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A homage to Hindu civilization.

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    Image result for clothing indus valleyImage result for ww.textile-dates.info ancient india
    Painting on wooden panel discovered by Aurel Stein in Dandan Oilik, depicting the legend of the princess who hid silk worm eggs in her headdress to smuggle them out of China to the Kingdom of Khotan.
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    http://arthistorysummerize.info/textiles-india-ancient-times/Slide6Textiles from ancient India
    Image result for ww.textile-dates.info india
    Posted: 10 Oct 2018 01:45 PM PDT
    On-line database for 14C-dated textiles (from early times until the end of 1rst millennium AD)

    Overview and easy access

    First of all it wants to give an overview on as well as easy access to reliably dated textiles from the 1st millennium BC and AD. This, actually, is a desideratum, since during the last decades, quite a number of textiles have been radiocarbon dated. However, the places of publication of these results frequently are rather hard to locate and only known to those who ordered or undertook the analyses. This is one of the foremost reasons why textiles – quite undeservingly – are still not being used as an historical source to the extent they could be.

    The benefit for other textiles

    Secondly: Sustained benefit of radiocarbon analysis is achieved when we can apply the datings also to related textiles bearing no such indicators as stratigraphy, dating inscriptions or radiocarbon analysis. These related textiles mostly are of a similar style, sometimes also showing analogies in technique or iconography. 

    Trend-setter or old fashioned?

    However, what is needed most is to know whether the radiocarbon dated textile in question is typical of its kind, representing the average life span of its group, or whether– by pure coincidence – we have a precursor, an unusually early item, or – in contrast – an old fashioned, unusually late one. 

    The lonely highlight

    In order to know for sure we need to have several (in strict statistical terms: ten!) samples safely dated. Collections, however, usually do not possess several textiles of one kind. Also, frequently there is the desire to have "highlights" being dated or unusual objects – which per se are difficult to compare with other textiles.

    Look out for parallels

    Therefore, it is essential to have parallels, i. e. several examples of one type dated, to improve progress in our ability to evaluate textiles historically and to make the most of the – still rather expensive – radiocarbon analyses. A type or group of textiles could consist of items which have in common an unusual iconographical feature or weaving structure (cf. "How to use – Parallels"). Consequently, it would be important and wise to first check parallels in other collections, get in touch with colleagues in charge and agree upon the analyses of related textiles, before the actual radiocarbon analysis is going to be undertaken. 

    Communicate!

    We want to facilitate, encourage and promote this important communication. Therefore, in the database you will find a column called "Parallels", which indicates whether one or several parallels to a particular textile have already been radiocarbon dated. If you find out that, e. g., two items parallel to your textile in question have already been dated it would be most valuable if you added an analysis of your textile. In this case, please, let us know that your textile belongs to such a group. 

    Coordinate further radiocarbon analyses

    Dear colleagues, we hope that many scholars of any kind of specialisation will start to integrate textiles into their different historical research and we hope that this homepage and its database help to spread the idea of coordinated radiocarbon analyses. 

    How we started

    The idea of this database project of shared information and joint decision on the question which textiles should be radiocarbon dated, was initiated by Antoine De Moor (Antwerp, Katoen Natie) and further developed by the team "textile-dates" in Bonn university, in collaboration with Mark van Strydonck from the Institut Royal du Patrimoine Artistique (IRPA KIK) in Brussels.
    Posted: 10 Oct 2018 01:39 PM PDT
     [First posted in AWOL 7 March 2017, updated 10 October 2018]

    Archaeological Textiles Newsletter - Archaeological Textiles Review
    ISSN: 0169-7331
    In the beginning of January 2018 ATR59 was sent out to the subscribers. This and back issues ATN 1-53 and ATR 54-58 are now available as print-on-demand from the University of Copenhagen webshop. The webshop has both an English and Danskinterface.
    We hope the readers will appreciate the comprehensive and varied issues in print or as downloads on this homepage.
    Please use ATR as a medium for distributing the growing amount of information on textile archaeology, and keep sending us articles and reviews. We encourage the contributors to submit their articles throughout the year to spread the editing workload.
    The next deadline for contributions to the ATR 2018 Issue 60 is the 1st of May. Issue 60 will primarily include articles on evidence for knitting in Early Modern Europe, and we hope our readers will appreciate the importance of this long needed initiative and embrace the scientific impact and upgrade of this over-looked research direction. ATR60 will be published in autumn 2018.
    You can keep up with events and news in textile archaeology on the Friends of ATR Facebook page. We have many followers, so please spread the word and also send us your news and announcements.


    ATN 10 ATN 20 ATN 30 ATN 40 ATN 50
    ATN 1 ATN 11 ATN 21 ATN 31 ATN 41 ATN 51
    ATN 2 ATN 12 ATN 22 ATN 32 ATN 42 ATN 52
    ATN 3 ATN 13 ATN 23 ATN 33 ATN 43 ATN 53
    ATN 4 ATN 14 ATN 24 ATN 34 ATN 44 ATR 54
    ATN 5 ATN 15 ATN 25 ATN 35 ATN 45 ATR 55
    ATN 6 ATN 16 ATN 26 ATN 36 ATN 46 ATR 56
    ATN 7 ATN 17 ATN 27 ATN 37 ATN 47 ATR 57
    ATN 8 ATN 18-19 ATN 28 ATN 38 ATN 48 ATR 58
    ATN 9 ATN 29 ATN 39 ATN 49
      



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    Elsevier

    Current Opinion in Genetics & Development

    Volume 53, December 2018, Pages 128-133
    Current Opinion in Genetics & Development

    The genetic makings of South Asia

    South Asia is home for more than a billion people culturally structured into innumerable groups practicing different levels of endogamy. Linguistically South Asia is broadly characterized by four major language families which has served as access way for disentangling the genetic makings of South Asia. In this review we shall give brief account on the recent developments in the field. Advances are made in two fronts simultaneously. Whole genome characterisation of many extant South Asians paint the picture of the genetic diversity and its implications to health-care. On the other hand ancient DNA studies, which are finally reaching South Asia, provide new incites to the demographic history of the subcontinent. Before the spread of agriculture, South Asia was likely inhabited by hunter-gatherer groups deriving much of their ancestry from a population that split from the rest of humanity soon after expanding from Africa. Early Iranian agriculturalists mixing with these local hunter-gatherers probably formed the population that flourished during the blossoming of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Further admixture with the still persisting HG groups and population(s) from the Eurasian Steppe, formed the two ancestral populations (ANI and ASI), the north-south mixing pattern of whom is known today as the ‘Indian Cline’. Studies on natural selection in South Asia have so far revealed strong signals of sweeps that are shared with West Eurasians. Future studies will have to fully unlock the aDNA promise for South Asia.

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    The early buddhist affirmation of self (ātman) in the logic, parables and imagery of the Pāli Nikāyas

    A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Religious Studies in the University of Canterbury

    by A. R. Wells University of Canterbury 1983

    https://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10092/12709/Wells_1983_thesis.pdf;sequence=1

    https://www.scribd.com/document/390706005/The-early-buddhist-affirmation-of-self-%C4%81tman-in-the-logic-parables-and-imagery-of-the-P%C4%81li-Nik%C4%81yas-AR-Wells-1983

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    Posted at: Apr 18, 2018, 12:02 AM; last updated: Apr 18, 2018, 12:02 AM (IST)

    State, Haryana to ink pact for Adi Badri Dam in July

    Project to ensure perennial supply of water to Saraswati river
    Pratibha Chauhan
    Tribune News Service
    Shimla, April 17

    Having thrashed out the long-pending inter-state issues, Himachal and Haryana have agreed to sign a memorandum of agreement (MoU) on July 15, paving the way for the Adi Badri Dam, which will ensure perennial supply of water to the Saraswati river.
    All issues pending between Himachal and Haryana were discussed at a meeting between the Chief Secretaries of the two states on Tuesday. It is for the first time that the two states decided to resolve the issues.
    Chief Secretaries of Himachal Vineet Chawdhry and Haryana DS Dhesi discussed several pending issues, including that of a permanent membership for Himachal in the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB). Senior bureaucrats from both states also attended the meeting.“Issues concerning the protection of rights of people residing in two border villages in Sirmaur district and creating infrastructure for them were discussed,” said Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry.
    He added that they had decided to sign the MoU on July 15 so that the interests of both states were protected and the rights of people remained intact.
    Haryana has agreed to fund the construction of the 5.2-km road, connecting the two villages, which will be submerged due to the coming up of the Adi Badri Dam. The state has also conceded to Himachal’s demand that the drinking and irrigation rights of villagers of Himachal will remain protected even after the dam comes up.
    The state on its part raised the issue of construction of the Panchkula bypass, which is crucial for the industrial hub of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh, where almost 80 per cent of Himachal’s industry is concentrated. “Haryana has informed that the work for the construction of the road has already been awarded and the bypass will be readied within the next two years,” said Chawdhry.
    Regarding the land acquisition for the laying of the Baddi rail line, Haryana has informed that out of the 52 acres, 27 acres is government land, while the remaining is privately owned. They have assured that the work would be expedited so that the rail line could be expanded.
    Posted at: Aug 25, 2018, 1:01 AM; last updated: Aug 25, 2018, 1:01 AM (IST)

    A Pehowa temple with a difference

    A Pehowa temple  with a difference
    Male devotees queue up at the Kartekeya temple at Pehowa in Kurukshetra.
    Vijay Sabharwal
    Across India there are various places of worship where the entry of women is barred. One such place is the Kartekeya temple situated on the banks of the ancient Saraswati river at Pehowa, 22 km from Kurukshetra. This temple celebrates the Brahmacharya (celibacy) of Lord Kartekeya (son of Lord Shiva) and women are not allowed to enter here. This ancient structure is situated near the Pehowa tirath and said to be from the 5th century. 
    A legend goes that any woman who enters the shrine will attract a curse. It states that when Kartikeya was meditating, Lord Indra got jealous that Lord Brahma might give Kartikeya more powers than him. So, he planned to distract Kartikeya by sending the most beautiful ‘apsaras’. Kartikeya got angry and pronounced a curse that any woman who comes to this place of worship (to distract him from his meditation) shall turn into a stone.
    However, Subhash Polsatya and Ashish Chakrapani, eminent 'purohits' of the Pehowa tirath, narrate an alternative legend to clarify the prohibitory edict: When Ganesha was declared the winner of the their father’s empire by riding a rat around Lord Shiva, Kartekeya got angry with his mother, Parvati.  In the fit of anger he declared that his father was the donor of his bones, while he drew only his skin from his mother. Being upset over the help Parvati provided to Ganesha, Kartekeya removed his skin here and pronounced a curse that any woman who sees him in this form will get widowed in her next seven births.
    Asked whether any woman had ever objected to the gender-specific practices at the temple, the priests say that women themselves believe in the old traditions and do not enter the temple premises. So, none has ever questioned the practice of prohibiting the entry of women into the temple.
    Subhash says that, in accordance with the Hindu traditions, after offering the ‘Pind-dan’ of a dead male family member at the Pehowa tirath, men are taken to the Kartekeya temple nearby to offer mustered oil to cool the deity, while the accompanying women wait outside.  

    Pooja Chanwaria, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Pehowa, confirms that she has never received any complaint relating to the restriction on women's entry into the Kartekeya temple. It may be that devotees coming here have the knowledge about the cultural and religious belief relating to the temple. 
    (The writer is a
    journalist based at Kurukshetra)

    Haryana asked to clear objectives for nod to Sarasvati river project

    Excavation work was done in Sirsa and Fatehabad of Haryana and parts of Rajasthan.
    Published: 07th October 2018 10:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th October 2018 10:23 AM
    NEW DELHI: The environment ministry has advised Haryana to come up with clear objectives for getting sanction to its project of reviving and rejuvenating the mythological Sarasvati river.The state government began digging work to trace the river at Kurukshetra in 2015.
    Subsequently, the Irrigation and Water Resources Department of Haryana approached the Environment Appraisal Committee (EAC) for environmental appraisal for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects for construction of  the Adi Badri Dam on Somb river and its piped link to Sarasvati river and reservoir at an estimated cost of about Rs 108.70 crore.
    But, the EAC observed that the project’s aim is not clear as it was mentioned that indirect irrigation is involved and diversion of water during monsoon period shall be carried out to rejuvenate Sarasvati Nadi. 
    “Therefore, the EAC advised that the project proponent should firm-up the objectives of the project clearly at the first instance and come back to Ministry. The project cannot be accepted in the present form as it is not having any definite objective,” said the minutes of the meeting accessed by The Sunday Standard. 

    Excavation work was done in Sirsa and Fatehabad of Haryana and parts of Rajasthan. Besides earmarking `50 crore for the project, Haryana has roped in the Indian Space Research Organisation, the National Institute of Hydrology, the National Remote Sensing Centre and the Geological Survey of India to speed up work.
    The proposal submitted by Haryana mentions that the Sarasvati, the holiest river of India, has retained its sacred character — right from the Rig Vedic age to the present day.“The Sarasvati river system in the Vedic period includes the  rivers  like  the Ghaggar,  the Markanda,  the Chautang,  the Sutlej  and  the Yamuna. From  the  studies  by  various  eminent  researchers  for  the  past  several  years, it  has been clear that the Yamuna as well as the Sutlej were tributaries of the Sarasvati,” said Haryana’s pre-feasibility report.
    While there are varied views on existence of Sarasvati, Haryana claimed around 3700 BC, due to tectonic disturbances, the Yamuna was diverted to its present course and the Sutlej shifted to the west from Ropar, resulting in disappearance of the Sarasvati.  Haryana claimed Adi Badri dam and Sarasvati reservoirs would also help in recharging ground water.
    ■ Project involves construction of 33.4 m high and 160 m long dam and a 8.82 km-long pipe link to Sarasvati reservoir 
    ■ The catchment area of Somb Nadi up to Adi Badri dam is about 29.50 km 
    ■ About 31.16 HA of forestland diversion is involved in the project



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    Chaneti Stupa:

    Chaneti Bauddam Stupa is situated 3 km away from Jagadhri. It is round in shape, made of bricks, 8 meters in height, in the area of about 100 sq meters, is an old Buddhist Stupa

    Srughna, It was visited by Chinese traveller, Hiuen Tsang in the 7th century while travelling from Thanesar (Kurukshetra), he described the city as possessing a large Buddhist vihara and a grand stupa dating to the time of the Mauryan emperor, Ashoka. Alexander Cunningham identified the lost city with the village of Sugh (or Sugha) situated 5 kilometres from Yamunanagar in the state of Haryana (near Yamuna river).
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    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor
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    https://www.facebook.com/HeritageNgo

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    https://tinyurl.com/y8aexctzhttps://tinyurl.com/y8aexctz                                                                                                                  The inscription on the pot described by Mortimer Wsheel in a BBC documentary is a proclamation that inscribed (authenticated) brass ingots, inscribed metal castings from furnace are offered for barter (sale) and contained in the storage pot. The reference to this pot in an archaeological context is detailed by Mortimer Wheeler from -16:31 to -15:44 of the video presented herein.

    An old documentry on Mohenjo Daro by BBC.



    Sir Mortimer Wheeler's 1957 tour of Mohenjo-daro, although outdated in many ways, has some great footage, close shots of Indus objects, and an engaging host. Gripping to Indus fans.


    The documentary provides a remarkable evidence on an artifact with Indus Script inscription which is a Hypertext.

    The Indus Script Inscription is imprinted (from a seal) on a pot which has been used as a storage pot on the Mohenjo-daro market for sale.

    Clearly, the inscription is a description of the item offered for sale and held in the pot.
    A storage pot on the left front of this photograph has an Indus Script inscription -- a proclamation of product on sale held in the pot.
    The inscription on the small pot is presented on this enlarged image of the small storage pot.

    What does the Indus Script Hypertext which has two hypertexts signify?
    This signifies brass ingot dula 'two' rebus: dul 'metal casting' PLUS kuṭi 'curve kuṭika— 'bent' MBh. Rebus: kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin).
    Sign 15 This is composed of Sign 12 and Sign 342 This Hypertext Sign 15 signifies kuṭhi kaṇḍa kanka ‘smelting furnace account (scribe)’. 

    Thus, the two hypertexts together signify a proclamation that inscribed (authenticated) brass ingots, inscribed metal castings are offered for barter (sale) and contained in the storage pot.

    Identifying Meluhha gloss for parenthesis hieroglyph or (  ) split ellipse:  குடிலம்¹ kuṭilam, n. < kuṭila. 1. Bend curve, flexure; வளைவு. (திவா.) (Tamil) In this reading, the Sign 12 signifies a specific smelter for tin metal: kuṭi 'woman water-carrier'  rebus: rebus: kuṭhi 'smelter' furnace for iron/ kuṭila, 'tin (bronze)metal; kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) [cf. āra-kūṭa, ‘brass’ (Samskritam) See: http://download.docslide.us/uploads/check_up03/192015/5468918eb4af9f285a8b4c67.pdf

    It will be seen from Sign 15 that the basic framework of a water-carrier hieroglyph (Sign 12) is superscripted with another hieroglyph component, Sign 342: 'Rim of jar' to result in Sign 15. Thus, Sign 15 is composed of two hieroglyph components: Sign 12 'water-carrier' hieroglyph; Sign 342: "rim-of-jar' hieroglyph (which constitutes the inscription on Daimabad Seal 1).

    kaṇḍ kanka ‘rim of jar’; Rebus: karṇaka ‘scribe’; kaṇḍ ‘furnace, fire-altar’. Thus the ligatured Glyph is decodedkaṇḍ karṇaka ‘furnace scribe'
    Daimabad Seal 1 (Sign 342: Two hieroglyph components: jar with short-neck and rim-of-jar) -- distringuished from broad-mouthed rimless pot which is another Sign hieroglyph.

    Each hieroglyph component of Sign 15 is read in rebus-metonymy-layered-meluhha-cipher:  Hieroglyph component 1: kuṭi 'woman water-carrier' rebus: kuṭhi 'smelter' furnace for iron/kuṭila, 'tin metal'. Hieroglyph component 2: kanka, kārṇī-ka 'rim-of-jar' rebus: kanka, kārṇī-ka m. ʻsupercargo of a shipʼ 'scribe'.

    Ligatured hieroglyph 15 using two ligaturing components: 1. water-carrier; 2. rim-of-jar. The ‘rim-of-jar’ glyph connotes: furnace account (scribe). Together with the glyph showing ‘water-carrier’, the ligatured glyphs of kuṭi ‘water-carrier’ + ‘rim-of-jar’ can thus be read as: kuṭhi kaṇḍa kanka ‘smelting furnace account (scribe)’. 

    Sign 342
    Sign 12Vaiiants of Sign 12



     This hypertext signifies the hypertext reads: dul kuṭila 'cast brass' (from) bhaṭa 'warrior' Rebus: bhaṭa 'furnace'.

    bhaṭa'warrior' Rebus: bhaṭa'furnace'.PLUS dula 'two' rebus: dul 'metal casting' PLUS kuṭi 'curve kuṭika— 'bent' MBh. Rebus: kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin). Thus, the hypertext reads: dul kuṭila 'cast brass' (from) bhaṭa 'warrior' Rebus: bhaṭa 'furnace'.

    The two parenthetical marks which constitute the circumscript around the ''warrior' hieroglyph are a split lozenge or oval shape Sign 373which is an Indus Script Sign.
    Sign 373 signifies mũhã̄ 'bun ingot' Sign 373 has the shape of oval or lozenge is the shape of a bun ingotmũhã̄ = the quantity of iron produced atone time in a native smelting furnace of the Kolhes; iron produced by the Kolhes and formed likea four-cornered piece a little pointed at each end; mūhā mẽṛhẽt = iron smelted by the Kolhes andformed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends; kolhe tehen mẽṛhẽt komūhā akata = the Kolhes have to-day produced pig iron (Santali). Thus, Sign 373 signifies word, mũhã̄ 'bun ingot'. 

    The sign occurs on a zebu, bos indicus to signify a crucible steel cake since poa 'zebu, bos indicus' rebus: poa'magnetite, ferrite ore'.

    Decipherment of Harappa zebu figurine with oval spots: magnetite ingots http://tinyurl.com/o75bok6 wherein a zebu figurine with oval spots has been presented.

     

    I submit that these oval spots signify पोलाद pōlāda, 'crucible steel cake' explained also as mūhā mẽht = iron smelted by the Kolhes and formed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends (Santali) 


    See: Indus Script hypertext पोळ pōḷa, 'zebu, bos indicus' signifies pōḷa ‘magnetite, ferrous-ferric oxide Fe3O4', पोलाद pōlāda, 'crucible steel cake' https://tinyurl.com/y9so6ubv

    पोलाद pōlāda, 'steel' = ukku 'wootz steel' derived from Vedic utsa 'spring'; eraka, urku 'moltencast'





    Image result for zebu ingot shape bharatkalyan97
    Slide 33. Early Harappan zebu figurine with incised spots from Harappa. Some of the Early Harappan zebu figurines were decorated. One example has incised oval spots. It is also stained a deep red, an extreme example of the types of stains often found on figurines that are usually found in trash and waste deposits. Approximate dimensions (W x H(L) x D): 1.8 x 4.6 x 3.5 cm. (Photograph by Richard H. Meadow) http://www.harappa.com/figurines/33.html

    The oval spots are shaped like the copper ingots shown on this photograh of Maysar, c. 2200 BCE:
    Maysar c.2200 BCE Packed copper ingots INGOTS
    mūhā mẽṛhẽt = iron smelted by the Kolhes and formed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends (Santali)

    Another artifact which compares with the described shape of mūhā mẽṛhẽt 'steel ingot' is shown in the characteristic oval shape of a crucible steel buttton.
    Related imageCrucible steel button. Steel smelted from iron sand in a graphite crucible.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crucible_steel_button.jpg
    Decipherment of the Harappa figurine on Slide 33:

     पोळ [pōḷa], 'zebu' Rebus: magnetite, citizen.(See: http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2015/08/zebu-archaeometallurgy-legacy-of-india.html )
     mūhā mẽṛhẽt = iron smelted by the Kolhes and formed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends (Santali)
     
    खोट (p. 212) [ khōṭa ] f A mass of metal (unwrought or of old metal melted down); an ingot or wedge. (Marathi)

    The figurine signifies ingots of  पोळ [pōḷa], ‘magnetite’. This is a metalwork catalogue message in Indus Script Corpora.

    The following proverb indicates the exalted status of the zebu, bos indicus which read rebus as  पोळ‘magnetite, ferrite ore’ is the life-sustaining wealth of the artisans:  ज्याची खावी पोळी त्याची वाजवावी टाळी. Of whom you eat the salt, him laud and exalt. टाळी (p. 196) ṭāḷī f (ताल S)  Beating the hands together.

    There is a remarkable expression in Tamil which signifies the homonymous writing of similar sounding words as pictures in Indus Script. The expression is: போலியெழுத்து pōli-y-eḻuttun. < id +. 1. Syllable or letter resembling another in sound, as அய் for அவ் for  ஓர் எழுத்துக் குப் பிரதியாகஅவ்வொலியில் அமையும் எழுத்து. (நன். 124.) 2. Letter substituted for another different in sound, as in சாம்பர் for சாம்பல்ஓர் எழுத்துக்குப் பிரதியாக வரும் எழுத்து. (நன்.)


    போலியெழுத்து pōli-y-eḻuttu can thus be translated as rebus writing of Indus Script.


    I suggest that since the majestic dewlap is the most characteristic feature of the zebu, the following etyma reinforce the identification of zebu,bos indicus as पोळ   pōḷa m A bull dedicated to the gods, marked with a trident and discus, and set at large: पोळी   pōḷī fig. A dewlap. पोळी पिकणें g. of s. To begin to fare sumptuously; to get into good living.


    The oval-shaped incised spots on the zebu figurine signify crucible steel cakes and hence may be calledपोळ   pōḷa   पोळें   pōḷēṃ   पोळा   pōḷā  पोळी   pōḷī f. n C A cake-form or flat honeycomb;  fig. Any squeezed and compressed cakeform body or mass. पोळी (p. 305) pōḷī f A plain wheaten cake: also a cake composed of rice-flour boiled and rolled up with wheaten. 2 The cake-form portion of a honeycomb. 3 fig. Any squeezed and compressed cakeform body or mass. 4 Cotton steeped in a dye of lác, lodhra &38;c., flattened into the form of a cake, and dried;--forming afterwards, with water, a sort of red ink. 5 fig. A dewlap. पोळी पिकणें g. of s. To begin to fare sumptuously; to get into good living.

    The smelting processes involved in making such crucible steel cakes are expressed by the following semantics of cognate words: अहारोळी   ahārōḷī f (अहार & पोळी) A cake baked on embers.पोळणें   pōḷaṇēṃ v i To catch, burn, singe; to be seared or scorched.  पोळा   pōḷā A kindled portion flying up from a burning mass, a flake.  पोळींव   pōḷīṃva p of पोळणें Burned, scorched, singed, seared. पोळभाज   pōḷabhāja f (पोळणें&38; भाजणें To burn &38;c.) In agriculture. A comprehensive term for the operations connected with the burning of the ground.


    The cultural significance  attached to the crucible steel cake may be seen from the practice of offering a cake atop the Holi festival fire which is called : होळीची पोळी (p. 527) hōḷīcī pōḷī f The right (of villagers, esp. of the मुखत्यार पाटील) of first placing a पोळी (or cake) upon the pile which is kindled at the close of the festival of the होळी. 2 The cake so designated and applied.

    दुपोडी पोळी (p. 237) dupōḍī pōḷī f (दुपूडपोळी) A पोळी or stuffed cake doubled up. Sign 294  is a doubling of a curve. dula'two' rebus: dul'metal casting' PLUS kuṭi'curve kuṭika— 'bent' MBh. Rebus: kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin).


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    Thanks to Geza Varga for highlighting this plate (cover dish)_ with Indus Script Hypertexts.
    There are two types of Indus Script inscriptions on pots and cover dishes: 1. nikṣepavarta lipi and 2. utkṣepavarta lipi (Lalitavistara lists 64 types of writing systems including these two).



    I suggest that Indus Script writing system can be classified, consistent with the expressions recorded in lalita Vistara into these two categories.

    1. utkṣepavarta lipi (bas relief writing on copper plate of Indus Script wealth accounting
    ledgers
    2. nikṣepavarta lipi (incised writing on copper plate of Indus Script inscription, wealth-accounting ledgers)

    See:  


    See: Mohenjo-daro Priest statue is R̥gveda Potr̥ 'purifier priest', Indus Script dhāvaḍ 'smelter' http://tinyurl.com/llvrtwu 

    Three types of dotted circles are shown, ending up with the recurrent trefoil or three dotted circles fused together. So, the words used for the hieroglyphs are semantically related to 'dot' PLUS 'circle'.
    The dotted circle hypertext also is shown on the fillet worn on the forehead and on the right shoulder of the priest. The neatly shaven and trimmed beard of the priest shows that some metal razor may have been used to trim the beards of Sarasvati's artisans.
     Single strand (one dotted-circle)

    Two strands (pair of dotted-circles)

    Three strands (three dotted-circles as a trefoil)
    Dot
     dāya 'one in throw of dice' signifies dhāi 'strand' mlecchita vikalpa dhāi 'red mineral ore'. 
    Circle
    vr̥ttá ʻ turned ʼ RV., ʻ rounded ʼ ŚBr. 2. ʻ completed ʼ MaitrUp., ʻ passed, elapsed (of time) ʼ KauṣUp. 3. n. ʻ conduct, matter ʼ ŚBr., ʻ livelihood ʼ Hariv. [√vr̥t1]1. Pa. vaṭṭa -- ʻ round ʼ, n. ʻ circle ʼ; Pk. vaṭṭa -- , vatta -- , vitta -- , vutta -- ʻ round ʼ(CDIAL 12069)
    Source: 
    Translation: dhāūdhāv m.f. ʻ a partic. soft red stone ʼ (whence dhā̆vaḍ m. ʻ a caste of iron -- smelters ʼ, dhāvḍī ʻ composed of or relating to iron ʼ) (Marathi)(CIAL 6773)
    Hieroglyph: dhāˊtu n. *strand of rope ʼ (cf. tridhāˊtu -- ʻ threefold ʼ RV., ayugdhātu -- ʻ having an uneven number of strands ʼ - S. dhāī f. ʻ wisp of fibres added from time to time to a rope that is being twisted ʼ, L. dhāī˜ f. (CDIAL 6773)

    Thus, together, dot + circle read: dhāvaḍ ‘iron smelter’.
    priest2.JPG
    Thus, the trefoils on the cover dish signify tri-dhātu'three mineral ores' and the person being venerated is a  dhāvaḍ ‘iron smelter’.
    Bukharan markhor in captivity at the Los Angeles Zoo

    The lid of a pot is Hieroglyph ḍhaṁkaṇa'lid' rebus dhakka'excellent, bright, blazing metal article' 

    The cover dish or lid of pot shows a markhor with wavy horns. miṇḍā́l'markhor' (Tōrwālī) meḍho a ram, a sheep (Gujarati) Rebus: meḍ'iron' (Mu.Ho.) med'copper' (Slavic languages) मृदु mṛdumẽṛhẽt,'iron' (Sanskrit. Santali)

    The long curved horn of markhor is a semantic determinative: मेंढा [ mēṇḍhā ] A crook or curved end (of a stick, horn &c.) and attrib. such a stick, horn, bullock. मेढा [ mēḍhā ] m A stake, esp. as forked. Rebus: mẽṛhẽt, meḍ ‘iron’ (Mu.Ho.)

    Markhor shoulder is ligatured to a hump of a zebu, bos indicus. पोळा [ pōḷā ] 'zebu, bos indicus' rebus: पोळा [ pōḷā ] 'magnetite, Fe3O4, ferrite ore'.

    The tail of markhor is a variant of Sign 162
    kolom'rice-plant' rebus: kolimi'smithy, forge'

    The way line between the legs of markhor signifies flow of water:  lo'overflow', kāṇḍa'sacred water'. rebus: लोखंड [lōkhāṇḍā ] 'metalwork' 

    Thus, the narrative on the cover dish or lid of a pot signifies the metallurgical repertoire of a smelter who produced bright metal articles in a smithy/forge and worked with an iron smelter.

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrX0Vyv1iAI (3:04) Vietnam's most important ancient ruin? My Son Cham Temples

    Published on Mar 23, 2016


    My Son, around an hour from Hoi An, was once the most sacred site of the mighty Cham kingdom that ruled central and southern Vietnam for 1000 years. It may well be the most important ancient ruin in the country.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGRpeBDzcok (19:57)

    Treasures of Champa Kingdom

    Exhibition on Kate festival 2018 opens in Ninh Thuan

    VNA PRINT
    At Kate festival (Source: baomoi)

    Ninh Thuan (VNA) – An exhibition featuring the 2018 Kate Festival, the most important annual celebration of the ethnic Cham Brahman community, opened in the central province of Ninh Thuan on October 8.  
    On the occasion, Mukha Linga and Po Long Girai statues, along with Nandin, Patil, and Banal sacred bulls, costumes, and musical instruments were introduced to the public, contributing to maintaining, preserving, and upholding values of national cultural heritage.

    Le Xuan Loi, Director of the Research Centre for Cham Culture in Ninh Thuan, said the display aims to popularise the unique culture of the Cham ethnic group in Ninh Thuan amongst domestic and foreign visitors.

    On the occasion of Kate festival 2018, antique collectors from across the nation and abroad donated 14 valuable objects of different materials and dates to the centre, which offer visitors an insight into the iron casting, pottery making, and fabric weaving of the Cham people. 
    Since 2010, the centre has received over 900 valuable artifacts from antique collectors. –VNA  

    Cham people in Ninh Thuan celebrate Kate festival

    VNAPrint

    (Photo: VNA)
    Ninh Thuan (VNA) - The ethnic Cham Brahman people in the central province of Ninh Thuan on October 19 began their celebration of the Kate festival, their most important event in the year.
    The same day, a ceremony to receive a certificate recognising the Kate festival as a national intangible heritage was also held.
    Thousands of Cham people along with visitors participated in various activities of the festival in Po Inungar shrine, Po Klong Girai and Po Rome towers. The festival was attended by Indian Ambassador to Vietnam Parvathaneni Harish and his spouse, local authorities and representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
    On the occasion, many delegations from the Party Committee, the People’s Council and the Vietnam Fatherland Front of Ninh Thuan province visited and presented gifts to dignitaries and policy beneficiaries in the locality.
    Falling on the first day of the seventh month of the Cham calendar, Kate is the most popular Cham festival in Ninh Thuan. It reminds the ethnic Brahman community of their ancient gods and delivers wishes for bumper harvests and the growth of all beings.  
    The Cham people have several distinctive festivals including the Ramuwan, the Rija Nugar, and the Chabun.
    There are about 153,000 Cham people in Vietnam, approximately 72,500 of them live in Ninh Thuan. Over 43,000 Cham people, scattered across 12 communes in seven districts of Ninh Thuan, follow the Brahmin religion.-VNA


    Balamon Cham Brahmins Of Vietnam


    That the Sanatana Dharma spread world-wide is a fact.
    Equally true is that the Varnas of Hindus spread (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras).
    The Kingdoms of Vietnam , Bali,Cambodia,  and Indonesia trace their ancestry to Sanatana Dharma.
    Fiji has Manu’s Portrait in the Parliamentary Hall.


    Brahmins' Attitude.jpg
    Brahmins’ Attitude.

    Australian Aborigines perform Shiva’s Third Eye dance and some of them wear Srivaishnava marks on their forehead even today.
    Lord Rama’s Kingdom was spread over this area.
    Tamil Kings who were the followers of Santana Dharma also conquered these Nations ans established their rule there.
    The left their mark, social, cultural and religious.
    This may by noticed by looking at the Hindu Temples in these regions and the cultural similarities in the region.
    These intermingled Buddhism, which arrived here later and what we have a curious mixture of Hindu and Buddhist practices in the area.
    However the Brahmin group maintained a `distinct identity and they still live there.
    The Champa civilization was located in the more southern part of what is today CentralVietnam, and was a highly Indianized Hindu Kingdom, practicing a form of ShaiviteHinduism brought by sea from India. Mỹ Sơn, a Hindu temple complex built by the Champa is still standing in Quang Nam province, in Vietnam.
    The Champa were conquered by theVietnamese and today are one of the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam. Hindu temples are known as Bimong in Cham language and the priests are known as Halau Tamunay Ahier.
    The Balamon Hindu Cham people of Vietnam make up only 25% of the overall Cham population (the other 75% are Muslims or Cham Bani). Of these, 70% belong to the Nagavamshi Kshatriya caste (pronounced in Vietnamese as “Satrias”), and claim to be the descendants of the Champa Empire. A sizeable minority of the Balamon Hindu Cham are Brahmins.
    In any case a sizable proportion of the Balamon Hindu Cham are considered Brahmins.
    Hindu temples known as Bimong in the Cham language and the priests Halau Tamunay Ahier.
    The exact number of Tamil Hindus in Vietnam are not published in Government census, but there are estimated to be at least 50,000 Balamon Hindus, with another 4,000 Hindus living in Ho Chi Minh City; most of whom are of Indian (Tamil) or of mixed Indian-Vietnamese descent. The Mariamman Temple is one of the most notable Tamil Hindu temples in Ho Chi Minh City. Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan Provinces are where most of the Cham ethnic group (~65%) in Vietnam reside according to the last population census. Cham Balamon (Hindu Cham) in Ninh Thuan numbered 32,000 in 2002 inhabiting 15 of 22 Cham villages.[27] If this population composition is typical for the Cham population of Vietnam as a whole then approximately 60% of Chams in Vietnam are Hindu
    Citation.

