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Jupiter Dolichenus; A Brief Summary
Topic Started: Feb 28 2010, 12:29 PM (675 Views)
ericjacobson
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A brief summary of the cult of Jupiter Dolichenus may be found here:

A Bit About Jupiter Dolichenus

All input, dissent, and general ridicule of the author (me) is welcomed :)
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Badger
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Eric

You appear to have some rudimentary ESP, as I was this morning thinking about the Jupiter Dolichenus shrine and mentally composing a post.

Andy, or "those what knows", I have been wondering about the Jupiter Doli shrine uncovered last season. The altar stone had been tipped over, but any guess as to when? Any helpful stratification right underneath for instance?

Per the preceding article, J-Dol had been out of favor for a century or more in the time period we were excavating last seaon. Was the altar stone tipped early on and made into part of a later floor or wall?

The romans were pretty tolerant blokes, but would a standing pagan altar have been offensive to the later, presumably Christian garrison? Or to the still later, postulated monastic community? I have seen places in Egypt where pagan images have been systematically chiseled off of monuments, although this seems less done in the West.

Since this is a great hulking block of stone it seems unlikely that even the vile Northumbrian weather would have put it over.

So, best guess, when was the Fall of Dolichenus?


Tim Wolter
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ericjacobson
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Badger,

Good questions! For my part, I'm curious (a rhetorical question) as to why the temple was placed where it was--apparently right on the intervallum.
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SacoHarry
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ericjacobson
Mar 2 2010, 07:27 AM
Badger,

Good questions! For my part, I'm curious (a rhetorical question) as to why the temple was placed where it was--apparently right on the intervallum.
You know what just occurred to me -- over at Great Chesters there's that altar still in situ right inside the eastern guard tower of the south gate. I'll try to dig around & see what's known about that altar. Maybe pure coincidence, but interesting that two forts next to each other both have evidence of ritual at or just inside a gate.

The book "Hadrian's Wall 1999-2009" that I mentioned elsewhere shows that there's lots of evidence for irregular troops -- and corresponding irregular plans -- at Wall forts in the later 3rd C. They think a lot of those "chalet" style barracks might also be 3rd C, and not 4th as thought before. Maybe Vindolanda had a band of irregulars that brought the cult as part of their agreement for service?

Whatever the case, it seems like forts were very fluid things, not nearly so rigid as people thought for so long.
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Badger
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Harry
Although the Chesters Dolichenus altar is currently free standing, I found a source that says it was incorporated into a wall when it was first discovered in the 1890s.
Tim Wolter
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SacoHarry
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Badger
Mar 2 2010, 02:15 PM
Harry
Although the Chesters Dolichenus altar is currently free standing, I found a source that says it was incorporated into a wall when it was first discovered in the 1890s.
Tim Wolter
Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about the Dolichenus altar at Chesters. That cult got around, no?! The altar I'm thinking of is the one at the next Wall fort west of Vindolanda, Greatchesters ("Aesica"), just past Cawfields Quarry. It's uninscribed, and I'm not sure if anyone knows for sure who it's to, or if it's always been in the spot it's at now.
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Badger
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Chesters, Greatchesters, Chesterholm....

a degree of confusions sometimes slips in.

I shall await the wisdom of the dons.

T.Wolter
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SacoHarry
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Funny enough, turns out Dolichenus was at Greatchesters too. The old "Archaeologia Aelianas" list two Jupiter Dol altars found there -- both reused in later rebuilds. So there's the connection. If your fort had a "Chester," you had a Dolichenus. Issue solved. Good night!

(For what it's worth, the 1903 edition http://www.archive.org/stream/archaeologiaael20unkngoog#page/n56/mode/2up has a big write-up of the major early excavations, some really neat pics, especially of the totally walled-up west gate.)
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ericjacobson
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SacoHarry
Mar 2 2010, 07:52 PM
So there's the connection. If your fort had a "Chester," you had a Dolichenus. Issue solved. Good night!
My head aches! Personally, I opt for a decree mandating a 'fane to Dolichenus' in every fort. I believe it was Caracalla who ordered all garrisons, everywhere, to build a temple, and to place it on the intervallum. I strongly suspect that future discoveries will show such building as actually occupying gateways themselves, not just the spaces between walls and garrison buildings.

