Enigmatic Egypt: Roman Ruination – Nile Valley

When it comes to ancient monuments: Rome beats Cairo by 8 to 3 Egyptian obelisks.

But when it comes to burying Roman ruins: Cairo beats Rome by 66 to 15 feet deep.

In Roman Egypt, Heliopolis belonged to the province Augustamnica, causing it to appear as Heliopolis in Augustamnica when it needed to be distinguished from Baalbek.

The ancient city is currently located about 15–20 meters (49–66 ft) below the streets of the middle- and lower-class suburbs of Al-Matariyyah, Ain Shams, and Tel Al-Hisn in northern Cairo.


We now enter the Via del Banco di S. Spirito, Via dei Banchi Vecchi, and Via del Pellegrino, all ancient as shown by the remains of Roman basaltic pavement which are constantly discovered under the modern pavement at a depth varying from ten to fifteen feet.

The Destruction of Ancient Rome – Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani – 1901

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/04/01/the-destruction-of-ancient-rome/

Quite how Heliopolis got buried 66 feet below current street level [elevation 45 feet] is a mystery.

But it’s possible a “major destruction event” buried Heliopolis under sand and gravel at the Arabian Horizon in 637 CE.

Islamic Heliopolis
During the Middle Ages, the growth of Fustat and Cairo only a few kilometres away caused its ruins to be massively scavenged for building materials, including for their city walls.


… in Alexandria the Roman remains [including coins of Trajan and Hadrian] are buried deep beneath the debris layer associated with the Arabian Horizon of 637 CE.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/enigmatic-egypt-roman-ruination-nile-delta/


This scenario is supported by the Babylon Fortress [Cairo] narrative which includes references to the Emperor Trajan [whose coins are buried under debris in Alexandria] and the [“most radical” of the 300 Year Repeater] Emperor Diocletian.

Babylon Fortress was an ancient fortress city or castle in the Delta of Egypt, located in the area today known as Coptic Cairo.


Examination of the material and structural remains revealed a sequence of continuous occupation extending from the sixth century BC to the present day.

These include the massive stone walls of the canal linking the Nile to the Red Sea, and the harbor constructed by Trajan at its entrance around AD 110.

The Emperor Diocletian built the fortress of Babylon around the harbor and the canal in AD 300, and much new information has come to light concerning the construction and internal layout of the fortress, which continues to enclose and define the enclave of Old Cairo.

Important evidence for the early medieval transformation of the area into the nucleus of the Arab city of al-Fustat and its later medieval development is also presented.

Babylon of Egypt: The Archaeology of Old Cairo and the Origins of the City
Peter Sheehan – American University in Cairo Press – 2010

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U63GBKO
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00U63GBKO

Diocletian is seen as the most radical of all the Late Antiquity repeaters of everything 300 years out of fashion.

Rome’s Imperial Stratigraphy Belongs To The 8th-10th Century Period
Q-Mag – Gunnar Heinsohn – 22 June 2014


And if you take a trip up the Nile to visit the ancient Egyptian sites then keep an eye open for what’s left of the Roman ruins because they get gradualists gibbering.


Nile Valley: Memphis

Memphis remained the second city of Egypt until the establishment of Fustat (or Fostat) in 641 CE.

It was then largely abandoned and became a source of stone for the surrounding settlements.

It was still an imposing set of ruins in the 12th century but soon became a little more than an expanse of low ruins and scattered stone.


Nile Valley: Oxyrhynchus

Even the ruins have perished. When Egyptologist Flinders Petrie went to Oxyrhynchus in 1922, he found remains of the colonnades and theatre. Now a single column meets the eye: everything else has gone, building material for modern houses.

POxy: Oxyrhynchus Online

Oxyrhynchus is a city in Middle Egypt, located about 160 km south-southwest of Cairo, in the governorate of Al Minya.

For the past century, the area around Oxyrhynchus has been continually excavated, yielding an enormous collection of papyrus texts dating from the time of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods of Egyptian history.
Among the texts discovered at Oxyrhynchus are plays of Menander, fragments from the Gospel of Thomas, and fragments from Euclid’s Elements.
They also include a few vellum manuscripts, and more recent Arabic manuscripts on paper

In the period from 619 to 629, when Egypt was ruled by the Persian Sassanids, three Greek papyri from Oxyrhynchus include references to large sums of gold that were to be sent to the Sasanian “king of kings” (Shahanshah).

Oxyrhynchus remained a prominent, though gradually declining, town in the Roman and Byzantine periods.

