Jupiter Dolichenus

ericjacobson
Member
Joined: November 1st, 2006, 10:41 am

February 28th, 2010, 5:29 pm #1

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 :)
Quote
Like
Share

Badger
Member
Badger
Member
Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:10 pm

February 28th, 2010, 6:17 pm #2

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
Quote
Like
Share

ericjacobson
Member
Joined: November 1st, 2006, 10:41 am

March 2nd, 2010, 12:27 pm #3

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.
Quote
Like
Share

SacoHarry
Member
Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

March 2nd, 2010, 4:00 pm #4

ericjacobson wrote: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.
Quote
Like
Share

Badger
Member
Badger
Member
Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:10 pm

March 2nd, 2010, 7:15 pm #5

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
Quote
Like
Share

SacoHarry
Member
Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

March 2nd, 2010, 8:03 pm #6

Badger wrote: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.
Quote
Like
Share

Badger
Member
Badger
Member
Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:10 pm

March 2nd, 2010, 11:39 pm #7

Chesters, Greatchesters, Chesterholm....

a degree of confusions sometimes slips in.

I shall await the wisdom of the dons.

T.Wolter
Quote
Like
Share

SacoHarry
Member
Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

March 3rd, 2010, 12:52 am #8

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/archaeolo ... 6/mode/2up has a big write-up of the major early excavations, some really neat pics, especially of the totally walled-up west gate.)
Quote
Like
Share

ericjacobson
Member
Joined: November 1st, 2006, 10:41 am

March 3rd, 2010, 9:49 am #9

SacoHarry wrote: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.

Last edited by ericjacobson on March 3rd, 2010, 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
Quote
Like
Share

SacoHarry
Member
Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

March 3rd, 2010, 1:00 pm #10

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.
Quote
Like
Share