Notes: Phallobates, fertility pole cults of the Near East and Hellenized world

Famous examples of pole erecting or pole climbing cults:

Symeon the Stylite and surrounding Syrian pillar cults, see David T.M. Frankfurter’s “Stylites and Phallobates: Pillar Religions of late Antique Syria “, more on phallobates at Jesus, King of Edessa: The biblical Jesus discovered in the historical record, p. 7 columns for phallobates to climb had lutes on the side of the columns
by Ralph Ellis

Pharaoh Claudius from the  Hellenized world,

Pharaoh Claudius erects pole for fertility god (source: The history blog) excerpt follows:
Researchers from Swansea University in Wales and the KU Leuven University in Belgium have identified a carving of Roman emperor Claudius as a pharaoh participating in an ancient ritual for the fertility god Min on the western wall of the temple of Shanhur about 12 miles north of Luxor. The temple dates to the Roman era. It was first built as a temple to Isis under Augustus but the carvings on the western and eastern exterior walls, 36 on each, were all done during the reign of the emperor Claudius (41-54 A.D.).

The carvings were first exposed during an archaeological excavation in 2000-2001. Before that they had been covered by a mound of soil that obscured and protected the exterior temple walls, leaving the carvings in excellent condition. In the decade or so since they lost the protection of the mound, the carvings, made on lower grade limestone that is highly susceptible to erosion, have unfortunately been weathered so they’re much harder to make out now. The Swansea-KU Leuven team began recording and translating the exterior wall carvings in 2010.

It’s scene 123 on the western wall that is the stand-out piece, both in terms of preservation and historical significance. It depicts Claudius doing the ritual of the raising of the pole for Min, the Egyptian god of fertility and power. This ritual is ancient, going back 4,300 years to the Old Kingdom, which we know from the 32 extant scenes of the pole-raising that have been found. What makes this one so special is not just the involvement of Clau-Clau-Claudius (if you haven’t seen I, Claudius, please do so immediately; there will be a test), but the fact that the inscriptions include a precise date when this particular ritual took place. It’s the only one of the 32 that does.

The scene shows Claudius garbed in pharaonic regalia. He wears a complex crown known as the “Roaring One” made out of three rushes embellished by sun discs and solarized falcons. The rushes are flanked by ostrich feathers and perched on ram horns. He carries two ceremonial staffs in his left hand and a scepter in his right. The accompanying inscription identifies him and dates the ritual:

King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Tiberios Klaudios
Son of Ra, Lord of the Crowns, Kaisaros Sebastos Germanikos Autokrator
Raising the pole of the tent/cult chapel for his father in month 2 of the smw-season (Payni), day 19….

 

Excerpt from ZME Science’s report”Roman emperor and pharaoh: nee carving tells the story”

“Right on the western exterior wall of the Temple of Isis at Shanhur, located just 12 miles north of the famous Luxor, archaeologists have uncovered an ancient stone carving depicting the Roman emperor Claudius dressed as a pharaoh. The scene is the most preserved out of the other 36 original scenes discovered during the 2000-2001 excavation season, after a layer of dirt kept it safe for millenia.

The scene was recorded only in 2010 after a lot of painstaking work from behalf of the team of researchers who had to decipher and put back together the eroded pieces. The stone carving speaks an elaborate tale, one of divinity both on earth in the form of the emperor/pharaoh and the heavens. More specific, Emperor Claudius, who ruled the Roman Empire between A.D. 41 to 54, is shown erecting a giant pole with a lunar crescent at the top. The emperor is depicted wearing an elaborate crown consisting of three rushes (plants) set on ram horns with three falcons sitting on top, while the god Min is shown wearing his own crown and has an erect penis, because Min was a god of fertility.

In the same scene, eight men, each wearing two feathers, are shown climbing the supporting poles, with their legs dangling in midair. Egyptian rulers are shown wearing crowns like this relatively late in ancient Egyptian history, mainly after 332 B.C., and they were worn only in Egypt. After the ancient civilization was conquered by the Romans in 30 B.C., Roman Emperors were also depicted as pharaohs, Egyptologists have noted.

