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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper
I fell down a bit of a ruins research rabbithole today, thought I'd share some of my weird journey. It started with this incredible 1858 photo of the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens.
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
What drew me attention was this strange protuberance on top. It looked really strange & didn't fit with the rest of the building
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
It also didn't fit with reconstructions of how the building originally looked
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
I thought I found the answer when I found an exact copy of the photo, but with the protuberance missing. All the people etc are in the same positions, but no weird lump on top
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
So I thought I'd found my answer: someone had edited the original photo, adding an odd bit of ruin on top to make it seem taller & more epic
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
That was until I saw this 1833Β paintingΒ by Johann Michael Wittmer...
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
THERE IT IS AGAIN
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
And when I saw this 1862 photo from another angle, it was obvious that the protuberance had been EDITED OUT of the other photo, not added to the first
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
It turns out that Christian ascetics known as stylites, or "pillar saints" are the explanation. Stylites believed that living on top of tall pillars brought them closer to God & caused them holy bodily mortification at the same time, atoning for their sins
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
At some point since the ruination of the temple in the 3rd century & archaeologists examining it in the 19th, stylites had laboriously built a small stone hut on top of the ruined temple's pillars
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
In his 1922 article "the glory the was Greece", Alexander Wilbourne describes hearing locals tell of a long line of stylites who lived on top of the ruined temple & had food and water brought up to them with ropes & buckets
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
He even describes meeting an old Athenian who remembered taking offerings of loaves and fruit to send up to the Zeus temple stylites, who would send down a basket to receive them
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
After Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, efforts were made in the 19th century to strengthen the national identity by harking back to the greatness of the Hellenic past. So in the eyes of the Greek authorities, this Christian addition had to go.
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
So the second photo I showed you is part of that effort to scrub the presence of the stylites from the record. If you look closely, you can see the blanknesses where their hut has been cut out
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
So this is the original photo of the temple of Olympian Zeus, stylite hut and all
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
It's always interesting to see how ruins are used politically, & how they construct & reinforce ideas of identity. When is a ruin "finished"? Who does the ruin belong to? Can a ruin be ruined?
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
Anyway, that's the story of how I didn't get any proper work done today. I'm going to climb up a pillar now to do my proper penance. Thanks for listening!
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 24 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
If you enjoyed this & you're interested in learning more about some of my research, I've collected some tidbits in this thread-of-threads:
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 24 May 18
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
You can also chip me a tip here:
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 23 Nov 17
Very kind of you to say! Ruins have always made people think about the future fall of their own societies. This is DorΓ©'s imagining of London in ruins, for instance
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Josh Muggle, is this scary I didn't read the books 24 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
The Qur'an repeatedly encourages its listeners to look at the ruins of great civilizations around them and think about the fact that they might be destroyed as well if they don't reform their society.
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Paul πŸŒΉπŸ“š Cooper 24 Nov 17
Replying to @J_mugs
Yes indeed! It was written in a region where the ruins of ancient civilisations are very prominent, all around the Mesopotamian basin. There's the parable of the ruined hamlet too
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Josh Muggle, is this scary I didn't read the books 24 Nov 17
Replying to @PaulMMCooper
And ruins are a prominent theme in Arabic poetry, both before and after the rise of Islam.
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