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    https://tinyurl.com/yd64r2at

    See: 

     

    http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.com/2017/05/indus-script-examples-of-paired-sabda.html Mirror: http://tinyurl.com/l4uxwhn

    https://www.facebook.com/srini.kalyanaraman/posts/10156201554499625

    Below the rim of the Susa storage pot, the contents are described in Sarasvati Script hieroglyphs/hypertexts: 1. Flowing water; 2. fish with fin; 3. aquatic bird tied to a rope Rebus readings of these hieroglyphs/hypertexts signify metal implements from the Meluhha mint.




    Clay storage pot discovered in Susa (Acropole mound), ca. 2500-2400 BCE (h. 20 ¼ in. or 51 cm). Musee du Louvre. Sb 2723 bis (vers 2450 avant J.C.)

    The hieroglyphs and Meluhha rebus readings on this pot from Meluhha are: 1. kāṇḍa 'water' rebus: khāṇḍā 'metal equipment'; 2. aya, ayo 'fish' rebus: aya 'iron' ayas 'metal alloy'; khambhaṛā 'fish fin' rebus: kammaṭ a 'mint, coiner, coinage' 3.  करड m. a sort of duck -- f. a partic. kind of bird ; S. karaṛa -ḍhī˜gu m. a very large aquatic bird (CDIAL 2787) karaṇḍa‘duck’ (Samskrtam) rebus: karaḍā 'hard alloy'; PLUS 4. meṛh 'rope tying to post, pillar’ rebus meḍ‘iron’ med ‘copper’ (Slavic)

    Susa pot is a ‘Rosetta stone’ for Sarasvati Script


    Water (flow)

    Fish fish-fin

    aquatic bird on wave (indicating aquatic nature of the bird), tied to rope, water

    kāṇḍa 'water'   rebus: kāṇḍa 'implements

    The vase a la cachette, shown with its contents. Acropole mound, Susa.[20]

    It is a remarkable 'rosetta stone' because it validates the expression used by Panini: ayaskāṇḍa अयस्--काण्ड [p= 85,1] m. n. " a quantity of iron " or " excellent iron " , (g. कस्का*दि q.v.). The early semantics of this expression is likely to be 'metal implements compared with the Santali expression to signify iron implements: meď 'copper' (Slovāk), mẽṛhẽt,khaṇḍa (Santali)  मृदु mṛdu,’soft iron’ (Samskrtam).

    Santali glosses.

    Sarasvati Script hieroglyphs painted on the jar are: fish, quail and streams of water; 

    aya 'fish' (Munda) rebus: aya 'iron' (Gujarati) ayas 'metal' (Rigveda) khambhaṛā 'fin' rebus: kammaṭa 'mint' Thus, together ayo kammaṭa, 'metals mint'

    baṭa 'quail' Rebus: bhaṭa 'furnace'.

    karaṇḍa 'duck' (Sanskrit) karaṛa 'a very large aquatic bird' (Sindhi) Rebus: करडा karaḍā 'Hard from alloy--iron, silver &c'. (Marathi) PLUS meRh 'tied rope' meṛh f. ʻ rope tying oxen to each other and to post on threshing floor ʼ (Lahnda)(CDIAL 10317) Rebus: mūhā mẽṛhẽt = iron smelted by the Kolhes and formeḍinto an equilateral lump a little pointed at each end;  mẽṛhẽt, meḍ ‘iron’ (Mu.Ho.)

    Thus, read together, the proclamation on the jar by the painted hieroglyphs is: baṭa meṛh karaḍā ayas kāṇḍa 'hard alloy iron metal implements out of the furnace (smithy)'.


    This is a jar closed with a ducted bowl. The treasure called "vase in hiding" was initially grouped in two containers with lids. The second ceramic vessel was covered with a copper lid. It no longer exists leaving only one. Both pottery contained a variety of small objects form a treasure six seals, which range from Proto-Elamite period (3100-2750 BCE) to the oldest, the most recent being dated to 2450 BCE (First Dynasty of Ur).


    Therefore it is possible to date these objects, this treasure. Everything included 29 vessels including 11 banded alabaster, mirror, tools and weapons made of copper and bronze, 5 pellets crucibles copper, 4 rings with three gold and a silver, a small figurine of a frog lapis lazuli, gold beads 9, 13 small stones and glazed shard.


    "In the third millenium Sumerian texts list copper among the raw materials reaching Uruk from Aratta and all three of the regions Magan, Meluhha and Dilmun are associated with copper, but the latter only as an emporium. Gudea refers obliquely to receiving copper from Dilmun: 'He (Gudea) conferred with the divine Ninzaga (= Enzak of Dilmun), who transported copper like grain deliveries to the temple builder Gudea...' (Cylinder A: XV, 11-18, Englund 1983, 88, n.6). Magan was certainly a land producing the metal, since it is occasionally referred to as the 'mountain of copper'. It may also have been the source of finished bronze objects." 


    "Susa... profound affinity between the Elamite people who migrated to Anshan and Susa and the Dilmunite people... Elam proper corresponded to the plateau of Fars with its capital at Anshan. We think, however that it probably extended further north into the Bakhtiari Mountains... likely that the chlorite and serpentine vases reached Susa by sea... From the victory proclamations of the kings of Akkad we also learn that the city of Anshan had been re-established, as the capital of a revitalised political ally: Elam itself... the import by Ur and Eshnunna of inscribed objects typical of the Harappan culture provides the first reliable chronological evidence. [C.J. Gadd, Seals of ancient style found at Ur, Proceedings of the British Academy, XVIII, 1932; Henry Frankfort, Tell Asmar, Khafaje and Khorsabad, OIC, 16, 1933, p. 50, fig. 22). It is certainly possible that writing developed in India before this time, but we have no real proof. Now Susa had received evidence of this same civilisation, admittedly not all dating from the Akkadian period, but apparently spanning all the closing years of the third millennium (L. Delaporte, Musee du Louvre. Catalogues des Cylindres Orientaux..., vol. I, 1920pl. 25(15), S.29. P. Amiet, Glyptique susienne,MDAI, 43, 1972, vol. II, pl. 153, no. 1643)... B. Buchanan has published a tablet dating from the reign of Gungunum of Larsa, in the twentieth century BC, which carries the impression of such a stamp seal. (B.Buchanan, Studies in honor of Benno Landsberger, Chicago, 1965, p. 204, s.). The date so revealed has been wholly confirmed by the impression of a stamp seal from the group, fig. 85, found on a Susa tablet of the same period. (P. Amiet, Antiquites du Desert de Lut, RA, 68, 1974, p. 109, fig. 16. Maurice Lambert, RA, 70, 1976, p. 71-72). It is in fact, a receipt of the kind in use at the beginning of the Isin-Larsa period, and mentions a certain Milhi-El, son of Tem-Enzag, who, from the name of his god, must be a Dilmunite. In these circumstances we may wonder if this document had not been drawn up at Dilmun and sent to Susa after sealing with a local stamp seal. This seal is decorated with six tightly-packed, crouching animals, characterised by vague shapes, with legs under their bodies, huge heads and necks sometimes striped obliquely. The impression of another seal of similar type, fig. 86, depicts in the centre a throned figure who seems to dominate the animals, continuing a tradition of which examples are known at the end of the Ubaid period in Assyria... Fig. 87 to 89 are Dilmun-type seals found at Susa. The boss is semi-spherical and decorated with a band across the centre and four incised circles. [Pierre Amiet, Susa and the Dilmun Culture, pp. 262-268].

    . This monograph presented the framework for Mlecchita vikalpa (Meluhha cipher) with examples of animal hieroglyphs as rebus representations of metalwork wealth repository.

    More examples of this cipher from Indus Script Corpora are presented.

    Black drongo bird
    Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) IMG 7702 (1)..JPG
    A Black drongo in Rajasthan state, northern India

    పసి (p. 730) pasi pasi. [from Skt. పశువు.] n. Cattle. పశుసమూహము, గోగణము. The smell of cattle, పశ్వాదులమీదిగాలి, వాసన. పసిపట్టు pasi-paṭṭu. To scent or follow by the nose, as a dog does a fox. పసిగొను to trace out or smell out. వాసనపట్టు. మొసలి కుక్కను పసిపట్టి when the crocodile scented the dog. పసులు pasulu. n. plu. Cattle, గోవులు. పసిగాపు pasi-gāpu. n. A herdsman, గోపకుడు పసితిండి pasi-tinḍi. n. A tiger, పెద్దపులి. పసులపోలిగాడు pasula-pōli-gāḍu. n. The Black Drongo or King crow, Dicrurusater. (F.B.I.) ఏట్రింత. Also, the Adjutant. తోకపసులపోలిగాడు the Raquet-tailed Drongo shrike. Jerdon. No. 55. 56. 59. కొండ పనులపోలిగాడు the White bellied Drongo, Dicrurus coerulescens. వెంటికపనుల పోలిగాడు the Hair-crested Drongo, Chibia hottentotta. టెంకిపనుల పోలిగాడు the larger Racket-tailed Drongo, Dissemurus paradiseus (F.B.I.) పసులవాడు pasula-vāḍu. n. A herdsman, గొల్లవాడు. 

    "With short legs, they sit upright on thorny bushes, bare perches or electricity wires. They may also perch on grazing animals."(Whistler, Hugh (1949). Popular handbook of Indian birds (4th ed.). Gurney and Jackson, London. pp. 155–157.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_drongo

    Hieroglyph: eagle పోలడు [ pōlaḍu ] , పోలిగాడు or దూడలపోలడు pōlaḍu. [Tel.] n. An eagle. పసులపోలిగాడు the bird called the Black Drongo. Dicrurus ater. (F.B.I.)(Telugu) पोळ pōḷa 'zebu'& pōlaḍu 'black drongo' signify polad 'steel

    Image result for bird zebu fish bull indus sealA zebu bull tied to a post; a bird above. Large painted storage jar discovered in burned rooms at Nausharo, ca. 2600 to 2500 BCE. पोळ pōḷa, 'Zebu, bos indicus' pōlaḍu, 'black drongo' rebus: pōlaḍ 'steel'; पोळ pōḷa, 'Zebu, bos indicus' of Sarasvati Script corpora is rebus:pōlāda'steel', pwlad (Russian), fuladh (Persian) folādī (Pashto) 
    pōḷa 'zebu' rebus: pōḷa 'magnetite, ferrite ore) pōladu 'black drongo bird' rebus: pōḷad 'steel' The semantics of bull (zebu) PLUS black drongo bird are the reason why the terracotta bird is shown with a bull's head as a phonetic determinative to signify 'steel/magnetite ferrite ore'. పోలడు (p. 820) pōlaḍu , పోలిగాడు or దూడలపోలడు pōlaḍu. [Tel.] n. An eagle. పసులపోలిగాడు the bird called the Black Drongo. Dicrurus ater. (F.B.I.)  rebus: pōlaḍu 'steel' (Russian. Persian) PLUS
    wings/plumage


    http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.com/2018/10/an-inscribed-pot-with-indus-script.html

    See:  

    https://tinyurl.com/y8aexctz    https://tinyurl.com/yajea5yx                                                                                                              The inscription on the pot described by Mortimer Wheeler in a BBC documentary is a proclamation that inscribed (authenticated) brass ingots, inscribed metal castings from furnace are offered for barter (sale) and contained in the storage pot. The reference to this pot in an archaeological context is detailed by Mortimer Wheeler from -16:31 to -15:44 of the video presented herein.

    An old documentry on Mohenjo Daro by BBC.



    Sir Mortimer Wheeler's 1957 tour of Mohenjo-daro, although outdated in many ways, has some great footage, close shots of Indus objects, and an engaging host. Gripping to Indus fans.


    The documentary provides a remarkable evidence on an artifact with Indus Script inscription which is a Hypertext.

    The Indus Script Inscription is imprinted (from a seal) on a pot which has been used as a storage pot on the Mohenjo-daro market for sale.

    Clearly, the inscription is a description of the item offered for sale and held in the pot.
    A storage pot on the left front of this photograph has an Indus Script inscription -- a proclamation of product on sale held in the pot.
    The inscription on the small pot is presented on this enlarged image of the small storage pot.

    What does the Indus Script Hypertext which has two hypertexts signify?
    This signifies brass ingot dula 'two' rebus: dul 'metal casting' PLUS kui 'curve;  kuika— 'bent' MBh. Rebus: kuila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) bhaṭa ‘warrior’ rebus: baṭa‘iron’ (Gujarati)
    Sign 15 This is composed of Sign 12 and Sign 342 This Hypertext Sign 15 signifies kuṭhi kaṇḍa kanka ‘smelting furnace account (scribe)’. 

    Thus, the two hypertexts together signify a proclamation that inscribed (authenticated) brass metal (iron) ingots, inscribed metal castings are offered for barter (sale) and contained in the storage pot.


    Identifying Meluhha gloss for parenthesis hieroglyph or (  ) split ellipse:  குடிலம்¹ kuṭilam, n. < kuṭila. 1. Bend curve, flexure; வளைவு. (திவா.) (Tamil) In this reading, the Sign 12 signifies a specific smelter for tin metal: kuṭi 'woman water-carrier'  rebus: rebus: kuṭhi 'smelter' furnace for iron/ kuṭila, 'tin (bronze)metal; kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) [cf. āra-kūṭa, ‘brass’ (Samskritam) See: http://download.docslide.us/uploads/check_up03/192015/5468918eb4af9f285a8b4c67.pdf

    It will be seen from Sign 15 that the basic framework of a water-carrier hieroglyph (Sign 12) is superscripted with another hieroglyph component, Sign 342: 'Rim of jar' to result in Sign 15. Thus, Sign 15 is composed of two hieroglyph components: Sign 12 'water-carrier' hieroglyph; Sign 342: "rim-of-jar' hieroglyph (which constitutes the inscription on Daimabad Seal 1).

    kaṇḍ kanka ‘rim of jar’; Rebus: karṇaka ‘scribe’; kaṇḍ ‘furnace, fire-altar’. Thus the ligatured Glyph is decodedkaṇḍ karṇaka ‘furnace scribe'
    Daimabad Seal 1 (Sign 342: Two hieroglyph components: jar with short-neck and rim-of-jar) -- distringuished from broad-mouthed rimless pot which is another Sign hieroglyph.

    Each hieroglyph component of Sign 15 is read in rebus-metonymy-layered-meluhha-cipher:  Hieroglyph component 1: kuṭi 'woman water-carrier' rebus: kuṭhi 'smelter' furnace for iron/kuṭila, 'tin metal'. Hieroglyph component 2: kanka, kārṇī-ka 'rim-of-jar' rebus: kanka, kārṇī-ka m. ʻsupercargo of a shipʼ 'scribe'.

    Ligatured hieroglyph 15 using two ligaturing components: 1. water-carrier; 2. rim-of-jar. The ‘rim-of-jar’ glyph connotes: furnace account (scribe). Together with the glyph showing ‘water-carrier’, the ligatured glyphs of kuṭi ‘water-carrier’ + ‘rim-of-jar’ can thus be read as: kuṭhi kaṇḍa kanka ‘smelting furnace account (scribe)’. 

    Sign 342
    Sign 12Vaiiants of Sign 12



     This hypertext signifies the hypertext reads: dul kuṭila 'cast brass' (from) bhaṭa 'warrior' Rebus: bhaṭa 'furnace'.

    bhaṭa 'warrior' Rebus: bhaṭa 'furnace'.PLUS dula 'two' rebus: dul 'metal casting' PLUS kuṭi 'curve kuṭika— 'bent' MBh. Rebus: kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin). Thus, the hypertext reads:dul kuṭila 'cast brass' (from) bhaṭa 'warrior' Rebus: bhaṭa 'furnace'.

    The two parenthetical marks which constitute the circumscript around the ''warrior' hieroglyph are a split lozenge or oval shape Sign 373which is an Indus Script Sign.
    Sign 373 signifies mũhã̄ 'bun ingot' Sign 373 has the shape of oval or lozenge is the shape of a bun ingotmũhã̄ = the quantity of iron produced atone time in a native smelting furnace of the Kolhes; iron produced by the Kolhes and formed likea four-cornered piece a little pointed at each end; mūhā mẽṛhẽt = iron smelted by the Kolhes andformed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends; kolhe tehen mẽṛhẽt komūhā akata = the Kolhes have to-day produced pig iron (Santali). Thus, Sign 373 signifies word, mũhã̄ 'bun ingot'. 

    The sign occurs on a zebu, bos indicus to signify a crucible steel cake since po'zebu, bos indicus' rebus:poa 'magnetite, ferrite ore'.

    Decipherment of Harappa zebu figurine with oval spots: magnetite ingots http://tinyurl.com/o75bok6 wherein a zebu figurine with oval spots has been presented.

     

    I submit that these oval spots signify पोलाद pōlāda, 'crucible steel cake' explained also as mūhā mẽht = iron smelted by the Kolhes and formed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends (Santali) 


    See: Indus Script hypertext पोळ pōḷa, 'zebu, bos indicus' signifies pōḷa ‘magnetite, ferrous-ferric oxide Fe3O4', पोलाद pōlāda, 'crucible steel cake' https://tinyurl.com/y9so6ubv

    पोलाद pōlāda, 'steel' = ukku 'wootz steel' derived from Vedic utsa 'spring'; eraka, urku 'moltencast'





    Image result for zebu ingot shape bharatkalyan97
    Slide 33. Early Harappan zebu figurine with incised spots from Harappa. Some of the Early Harappan zebu figurines were decorated. One example has incised oval spots. It is also stained a deep red, an extreme example of the types of stains often found on figurines that are usually found in trash and waste deposits. Approximate dimensions (W x H(L) x D): 1.8 x 4.6 x 3.5 cm. (Photograph by Richard H. Meadow) http://www.harappa.com/figurines/33.html

    The oval spots are shaped like the copper ingots shown on this photograh of Maysar, c. 2200 BCE:
    Maysar c.2200 BCE Packed copper ingots INGOTS
    mūhā mẽṛhẽt = iron smelted by the Kolhes and formed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends (Santali)

    Another artifact which compares with the described shape of mūhā mẽṛhẽt 'steel ingot' is shown in the characteristic oval shape of a crucible steel buttton.
    Related imageCrucible steel button. Steel smelted from iron sand in a graphite crucible.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crucible_steel_button.jpg
    Decipherment of the Harappa figurine on Slide 33:

     पोळ [pōḷa], 'zebu' Rebus: magnetite, citizen.(See: http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2015/08/zebu-archaeometallurgy-legacy-of-india.html )
     mūhā mẽṛhẽt = iron smelted by the Kolhes and formed into an equilateral lump a little pointed at each of four ends (Santali)
     
    खोट (p. 212) [ khōṭa ] f A mass of metal (unwrought or of old metal melted down); an ingot or wedge. (Marathi)

    The figurine signifies ingots of  पोळ [pōḷa], ‘magnetite’. This is a metalwork catalogue message in Indus Script Corpora.

    The following proverb indicates the exalted status of the zebu, bos indicus which read rebus as  पोळ‘magnetite, ferrite ore’ is the life-sustaining wealth of the artisans:  ज्याची खावी पोळी त्याची वाजवावी टाळी. Of whom you eat the salt, him laud and exalt. टाळी (p. 196) ṭāḷī f (ताल S)  Beating the hands together.

    There is a remarkable expression in Tamil which signifies the homonymous writing of similar sounding words as pictures in Indus Script. The expression is: போலியெழுத்து pōli-y-eḻuttun. < id +. 1. Syllable or letter resembling another in sound, as அய் for அவ் for  ஓர் எழுத்துக் குப் பிரதியாகஅவ்வொலியில் அமையும் எழுத்து. (நன். 124.) 2. Letter substituted for another different in sound, as in சாம்பர் for சாம்பல்ஓர் எழுத்துக்குப் பிரதியாக வரும் எழுத்து. (நன்.)


    போலியெழுத்து pōli-y-eḻuttu can thus be translated as rebus writing of Indus Script.


    I suggest that since the majestic dewlap is the most characteristic feature of the zebu, the following etyma reinforce the identification of zebu,bos indicus as पोळ   pōḷa m A bull dedicated to the gods, marked with a trident and discus, and set at large: पोळी   pōḷī fig. A dewlap. पोळी पिकणें g. of s. To begin to fare sumptuously; to get into good living.


    The oval-shaped incised spots on the zebu figurine signify crucible steel cakes and hence may be calledपोळ   pōḷa   पोळें   pōḷēṃ   पोळा   pōḷā  पोळी   pōḷī f. n C A cake-form or flat honeycomb;  fig. Any squeezed and compressed cakeform body or mass. पोळी (p. 305) pōḷī f A plain wheaten cake: also a cake composed of rice-flour boiled and rolled up with wheaten. 2 The cake-form portion of a honeycomb. 3 fig. Any squeezed and compressed cakeform body or mass. 4 Cotton steeped in a dye of lác, lodhra &38;c., flattened into the form of a cake, and dried;--forming afterwards, with water, a sort of red ink. 5 fig. A dewlap. पोळी पिकणें g. of s. To begin to fare sumptuously; to get into good living.

    The smelting processes involved in making such crucible steel cakes are expressed by the following semantics of cognate words: अहारोळी   ahārōḷī f (अहार & पोळी) A cake baked on embers.पोळणें   pōḷaṇēṃ v i To catch, burn, singe; to be seared or scorched.  पोळा   pōḷā A kindled portion flying up from a burning mass, a flake.  पोळींव   pōḷīṃva p of पोळणें Burned, scorched, singed, seared. पोळभाज   pōḷabhāja f (पोळणें&38; भाजणें To burn &38;c.) In agriculture. A comprehensive term for the operations connected with the burning of the ground.


    The cultural significance  attached to the crucible steel cake may be seen from the practice of offering a cake atop the Holi festival fire which is called : होळीची पोळी (p. 527) hōḷīcī pōḷī f The right (of villagers, esp. of the मुखत्यार पाटील) of first placing a पोळी (or cake) upon the pile which is kindled at the close of the festival of the होळी. 2 The cake so designated and applied.

    दुपोडी पोळी (p. 237) dupōḍī pōḷī f (दुपूडपोळी) A पोळी or stuffed cake doubled up. Sign 294  is a doubling of a curve.dula 'two' rebus: dul 'metal casting' PLUS kuṭi 'curve;  kuṭika— 'bent' MBh. Rebus: kuṭila, katthīl = bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin).


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    https://tinyurl.com/yaajcnf2

    Akṣarasamāmnāya, "recitation of phonemes". Each of the fourteen verses consists of a group of basic Sanskrit phonemes (i.e. either open syllables consisting either of initial vowels or consonants followed by the basic vowel "a") followed by a single 'dummy letter', or anubandha, conventionally rendered by capital letters in Roman transliteration and named 'IT' by Pāṇini.

    Phonemes with a similar manner of articulation are put together as pratyāhāras (so sibilants in 13 śa ṣa sa R, nasals in 7 ñ m ṅ ṇ n M).

    Examples:

    pratyāhāras, consist of a phoneme-letter and an anubandha (and often the vowel a to aid pronunciation) .


    pratyāhāra aC refers to ALL vowels (i.e., all of the phonemes before the anubandha C: i.e. a i u ṛ ḷ e o ai au); 


    pratyāhāra haL refers to ALL consonants.


    Sūtra 6.1.101 अकः सवर्णे दीर्घः aKaḥ savarṇe dīrghaḥ teaches that vowels (from the aK pratyāhāra) of the same quality come together to make a long vowel, so for instance dadhi and indraḥ make dadhīndraḥ, not *dadhyindraḥ


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BO4GVlJS21k&list=PL6q-PQJVJorxbr8JrPerDIBS2qyQIpJyC (7:13)



    Parvati Vallabha Ashtakam | Damaru | Adiyogi Chants | Sounds of Isha


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otHBhMBv4Gg (2:44

    Damak dam damroo re baje new DJ 2017


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKlL4bJe3Q8 (8:41)

    Lord Shiva Sound of - Damaru


    *ḍaṅka ʻ drum ʼ. 2. *ḍakka -- 4. [Cf. ḍakkārī -- ʻ lute ʼ lex.]

    1. P. N. B. Or. H. M. ḍaṅkā m. ʻ drum ʼ; G. ḍaṅkɔ m. ʻ large kettledrum ʼ, M. ḍã̄kā m.
    2. Pk. ḍakka -- m. ʻ a partic. musical instrument ʼ; G. ḍakkɔ m. ʻ drum ʼ; Si. ḍäkkiya ʻ tom -- tom ʼ.(CDIAL 5525)


     *ḍaṅgara1 ʻ cattle ʼ. 2. *daṅgara -- . [Same as ḍaṅ- gara -- 2 s.v. *ḍagga -- 2 as a pejorative term for cattle]1. K. ḍangur m. ʻ bullock ʼ, L. ḍaṅgur, (Ju.) ḍ̠ãgar m. ʻ horned cattle ʼ; P. ḍaṅgar m. ʻ cattle ʼ, Or. ḍaṅgara; Bi. ḍã̄gar ʻ old worn -- out beast, dead cattle ʼ, dhūr ḍã̄gar ʻ cattle in general ʼ; Bhoj. ḍāṅgar ʻ cattle ʼ; H. ḍã̄garḍã̄grā m. ʻ horned cattle ʼ.(CDIAL 5526)


    डमरु m. ( L. )a sacred drum, shaped like an hourglass, used by the god शिव and by Buddhist mendicant monks for a musical accompaniment in chanting, cf. MWB. 384, 385 Ra1jat. ii , 99 Prab. iii , 14; surprise (Monier-Williams)


    ḍamaru m. ʻ drum ʼ Rājat., ˚uka -- m. lex. 2. *ḍam- baru -- . [Onom. and perh. ← Mu. EWA i 460, PMWS 86]1. Pk. ḍamarua -- m.n.; L. awāṇ. P. ḍaurū m. ʻ tabor, small drum ʼ; Ku. ḍaũrḍaũru ʻ drum ʼ; M. ḍaurḍavrā m. ʻ hourglass -- tabor ʼ, ḍaurī m. ʻ itinerant musician ʼ.2. N. ḍambaruḍamaru ʻ small drum ʼ, A. ḍambaru, B. ḍamru, Or. ḍambaruḍamaru, H. ḍamrū m., G. M. ḍamru m.Other variants: K. ḍābürü f. ʻ large drum used for proclamations ʼ; -- Or. ḍempha ʻ shallow kettledrum ʼ; -- N. ḍamphu˚pho ʻ small drum or tambourine ʼ; B. ḍamphu ʻ drum ʼ; -- Ku. ḍãphṛī ʻ drum ʼ, ḍaphulo˚uwā ʻ small drum ʼ; N. ḍaph ʻ a partic. musical instrument played during Holi ʼ; G. ḍaph f.n. ʻ a kind of tabor ʼ; <-> G. ḍamkɔ m. ʻ drum ʼ.Addenda: ḍamaru -- . 1. WPah.J. ḍõru m. ʻ small drum ʼ, Garh. ḍɔ̃ru m., Brj. ḍaurū˘.2. *ḍambaru -- : WPah.kṭg. (kc.) ḍɔmru m. id.*ḍambaru -- ʻ drum ʼ see ḍamaru -- Add2.(CDIAL 5531)


    Rebus: blacksmith: N. ḍāṅro ʻ term of contempt for a blacksmith; N. ḍiṅgar ʻ contemptuous term for an inhabitant of the Tarai ʼ; Or. dhāṅgaṛ ʻ young servant, herdsman, name of a Santal tribe ʼ, dhāṅgaṛā ʻ unmarried youth ʼ, ˚ṛī ʻ unmarried girl ʼ, dhāṅgarā ʻ youth, man ʼ; H. dhaṅgar m. ʻ herdsman ʼ, dhã̄gaṛ˚ar m. ʻ a non -- Aryan tribe in the Vindhyas, digger of wells and tanks ʼ(CDIAL 5524)

    Mth. ṭhākur ʻ blacksmith ʼ(CDIAL 5488)

    Image result for damaru coin kausambiDamaru, drum of Śiva, which produces the sounds of phonemes of Samskr̥tam


    In the post-Mauryan period at Kosambi (modern Allahabad district) cast copper coinage were found with and without punchmarks. Their coinage resemble the Damaru-drum (hour-glass shaped drum of Ancient Bharat). 


    Image result for damaru coin kausambiKauśāmbi, 4.34g, 24.5 x 20.8 mm,  Damaru coin, 200 BCE

    Obv: Humped bull to left with upraised leg; swastika; taurine and Ujjain type symbol

    Rev: Tree in twelve chambered railing.


    http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php?topic=31930.0


    The 'symbols' on this coin are Indus Script Hypertexts:


    1. zebu, bos indicus Alternative (Vikalpa) 1: ḍaṅgar 'bull' rebus: ḍāṅro, ṭhākur ʻblacksmithʼ Alternative  पोळ pōḷa, 'zebu, bos indicus' signifies pōḷa 'magnetite, ferrous-ferric oxide Fe3O4', पोलाद pōlāda, 'crucible steel 

    2. svastika sattva, 'svastika symbol' rebus: sattva'zinc', jasta'zinc, spelter; pewter'.
    3. taurine Four arms: gaṇḍa 'four'; rebus:khaṇḍ'tools, pots and pans and metal-ware'.
    4. tree on 12-chambered railing kuṭi'tree'Rebus:kuṭhi'smelter' (smithy) Ta. paṭṭai painted stripe (as on a temple wall), piebald colour, dapple.Ma. paṭṭa stripe. Ka. paṭṭe, paṭṭi id. Koḍ. paṭṭe striped or spotted (as tiger or leopard); paṭṭati n.pr. of dappled cow. Tu. paṭṭè stripe. Te. paṭṭe stripe or streak of paint; paḍita stripe, streak, wale.(DEDR 3877) Ta. pātti bathing tub, watering trough or basin, spout, drain; pattal wooden bucket; pattar id., wooden trough for feeding animals. Ka. pāti basin for water round the foot of a tree. Tu. pāti trough or bathing tub, spout, drain. Te. pādi, pādu basin for water round the foot of a tree(DEDR 4079)Rebus 1: pāṭaṇ maritime town, port: పట్ర paṭra paṭra. [Tel.] n. A village, a hamlet. పల్లెపట్ర villages and hamlets. H. iv. 108. paṭṭana n. ʻ town ʼ Kauṭ., °nī -- f. lex. 2. páttana -- n. MBh. [Prob. ← Drav. T. Burrow BSOAS xii 383 and EWA ii 192 with ṭṭ replaced by IA. tt. But its specific meaning as ʻ ferry ʼ in S. L. P. B. H. does lend support to its derivation by R. A. Hall in Language 12, 133 from *partana -- (√pr̥ ~ Lat. portus, &c.). Poss. MIA. pattana -- , paṭṭana -- ʻ *ferry ʼ has collided with Drav. loanword for ʻ town ʼ] 1. Pa. paṭṭana -- n. ʻ city ʼ, °aka -- n. ʻ a kind of village ʼ; Pk. paṭṭaṇa -- n. ʻ city ʼ; K. paṭan m. ʻ quarter of a town, name of a village 14 miles NW of Śrinagar ʼ; N. pāṭan ʻ name of a town in the Nepal Valley ʼ; B. pāṭan ʻ town, market ʼ(CDIAL 7705)

    Division of squares on railing: khaṇḍa 'division' rebus:.khaṇḍa 'tools, pots and pans and metal-ware'.


    The tree on railing shown on Kauśāmbi coin occurs on many ancient coins of Eran. On one Eran coin, damaru symbol is shown on the obverse.

    Image result for damaru coin kausambi
    Eran, anonymous 1/2 AE karshapana,  five punch 'symbol type'
    Weight:  5.35 gm., Dimensions: 20x19 mm. 'Ujjain symbol', Indradhvaja, railed tree, river, fishes. Blank reverse
    Reference:  Pieper 482 (plate coin)

    eran483
    Eran, anonymous 1/2 AE karshapana,  four punch 'symbol type'
    Weight:  5.70 gm., Dimensions: 20x20 mm.
    The same type as previous coin but a damaru-in-damaru-shaped-enclosure on
    the reverse.
    Reference:  Pieper 483 (plate coin)


    "The damaru revesre symbol might indicate that this type originates from Vidarbha. The Eran region is close to Vidarbha and a typological link is certainly possible. There even might have been a common rule for some time in Damabhadra's reign in the second part of the second century BCE. Mitchiner (MATEC p.1080) supports such a view...Eran and Vidisha, famous sites of great antiquity, were among the dominating urban centers of eastern Malwa in post-Mauryan Central India. Eran is situated on the south bank of the Bina river, a tributary of river Betwa, and Vidisha is on the east bank of the Betwa, approximately 50 miles away. Other major urban centers of eastern Malwa were Bhagila, Kurara and Nandinagara (Nadner). An early trade route connecting Pataliputra with Mathura passed through Eran-Vidisha lands. And while one trade route went from Kausambi in the Allahabad district to the eastern sea coast, another route connected Kausambi in a south-westerly direction with Bharhut, Eran, Vidisha, Ujjain, Mahismati and finally Broach on the western sea coast.


    In contrast to the more or less exclusive use of die-struck local coins in western Malwa, dominated by the urban center of Ujjain, some local powers of eastern Malwa used die-struck coins, while others issued punchmarked copper coins during this post-Mauryan period. Traditionally, these coins have been assigned to "Eran" but they may have been issued in Vidisha or other neighbouring centers as well.
    The Eran-Vidisha region is the source of an important series of attractive,well executed ancient punchmarked copper coins. These local coins of eastern Malwa developed in the post-Mauryan time when the political control of the region had fallen to local dynasts. The very distinctive local coinages, such as that of Eran and Vidisha in eastern Malwa or that of Ujjain in western Malwa, are an indication that these regions were practically independent when issuing these coins. One cannot fix the start of the local Eran-Vidisha punchmarked coppers precisely but the second part of the 2nd century BC is probable. The series came to an end when the Satavahanas incorporated Malwa into their growing empire around the middle of the 1st century BC.  A few Eran punchmarked coins with Satavahana inscriptions confirm the dynastic change in this region.Usually there are 4-5 different punches on an Eran coin. The maximum amount of punches is six and a few types have only two or three punches. The reverse of most specimens is blank but sometimes we see the remains of an old undertype. The commonest devices on Eran coins are elephant, horse, so-called Ujjain symbol, river, railed standard, railed tree and (lotus-)flower with eight petals. Sometimes we see also a bull,  a six-armed symbol, a taurine fixed in an open railing, a damaru in a damaru-shaped enclosure or a standard in a damaru-shaped enclosure. "


    http://coinindia.com/galleries-eran1.html


    Māheśvara Sūtrāṇi 

    1. a i u
    2.
    3. e o
    4. ai au C
    5. ha ya va ra
    6. la
    7. ña ma a a na M
    8. jha bha Ñ
    9. gha ha dha
    10. ja ba ga a da Ś
    11. kha pha cha ha tha ca a ta V
    12. ka pa Y
    13. śa a sa R
    14. ha L

    . ण्।
    २. ऋ ऌ क्।
    ३. ए ओ ङ्।
    ४. ऐ औ च्।
    ५. ह य व र ट्।
    ६. ल ण्।
    ७. ञ म ङ ण न म्।
    ८. झ भ ञ्।
    ९. घ ढ ध ष्।
    १०. ज ब ग ड द श्।
    ११. ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व्।
    १२. क प य्।
    १३. श ष स र्।
    १४. ह ल्। 

    देवनागरी 
    1. ಣ್
    2. ಲ್ರುಕ್
    3. ಙ್
    4. ಚ್ 
    5. ಟ್
    6. ಣ್
    7. ಮ್ 
    8.
    9. ಷ್ 
    10. ಶ್ 
    11. ವ್
    12. ಯ್
    13. ರ್ 
    14. ಲ್ 

    ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)





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    RV 10.95.1 Translation (Griffith): 1. Ho there, my consort! Stay, thou fiercesouled- lady, and let us reason for a while together.
    Such thoughts as these of ours, while yet unspoken in days gone by have never brought us comfort.