After the Arab invasion of Egypt around 641, the canal system on which the town depended fell into disrepair, and Oxyrhynchus was abandoned.
Today the town of El Bahnasa occupies part of the ancient site.


The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a group of manuscripts discovered during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by papyrologists Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Surridge Hunt at an ancient rubbish dump near Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

The manuscripts date from the time of the Ptolemaic (3rd century BC) and Roman periods of Egyptian history (from 32 BC to the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 AD).

P. Oxy. VIII 1073 is an Old Latin version of Genesis, other manuscripts are probably copies of the Septuagint.


Old Latin, also known as Early Latin or Archaic Latin, refers to the Latin language in the period before 75 BC: before the age of Classical Latin.

In New and Contemporary Latin, it is called prisca Latinitas (“ancient Latin”) rather than vetus Latina (“old Latin”), as vetus Latina is used to refer to a set of Biblical texts (which are written in Late Latin).


Nile Valley: Hermopolis Magna

Hermopolis (also Hermopolis Magna) was a major city in antiquity, located near the boundary between Lower and Upper Egypt.

A provincial capital since the Old Kingdom period, Hermopolis developed into a major city of Roman Egypt, and an early Christian center from the 3rd century.

It was abandoned after the Muslim invasion but was restored as both a Latin Catholic (meanwhile suppressed) – and a Coptic Orthodox titular see.


Nile Valley: Antinopolis

Antinopolis (modern Sheikh ‘Ibada) was a city founded at an older Egyptian village by the Roman emperor Hadrian to commemorate his deified young beloved, Antinous, on the east bank of the Nile, not far from the site in Upper Egypt where Antinous drowned in 130 AD.

It first belonged to the Heptanomis, but under Diocletian (286 AD) Antinopolis became the capital of the nome of the Thebaid.

Antinopolis was still a “most illustrious’ city in a surviving divorce decree of 569 AD.

The city was abandoned around the 10th century.

It continued to host a massive Greco-Roman temple until the 19th century, when it was destroyed to feed a cement works.


The ruins of Antinopolis attest, by the area which they fill, the ancient grandeur of the city.

The direction of the principal streets may still be traced.

The streets were built on a grid plan with roads intersecting at right angles, like the majority of Roman cities at this time, and Jomard, a member of Napoleon’s Commission d’Egypte found that the streets were divided into quarters and blocks, with each building being conveniently numbered (Bell, 1940).

One at least of them, which ran from north to south, had on either side of it a corridor supported by columns for the convenience of foot-passengers.

The walls of the theatre near the southern gate, and those of the hippodrome without the walls to the east, are still extant.

At the north-western extremity of the city was a portico, of which four columns remain, inscribed to Good Fortune, and bearing the date of the 14th and last year of the reign of Alexander Severus, 235.
As far as can be ascertained from the space covered with mounds of masonry, Antinopolis was about a mile and a half in length, and nearly half a mile broad. The remains of the city, having a three and a half mile circumference, suggests Roman and Hellenistic foundations and was surrounded by a brick wall on three sides, leaving the fourth side open to the Nile (Bell, 1940).

Today not much remains of the ancient city of Antinopolis.

In its place is El Sheikh Ibada, a small mud village surrounded by the crumbled ruins of what was once a city of worship.

There is not much left of the ancient city, as many buildings had their materials taken to build newer structures, such as sugar factories for El-Rodah, but visitors can still see the remains of the Roman Circus and ruins of a few temples.



Explore Hadrian’s City on the Nile – The Antinoupolis Foundation

Nile Valley: Cusae

Cusae was a city in Upper Egypt, known to the Ancient Egyptians as Qis or Kis. Today, the town is known as El Quseyya, and is located on the west bank of the Nile in the Asyut Governorate.

During the 5th century, the city was the settlement of Legio II Flavia Constantia.


Nile Valley: Lycopolis

E’ Syout, the ancient Lycopolis, in lat. 27° 10′ 14″, on the western bank, has no conspicuous ruins, but in the excavated chambers of the adjacent rocks mummies of wolves are found, confirming the etymology of the name.

Ancient Egypt Under the Pharaohs – John Kenrick – 1885

Asyut is the capital of the modern Asyut Governorate in Egypt, which has one of the largest Coptic Catholic bishopric churches in the country; the ancient city of the same name, which is situated nearby.

In Graeco-Roman Egypt, it was called Lycopolis or Lykopolis, Lycon, or Lyco.


