Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian Revolution

I'm happy that the people of Egypt are standing up for themselves. The revolution is inspiring. What is especially upsetting, besides innocent people losing their lives for protesting injustice, is that there are looters taking advantage of the distraction and raiding museums. Egyptology News is a blog which has updates from around the country.

Isn't this off topic? Hardly. Egypt's influence spread far and wide. They influenced Greece which colonized many areas of Italy, and pre-Roman Italic peoples with whom they traded. Once Rome stepped in, well, I don't want to get into the whole Cleopatra/Egypt/Rome thing. Not today, at least.

Isis worship spread far and wide, including to Italy. There was a Temple of Isis located in Pompeii, right along with the ones to Apollo, Diana, Jupiter, etc.

From  The Temple of Isis in Pompeii was small but ornate. It was destroyed in an earthquake in A.D. 62 but was rebuilt shortly after that. The renovation was financed by a freed slave in the name of his young son. There may have been political motivations for this since freed slaves were not allowed to hold public office, and the son who was appointed as a member of the city council was only six years old. The Temple has a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman architectural features. This is not surprising since Roman architecture of this period was very ornate, often used bright colors, and borrowed and mixed styles from many eras. There were many statues in the Temple of Isis and the portico walls were covered with elaborate murals. To the left of the temple was a small roofless structure containing a tank that may have held the sacred water from the Nile, which was very important in many Isis ceremonies. In the rear of the sanctuary was a room containing a marble table where sacred meals were probably served.

The Temple of Isis is the best preserved temple of Pompeii. It dates from the pre-Roman age and was almost entirely rebuilt after the earthquake of 62 A.D. at the expense of Popidius Celsinus. An inscription above the door mentions that Popidius Celsinus was only six years old when he was elected decurion. The sacred water of the Nile was kept in an underground passage. A large room that was used as a meeting room for the initiates of Isis is behind the temple.

Here is a fresco removed from the inside of the Temple, now in the national museum of archaeology in Naples.


May Isis bless us all.

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