    It is remarkable that Dr. Luka Repanšek Department of Comparative and General Linguistics, University of Ljubljana Dr. Sabine Ziegler President of the Indogermanische Gesellschaft refer to this r̥ca of speech in days gone by. Evidence for spoken forms of language are seen In Indus Script inscriptions.

    Kalyanaraman

    100 Years of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at the University of Ljubljana – A “Ljubilee”

     

     
    Dear friends and colleagues!
    In 2019, the University of Ljubljana is celebrating its long-awaited centennial. Since the Faculty of Arts and with it Comparative Indo-European Linguistics (indoevropsko primerjalno jezikoslovje) as one of its earliest fields of study are the cornerstones of this leading Slovenian educational institution, it seems more than fit to pay the long tradition a deserved respect in the form of an international symposium that will bring together a wide array of scholars willing to honour the occasion with selected talks and papers on the issues of contemporary comparative Indo-European linguistics. The symposium will take place in Ljubljana in early June 2019 and is organised by the Chair of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics in Ljubljana and the Indogermanische Gesellschaft / Society for Indo-European Studies / Société des études indo-européennes as the Society’s annual Arbeitstagung.
    Apart from the suggestive paraphrase of RVS X.95.1b there will be no general topic that would steer but certainly limit the creative mind. We welcome all papers that celebrate the inexhaustible power of the comparative method on the entire spectrum of Indo-European linguistics and on every level of linguistic enquiry. Especially appreciated, however, will be the individual contributions on those topics that boast a particularly long tradition of research and teaching endeavours in Ljubljana, viz. Indo-Iranian, Anatolian, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Albanian, Tocharian, Indo-European Trümmersprachen, onomastic languages (incl. Old European toponymy), the laryngeal theory, Indo-Uralic, and pre-Indo-European.
    NB It is a particular pleasure to add that as an integral part of the symposium the XIIth International Workshop on Balto-Slavic Accentology (IWoBA XII) will again be held in Ljubljana, welcoming papers dealing with the diachronic issues of Balto-Slavic accentology. Note that in the frame-work of the meeting a comprehensive workshop on the different schools of thought in this complex field is also planned.
    Proposals in the form of preliminary abstracts (200-300 words) for 30-minute papers in English, French, or German – the official working languages of the IG (for contributions planned for the IWoBA workshop also Russian, as is tradition), may be sent by 15 December 2018 to arbeitstagung@...-lj.si. The proposals will be peer-reviewed and the decision announced by the end of January 2019 at the latest. A publishable version of the abstracts with appended bibliography will be due by 30 March 2019. The conference Acta are planned to appear a year after the symposium.
    Sincerely,
    Dr. Luka Repanšek
    Department of Comparative and General Linguistics,
    University of Ljubljana
    &
    Dr. Sabine Ziegler
    President of the Indogermanische Gesellschaft

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    https://tinyurl.com/y79ps9pk


    Proving the form and function of Indus Script Hypertexts: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) of ca. 3300 BCE rebus Meluhha spoken metaphor is the cipher Kindle Edition

    by S Kalyanaraman (Author)

    Evidence from a pot held in a market street of Mohenjo-daro and a pot received in Susa from Meluhha provide the clue to understand the function of Indus Script Inscriptions. All inscriptions were wealth-accounting ledgers, metalwork catalogues.
    Proving the form and function of Indus Script Hypertexts: Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) of ca. 3300 BCE rebus Meluhha spoken metaphor is the cipher by [Kalyanaraman, S]

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    https://tinyurl.com/yb9wkzbm

    The hypertexts are wealth-accounting ledgers, metalwork catalogues:

    ibha, karibha'elephant' rebus: karba, ib'iron'
    dula'pair' rebus: dul'metal casting'
    tāmarasa'lotus' rebus: tāmra'copper'.
    कर्णक kárṇaka, 'pericarp of lotus'karaṇī 'scribe, supercargo', kañi-āra'helmsman'. 

    Lakṣmi from Gaya. Śunga period.

    Lakṣmi from Gaya. Showering abundance blessing from her lotus.
    Image result for sanchi lakshmi
    Lakṣmi . Bharhut.
    Image result for sanchi lakshmi
    Image result for sanchi lakshmi
    Lakṣmi . Sanchi Stupa.

    Файл:Coin of Azilises showing Gaja Lakshmi standing on a lotus 1st century BCE.jpg

    Coin of Azilises showing Gaja Lakṣmi standing on a lotus 1st century BCE


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    https://tinyurl.com/y7osutjz

    -- kār-kund'manager'.sãghāṛɔ'lathe' rebus jangadiyo'military guard'; kamaṭamu'portable furnace', kammata'mint'
    -- kār-kunda 'manager'of lokhaṇḍa 'metal tools, pots and pans, metalware'. 


    Gold Pendant. Harappa. National Museum, New Delhi
    Sun's rays arka 'sun, rays of sun' rebus: arka 'copper, gold'eraka'moltencast'. 
    Image result for pendant ndus scriptm1656 Mohenjodro Pectoral. The body of the young bull has the pictograph signified on the body. Arka flipped vertically and signified on the body of the young bull on pectoral, as shown below. The young bull signifies Hieroglyph: kõda 'young bull-calf'.  Rebus: kundaa 'fine gold'; kār-kund 'manager'. The overflowing pot signifies the goldsmith artisan's repertoire of metalwork professional competence: lokhaṇḍa 'metal tools, pots and pans, metalware' (Marathi)

    I suggest that this pictograph signifies arka'sun's rys' rebus: arka'gold' Synonym: kundana 'fine gold'  (rebus reading of kõda'young bull-calf'. Rebus: kundaa 'fine gold' (Kannada).-- as a semantic determinative.


    Hieroglyph 1: sãghāṛɔ 'lathe'.(Gujarati).Rebus:  Vajra Sanghāta 'binding together' (Varahamihira) *saṁgaḍha ʻ collection of forts ʼ. [*gaḍha -- ]L. sãgaṛh m. ʻ line of entrenchments, stone walls for defence ʼ.(CDIAL 12845). Rebus: jangaḍ 'wealth in treasury, accounting of mercantile transaction'; jangadiyo 'military guards carrying treasure into the treasury' (Gujarati). Hieroglyph 2: కమటము  kamaṭamu. [Tel.] n. A portable furnace for melting the precious metals. అగసాలెవాని కుంపటి. "చ కమటము కట్లెసంచియొరగల్లును గత్తెర సుత్తె చీర్ణముల్ ధమనియుస్రావణంబు మొలత్రాసును బట్టెడ నీరుకారు సా నము పటుకారు మూస బలునాణె పరీక్షల మచ్చులాదిగా నమరగభద్రకారక సమాహ్వయు డొక్కరుడుండు నప్పురిన్"హంస. ii. Rebus: kammata 'coiner, mint, coinage'.
    Hieroglyph: खोंड (p. 216) [khōṇḍam A young bull, a bullcalf; खोंडा [ khōṇḍā ] m A कांबळा of which one end is formed into a cowl or hood. खोंडरूं [ khōṇḍarūṃ ] n A contemptuous form of खोंडा in the sense of कांबळा-cowl (Marathi. Molesworth); kōḍe dūḍa bull calf (Telugu); kōṛe 'young bullock' (Konda)Rebus: kõdā ‘to turn in a lathe’ (Bengali) kõda 'young bull-calf'. Rebus: kũdār'turner'; kundana 'fine gold' (Kannada).कुन्द [p= 291,2] one of कुबेर's nine treasures (N. of a गुह्यक Gal. ) L. کار کند kār-kund (corrup. of P کار کن) adj. Adroit, clever, experienced. 2. A director, a manager; (Fem.) کار کنده kār-kundaʿh.  (Pashto)
    kāṇḍam காண்டம்² kāṇṭam, n. < kāṇḍa. 1. Water; sacred water; நீர். துருத்திவா யதுக்கிய குங்குமக் காண் டமும் (கல்லா. 49, 16). Rebus: khāṇḍā ‘metal tools, pots and pans’ (Marathi) (B) {V} ``(pot, etc.) to ^overflow''. See `to be left over'. @B24310. #20851. Re(B) {V} ``(pot, etc.) to ^overflow''. See `to be left over'. (Munda ) Rebus: loh ‘copper’ (Hindi) The hieroglyph clearly refers to the metal tools, pots and pans of copper. 
    The expression signified by the overflowing pot is: lokhaṇḍa 'metal tools, pots and pans, metalware' (Marathi)

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    Sri Ayyappan is dharma Śāstā. Sri Kārtikeya is brahma Śāstā. 

    Śāstā means 'teacher'. Both are students who are teachers of devotees who are artisans. The teaching is that skill and learning should be adored. Every child is a spark from the divine anvil.

    The tradition of Kārtikeya temple in Pehoa (Haryana, near Kurukṣetra), is that women are strictly forbidden in this temple which celebrates the brahmachāri form of Lord Kārtikeya. The devotees observe very strict rules during the months of Chaturmas (the months from āṣāḍha through Kārtik). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kartikeya_Temple,_Pehowa 

    brahmachāri means 'disciplined veda student', i.e. devoted to the sacred duty of learning. Devotees adore the disciplined students in Pehoa and Śabarimala temples. 

    Court has no business to interfere in the celebrations by artisans celebrating a discplined student be it Pehoa or be it Śabarimala. Families adore a disciplined student as a divinity to be emulated in their earthly lives. 

    Namaskaram. Kalyanaraman



    Sabarimala: Justice downsizes Divinity
    by Sandhya Jain on 16 Oct 2018
    Sabarimala: Justice downsizes divinity

    Its inclusive character notwithstanding, Sabarimala has several characteristics consistent with a denominational temple and should have been spared the humiliation that is currently agitating Ayyappaswami devotees across the country. In hundreds of Ayyappa temples, devotees are welcomed without distinction of gender, jati or even creed. At Sabarimala, Ayyappa, born from the union of Shiva and Vishnu as Mohini, takes the form of Naishtika Brahmachari (perennial celibate) and performs eternal tapas(meditation); hence women devotees of reproductive age (10 to 50 years) desist from disturbing him.

    Hindu dharma celebrates divinity in its complex diversity. The same deity has different traits and is worshipped differently according to naama (name), rupa (form) and svarupa (essence). During the Navratras, Devi is worshipped in nine forms. At four major temples in Kerala, Ayyappa takes the form of a ‘kumar’ (teenager) at Sabarimala; a ‘balak’ (child) at Kulathupuzha; a grihastha (family man) with wives at Achankovil; and a ‘tapasvi’ (ascetic) in Aryankavu; these denote the four stages of human life.


    Sabarimala is essentially a denominational temple within the Ayyappa panth (stream); it has special rules and regulations appropriate to the deity in that rupa and svarupa. These rules have been practiced without demur from time immemorial and correspond to settled usage and custom. Violation, as in 2006 when an actress in the prohibited age group entered the temple, defiles the sanctity of the temple according to the Agamas, and requires purification.


    The denominational nature of the temple is established by the rigorous 41-day vrat (penance) that Ayyappa Himself prescribed when he directed a king to build the temple at the spot where his arrow landed after vanquishing a demon. This includes total abstinence, celibacy, and other forms of asceticism. A person starting tapas takes blessings from his parents, elders and Guru and dons a tulsi or rudraksha maala. The aim is to purify mind and body and establish the Oneness of all beings. On the pilgrimage, each devotee is addressed as ‘Swami’ as he has become pure. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud’s view that, “To suggest that women cannot undertake the 41-day vratham is to stereotype them”, mocks at the sanctity of custom. That this has caused religious hurt can be seen from the thousands of women pouring out on the streets of Kerala cities to protest the verdict.


    Only those who conclude the vrat and carry the Irumudi kettu on their heads can cross the Srichakra and ascend the final 18 steps to the sannidhanam (sanctum), to the presence of Ayyappa. Irumudi is a twin bundle with offerings for the deity on one side, and the pilgrim’s humble necessities on the other. Other devotees worship through a side entrance. The 18 steps represent the stages of knowledge and consciousness, to supreme bliss at the feet of Ayyappaswami. The vrat and Irumudi distinguish Sabarimala as a religious denomination or section thereof which, under Article 26, has the right to manage its own affairs in matters of religion.


    It is inexplicable why the Supreme Court refused to accept the balaka god as a minor and a juristic entity, a settled principle in Hindu Law. In the Ram Janmabhumi case, Ramlalla (infant Rama) is a minor and juristic entity entitled to the protection of the law and to be represented by a ‘best friend’. Hindu Gods own wealth and property because they are juristic entities. In 1988, recognising this principal, a London judge returned the Chola Nataraja of Pattur to India, ruling that so long as even one stone belonging to a temple built by a Chola chieftain remains in situ, the temple continues to exist in the eye of law and has the right to own property. Sabarimala is a living temple adhering to distinct agamas; it is incorrect to designate temples as ‘public spaces’ and deny the deity’s constitutional rights.


    We may ask if it is wise to destroy the sanctity of Sabarimala to satisfy the iconoclastic urges (disguised as a quest for equality) of litigants whose locus standi is suspect? The principal activists behind the Indian Young Lawyers Association & Ors Versus The State of Kerala & Ors. [Writ Petition (C) No. 373 of 2006] have admitted that they were inspired by the furore over actress Jayamala’s unlawful entry into the temple.


    The erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, where Ayyappa grew up, and People for Dharma are seeking a review of the verdict, on grounds that it “has the effect of Abrahamising the core of the Hindu faith, namely diversity, and altering its identity”. The organisation laments that the court failed to enquire if the traditional practice “is essential to the identity of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple”. Instead, it asked if it is essential to Hindu religion, when the Sanatana Dharma has no Book or Canon with uniform beliefs and practices.


    The Sabarimala restrictions have been distorted as derogatory towards women in their fertile years. Different temples run according to distinct agamas. The menstrual cycle of Assam’s Devi Kamakhya is celebrated in the Ambubachi festival; Rajo, symbolising the menstruation of Mother Earth, is a major event in Odisha. The Mahadeo temple in Chengannur celebrates women’s fertility, and transgenders have divine status in Kottankulangara.


    Only Justice Indu Malhotra, the sole dissenting voice, sifted the evidence clinically and observed that the restriction on women of a certain age group was not based on misogyny or menstrual impurity, but on the celibate nature of Ayyappaswami; “what constitutes an essential religious practice is for the religious community to decide”. She questioned the locus standi of non-believers approaching the Court and claiming the right to enter the Temple, even as there was no aggrieved petitioner from Kerala. Justice Malhotra warned that in a plural and diverse country, judges must be careful before labelling a practice as discriminatory on the basis of personal morality: “issues which are matters of deep religious faith and sentiment must not ordinarily be interfered with by courts.” In fact, Courts should not interfere unless a practice is “pernicious, oppressive, or a social evil”.


    The apex Court’s equation of Sabarimala customs with untouchability as defined in Article 17 of the Constitution, which refers to birth-based discrimination against some castes was unfortunate. The Kerala Government’s decision to pass The Travancore-Cochin Hindu Religious Institutions (Amendment) Act, 2018 to allow appointment of non-Hindus to the Travancore Devaswom Board was the last straw.


    The author is Senior Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library; the views expressed are personal



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    Image result for somnath levitating

    Levitating Shiva Linga Somnath Kazvini Persian Geographer


    There is no end to the skills of the Indians, especially in architecture .
    They use all the principles of Nature.
    One has a Temple where the shadow of the Spire  falls within the Base of the Gopuram.
    Thanjavur Big Temple.

    Shiva Linga ,Somnath,Gujarat,India.Jyotir linga
    Shiva Linga ,Somnath,Gujarat,India.

    Spring water flows the base of the Idol.a,Thiruvanaikkaval.,Tamil Nadu
    Idols in many temples change colors during a day/once in fortnight.
    The composition of the elements that go into the making of the idol is unique and it can not be deciphered even by Atomic analysis-Palani,Tamil Nadu.
    Thirupati Balaji Idol Sweats every morning and His Body temperature is at 110 F.
    Sikkil Singaaravelan Subrahmanya,Sikkil, Tamil Nadu  sweats on Skanda Shashti.
    Cool breeze wafts in the hall while the entrance to the Hall is hot,Thiruvellarai,Tamil Nadu.
    One can go on.
    Now we can  add one more.
    Somnath Shiva Linga at Somnath,Gujarat.
    The Shiva Linga, which is  among the Twelve Jyotir Lingas in India levitated.
    This is recorded , not by an Indian, but by a Persian geographer while describing Ghazini’s invasion and loot of India.
    This is his report.

    About 1263 A.D.

    The famous temple at Somnath, with its celebrated idol which was destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni, “the Image-Breaker,” when he sacked the city in 1025–1026 A.D., has been alluded to several times in the Mohammedan section of this History. An account of the wonders of the temple and the optical delusion in connection with the idol is given by the Persian geographer Zakariyah Kazvini, who wrote, however, in Arabic, about the year 1263 A.D. Kazvini, though not a traveller himself, drew upon the works of travellers for his geographical materials, and he gives the following interesting account of the famous Somnath shrine, over whose destruction, two centuries before, he rejoices with the Moslem joy that hailed the downfall of a house of idols….

    ‘Somnath is a celebrated city of India, situated on the shore of the sea and washed by its waves.
    Among the wonders of the place was the temple in which was placed the idol called Somnath. This idol was in the middle of the temple without anything to support it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was regarded with great veneration by the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck with amazement, whether he was a Mussulman or an infidel. The Hindus used to go on pilgrimage to it whenever there was an eclipse of the moon, and would then assemble there to the number of more than a hundred thousand. They believed that the souls of men used to meet there after separation from the body, and that the idol used, at its pleasure, to incorporate them in other bodies, in accordance with their doctrine of transmigration. The ebb and flow of the tide was considered to be the worship paid to the idol by the sea.
    ‘Everything that was most precious was brought there as offerings, and the temple was endowed with the taxes gathered from more than ten thousand villages. There is a river, the Ganges, which is held sacred, between which and Somnath the distance is two hundred parasangs. They used to bring the water of this river to Somnath every day, and wash the temple with it. A thousand Brahmans were employed in worshipping the idol and attending on the visitors, and five hundred damsels sang and danced at the door – all these were maintained upon the endowments of the temple. The edifice was built upon fifty-six pillars of teak, covered with lead. The shrine of tile idol was dark, but was lighted by jewelled chandeliers of great value. Near it was a chain of gold weighing two hundred mans. When a portion, or watch, of the night closed, this chain used to be shaken like bells to rouse a fresh lot of Brahmans to perform worship.
    ‘When Sultan Mahmud, the son of Sabuktagin, went to wage religious war against India, he made great efforts to capture and destroy Somnath, in the hope that the Hindus would then become Mohammedans. He arrived there in the middle of Zu-l-ka’da, 416 A. H. (December, 1025 A.D.). The Indians made a desperate resistance. They kept going in to the temple weeping and crying for help; and then they issued forth to battle and kept fighting till all were killed. The number of the slain exceeded fifty thousand. The king looked upon the idol with wonder, and gave orders for the seizing of the spoil and the appropriation of the treasures. There were many idols of gold and silver, and countless vessels set with jewels, all of which had been sent there by the greatest personages in India. The value of the things found in the temples of the idols exceeded twenty thousand thousand dinars.
    When the king asked his companions what they had to say about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron, and that the ingenious builder had skilfully contrived that the magnet should not exercise a greater force on any one side – hence the idol was suspended in the middle. Some inclined toward this explanation, others differed from it. Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were removed from the summit, the idol swerved on one side; when more were taken away, it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.’
    By Kazvini Persian Biographer.
    The following is another description by a Persian Traveler about the idol.
    ‘The idol has a human shape and is seated with its legs bent in a quadrangular posture on a throne made of brick and mortar. Its whole body is covered with a red skin like morocco leather, and nothing but its eyes are visible. Some believe that the body is made of wood, some deny this; but the body is not allowed to be uncovered to decide this point. The eyes of the idol are precious gems, and its head is covered with a crown of gold. It sits in a quadrangular position on the throne, its hands resting upon its knees, with the fingers closed, so that only four can be counted.’
    al-Istakhri, who journeyed through India and other Mohammedan countries in the first half of the tenth century.
    Somnath Location.

    गुजरात के प्रभास पत्तन में सोमनाथ का मन्दिर (१८६९ का चित्र)
    Image result for somnath location
    Related image

     Published on Feb 25, 2018



    Somnath Temple which has been plundered too many times is the first Jyothirlinga of Hinduism... Is the Shivlinga in Somnath original ???

    The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra on the western coast of Gujarat, India, is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is an important pilgrimage and tourist spot. The temple is considered sacred due to the various legends connected to it. Somnath means “Lord of the Soma”, an epithet of Shiva.

    Gates of Somnath
    Citation and Reference.
    http://www.ibiblio.org/britishraj/Jackson9/chapter05.html

    https://ramanan50.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/levitating-shiva-linga-somnath-kazvini-persian-geographer/

    Kent Academic Repository
    Mirror: https://www.academia.edu/29920163/Suspending_Disbelief_Magnetic_and_Miraculous_Levitation_from_Antiquity_to_the_Middle_Ages
    Image result for levitation magnets somnath multan
    Lowe, Dunstan (2016) Suspending Disbelief: Magnetic Levitation in Antiquity and the Middle
    Ages. Classical Antiquity, 35 (2). pp. 247-278.
    DOI
    https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2016.35.2.247
    Link to record in KAR
    http://kar.kent.ac.uk/57768/
    Document Version
    Author's Accepted Manuscript
    1
    Dunstan Lowe
    Suspending Disbelief:
    Magnetic and Miraculous Levitation from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
    Abstract:
    Static levitation is a form of marvel with metaphysical implications whose long history
    has not previously been charted. First, Pliny the Elder reports an architect’s plan to
    suspend an iron statue using magnetism, and the later compiler Ampelius mentions a
    similar-sounding wonder in Syria. When the Serapeum at Alexandria was destroyed, and
    for many centuries afterwards, chroniclers wrote that an iron Helios had hung
    magnetically inside. In the Middle Ages, reports of such false miracles multiplied,
    appearing in Muslim accounts of Christian and Hindu idolatry, as well as Christian
    descriptions of the tomb of Muhammad. A Christian levitation miracle involving saints’
    relics also emerged. Yet magnetic suspension could be represented as miraculous in
    itself, representing lost higher knowledge, as in the latest and easternmost tradition
    concerning Konark’s ruined temple. The levitating monument, first found in classical
    antiquity, has undergone many cultural and epistemological changes in its long and
    varied history.

