuilco Pyramid
Cuicuilco is one of the early Mesoamerican sites which are believed to have been developed in Central Mexico at the time of the Formative period in 700 BC and 400 AD when it was completely destroyed due to volcanic eruption.

The site is located on the southern shore of the Texcoco Lake in the south-eastern Valley of Mexico, present day borough of Tlalpan in Mexico City. It was discovered by archaeologist Manuel Gamio in 1920 but the first investigation was done by Byron Cumming at Cuicuilco between 1923 and 1924 and this led to the discovery of the civic core of the site together with the main pyramid.

Towards 1968 when swimming pool for the Olympics was being constructed, they came across several other smaller, rectangular pyramids.The Cuicuilco pyramid is around 18 meters high and measures 20 metres in diameter, while its original height is estimated to be around 27 meters.

Gamio found four galleries with a central staircase which ascended to the summit and the site dating back to the 1st century is believed to have been one of the oldest pyramid structures predating Teotihuacan, north of Mexico City. It could also be the oldest city in the Valley of Mexico, roughly contemporary with or probably interacting with the Olmec civilization of the Gulf Coast.

First Stone Monument 

Cuicuilco Pyramid
The circular pyramid was the most important building of Cuicuilco having several superimposed altars which were found on top of the pyramid which in turn were painted red with traces of haematite. It was the first stone monument on the Mexican plateau and is truncated cone along with stone core with the rest of it made of sun dried brick having a stone facing.

The ancient city of Ticoman was discovered near the Pyramid of Cuicuilco.Archaeological discoveries, ceramic and structures portray that Cuicuilco developed during the first millennium BC as a small settlement where the inhabitants coordinated with other sites in the Mexico basin together with other distant regions.

It was originally founded as a farming village with evidence of early religious beliefs like stone offerings and the use of ceramics as grave goods and developed around large ceremonial centre with pyramids along with urban area including avenues and plazas with small shallow pools.

Dense Volcanic Lava Field – Pedregal de San Angel

At the site one will find dense volcanic lava field known as Pedregal de San Angel which covers an approximate area of 80 square km which includes the foothills of the Ajusco mountain range, reaching down to a nearby shore of the lake. Study done in 1956 indicates that the uneven lava deposits covered a depth of over 10 m in area and was the main factor for the preservation of Cuicuilco.

Moreover it was also a modern urban spot which had partial building structures that were associated with the National University of Mexico. Partial archaeological investigation could only be done with the modern building techniques causing damage to the prehistoric city.

Cuicuilco is a difficult situation due to its location and there are disputes on legislation and conservations with regards to the archaeological heritage. It main obstacle for investigation is that the area is covered entirely with lava layer.