P for Porphyry

Whilst perusing porphyry sculptures serendipity supplied some surprises.

Twin Peaks of Porphyry
This surprise gift for Gunnar Heinsohn is best described as the Twin Peaks of Porphyry.

Under the Roman emperors Trajan (98–117 AD) and Hadrian (117–138 AD), the period of porphyries’ fashion reached a first maximum,

while a second one occurred under the reign of Diocletian (284–305 AD), Constantine the Great (306–337 AD) and his followers on the throne of the Byzantine Empire.

A New Look on Imperial Porphyry – Mahrous M Abu El-Enen et al – 2018
International Journal of Earth Sciences


The Twin Peaks of Porphyry can be interpreted in several ways.

For example:

1) It can be simply taken as a curious observation relating to the fickle nature of fashion and fads.


2) The Twin Peaks of Porphyry can be interpreted as providing support for the 200 Year Credibility Gap as the peak periods are [roughly] 200 years apart.

The 200 Year Credibility Gap
A less charitable interpretation of the data suggests the entire Roman Empire narrative is creative fiction that incorporates convenient characters and available artefacts from Greek Republics scattered across Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/04/26/roman-chronology-credibility-gap/

3) The Twin Peaks of Porphyry can also be interpreted as providing support for Gunnar Heinsohn’s view that Diocletian and Constantine the Great really lived in the early 1st century AD.

Those who prefer to date Constantine the Great (or Diocletian) with criteria of art history rather than archaeologically also come to the conclusion that he must have lived in the early 1st and not in the early 4th century.

Gunnar Heinsohn: Finding Bede’s Missing Metropolis
See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/gunnar-heinsohn-finding-bedes-missing-metropolis-part-one/

The “decline” in Late Antiquity typically represents a “regression” of about 300 years.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/enigmatic-egypt-roman-ruination-red-sea-hills/

Overall, it’s apparent the 200 Year Credibility Gap and 300 Year Repeaters are different facets of the very same problem: Mainstream Chronology.

However, as this particular milestone appears to have been installed between 14 and 41 AD then the 200 Year Credibility Gap stretches out to become a 300 Year Credibility Gap which supports Gunnar Heinsohn’s concept of the 300 Year Repeaters.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/08/16/l-for-leaguestone/

It’s also increasingly apparent the reigns of the emperors need trimming and tailoring if Constantine, Diocletian, Maximian, et al are to be relocated to the early 1st century AD.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/amphitheatre-of-serdica/

This is especially true if the only source of “imperial porphyry” began operations in 29 AD.

Mons Porphyrites is famous for being the only known source of “imperial porphyry”… The Mons Porphyrites quarry is said to have worked intermittently between 29 and 335 AD.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/enigmatic-egypt-roman-ruination-red-sea-hills/

Perhaps this explains why some “emperors” are packed like sardines in porphyry.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/enigmatic-egypt-roman-ruination-red-sea-hills/

The Sarcophagus of Constantina
The Sarcophagus of Constantina [aka Saint Constance] contains a few surprises.

The Sarcophagus of Constantina is in the same room as a second porphyry work that once housed the body of Constantina, daughter of Constantine the Great (died 354), which was once in her mausoleum on Via Nomentana, which became the church of Santa Costanza in 1254, and later to this museum.


Constantina (also named Constantia and Constantiana; b. after 307/before 317 – d. 354), and later known as Saint Constance, was the eldest daughter of Roman emperor Constantine the Great and his second wife Fausta, daughter of Emperor Maximian. Constantina received the title of Augusta by her father, and is venerated as a saint, having developed a medieval legend wildly at variance with what is known of her actual character.


The cupids harvesting grapes seem far too Greek and far too pagan for a Christian Saint.

The decoration is a semi-pagan depictions of cupids in Dionysic harvesting of grapes to make wine; it has been interpreted as an early Christian reference to the eucharist.


Dionysus is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in ancient Greek religion and myth.

The Erotes are a collective of winged gods associated with love and sexual intercourse in Greek mythology.

The Erotes became a motif of Hellenistic art, and may appear in Roman art in the alternate form of multiple Cupids or Cupids and Psyches.


See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/mosaico-de-los-amores/

The delayed death [354 AD] of Saint Constance meant she missed the boat for Egyptian porphyry as the intermittent shipments apparently ceased in 335 AD.

This is no problem for the historians who simply insert the suggestion sculptors stockpiled sarcophagi so Saint Constance could be entombed in a 340 AD vintage piece of pagan porphyry.