    1. INTRODUCTION

    Although recent scholarship has extensively explored the rich history of marvels
    2
    and miracles,1 suspended objects have never been systematically studied. The following
    discussion pursues the theme of magnetic and miraculous suspension through European
    (and Asian) history from classical antiquity to modern times, revealing a continuous
    tension between secular and sacred physics. For the first time, this article assembles the
    diverse historical sources on levitating objects from antiquity onward (some widely
    acknowledged, others barely noted within their own disciplinary partitions), proposing
    new interpretations of each.2 This requires a loosely chronological approach which, at the
    risk of seeming naïve, will reveal crucial connections and developments from the
    Hellenistic period to the modern era. The result is a strange new sidelight on scientific,
    religious, and even political developments across Europe and beyond.
    I am very grateful to Harry Hine for correcting some of my errors and offering insightful
    remarks, to Mike Squire for art-historical advice and ideas, and to Thomas Habinek and
    the journal’s referees for many valuable suggestions.
    1 The bibliography on curiosity, wonder, and marvels in history is large and growing,
    though Daston and Park 1998 remains key. See e.g. Hardie 2009 on antiquity
    (specifically Augustan Rome, thus excluding magnetism); Kesneth 1991 on the
    Renaissance; Evans and Marr 2006 on the Renaissance and Enlightenment.
    2 For example, no two of the following have been connected in previous scholarship:
    Ampelius’ statue at Magnesia, Aristotle’s coffin in Sicily, the Mercury at Trier, the
    Cypriot cross, Dulaf’s golden temple, Illtud’s Welsh altar, the “Monastery of the Idol,”
    the elephant at Khambhat.
    3
    The properties of magnets have intrigued intellectuals and entertained ordinary
    people since the early classical period,3 though static suspension and many other ideas
    about magnetism have little dependence on observed phenomena. Demonstrations in
    antiquity of magnets’ power to attract ferrous substances—typically, suspending iron
    rings in a chain, or covertly moving iron from beneath a surface of some other metal—
    provoked amazement and curiosity.4 Medical uses of magnets are recorded from the
    second century AD and magical ones from around the fourth century (their preternatural
    ability to move objects without contact resembled the occult powers of spells, which is
    why a demonstration alarmed Augustine).5 Beyond these limited uses magnetism held
    3 On magnets in ancient science, see Fritzsche 1902, Rommel 1927, Radl 1988, Wallace
    1996. Relevant passages include Pl. Ion 533d; Ar. De Anima 405a19 (on Thales);
    Theophr. On Stones 5.29; Posidippus Lithica 12 Austin and Bastianini; Lucr. 6.910-16,
    1042-47. Pliny draws his classification of five “Magnesian stones” (two non-magnetic)
    from Sotacus, a third-century writer on minerals, and his account of how “Magnes” the
    shepherd discovered magnets from the second-century author Nicander (HN 36.127-28).
    4 Rings: Plato Ion 533d, Lucr. 6.910-16, Plin. HN 34.147; iron moved from below: Lucr.
    6.1043-47, Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. Initiates into the cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace
    received iron finger-rings, presumably for ritual use involving magnetism: see Blakely
    2012.
    5 Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. On medical applications, e.g. Dioscorides, De Materia Medica
    5.130; Galen, De facultatibus (magnetite is astringent, like haematite), De simplici
    medicina (magnetite is purgative); see Rommel 1927: col. 483-84. In late antiquity,
    magical applications appear: magnets were placed inside figurines, seemingly to give
    4
    little more than curiosity value, lacking mechanical applications.6 Yet it is crucial to bear
    in mind that although magnetic suspension rarely has a specific maker, magical marvels
    are invariably crafted by scholars, not mere zealots. They give additional proof that
    magic was compatible with science and technology in medieval thought.7
    Importantly, although sources from the first to sixth centuries AD mention
    magnetic repulsion, it was not understood until the twelfth century that magnets have
    them agency (PGM IV.1807-10, 3142); an inscribed magnet prevents conception (PGM
    XXIIa.11-12); and a magnet placed under a sleeping woman diagnoses her chastity (if
    faithful she will cleave to her husband, or otherwise be ejected: Lithica 306-37). Some
    authors use the analogy of magnetism to explain sympathetic magic (Plin. HN 34.42, Gal.
    Peri Phusikon Dunameon 1.14.44-54).
    6 The only documented mechanical use of magnetism is an expensive toy described by
    Claudian that plays out a simple mythological scene, like some of Hero of Alexandria’s
    automata: inside a golden shrine, an iron Mars slowly approaches a magnetic Venus until
    he suddenly flies forward and they embrace (Carm. min. 29.22-51): see Wallace 1996:
    181, Cristante 2001-2002. Some (e.g. James and Thorpe 1995: 154, McKeown 2013:
    198) claim that Claudian describes a real temple, but whatever his own religious
    standpoint (see Vanderspoel 1986), he would not celebrate a pagan ritual in verse at a
    Christian court. Claudian came from Alexandria, like Hero the inventor.
    7 On magic and science, see Sherwood 1947, Eamon 1983, Hansen 1986, Truitt 2004. On
    artificial marvels, see Daston and Park 1998: 88-108. On how the aesthetics of the
    marvelous relate to artistic theory and practice, see Mirollo 1991.
    5
    poles and can therefore both attract and repel.8 Yet they inspired fantasies involving
    colossal invisible forces. One is the magnetic mountain that wrecks ships made with iron
    nails. This appears in the geographical content of Pliny and Ptolemy, but also across Asia
    as far as China, as well as in Arabic and European folktales.9 The epic poet Silius Italicus
    says that the Aethiopians used their abundant magnets to extract iron ore without
    touching it.10 A millennium later, the Roman d’Eneas endows Carthage with magnettopped
    battlements for trapping iron-clad attackers like flypaper.11 Such fantasies may
    legitimately be called science fiction.
    With a sufficiently cross-disciplinary perspective, we can reconstruct a long
    history for the grandest of magnetism fantasies: an apparatus for permanently suspending
    an object in mid-air. Accounts of full-size monumental examples recur from classical
    8 On magnetic repulsion see Wallace 1996: 184-85, with citations. Tellingly, when
    Posidippus describes a stone that both attracts and repels iron he only compares it to a
    magnet, insofar as it attracts (Bing 2005: 264-65). Knowledge of the compass is first
    attested in Europe by Guiot of Provins (1180) and Alexander Neckam (c. 1190); Peter
    Peregrinus of Maricourt published the first extended treatise in 1269. The earliest known
    description is Chinese (Shen Kuo, Dream Pool Essays, AD 1088).
    9 Tuczay 2005: 273-74, with citations; see also Lecouteux 1984, 1999; Marzolph and van
    Leeuwen 2004. The legendary Virgil visits a magnetic mountain in the Wartburgkrieg (c.
    1287), Reinfried von Braunschweig (c. 1300), and later sources.
    10 solis honor ille, metallo / intactum chalybem vicino ducere saxo (Sil. Pun. 3.265-67).
    Ore processing, rather than mining, is probably meant.
    11 Anon. Roman d’Eneas 427-40.
    6
    antiquity to the late medieval period. Whether authors portray levitation as mechanical,
    magical, or something in between,12 they never deny its possibility. In reality Earnshaw’s
    Theorem of 1839, stating that stable levitation against gravity using only ferromagnetic
    materials cannot work on any scale, stands uncontested. Nonetheless, we have culturally
    and geographically diverse accounts of levitating monuments from the first century AD
    to the late Middle Ages and beyond. I propose that these deserve recognition as a genre
    of architectural fantasy that offers new insights into the history of science, as well as the
    history of interaction between religious cultures.
    Magnetic levitation endows inert matter with spectacular properties, inviting
    comparison with divine miracles and magic. It also shares features with real and
    imaginary automata, though this is somewhat paradoxical, since the inert matter is
    spectacular precisely because it does not move: unlike the other magnetic fantasies
    mentioned above, levitation never involves traction. (Accordingly, I shall use the terms
    “levitation” and “suspension” interchangeably.) It is sometimes regarded positively, as an
    open demonstration of engineering and artistic skill, but more often negatively, as a
    secret trick for faking a divine miracle.
    As object of wonder, the suspended monument embodies potentiality: not only in
    the obvious sense that what went up has not (yet) come down, but in other senses too. As
    an architectural installation or localized miracle it is by definition non-portable and
    cannot, like most artificial wonders or holy relics, be brought from the periphery to the
    center of scholarly, religious, or popular experience. As physics, static levitation is
    12 From antiquity to the Middle Ages, some discourses on magnetism (e.g., mageia,
    Hermeticism, alchemy) resist the modern distinction between natural and supernatural.
    7
    theorized but unrealized: it never appears in treatises upon magnets or architecture, nor
    even descriptions of magnets in lapidaries, and nobody proposes to recreate it. As
    miracle, meanwhile, static levitation becomes evidence of God’s power in nature, and
    even a test of spiritual intelligence.13 In the Middle Ages, reports of magnetism
    proliferate and the miraculous version emerges. Perhaps the iconoclasm controversies
    partly account for this, since the suspended monument proves capable of oscillating
    between fraud and miracle more easily than any other legendary object.
    2. ALEXANDRIA: THE POTENTIAL ARSINOE AND THE FALLEN HELIOS
    Our earliest reference to a magnetic monument (and likewise, elsewhere, to a
    magnetic mountain) is a report in Pliny the Elder that has resisted interpretation, despite
    nuanced treatments of his larger intellectual project.14 He mentions a design by “the
    13 “Some Christian writers…saw skepticism concerning wonders as the hallmark of the
    narrow-minded and suspicious peasant” (Daston and Park 1998: 62); cf. Eamon 1983:
    195, Bynum 2011 passim. The comeuppance of such a peasant in Lifris’ Life of Cadoc is
    discussed below.
    14 See e.g. Healy 1999: 158, Carne 2013: 108. On artificial wonders in Pliny, see Isager
    1991 and Beagon 2011, neither of whom mention the present passage.
    8
    architectus Timochares,” for a temple in which an iron cult statue of Ptolemy II’s late
    sister-wife Arsinoe would be suspended in the air:15
    Using magnetic stone (Magnete lapide), the architect Timochares had begun
    to vault a temple (templum concamarare) to Arsinoe at Alexandria, so that the
    iron statue in it would seem to hang in the air (pendere in aëre videretur). This
    was interrupted by his own death and by that of King Ptolemy, who had
    commissioned it for his own sister.
    Pliny’s videretur (“would seem”) means only that magnetism would create a
    lifelike impression of flight. It is unclear whether he envisages contactless “true
    levitation,” or “pseudo-levitation” in which magnetic attraction pulls against a physical
    tether. Although neither could work, the latter might have seemed more feasible, since it
    can be achieved using a scale model. Ptolemy II could access fabulous quantities of
    precious metal and stone, and without any means of measuring magnetic field strength,
    “Timochares” could have miscalculated the properties of magnetite.16 It is not impossible
    that “Timochares” planned to achieve true levitation. Vitruvius credits a nearcontemporary
    “Dinocrates” with an equally astonishing plan to sculpt Mount Athos into a
    15 Plin. HN 34.148. The death of Ptolemy II, the alleged date of the project, was in 246
    BC.
    16 Even with today’s artificial supermagnets, thousands of times more powerful, such a
    monument would require precision engineering and impractically large quantities of
    metal to achieve suspension across even a few inches of air.
    9
    Rushmore-like statue, holding a city in its left hand and pouring a river from a dish in its
    right.17 Alexander the Great rejected this proposal and built Alexandria instead because
    Athos provided no arable land, Vitruvius says. Other, completed Ptolemaic projects
    combined innovation and artistry with engineering on an unprecedented scale, including
    the largest tower, automaton, and galley ever designed.18 Magnets were relatively rare
    and hence semi-precious despite their dull appearance,19 which may have encouraged
    artisans to consider their uses as architectural ornaments. Importantly, architectus often
    means simply “inventor” and an Arsinoeion did exist at Alexandria, so Pliny’s term
    concamarare probably means adding magnetite to the existing temple, not constructing
    something anew. Such a plan might have won Ptolemaic sponsorship; later readers
    certainly found it plausible, since Ausonius in the fourth century AD reports it as
    completed.20 A temple suspending a statue using magnets would suit the contemporary
    17 Vitruv. 2. praef. 2. On the programmatic implications of this anecdote, and a
    discussion of the uncertainty over the architect’s name, see McEwen 2003: 91-102.
    18 The Pharos: Adler 1901, Thiersch 1909, Picard 1952; the Nysa statue in Ptolemy II’s
    coronation parade: Athen. Deipn. 5.198-99; the “Forty”: Plut. Demetr. 43.4-5, Athen.
    Deipn. 5.203e-204b.
    19 Theophrastus calls them rare (De Lapidibus 5.29). The belief that rubbing magnets
    with garlic destroyed their power (Lehoux 2003) might be indirect proof of their value if
    nobody thought the easy test worth the risk, as with goat’s-blood breaking diamonds
    (Plin. HN 20.2) or vinegar dissolving pearls (Hor. Sat. 2.3.239-42, Plin. HN 9.59, Suet.
    Cal. 37).
    20 Auson. Mos. 314-17. 
    10
    taste for creative engineering, as did another high-tech memorial to Arsinoe, the musical
    drinking-horn made by Ctesibius.21
    The idea of a levitating statue could also reflect the Alexandrian milieu in more
    subtle ways, having potential links with motifs in Egyptian religious art, as well as recent
    developments in Greek physics. The Egyptians pictured the heavens as a curved ceiling
    (or even, in the Pyramid Texts, an iron slab supported on four columns),22 and spangled
    their own ceilings with stars.23 Egyptian tradition also represented pharaohs ascending to
    heaven after death, and likewise Callimachus describes Arsinoe being taken up by the
    Dioscuri to become the Pole Star,24 which stands at the center of the turning sky. The
    “lock of Berenice” narrative a generation later shows how astronomy could contribute to
    Ptolemaic self-fashioning. All this lends credence to Deonna’s suggestion that the
    21 Ctesibius’ cornucopia is known only through an epigram by Hedylus (Athen. Deipn.
    11.497d-e).
    22 On the image of heaven as vault, see Couprie 2011: 1-13. As iron slab in the Pyramid
    Texts, see Budge 1904: 1.156-57. Homer’s heaven is iron (Od. 15.329, 17.565) or bronze
    (Il. 17.425, Od. 3.2) and supported by pillars (Od. 1.52-54).
    23 Constructed vaults only rarely appear before the Ptolemies, but excavated chambers
    frequently had curved ceilings. Whether flat or curved, they were commonly decorated
    with the starry goddess Nut and other sky symbols. On the use of the star-spangled
    canopy (“uraniskos”) in Greek cults of celestial deities, see Crane 1952; in later art, see
    Lehmann 1945, Swift and Alwis 2010.
    24 Callimachus fr. 228 Pfeiffer, with scholion. On Arsinoe as Pole Star, see Green 2004:
    248. The Mendes Stele records that Arsinoe “ascended to heaven.”
    11
    planned monument represented Arsinoe’s catasterism.25 If the vault depicted the sky,
    Pliny’s otherwise unknown “Timochares” may be a misspelling of Timocharis, a
    contemporary Alexandrian astronomer whose achievements involved tracking and
    mapping the constellations.26 If he proposed to decorate the vaulted ceiling over Arsinoe
    with an accurate star-map, an ekphrastic epigrammatist might easily describe this as
    placing the catasterized thea philadelphus “in the sky,” a phrase open to misconstruction
    by later readers.27
    Third-century Alexandria was also a likely context for thought experiments about
    bodies suspended between countervailing forces, for philosophers and engineers alike.
    Both Chrysippus and Archimedes would be active in the decades after Arsinoe died, circa
    270 BC,28 and Ptolemy himself had been tutored by Strato of Lampsacus, a specialist in
    cosmology.29 The Stoics had recently developed a new explanation for the earth’s poise
    25 Deonna 1914: 106.
    26 On the confusion over Timocharis and related names, see Fabricius, Pauly-Wissowa
    Realencyclopädie s.v. “Deinochares.” Pliny’s reference to Ptolemy Philadelphus’ death
    implies that “Timochares” died around 246 BC.
    27 Unfortunately translation from Latin to Greek is highly unlikely, so we cannot explain
    the whole concept of magnetic levitation as a translation error involving some lost
    epigram whereby Arsinoe or the ceiling went from s􀆯d􀆟r􀆟a “celestial, star-spangled” to
    􀇶 􀇧􀇡􀇴􀇨􀇤  made of iron  ἵcf. 􀇶􀇬􀇧􀇪􀇴 􀇷􀇬􀇵  magnet”: Philod. Sign. 9, Strab.15.1.38).
    28 Timocharis is thought to have lived c. 320-260 BC, Archimedes c. 287-212,
    Chrysippus c. 279-206.
    29 Diog. Laert. 5.3.1.
    12
    at the center of the cosmos (besides its own symmetry): the dynamic force of pneuma
    acting equally upon it from all directions.30 Sambursky points out that the term isobares,
    “equal weight,” used by Chrysippus also appears in proposition 1.3 of Archimedes’ On
    Floating Bodies, which states that a solid immersed in fluid of equivalent volume neither
    sinks nor rises.31 Suggestively, our late antique source for Chrysippus’ terminology
    replaces push with pull, comparing the static earth to an object pulled by cords in all
    directions with equal force.32 Perhaps a Hellenistic author imagined a magnet-clad arch
    as a thought experiment, illustrating either a principle of hydrostatics or the Stoic cosmos,
    which generated an urban myth for paradoxographers and ultimately Pliny. These are
    only speculations, but it is tempting to derive “Timochares” and his magnetism from
    known facts about the cultural climate of Ptolemaic Alexandria.
    In some ways, Pliny establishes norms for later descriptions of magnetic
    levitation, but in others he is unique. His description is the last to mention a potential
    monument. It is also among the minority that specify a designer and date of construction,
    30 Sambursky 1959: 109.
    31 Sambursky 1959: 111. Archimedes himself was reportedly an astronomer’s son and
    owned two orreries (probably heliocentric, cf. his Sand-reckoner): see Jaeger 2008.
    32 Achilles Isagoge 4 = von Arnim VSF 2.555, probably third century AD (Sambursky
    1959: 109). Independently, in the early twelfth century, Bruno of Segni directly compares
    the earth’s suspension (by God) with that of a magnetic statue (Sententiae 3 = PL
    165.983d).
    13
    and the only to do so without scorn.33 Pliny’s brevity led to centuries of uncertainty about
    how static levitation should work. Yet several features become near-universal: all later
    accounts describe true (contactless) levitation, not pseudo (tethered). Generally, the
    suspended object is not a magnet,34 and just as Pliny’s reference to a vault (concamarare)
    implies multiple magnets holding the object at a focal point, most later sources mention a
    vault or dome, despite one-magnet, two-magnet, and four-magnet configurations. Finally,
    virtually every magnetic monument is, like Pliny’s, portrayed as one of a kind.35 This
    makes the levitating artifact the sole remnant of a lost skill, suspended in time as well as
    space; since relics represent loss of another kind, Christian levitation-miracles supply
    equally evocative remnants.
    After Pliny we turn to late antiquity, when faith comes to the fore and the longest
    and most coherent tradition about magnetic levitation begins, based on the historic temple
    of Serapis at Alexandria. It has an obvious link to the “Timochares” tale, being set in the
    same city. The Serapeum complex, built by Ptolemy III, was thoroughly destroyed by
    Christians around AD 391 following the Theodosian decrees. After this event, numerous
    historians report that an iron image of Helios had been suspended within using
    magnetism. They mention it after describing the Serapis cult-statue, a dazzling colossus
    of multiple precious stones and metals. Both descriptions imbue the ruined site of
    33 The exceptions (discussed below) are Gehazi’s and Jeroboam’s idols, Yablunus’
    “Monastery of the Idol,” and the mausoleum of “Magus” of Muhammad in Embrico.
    34 The unique exception is the idol ascribed to Gehazi in the Talmud.
    35 Gehazi’s idol is again exceptional, being compared to those of Jeroboam.
    14
    worship with sinful exoticism. This combination recurs in much later tales of similar
    wonders, gratifying the imagination while sharpening the moral lesson of righteous
    destruction.. The earliest account appears in Tyrannius Rufinus, who specifies only a
    single magnet:36
    There was also another kind of deception, namely the following: the magnet is
    known to be of such a nature that it seizes upon and attracts iron. A craftsman
    (artifex) had with very skilful hand fashioned an iron image of the Sun
    (signum Solis) for this very purpose, so that the stone—we have said that it
    has the property of attracting iron—was fixed in the ceiling-coffers above (in
    laquearibus fixus). When the image had been placed precisely under the ray
    and balanced (sub ipso radio ad libram), and by force of nature the stone
    attracted the iron, the image seemed to the people to have risen up and be
    hanging in the air (in aëre pendere). And in case this was betrayed by a
    sudden fall, the treacherous ministers used to say, “The Sun has risen, so that
    bidding farewell to Serapis, he may go off to his own place.”
    Rufinus’ description is evidently fantastical, but the circumstantial details make it sound
    as if some mechanical trick were indeed used. Schwartz has plausibly suggested that
    Rufinus transposed this and other elements from the earlier destruction of the moon-god
    Sîn at Carrhae (the medieval “Harran,” discussed below).37 Christopher Jones recently
    36 Rufinus Ecclesiastical History 2.23.
    37 Schwartz 1966. Pola1ski 1998: 122-28 contests certain aspects.
    15
    offered new reasons to identify this with a temple that contained “secret devices of the
    ceiling” and many iron statues.38 In any case, Ptolemaic Alexandria had been home to the
    inventors Ctesibius, Philo, and later Hero, who recorded how to create apparently
    supernatural effects such as self-opening temple doors.39 Rufinus may represent a
    repurposed version of Pliny’s “Timochares” anecdote, but in any case, Christian authors
    for centuries to come treated the Sun-image as an important detail of the Serapeum’s
    destruction. For Pliny (and Ampelius, as we shall soon see) the magnetic monument was
    an end in itself, edifying and entertaining, resembling his larger distillation of world
    knowledge. Rufinus gave it much deeper implications as an instrument with a purpose,
    like most artificial wonders whether magical or technological. For the Christian
    chroniclers it was a faith-machine, generating false belief until its magnetic workings
    were physically or intellectually exposed. Conversely, we shall find that in some accounts
    of levitation in the second millennium (both Christian and non-Christian), the magnetic
    workings are themselves the belief-sustaining miracle. This reflects the view prevailing in
    38 Jones 2013; Libanius Or. 30.44-45. If so, Theodoret’s claim that a female corpse—
    disemboweled for omens by the occultist Julian—was found inside the Carrhae temple
    “suspended by the hair” (􀋪􀇭 􀇷 􀇰 􀇷􀇴􀇬􀇺 􀇰 􀇼􀇴􀇪􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇲􀇰, Church History 3.21 = PG
    82.1119) might well derive from magnetic suspension: decades earlier, Ausonius
    described Arsinoe’s statue as magnetically suspended “by its iron-clad hair” (affictamque
    trahit ferrato crine puellam, Mosella 317). 
    39 Hero Pneumatica 1.17, 38-39. It may also be relevant that Manetho, a Ptolemaic
    authority on the Serapis cult, dubbed magnetite “the bone of Horus”—often identified as
    the sun-god—and iron “the bone of Typhon” (Plut. De Is. et Os. 62).
    16
    High Middle Age Christendom that the supernatural or inexplicable is evidence of God’s
    power in nature.40 Indeed, as I shall demonstrate later, magnetism would directly inspire a
    Christian relic-powered form of miracle.
    Repeated mentions of the Serapeum Helios throughout the Middle Ages, with
    occasional changes, shed light on how magnetic levitation was thought to work. Probably
    the most widely read report after Pliny’s appears in Augustine’s City of God. It was
    written soon after 410, only postdating Rufinus’ history by a few years, yet several details
    are different. Augustine passingly describes magnetic levitation as a false miracle
    achieved “in a certain temple” (in quodam templo):41
    The marvels that they call “contrivances” (mirifica, quae 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 
    appellant), made by human skill through manipulating God’s creation, are so
    many and so great that those who don’t know better think them divine. So it
    happened that in a certain temple, where magnets were placed in the ground
    and the vault in proportion to their size [in solo et camera proportione
    magnitudinis positis], an iron statue was suspended in mid-air between the
    two stones. To those unaware of what was above and below, it hung as if by
    divine power.
    40 See Bynum 2011, whose discussion on the materiality of saints’ bodies may in some
    respects be extended to physical matter in general. On the cult of relics in eastern
    Christendom, see recently Hahn and Klein 2015.
    41 Augustine Civ. D. 21.6. Isid. Orig. 16.4 merely repeats Augustine and Pliny.
    17
    Augustine goes on to say that supposed miracles such as this levitating statue—his use of
    the Greek 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 collectively secularizes non-Christian mirifica—are not proofs
    of divine power but simple tricks using either mechanisms or magic. Although he almost
    certainly means the Helios statue at Alexandria, he specifies magnets both above and
    below it, contradicting Rufinus. This alternative guess at the workings of magnetic
    suspension is also impossible,42 but marginally more plausible than one magnet pulling
    against gravity. Perhaps a shared source had envisaged the multiple-magnet, focal-point
    model and Augustine’s version is more faithful than Rufinus’. In the second quarter of
    the fifth century, Augustine’s student Quodvultdeus repeats Rufinus’ one-magnet
    configuration but seems to derive his account from an independent source. He does not
    name the statue but calls it a quadriga (four-horse chariot); Helios was usually
    represented driving a quadriga. The tale of its destruction has also become dramatized:43
    At Alexandria in the temple of Serapis this was offered as “proof” of a spirit
    (hoc argumentum daemonis fuit): an iron chariot with no plinth to support it
    and no hooks attaching it to the walls, hanging in the air (in aëre pendens). It
    stunned everyone and, to mortal eyes, seemed to display divine assistance,
    although in fact a magnet attached to the vault in that spot (eo loco camerae
    affixus), which kept the iron joined to it and hanging, was holding up the
    42 Even if the poles were aligned, gravity and air currents would instantly dislodge the
    statue.
    43 Quodvultdeus De promissionibus et praedictionibus dei 38 = PL 51 834c (attributed
    there to Prosper of Aquitaine, but see e.g. Radl 1988).
    18
    entire assemblage (totam illam machinam sustentabat). Accordingly, when
    one inspired servant of God had figured this out (id intellexisset), he sneaked
    the magnet away (subtraxit) from the vault and instantly the whole display
    collapsed and broke apart. This showed that it was not divine, as a mortal man
    had proved (firmaverit).
    In Quodvultdeus, the single magnet is small and portable enough for an iconoclast to
    remove without detection, essentially a magic talisman whose spell breaks when it is
    removed from its place of concealment. Quodvultdeus also mentions the vault, like
    Augustine, whereas Rufinus has the magnet embedded in the coffers of the ceiling. Two
    ninth-century texts show further changes. Haymo of Halberstadt faithfully reproduces
    Rufinus’ account but adds that the statue is huge, gilded, and suspended between two
    magnets (Augustine-style).44 Conversely, Haymo’s Byzantine near-contemporary George
    the Monk describes the “statue of wickedness” (􀇨 􀇧􀇲􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇭􀇲􀇸􀇴􀇦􀇢􀇤􀇵) as hanging from
    one magnet in the coffers (Rufinus-style). In George the iron is far more hidden, and the
    magnet’s strength is more enormous, since the statue is now bronze with iron merely
    nailed inside its head. The Suda quotes George’s description verbatim in the tenth
    44 lapidibus magnetibus in solo et camera…simulacrum ferreum deauratum mirae
    magnitudinis (Epitome of the Sacred History 8 = PL 118.873c). Bruno of Segni follows
    this description closely (Sententiae 3 = PL 165.983d).
    19
    century, and Cedrenus paraphrases it closely in the eleventh.45 Only in the early twelfth
    (AD 1118) does Michael Glycas introduce a new variation:46
    In that temple there was a statue that hung irresistibly aloft; for pieces of iron
    were fastened around it—the statue, of course—in a circle, and magnets
    fastened directly opposite them, and it was suspended between the floor and
    the roof. For being drawn equally from four directions, and not leaning
    anywhere, it was forced to hang in mid-air.
    Although we know little about the sources for these historical notices of the Serapeum
    Helios, they clearly vary according to how the properties of magnets are imagined.47 In
    retrospect, based on this later consensus that magnetic forces are hugely stable and
    powerful, the ambition ascribed to “Timochares” could well be true. Our sources disagree
    on how the Helios was suspended: Rufinus claims that it hung from a magnet above, as if
    on an invisible chain, whereas Augustine’s statue, probably the same one, is the first to
    have magnets pulling up and down simultaneously. (Even for someone who believed in
    stable suspension from one magnet, the second would serve to prevent the object from
    45 George the Monk Chronicon 2.584.18-2.585.6; Suda s.v. 􀇐􀇤􀇦􀇰 􀇷􀇬􀇵; Cedrenus
    Compendium Historiarum 325b Niebuhr = PG 121.620.
    46 Michael Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433.
    47 Descriptions of magnetic monuments seem unconcerned with the brief remarks on
    magnetism by classical philosophers (see Radl 1988), which concern only the nature of
    the force, not the factors affecting its strength or the effects of competing forces.
    20
    swinging.) Finally, Quodvultdeus’ magnet is a small, removable talisman, which
    completes the transformation of the levitating statue: a putative engineering challenge in
    the Hellenistic age, with the properties of magnets on show, becomes a magic-based
    religious fraud in late antiquity, with the properties of magnets kept secret. As we shall
    see, later medieval accounts transfer the false miracle from paganism to other religions.
    The variations between arrangements of magnets tell us much about
    contemporary theories of magnetism. In Rufinus and Quodvultdeus, magnets hold objects
    at fixed lengths by pulling against gravity, whereas in most sources, two or more magnets
    pull simultaneously. However, in most accounts, magnetically suspended objects cannot
    be dislodged by force, and only move when the magnet is extracted.48 It is doubtful that
    the invisible forces in magnetic monuments were ever imagined as “elastic,” i.e. as
    varying by distance, since as we shall see in later sources, multiple magnets emphatically
    prevent the suspended object from any movement. Carefully positioned magnets are
    consistently pictured as generating unbreakable chains, not fields, which is why the
    suspended object’s shape and weight hardly matter. Rufinus’ remark that the Serapeum
    priests were afraid of the statue falling is not based, as one might expect, on the fear that
    it might easily shift from its exact position. Rufinus’ priests are only as afraid as they
    would be for any statue hanging from a chain.
    48 The coffin of St. Paulinus is an interesting case: it no longer levitates because some
    unbelievers wickedly pushed it to the ground (post multos annos a quibusdam infidelibus
    depressum subsedit, Gesta Treverorum 43 = PL 154.1164). However, it was suspended
    by God rather than by magnets (see discussion below), so it is not an exception to the
    rule.
    21
    3. INVISIBLE BONDS AS BASIS FOR CHRISTIAN MIRACLES
    Invisible suspension reappears in the fourth and fifth centuries in the form of
    Christian miracles, which do not involve magnets, but deserve discussion as they
    reinforce the “invisible chains” hypothesis by imitating suspension by ropes. One
    example appears in Rufinus’ narrative of how an unnamed woman, later identified with
    St. Nina, converted the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia.49 The third column of the Iberians’
    inaugural church seemed impossible to lift and was abandoned overnight. Next morning
    they found it hanging perpendicular, one foot above its pedestal, and before the rejoicing
    crowd it sank into position (the remainder were easily erected). It behaved as if moved by
    an invisible crane. Likewise, miraculous suspensions of demoniacs during exorcism, first
    attested in Hilary of Poitiers and three near-contemporaries,50 mimic a torture method
    documented in martyrology.51 It differs sharply from the voluntary aerobatics of sorcerers
    49 Tyrannius Rufinus Historia Ecclesiastica 1.10 = PL 481c-482c.
    50 Hilary of Poitiers Contra Constantium 8.2-10; Jerome Vita Hilarionis 13.6, Epistles
    108.13; Sulpicius Severus Dialogi 3.6.2-4; Paulinus of Nola Carmen 23.82-95. Two later
    Greek examples are divergent: in Palladius a demoniac levitates during exorcism, swells,
    and emits water (Historia Lausiaca 22), and in Sozomen another levitates (without
    specified Christian agency) and taunts John the Baptist (Historia Ecclesiastica 7.24.8).
    51 Wi;niewski (2002: 373-74) makes this point cautiously but convincingly, quoting a
    sixth-century description of a demoniac shouting confessions while hanging by his
    22
    like Simon Magus, who resemble birds (or rather Icarus, whose pride led to a fall).52 The
    four early sources consistently describe demoniacs hanging before saints upside down,
    specifying that their clothes are supernaturally held upward to cover their nakedness.
    Decades earlier, Eusebius’ description of martyrdoms at Thebais mentioned the “cruel
    and shameful spectacle” of women indecently suspended by one foot from pulleys
    (􀇯􀇤􀇦􀇦􀇟􀇰􀇲􀇬􀇵 􀇷􀇬􀇶 􀇰).53 This implies that these miraculous levitations of humans came
    about because martyrdom was sublimated into exorcism. As saints torture demons into
    confessing, the demoniac hangs temporarily from invisible ropes, just as metal objects
    hang more permanently from invisible chains.54
    elbows over a saint’s cinerary urn, like criminals “condemned to flogging on nooses”
    (tendiculis iudicum sententia verberari, Anon. Vita Patrum Iurensium 42). Wi;niewski
    also quotes Augustine comparing the tormented status of demons (physically celestial,
    spiritually terrestrial) with suspension head-downwards (Civ. D. 9.9).
    52 Anon. Acts of Peter; cf. Iamblichus De mysteriis Aegyptiorum 3.5.112.3-5. Demons
    were imagined as native to the air. Gregory of Tours (Liber Miraculorum 24 = PL
    71.735c) combines exorcism with aerobatics: the saint extracts a confession by lifting
    someone by the feet and dropping him on his head (cf. Constantius of Lyons Vita
    Germani 7.18-37).
    53 Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica 8.9. It may be relevant that in Sophronius’ seventhcentury
    Life of Mary of Egypt, Zosimas clothes Mary’s nakedness immediately before her
    levitation that closely resembles exorcism (Life 15 = PG 87.3708d).
    54 The same principle underlies a later class of miracle (attributed to Goar, Aicandrus,
    Aldhelm, Dunstan, and others) in which saints accidentally cause garments to levitate by
    23
    4. SYRIA: NIKE AND BELLEROPHON
    Our second-earliest classical source concerning levitation (after Pliny) is
    frequently overlooked, but will prove very significant. It is a brief notice in a catalogue of
    the world’s wonders from Ampelius’ book of facts for boys, probably written in the
    fourth century AD. Unlike the Arsinoe monument, it is described as real and is located in
    a different prosperous Hellenic city:55
    At Magnesia-under-Sipylus there are four columns. Between these columns is
    an iron Victory, hanging without any suspension (pendens sine aliquo
    vinculo), bobbing in the air (in aëre ludens); but every time there is wind or
    rain (quotiens ventus aut pluvia fuerit), it does not move.
    Ampelius does not actually mention magnets, but his ultimate source probably did, since
    the levitating Nike is both made of iron and located at Magnesia, reputed origin of
    Magnesia lapis or magnetite.56 That source was probably a Hellenistic Greek
    hanging them on a sunbeam. This is modelled on the use of wooden perches as coatracks:
    the first recorded example (Waldelbert’s expanded Life of St. Goar) makes this explicit.
    55 Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8.9.
    56Ancient sources already show uncertainty over which Magnesia (those in Thessaly, on
    the Maeander in the province of Syria, and under Mount Sipylus in the province of Asia)
    24
    paradoxography from Alexandria.57 Like Erotes, Nikai were commonly portrayed in
    flight and sometimes used as metal pendants in jewelry: suspending Nike aloft, perhaps
    using a concealed bracket, would be a reasonable continuation of Greek sculptors’ efforts
    to represent her alighting weightlessly, as in the famous Paionian and Samothracian
    statues. We hear of a sizeable mechanically suspended Nike statue at Pergamum in the
    first century BC.58 It seems likely that Ampelius’ “four columns” means a tetrapylon,
    since there is at least one Hellenistic parallel for a goddess statue thus installed.59
    exported magnetite. Its other early names, “Heraclean stone” and “Lydian stone”
    (Rommel 1927: col. 475), offer little help because there were also several Heracleas. This
    may be the most overdue application of magnetometry to any ancient enigma.
    57 von Rohden 1875: 3-29.
    58 In the theater at Pergamum, which is far north of Magnesia but still within the
    Hellenistic province of Asia, a suspended Nike was employed to lower a crown onto
    Mithridates Eupator (Plut. Sull. 11). On nikai as pendants in jewelry, see LIMC s.v. Nike.
    59 At least one tetrapylon in Hellenistic Syria contained a goddess statue, although no
    exact parallel for a Nike image survives. When Seleucus destroyed the city of Antigonia
    in the second century BC, he installed a statue of Antigonia’s Tyche inside a tetrapylon at
    Antioch (Malalas 8.201). This is probably the Tyche shown sitting between two pairs of
    columns on Antiochene coin-issues, especially of the second and third centuries AD
    (LIMC s.v. Antiocheia). Other Syrian cities including Anjar, Palmyra, and Aphrodisias
    gained tetrapyla between the second and fourth centuries AD; Palmyra’s tetrakionion
    could have housed four statues, although none survive. That of Aphrodisias bears reliefs
    of Nikai and Erotes in flight. An Aphrodite statue in fifth-century Gaza occupied a plinth
    25
    Meanwhile, his description of the Nike, which even wobbles (when touched?), matches
    the model I have established for magnetic forces as invisible chains (especially sine
    aliquo vinculo).60
    Despite sharing the recurrent assumption that magnets work like chains, Ampelius
    is best treated separately from the “mainstream” tradition about Alexandria that I have
    outlined, because he seems to preserve an independent tradition concerning the Near East
    that surfaces again many centuries later. This late resurgence has two points of contact
    with Ampelius’ brief notice, one geographic, the other thematic. In the High Middle Ages
    we hear of a new levitating monument: a giant airborne statue of Bellerophon riding
    Pegasus. Scholars have traced its evolution from what was probably a genuine monument
    from classical antiquity into a world wonder.61 This begins with Cosmas of Maiuma’s
    eighth-century commentary on Gregory of Nazianzus’ poems.62 Gregory alludes to the
    at a crossroads, perhaps within another tetrapylon (􀇳􀇨􀇴  􀇷  􀇭􀇤􀇮􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰
    􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇟􀇯􀇹􀇲􀇧􀇲􀇰...􀋪􀇳􀇟􀇰􀇼 􀇥􀇼􀇯􀇲  􀇮􀇬􀇫􀇢􀇰􀇲􀇸, Mark the Deacon Vita Porphyrii 59). Classical
    Magnesia-under-Sipylus (modern Manisa) remains largely unexcavated.
    60 Pliny describes both a “rocking stone” at Harpasa (cautes stat horrenda uno digito
    mobilis, eadem, si toto corpore inpellatur, resistens, HN 2.98, cf. Ap. Rhod. Argon.
    1.1304-1308) and the colossal Zeus at Tarentum, said to revolve on its axis and as
    resisting force despite yielding to manual pressure (mirum in eo quod manu, ut ferunt,
    mobilis ea ratio libramenti est, ut nullis convellatur procellis, HN 34.40).
    61 Reinach 1912, Deonna 1914, Rushforth 1919.
    62 Eckhardt 1949: 80 wrongly derives pseudo-Bede’s levitating Bellerophon from Prosper
    of Aquitaine (i.e. Quodvultdeus).
    26
    Seven Wonders rather obliquely and Cosmas only gets some of them right; for example,
    he knows that one of the two statues is the Colossus of Rhodes, but seems unaware of the
    Zeus at Olympia. Perhaps because Cosmas is a native of Damascus in Syria and more
    familiar with the near East, a different statue comes to mind:63
    􀋦􀇦􀇤􀇮􀇯􀇤 􀇳􀇟􀇮􀇬􀇰 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀇷  􀋪􀇰 􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰  􀇷􀇲  􀇆􀇨􀇮􀇮􀇨􀇴􀇲􀇹􀇿􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇸, 􀇳􀇨􀇴 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀋪􀇳  
    􀇺􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇲􀇵 􀋪􀇳  􀇷 􀇰 􀇫􀇟􀇮􀇤􀇶􀇶􀇤􀇰 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇭􀈀􀇳􀇷􀇲􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇷􀇨􀇢􀇺􀇲􀇸􀇵,  􀇷􀇨 􀇔􀇡􀇦􀇤􀇶􀇲􀇵
    􀇳􀇳􀇲􀇵 􀇯􀇬􀇭􀇴 􀇰 􀇳􀇬􀇶􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇳􀇲􀇧 􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇷􀇨􀇺􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵, 􀇳􀇲􀇮􀇮􀇟􀇭􀇬􀇵 􀇯 􀇰 􀋶􀇴􀇠􀇯􀇤
    􀇶􀇤􀇮􀇨􀇸􀇲􀈀􀇶􀇪􀇵 􀇶􀇸􀇰􀇨􀇳􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇺􀇨􀇬􀇴􀇿􀇵∙ 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇼􀇫􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇧  􀇶 􀇰 􀇥􀇢 , 􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇼􀇰 􀇳􀇟􀇦􀇬􀇲􀇵
    􀇭􀇤  􀋚􀇭􀇴􀇟􀇧􀇤􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇵. 
    The second “statue” is that of Bellerophon in Smyrna, which is on a carriage
    above the sea pointing out over the wall. Pegasus the horse is attached
    discreetly behind one hoof, rocking slightly many times when a hand follows
    along with it, but remaining firm and unshaken when shoved with force.
    No such statue is attested elsewhere. I suggest that Gregory or his source wrote “Syria”
    (􀇖􀇸􀇴􀇢 ), not “Smyrna” (􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰 ), since a likely site for such a statue was Syria’s
    maritime city of Bargylia, which derived its name from Bargylus, Bellerophon’s friend
    killed by Pegasus.64 Cosmas’ Bellerophon is wondrous because deceptively resilient.65
    63 Cosmas Commentarii in sancti Gregorii Nazanzieni carmina = PG 38.545-46.
    64 Steph. Byz. s.v. 􀇆􀇤􀇴􀇦􀈀􀇮􀇬􀇤 (quoting Apollonius of Aphrodisias’ Karika, c.AD 200).
    According to Ampelius, Syria’s Mount Bargylus had another wondrously resilient
    27
    This probably reminded later readers of magnetic monuments locked in place by invisible
    chains, especially Ampelius’ Nike, which wobbled but stayed put. That would explain
    why, in the tenth-century Seven Wonders of the World, the statue “at Smyrna” is now
    made of iron and magnetic stones “in the vaults” (archivolis) suspend it in equilibrium (in
    mensura aequiparata consistit), even though it weighs around 5000 pounds.
    This Bellerophon is no longer poised to leap from a cliff-top, but airborne within
    Smyrna. It has apparently merged with Ampelius’ levitating Nike; indeed, Magnesiaunder-
    Sipylus was only twenty miles northeast of Smyrna, enjoying sympolity with it.
    The magnets are fixed in the conventional “vaults,” probably meaning vertical
    suspension; but the non-vertical hinc et inde implies horizontal suspension between two
    or more magnets, for which the only precedent is Ampelius. In the twelfth century, the
    well-read pilgrim “Master Gregory” attempts to reconcile his reading of the Seven
    Wonders with what he personally saw at Rome. Despite following his source closely,
    artwork: a lamp outside a temple of Venus that burned constantly, resisting wind and rain
    (quam neque ventus extinguit, nec pluvia aspargit: Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8, cf.
    Aug. Civ. D. 21.6).
    65 Reinach 1912 and Deonna 1914: 102 believe that this statue somehow oscillated in a
    socket. I suggest instead that the effect was achieved by embedding a metal armature
    deep into the base, and Cosmas means that Pegasus wobbled or vibrated when shoved,
    but was never dislodged.
    28
    Gregory relocates the Bellerophon to Rome on the basis of a textual error,66 which (since
    he observed nothing like it there) obliged him to consider it a thing of the past.
    Pseudo-Bede’s and Gregory’s Bellerophons hang between multiple magnets Ampeliusstyle,
    not from a single magnet Rufinus-style, nor as a pair above and below Augustinestyle.
    However, Gregory’s wording suggests that his occupies the focal point inside a
    round-topped Roman archway. 67 It is tempting to see this focal-point arrangement as the
    reason why levitating statues usually hang within vaults (and as we shall see, domes). It
    may even be what our earliest sources intended, though descriptions vary over time.
    5. NEAR EASTERN IDOL-WORSHIP AND THE TOMBS OF SAINTS
    66 As Rushforth 1919: 43-44 shrewdly observes, Gregory must have read the Seven
    Wonders (or something similar) not with in Smyrna civitate, “in the city of Smyrna,” but
    with the variant in summa civitate, “over the top of the City.” (I have already suggested
    that Smyrna was itself a corruption of Syria.) Meanwhile the name Bellerophon has been
    corrupted to “Belloforon” and the weight tripled to 15000 Roman libra (the lower weight
    of 5000 is realistic for a full-size iron equestrian statue. Estimating one libra at 328.9g
    makes 5000 libra around 1640 kg; the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which is
    over-life-size and made of heavier bronze, weighs 1920 kg: Marabelli 1994: 2).
    67 Magnets exert equal forces “in the arches of the vault” (in arcus voltura, Rushforth’s
    emendation of in arcus involsura).
    29
    During the first millennium AD, the ancient cultures of the Levant—or rather, the
    reflections of their cultural heirs—yield a handful of allusions to levitation that differ
    from those in our Greek and Latin sources. The Midrash (c.AD 200) reports among
    hypotheses about how Gehazi sinned that “Some say he set up a lodestone according to
    the sin of Jeroboam and made it stand between heaven and earth.”68 Jeroboam had
    erected two golden calves as cult-objects in Bethel and Dan (II Kings viii.3); according to
    the Babylonian Gemara (c.AD 500), he deployed magnets to hold these in mid-air.
    Although the mechanical details differ,69 these remarks agree with the Serapeum
    chroniclers (and many later reports of magnetic suspension) that idolaters successfully
    created false miracles using magnetism. More surprisingly, a theory ascribed elsewhere
    in the Gemara to the third-century Rabbi Jose ben Hanina involves a sacred usage.70
    When asked how David could wear the gold Ammonite crown weighing one Babylonian
    talent (around 30 kg: 2 Samuel xii.30), the Rabbi suggests that a magnetic stone held it
    above his head.71
    68 Tractate Sotah fol. 47a (trans. Robert Travers Herford).
    69 The first passage is the only known pre-modern description of a magnet itself
    levitating, instead of suspending other objects. The second passage also differs from
    Greek and Roman accounts because it neither indicates where the magnets were placed
    nor suggests that the golden calves contained iron.
    70 Gemara Avodah Zarah fol. 44a.
    71 This is probably inspired by the suspension of a heavy crown (from a chain inside an
    arch) over the Sassanian monarch at Ctesiphon: see Erdmann 1951: 114-17.
    30
    To these three Talmudic examples we may add an Arabic one. Ibn Wahshiyya’s
    translation of The Nabatean Agriculture in the early tenth century AD explains that when
    Tammuz was murdered, Babylon’s statues all assembled in the temple of the Sun to
    mourn him, whereupon the large golden Sun figure, normally suspended between heaven
    and earth, came down among them. The date and authorship of The Nabatean Agriculture
    itself is very uncertain, let alone this particular fable, but influences from late antique and
    medieval Greek agronomic texts (mediated through the context of medieval Iraq) have
    been detected elsewhere.72 This Babylonian Sun-statue could therefore derive partly from
    the Alexandrian one, even though its levitation is a supernatural miracle with no mention
    of magnets.73 Meanwhile, it is a golden idol, like Jeroboam’s calves, hangs “between
    heaven and earth,” like Gehazi’s magnet, and is neutral or positive in character, like
    David’s golden crown. These allusions all envisage non-Jewish peoples suspending
    golden objects in the air, without mentioning vaults, iron, or extant monuments, but are
    otherwise heterogeneous. Perhaps Western reports of magnetic suspension influenced
    some or all of these Semitic reports of levitating gold objects, but indirectly at best. They
    have no obvious bearing on its recurrent associations with the Near East.
    72 The relevant passage is reported in Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed 29. The
    Nabatean Agriculture and its interpretative problems are discussed in Hämeen-Anttila
    2002–2003.
    73 Two other tenth-century Muslim writers, describing India, mention a suspended idol
    and golden temple without mentioning magnetism (Abu Dulaf and Al-Mas’udi, discussed
    below), though no connection with Ibn Wahshiyya can be made.
    31
    After Ibn Wahshiyya, many other Muslim scholars report non-Muslims
    worshipping levitating objects, in which the relationship between trick and miracle
    remains close. The first and fullest reference to a levitating tomb of a Christian saint or
    sage on Sicily comes from Ibn Hawqal in the late tenth century:74
    The great city of Balarm (Palermo)…contains a large mosque for assembly,
    which was the church of Rome before the conquest, and where there is an
    impressive shrine. I have heard from a logician that the philosopher (hakim) of
    the Greeks, Arastutalis (Aristotle), was suspended in a wooden coffin within
    this chapel, which Muslims have converted into a mosque. The Christians
    honored his tomb and went there to receive healing, because they had seen
    how the Greeks had regarded and revered him. He also told me that he lies
    suspended between heaven and earth so that people can beg him to send rain
    or bestow a cure, or for all other important matters in which it is essential to
    address God in the highest and propitiate him: in case of misfortune,
    destruction, or civil war. And there I saw a wooden coffin which was probably
    his tomb.
    74 Ibn Hawqal Surat al-‘Ard, translation adapted from Vanoli 2008: 247-48.
    32
    Palermo had been Arab-controlled since AD 831, so Ibn Hawqal’s informer was telling a
    tale set more than two centuries in the past.75 This imagined veneration of Aristotle
    reflects mutual Christian and Muslim respect for him in the tenth century, when Sicily
    was pre-eminent in Aristotelian scholarship. These remains, surely belonging to a
    Christian saint, become those of Galen or Socrates in later Muslim references.76 As a
    Greek hakim occupying a suspended coffin, Aristotle represents occult Hermetic
    knowledge reimagined as Christian hierolatry. The hakim-saint purportedly received
    intercessory prayers while poised between heaven and earth, neatly encapsulating Sicily’s
    cultural melting pot. On Cyprus, another “frontier island,” Christian-Muslim interactions
    proved less harmonious. The silver-clad wooden cross of the Good Thief, which St.
    Helena brought to Stavrovouni Monastery, was miraculously suspended before the gaze
    of several pilgrims who recorded the experience.77 Felix Faber’s description is fullest: the
    75 The eleventh-century Book of Curiosities says only that Christians at Palermo used to
    pray to “a piece of wood” for rain (Savage-Smith 2014: 457), indicating that it was not
    revered during Arab occupation.
    76 In the thirteenth century, the Tunisian author Ibn al-Shabb􀆗t says that Sicily is where
    Ğ􀆗l􀆯n􀇌s (Galen) is buried; in the fifteenth century, al-B􀆗kuw􀆯 says it was Sukrat
    (Socrates): citations in Vanoli 2008: 249-50.
    77 Daniel the Traveler Puteshestive igumena Daniila; Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium
    terrae sanctae 30 (Itinera Hierosolymitana Crucesignatorum III p. 230); Ogier
    d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem 295; Felix Faber Evagatorium 36B-37B.
    These visits occurred respectively in AD 1106, 1211, 1395, and 1480. Around 1370,
    Guillaume de Machaut attested its fame in verse (Prise d’Alexandrie 291-98).
    33
    cross hung within a blind window, its arms and foot reaching into oversized recesses.
    Like Cosmas’ Bellerophon (and Ampelius’ Nike) it wobbled when touched,78 and was
    probably suspended on a concealed metal bracket. But we have two Muslim retorts to
    Christian polemics that denounce it as a trick involving magnets. In mid-twelfth-century
    Cordoba, Al-Khazraji pours scorn on reputed miracles, the second of which is a cross
    hanging in mid-air. He calls this no miracle, merely a trick (h􀆯la) achieved using magnets
    hidden inside the church walls.79 In 1321, Al-Dimashqi confirms the identification by
    including in a similar list “the cross in Cyprus, suspended in mid-air using magnets.”80
    These denunciations of idolaters tricking spectators with magnetism match those in the
    Talmud. However, as we have seen, Christianity possessed its own long tradition of such
    denunciations.
    In the early sixth century, Cassiodorus passingly alludes to an otherwise unknown
    iron Cupid that hung in a temple of Diana “without any attachment”: Helios has probably
    been replaced here with a better-known flying god, and the Serapeum with the better-
    78 ut dicunt, nullo innitens adminiculo, in aëre pendet, et fluctuat; quod tamen non
    videtur de facili (Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium terrae sanctae 30 = IHC III p. 230);
    “quant l’en y touche elle bransle fort” (Ogier d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem
    295).
    79 Al-Khazraji Maqami al-sulban (Triumph over the Cross), framed as a retort to an anti-
    Muslim priest called Al-Quti (“The Goth”), cited in Vanoli 2008: 257.
    80 Ibn Ali Talib Al-Dimashqi Response to the Letter from the People of Cyprus 54r.
    34
    known temple of Ephesus.81 By contrast, a much later European source endows a
    different flying god—Mercury—with a similar statue using a direct Christian model. The
    relevant passages of the eleventh- or twelfth-century Gesta Treverorum spin tall tales of
    Treveri’s historic remains,82 aiming to establish that the town (briefly the Western
    Empire’s capital in the fourth century) had both a longer history and more splendid
    monuments than Rome.83 Treveri’s include a temple with a hundred statues and a vast
    iron Mercury in flight. These correspond to wondrous monuments in High Middle Age
    accounts of Rome: the “Salvatio Romae” statue-group, and the aforementioned iron
    Bellerophon.84 The Mercury hung inside an arch with magnets above and below
    (Augustine-style). The author forestalls doubt by including a documentary letter from an
    eyewitness, as well as a Latin inscription clearly aimed at readers, not observers: Ferreus
    in vacuis pendet caducifer auris, “The iron caduceus-bearer hangs in thin air.”85
    81 mechanisma…fecisse dicitur…ferreum Cupidinem in Dianae templo sine aliqua
    alligatione pendere (Variae 1.45.10).
    82 PL 154.1094-95, 1122.
    83 The Gesta contributes to a High-Middle-Age rebranding of Trier as “the second Rome”
    (Hammer 1944). Its comically majestic antiquities include a marble Jupiter
    commemorating how taxes withheld by five Rhenish cities were “extracted by thunder
    and celestial terror” (fulmine et caelesti terrore extorto, Gesta 23 = PL 154.1122).
    84 Note the competitive emphasis on the size and weight of the Mercury statue (mirae
    magnitudinis, 1094-95; magni ponderis, 1122).
    85 This hexameter has strongly Ovidian features, especially his characteristic epithet
    caducifer (compare metrical parallels: Ars Am. 1.473 ferreus adsiduo consumitur anulus
    35
    I suggest that this story is best compared with a Christian miracle, narrated later in
    the self-same text, concerning St. Paulinus of Treveri whose coffin was suspended from
    iron chains. When the Norman marauders of AD 882 ripped these away, it remained
    hanging in mid-air, only sinking to rest years later when some unbelievers pushed it
    downward, incurring doom in the process.86 For this semi-fantasized crypt, as for the
    purely fantasized Mercury-temple, a fictive document is “quoted” extensively.87 Another
    correspondence is that numerous fellow martyrs surround Paulinus. In an irreverent
    reimagining of local legend these became the hundred pagan statues, while Paulinus’
    levitating wooden coffin became the levitating iron Mercury, hanging on the invisible
    “chains” of magnets. It is just possible that Christian relics really were suspended on
    chains in the High Middle Ages; most reports of chain-hung coffins are dubious, since
    usu, cf. Am. 1.6.27, 1.7.50, 2.5.11, 2.19.4; Met. 8.820 adflat et in vacuis spargit ieiunia
    venis; Fast. 4.605 Tartara iussus adit sumptis Caducifer alis, cf. Met. 2.708, 8.627). It is
    tempting to see in caducifer a pun on caducum ferrum, “iron ready to fall.” Embrico
    shows Ovidian influence too: Cambier 1961: 376 notes that the lines Nam si vixisset opus
    atque loqui potuisset / “Materiam vici!” diceret artifici allude to Ovid’s comment on the
    sumptuous temple of the Sun, materiam superabat opus (Met. 2.5). South Germany’s
    early twelfth-century Ovidian renaissance (Conte 1994 [1987]: 360) is the mutual context
    for Embrico and the Gesta.
    86 Gesta 43 = PL 154.1164. This narrative combines miraculous suspension with the
    topos of the saint’s coffin becoming immobile, signifying his desire to remain on site.
    87 A verbose lead tablet incorporating a prophecy about the Normans: Gesta 42 = PL
    154.1161.
    36
    they appear in travelers’ tales, but a suspended reliquary appeared at Nuremberg in the
    fifteenth century.88 However, a levitating tomb of any material has no Christian
    88 On suspended ostrich-eggs and similar objects in Eastern medieval churches and
    mosques, see Green 2006; in sacred art, Flood 2001:15-58. Two twelfth-century Jewish
    periegetes claim that the prophet Daniel’s remains could be seen in a shining glass or
    bronze coffin in Susa, hanging from iron chains under a bridge over the Choaspes to shed
    blessings on both banks: Benjamin of Tudela Itinerary (Adler 1907: 52-53), Petachiah of
    Regensburg Travels (Benisch 1856: 38-41). In the same century (c. AD 1170),
    Barbarossa donated the four-meter-wide gilt chandelier hanging from 25 meters of chain
    in Aachen Cathedral. Al-Harawi, in his late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Guide to
    Knowledge of Pilgrimage Places, claimed that Rome’s largest church kept St. Peter’s
    remains “within a silver ark hanging by chains from the ceiling” (trans. Lee 1829: 161).
    This may be a garbled account of Constantine’s thirty-pound gold chandelier, which hung
    over St. Peter’s bronze-clad tomb (according to the Liber Pontificalis, and is shown
    hanging on chains on the Pola Casket). Robert of Clari, narrating Constantinople’s fall in
    1204, claims that a shroud and a tile imprinted with Jesus’ face hung in gold vessels from
    silver chains (83). From the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, a casket of relics including
    the spear of Longinus (when not ceremonially displayed) hung on two chains in
    Nuremberg’s Holy Ghost Hospital Church (Kahsnitz et al. 1986: 179-80). It is relevant
    that when a fourteenth-century source claims that Muhammad’s embalmed foot occupies
    a golden casket at Bladacta, the three large magnets suspending it are “in the chains
    hanging above it” (a tribus magnis lapidibus calamitis in cathenis pendentibus super
    eam, Anon. Liber Nicolay fol. 353 verso, quoted in Eckhardt 1949: 85).
    37
    precedent, and I would instead connect it with Ibn Hawqal’s earlier report that a wooden
    coffin once hung in mid-air. It is also notable that the historical Paulinus died in AD 358
    during exile in Phrygia, returning in the damask-wrapped cedarwood coffin where he
    remains today.89 Paulinus himself therefore links the levitating Mercury in Trier’s
    fanciful Gesta (or should that be geste?) back to the late classical Near East. This may
    reflect a broader European tendency to associate artificial marvels with the East.90
    The “sacred physics” of the Stavrovouni cross and the coffins at Palermo and
    Trier consistently resembles magnetic suspension because, I propose, medieval
    Christendom substituted holy relic-matter for iron as the “active ingredient” of suspended
    objects.91 This finally lets us explain an enigmatic monument in the eleventh-century
    Norman Life of St. Illtud which, like Rome’s Bellerophon, found its way into a list of
    wonders.92 It combines the levitating tombs of Ibn Hawqal and the Gesta Treverorum
    89 The rectangular coffin has no chains but its iron fittings have eyelets on the sides,
    probably for ring handles.
    90 “In general, the marvels of art came from Africa and Asia, lands believed far to surpass
    Europe not only in natural variety and fertility, but also in fertility of human imagination”
    (Daston and Park 1998: 88).
    91 This also explains the ninth-century claim that inserted relics held Hagia Sophia’s
    dome upright (Diegesis 14).
    92 On this episode, and our sources, see Evans 2011. Illtud’s altar is the longest and the
    only man-made or Christian item in the De Mirabilibus Britanniae, appended to some
    manuscripts of the Historia Brittonum, which cannot be securely dated before the twelfth
    38
    with another class of miraculous object, the miraculously buoyant altars attributed to
    several Celtic saints.93 In the longer version, two strangers sail to Illtud’s cave, bringing
    him a saint’s corpse with an altar above his face, “supported by God’s favor” (Dei nutu
    fulcitur). Illtud buries the saint, who requested anonymity to avoid being sworn upon, and
    builds a church around the altar, still levitating “to the present day” (usque in hodiernum
    diem).94 Church altars stood over a saint’s tomb wherever possible, and likewise portable
    altars (wood, metal, or stone) featured a compartment for saints’ relics.95 Further
    confirmation of the parallel with Paulinus’ coffin comes in the fates of two empiricists
    who later examined this altar. The first passes a withy underneath the altar and proves its
    levitation, but dies within a month, as does the second who looks underneath and is
    blinded; they resemble the doubters at Trier, who pushed Paulinus’ levitating tomb
    downward and later fell sick. Lifris claims extensive cultural property for Cadoc,
    including descent from Roman emperors, burial in Italy, travels in Jerusalem, and
    century. These idiosyncrasies imply that it was culled from a hagiography, apparently a
    lengthier version of the extant Life.
    93 Patrick, Brynach, Carannog, and Padarn’s disciple Nimmanauc (Evans 2011: 59, 63-
    64).
    94 De Mirabilibus Britanniae 10, cf. Life of Illtud 22.
    95 An extant example (c. 690) was found with the body of St. Cuthbert at Durham
    Cathedral. In 714, Jonas of Fontenelle described another, owned by St. Wulfram
    (altare…in medio reliquiae continens sanctorum in modum clypei, quod, secum dum iter
    ageret vehere solitus erat). In 787, the Second Council of Nicaea stipulated that every
    new altar must contain saints’ relics.
    39
    interactions with King Arthur. These also include the relic-powered levitating monument,
    which brought this Christianized version of magnetic suspension as far west as Wales.
    6. THE TOMB OF MUHAMMAD
    The iron Bellerophon, perhaps too fanciful and arbitrary for belief, apparently
    faded from memory after pseudo-Bede and Gregory. But in the High Middle Ages, in a
    politically charged context and with enough plausibility to retain credence across Europe
    until the sixteenth century, the tomb of Muhammad becomes history’s most notorious
    magnetic monument.96 Eckhardt astutely traces its development through anti-Muslim
    polemics back to the early twelfth-century Vita Mahumeti by Embrico of Mainz, but
    claims that Embrico borrowed the motif directly from Pliny and Rufinus, which I shall
    show to be incorrect.97 In Chant 16, a magician installs Muhammad’s corpse in a
    sumptuous temple using this trick:
    Thus the lofty creation (opus elatum), furnished with a single magnet,
    stood in the center which was shaped like an arch.
    Muhammad is carried under this and put in a tomb,
    96 Gibbon 1789: 6.262 finds it still necessary to deny that Muhammad’s tomb was
    suspended by magnets.
    97 Eckhardt 1949. The vita auctoris has since been discovered, correcting the
    misattribution to Hildebert of Lavardin.
    40
    Which, in case you should ask, had been made from bronze.
    And indeed, because [the magnet] pulls together such a mass of bronze (tam
    grandia contrahat aera),
    The tomb in which the king lay was lifted up.
    And there he hung, by the power of the stones.
    Therefore the ignorant public, after they saw the prodigy of the tomb,
    Took as fact what was merely a show (rem pro signo tenuerunt),
    Believing—miserable people—that Muhammad made it happen (per
    Mahumet fieri).
    Embrico goes on to say that the tomb hangs “without a chain” (absque catena), by
    “magic” (ars magica). Gautier de Compiègne repeats most of the same details in his Otia
    de Machomete,98 also composed early in the 1100s, although he explains the magnetic
    trick differently:
    …For, as they say, the vessel in which the remains
    of Muhammad lie buried seems to hang,
    So that it is seen suspended in the air without support,
    But no chain pulls on it from above either.
    Therefore, if you should ask them how come it does not fall,
    They think (in their delusion) it is by the powers of Muhammad.
    98 Verses 1057-77. Alexandre du Pont’s thirteenth-century Li Romans de Mahon
    faithfully follows Gautier (1902-15) and adds no new details.
    41
    But in fact the vessel is clad in iron on all sides,
    And stands in the center of a square house,
    And there is adamant-stone99 in the four parts of the temple,
    At equal distances in one direction or another;
    By natural force it draws the bier towards itself equally,
    So that the vessel cannot fall on any side.
    Importantly, Embrico specified that the coffin (tumulum, tumba) was bronze, like the
    statue in George the Monk without its iron nail. However, Gautier clearly has an
    independent source. He omits the dazzling wealth and moves the shrine from Libya to
    Mecca.100 He also specifies that the tomb has iron all around, and that four magnets
    balance it horizontally, not just one suspending it inside an arch. I suggest that Gautier’s
    99 Gautier’s term adamas reflects the confusion in Old French between the homonyms
    aymant < Lat. adamas “adamant, diamond” and aymant < Lat. amans “lover, magnet”
    (von Lippmann 1971 [1923]: 182, 194, 213).
    100 Muhammad’s tomb is actually at Al-Masjid al-Nabaw􀆯, but the confusion between
    Islam’s two oldest sites of pilgrimage is understandable. In the thirteenth century,
    Cardinal Rodrigo Ximénez claimed that the sacred Black Stone embedded in the Kaaba
    was a magnet (Historia Arabum 3, published in van Erpe 1625), perhaps taking literally
    Nasir Khusraw’s remark in the Safarnama that the Qarmatians thought the stone was a
    “human magnet” and would draw crowds when relocated. Al-Mas’udi says much the
    same about a temple at Multan in India (Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma’adin al-jawhar
    63.1371).
    42
    independent source also informed Glycas’ description of the Serapeum some sixty years
    earlier, which diverged from earlier descriptions by adding the same details. Both specify
    a four-magnet configuration and explicitly state that this prevents the iron-girt idol from
    tipping over.101 Whatever this shared source may be, it strongly resembles Ampelius’
    description of the Nike bobbing between four columns. Apparently this (or a text from
    the same chain of transmission) circulated in the twelfth century, causing both Gautier
    and Glycas to diverge from their immediate models.
    A third twelfth-century poem, Graindor’s Chanson d’Antioche (c. AD 1180), can
    reveal more about Muhammad’s tomb.102 Graindor drew on an earlier chanson by a
    shadowy “Richard the Pilgrim,” very likely adding fantastical elements. These include
    the erection of a Muhammad-statue above a tent, so nicely balanced upon four magnets
    that a fan rotated it:
    On the top [of the tent] the Sultan had an idol set up (fist mestre…un aversier),
    Made all in gold and silver, finely carved.
    If you had seen it, without a word of a lie
    101 Compare 􀇶􀇲􀇧􀇸􀇰􀇟􀇯􀇼􀇵 􀇦 􀇴 􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇤􀇯􀇨􀇴􀇿􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀋫􀇮􀇭􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰, 􀇭􀇤  􀇯  􀋮􀇺􀇲􀇰 􀇳􀇲􀇸 􀇭􀇤  􀇰􀇨􀈀􀇶􀇨􀇬􀇵
    (Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433) with pendere res plena quod pendeat absque
    catena, nec sic pendiculum quod teneat tumulum (Graindor Chanson d’Antioche 1143-
    44).
    102 Allusions to Muhammad’s magnetic suspension in subsequent chansons de geste (e.g.
    Les Quatre Fils Aymon 9613-16: iron statue; Le Bâtard de Bouillon 1364-66: golden
    statue) are brief and add little.
    43
    You could not see or even imagine a finer sight:
    It was large and shapely, with a proud face.
    The Sultan Emir ordered it to be lowered:
    Four pagan kings run to embrace it,
    Erecting it in position (le font metre et drecier) upon four magnets,
    So that it does not tilt or lean in any direction.
    Muhammad was in the air, rotating (si prist à tournoier),
    Because a fan (uns ventiaus) moved him and set him rotating

