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Inscription on Naxian-style Sphinx deciphered

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The portrayal of Sphinxes first emerged in Egypt and then expanded to the Near East and Greece in the Bronze Age, followed by Central Asia during the Iron Age.

In contrast to the Egyptian sphinxes, examples of Naxian sphinxes depict a winged lion with a female face that became a common form in the Greek and Roman times.

One such example of a Naxian-style Sphinx was uncovered in the Roman provincial town of Potaissa, located in present-day Romania, which was lost during the War of Independence of 1848-1849 from the art collection of Count Kemény.

This sphinx was likely associated with an Isis sanctuary at Potaissa and has an inscription with twenty letters around its pedestal that uses a variant of the Greek alphabet unlike the Pannonian dedicatory plaques, which use the Latin alphabet.

The study authors said: “The sphinx inscription alphabet has many archaic features that remind one of the Dipylon alphabet. On the other hand, it has some features that are closer to the Megara and Naxos alphabets.”

This suggests that the sphinx alphabet lies somewhere between the archaic Dipylon and the Megara alphabets. The I, R, S, and T letters in the sphinx inscription more closely resemble the Dipylon forms, whereas the A and M letters bear greater resemblance to the Megara forms.

It is conceivable that this transitional phase existed during the establishment of the Megara colonies in history, and that is the form that spread to Potaissa and appears on the Potaissan sphinx statue.

An examination of sketches depicting the sphinx revealed that the inscription constitutes a metric poem composed in dactylic hexameter. This intricate poetic meter originated from ancient Greek verses and was subsequently embraced by Latin literature. Dactylic hexameter employs a recurring rhythmic structure of six metric feet per line, accentuating certain syllables over others.

According to the study, the poem is written in a proto-Hungarian language and welcomes visitors approaching the sphinx: Íme imádd: itt híres oroszlán (“Lo, behold, worship: here is the holy lion”).

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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