Evidently, all wrinkles can be ironed out with a wishful thinking steam press.

Mons Porphyrites is famous for being the only known source of “imperial porphyry”. The site was discovered by the Romans in 18 AD and then rediscovered in 1823.
The Mons Porphyrites quarry is said to have worked intermittently between 29 and 335 AD.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/enigmatic-egypt-roman-ruination-red-sea-hills/

The Sarcophagus of Helena
The “Roman Cavalry” on the Sarcophagus of Helena is a can of worms.

The Sarcophagus of Helena is the red porphyry coffin in which Saint Helena, the mother of emperor Constantine the Great, was buried (died 329).

The coffin, deprived of it contents for centuries, was removed from the Mausoleum of Helena at Tor Pignatarra, just outside the walled city of Rome, and ultimately moved to the Vatican museums in the 18th century, and now is in the Sala a Croce Greca of the Pio-Clementine Vatican Museum.

The Sarcophagus is carved in the Egyptian porphyry, used only in the finest Byzantine imperial monuments.

It is noted that the carved imagery depicts victorious Roman Cavalry riding above captured barbarians.


This particular can of worms is a pantomime plot [“Oh yes they did” – “Oh no they didn’t”] revolving around the Romans Cavalry and stirrups.

A coin of Quintus Labienus, who was in service of Parthia, minted circa 39 BC depicts on its reverse a saddled horse with hanging objects.

Smith suggests they are pendant cloths,

while Thayer suggests that, considering the fact that the Parthians were famous for their mounted archery, the objects are stirrups,

but adds that

it is difficult to imagine why the Romans would never have adopted the technology.


Quintus Labienus Parthicus (died 39 BC) was the son of Titus Labienus.

He was a Roman general in the Late Republic period.

He made an alliance with Parthia and invaded the Roman provinces in the eastern Mediterranean which were under the control of Mark Antony.


Thayer’s Note:

I believe that the “riderless” part does not matter so much as the horse, and, precisely, its saddle: the horse is shown riderless so we can see the details of the saddle, which would otherwise be obscured.

Now Mr Yates’ article above mentions that the stirrup was unknown to the Romans; invented somewhere in central Asia, stirrups gave added control to the horseman, since he could guide the horse with his feet, freeing his arms for archery.

Is it just a coincidence that the Asian country of Parthia was famous for its horse-mounted archers, who could shoot their arrows behind them as they galloped forwards?

Thus Labienus’s coins may well be showing us not “pendent cloths” but stirrups.

The real question is why the Romans never seem to have adopted them, especially if, as early as the 1c B.C., they were aware of their technical superiority.

Bill Thayer’s Web Site

The Parthian shot is a light horse military tactic made famous in the West by the Parthians, an ancient Iranian people.

While in real or feigned retreat their horse archers would turn their bodies back in full gallop to shoot at the pursuing enemy.


The mainstream narrative promotes “paired stirrups” arriving in “Europe during the Middle Ages”.

The use of paired stirrups is credited to the Chinese Jin Dynasty and came to Europe during the Middle Ages.


Curiously, the English word “stirrup” could be derived from Sanskrit.

The English word “stirrup” stems from Old English stirap, stigrap, Middle English stirop, styrope, i.e. a mounting or climbing-rope.

From Old English stīgan “to ascend”, which might have origins in the Sanskrit word “sthagan” (“stay put”).


More curious still is the chronological disconnect between 5th century BC India and 7th century AD Arabia in a mainstream stirrup narrative that embraces Alexander the Great [356-323 BC] and the Conquest of India [and All That] storyline.

The earliest manifestation of the stirrup was a toe loop that held the big toe and was used in India late in the second century BC, though may have appeared as early as 500 BC.

This ancient foot support consisted of a looped rope for the big toe which was at the bottom of a saddle made of fibre or leather.


An early stage in the development of the group is perhaps referred to by the historian, Ibn Qutaiba of Merv (A.A. 885), who, when speaking of chivalrous conduct, quotes a tradition of the caliph ‘Umar to the following effect :

‘Wear loin-cloth, cloak and sandals [i.e. Arab dress].

Throw away top-boots, girth and stirrups and mount your horse at a bound.

Let luxury and Persian costume go and never wear silk.’

Persia and the Arabs – Reuben Levy
The Legacy of Persia – Editor: A J Arberry – 1953


Umar, also spelled Omar (c. 584-644 CE), was one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in history.