    Muhammad was in the air, by the power of the magnet (par l’aimant vertus),
    And pagans revere him and offer him their salutes.
    Sansadoine denounces the false cult, punches the idol to the ground, and overleaps its
    belly, much as Quodvultdeus’ inspired Christian destroys the Helios in the Serapeum.103
    The precious metals and absence of iron recall Embrico, but the four magnets preventing
    it from tipping (quatre aimans…qu’il ne puist cliner ne nule part ploier) recall Gautier.
    The suspension above magnets (de sor) and the fan-powered rotation are entirely new,
    probably inspired by a description of the panemone windmill. Many scholars assume that
    our version of the Chanson, despite postdating Embrico and Gautier, represents an earlier
    phase involving a suspended idol based on classical accounts, later supplanted by
    103 The statue’s precious materials and proud appearance may recall the Alexandrian cultstatue
    of Serapis, whose description routinely accompanies that of the magnetically
    levitating Sun statue from Rufinus onwards.
    44
    Muhammad’s real body.104 I suggest that the partly “classicizing” variant involving an
    idol and magnets (which nonetheless contains no iron and lacks any direct model) is
    actually later: the suspension of the prophet’s own remains came first, directly
    counterfeiting Christian relic-powered suspension. Geographic proximity does not in
    itself prove oral or literary influence, but seems particularly relevant in this case. Embrico
    wrote at Mainz, Gautier at Marmoutier; around the same time, the anonymous monk (or
    monks) behind the Gesta Treverorum wrote at Trier. These three towns form an
    approximate triangle less than a hundred miles wide in the northeast Holy Roman
    Empire, and although the Gesta is hard to date, it belongs to a Latin literary scene whose
    coherence is implied by Gautier’s obvious dependence on Embrico. I suggest that relicmiracles,
    and not classical reports about Alexandria, are the true model for Muhammad’s
    magnetically levitating tomb, which ironically makes the same accusation against
    Muslims that Al-Khazraji and Al-Dimashqi were almost simultaneously hurling against
    Christians.
    One late thirteenth-century author reclaims Muhammad’s suspended tomb for
    Christendom using a different fantastical setting. The Account of Elysaeus of the 1280s105
    is an interpolated version of the Letter of Prester John, containing a description of St.
    Thomas’ tomb.106 This occupies a mountain in central India where, when the Indus
    104 E.g. Tolan 1996.
    105 Thus Zarncke 1876: 120.
    106 The tomb description (except its levitation) was extracted from the anonymous De
    adventu patriarchae Indorum ad Urbem sub Calixto papa secundo (AD 1122).
    45
    annually recedes, Thomas’ incorruptible hand is used to dispense the Eucharist (closing
    its grip to reveal any person’s guilt):107
    Now, the apostle is in a church on that same mountain, and he is entombed in
    an iron tomb (in tumulo ferreo tumulatus); and that tomb rests in the air by the
    power of four precious stones. It is called adamans; one is set in the floor, a
    second in the roof, one at one corner of the tomb, and another in the other.
    Those stones truly love iron (isti vero lapides diligunt ferrum): the lower one
    prevents him from rising, the upper one from sinking, and those at the corners
    prevent him from moving this way or that. The apostle is in the middle.
    The iron coffin locked in position, the four magnets, and the term adamas (here
    adamans) are recognizable from Gautier. As irreverently as when Paulinus’ relic-miracle
    was separately transferred onto both Muhammad and the iron Mercury, only in reverse,
    the author transfers Muhammad’s magnets onto a saint’s tomb, albeit in an exotic Eastern
    setting. The ease with which Muhammad’s false miracle is reclaimed for a Christian
    context shows how closely it was patterned on Christian relic-miracles in the first place.
    The author takes a positive attitude to magnetic suspension by turning it from miraclesubstitute
    to miracle in itself, unconsciously echoing our earliest pagan sources, and to be
    echoed in turn centuries later.
    107 Account of Elysaeus 16-17. The relevant portion (16-17) is published in Zarncke 1876:
    123-24.
    46
    7. ASIA AND INDIA: GNOSTIC, HINDU, AND BUDDHIST WONDERS
    At the time when magnetic suspension was giving rise to a form of relic-miracle
    in Western Europe, which would later contribute to the fantasy of Muhammad’s tomb,
    Muslim sources were already counting it among the marvels of India. I shall demonstrate
    that whereas very early Asian sources attribute self-levitation to holy individuals in
    Hinduism and Buddhism, and Sanskrit medical texts describe the properties of magnets,
    Muslim descriptions of magnetic suspension show the influence of Western antiquity.108
    The remarkable result is that just as eastward-facing Christians ascribed the technique to
    Muslims, eastward-facing Muslims were simultaneously ascribing it to other non-
    Muslims. Independent channels of transmission had produced such ironies before, yet
    this branch of the tradition (in which the Eastern dome replaced the Western arch or
    vault) flourished for centuries longer, relocating and evolving. Always in the margins,
    magnetic levitation illuminates the thought of many ages: from Hellenistic and Roman
    learning, across a spectrum of medieval Christian beliefs, into medieval and later Islam.
    As I shall show, a Hindu appropriation finally brought it into the modern era.
    108 On Hellenic (largely Hellenistic) influences on medieval Islam, see Peter 1988. Any
    evidence contradicting this Eurocentric model would of course be very important. I have
    only found one thirteenth-century Sanskrit example of magnet folklore, not involving
    levitation. In Hemadri’s Chaturvarga Chintamani, Shukracharya creates a mountain-like
    magnet to divert the gods’ iron-tipped arrows from the besieged daityas; Indra’s lightning
    shatters it, distributing magnetite worldwide.
    47
    The earliest Muslim references to suspended monuments arise from allegory and
    fables. Later, these develop into reports anchored to Indian cities, in exegetical genres
    such as travel writing and historiography. The latter resemble many earlier pagan and
    Christian sources, especially those concerning the Serapeum, which served as a template
    for the idolatrous splendor of Hinduism and Buddhism. One early reference, redolent of
    Gnostic allegory, appears in Al-Mas’udi’s tenth-century world history. He describes an
    ancient seven-sided “Sabian” (Harranian) temple on China’s borders—meaning at the
    world’s end—containing a well inside which all past and future knowledge may be seen.
    It is also crowned with a radiant gemstone that kills anyone who approaches it or
    attempts to destroy the temple. Al-Mas’udi says that according to “certain sages,” the
    effect was created using magnets regularly placed around the temple.109 India attracted
    curiosity and wonder among Muslim intellectuals, a fact exploited later in the tenth
    century by Abu Dulaf al-Yanbu’i in his first risala (letter), which blends gleaned
    knowledge with Mandevillean fantasy. He counts among India’s wonders a solid-gold
    temple, reputedly levitating somewhere between Makrana and Kandhar (over 700 miles
    apart).110 This statement is cited by a contemporary geographer, and another geographer
    three centuries later, implying that levitation could feature among “wonders of the East”
    109 Al Mas’udi 67 (de Meynard 1914: 69-71). For commentary on the Gnostic symbolism
    of this and other temples, see Corbin 1986: 132-82.
    110 Dulaf’s temple in the sky probably derives from the splendid city built for Kay Kavus,
    Persia’s legendary shah, “between heaven and earth” (al-Tabari Tar􀆯kh 1.602), or
    alternatively the vimanas of Hindu myth.
    48
    without mention of magnets or other rationalizations.111 In the same text, Dulaf describes
    the “idol” at Multan as not merely suspended in the air, but a hundred cubits distant from
    both floor and ceiling, itself a hundred cubits tall.112 Whether Dulaf read about a smaller
    suspended statue is unknown, but this has an air of satirical exaggeration, much like
    Lucian’s hundred-cubit footprint of Heracles.113 Dulaf is the earliest known Muslim
    scholar to locate a suspended statue in India, as his successors would do for centuries to
    come, though at different locations.
    Another Muslim echo of Western accounts of the Serapeum is denouncing
    magnetic suspension as religious fraud. The first trace of this is Al-Mas’udi’s claim that
    the Hindu temple at Multan contained magnets.114 Three centuries later (AD c. 1220), a
    catalog of fraudulent miracles in Al-Jawbari’s “Book of Selected Disclosure of Secrets”
    includes a levitating iron statue, in India’s “Monastery of the Idol” (deir al-sanam).115
    This seems to be an adaptation of the iron Helios in the Serapeum, being not only
    suspended under a dome—the Eastern answer to a vault—but also ascribed to a Greek
    hakim, this time Apollonius (“Yablunus”).116 Apollonius was also (as “Balinas”) the
    111 Ibn Al-Nadim Kitab al-Fihrist 347; Yaqut al-Hamawi Mu–jam Al-Buldan 3.457.
    112 MS. Rishbad f. 192a.
    113 Lucian Ver. Hist. 1.4. Scythia’s Heracles footprint was two cubits long (Hdt. 4.82).
    114 Al-Mas’udi 63.1371 (on “Mandusan”), cited by Vanoli 2008: 25.
    115 Al-Jawbari Kit􀆗b al-mukht􀆗r f􀆯 kashf al-asr􀆗r (The Meadows of Gold and Mines of
    Gems) chapter 4, cited in Wiedemann 1970: 359.
    116 Apparently here, as often in medieval Islam, the wonder-working Apollonius of Tyana
    is confused with the astronomer Apollonius of Perge.
    49
    purported author of a near-contemporary hermetic text, which described another
    allegorical seven-sided temple.117 This suggests that the magnetic marvels of both the
    “Monastery of the Idol” and the allegorical Harranian temple may ultimately derive from
    Byzantine historians’ reports of the Serapeum.118
    Although magnetism as religious fraud starts to appear in these High Middle Age
    Muslim accounts of unreal Asian temples (particularly those of Al-Mas’udi and Al-
    Jawbari), it features more prominently in later descriptions of real ruined temples. This is
    the strongest indication that the suspension motif itself passed from European texts
    through Muslim mediation into India, where it served many of the same cultural
    functions, especially since another iconolatry-iconoclasm conflict was under way. The
    great ruined Hindu temple of Somnath becomes, so to speak, the first Serapeum of Indian
    historiography. Somnath was destroyed in 1025, but around 1263 (decades after Al-
    Jawbari and his “Monastery of the Idol”), the Persian geographer Zakariya Al-Qazvini
    endowed it with splendors as lavish as those described in Rufinus or the Chanson
    d’Antioche. These include a suspended statue that initiates a drama of empirical
    analysis:119
    117 Heptagonal temples, one side for each known “planet,” suggest the astronomical
    mysticism of Harranian culture: see Van Bladel 2009.
    118 “Balinas” Book of the Seven Idols (Kitab al-Asnam al-Saba), cited and discussed in
    Al-Jaldaki Al-Burhan. This heptagonal temple contains seven talking statues representing
    the planets, whose sermons initiate the reader into alchemy.
    119 Al-Qazvini, trans. Eliot and Dowson 1871 = 2.63 Wüstenfeld.
    50
    This idol was in the middle of [Somnath] temple without anything to support
    it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was regarded with great
    veneration by the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck
    with amazement, whether he was a Mussulman or an infidel.… When the king
    [Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni] asked his companions what they had to say
    about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or
    support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The
    king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a
    spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then
    stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron,
    and that the ingenious builder had skilfully contrived that the magnet should
    not exercise a greater force on any one side—hence the idol was suspended in
    the middle.… Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some
    stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were
    removed from the summit, the idol swerved on one side; when more were
    taken away, it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.
    In this version of the focal-point model (in a dome, as in Al-Jawbari), removing the
    stones does not topple the statue instantly. Instead it dangles lower without falling, until
    reaching the ground, as if numerous chainlike bonds were progressively detached from
    highest to lowest. Although no connection with the Serapeum is visible here, a similar
    story among the Muslim Bohra of Gujarat confirms it. In this story of uncertain date, set
    less than 250 miles away at Khambhat around a century later, Moulai Yaqoob visits a
    51
    Brahmin temple and removes four magnets suspending an iron elephant (Ganesh?) inside.
    This, with other feats, causes mass conversion to Islam.120 This story of a false miracle
    exposed resembles that of Somnath in its setting, but in other respects strongly resembles
    that of Alexandria as told by Quodvultdeus.121 Yaqoob follows in the footsteps of the
    “servant of Christ,” who validates his own new faith by dislodging the hidden magnets
    supporting the old one.
    Since the early nineteenth century, a similar tale of magnetic levitation has been
    told much further east, about Konark’s thirteenth-century Sun Temple on the Bay of
    Bengal. This owes much to the earlier accounts of Eastern temples in Muslim
    geographies and other prose genres, but has emerged from oral tradition and,
    furthermore, remains current today. Konark probably fell into disuse after the sixteenthcentury
    Afghan conquest of Odisha, and by the eighteenth century its tall vimana
    (sanctum) had almost completely collapsed. A local tale recorded in the mid-nineteenth
    century claimed that its capstone had been a massive magnet that frequently caused
    shipwrecks on the nearby coast (presumably defending it from attack by sea), until a band
    of Muslims landed further away and stole it to prevent this effect, thereby desanctifying
    120 During the reign of “Sadras Singh” (Siddharaj Jaisingh, AD 1094-1143), Yaqoob
    visited a Brahmin temple containing the elephant: see Forbes 1856: 343-44. A summary
    of Bohra legends is provided by Jivabhai 1882: 328-45. Yaqoob and Graindor’s righteous
    iconoclast seem independently derived from a shared source.
    121 One detail points to a later retelling of Quodvultdeus’ story: the four magnets, seen in
    High Medieval texts (Glycas, Gautier, Graindor, Account of Elysaeus).
    52
    the temple.122 In more recent variants this capstone suspended a cult-statue in mid-air, as
    at Somnath, and it was the Portuguese or British who removed it.123 This tale seems to
    merge Al-Mas’udi’s deadly gemstone with the shipwrecking magnetic mountain; the
    copious iron clamps and girders in Konark’s masonry probably seemed like evidence,
    especially if some were magnetized by lightning.124 The tradition of suspended
    monuments being destroyed, previously communicated from Christian to Muslim
    chroniclers, survives at Konark in a final, post-colonial inversion. This temple magnet
    was no fraud, nor mere spectacle, but an immensely powerful weapon, as even its
    destroyers had to acknowledge.
    It is instructive to compare the legends of Somnath and Khambhat with that of
    Konark. All explain why the miraculous object is absent from any extant ruins, but the
    first two condemn deception, whereas the last praises ingenuity. At Somnath and
    Khambhat, pious myth-busters expose the marvel as a heathen trick by destroying it, as in
    Quodvultdeus. At Konark it remains a cultural treasure, as in the earliest pagan sources
    and the Christian Account of Elysaeus, although spoilt by impious vandals, like the relicpowered
    tomb of Paulinus. This shows that for suspended monuments across a range of
    cultural contexts, the epistemological statuses of trick and miracle remained closely
    122 Stirling 1825: 327.
    123 For a recent version involving the Portuguese, see Gupta 2012: 463. Further variants
    may be found online.
    124 Compare the magnetized ironwork pieces obtained from church spires at Mantua
    (Gilbert 1893 [1600]: 214-15), Rimini, Aix (Brewster 1837: 9), and Chartres (Lister
    1699: 80-84).
    53
    related, even interchangeable. I have shown that there are many continuities among
    accounts of suspended monuments, but perhaps this changeability itself is their most
    enduringly transcultural property.
    8. CONCLUDING REMARKS
    Static suspension has recurrently given foreign wisdom ostentatious material
    forms. In collected lore, travelers’ tales, and religious denunciations from the Hellenistic
    period to the present and from Western Europe to the Far East, this mutable “wonder of
    the world” represents hidden knowledge inspiring faith, usually false, sometimes true.
    The suspended artifact is usually a cult-object: a sacred statue or, later, a holy person’s
    remains. The notable exception is the statue of Bellerophon, which is better associated
    with other flying beings from pagan myth: Helios, Nike, Cupid, and Mercury. However,
    the medieval tradition of divinely or magnetically levitating relics, most notoriously
    Muhammad’s body, does not (as some have claimed) come straight from Pliny and other
    classical sources. Instead it follows centuries of relic-miracles imitating magnetic
    monuments, including the coffins of Sicily and Trier, the cross on Cyprus, and the altar of
    Illtud. The idea of suspending relics from chains may have assisted this development.
    Descriptions of objects (for example in the Talmud, Ibn Wahshiyya, and Ibn Hawqal)
    with phrases meaning “between heaven and earth,” which can metaphorically denote
    things high above ground as in the Greek “Meteora,” could also have been misunderstood
    to mean miraculous levitation.
    54
    Although the oral traditions so important for the study of marvels lie all but
    hidden, this collation of glimpses from erudite channels has brought historical
    developments to light. Our starting-points Pliny and Ampelius are both brief and
    paradoxographic, but probably represent earlier texts of the Hellenistic period
    documenting either scientific developments, or the growing taste for marvels, or both.
    From late antiquity onward, Rufinus and his successors describe the Helios in the
    Serapeum (possibly transferred from Carrhae) as a trick. They imagine the workings of
    magnetism in varying ways, describing different numbers of magnets under a vault or
    coffered ceiling, and circulate the classical concept eastward from Constantinople.
    Separately from the Serapeum tradition, a Bellerophon statue mentioned by Cosmas
    becomes a magnetically suspended monument in Rome through progressive reinventions.
    Meanwhile, the invisible chains of magnetic monuments inspire a form of Christian relicmiracle,
    possibly influenced by actual suspensions of Christian relics on chains,125 just as
    other suspension-miracles imply invisible ropes. This (and not the Alexandrian Helios or
    Arsinoe) ultimately leads to the fantasy that Muhammad’s tomb was magnetically
    suspended. The fanciful Mercury statue at Trier and St. Thomas’ coffin both “remagnetize”
    relic-miracles in similar ways. Medieval Muslim authors show an equally
    broad, though somewhat refracted, range of attitudes to static suspension. Some locate
    examples in a marvelous East, with or without domes containing magnets; others cite
    magnetic suspension to refute Christian relic-miracles; still others attack Hindu idolatry
    125 The medieval travelers who report chain-hung relics are Christian (Robert of Clari on
    Constantinople), Jewish (Benjamin and Petachiah on Susa), and Muslim (Al-Harawi on
    Rome).
    55
    by claiming that Muslims exposed magnetic suspension in now-ruined Indian temples
    (Multan, Khambhat, Somnath). The last category of tales echoes Quodvultdeus’ account
    of the Serapeum. The latest reported magnetic monument is Konark, still renowned
    among some Hindus, which reasserts magnetism as a true miracle and powerful
    technology whose destruction was impious.
    For historians of the marvelous in religious, scientific, and folkloric contexts, one
    of the most striking aspects of the suspended monument tradition is that until now it was
    virtually invisible. One might even say that it never existed. Despite the chains of
    influence linking antiquity to the Middle Ages and the modern era, our sources barely
    acknowledge one another and almost without exception (even including Christian relicmiracles)
    envisage one unique example. The result is an enduring disconnectedness,
    mirroring the physical phenomenon on the epistemological level. Furthermore, world
    religions ascribe magnetic levitation-frauds to one another in an unwitting chorus:
    Christians accuse pagans and Muslims, Jews accuse idolaters, Muslims accuse Christians
    and Hindus. This shows common ground not shared by our two earliest authorities, the
    Roman compilers Pliny and Ampelius, who describe without comment. Rufinus’ late
    antique report of the Helios in the recently destroyed Serapeum is what turned magnetic
    levitation into both a means of scientific rationalization and a tool of religious polemic.
    This not only ensured rapid circulation in early Latin chroniclers and lasting popularity
    among Byzantine Greeks, but led to ongoing migrations and evolutions throughout the
    Middle Ages and beyond.
    The re-emergence of static suspension as a Christian relic-miracle, replacing iron
    and magnetite with sacred wood and bone, is not as marked a change as one might think.
    56
    Non-ferromagnetic substances appeared in earlier sources, showing that empirical
    phenomena held little sway over any suspended monument. Although iron predominates,
    alternatives included the suspended objects of gold in the Talmudic and purportedly
    Babylonian sources, Dulaf’s hundred-cubit idol and golden temple, Embrico’s tomb of
    bronze, and Graindor’s composite idol. The chroniclers who pictured the Serapeum
    Helios with a small talisman-like magnet and a concealed iron nail may reveal why this
    is. For those whose magnetic theory has an empirical foundation, however indirect, the
    suspended object must be made of iron, but for most it is a form of sympathetic magic,
    whose power can be used on mostly or entirely non-ferrous objects (for example, in the
    magical papyri, figurines or people). Given that heavy iron objects hanging unsupported
    already seemed absurd, it was a short step from there to other metals, and (for Christians)
    to the potent and imperishable matter of holy relics.
    I have shown that the static suspension motif migrated eastward after antiquity,
    which is apt enough since it had frequently pointed in that direction. The Alexandrian
    branch of the tradition held its place, although the Serapeum became the template for
    other locations, notably in India. The other and less continuous branch, starting from
    Ampelius, tended to locate levitating monuments in the Roman provinces of the Near
    East (especially Syria).126 Later descriptions of magnetic monuments clustered further
    East: tales of Muhammad’s tomb and statue postdating the First Crusade are set in Libya,
    Antioch, and Mecca; the Harranian temple is towards China; even the Mercury at Treveri
    126 Ampelius places the Nike in Magnesia-under-Sipylus and Cosmas locates the
    Bellerophon in Smyrna, though I have suggested that it might well have stood at
    Bargylia.
    57
    playfully reimagined the coffin of St. Paulinus with its Near Eastern provenance of
    “Phrygia.” Finally, Dulaf’s golden temple, St. Thomas’ tomb, the “Monastery of the
    Idol,” Multan, Somnath, Khambhat, and Konark are all located in India.127 If Alexandria
    were not so familiar to the educated elite of the Roman Empire, we might conclude that
    the entire history of magnetic levitation is dominated by Orientalism. It is better to say
    that suspended monuments are symptoms of speculation: not only about science, magic,
    and religion, but also about unfamiliar cultures, especially those subjected to conquest
    and ruination. Over many centuries of such speculation the motif spread across Europe
    and Asia.
    University of Kent
    d.m.lowe@kent.ac.uk
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    Kent Academic Repository



