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Vanished London: the Pantheon

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And no, the Pantheon wasn’t just in Rome, London had one! Not exactly the same, but an interesting and curious story nonetheless. Opened in January 1772 on Oxford Street, the Pantheon was a place built for Londoners to meet that could rival the Leisure Gardens in Vauxhall. His garden had a pond with small fish, flowers and fruit trees.

The main hall was a vast rotunda modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the Pantheon in Rome. As was fashionable in those years, the point of reference was however the ancient world. Considered at the time by many to be the most elegant recent structure in Europe, by recent we mean in 1772.

It was very successful especially among women who at that time could not venture far alone, but being a local they could walk in its gardens undisturbed. But its success did not last long and after a few years it became a theater. Even as a theater it did not have luck on its side, in fact it was almost immediately destroyed by a fire in 1792. It later became a state office, and then a covered market. 

For a short time it was the home of the UK’s National Institute for Improvement of Artifacts which despite its pompous name did not have much success. For thirty years in the mid 19th century, it was a bazaar. In 1937 the building was bought by  Marks and Spencer who had it demolished and built their main shop which you can still see today.

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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archeology

An important archaeological discovery in Pompeii

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After almost 2000 years a tomb of a freedman, Marcus Venerius, whose body rested semi embalmed was discovered this week.

To the east of the ancient city, at the necropolis of Porta Sarno, archaeologists found the intact burial of Marcus Venerius Secundio . A very special tomb, because at the time in the city the bodies were incinerated, while that of Marco Venerio is a tomb and his body is inside, lying in a corner, with the nape covered with white and semi-mummified hair. His body was kept inside a cell which allowed its preservation.

Marco Venerio, was over 60 when he died and was a freedman which means a former slave who had gained his freedom. He had been the guardian of the Temple of Venus, protector of the city of Pompeii, minister of the Augustals and then, after the liberation, Augustale, or member of a college of priests of the imperial cult. What is amazing of all this is the fact that a former slave could make enough money to buy himself a posh tomb.  Two cinerary urns were found externally in the tomb enclosure, one belonging to a woman named Novia Amabilis, probably  Marco Venerio’s wife. Specialists are also analysing what remains of the funeral tunic, which was made of asbestos, which may have contributed to the preservation of the body. Asbestos was often used for embalming

This new discovery is very important as it contains many details of life at the time while at the same time adding a few unanswered questions.

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History

What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London?

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What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London? thumbnail
Maybe you don’t know what that kind of gothic spire is in front of Charing Cross station in London. Don’t worry we explain everything here. Edward I was a king of England in the thirteenth century and was known for his lavish lifestyle. He loved to spend money and had a fondness for extravagant items such as jewellery and tapestries. His wife, Eleanor of Castile, died in 1290 advertisement Harby near Lincoln. Charing Cross is one of twelve crosses called Eleanor Cross that the king had built to mark where his wife’s funeral procession stopped.

The cross was destroyed in the year 1647 by the Puritans during the English Civil War. After the construction of Charing Cross station in 1865, a reproduction of Eleanor Cross was created and placed outside the station and not in its original place in Trafalgar Square where the equestrian sculpture dedicated to Carlo.

The reproduction was created by the architect EM Barry himself who built the railway station. He used uncommon images available from the original. at the top, there are eight images of Eleonora, 4 as a queen, with imperial symbols and 4 represented as a Christian. Below are curved angels and shields with royal weapons and those of Ponthieu, Castile and Leon, all copied from still extant Eleanor Crosses who were at Waltham Cross and Northampton.

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archeology

What is special about King Tut’s brooch?

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King Tutankhamun was the last of his family to rule Egypt 1334 – 1325 BC. He is famous because of the discovery of his treasure, together with his mummy, in his tomb, by Howard Carter in 1922. On the breastplate  of the mummy, there was a winger scarab broach, fashioned from yellow glass. 
 
Scarab beetles were worshipped in Egypt, as symbols of death and rebirth. They are active at night, finding their way by the distant rays of light from the Milky Way, rather than by bright stars. The scarab broach, belonging to King Tut, has itself an amazing connection to the cosmos.
 
It was discovered that the glass used, could not have been produced at the time of his death. Investigation revealed that it is desert glass, that originated in the Sahara desert. It is formed from  the impact of a comet that fell to Earth, twenty eight million years ago! The discovery of the remains of a comet, a black pebble, found during excavations in the desert, was an astronomical first. Only dust fragments of comets, had been  found before then.
 
So King Tut’s brooch is indeed a very special broach, as it was made from glass formed by the impact of a comet that fell to earth millions of years ago, an  archaeological as well as an astronomical first.

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