See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-arabian-horizon-the-year-of-the-elephant/

According to a legend, when Alexander the Great reached a city called Nysa near the Indus river, the locals said that their city was founded by Dionysus in the distant past and their city was dedicated to the god Dionysus.


Coincidently, in the realm of Radiocarbon Dating, the connection between the Roman Era and Greece in the 5th century BC is represented by an artificial academic artefact that stretches from 465 BC to 743 CE.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/s-for-sculpture/

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2017/11/24/deranged-dating-the-roman-problem/

The Athribis Porphyry
One of the more magical human facilities that blossomed in [and after] the Renaissance was the clairvoyant ability to associate an untitled sculpture with a specific Roman character.

This mystical human facility went into steep decline during the 20th century.

Nowadays, this Renaissance spirit has totally evaporated and the Western historians simply shrug whenever they fail to find a convincing Roman Mug Shot [in their criminal records] that matches a porphyry sculpture.

For example:

An unidentified porphyry [of unknown provenance] popped-up in a London auction in 1994.

Sadly, modern techniques only managed to muster the suggestion it’s an “emperor”.


Similarly, an enormous eyed [i.e. echoing the Greek god Apollo] porphyry has left Western academics floundering because of their conflicting Renaissance faculties.


The names of nearly all of the tetrarchs have been proposed for the bust from Athribis, but there seems no argument which helps to decide between them.

Both the portrait and the style of the drapery connect the bust with the central Tetrarchic products of the Egyptian workshops; for example, the colossal statues from Alexandria (LSA-1003) and Hadrianopolis(LSA-455), the Togatus in Berlin (LSA-1004) and the groups in the Vatican (LSA-840, LSA-841) and at Venice (LSA-4, LSA-439).

A closer date in the period of the tetrarchy is impossible to give.

Discussion – Marianne Bergmann
LSA-836 – Life-size porphyry bust of Tetrarch – From Athribis (Augustamnica)
Last Statues of Antiquity – University of Oxford


Athribis was an ancient city in Lower Egypt.

It is located in present-day Tell Atrib, just northeast of Benha on the hill of Kom Sidi Yusuf.

The town lies around 40 km north of Cairo, on the eastern bank of the Damietta branch of the Nile. It was mainly occupied during the Ptolemaic, Roman, and Byzantine eras.


However, Western historians still enjoy imbibing the Renaissance spirit.


Also: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Daza01_pushkin.jpg

The interesting aspect of this porphyry is that it’s a stylistic descendant of the 5th century BC.

Jerusalem, Rome, and a Stratigraphic Solution for the Enigmas of 3000 to 300 BC
Gunnar Heinsohn (August 2018)

Click to access 3000-300-bc-august-2018-heinsohn.pdf


This stylistic continuity is embossed on the coins of Constantine the Great and company.

But, along the way, numerous stylistic discontinuities [and/or misattributions] have been introduced.

This leaves the independent researcher to wonder whether Pope Paul III also employed sculptors to [anonymously] advance the provenance, power and profits of the Catholic Church.

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/s-for-sculpture/

Overall, from a revisionist perspective, this stylistic continuity coupled with the coins from Kom el Dikka suggest the Twin Peaks of Porphyry occurred in era of the Roman Republic.

Coin finds from the early Roman layers included a drachma of Septimius Severus from the fill of the ruins of an early Roman house and coins of Trajan and Hadrian from its occupational levels.

Numismatic finds from Kom el-Dikka (Alexandria), 2008
Adam Jegliński – PAM 20 (Research 2008), 70-79
Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology – University of Warsaw (PCMA UW)

Click to access PAM_20_Jeglinski_70_79.pdf

See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/enigmatic-egypt-roman-ruination-nile-delta/
See: https://malagabay.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/the-heinsohn-horizon-kom-el-deka/

And it’s likely a Roman Republic [of uncertain duration] effectively bridges the disconnect between the 5th century BC and the 7th century AD in the realm of Radiocarbon Dating.

Gallery | This entry was posted in Arabian Horizon, Deranged Dating, Epigraphy - Inscriptions, Heinsohn Horizon, History, Roman Chronology. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to P for Porphyry

  1. Pingback: Gunnar Heinsohn: Diocletian: Ingenious or Insane? | MalagaBay

  2. Pingback: The Roman Empire In Three Acts | MalagaBay

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