    Lowe, Dunstan (2016) Suspending Disbelief: Magnetic Levitation in Antiquity and the Middle

    Ages. Classical Antiquity, 35 (2). pp. 247-278.

    DOI

    https://doi.org/10.1525/ca.2016.35.2.247

    Link to record in KAR

    http://kar.kent.ac.uk/57768/

    Document Version

    Author's Accepted Manuscript

    1

    Dunstan Lowe

    Suspending Disbelief:

    Magnetic and Miraculous Levitation from Antiquity to the Middle Ages

    Abstract:

    Static levitation is a form of marvel with metaphysical implications whose long history

    has not previously been charted. First, Pliny the Elder reports an architect’s plan to

    suspend an iron statue using magnetism, and the later compiler Ampelius mentions a

    similar-sounding wonder in Syria. When the Serapeum at Alexandria was destroyed, and

    for many centuries afterwards, chroniclers wrote that an iron Helios had hung

    magnetically inside. In the Middle Ages, reports of such false miracles multiplied,

    appearing in Muslim accounts of Christian and Hindu idolatry, as well as Christian

    descriptions of the tomb of Muhammad. A Christian levitation miracle involving saints’

    relics also emerged. Yet magnetic suspension could be represented as miraculous in

    itself, representing lost higher knowledge, as in the latest and easternmost tradition

    concerning Konark’s ruined temple. The levitating monument, first found in classical

    antiquity, has undergone many cultural and epistemological changes in its long and

    varied history.



    1. INTRODUCTION



    Although recent scholarship has extensively explored the rich history of marvels

    2

    and miracles,1 suspended objects have never been systematically studied. The following

    discussion pursues the theme of magnetic and miraculous suspension through European

    (and Asian) history from classical antiquity to modern times, revealing a continuous

    tension between secular and sacred physics. For the first time, this article assembles the

    diverse historical sources on levitating objects from antiquity onward (some widely

    acknowledged, others barely noted within their own disciplinary partitions), proposing

    new interpretations of each.2 This requires a loosely chronological approach which, at the

    risk of seeming naïve, will reveal crucial connections and developments from the

    Hellenistic period to the modern era. The result is a strange new sidelight on scientific,

    religious, and even political developments across Europe and beyond.

    I am very grateful to Harry Hine for correcting some of my errors and offering insightful

    remarks, to Mike Squire for art-historical advice and ideas, and to Thomas Habinek and

    the journal’s referees for many valuable suggestions.

    1 The bibliography on curiosity, wonder, and marvels in history is large and growing,

    though Daston and Park 1998 remains key. See e.g. Hardie 2009 on antiquity

    (specifically Augustan Rome, thus excluding magnetism); Kesneth 1991 on the

    Renaissance; Evans and Marr 2006 on the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

    2 For example, no two of the following have been connected in previous scholarship:

    Ampelius’ statue at Magnesia, Aristotle’s coffin in Sicily, the Mercury at Trier, the

    Cypriot cross, Dulaf’s golden temple, Illtud’s Welsh altar, the “Monastery of the Idol,”

    the elephant at Khambhat.

    3

    The properties of magnets have intrigued intellectuals and entertained ordinary

    people since the early classical period,3 though static suspension and many other ideas

    about magnetism have little dependence on observed phenomena. Demonstrations in

    antiquity of magnets’ power to attract ferrous substances—typically, suspending iron

    rings in a chain, or covertly moving iron from beneath a surface of some other metal—

    provoked amazement and curiosity.4 Medical uses of magnets are recorded from the

    second century AD and magical ones from around the fourth century (their preternatural

    ability to move objects without contact resembled the occult powers of spells, which is

    why a demonstration alarmed Augustine).5 Beyond these limited uses magnetism held

    3 On magnets in ancient science, see Fritzsche 1902, Rommel 1927, Radl 1988, Wallace

    1996. Relevant passages include Pl. Ion 533d; Ar. De Anima 405a19 (on Thales);

    Theophr. On Stones 5.29; Posidippus Lithica 12 Austin and Bastianini; Lucr. 6.910-16,

    1042-47. Pliny draws his classification of five “Magnesian stones” (two non-magnetic)

    from Sotacus, a third-century writer on minerals, and his account of how “Magnes” the

    shepherd discovered magnets from the second-century author Nicander (HN 36.127-28).

    4 Rings: Plato Ion 533d, Lucr. 6.910-16, Plin. HN 34.147; iron moved from below: Lucr.

    6.1043-47, Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. Initiates into the cult of the Great Gods of Samothrace

    received iron finger-rings, presumably for ritual use involving magnetism: see Blakely

    2012.

    5 Aug. Civ. D. 21.4. On medical applications, e.g. Dioscorides, De Materia Medica

    5.130; Galen, De facultatibus (magnetite is astringent, like haematite), De simplici

    medicina (magnetite is purgative); see Rommel 1927: col. 483-84. In late antiquity,

    magical applications appear: magnets were placed inside figurines, seemingly to give

    4

    little more than curiosity value, lacking mechanical applications.6 Yet it is crucial to bear

    in mind that although magnetic suspension rarely has a specific maker, magical marvels

    are invariably crafted by scholars, not mere zealots. They give additional proof that

    magic was compatible with science and technology in medieval thought.7

    Importantly, although sources from the first to sixth centuries AD mention

    magnetic repulsion, it was not understood until the twelfth century that magnets have

    them agency (PGM IV.1807-10, 3142); an inscribed magnet prevents conception (PGM

    XXIIa.11-12); and a magnet placed under a sleeping woman diagnoses her chastity (if

    faithful she will cleave to her husband, or otherwise be ejected: Lithica 306-37). Some

    authors use the analogy of magnetism to explain sympathetic magic (Plin. HN 34.42, Gal.

    Peri Phusikon Dunameon 1.14.44-54).

    6 The only documented mechanical use of magnetism is an expensive toy described by

    Claudian that plays out a simple mythological scene, like some of Hero of Alexandria’s

    automata: inside a golden shrine, an iron Mars slowly approaches a magnetic Venus until

    he suddenly flies forward and they embrace (Carm. min. 29.22-51): see Wallace 1996:

    181, Cristante 2001-2002. Some (e.g. James and Thorpe 1995: 154, McKeown 2013:

    198) claim that Claudian describes a real temple, but whatever his own religious

    standpoint (see Vanderspoel 1986), he would not celebrate a pagan ritual in verse at a

    Christian court. Claudian came from Alexandria, like Hero the inventor.

    7 On magic and science, see Sherwood 1947, Eamon 1983, Hansen 1986, Truitt 2004. On

    artificial marvels, see Daston and Park 1998: 88-108. On how the aesthetics of the

    marvelous relate to artistic theory and practice, see Mirollo 1991.

    5

    poles and can therefore both attract and repel.8 Yet they inspired fantasies involving

    colossal invisible forces. One is the magnetic mountain that wrecks ships made with iron

    nails. This appears in the geographical content of Pliny and Ptolemy, but also across Asia

    as far as China, as well as in Arabic and European folktales.9 The epic poet Silius Italicus

    says that the Aethiopians used their abundant magnets to extract iron ore without

    touching it.10 A millennium later, the Roman d’Eneas endows Carthage with magnettopped

    battlements for trapping iron-clad attackers like flypaper.11 Such fantasies may

    legitimately be called science fiction.

    With a sufficiently cross-disciplinary perspective, we can reconstruct a long

    history for the grandest of magnetism fantasies: an apparatus for permanently suspending

    an object in mid-air. Accounts of full-size monumental examples recur from classical

    8 On magnetic repulsion see Wallace 1996: 184-85, with citations. Tellingly, when

    Posidippus describes a stone that both attracts and repels iron he only compares it to a

    magnet, insofar as it attracts (Bing 2005: 264-65). Knowledge of the compass is first

    attested in Europe by Guiot of Provins (1180) and Alexander Neckam (c. 1190); Peter

    Peregrinus of Maricourt published the first extended treatise in 1269. The earliest known

    description is Chinese (Shen Kuo, Dream Pool Essays, AD 1088).

    9 Tuczay 2005: 273-74, with citations; see also Lecouteux 1984, 1999; Marzolph and van

    Leeuwen 2004. The legendary Virgil visits a magnetic mountain in the Wartburgkrieg (c.

    1287), Reinfried von Braunschweig (c. 1300), and later sources.

    10 solis honor ille, metallo / intactum chalybem vicino ducere saxo (Sil. Pun. 3.265-67).

    Ore processing, rather than mining, is probably meant.

    11 Anon. Roman d’Eneas 427-40.

    6

    antiquity to the late medieval period. Whether authors portray levitation as mechanical,

    magical, or something in between,12 they never deny its possibility. In reality Earnshaw’s

    Theorem of 1839, stating that stable levitation against gravity using only ferromagnetic

    materials cannot work on any scale, stands uncontested. Nonetheless, we have culturally

    and geographically diverse accounts of levitating monuments from the first century AD

    to the late Middle Ages and beyond. I propose that these deserve recognition as a genre

    of architectural fantasy that offers new insights into the history of science, as well as the

    history of interaction between religious cultures.

    Magnetic levitation endows inert matter with spectacular properties, inviting

    comparison with divine miracles and magic. It also shares features with real and

    imaginary automata, though this is somewhat paradoxical, since the inert matter is

    spectacular precisely because it does not move: unlike the other magnetic fantasies

    mentioned above, levitation never involves traction. (Accordingly, I shall use the terms

    “levitation” and “suspension” interchangeably.) It is sometimes regarded positively, as an

    open demonstration of engineering and artistic skill, but more often negatively, as a

    secret trick for faking a divine miracle.

    As object of wonder, the suspended monument embodies potentiality: not only in

    the obvious sense that what went up has not (yet) come down, but in other senses too. As

    an architectural installation or localized miracle it is by definition non-portable and

    cannot, like most artificial wonders or holy relics, be brought from the periphery to the

    center of scholarly, religious, or popular experience. As physics, static levitation is

    12 From antiquity to the Middle Ages, some discourses on magnetism (e.g., mageia,

    Hermeticism, alchemy) resist the modern distinction between natural and supernatural.

    7

    theorized but unrealized: it never appears in treatises upon magnets or architecture, nor

    even descriptions of magnets in lapidaries, and nobody proposes to recreate it. As

    miracle, meanwhile, static levitation becomes evidence of God’s power in nature, and

    even a test of spiritual intelligence.13 In the Middle Ages, reports of magnetism

    proliferate and the miraculous version emerges. Perhaps the iconoclasm controversies

    partly account for this, since the suspended monument proves capable of oscillating

    between fraud and miracle more easily than any other legendary object.

    2. ALEXANDRIA: THE POTENTIAL ARSINOE AND THE FALLEN HELIOS

    Our earliest reference to a magnetic monument (and likewise, elsewhere, to a

    magnetic mountain) is a report in Pliny the Elder that has resisted interpretation, despite

    nuanced treatments of his larger intellectual project.14 He mentions a design by “the

    13 “Some Christian writers…saw skepticism concerning wonders as the hallmark of the

    narrow-minded and suspicious peasant” (Daston and Park 1998: 62); cf. Eamon 1983:

    195, Bynum 2011 passim. The comeuppance of such a peasant in Lifris’ Life of Cadoc is

    discussed below.

    14 See e.g. Healy 1999: 158, Carne 2013: 108. On artificial wonders in Pliny, see Isager

    1991 and Beagon 2011, neither of whom mention the present passage.

    8

    architectus Timochares,” for a temple in which an iron cult statue of Ptolemy II’s late

    sister-wife Arsinoe would be suspended in the air:15

    Using magnetic stone (Magnete lapide), the architect Timochares had begun

    to vault a temple (templum concamarare) to Arsinoe at Alexandria, so that the

    iron statue in it would seem to hang in the air (pendere in aëre videretur). This

    was interrupted by his own death and by that of King Ptolemy, who had

    commissioned it for his own sister.

    Pliny’s videretur (“would seem”) means only that magnetism would create a

    lifelike impression of flight. It is unclear whether he envisages contactless “true

    levitation,” or “pseudo-levitation” in which magnetic attraction pulls against a physical

    tether. Although neither could work, the latter might have seemed more feasible, since it

    can be achieved using a scale model. Ptolemy II could access fabulous quantities of

    precious metal and stone, and without any means of measuring magnetic field strength,

    “Timochares” could have miscalculated the properties of magnetite.16 It is not impossible

    that “Timochares” planned to achieve true levitation. Vitruvius credits a nearcontemporary

    “Dinocrates” with an equally astonishing plan to sculpt Mount Athos into a

    15 Plin. HN 34.148. The death of Ptolemy II, the alleged date of the project, was in 246

    BC.

    16 Even with today’s artificial supermagnets, thousands of times more powerful, such a

    monument would require precision engineering and impractically large quantities of

    metal to achieve suspension across even a few inches of air.

    9

    Rushmore-like statue, holding a city in its left hand and pouring a river from a dish in its

    right.17 Alexander the Great rejected this proposal and built Alexandria instead because

    Athos provided no arable land, Vitruvius says. Other, completed Ptolemaic projects

    combined innovation and artistry with engineering on an unprecedented scale, including

    the largest tower, automaton, and galley ever designed.18 Magnets were relatively rare

    and hence semi-precious despite their dull appearance,19 which may have encouraged

    artisans to consider their uses as architectural ornaments. Importantly, architectus often

    means simply “inventor” and an Arsinoeion did exist at Alexandria, so Pliny’s term

    concamarare probably means adding magnetite to the existing temple, not constructing

    something anew. Such a plan might have won Ptolemaic sponsorship; later readers

    certainly found it plausible, since Ausonius in the fourth century AD reports it as

    completed.20 A temple suspending a statue using magnets would suit the contemporary

    17 Vitruv. 2. praef. 2. On the programmatic implications of this anecdote, and a

    discussion of the uncertainty over the architect’s name, see McEwen 2003: 91-102.

    18 The Pharos: Adler 1901, Thiersch 1909, Picard 1952; the Nysa statue in Ptolemy II’s

    coronation parade: Athen. Deipn. 5.198-99; the “Forty”: Plut. Demetr. 43.4-5, Athen.

    Deipn. 5.203e-204b.

    19 Theophrastus calls them rare (De Lapidibus 5.29). The belief that rubbing magnets

    with garlic destroyed their power (Lehoux 2003) might be indirect proof of their value if

    nobody thought the easy test worth the risk, as with goat’s-blood breaking diamonds

    (Plin. HN 20.2) or vinegar dissolving pearls (Hor. Sat. 2.3.239-42, Plin. HN 9.59, Suet.

    Cal. 37).

    20 Auson. Mos. 314-17. 

    10

    taste for creative engineering, as did another high-tech memorial to Arsinoe, the musical

    drinking-horn made by Ctesibius.21

    The idea of a levitating statue could also reflect the Alexandrian milieu in more

    subtle ways, having potential links with motifs in Egyptian religious art, as well as recent

    developments in Greek physics. The Egyptians pictured the heavens as a curved ceiling

    (or even, in the Pyramid Texts, an iron slab supported on four columns),22 and spangled

    their own ceilings with stars.23 Egyptian tradition also represented pharaohs ascending to

    heaven after death, and likewise Callimachus describes Arsinoe being taken up by the

    Dioscuri to become the Pole Star,24 which stands at the center of the turning sky. The

    “lock of Berenice” narrative a generation later shows how astronomy could contribute to

    Ptolemaic self-fashioning. All this lends credence to Deonna’s suggestion that the

    21 Ctesibius’ cornucopia is known only through an epigram by Hedylus (Athen. Deipn.

    11.497d-e).

    22 On the image of heaven as vault, see Couprie 2011: 1-13. As iron slab in the Pyramid

    Texts, see Budge 1904: 1.156-57. Homer’s heaven is iron (Od. 15.329, 17.565) or bronze

    (Il. 17.425, Od. 3.2) and supported by pillars (Od. 1.52-54).

    23 Constructed vaults only rarely appear before the Ptolemies, but excavated chambers

    frequently had curved ceilings. Whether flat or curved, they were commonly decorated

    with the starry goddess Nut and other sky symbols. On the use of the star-spangled

    canopy (“uraniskos”) in Greek cults of celestial deities, see Crane 1952; in later art, see

    Lehmann 1945, Swift and Alwis 2010.

    24 Callimachus fr. 228 Pfeiffer, with scholion. On Arsinoe as Pole Star, see Green 2004:

    248. The Mendes Stele records that Arsinoe “ascended to heaven.”

    11

    planned monument represented Arsinoe’s catasterism.25 If the vault depicted the sky,

    Pliny’s otherwise unknown “Timochares” may be a misspelling of Timocharis, a

    contemporary Alexandrian astronomer whose achievements involved tracking and

    mapping the constellations.26 If he proposed to decorate the vaulted ceiling over Arsinoe

    with an accurate star-map, an ekphrastic epigrammatist might easily describe this as

    placing the catasterized thea philadelphus “in the sky,” a phrase open to misconstruction

    by later readers.27

    Third-century Alexandria was also a likely context for thought experiments about

    bodies suspended between countervailing forces, for philosophers and engineers alike.

    Both Chrysippus and Archimedes would be active in the decades after Arsinoe died, circa

    270 BC,28 and Ptolemy himself had been tutored by Strato of Lampsacus, a specialist in

    cosmology.29 The Stoics had recently developed a new explanation for the earth’s poise

    25 Deonna 1914: 106.

    26 On the confusion over Timocharis and related names, see Fabricius, Pauly-Wissowa

    Realencyclopädie s.v. “Deinochares.” Pliny’s reference to Ptolemy Philadelphus’ death

    implies that “Timochares” died around 246 BC.

    27 Unfortunately translation from Latin to Greek is highly unlikely, so we cannot explain

    the whole concept of magnetic levitation as a translation error involving some lost

    epigram whereby Arsinoe or the ceiling went from s􀆯d􀆟r􀆟a “celestial, star-spangled” to

    􀇶 􀇧􀇡􀇴􀇨􀇤  made of iron  ἵcf. 􀇶􀇬􀇧􀇪􀇴 􀇷􀇬􀇵  magnet”: Philod. Sign. 9, Strab.15.1.38).

    28 Timocharis is thought to have lived c. 320-260 BC, Archimedes c. 287-212,

    Chrysippus c. 279-206.

    29 Diog. Laert. 5.3.1.

    12

    at the center of the cosmos (besides its own symmetry): the dynamic force of pneuma

    acting equally upon it from all directions.30 Sambursky points out that the term isobares,

    “equal weight,” used by Chrysippus also appears in proposition 1.3 of Archimedes’ On

    Floating Bodies, which states that a solid immersed in fluid of equivalent volume neither

    sinks nor rises.31 Suggestively, our late antique source for Chrysippus’ terminology

    replaces push with pull, comparing the static earth to an object pulled by cords in all

    directions with equal force.32 Perhaps a Hellenistic author imagined a magnet-clad arch

    as a thought experiment, illustrating either a principle of hydrostatics or the Stoic cosmos,

    which generated an urban myth for paradoxographers and ultimately Pliny. These are

    only speculations, but it is tempting to derive “Timochares” and his magnetism from

    known facts about the cultural climate of Ptolemaic Alexandria.

    In some ways, Pliny establishes norms for later descriptions of magnetic

    levitation, but in others he is unique. His description is the last to mention a potential

    monument. It is also among the minority that specify a designer and date of construction,

    30 Sambursky 1959: 109.

    31 Sambursky 1959: 111. Archimedes himself was reportedly an astronomer’s son and

    owned two orreries (probably heliocentric, cf. his Sand-reckoner): see Jaeger 2008.

    32 Achilles Isagoge 4 = von Arnim VSF 2.555, probably third century AD (Sambursky

    1959: 109). Independently, in the early twelfth century, Bruno of Segni directly compares

    the earth’s suspension (by God) with that of a magnetic statue (Sententiae 3 = PL

    165.983d).

    13

    and the only to do so without scorn.33 Pliny’s brevity led to centuries of uncertainty about

    how static levitation should work. Yet several features become near-universal: all later

    accounts describe true (contactless) levitation, not pseudo (tethered). Generally, the

    suspended object is not a magnet,34 and just as Pliny’s reference to a vault (concamarare)

    implies multiple magnets holding the object at a focal point, most later sources mention a

    vault or dome, despite one-magnet, two-magnet, and four-magnet configurations. Finally,

    virtually every magnetic monument is, like Pliny’s, portrayed as one of a kind.35 This

    makes the levitating artifact the sole remnant of a lost skill, suspended in time as well as

    space; since relics represent loss of another kind, Christian levitation-miracles supply

    equally evocative remnants.

    After Pliny we turn to late antiquity, when faith comes to the fore and the longest

    and most coherent tradition about magnetic levitation begins, based on the historic temple

    of Serapis at Alexandria. It has an obvious link to the “Timochares” tale, being set in the

    same city. The Serapeum complex, built by Ptolemy III, was thoroughly destroyed by

    Christians around AD 391 following the Theodosian decrees. After this event, numerous

    historians report that an iron image of Helios had been suspended within using

    magnetism. They mention it after describing the Serapis cult-statue, a dazzling colossus

    of multiple precious stones and metals. Both descriptions imbue the ruined site of

    33 The exceptions (discussed below) are Gehazi’s and Jeroboam’s idols, Yablunus’

    “Monastery of the Idol,” and the mausoleum of “Magus” of Muhammad in Embrico.

    34 The unique exception is the idol ascribed to Gehazi in the Talmud.

    35 Gehazi’s idol is again exceptional, being compared to those of Jeroboam.

    14

    worship with sinful exoticism. This combination recurs in much later tales of similar

    wonders, gratifying the imagination while sharpening the moral lesson of righteous

    destruction.. The earliest account appears in Tyrannius Rufinus, who specifies only a

    single magnet:36

    There was also another kind of deception, namely the following: the magnet is

    known to be of such a nature that it seizes upon and attracts iron. A craftsman

    (artifex) had with very skilful hand fashioned an iron image of the Sun

    (signum Solis) for this very purpose, so that the stone—we have said that it

    has the property of attracting iron—was fixed in the ceiling-coffers above (in

    laquearibus fixus). When the image had been placed precisely under the ray

    and balanced (sub ipso radio ad libram), and by force of nature the stone

    attracted the iron, the image seemed to the people to have risen up and be

    hanging in the air (in aëre pendere). And in case this was betrayed by a

    sudden fall, the treacherous ministers used to say, “The Sun has risen, so that

    bidding farewell to Serapis, he may go off to his own place.”

    Rufinus’ description is evidently fantastical, but the circumstantial details make it sound

    as if some mechanical trick were indeed used. Schwartz has plausibly suggested that

    Rufinus transposed this and other elements from the earlier destruction of the moon-god

    Sîn at Carrhae (the medieval “Harran,” discussed below).37 Christopher Jones recently

    36 Rufinus Ecclesiastical History 2.23.

    37 Schwartz 1966. Pola1ski 1998: 122-28 contests certain aspects.

    15

    offered new reasons to identify this with a temple that contained “secret devices of the

    ceiling” and many iron statues.38 In any case, Ptolemaic Alexandria had been home to the

    inventors Ctesibius, Philo, and later Hero, who recorded how to create apparently

    supernatural effects such as self-opening temple doors.39 Rufinus may represent a

    repurposed version of Pliny’s “Timochares” anecdote, but in any case, Christian authors

    for centuries to come treated the Sun-image as an important detail of the Serapeum’s

    destruction. For Pliny (and Ampelius, as we shall soon see) the magnetic monument was

    an end in itself, edifying and entertaining, resembling his larger distillation of world

    knowledge. Rufinus gave it much deeper implications as an instrument with a purpose,

    like most artificial wonders whether magical or technological. For the Christian

    chroniclers it was a faith-machine, generating false belief until its magnetic workings

    were physically or intellectually exposed. Conversely, we shall find that in some accounts

    of levitation in the second millennium (both Christian and non-Christian), the magnetic

    workings are themselves the belief-sustaining miracle. This reflects the view prevailing in

    38 Jones 2013; Libanius Or. 30.44-45. If so, Theodoret’s claim that a female corpse—

    disemboweled for omens by the occultist Julian—was found inside the Carrhae temple

    “suspended by the hair” (􀋪􀇭 􀇷 􀇰 􀇷􀇴􀇬􀇺 􀇰 􀇼􀇴􀇪􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇲􀇰, Church History 3.21 = PG

    82.1119) might well derive from magnetic suspension: decades earlier, Ausonius

    described Arsinoe’s statue as magnetically suspended “by its iron-clad hair” (affictamque

    trahit ferrato crine puellam, Mosella 317). 

    39 Hero Pneumatica 1.17, 38-39. It may also be relevant that Manetho, a Ptolemaic

    authority on the Serapis cult, dubbed magnetite “the bone of Horus”—often identified as

    the sun-god—and iron “the bone of Typhon” (Plut. De Is. et Os. 62).

    16

    High Middle Age Christendom that the supernatural or inexplicable is evidence of God’s

    power in nature.40 Indeed, as I shall demonstrate later, magnetism would directly inspire a

    Christian relic-powered form of miracle.

    Repeated mentions of the Serapeum Helios throughout the Middle Ages, with

    occasional changes, shed light on how magnetic levitation was thought to work. Probably

    the most widely read report after Pliny’s appears in Augustine’s City of God. It was

    written soon after 410, only postdating Rufinus’ history by a few years, yet several details

    are different. Augustine passingly describes magnetic levitation as a false miracle

    achieved “in a certain temple” (in quodam templo):41

    The marvels that they call “contrivances” (mirifica, quae 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 

    appellant), made by human skill through manipulating God’s creation, are so

    many and so great that those who don’t know better think them divine. So it

    happened that in a certain temple, where magnets were placed in the ground

    and the vault in proportion to their size [in solo et camera proportione

    magnitudinis positis], an iron statue was suspended in mid-air between the

    two stones. To those unaware of what was above and below, it hung as if by

    divine power.

    40 See Bynum 2011, whose discussion on the materiality of saints’ bodies may in some

    respects be extended to physical matter in general. On the cult of relics in eastern

    Christendom, see recently Hahn and Klein 2015.

    41 Augustine Civ. D. 21.6. Isid. Orig. 16.4 merely repeats Augustine and Pliny.

    17

    Augustine goes on to say that supposed miracles such as this levitating statue—his use of

    the Greek 􀇯􀇪􀇺􀇤􀇰􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇤 collectively secularizes non-Christian mirifica—are not proofs

    of divine power but simple tricks using either mechanisms or magic. Although he almost

    certainly means the Helios statue at Alexandria, he specifies magnets both above and

    below it, contradicting Rufinus. This alternative guess at the workings of magnetic

    suspension is also impossible,42 but marginally more plausible than one magnet pulling

    against gravity. Perhaps a shared source had envisaged the multiple-magnet, focal-point

    model and Augustine’s version is more faithful than Rufinus’. In the second quarter of

    the fifth century, Augustine’s student Quodvultdeus repeats Rufinus’ one-magnet

    configuration but seems to derive his account from an independent source. He does not

    name the statue but calls it a quadriga (four-horse chariot); Helios was usually

    represented driving a quadriga. The tale of its destruction has also become dramatized:43

    At Alexandria in the temple of Serapis this was offered as “proof” of a spirit

    (hoc argumentum daemonis fuit): an iron chariot with no plinth to support it

    and no hooks attaching it to the walls, hanging in the air (in aëre pendens). It

    stunned everyone and, to mortal eyes, seemed to display divine assistance,

    although in fact a magnet attached to the vault in that spot (eo loco camerae

    affixus), which kept the iron joined to it and hanging, was holding up the

    42 Even if the poles were aligned, gravity and air currents would instantly dislodge the

    statue.

    43 Quodvultdeus De promissionibus et praedictionibus dei 38 = PL 51 834c (attributed

    there to Prosper of Aquitaine, but see e.g. Radl 1988).

    18

    entire assemblage (totam illam machinam sustentabat). Accordingly, when

    one inspired servant of God had figured this out (id intellexisset), he sneaked

    the magnet away (subtraxit) from the vault and instantly the whole display

    collapsed and broke apart. This showed that it was not divine, as a mortal man

    had proved (firmaverit).