In ancient Egyptian culture, the pharaoh was man, ruler and god. The hieroglyphs Claudius is named the “Son of Ra, Lord of the Crowns,” and say he is “King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands.” The writings also explain how the pole, various little people engraved on the stone and the penis flashing god all come together. Apparently, Claudius is raising the pole of the tent (or cult chapel) of Min (an ancient Egyptian god of fertility and power) and notes a date indicating a ritual like this took place around the summertime researchers say. The hieroglyphs describe Min as “the one who brings into control the warhorses, whose fear is in the Two Lands.” Min tells Claudius, “I give you the (southern) foreign lands.” This is possibly a very important piece of historical information since the lands surrounding the Nile river are comprised of mineral-rich desserts.

Interestingly enough, Emperor Claudius never visited Egypt, but like ancient rulers he need not be present in his lands to be worshiped and honored. News like this travel all the way to Rome, and it must have surely pleased him. The findings were documented in a paper published in the journal Zeitschrift für ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde. The team was comprised of researchers from Swansea University and KU Leuven University in Belgium.”


From Mar 27, 2014 SciAmerican:
Roman Emperor Claudius Dressed as Egyptian Pharaoh in Newfound Carving
Roman emperors were often depicted as pharaohs while Egypt was part of the Roman empire

Mar 27, 2014 |By Owen Jarus and LiveScience

A newfound stone carving reveals Roman Emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh while wearing an elaborate crown. The hieroglyphs say Claudius is raising the pole of the cult chapel of Egyptian fertility god Min and suggests a ritual like this took place around the summertime
Photo by Marleen De Meyer; line drawing by Troy Sagrillo
An ancient stone carving on the walls of an Egyptian temple depicts the Roman emperor Claudius dressed as an Egyptian pharaoh, wearing an elaborate crown, a team of researchers has discovered.

In the carving, Emperor Claudius, who reigned from A.D. 41 to 54, is shown erecting a giant pole with a lunar crescent at the top. Eight men, each wearing two feathers, are shown climbing the supporting poles, with their legs dangling in midair.

Egyptian hieroglyphs in the carving call Claudius the “Son of Ra, Lord of the Crowns,” and say he is “King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands.” The hieroglyphs say he is raising the pole of the tent (or cult chapel) of Min (an ancient Egyptian god of fertility and power) and notes a date indicating a ritual like this took place around the summertime researchers say. It would have taken place even though Claudius never visited Egypt. A cult chapel is a place of worship and a tent could also be used for this purpose. [See Photos of the Egyptian Carving and Emperor]

The elaborate crown on Claudius consists of three rushes (plants) set on ram horns with three falcons sitting on top. Three solar discs representing the sun (one for each plant) are shown in front of the rushes. Egyptian rulers are shown wearing crowns like this relatively late in ancient Egyptian history, mainly after 332 B.C., and they were worn only in Egypt. The Roman Empire took over Egypt in 30 B.C., and while the Roman emperors were not Egyptian, they were still depicted as pharaohs Egyptologists have noted.

In the recently discovered carving, the god Min is shown wearing his own crown and has an erect penis, because Min was a god of fertility, the researchers said. The hieroglyphs describe Min as “the one who brings into control the warhorses, whose fear is in the Two Lands.” Min tells Claudius, “I give you the (southern) foreign lands,” which researchers say could be a reference to the deserts surrounding the Nile River, where minerals could be quarried.

The scene was discovered on the western exterior wall of the Temple of Isis at Shanhur, located on the east bank of the Nile River about 12 miles (20 kilometers) north of Luxor. It is an Egyptian temple built and decorated during the Roman occupation under Augustus (who reigned from about 30 B.C. to A.D. 14) through to Trajan (who reigned from A.D. 98 to 117). The pole-raising scene was first found during the 2000-2001 excavation season and was recorded in full during the 2010 epigraphic (recording) season. The temple originally had 36 scenes on each of its eastern and western exterior walls, and this new scene, protected for millennia by a layer of dirt, is one of the best preserved.

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