Nile Valley: Panopolis

Michael J. Fuller – Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
St Louis Community College


Akhmim is a city in the Sohag Governorate of Upper Egypt.
Referred to by the ancient Greeks as Khemmis, Chemmis and Panopolis, it is located on the east bank of the Nile, 4 miles to the northeast of Sohag.

Strabo mentions linen-weaving and stone-cutting as ancient industries of Panopolis, and it is not altogether a coincidence that the cemetery of Akhmim is one of the chief sources of the beautiful textiles of Roman and Christian age, that are brought from Egypt.

In the 13th century AD, a very imposing temple still stood in Akhmim.

Today, little of its past glory remains.

Nothing is left of the town, the temples were almost completely dismantled, and their material reused in the later Middle Ages.

The extensive cemeteries of ancient Akhmim are yet to be fully explored.
The destroyed corner of a Greco-Roman period temple with colossal statues of Ramesses II and Meritamen were discovered in 1981.


Nile Valley: Diospolis Parva

Of the late remains at Hu there is not much to be said, although we found hundreds of mummies of Roman age ; nearly all were of a uniform poorness, with no objects or decoration of any kind… The great temple enclosure at Hu which was later made into a Roman fort, is so much like the brick enclosures of temples of the XVIIIth Dynasty, at Gurob and Nubt… but no trace could be found of buildings, pottery, or other remains, older than the Ptolemies.

Diospolis Parva : The Cemeteries of Abadiyeh and Hu, 1898-9
William Matthew Flinders Petrie and Arthur Cruttenden Mace – 1901


Hu is the modern name of an Egyptian town on the Nile, which in more ancient times was the capital of the 7th Nome of Upper Egypt.

In Ptolemaic times the city was called Diospolis Parva (Little Zeus-City) in comparison with Thebes, Egypt, known as Diospolis Magna (Great Zeus-City).

It was also called Diospolis Superior (Upper Zeus-City), in comparison with Diospolis Inferior (Lower Zeus-City) in the Nile Delta.


Nile Valley: Tentyris

Dendera, also spelled Denderah, ancient Iunet, Tentyris or Tentyra is a small town and former bishopric in Egypt situated on the west bank of the Nile, about 5 kilometres (3 mi) south of Qena, on the opposite side of the river.

After Egypt became a Roman possession, the city of Tentyris was part of the Late Roman province of Thebais Secunda.


Nile Valley: Justinianopolis

During the Roman period, the local inhabitants of Qift rebelled during the rule of Diocletian and the city was destroyed.

The Qift Regional Expedition – 2003

Qift (Ancient Greek: Coptos or Koptos;Roman Justinianopolis) is a small town in the Qena Governorate of Egypt about 43 km north of Luxor, on the east bank of the Nile.

It recuperated its prominence under the Antonines; it was the base camp of Legio III Cyrenaica, or at least one of its subunits.

It rebelled, but soon was captured in 292 by Diocletian after a long siege and almost destroyed, but soon recovered its former standing.

In the 6th century, Qift was renamed Justinianopolis, like several other cities, after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.
Remains of three temple groups surrounded by an enclosure wall were located during the excavations of W. M. Flinders Petrie in 1893-1894, and later, by Raymond Weill and Adolphe Joseph Reinach in 1910–1911. Qift was the focus of an American archaeological project from 1987 to 1992 and an Australian one between 2000 and 2003.



Nile Valley: Thebes

The Assyrians decreed that Thebes should be restored and rebuilt by Egyptian labor to compensate for their resistance to Assyrian rule. The city gradually recovered and worship of Amon continued there until the coming of Rome when it was destroyed by the Roman army in the 1st century CE. Afterwards it remained in ruins, populated only by a few people inhabiting the buildings which had been left vacant after the Romans moved on.

Ancient History Encyclopedia – Thebes – Joshua J. Mark – 24 February 2016

Thebes (Ancient Greek: Thēbai), known to the ancient Egyptians as Waset, was an ancient Egyptian city located east of the Nile about 800 kilometers (500 mi) south of the Mediterranean.

During the Roman occupation (30 BC-349 AD), the remaining communities clustered around the pylon of the Luxor temple.

Thebes became part of the Roman province of Thebais, which later split into Thebais Superior, centered at the city, and Thebais Inferior, centered at Ptolemais Hermiou.

In the first century AD, Strabo described Thebes as having been relegated to a mere village.


Nile Valley: Luxor

Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate.