In fact, the recently discovered (yesterday) fort of the LIV (that's '54th', not 'LIVE') Batavians outside Leptis Magna (not much opportunity for 'swimming across rivers' in that location, eh?) shows all four gateways blocked up by rather large temples to Dolichenus. I speculate that, in an excess of zeal the garrison fulfilled Caracalla's orders four times over, and thus rendered it rather difficult to provision, much less garrison, the fort itself. Apparently the unit was sent off by an exasperated governor to 'explore the Sahara' soon afterwards, and never heard from again.

Okay, enough foolish humor. Back to reality:

Could Vindolanda have been garrisoned by 'irregulars' at some point in the early 3rd century? Perhaps. However, the Fourth Cohort of Gauls is definitely attested as the garrison in 223, shortly after the reconstruction of the fort. An inscription in the name of Claudius Xenophon, governor of the recently created province of Britannia Inferior, states:

"COH IIII GALLOR SEVERIANAE ALEXANDRIANAE DEVOTAE NUMINI EIUS PORTAM CUM TURRIBUS A FUNDAMENTIS RESTITUERUNT SUB CL XENOPHONTE LEG AVG N PR PR BR INF CURANTE...."

Translated: 'Severus Alexander's Own Fourth Cohort of Gauls, Dedicated to His Godhead, Restored from Its Foundations [or 'From Ground Level'] This Gate and Its Towers Under Claudius Xenophon, Pro-Praetorian Legate in Lesser Britain of the Augustus [ie, the 'Emperor'], Under the Direction....'

Since the Dolichenus cult fades quite rapidy following Alexander's death in 235, we'd expect that the temple was built by that date at latest, implying that it was in fact built by the IV Gallorum. Further, the cohort is still attested in residence in 282, and even later in the Notitia Dignitatum ('List of Official Posts') which is dated to c. 425 for the Western Empire.

I would offer that IV Gallorum was definitely at Vindolanda throughout the third century; the Not. Dig. is not as reliable (for various reasons) as actual inscriptions. This would imply, then, that the changes in the fort's fabric during the third century did definitely occur under the occupation of IV Gallorum.

Edited by ericjacobson, Mar 3 2010, 04:50 AM.
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SacoHarry
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Ha! Classic. The moral: never trust an auxiliary unit.

And I don't doubt that the IV Gauls were there in the 3rd and well into the 4th C. I'm just wondering if they were augmented at some point by irregulars for some reason or other. Apparently there's evidence of this at Wallsend -- regular barracks and then, tucked in a corner, oddly shaped barracks that wouldn't suit an entire cohort. Back to that theme that, more & more, forts appear to be pretty messy places.
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ericjacobson
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SacoHarry
Mar 3 2010, 08:00 AM
Ha! Classic. The moral: never trust an auxiliary unit.

And I don't doubt that the IV Gauls were there in the 3rd and well into the 4th C. I'm just wondering if they were augmented at some point by irregulars for some reason or other. Apparently there's evidence of this at Wallsend -- regular barracks and then, tucked in a corner, oddly shaped barracks that wouldn't suit an entire cohort. Back to that theme that, more & more, forts appear to be pretty messy places.
Ah, now I understand.

Dunno if any such irregulars (numeri, cunei, etc) were posted to Vindolanda. So far as I'm aware there's no epigraphic evidence (anyone please jump in if you have such) to show that an additional unit was posted to Vindolanda during the 3rd or 4th centuries, but that's neither here nor there.
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SacoHarry
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A neat aside I just learned about -- has anyone else heard about the Crosby Garrett (Cumbria) Roman helmet discovered by a metal detectorist in May? This piece is astounding! And (according to Wikipedia anyway), the image appears to be that of "a beardless Jupiter Dolichenus." Apparently it didn't need to be declared treasure since it was non-precious metal. So Christie's is planning to auction it, and Tullie House in Carlisle is trying hard to raise enough money to buy & save it for the country.
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Justin-T
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Amazing piece. There's a good BBC news report to see it in superb detail with an expert describing it here:

BBC report on the helmet
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BeverlyJ
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Wow - thanks for sharing. That is one amazing helmet. I hope that Tullie House can get it, so I can see it next year B)

I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to find something like that. I would probably have to be sedated.
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mooseandhobbes
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Hi,
I called Tullie House yesterday to make a donation, as Twitter and FB messages are going round informing us that Tullie House has formally launched an appeal for funds to buy the helmet.

Here's a link with some more info about the appeal http://www.tulliehouse.co.uk/roman-helmet-appeal-0. It'd be great if people on here were able to donate a little to help keep it in the country, but even just passing the message around helps to get more people involved.

TTFN
Mooseandhobbes
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