    In Quodvultdeus, the single magnet is small and portable enough for an iconoclast to

    remove without detection, essentially a magic talisman whose spell breaks when it is

    removed from its place of concealment. Quodvultdeus also mentions the vault, like

    Augustine, whereas Rufinus has the magnet embedded in the coffers of the ceiling. Two

    ninth-century texts show further changes. Haymo of Halberstadt faithfully reproduces

    Rufinus’ account but adds that the statue is huge, gilded, and suspended between two

    magnets (Augustine-style).44 Conversely, Haymo’s Byzantine near-contemporary George

    the Monk describes the “statue of wickedness” (􀇨 􀇧􀇲􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇭􀇲􀇸􀇴􀇦􀇢􀇤􀇵) as hanging from

    one magnet in the coffers (Rufinus-style). In George the iron is far more hidden, and the

    magnet’s strength is more enormous, since the statue is now bronze with iron merely

    nailed inside its head. The Suda quotes George’s description verbatim in the tenth

    44 lapidibus magnetibus in solo et camera…simulacrum ferreum deauratum mirae

    magnitudinis (Epitome of the Sacred History 8 = PL 118.873c). Bruno of Segni follows

    this description closely (Sententiae 3 = PL 165.983d).

    19

    century, and Cedrenus paraphrases it closely in the eleventh.45 Only in the early twelfth

    (AD 1118) does Michael Glycas introduce a new variation:46

    In that temple there was a statue that hung irresistibly aloft; for pieces of iron

    were fastened around it—the statue, of course—in a circle, and magnets

    fastened directly opposite them, and it was suspended between the floor and

    the roof. For being drawn equally from four directions, and not leaning

    anywhere, it was forced to hang in mid-air.

    Although we know little about the sources for these historical notices of the Serapeum

    Helios, they clearly vary according to how the properties of magnets are imagined.47 In

    retrospect, based on this later consensus that magnetic forces are hugely stable and

    powerful, the ambition ascribed to “Timochares” could well be true. Our sources disagree

    on how the Helios was suspended: Rufinus claims that it hung from a magnet above, as if

    on an invisible chain, whereas Augustine’s statue, probably the same one, is the first to

    have magnets pulling up and down simultaneously. (Even for someone who believed in

    stable suspension from one magnet, the second would serve to prevent the object from

    45 George the Monk Chronicon 2.584.18-2.585.6; Suda s.v. 􀇐􀇤􀇦􀇰 􀇷􀇬􀇵; Cedrenus

    Compendium Historiarum 325b Niebuhr = PG 121.620.

    46 Michael Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433.

    47 Descriptions of magnetic monuments seem unconcerned with the brief remarks on

    magnetism by classical philosophers (see Radl 1988), which concern only the nature of

    the force, not the factors affecting its strength or the effects of competing forces.

    20

    swinging.) Finally, Quodvultdeus’ magnet is a small, removable talisman, which

    completes the transformation of the levitating statue: a putative engineering challenge in

    the Hellenistic age, with the properties of magnets on show, becomes a magic-based

    religious fraud in late antiquity, with the properties of magnets kept secret. As we shall

    see, later medieval accounts transfer the false miracle from paganism to other religions.

    The variations between arrangements of magnets tell us much about

    contemporary theories of magnetism. In Rufinus and Quodvultdeus, magnets hold objects

    at fixed lengths by pulling against gravity, whereas in most sources, two or more magnets

    pull simultaneously. However, in most accounts, magnetically suspended objects cannot

    be dislodged by force, and only move when the magnet is extracted.48 It is doubtful that

    the invisible forces in magnetic monuments were ever imagined as “elastic,” i.e. as

    varying by distance, since as we shall see in later sources, multiple magnets emphatically

    prevent the suspended object from any movement. Carefully positioned magnets are

    consistently pictured as generating unbreakable chains, not fields, which is why the

    suspended object’s shape and weight hardly matter. Rufinus’ remark that the Serapeum

    priests were afraid of the statue falling is not based, as one might expect, on the fear that

    it might easily shift from its exact position. Rufinus’ priests are only as afraid as they

    would be for any statue hanging from a chain.

    48 The coffin of St. Paulinus is an interesting case: it no longer levitates because some

    unbelievers wickedly pushed it to the ground (post multos annos a quibusdam infidelibus

    depressum subsedit, Gesta Treverorum 43 = PL 154.1164). However, it was suspended

    by God rather than by magnets (see discussion below), so it is not an exception to the

    rule.

    21

    3. INVISIBLE BONDS AS BASIS FOR CHRISTIAN MIRACLES

    Invisible suspension reappears in the fourth and fifth centuries in the form of

    Christian miracles, which do not involve magnets, but deserve discussion as they

    reinforce the “invisible chains” hypothesis by imitating suspension by ropes. One

    example appears in Rufinus’ narrative of how an unnamed woman, later identified with

    St. Nina, converted the Caucasian kingdom of Iberia.49 The third column of the Iberians’

    inaugural church seemed impossible to lift and was abandoned overnight. Next morning

    they found it hanging perpendicular, one foot above its pedestal, and before the rejoicing

    crowd it sank into position (the remainder were easily erected). It behaved as if moved by

    an invisible crane. Likewise, miraculous suspensions of demoniacs during exorcism, first

    attested in Hilary of Poitiers and three near-contemporaries,50 mimic a torture method

    documented in martyrology.51 It differs sharply from the voluntary aerobatics of sorcerers

    49 Tyrannius Rufinus Historia Ecclesiastica 1.10 = PL 481c-482c.

    50 Hilary of Poitiers Contra Constantium 8.2-10; Jerome Vita Hilarionis 13.6, Epistles

    108.13; Sulpicius Severus Dialogi 3.6.2-4; Paulinus of Nola Carmen 23.82-95. Two later

    Greek examples are divergent: in Palladius a demoniac levitates during exorcism, swells,

    and emits water (Historia Lausiaca 22), and in Sozomen another levitates (without

    specified Christian agency) and taunts John the Baptist (Historia Ecclesiastica 7.24.8).

    51 Wi;niewski (2002: 373-74) makes this point cautiously but convincingly, quoting a

    sixth-century description of a demoniac shouting confessions while hanging by his

    22

    like Simon Magus, who resemble birds (or rather Icarus, whose pride led to a fall).52 The

    four early sources consistently describe demoniacs hanging before saints upside down,

    specifying that their clothes are supernaturally held upward to cover their nakedness.

    Decades earlier, Eusebius’ description of martyrdoms at Thebais mentioned the “cruel

    and shameful spectacle” of women indecently suspended by one foot from pulleys

    (􀇯􀇤􀇦􀇦􀇟􀇰􀇲􀇬􀇵 􀇷􀇬􀇶 􀇰).53 This implies that these miraculous levitations of humans came

    about because martyrdom was sublimated into exorcism. As saints torture demons into

    confessing, the demoniac hangs temporarily from invisible ropes, just as metal objects

    hang more permanently from invisible chains.54

    elbows over a saint’s cinerary urn, like criminals “condemned to flogging on nooses”

    (tendiculis iudicum sententia verberari, Anon. Vita Patrum Iurensium 42). Wi;niewski

    also quotes Augustine comparing the tormented status of demons (physically celestial,

    spiritually terrestrial) with suspension head-downwards (Civ. D. 9.9).

    52 Anon. Acts of Peter; cf. Iamblichus De mysteriis Aegyptiorum 3.5.112.3-5. Demons

    were imagined as native to the air. Gregory of Tours (Liber Miraculorum 24 = PL

    71.735c) combines exorcism with aerobatics: the saint extracts a confession by lifting

    someone by the feet and dropping him on his head (cf. Constantius of Lyons Vita

    Germani 7.18-37).

    53 Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica 8.9. It may be relevant that in Sophronius’ seventhcentury

    Life of Mary of Egypt, Zosimas clothes Mary’s nakedness immediately before her

    levitation that closely resembles exorcism (Life 15 = PG 87.3708d).

    54 The same principle underlies a later class of miracle (attributed to Goar, Aicandrus,

    Aldhelm, Dunstan, and others) in which saints accidentally cause garments to levitate by

    23

    4. SYRIA: NIKE AND BELLEROPHON

    Our second-earliest classical source concerning levitation (after Pliny) is

    frequently overlooked, but will prove very significant. It is a brief notice in a catalogue of

    the world’s wonders from Ampelius’ book of facts for boys, probably written in the

    fourth century AD. Unlike the Arsinoe monument, it is described as real and is located in

    a different prosperous Hellenic city:55

    At Magnesia-under-Sipylus there are four columns. Between these columns is

    an iron Victory, hanging without any suspension (pendens sine aliquo

    vinculo), bobbing in the air (in aëre ludens); but every time there is wind or

    rain (quotiens ventus aut pluvia fuerit), it does not move.

    Ampelius does not actually mention magnets, but his ultimate source probably did, since

    the levitating Nike is both made of iron and located at Magnesia, reputed origin of

    Magnesia lapis or magnetite.56 That source was probably a Hellenistic Greek

    hanging them on a sunbeam. This is modelled on the use of wooden perches as coatracks:

    the first recorded example (Waldelbert’s expanded Life of St. Goar) makes this explicit.

    55 Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8.9.

    56Ancient sources already show uncertainty over which Magnesia (those in Thessaly, on

    the Maeander in the province of Syria, and under Mount Sipylus in the province of Asia)

    24

    paradoxography from Alexandria.57 Like Erotes, Nikai were commonly portrayed in

    flight and sometimes used as metal pendants in jewelry: suspending Nike aloft, perhaps

    using a concealed bracket, would be a reasonable continuation of Greek sculptors’ efforts

    to represent her alighting weightlessly, as in the famous Paionian and Samothracian

    statues. We hear of a sizeable mechanically suspended Nike statue at Pergamum in the

    first century BC.58 It seems likely that Ampelius’ “four columns” means a tetrapylon,

    since there is at least one Hellenistic parallel for a goddess statue thus installed.59

    exported magnetite. Its other early names, “Heraclean stone” and “Lydian stone”

    (Rommel 1927: col. 475), offer little help because there were also several Heracleas. This

    may be the most overdue application of magnetometry to any ancient enigma.

    57 von Rohden 1875: 3-29.

    58 In the theater at Pergamum, which is far north of Magnesia but still within the

    Hellenistic province of Asia, a suspended Nike was employed to lower a crown onto

    Mithridates Eupator (Plut. Sull. 11). On nikai as pendants in jewelry, see LIMC s.v. Nike.

    59 At least one tetrapylon in Hellenistic Syria contained a goddess statue, although no

    exact parallel for a Nike image survives. When Seleucus destroyed the city of Antigonia

    in the second century BC, he installed a statue of Antigonia’s Tyche inside a tetrapylon at

    Antioch (Malalas 8.201). This is probably the Tyche shown sitting between two pairs of

    columns on Antiochene coin-issues, especially of the second and third centuries AD

    (LIMC s.v. Antiocheia). Other Syrian cities including Anjar, Palmyra, and Aphrodisias

    gained tetrapyla between the second and fourth centuries AD; Palmyra’s tetrakionion

    could have housed four statues, although none survive. That of Aphrodisias bears reliefs

    of Nikai and Erotes in flight. An Aphrodite statue in fifth-century Gaza occupied a plinth

    25

    Meanwhile, his description of the Nike, which even wobbles (when touched?), matches

    the model I have established for magnetic forces as invisible chains (especially sine

    aliquo vinculo).60

    Despite sharing the recurrent assumption that magnets work like chains, Ampelius

    is best treated separately from the “mainstream” tradition about Alexandria that I have

    outlined, because he seems to preserve an independent tradition concerning the Near East

    that surfaces again many centuries later. This late resurgence has two points of contact

    with Ampelius’ brief notice, one geographic, the other thematic. In the High Middle Ages

    we hear of a new levitating monument: a giant airborne statue of Bellerophon riding

    Pegasus. Scholars have traced its evolution from what was probably a genuine monument

    from classical antiquity into a world wonder.61 This begins with Cosmas of Maiuma’s

    eighth-century commentary on Gregory of Nazianzus’ poems.62 Gregory alludes to the

    at a crossroads, perhaps within another tetrapylon (􀇳􀇨􀇴  􀇷  􀇭􀇤􀇮􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰

    􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇟􀇯􀇹􀇲􀇧􀇲􀇰...􀋪􀇳􀇟􀇰􀇼 􀇥􀇼􀇯􀇲  􀇮􀇬􀇫􀇢􀇰􀇲􀇸, Mark the Deacon Vita Porphyrii 59). Classical

    Magnesia-under-Sipylus (modern Manisa) remains largely unexcavated.

    60 Pliny describes both a “rocking stone” at Harpasa (cautes stat horrenda uno digito

    mobilis, eadem, si toto corpore inpellatur, resistens, HN 2.98, cf. Ap. Rhod. Argon.

    1.1304-1308) and the colossal Zeus at Tarentum, said to revolve on its axis and as

    resisting force despite yielding to manual pressure (mirum in eo quod manu, ut ferunt,

    mobilis ea ratio libramenti est, ut nullis convellatur procellis, HN 34.40).

    61 Reinach 1912, Deonna 1914, Rushforth 1919.

    62 Eckhardt 1949: 80 wrongly derives pseudo-Bede’s levitating Bellerophon from Prosper

    of Aquitaine (i.e. Quodvultdeus).

    26

    Seven Wonders rather obliquely and Cosmas only gets some of them right; for example,

    he knows that one of the two statues is the Colossus of Rhodes, but seems unaware of the

    Zeus at Olympia. Perhaps because Cosmas is a native of Damascus in Syria and more

    familiar with the near East, a different statue comes to mind:63

    􀋦􀇦􀇤􀇮􀇯􀇤 􀇳􀇟􀇮􀇬􀇰 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀇷  􀋪􀇰 􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰  􀇷􀇲  􀇆􀇨􀇮􀇮􀇨􀇴􀇲􀇹􀇿􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇸, 􀇳􀇨􀇴 􀋪􀇶􀇷 􀇰 􀋪􀇳  

    􀇺􀇡􀇯􀇤􀇷􀇲􀇵 􀋪􀇳  􀇷 􀇰 􀇫􀇟􀇮􀇤􀇶􀇶􀇤􀇰 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇭􀈀􀇳􀇷􀇲􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇷􀇨􀇢􀇺􀇲􀇸􀇵,  􀇷􀇨 􀇔􀇡􀇦􀇤􀇶􀇲􀇵

    􀇳􀇳􀇲􀇵 􀇯􀇬􀇭􀇴 􀇰 􀇳􀇬􀇶􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀇷􀇲  􀇳􀇲􀇧 􀇵 􀇭􀇤􀇷􀇨􀇺􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵, 􀇳􀇲􀇮􀇮􀇟􀇭􀇬􀇵 􀇯 􀇰 􀋶􀇴􀇠􀇯􀇤

    􀇶􀇤􀇮􀇨􀇸􀇲􀈀􀇶􀇪􀇵 􀇶􀇸􀇰􀇨􀇳􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇺􀇨􀇬􀇴􀇿􀇵∙ 􀇳􀇴􀇲􀇼􀇫􀇲􀈀􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇵 􀇧  􀇶 􀇰 􀇥􀇢 , 􀇯􀇠􀇰􀇼􀇰 􀇳􀇟􀇦􀇬􀇲􀇵

    􀇭􀇤  􀋚􀇭􀇴􀇟􀇧􀇤􀇰􀇷􀇲􀇵. 

    The second “statue” is that of Bellerophon in Smyrna, which is on a carriage

    above the sea pointing out over the wall. Pegasus the horse is attached

    discreetly behind one hoof, rocking slightly many times when a hand follows

    along with it, but remaining firm and unshaken when shoved with force.

    No such statue is attested elsewhere. I suggest that Gregory or his source wrote “Syria”

    (􀇖􀇸􀇴􀇢 ), not “Smyrna” (􀇖􀇯􀈀􀇴􀇰 ), since a likely site for such a statue was Syria’s

    maritime city of Bargylia, which derived its name from Bargylus, Bellerophon’s friend

    killed by Pegasus.64 Cosmas’ Bellerophon is wondrous because deceptively resilient.65

    63 Cosmas Commentarii in sancti Gregorii Nazanzieni carmina = PG 38.545-46.

    64 Steph. Byz. s.v. 􀇆􀇤􀇴􀇦􀈀􀇮􀇬􀇤 (quoting Apollonius of Aphrodisias’ Karika, c.AD 200).

    According to Ampelius, Syria’s Mount Bargylus had another wondrously resilient

    27

    This probably reminded later readers of magnetic monuments locked in place by invisible

    chains, especially Ampelius’ Nike, which wobbled but stayed put. That would explain

    why, in the tenth-century Seven Wonders of the World, the statue “at Smyrna” is now

    made of iron and magnetic stones “in the vaults” (archivolis) suspend it in equilibrium (in

    mensura aequiparata consistit), even though it weighs around 5000 pounds.

    This Bellerophon is no longer poised to leap from a cliff-top, but airborne within

    Smyrna. It has apparently merged with Ampelius’ levitating Nike; indeed, Magnesiaunder-

    Sipylus was only twenty miles northeast of Smyrna, enjoying sympolity with it.

    The magnets are fixed in the conventional “vaults,” probably meaning vertical

    suspension; but the non-vertical hinc et inde implies horizontal suspension between two

    or more magnets, for which the only precedent is Ampelius. In the twelfth century, the

    well-read pilgrim “Master Gregory” attempts to reconcile his reading of the Seven

    Wonders with what he personally saw at Rome. Despite following his source closely,

    artwork: a lamp outside a temple of Venus that burned constantly, resisting wind and rain

    (quam neque ventus extinguit, nec pluvia aspargit: Ampelius Liber Memorialis 8, cf.

    Aug. Civ. D. 21.6).

    65 Reinach 1912 and Deonna 1914: 102 believe that this statue somehow oscillated in a

    socket. I suggest instead that the effect was achieved by embedding a metal armature

    deep into the base, and Cosmas means that Pegasus wobbled or vibrated when shoved,

    but was never dislodged.

    28

    Gregory relocates the Bellerophon to Rome on the basis of a textual error,66 which (since

    he observed nothing like it there) obliged him to consider it a thing of the past.

    Pseudo-Bede’s and Gregory’s Bellerophons hang between multiple magnets Ampeliusstyle,

    not from a single magnet Rufinus-style, nor as a pair above and below Augustinestyle.

    However, Gregory’s wording suggests that his occupies the focal point inside a

    round-topped Roman archway. 67 It is tempting to see this focal-point arrangement as the

    reason why levitating statues usually hang within vaults (and as we shall see, domes). It

    may even be what our earliest sources intended, though descriptions vary over time.

    5. NEAR EASTERN IDOL-WORSHIP AND THE TOMBS OF SAINTS

    66 As Rushforth 1919: 43-44 shrewdly observes, Gregory must have read the Seven

    Wonders (or something similar) not with in Smyrna civitate, “in the city of Smyrna,” but

    with the variant in summa civitate, “over the top of the City.” (I have already suggested

    that Smyrna was itself a corruption of Syria.) Meanwhile the name Bellerophon has been

    corrupted to “Belloforon” and the weight tripled to 15000 Roman libra (the lower weight

    of 5000 is realistic for a full-size iron equestrian statue. Estimating one libra at 328.9g

    makes 5000 libra around 1640 kg; the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, which is

    over-life-size and made of heavier bronze, weighs 1920 kg: Marabelli 1994: 2).

    67 Magnets exert equal forces “in the arches of the vault” (in arcus voltura, Rushforth’s

    emendation of in arcus involsura).

    29

    During the first millennium AD, the ancient cultures of the Levant—or rather, the

    reflections of their cultural heirs—yield a handful of allusions to levitation that differ

    from those in our Greek and Latin sources. The Midrash (c.AD 200) reports among

    hypotheses about how Gehazi sinned that “Some say he set up a lodestone according to

    the sin of Jeroboam and made it stand between heaven and earth.”68 Jeroboam had

    erected two golden calves as cult-objects in Bethel and Dan (II Kings viii.3); according to

    the Babylonian Gemara (c.AD 500), he deployed magnets to hold these in mid-air.

    Although the mechanical details differ,69 these remarks agree with the Serapeum

    chroniclers (and many later reports of magnetic suspension) that idolaters successfully

    created false miracles using magnetism. More surprisingly, a theory ascribed elsewhere

    in the Gemara to the third-century Rabbi Jose ben Hanina involves a sacred usage.70

    When asked how David could wear the gold Ammonite crown weighing one Babylonian

    talent (around 30 kg: 2 Samuel xii.30), the Rabbi suggests that a magnetic stone held it

    above his head.71

    68 Tractate Sotah fol. 47a (trans. Robert Travers Herford).

    69 The first passage is the only known pre-modern description of a magnet itself

    levitating, instead of suspending other objects. The second passage also differs from

    Greek and Roman accounts because it neither indicates where the magnets were placed

    nor suggests that the golden calves contained iron.

    70 Gemara Avodah Zarah fol. 44a.

    71 This is probably inspired by the suspension of a heavy crown (from a chain inside an

    arch) over the Sassanian monarch at Ctesiphon: see Erdmann 1951: 114-17.

    30

    To these three Talmudic examples we may add an Arabic one. Ibn Wahshiyya’s

    translation of The Nabatean Agriculture in the early tenth century AD explains that when

    Tammuz was murdered, Babylon’s statues all assembled in the temple of the Sun to

    mourn him, whereupon the large golden Sun figure, normally suspended between heaven

    and earth, came down among them. The date and authorship of The Nabatean Agriculture

    itself is very uncertain, let alone this particular fable, but influences from late antique and

    medieval Greek agronomic texts (mediated through the context of medieval Iraq) have

    been detected elsewhere.72 This Babylonian Sun-statue could therefore derive partly from

    the Alexandrian one, even though its levitation is a supernatural miracle with no mention

    of magnets.73 Meanwhile, it is a golden idol, like Jeroboam’s calves, hangs “between

    heaven and earth,” like Gehazi’s magnet, and is neutral or positive in character, like

    David’s golden crown. These allusions all envisage non-Jewish peoples suspending

    golden objects in the air, without mentioning vaults, iron, or extant monuments, but are

    otherwise heterogeneous. Perhaps Western reports of magnetic suspension influenced

    some or all of these Semitic reports of levitating gold objects, but indirectly at best. They

    have no obvious bearing on its recurrent associations with the Near East.

    72 The relevant passage is reported in Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed 29. The

    Nabatean Agriculture and its interpretative problems are discussed in Hämeen-Anttila

    2002–2003.

    73 Two other tenth-century Muslim writers, describing India, mention a suspended idol

    and golden temple without mentioning magnetism (Abu Dulaf and Al-Mas’udi, discussed

    below), though no connection with Ibn Wahshiyya can be made.

    31

    After Ibn Wahshiyya, many other Muslim scholars report non-Muslims

    worshipping levitating objects, in which the relationship between trick and miracle

    remains close. The first and fullest reference to a levitating tomb of a Christian saint or

    sage on Sicily comes from Ibn Hawqal in the late tenth century:74

    The great city of Balarm (Palermo)…contains a large mosque for assembly,

    which was the church of Rome before the conquest, and where there is an

    impressive shrine. I have heard from a logician that the philosopher (hakim) of

    the Greeks, Arastutalis (Aristotle), was suspended in a wooden coffin within

    this chapel, which Muslims have converted into a mosque. The Christians

    honored his tomb and went there to receive healing, because they had seen

    how the Greeks had regarded and revered him. He also told me that he lies

    suspended between heaven and earth so that people can beg him to send rain

    or bestow a cure, or for all other important matters in which it is essential to

    address God in the highest and propitiate him: in case of misfortune,

    destruction, or civil war. And there I saw a wooden coffin which was probably

    his tomb.

    74 Ibn Hawqal Surat al-‘Ard, translation adapted from Vanoli 2008: 247-48.

    32

    Palermo had been Arab-controlled since AD 831, so Ibn Hawqal’s informer was telling a

    tale set more than two centuries in the past.75 This imagined veneration of Aristotle

    reflects mutual Christian and Muslim respect for him in the tenth century, when Sicily

    was pre-eminent in Aristotelian scholarship. These remains, surely belonging to a

    Christian saint, become those of Galen or Socrates in later Muslim references.76 As a

    Greek hakim occupying a suspended coffin, Aristotle represents occult Hermetic

    knowledge reimagined as Christian hierolatry. The hakim-saint purportedly received

    intercessory prayers while poised between heaven and earth, neatly encapsulating Sicily’s

    cultural melting pot. On Cyprus, another “frontier island,” Christian-Muslim interactions

    proved less harmonious. The silver-clad wooden cross of the Good Thief, which St.

    Helena brought to Stavrovouni Monastery, was miraculously suspended before the gaze

    of several pilgrims who recorded the experience.77 Felix Faber’s description is fullest: the

    75 The eleventh-century Book of Curiosities says only that Christians at Palermo used to

    pray to “a piece of wood” for rain (Savage-Smith 2014: 457), indicating that it was not

    revered during Arab occupation.

    76 In the thirteenth century, the Tunisian author Ibn al-Shabb􀆗t says that Sicily is where

    Ğ􀆗l􀆯n􀇌s (Galen) is buried; in the fifteenth century, al-B􀆗kuw􀆯 says it was Sukrat

    (Socrates): citations in Vanoli 2008: 249-50.

    77 Daniel the Traveler Puteshestive igumena Daniila; Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium

    terrae sanctae 30 (Itinera Hierosolymitana Crucesignatorum III p. 230); Ogier

    d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem 295; Felix Faber Evagatorium 36B-37B.

    These visits occurred respectively in AD 1106, 1211, 1395, and 1480. Around 1370,

    Guillaume de Machaut attested its fame in verse (Prise d’Alexandrie 291-98).

    33

    cross hung within a blind window, its arms and foot reaching into oversized recesses.

    Like Cosmas’ Bellerophon (and Ampelius’ Nike) it wobbled when touched,78 and was

    probably suspended on a concealed metal bracket. But we have two Muslim retorts to

    Christian polemics that denounce it as a trick involving magnets. In mid-twelfth-century

    Cordoba, Al-Khazraji pours scorn on reputed miracles, the second of which is a cross

    hanging in mid-air. He calls this no miracle, merely a trick (h􀆯la) achieved using magnets

    hidden inside the church walls.79 In 1321, Al-Dimashqi confirms the identification by

    including in a similar list “the cross in Cyprus, suspended in mid-air using magnets.”80

    These denunciations of idolaters tricking spectators with magnetism match those in the

    Talmud. However, as we have seen, Christianity possessed its own long tradition of such

    denunciations.

    In the early sixth century, Cassiodorus passingly alludes to an otherwise unknown

    iron Cupid that hung in a temple of Diana “without any attachment”: Helios has probably

    been replaced here with a better-known flying god, and the Serapeum with the better-

    78 ut dicunt, nullo innitens adminiculo, in aëre pendet, et fluctuat; quod tamen non

    videtur de facili (Wilbrand of Oldenburg Itinerarium terrae sanctae 30 = IHC III p. 230);

    “quant l’en y touche elle bransle fort” (Ogier d’Anglure Le Saint Voyage de Jherusalem

    295).

    79 Al-Khazraji Maqami al-sulban (Triumph over the Cross), framed as a retort to an anti-

    Muslim priest called Al-Quti (“The Goth”), cited in Vanoli 2008: 257.

    80 Ibn Ali Talib Al-Dimashqi Response to the Letter from the People of Cyprus 54r.

    34

    known temple of Ephesus.81 By contrast, a much later European source endows a

    different flying god—Mercury—with a similar statue using a direct Christian model. The

    relevant passages of the eleventh- or twelfth-century Gesta Treverorum spin tall tales of

    Treveri’s historic remains,82 aiming to establish that the town (briefly the Western

    Empire’s capital in the fourth century) had both a longer history and more splendid

    monuments than Rome.83 Treveri’s include a temple with a hundred statues and a vast

    iron Mercury in flight. These correspond to wondrous monuments in High Middle Age

    accounts of Rome: the “Salvatio Romae” statue-group, and the aforementioned iron

    Bellerophon.84 The Mercury hung inside an arch with magnets above and below

    (Augustine-style). The author forestalls doubt by including a documentary letter from an

    eyewitness, as well as a Latin inscription clearly aimed at readers, not observers: Ferreus

    in vacuis pendet caducifer auris, “The iron caduceus-bearer hangs in thin air.”85

    81 mechanisma…fecisse dicitur…ferreum Cupidinem in Dianae templo sine aliqua

    alligatione pendere (Variae 1.45.10).

    82 PL 154.1094-95, 1122.

    83 The Gesta contributes to a High-Middle-Age rebranding of Trier as “the second Rome”

    (Hammer 1944). Its comically majestic antiquities include a marble Jupiter

    commemorating how taxes withheld by five Rhenish cities were “extracted by thunder

    and celestial terror” (fulmine et caelesti terrore extorto, Gesta 23 = PL 154.1122).

    84 Note the competitive emphasis on the size and weight of the Mercury statue (mirae

    magnitudinis, 1094-95; magni ponderis, 1122).

    85 This hexameter has strongly Ovidian features, especially his characteristic epithet

    caducifer (compare metrical parallels: Ars Am. 1.473 ferreus adsiduo consumitur anulus

    35

    I suggest that this story is best compared with a Christian miracle, narrated later in

    the self-same text, concerning St. Paulinus of Treveri whose coffin was suspended from

    iron chains. When the Norman marauders of AD 882 ripped these away, it remained

    hanging in mid-air, only sinking to rest years later when some unbelievers pushed it

    downward, incurring doom in the process.86 For this semi-fantasized crypt, as for the

    purely fantasized Mercury-temple, a fictive document is “quoted” extensively.87 Another

    correspondence is that numerous fellow martyrs surround Paulinus. In an irreverent

    reimagining of local legend these became the hundred pagan statues, while Paulinus’

    levitating wooden coffin became the levitating iron Mercury, hanging on the invisible

    “chains” of magnets. It is just possible that Christian relics really were suspended on

    chains in the High Middle Ages; most reports of chain-hung coffins are dubious, since

    usu, cf. Am. 1.6.27, 1.7.50, 2.5.11, 2.19.4; Met. 8.820 adflat et in vacuis spargit ieiunia

    venis; Fast. 4.605 Tartara iussus adit sumptis Caducifer alis, cf. Met. 2.708, 8.627). It is

    tempting to see in caducifer a pun on caducum ferrum, “iron ready to fall.” Embrico

    shows Ovidian influence too: Cambier 1961: 376 notes that the lines Nam si vixisset opus

    atque loqui potuisset / “Materiam vici!” diceret artifici allude to Ovid’s comment on the

    sumptuous temple of the Sun, materiam superabat opus (Met. 2.5). South Germany’s

    early twelfth-century Ovidian renaissance (Conte 1994 [1987]: 360) is the mutual context

    for Embrico and the Gesta.

    86 Gesta 43 = PL 154.1164. This narrative combines miraculous suspension with the

    topos of the saint’s coffin becoming immobile, signifying his desire to remain on site.

    87 A verbose lead tablet incorporating a prophecy about the Normans: Gesta 42 = PL

    154.1161.

    36

    they appear in travelers’ tales, but a suspended reliquary appeared at Nuremberg in the

    fifteenth century.88 However, a levitating tomb of any material has no Christian

    88 On suspended ostrich-eggs and similar objects in Eastern medieval churches and

    mosques, see Green 2006; in sacred art, Flood 2001:15-58. Two twelfth-century Jewish

    periegetes claim that the prophet Daniel’s remains could be seen in a shining glass or

    bronze coffin in Susa, hanging from iron chains under a bridge over the Choaspes to shed

    blessings on both banks: Benjamin of Tudela Itinerary (Adler 1907: 52-53), Petachiah of

    Regensburg Travels (Benisch 1856: 38-41). In the same century (c. AD 1170),

    Barbarossa donated the four-meter-wide gilt chandelier hanging from 25 meters of chain

    in Aachen Cathedral. Al-Harawi, in his late twelfth- or early thirteenth-century Guide to

    Knowledge of Pilgrimage Places, claimed that Rome’s largest church kept St. Peter’s

    remains “within a silver ark hanging by chains from the ceiling” (trans. Lee 1829: 161).

    This may be a garbled account of Constantine’s thirty-pound gold chandelier, which hung

    over St. Peter’s bronze-clad tomb (according to the Liber Pontificalis, and is shown

    hanging on chains on the Pola Casket). Robert of Clari, narrating Constantinople’s fall in

    1204, claims that a shroud and a tile imprinted with Jesus’ face hung in gold vessels from

    silver chains (83). From the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, a casket of relics including

    the spear of Longinus (when not ceremonially displayed) hung on two chains in

    Nuremberg’s Holy Ghost Hospital Church (Kahsnitz et al. 1986: 179-80). It is relevant

    that when a fourteenth-century source claims that Muhammad’s embalmed foot occupies

    a golden casket at Bladacta, the three large magnets suspending it are “in the chains

    hanging above it” (a tribus magnis lapidibus calamitis in cathenis pendentibus super

    eam, Anon. Liber Nicolay fol. 353 verso, quoted in Eckhardt 1949: 85).

    37

    precedent, and I would instead connect it with Ibn Hawqal’s earlier report that a wooden

    coffin once hung in mid-air. It is also notable that the historical Paulinus died in AD 358

    during exile in Phrygia, returning in the damask-wrapped cedarwood coffin where he

    remains today.89 Paulinus himself therefore links the levitating Mercury in Trier’s

    fanciful Gesta (or should that be geste?) back to the late classical Near East. This may

    reflect a broader European tendency to associate artificial marvels with the East.90

    The “sacred physics” of the Stavrovouni cross and the coffins at Palermo and

    Trier consistently resembles magnetic suspension because, I propose, medieval

    Christendom substituted holy relic-matter for iron as the “active ingredient” of suspended

    objects.91 This finally lets us explain an enigmatic monument in the eleventh-century

    Norman Life of St. Illtud which, like Rome’s Bellerophon, found its way into a list of

    wonders.92 It combines the levitating tombs of Ibn Hawqal and the Gesta Treverorum

    89 The rectangular coffin has no chains but its iron fittings have eyelets on the sides,

    probably for ring handles.

    90 “In general, the marvels of art came from Africa and Asia, lands believed far to surpass

    Europe not only in natural variety and fertility, but also in fertility of human imagination”

    (Daston and Park 1998: 88).

    91 This also explains the ninth-century claim that inserted relics held Hagia Sophia’s

    dome upright (Diegesis 14).

    92 On this episode, and our sources, see Evans 2011. Illtud’s altar is the longest and the

    only man-made or Christian item in the De Mirabilibus Britanniae, appended to some

    manuscripts of the Historia Brittonum, which cannot be securely dated before the twelfth

    38

    with another class of miraculous object, the miraculously buoyant altars attributed to

    several Celtic saints.93 In the longer version, two strangers sail to Illtud’s cave, bringing

    him a saint’s corpse with an altar above his face, “supported by God’s favor” (Dei nutu

    fulcitur). Illtud buries the saint, who requested anonymity to avoid being sworn upon, and

    builds a church around the altar, still levitating “to the present day” (usque in hodiernum

    diem).94 Church altars stood over a saint’s tomb wherever possible, and likewise portable

    altars (wood, metal, or stone) featured a compartment for saints’ relics.95 Further

    confirmation of the parallel with Paulinus’ coffin comes in the fates of two empiricists

    who later examined this altar. The first passes a withy underneath the altar and proves its

    levitation, but dies within a month, as does the second who looks underneath and is

    blinded; they resemble the doubters at Trier, who pushed Paulinus’ levitating tomb

    downward and later fell sick. Lifris claims extensive cultural property for Cadoc,

    including descent from Roman emperors, burial in Italy, travels in Jerusalem, and

    century. These idiosyncrasies imply that it was culled from a hagiography, apparently a

    lengthier version of the extant Life.