During the Roman era, the temple and its surroundings were a legionary fortress and the home of the Roman government in the area.


A Roman legion was headquartered in Luxor temple at the time of Roman campaigns in Nubia. Building did not come to an abrupt stop, but the city continued to decline.


In the 3rd century the temple was converted into a fort, with a perimeter wall by the Romans. There are scant remains of the fort today, some walls can be seen and a number of Roman brick and columned structures give evidence of this period.


Nile Valley: Hermonthis

Armant (known in Greek as Hermonthis), is a town located about 12 miles south of Thebes, in Egypt.

…a new temple was started in the reign of Nectanebo II and was continued by the Ptolemies. Cleopatra VII and Ptolemy XV Caesarion added a birth house with a sacred lake. The building remained visible until the Nineteenth Century, when it was recycled to build a sugar factory. Only the remains of the pylon of Thutmose III are visible today.

Two gates, one of them built by Antoninus Pius, have also been found.


Antoninus Pius, also known as Antoninus, was Roman emperor from 138 to 161.


Nile Valley: Latopolis

Esna, Greek: Latopolis or Letopolis or Polis Laton or Latton; Latin: Lato, is a city in Egypt. It is located on the west bank of the River Nile, some 55 km south of Luxor.

With the exception of the jamb of a gateway – now converted into a door-sill – of the reign of Thutmose II (Eighteenth Dynasty), the remains of Latopolis belong to the Ptolemaic or Roman eras.

The pronaos, which alone exists, resembles in style that of Apollonopolis Magna (Edfu), and was begun not earlier than the reign of Claudius (41-54 AD), and completed in that of Vespasian, whose name and titles are carved on the dedicatory inscription over the entrance.

The name of the emperor Geta, the last ruler that can be read in hieroglyphics, although partially erased by his brother and murderer Caracalla (212), is still legible on the walls of Latopolis. Before raising their own edifice, the Romans seem to have destroyed even the basements of the earlier Egyptian temple.

The ceremonial way, which probably linked the quay to the temple, has disappeared.
The quay bears cartouches of Marcus Aurelius.


Nile Valley: Eileithyiaspolis

El Kab (or better Elkab) is an Upper Egyptian site on the east bank of the Nile at the mouth of the Wadi Hillal about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Luxor (ancient Thebes).

During the Greco-Roman period, the town flourished and became known as Eileithyias polis (Latin: Lucinae Civitas).

This village may have thrived for a little while, but it seems that in 380, the city was demolished, either from military or political events.

All that remains of the actual buildings are the lower parts of the walls of the houses, but luckily many of the artifacts that would have been inside the houses remained.

Coins from the first to fourth century were recovered along with Demotic Greek and ostraca.



Nile Valley: Apollinopolis Magna

Edfu is an Egyptian city, located on the west bank of the Nile River between Esna and Aswan, with a population of approximately sixty thousand people.

The remains of the ancient settlement of Edfu are situated about 50 m to the west of the Ptolemaic temple – to the left of the older temple pylon. This settlement is known as Wetjeset-hor and the Greek name was Apollinopolis Magna.

According to Notitia Dignitatum, part of Legio II Traiana Fortis was camped in Apollo superior, which was the Roman name for the town.


The Temple of Edfu is an ancient Egyptian temple, located on the west bank of the Nile in Edfu, Upper Egypt. The city was known in Greco-Roman times as Apollonopolis Magna, after the chief god Horus-Apollo… was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 and 57 BC.

Over the centuries, the temple became buried to a depth of 12 metres (39 ft) beneath drifting desert sand and layers of river silt deposited by the Nile.

Local inhabitants built homes directly over the former temple grounds.

Only the upper reaches of the temple pylons were visible by 1798, when the temple was identified by a French expedition.

In 1860 Auguste Mariette, a French Egyptologist, began the work of freeing Edfu temple from the sands.


Nile Valley: Ombos

Kom Ombo (Ancient Greek: Omboi or Ombos or Latin: Ambo and Ombi) – is an agricultural town in Egypt famous for the Temple of Kom Ombo.

It became a Greek settlement during the Greco-Roman Period.

In Kom Ombo there is a rare engraved image of what is thought to be the first representation of medical instruments for performing surgery, including scalpels, curettes, forceps, dilator, scissors and medicine bottles dating from the days of Roman Egypt.


