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Orpheos Bakkikos En

Orpheos Bakkikos En

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Published by Divus
Scientific article by Francesco Carotta.

FRANCESCO CAROTTA, Colaboración: ARNE EICKENBERG – Isidorianum, Centro de Estudios Teológicos de Sevilla, 2009, Nº 35. Castellano.

http://www.carotta.de
Scientific article by Francesco Carotta.

FRANCESCO CAROTTA, Colaboración: ARNE EICKENBERG – Isidorianum, Centro de Estudios Teológicos de Sevilla, 2009, Nº 35. Castellano.

http://www.carotta.de

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Divus on Aug 12, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/01/2013

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ORPHEOS BAKKIKOS: THE MISSING CROSS
 
F
RANCESCO
C
 AROTTA
*
 
Collaboration
:
 
 A
RNE
E
ICKENBERG
 
 ABSTRACT 
 “Orpheos Bakkikos: The Missing Cross”.
The tiny
Orpheos Bakkikos
stone, engraved with therepresentation of a crucifixion, has been lost since World War II. At the beginning of the last century the stone was still regarded as an original, but during the 1920s doubts arose concerning its authenticity due to itsclassification as early Christian, and the dispute continues to this day. Previous arguments for and against theartefact’s authenticity are examined, and it is concluded in this study that the aporia can be solved not by regarding the stone unilaterally as either Orphic or Christian, but by placing it back into its original historical context. Thesupporting argumentation leads from the Roman imperial cult via the Athenian
 Iobakchoi
of the second centuryA.D. as well as the Roman poets and
Cultores Liberi
of the Augustan era back to the funeral of Julius Caesar, wherea wax effigy of the slain, which closely resembles the ‘crucified figure’ in the
Orpheos Bakkikos
engraving, wasaffixed to a cruciform
tropaeum
and shown to the people. On these grounds hypotheses are established that explainboth the application of the
Orpheos Bakkikos
stone as a
crucifixum signum
on the
 apex 
of the
  flamen Divi Iulii
, which has been preserved on the headdresses of the Pope and the Patriarchs, as well as the origin of the articulatedcrucifixes, which have been handed down from Antiquity and are utilized during the Holy Week to this day.
 
The quest for the stone with the inventory number 4939 from the
 Early Christian Byzantine Collection
I at the Berlin Bode Museum, the former Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, would be in vain: During World War II the stone vanished from the exhibition where ithad been on display since 1904 after its transfer to the Berlin
 Antiquarium
in 1869 as part of Eduard Gerhard’s bequest.Initially it had been embraced as one of the earliest representations of the Crucifixion of Christ—if not as the very first, because the stone had occasionally been dated to thesecond century.
1
But due to its peculiarity the artefact eluded the attempts to classify itaccording to standard iconographic formulae, which hold that
Christus Triumphans
 came first, followed much later by
Christus Patiens
. So the stone was met with somedoubt, and to this day the matter has been surrounded by controversy. Are we dealing  with a genuine piece from late Antiquity or with a forgery from the 17
th
or 18
th
century?It is presumed that the object’s disappearance was precipitated by the doubts concerning 
*
© 2008/2009 Francesco C
AROTTA
(Kirchzarten/Écija/Madrid/Berlin); this article was originally published as “Orfeo Báquico: La Cruz Desaparecida” in: X. Xxxx Xxxxxxx X
 XXXXX
 X
 XXXXXXX
(ed.),
 Xxxxxxxxxxx 
, Vol. 00, No. 00 (March), Xxxxxxx 2009, pp. 000–000; English version translated fromGerman; this article supported by further information and documents (incl. translations) online at:http://www.carotta.de.
1
L
ECLERCQ 
1907–53 s.v. “Orphée”, Vol. XII, col. 2754, #9249; cf. idem s.v. “Gemmes”, Vol. VI, col. 840,#177; D
ÖLGER 
1910, Vol. I, p. 324.
 
FRANCESCO CAROTTA
2
its authenticity insofar as the prevailing controversy was the reason for its removal fromthe exhibition. We would surely recover from the loss of a forgery, but if it was a genuine piece, we would have lost something unique.In any case the controversy persists: Although Mastrocinque
2
had painstakingly refutedthe arguments made against its authenticity by Zahn, Reil and Maser
3
and had even provided two cognate carnelians bearing a very similar inscription, Spier relegated theartefact to the ‘forgeries, and uncertain works’.
4
 In order to make his evaluation appear more credible, he declared other pieces asforgeries too, namely all those that feature either the same posture of the legs or are presented slightly rotated in a three-dimensional perspective, or else bear the sameinscription—the relegation of the latter being based solely on a memorandum by acolleague of his from Saint Petersburg, who had informed him that he
  felt 
(sic!) that asimilar carnelian, which apparently exists in Russia, was not ancient
.
5
This isaccompanied by other, even more grotesque arguments: Since for example the gem is wrought flawlessly, which alone would be an obvious characteristic of a genuine ancientartefact, it is
 a fortiori
supposed to be a forgery, since forgers tend to work well (sic!).
6
 Are we dealing with a
desaparecido
phenomenon? A paradoxical antiquarianiconoclasm?At any rate only some black-and-white photographs in academic archaeological publications have been preserved to us.
Fig. 1: Orpheos Bakkikos, full-scale original artefact and cast.
7
 
2
M
ASTROCINQUE
1993, pp. 16–24; pro: Miguel H
ERRERO DE
 J
ÁUREGUI
,
Tradición órfica y cristianismo antiguo
(Colección Estructuras y Procesos – Serie Religión), Madrid 2007.
3
Z
AHN
& R 
EIL
1926, pp. 62–68; M
ASER 
1976, pp. 257–75.
4
S
PIER 
2007, p. 178, X94.
5
S
PIER 
2007, p. 178, n. 15: “he feels the gem is not ancient”.
6
M
ASER 
1976, p. 260 sq., referencing: Z
AHN
1926, p. 63, ref.: D
ÖLGER 
1910, Vol. I, p. 334.
7
W
ULFF
1905, p. 234, #1146, pl. 56.
 
ORPHEOS BAKKIKOS
3Figs. 2a & b:
O
Ρ
|
Φ
EOC
||
BAK
|
KI
||
K
|
OC
(
Orpheos Bakkikos
), magnified cast.
8
 
Measuring 9
×
14 millimeters it is a tiny cone frustum of blood-red ferric oxide(hematite), laterally perforated, so that it could be worn as a pendant. Its occasionalinterpretation as a ‘signet cylinder’ (the ‘Berlin seal’) can be ruled out, not only becauseit’s not a cylinder, but especially because the inscription on the cast is mirror-inverted.On the original piece the direction of the writing is a standard left-to-right, unlike onseals, which are always inversely embossed. Therefore it was rather considered to be anamulet. However the lateral longitudinal grooves above and below the perforation holes(fig. 3) as well as the basal opening (fig. 4) also allow for an alternative fastening technique. Therefore the stone could originally have been utilized in a different fashion.
Figs. 3 & 4: Orpheos Bakkikos, drawing and magnified original.
9
 
8
D
ÖLGER 
1910, Vol. III, pl. 36; H
INZ
1973, p. 91, fig. 114.

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