    93 Patrick, Brynach, Carannog, and Padarn’s disciple Nimmanauc (Evans 2011: 59, 63-

    64).

    94 De Mirabilibus Britanniae 10, cf. Life of Illtud 22.

    95 An extant example (c. 690) was found with the body of St. Cuthbert at Durham

    Cathedral. In 714, Jonas of Fontenelle described another, owned by St. Wulfram

    (altare…in medio reliquiae continens sanctorum in modum clypei, quod, secum dum iter

    ageret vehere solitus erat). In 787, the Second Council of Nicaea stipulated that every

    new altar must contain saints’ relics.

    39

    interactions with King Arthur. These also include the relic-powered levitating monument,

    which brought this Christianized version of magnetic suspension as far west as Wales.

    6. THE TOMB OF MUHAMMAD

    The iron Bellerophon, perhaps too fanciful and arbitrary for belief, apparently

    faded from memory after pseudo-Bede and Gregory. But in the High Middle Ages, in a

    politically charged context and with enough plausibility to retain credence across Europe

    until the sixteenth century, the tomb of Muhammad becomes history’s most notorious

    magnetic monument.96 Eckhardt astutely traces its development through anti-Muslim

    polemics back to the early twelfth-century Vita Mahumeti by Embrico of Mainz, but

    claims that Embrico borrowed the motif directly from Pliny and Rufinus, which I shall

    show to be incorrect.97 In Chant 16, a magician installs Muhammad’s corpse in a

    sumptuous temple using this trick:

    Thus the lofty creation (opus elatum), furnished with a single magnet,

    stood in the center which was shaped like an arch.

    Muhammad is carried under this and put in a tomb,

    96 Gibbon 1789: 6.262 finds it still necessary to deny that Muhammad’s tomb was

    suspended by magnets.

    97 Eckhardt 1949. The vita auctoris has since been discovered, correcting the

    misattribution to Hildebert of Lavardin.

    40

    Which, in case you should ask, had been made from bronze.

    And indeed, because [the magnet] pulls together such a mass of bronze (tam

    grandia contrahat aera),

    The tomb in which the king lay was lifted up.

    And there he hung, by the power of the stones.

    Therefore the ignorant public, after they saw the prodigy of the tomb,

    Took as fact what was merely a show (rem pro signo tenuerunt),

    Believing—miserable people—that Muhammad made it happen (per

    Mahumet fieri).

    Embrico goes on to say that the tomb hangs “without a chain” (absque catena), by

    “magic” (ars magica). Gautier de Compiègne repeats most of the same details in his Otia

    de Machomete,98 also composed early in the 1100s, although he explains the magnetic

    trick differently:

    …For, as they say, the vessel in which the remains

    of Muhammad lie buried seems to hang,

    So that it is seen suspended in the air without support,

    But no chain pulls on it from above either.

    Therefore, if you should ask them how come it does not fall,

    They think (in their delusion) it is by the powers of Muhammad.

    98 Verses 1057-77. Alexandre du Pont’s thirteenth-century Li Romans de Mahon

    faithfully follows Gautier (1902-15) and adds no new details.

    41

    But in fact the vessel is clad in iron on all sides,

    And stands in the center of a square house,

    And there is adamant-stone99 in the four parts of the temple,

    At equal distances in one direction or another;

    By natural force it draws the bier towards itself equally,

    So that the vessel cannot fall on any side.

    Importantly, Embrico specified that the coffin (tumulum, tumba) was bronze, like the

    statue in George the Monk without its iron nail. However, Gautier clearly has an

    independent source. He omits the dazzling wealth and moves the shrine from Libya to

    Mecca.100 He also specifies that the tomb has iron all around, and that four magnets

    balance it horizontally, not just one suspending it inside an arch. I suggest that Gautier’s

    99 Gautier’s term adamas reflects the confusion in Old French between the homonyms

    aymant < Lat. adamas “adamant, diamond” and aymant < Lat. amans “lover, magnet”

    (von Lippmann 1971 [1923]: 182, 194, 213).

    100 Muhammad’s tomb is actually at Al-Masjid al-Nabaw􀆯, but the confusion between

    Islam’s two oldest sites of pilgrimage is understandable. In the thirteenth century,

    Cardinal Rodrigo Ximénez claimed that the sacred Black Stone embedded in the Kaaba

    was a magnet (Historia Arabum 3, published in van Erpe 1625), perhaps taking literally

    Nasir Khusraw’s remark in the Safarnama that the Qarmatians thought the stone was a

    “human magnet” and would draw crowds when relocated. Al-Mas’udi says much the

    same about a temple at Multan in India (Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma’adin al-jawhar

    63.1371).

    42

    independent source also informed Glycas’ description of the Serapeum some sixty years

    earlier, which diverged from earlier descriptions by adding the same details. Both specify

    a four-magnet configuration and explicitly state that this prevents the iron-girt idol from

    tipping over.101 Whatever this shared source may be, it strongly resembles Ampelius’

    description of the Nike bobbing between four columns. Apparently this (or a text from

    the same chain of transmission) circulated in the twelfth century, causing both Gautier

    and Glycas to diverge from their immediate models.

    A third twelfth-century poem, Graindor’s Chanson d’Antioche (c. AD 1180), can

    reveal more about Muhammad’s tomb.102 Graindor drew on an earlier chanson by a

    shadowy “Richard the Pilgrim,” very likely adding fantastical elements. These include

    the erection of a Muhammad-statue above a tent, so nicely balanced upon four magnets

    that a fan rotated it:

    On the top [of the tent] the Sultan had an idol set up (fist mestre…un aversier),

    Made all in gold and silver, finely carved.

    If you had seen it, without a word of a lie

    101 Compare 􀇶􀇲􀇧􀇸􀇰􀇟􀇯􀇼􀇵 􀇦 􀇴 􀇷􀇨􀇷􀇴􀇤􀇯􀇨􀇴􀇿􀇫􀇨􀇰 􀋫􀇮􀇭􀇿􀇯􀇨􀇰􀇲􀇰, 􀇭􀇤  􀇯  􀋮􀇺􀇲􀇰 􀇳􀇲􀇸 􀇭􀇤  􀇰􀇨􀈀􀇶􀇨􀇬􀇵

    (Glycas Chronicle 4.257 = PG 158.433) with pendere res plena quod pendeat absque

    catena, nec sic pendiculum quod teneat tumulum (Graindor Chanson d’Antioche 1143-

    44).

    102 Allusions to Muhammad’s magnetic suspension in subsequent chansons de geste (e.g.

    Les Quatre Fils Aymon 9613-16: iron statue; Le Bâtard de Bouillon 1364-66: golden

    statue) are brief and add little.

    43

    You could not see or even imagine a finer sight:

    It was large and shapely, with a proud face.

    The Sultan Emir ordered it to be lowered:

    Four pagan kings run to embrace it,

    Erecting it in position (le font metre et drecier) upon four magnets,

    So that it does not tilt or lean in any direction.

    Muhammad was in the air, rotating (si prist à tournoier),

    Because a fan (uns ventiaus) moved him and set him rotating



    Muhammad was in the air, by the power of the magnet (par l’aimant vertus),

    And pagans revere him and offer him their salutes.

    Sansadoine denounces the false cult, punches the idol to the ground, and overleaps its

    belly, much as Quodvultdeus’ inspired Christian destroys the Helios in the Serapeum.103

    The precious metals and absence of iron recall Embrico, but the four magnets preventing

    it from tipping (quatre aimans…qu’il ne puist cliner ne nule part ploier) recall Gautier.

    The suspension above magnets (de sor) and the fan-powered rotation are entirely new,

    probably inspired by a description of the panemone windmill. Many scholars assume that

    our version of the Chanson, despite postdating Embrico and Gautier, represents an earlier

    phase involving a suspended idol based on classical accounts, later supplanted by

    103 The statue’s precious materials and proud appearance may recall the Alexandrian cultstatue

    of Serapis, whose description routinely accompanies that of the magnetically

    levitating Sun statue from Rufinus onwards.

    44

    Muhammad’s real body.104 I suggest that the partly “classicizing” variant involving an

    idol and magnets (which nonetheless contains no iron and lacks any direct model) is

    actually later: the suspension of the prophet’s own remains came first, directly

    counterfeiting Christian relic-powered suspension. Geographic proximity does not in

    itself prove oral or literary influence, but seems particularly relevant in this case. Embrico

    wrote at Mainz, Gautier at Marmoutier; around the same time, the anonymous monk (or

    monks) behind the Gesta Treverorum wrote at Trier. These three towns form an

    approximate triangle less than a hundred miles wide in the northeast Holy Roman

    Empire, and although the Gesta is hard to date, it belongs to a Latin literary scene whose

    coherence is implied by Gautier’s obvious dependence on Embrico. I suggest that relicmiracles,

    and not classical reports about Alexandria, are the true model for Muhammad’s

    magnetically levitating tomb, which ironically makes the same accusation against

    Muslims that Al-Khazraji and Al-Dimashqi were almost simultaneously hurling against

    Christians.

    One late thirteenth-century author reclaims Muhammad’s suspended tomb for

    Christendom using a different fantastical setting. The Account of Elysaeus of the 1280s105

    is an interpolated version of the Letter of Prester John, containing a description of St.

    Thomas’ tomb.106 This occupies a mountain in central India where, when the Indus

    104 E.g. Tolan 1996.

    105 Thus Zarncke 1876: 120.

    106 The tomb description (except its levitation) was extracted from the anonymous De

    adventu patriarchae Indorum ad Urbem sub Calixto papa secundo (AD 1122).

    45

    annually recedes, Thomas’ incorruptible hand is used to dispense the Eucharist (closing

    its grip to reveal any person’s guilt):107

    Now, the apostle is in a church on that same mountain, and he is entombed in

    an iron tomb (in tumulo ferreo tumulatus); and that tomb rests in the air by the

    power of four precious stones. It is called adamans; one is set in the floor, a

    second in the roof, one at one corner of the tomb, and another in the other.

    Those stones truly love iron (isti vero lapides diligunt ferrum): the lower one

    prevents him from rising, the upper one from sinking, and those at the corners

    prevent him from moving this way or that. The apostle is in the middle.

    The iron coffin locked in position, the four magnets, and the term adamas (here

    adamans) are recognizable from Gautier. As irreverently as when Paulinus’ relic-miracle

    was separately transferred onto both Muhammad and the iron Mercury, only in reverse,

    the author transfers Muhammad’s magnets onto a saint’s tomb, albeit in an exotic Eastern

    setting. The ease with which Muhammad’s false miracle is reclaimed for a Christian

    context shows how closely it was patterned on Christian relic-miracles in the first place.

    The author takes a positive attitude to magnetic suspension by turning it from miraclesubstitute

    to miracle in itself, unconsciously echoing our earliest pagan sources, and to be

    echoed in turn centuries later.

    107 Account of Elysaeus 16-17. The relevant portion (16-17) is published in Zarncke 1876:

    123-24.

    46

    7. ASIA AND INDIA: GNOSTIC, HINDU, AND BUDDHIST WONDERS

    At the time when magnetic suspension was giving rise to a form of relic-miracle

    in Western Europe, which would later contribute to the fantasy of Muhammad’s tomb,

    Muslim sources were already counting it among the marvels of India. I shall demonstrate

    that whereas very early Asian sources attribute self-levitation to holy individuals in

    Hinduism and Buddhism, and Sanskrit medical texts describe the properties of magnets,

    Muslim descriptions of magnetic suspension show the influence of Western antiquity.108

    The remarkable result is that just as eastward-facing Christians ascribed the technique to

    Muslims, eastward-facing Muslims were simultaneously ascribing it to other non-

    Muslims. Independent channels of transmission had produced such ironies before, yet

    this branch of the tradition (in which the Eastern dome replaced the Western arch or

    vault) flourished for centuries longer, relocating and evolving. Always in the margins,

    magnetic levitation illuminates the thought of many ages: from Hellenistic and Roman

    learning, across a spectrum of medieval Christian beliefs, into medieval and later Islam.

    As I shall show, a Hindu appropriation finally brought it into the modern era.

    108 On Hellenic (largely Hellenistic) influences on medieval Islam, see Peter 1988. Any

    evidence contradicting this Eurocentric model would of course be very important. I have

    only found one thirteenth-century Sanskrit example of magnet folklore, not involving

    levitation. In Hemadri’s Chaturvarga Chintamani, Shukracharya creates a mountain-like

    magnet to divert the gods’ iron-tipped arrows from the besieged daityas; Indra’s lightning

    shatters it, distributing magnetite worldwide.

    47

    The earliest Muslim references to suspended monuments arise from allegory and

    fables. Later, these develop into reports anchored to Indian cities, in exegetical genres

    such as travel writing and historiography. The latter resemble many earlier pagan and

    Christian sources, especially those concerning the Serapeum, which served as a template

    for the idolatrous splendor of Hinduism and Buddhism. One early reference, redolent of

    Gnostic allegory, appears in Al-Mas’udi’s tenth-century world history. He describes an

    ancient seven-sided “Sabian” (Harranian) temple on China’s borders—meaning at the

    world’s end—containing a well inside which all past and future knowledge may be seen.

    It is also crowned with a radiant gemstone that kills anyone who approaches it or

    attempts to destroy the temple. Al-Mas’udi says that according to “certain sages,” the

    effect was created using magnets regularly placed around the temple.109 India attracted

    curiosity and wonder among Muslim intellectuals, a fact exploited later in the tenth

    century by Abu Dulaf al-Yanbu’i in his first risala (letter), which blends gleaned

    knowledge with Mandevillean fantasy. He counts among India’s wonders a solid-gold

    temple, reputedly levitating somewhere between Makrana and Kandhar (over 700 miles

    apart).110 This statement is cited by a contemporary geographer, and another geographer

    three centuries later, implying that levitation could feature among “wonders of the East”

    109 Al Mas’udi 67 (de Meynard 1914: 69-71). For commentary on the Gnostic symbolism

    of this and other temples, see Corbin 1986: 132-82.

    110 Dulaf’s temple in the sky probably derives from the splendid city built for Kay Kavus,

    Persia’s legendary shah, “between heaven and earth” (al-Tabari Tar􀆯kh 1.602), or

    alternatively the vimanas of Hindu myth.

    48

    without mention of magnets or other rationalizations.111 In the same text, Dulaf describes

    the “idol” at Multan as not merely suspended in the air, but a hundred cubits distant from

    both floor and ceiling, itself a hundred cubits tall.112 Whether Dulaf read about a smaller

    suspended statue is unknown, but this has an air of satirical exaggeration, much like

    Lucian’s hundred-cubit footprint of Heracles.113 Dulaf is the earliest known Muslim

    scholar to locate a suspended statue in India, as his successors would do for centuries to

    come, though at different locations.

    Another Muslim echo of Western accounts of the Serapeum is denouncing

    magnetic suspension as religious fraud. The first trace of this is Al-Mas’udi’s claim that

    the Hindu temple at Multan contained magnets.114 Three centuries later (AD c. 1220), a

    catalog of fraudulent miracles in Al-Jawbari’s “Book of Selected Disclosure of Secrets”

    includes a levitating iron statue, in India’s “Monastery of the Idol” (deir al-sanam).115

    This seems to be an adaptation of the iron Helios in the Serapeum, being not only

    suspended under a dome—the Eastern answer to a vault—but also ascribed to a Greek

    hakim, this time Apollonius (“Yablunus”).116 Apollonius was also (as “Balinas”) the

    111 Ibn Al-Nadim Kitab al-Fihrist 347; Yaqut al-Hamawi Mu–jam Al-Buldan 3.457.

    112 MS. Rishbad f. 192a.

    113 Lucian Ver. Hist. 1.4. Scythia’s Heracles footprint was two cubits long (Hdt. 4.82).

    114 Al-Mas’udi 63.1371 (on “Mandusan”), cited by Vanoli 2008: 25.

    115 Al-Jawbari Kit􀆗b al-mukht􀆗r f􀆯 kashf al-asr􀆗r (The Meadows of Gold and Mines of

    Gems) chapter 4, cited in Wiedemann 1970: 359.

    116 Apparently here, as often in medieval Islam, the wonder-working Apollonius of Tyana

    is confused with the astronomer Apollonius of Perge.

    49

    purported author of a near-contemporary hermetic text, which described another

    allegorical seven-sided temple.117 This suggests that the magnetic marvels of both the

    “Monastery of the Idol” and the allegorical Harranian temple may ultimately derive from

    Byzantine historians’ reports of the Serapeum.118

    Although magnetism as religious fraud starts to appear in these High Middle Age

    Muslim accounts of unreal Asian temples (particularly those of Al-Mas’udi and Al-

    Jawbari), it features more prominently in later descriptions of real ruined temples. This is

    the strongest indication that the suspension motif itself passed from European texts

    through Muslim mediation into India, where it served many of the same cultural

    functions, especially since another iconolatry-iconoclasm conflict was under way. The

    great ruined Hindu temple of Somnath becomes, so to speak, the first Serapeum of Indian

    historiography. Somnath was destroyed in 1025, but around 1263 (decades after Al-

    Jawbari and his “Monastery of the Idol”), the Persian geographer Zakariya Al-Qazvini

    endowed it with splendors as lavish as those described in Rufinus or the Chanson

    d’Antioche. These include a suspended statue that initiates a drama of empirical

    analysis:119

    117 Heptagonal temples, one side for each known “planet,” suggest the astronomical

    mysticism of Harranian culture: see Van Bladel 2009.

    118 “Balinas” Book of the Seven Idols (Kitab al-Asnam al-Saba), cited and discussed in

    Al-Jaldaki Al-Burhan. This heptagonal temple contains seven talking statues representing

    the planets, whose sermons initiate the reader into alchemy.

    119 Al-Qazvini, trans. Eliot and Dowson 1871 = 2.63 Wüstenfeld.

    50

    This idol was in the middle of [Somnath] temple without anything to support

    it from below, or to suspend it from above. It was regarded with great

    veneration by the Hindus, and whoever beheld it floating in the air was struck

    with amazement, whether he was a Mussulman or an infidel.… When the king

    [Sultan Mahmoud of Ghazni] asked his companions what they had to say

    about the marvel of the idol, and of its staying in the air without prop or

    support, several maintained that it was upheld by some hidden support. The

    king directed a person to go and feel all around and above and below it with a

    spear, which he did, but met with no obstacle. One of the attendants then

    stated his opinion that the canopy was made of loadstone, and the idol of iron,

    and that the ingenious builder had skilfully contrived that the magnet should

    not exercise a greater force on any one side—hence the idol was suspended in

    the middle.… Permission was obtained from the Sultan to remove some

    stones from the top of the canopy to settle the point. When two stones were

    removed from the summit, the idol swerved on one side; when more were

    taken away, it inclined still further, until at last it rested on the ground.

    In this version of the focal-point model (in a dome, as in Al-Jawbari), removing the

    stones does not topple the statue instantly. Instead it dangles lower without falling, until

    reaching the ground, as if numerous chainlike bonds were progressively detached from

    highest to lowest. Although no connection with the Serapeum is visible here, a similar

    story among the Muslim Bohra of Gujarat confirms it. In this story of uncertain date, set

    less than 250 miles away at Khambhat around a century later, Moulai Yaqoob visits a

    51

    Brahmin temple and removes four magnets suspending an iron elephant (Ganesh?) inside.

    This, with other feats, causes mass conversion to Islam.120 This story of a false miracle

    exposed resembles that of Somnath in its setting, but in other respects strongly resembles

    that of Alexandria as told by Quodvultdeus.121 Yaqoob follows in the footsteps of the

    “servant of Christ,” who validates his own new faith by dislodging the hidden magnets

    supporting the old one.

    Since the early nineteenth century, a similar tale of magnetic levitation has been

    told much further east, about Konark’s thirteenth-century Sun Temple on the Bay of

    Bengal. This owes much to the earlier accounts of Eastern temples in Muslim

    geographies and other prose genres, but has emerged from oral tradition and,

    furthermore, remains current today. Konark probably fell into disuse after the sixteenthcentury

    Afghan conquest of Odisha, and by the eighteenth century its tall vimana

    (sanctum) had almost completely collapsed. A local tale recorded in the mid-nineteenth

    century claimed that its capstone had been a massive magnet that frequently caused

    shipwrecks on the nearby coast (presumably defending it from attack by sea), until a band

    of Muslims landed further away and stole it to prevent this effect, thereby desanctifying

    120 During the reign of “Sadras Singh” (Siddharaj Jaisingh, AD 1094-1143), Yaqoob

    visited a Brahmin temple containing the elephant: see Forbes 1856: 343-44. A summary

    of Bohra legends is provided by Jivabhai 1882: 328-45. Yaqoob and Graindor’s righteous

    iconoclast seem independently derived from a shared source.

    121 One detail points to a later retelling of Quodvultdeus’ story: the four magnets, seen in

    High Medieval texts (Glycas, Gautier, Graindor, Account of Elysaeus).

    52

    the temple.122 In more recent variants this capstone suspended a cult-statue in mid-air, as

    at Somnath, and it was the Portuguese or British who removed it.123 This tale seems to

    merge Al-Mas’udi’s deadly gemstone with the shipwrecking magnetic mountain; the

    copious iron clamps and girders in Konark’s masonry probably seemed like evidence,

    especially if some were magnetized by lightning.124 The tradition of suspended

    monuments being destroyed, previously communicated from Christian to Muslim

    chroniclers, survives at Konark in a final, post-colonial inversion. This temple magnet

    was no fraud, nor mere spectacle, but an immensely powerful weapon, as even its

    destroyers had to acknowledge.

    It is instructive to compare the legends of Somnath and Khambhat with that of

    Konark. All explain why the miraculous object is absent from any extant ruins, but the

    first two condemn deception, whereas the last praises ingenuity. At Somnath and

    Khambhat, pious myth-busters expose the marvel as a heathen trick by destroying it, as in

    Quodvultdeus. At Konark it remains a cultural treasure, as in the earliest pagan sources

    and the Christian Account of Elysaeus, although spoilt by impious vandals, like the relicpowered

    tomb of Paulinus. This shows that for suspended monuments across a range of

    cultural contexts, the epistemological statuses of trick and miracle remained closely

    122 Stirling 1825: 327.

    123 For a recent version involving the Portuguese, see Gupta 2012: 463. Further variants

    may be found online.

    124 Compare the magnetized ironwork pieces obtained from church spires at Mantua

    (Gilbert 1893 [1600]: 214-15), Rimini, Aix (Brewster 1837: 9), and Chartres (Lister

    1699: 80-84).

    53

    related, even interchangeable. I have shown that there are many continuities among

    accounts of suspended monuments, but perhaps this changeability itself is their most

    enduringly transcultural property.

    8. CONCLUDING REMARKS

    Static suspension has recurrently given foreign wisdom ostentatious material

    forms. In collected lore, travelers’ tales, and religious denunciations from the Hellenistic

    period to the present and from Western Europe to the Far East, this mutable “wonder of

    the world” represents hidden knowledge inspiring faith, usually false, sometimes true.

    The suspended artifact is usually a cult-object: a sacred statue or, later, a holy person’s

    remains. The notable exception is the statue of Bellerophon, which is better associated

    with other flying beings from pagan myth: Helios, Nike, Cupid, and Mercury. However,

    the medieval tradition of divinely or magnetically levitating relics, most notoriously

    Muhammad’s body, does not (as some have claimed) come straight from Pliny and other

    classical sources. Instead it follows centuries of relic-miracles imitating magnetic

    monuments, including the coffins of Sicily and Trier, the cross on Cyprus, and the altar of

    Illtud. The idea of suspending relics from chains may have assisted this development.

    Descriptions of objects (for example in the Talmud, Ibn Wahshiyya, and Ibn Hawqal)

    with phrases meaning “between heaven and earth,” which can metaphorically denote

    things high above ground as in the Greek “Meteora,” could also have been misunderstood

    to mean miraculous levitation.

    54

    Although the oral traditions so important for the study of marvels lie all but

    hidden, this collation of glimpses from erudite channels has brought historical

    developments to light. Our starting-points Pliny and Ampelius are both brief and

    paradoxographic, but probably represent earlier texts of the Hellenistic period

    documenting either scientific developments, or the growing taste for marvels, or both.

    From late antiquity onward, Rufinus and his successors describe the Helios in the

    Serapeum (possibly transferred from Carrhae) as a trick. They imagine the workings of

    magnetism in varying ways, describing different numbers of magnets under a vault or

    coffered ceiling, and circulate the classical concept eastward from Constantinople.

    Separately from the Serapeum tradition, a Bellerophon statue mentioned by Cosmas

    becomes a magnetically suspended monument in Rome through progressive reinventions.

    Meanwhile, the invisible chains of magnetic monuments inspire a form of Christian relicmiracle,

    possibly influenced by actual suspensions of Christian relics on chains,125 just as

    other suspension-miracles imply invisible ropes. This (and not the Alexandrian Helios or

    Arsinoe) ultimately leads to the fantasy that Muhammad’s tomb was magnetically

    suspended. The fanciful Mercury statue at Trier and St. Thomas’ coffin both “remagnetize”

    relic-miracles in similar ways. Medieval Muslim authors show an equally

    broad, though somewhat refracted, range of attitudes to static suspension. Some locate

    examples in a marvelous East, with or without domes containing magnets; others cite

    magnetic suspension to refute Christian relic-miracles; still others attack Hindu idolatry

    125 The medieval travelers who report chain-hung relics are Christian (Robert of Clari on

    Constantinople), Jewish (Benjamin and Petachiah on Susa), and Muslim (Al-Harawi on

    Rome).

    55

    by claiming that Muslims exposed magnetic suspension in now-ruined Indian temples

    (Multan, Khambhat, Somnath). The last category of tales echoes Quodvultdeus’ account

    of the Serapeum. The latest reported magnetic monument is Konark, still renowned

    among some Hindus, which reasserts magnetism as a true miracle and powerful

    technology whose destruction was impious.

    For historians of the marvelous in religious, scientific, and folkloric contexts, one

    of the most striking aspects of the suspended monument tradition is that until now it was

    virtually invisible. One might even say that it never existed. Despite the chains of

    influence linking antiquity to the Middle Ages and the modern era, our sources barely

    acknowledge one another and almost without exception (even including Christian relicmiracles)

    envisage one unique example. The result is an enduring disconnectedness,

    mirroring the physical phenomenon on the epistemological level. Furthermore, world

    religions ascribe magnetic levitation-frauds to one another in an unwitting chorus:

    Christians accuse pagans and Muslims, Jews accuse idolaters, Muslims accuse Christians

    and Hindus. This shows common ground not shared by our two earliest authorities, the

    Roman compilers Pliny and Ampelius, who describe without comment. Rufinus’ late

    antique report of the Helios in the recently destroyed Serapeum is what turned magnetic

    levitation into both a means of scientific rationalization and a tool of religious polemic.

    This not only ensured rapid circulation in early Latin chroniclers and lasting popularity

    among Byzantine Greeks, but led to ongoing migrations and evolutions throughout the

    Middle Ages and beyond.

    The re-emergence of static suspension as a Christian relic-miracle, replacing iron

    and magnetite with sacred wood and bone, is not as marked a change as one might think.

    56

    Non-ferromagnetic substances appeared in earlier sources, showing that empirical

    phenomena held little sway over any suspended monument. Although iron predominates,

    alternatives included the suspended objects of gold in the Talmudic and purportedly

    Babylonian sources, Dulaf’s hundred-cubit idol and golden temple, Embrico’s tomb of

    bronze, and Graindor’s composite idol. The chroniclers who pictured the Serapeum

    Helios with a small talisman-like magnet and a concealed iron nail may reveal why this

    is. For those whose magnetic theory has an empirical foundation, however indirect, the

    suspended object must be made of iron, but for most it is a form of sympathetic magic,

    whose power can be used on mostly or entirely non-ferrous objects (for example, in the

    magical papyri, figurines or people). Given that heavy iron objects hanging unsupported

    already seemed absurd, it was a short step from there to other metals, and (for Christians)

    to the potent and imperishable matter of holy relics.

    I have shown that the static suspension motif migrated eastward after antiquity,

    which is apt enough since it had frequently pointed in that direction. The Alexandrian

    branch of the tradition held its place, although the Serapeum became the template for

    other locations, notably in India. The other and less continuous branch, starting from

    Ampelius, tended to locate levitating monuments in the Roman provinces of the Near

    East (especially Syria).126 Later descriptions of magnetic monuments clustered further

    East: tales of Muhammad’s tomb and statue postdating the First Crusade are set in Libya,

    Antioch, and Mecca; the Harranian temple is towards China; even the Mercury at Treveri

    126 Ampelius places the Nike in Magnesia-under-Sipylus and Cosmas locates the

    Bellerophon in Smyrna, though I have suggested that it might well have stood at

    Bargylia.

    57

    playfully reimagined the coffin of St. Paulinus with its Near Eastern provenance of

    “Phrygia.” Finally, Dulaf’s golden temple, St. Thomas’ tomb, the “Monastery of the

    Idol,” Multan, Somnath, Khambhat, and Konark are all located in India.127 If Alexandria

    were not so familiar to the educated elite of the Roman Empire, we might conclude that

    the entire history of magnetic levitation is dominated by Orientalism. It is better to say

    that suspended monuments are symptoms of speculation: not only about science, magic,

    and religion, but also about unfamiliar cultures, especially those subjected to conquest

    and ruination. Over many centuries of such speculation the motif spread across Europe

    and Asia.

    University of Kent

    d.m.lowe@kent.ac.uk

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    The wonder that was Kashmir

    Kashmir, before the advent of Islam, was a vibrant seat of learning and made staggering contributions to Indic culture in fields as diverse as arts, sciences, literature and philosophy.


    The wonder that was Kashmir
    Posted On: 29 Jul 2016



    Subhash Kak is a scientist and a Vedic scholar, whose research has spanned the fields of information theory, cryptography, neural networks, and quantum information. He is the inventor of a family of instantaneously trained neural networks (for which he received a patent) for which a variety of artificial intelligence applications have been found. He has argued that brain function is associated with three kinds of language: associative, reorganizational, and quantum. His discovery of a long-forgotten astronomy of ancient India that has been called “revolutionary” and “epoch-making” by scholars. In 2008-2009, he was appointed one of the principal editors for the ICOMOS project of UNESCO for identification of world heritage sites. He is the author of 12 books which include “The Nature of Physical Reality,” “The Architecture of Knowledge,” and “Mind and Self.” He is also the author of 6 books of verse. The distinguished Indian scholar Govind Chandra Pande compared his poetry to that of William Wordsworth.

    5714 words


    Kashmir’s geographical location partly explains its cultural history. It may be that its natural beauty and temperate climate are the reasons that Kashmiris have a strong tradition in the arts, literature, painting, drama, and dance. Its relative isolation, the security provided by the ring of mountains around it, and its distance from the heartland of Indian culture in the plains of North India, might explain the originality of Kashmiri thought. Its climate and the long winters may explain the Kashmiri fascination for philosophical speculation.

    Kashmir is at the centre of the Puranic geography. In the Puranic conception, the earth's continents are arranged in the form of a lotus flower. Mt. Meru stands at the center of the world, the pericarp or seed-vessel of the flower, as it were, surrounded by circular ranges of mountains. Around Mt. Meru, like the petals of the lotus, are arranged four island continents (dvipas), aligned to the four points of the compass: Uttarakuru to the north, Ketumala to the west, Bhadrashva to the east, and Bharata or Jambudvipa to the south. The meeting point of the continents is the Meru mountain, which is the high Himalayan region around Kashmir, Uttarakuru represents Central Asia including Tocharia, Ketumala is Iran and lands beyond, Bhadrashva is China and the Far East. Kashmir’s centrality in this scheme was the recognition that it was a meeting ground for trade and ideas for the four main parts of the Old World. In fact it became more than a meeting ground, it was the land where an attempt was made to reconcile opposites by deeper analysis and bold conception.

    Kashmir’s nearness to rich trade routes brought it considerable wealth and emboldened Kashmiris to take Sanskrit culture out of the country as missionaries. Kashmiris also became interpreters of the Indian civilization and they authored many fundamental synthesizing and expository works. Some of these works are anonymous encyclopedias, for many other works the author’s name is known but the details of the life and circumstances in Kashmir are hardly remembered.

    Kalhana’s Rajatarangini (River of Kings), written in about 1150, provides a narrative of successive dynasties that ruled Kashmir. Kalhana claimed to have used eleven earlier works as well the Nilamata Purana. Of these earlier books only the Nilamata Purana survives. The narrative in the Rajatarangini becomes more than mere names with the accession of the Karkota dynasty in the early seventh century.

    The political boundaries of Kashmir have on occasion extended much beyond the valley and the adjoining regions. According to Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese traveler, the adjacent territories to the west and south down to the plains were also under the direct control of the king of Kashmir. With Durlabhavardhana of the Karkota dynasty, the power of Kashmir extended to parts of Punjab and Afghanistan. It appears that during this period of Kashmiri expansion, the ruling elite, if not the general population, of Gilgit, Baltistan, and West Tibet spoke Kashmiri-related languages. Later, as Kashmir’s political power declined, these groups were displaced by Tibetan-speaking people.


    In the eighth century, Lalitaditya (reigned 725-761), conquered most of north India, Central Asia and Tibet. His vision and exertions mark a new phase of Indian empire-building. Kashmir had become an important player in the rivalries amongst the various kingdoms of north India.

    The jostling of the Kashmiri State within the circle of the north Indian powers led to an important political innovation. The important Vishnudharmottara Purana, believed to have been written in Kashmir of the Karkota kings, recommends innovations regarding the rajasuya and the ashvamedha sacrifices, of which the latter in its medieval interpretations was responsible for much warfare amongst kings. In the medieval times the horse was left free to roam for a year and the king’s soldiers tried to establish the rule of their king in all regions visited by the horse, leading to fighting. The Vishnudharmottara Purana replaced these ancient rites by the rajyabhisheka (royal consecration) and surapratishtha (the fixing of the divine abode) rites.

    This essay presents an overview of the most important Kashmiri contributions to Indian culture, emphasizing some of the lesser known aspects of these contributions. Specifically, we consider the contributions to the arts, sciences, literature, and philosophy. Our historical assessment of Kashmiri culture is hampered by the nature of our records. The texts and objects of art do not always indicate their provenance and the connections with Kashmir emerge only from indirect evidence. We are on sure ground when we come to Buddhist sources, the texts of the Kashmir Shaivism, and the names mentioned in the Rajatarangini and other early narratives.

    Early Period
    During the Vedic period, Kashmir appears to be an important region because it appears that the Mujavant mountain, the region where Soma grew, was located there. It is possible that in the Vedic era a large part of the valley was still under a lake. Kalhana’s history begins with the Mahabharata War, but it is very hazy with regard to the events prior to the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.

    The great grammarian Panini lived in northwest Punjab not too far from Kashmir and the university at Taxila (Takshashila) was also close to the valley. At the time of Hiuen Tsang, Takshashila was a tributary to Kashmir. It is generally accepted that Patanjali, the great author of the Mahabhashya commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, was a Kashmiri, as were a host of other grammarians like Chandra. According to Bhartrihari and other early scholars, Patanjali also made contributions to Yoga (the yoga-sutras) and to Ayurveda. It is believed that Patanjali's mother was named Gorika and he was born in Gonarda. He was educated in Takshashila and he taught in Pataliputra. From the textual references in his works, it can be safely said that he belonged to 2nd century BC.

    The Charaka