Nile Valley: Nag el-Hagar Fortress



To the south from Luxor (ancient Thebes), not far from Kom Ombo (ancient Ombos) in the place called Nag el-Hagar there remained some ruins of a Roman fortress, which was probably erected in the end of III century A.D., supposedly during the rule of Diocletian (284-305 A.D.)

Imaging of The Late Roman Castrum
Hypothetical Computer Reconstruction of Nag el-Hagar Fortress in Egypt
Dmitry A. Karelin – Chief architect of TMA Kozhushanogo
Moscow Institute of Architecture (State academy), Moscow, Russia


Nile Valley: Philae

Philae is currently an island in the reservoir of the Aswan Low Dam, downstream of the Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser, Egypt. Philae was originally located near the expansive First Cataract of the Nile in Upper Egypt and was the site of an Egyptian temple complex.

These rapids and the surrounding area have been variously flooded since the initial construction of the Aswan Low Dam in 1902. The temple complex was later dismantled and relocated to nearby Agilkia Island as part of the UNESCO Nubia Campaign project, protecting this and other complexes before the 1970 completion of the Aswan High Dam.
The island temple was built during the Ptolemaic Kingdom.
The principal deity of the temple complex was Isis, but other temples and shrines were dedicated to other deities such as Hathor.
Egyptologists believe that Philae was the last active site of the native ancient Egyptian religion, and that the last Egyptian hieroglyph was written there in the late fourth century.

The temple was closed down officially in the sixth century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (527-565).


Nile Valley: Pselchis

Ad-Dakka (also el-Dakka, Egyptian: Pselqet, Greek: Pselchis) was a place in Lower Nubia.

It is the site of the Greco-Roman Temple of Dakka, dedicated to Thoth, the god of wisdom in the ancient Egyptian pantheon.

During the Roman period, the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius further enlarged the structure with “the addition, at the rear, of a second sanctuary as well as inner and outer enclosure walls with a large pylon. The sanctuary contained a granite naos.”

The temple of Dakka collapsed in 1908–1909 and was subsequently rebuilt by Alessandro Barsanti.

During the construction of the Aswan dam in the 1960s, the temple was dismantled and moved to the site of Wadi es-Sebua.


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13 Responses to Enigmatic Egypt: Roman Ruination – Nile Valley

  1. Strange that Romans destroyed cities on purpose – perhaps the Victorian archaeologicaL interpreters were confused and assumed a destroyed city was the work of humans and not some catastrophic event.

  2. Martin Sieff says:

    Fully agree with Louis Hissinck on this.

    The Victorians – following Lyell and Darwin – had a clear terror of acknowledging cosmic catastrophes and devastating discontinuities. They were obsessive uniformitarians and proto-Carl Sagans all the way, eagerly spinning out fantasies of “millions and millions” and “Billions and billions and billions” of years to help them deny the ultra-violent past they so obsessively denied.

    The annihilation of Roman Britain – and much else around 535-40 AD was clearly an annihilating cosmic catastrophic event that cane be documented around the globe.

    However, in the earlier post, as usual there is a lot of confusion being generated here.

    If this discussion (by Professor Heinsohn? By Tim Cullen?) refers to an “Arabian Horizon” of 637 AD, then surely this is a tacit acknowledgment that the author has abandoned or rejected Prof. Heinsohn’s famous 700 gap for a “more manageable” 300 year gap.

    Or has he?

    And the implication is clear from Prof. Heinsohn’s other recent writings that he is still trying to TRIPLICATE 300 year gaps.

    But Prof. Heinsohn STILL has not addressed ANY of the fundamental problems I have pointed out,

    Can we see where the massive multi-layer excavation of Anglo-Saxon London fits both in absolute time and relative to earlier (presumably Roman) and of necessary later periods of history in the Heinsohn scheme? Neither Heinsohn nor anyone else on this blog has yet to acknowledge its existence. A city of 650,0000 square meters that existed for 200 years that fits the precise description and location of the historian the Venerable Bede (who is alleged to have lived at least 500 years later – in which case he would have been ignorant of it) is not insignificant. It is an Inconvenient FACT And a very large one.

    Why has there yet NEVER been any acknowledgement in any of these posts that the body of Charlemagne himself has been discovered and credibly identified?

    This alone deals a lethal blow to the claim that Charlemagne (and Mohammed) never existed.

    It also blows another hole in the fantasy of a Heinsohn Horizon at 914 AD

    By all means have a cosmic catastrophe then. But we do NOT have a dark age in archaeology or history for at least 150 years before that date in Europe.

    And of course we still waiting for ANY evidence at all suggesting that Marcus Aurelius and Charlemagne knew of each other’s existence although both claimed to be – Very Different – Emperors of the Roman Empire.

    If Charlemagne served under Marcus Aurelius or another classical emperor, why did he never acknowledge this?

    And why did Marcus Aurelius, who campaigned so long and hard on his German border, never acknowledge once the existence of such a crucial ally as Charlemagne?

    And why did they never meet, or collide in France or Gaul?

    Heinsohn’s repeated claims that Diocletian must have coexisted with Roman the Empire of 300 year earlier because of so many similarities on cultural, architectural and other styles is absurd.

    By that same argument, Thomas Jefferson must have learned both his politics and his architecture in 5th century BC Athens and Mussolini’s grandiose architect proves he either was the Emperor Augustus (after all, they both campaigned in Egypt) or he was Marcus Antonius. After all, Benito and Marcus both lost the same sea battle in the same region – Actium in 31 BC was “obviously” identical to the Battle of Cape Matapan in 1941.

    • John Miller says:

      Gunnar Heinsohn did not say that ‘Charemagne and Mohammad never existed’. I believe you are confusing his position with that or Heribert Illig.

      Gunanr Heinsohn actually wrote an article on Charlemagne’s correct place in History.


      As for the ‘Venerable Bede’, there has been doubt about whether he ever existed when he is claimed to have. For more see the works of Edwin Johnson.

      The central issue with Heinsohn’s First Millennium is not that certain people “never existed”. Rather it is that people who were contemporaneous have been separated in time.
      Another important point to remember is that different people(and indeed different nations) were known by different names.

      Using your 1941 “analogy”, imagine if in centuries to come, future historians take the War between the “Allies” and the “Axis”, the War between the “British” and the “Reich”, the War between the “Americans” and the “Nazis”, to be three completely different Wars, and then separate them in time by several hundred years.

    • Gunnar Heinsohn says:

      Dear Martin Sieff!

      You are right that Anglo-Saxon settlements up to the 930s after/upon Roman civilization on the British Isles are of great interest for an English-speaking readership. Therefore, I add a few findings from the ARCHAEOLOGICAL LITERATURE:

      “The history of the Anglo-Saxon court is largely lost and unknown” (Campbell 2003, 155). “Attempts to demonstrate conclusively significant continuity in specific urban or rural sites have run afoul of the near archaeological invisibility of post-Roman British society“ (Jones 1998, 23). “Whatever the discussion about the plough in Roman Britain, at least it is a discussion based on surviving models and parts of ploughs, whereas virtually no such evidence exists for the Period A.D. 500-900 in England. […] In contrast to the field system of the 500 years or so on either side of the beginning of our era, little evidence has survived in the ground for the next half millennium“ (Fowler 2002, 28). “Attempts to demonstrate conclusively significant continuity in specific urban or rural sites have run afoul of the near archaeological invisibility of post-Roman British society“ (Jones, 1998, 23). “Three hundred years, it would seem, have left almost no trace in the ground. Truly, it would appear, that these years were indeed dark. Not only did men forget how to build in stone, they seem to have lost the capacity even of creating pottery; and the centuries in England that are generally designated Anglo-Saxon have left little or nothing even in this necessary domestic art. Pottery making does appear again in the tenth century“ (O’Neill 2009, 228). “The Saxons tended to avoid Roman sites possibly because they used different farming methods“ (Southern 2013, 361). “[We] learn from Prof. Fleming [2016] that Roman conquerors introduced many — perhaps as many as 50 — new and valuable food plants and animals (such as the donkey) to its province of Britannia, where these crops were successfully cultivated for some 300 years. Among the foodstuffs that Roman civilization brought to Britain are walnuts, carrots, broad beans, grapes, beets, cabbage, leeks, turnips, parsnips, cucumbers, cherries, plums, peaches, almonds, chestnuts, pears, lettuce, celery, white mustard, mint, einkorn, millet, and many more. These valuable plants took root in Britain and so did Roman horticulture. British gardens produced a bounty of tasty and nourishing foods. […] Following the collapse of Roman rule after 400 AD, almost all of these food plants vanished from Britain, as did Roman horticulture itself. Post-Roman Britons […] suddenly went from gardening to foraging. Even Roman water mills vanished from British streams. But similar mills came back in large numbers in the 10th and 11th centuries, along with Roman food plants and farming techniques” (Whelton 2016).

      Yet, from TEXTUAL SOURCES we learn that early medieval Anglo-Saxons (400s-930s) had a perfectly Roman civilization:

      „Anglo-Saxon England was peopled with learned men and women, highly educated in Latin and English, who circulated and read Classical texts as well as composing their own. […] There survives a large corpus of literature showing a deep understanding of the physical and the metaphysical […]. Charters show that laws, administration and learning were not just for an educated elite. Laypeople were involved in the ceremonies and had documents created for them: land grants, wills, dispute settlements. […] The coinage across the period shows an elaborate and controlled economy. This was a well-managed society not given to lawlessness and chaos. […] They drew influence from Classical art and developed their own distinct artistic styles. […] They had trade routes stretching across the known world and were familiar with and able to buy spices, pigments and cloth from thousands of miles away (many manuscripts use a blue pigment made from lapis lazuli, brought from Afghanistan. […] The English church was in close contact with Rome, with correspondence travelling back and forth; new bishops would be sent to Rome to collect the pallium; and King Alfred visited the city as a young boy” (Wiles 2016).

      How can we reconcile the contradiction between the Anglo-Saxons’ splendid Roman culture and their resort to foraging, i.e. to abandon agriculture altogether? Once building strata and archaeological substance get a fair hearing and are allowed to put textbook chronology to the test, England’s destruction and dark earth layers of the Crisis of the Third Century, and/or the Crisis of the Sixth Century, will be recognized as the devastating traces of the Tenth Century Collapse (http://www.q-mag.org/gunnar-heinsohn-tenth-century-collapse.html). The hard evidence conventionally attributed to the 1st-3rd and/or 4th-6th centuries AD stratigraphically turns out to be the desperately searched for post-Roman Britain.

      Anglo-Saxon cities will no longer be mysteriously missing but will be recognized as integral parts of Late Latène and Roman culture that, in turn, will be moved from the time span of c. 50 BC-230s AD into the stratigraphy-based time span of c. 650 to 930s AD. Agriculture and cultivated plants did not disappear for many Anglo-Saxon centuries but were identical with the agriculture that fed the few genuine Italians in Britains’s Roman period that was mostly inhabited by Celts and Anglo-Saxons.

      Alfred the Great’s Winchester / Venta Belgarum does not have houses or even hearths and latrines in his 9th/10th century. But “by the early years of the third century AD, excavations reveal that Venta’s richer citizens were living in considerable comfort. Two such dwellings lay under today’s Brooks Shopping Centre and faced onto the Roman road, now under Middle Brook Street. They had been built by AD 100 of timber with mortar floors. By AD 150 they had been replaced by a house on flint foundations. By AD 200 many houses were reconstructed in flint and stone, often with underfloor hypocaust heating in one or two rooms“ (http://studentreader.com/winchester/).

      No one claims Venta’s Roman urban splendour. I hand this archaeological evidence over to Alfred and his courtiers, whose Roman culture is so richly documented in textual sources (http://www.q-mag.org/gunnar-heinsohns-latest-the-winchester-of-alfred-the-great.html).

      Cordially, Gunnar Heinsohn
      -Campbell, J. (2003), „Anglo-Saxon Courts”, in Cubitt, C., Hg., Court Culture in the Early Middle Ages: The Proceedings of the First Alcuin Conference, Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 155-169
      -Fowler, P.J. (2002), Farming in the First Millennium A.D.: British Agriculture Between Julius Caesar and William the Conqueror, Cambridge/UK: Cambridge University Press
      -Jones, M.E. (1998), The End of Roman Britain, Ithaca/NY: Cornell University Press
      -O’Neill, J.J. (2009), Holy Warriors: Islam and the Demise of Classical Civilization, Felibri.com / Ingram Books
      -Southern, P. (2013), Roman Britain: A New History 55 BC-AD 450, The Hill, Stroud; Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing
      -Whelton, C. (2016), “A Canterbury Tale by Saucy Chaucer“; https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2016/10/06/a-canterbury-tale-by-saucy-chaucer/
      -Wiles, K. (2016), “Back to the Dark Ages”, History Today, 5 May; http://www.historytoday.com/kate-wiles/back-dark-ages

      • Gunnar Heinsohn says:


        An alert reader asked me about my reaction to Martin Sieff’s reference to the „massive multi-layer excavation of Anglo-Saxon London“ in the 7th to 9th century AD. I did not want to embarass him. Moreover, I didn’t want to repeat that I had already written, albeit in German, extensively about the area of London in the 1st millennium AD.

        Martin actually means the town of Lundenwic (c. 60 ha). It was located c. 1.6 km to the west of Londinium (Roman London), separated from it by the river Fleet. Londinium, protected by a 10 feet wide and 20 feet high wall, had, in the 2nd /3rd c. AD, a size of around 135 ha inside the walls, and reached a population of c. 60,000 inhabitants.

        While neither residential buildings nor latrines are built in Londinium between the 2nd/3rd and the 10th/11th century AD, Lundenwic remains without residential buildings and latrines up to the 7th century AD. While under early medieval Lundenwic there are no residential buildings for Imperial Antiquity and Late Antiquity, above Imperial Antiquity Londinium there are no residential buildings for Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Each place has residential buildings, latrines etc. only for one of the three first millennium epochs of our textbooks.

        I will take the opportunity to write, for this blog if Tim Cullen allows, a more detailed text about Londinium and Lundenwic. We may, then, better understand how the two sites fit together. Stratigraphically, that much may be already revealed, LundenWIC will prove to be a VICus of Londinium.

        Gunnar Heinsohn.

  3. Not to be ignored was the setting up of the Geological Society of London as described by George Grinnell. Uniformitarian geology was a political ploy to counter Tory biblical absolutism. This tradition continues today under global warming or climate change. It is an example of the domination over empiricism by dogma, here Lyell’s understanding of geological processes.

    What is very interesting is looking at the geological map of Britain and comparing it to Western Europe; Britain has no Quaternary deposits save for a small deposit at the extreme south East. Western and Central Europe, especially the northern parts are swamped in “Quaternary” deposits. So what did Lyell base his geology on? Lyell and previously Hutton, had only the pre-Quaternary rocks to inform their theorising. Yet the Quaternary deposits in Europe and elsewhere, if I am not mistaken, were considered as evidence of the biblical deluge; geological evidence that Britain lacked.

    If the roman aqueduct accidentally discovered in Miocene sediments in the Garzweiler mine, NW from Cologne, is considered, then it looks like England was wiped clean of weathered soil and regolith that seems to have been deposited to the east in Europe. If this is the case then who survived in Britain to write about what happened? People with very exercised imaginations as a result of surviving the catastrophe/s concatenating different stories from other areas into a longer pseudohistory? And if Britain was “wiped clean” of roman artefacts by catastrophe, then where did that material end up? Dogger Bank? Or as European Quaternary deposits intermingled with loess and other volcaniclastic sediments.

    The enigmatic Roman remains in Egypt also seem swamped under Quaternary deposits.

    Incidentally the European Quaternary deposits are dominated by Loess, a deposit dominated by silt-sized highly angular quartz and feldspar grains. Sediment grains transported hydraulically, whether by water or wind, result in semi-rounded grains, and at the size found in loess, highly unlikely to have been produced by attritioning during transport. Germany, and presumably other areas of northern and central Europe host many water filled topographic depressions known as Maars that are believed to represent phreatomagmatic eruption centres. These features might have been the source of some of the loess deposits. The problem is no one has observed these features erupt, or they have and been misinterpreted Middle Age to Medieval authors.

    Finally, the academic discipline of archaeology was set up to prove biblical narratives, and not set up as some altruistic study of historical remnants. I wonder if this was a reaction to Lyell’s work to prove the accuracy of biblical narratives?

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  5. malagabay says:

    “Quite how Heliopolis got buried 66 feet below current street level [elevation 45 feet] is a mystery.”

    A massive earthquake struck the Eastern Mediterranean region on August 8, 1303.

    The epicenter was on Rhodos, which was completely destroyed, but extensive damage also occurred on Crete and Cyprus and even in Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt.

    Thr Richter magnitude of the eathquake was estimated at 8.0, and the intensity was X on the modified Mercalli scale on Rhodos.

    There were detailed descriptions of damage in the town of Candia (Heraklio), Crete, where 26 churches in the area were destroyed and some 4,000 people lost their lives.

    In Alexandria and Cairo, walls, towers, houses and government buildings either collapsed due to the surface waves or were washed away by a large tsunami that reached as far inland as Bab al Bahr [Cairo].

    In all, 10,000 people lost their lives in Egypt. The death toll for the whole event is a matter of debate, but it is likely to have reached 25,000 people.

    Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes – 2007
    Alexander E Gates and David Ritchie


  6. melitamegalithic says:

    A small correction pls. The link says the name is Bab el-Bahr. Means ‘The door of the sea’.

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