Symbols of Comets, Fireballs, and Meteorites in Greek and Roman History

in #history2 months ago (edited)

Triangular or Cone Shaped Images, or a Simulacrum of a God/Goddess in Temple Worship:

Conical stone which served as the cult idol in the sanctuary of Aphrodite at Palaepafos, Cyprus - Wojciech Biegun, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Meteoritic Stone of Heliogabalus, seen in this drawing: The Temple of Mithras, Heliogabalus and Elsinoe by Maria Artwińska (~1912). Based on a scene from "Irydion" by Zygmunt Krasiński.

National Library of Poland, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Another image of the stone worshipped by Varius, aka Heliogabalus.

The Agony (1902) Elagabalus conducting a chariot with sixteen white horses, where, on an altar of precious stones, rests the cone of the black stone.

Zeus' Thunderbolts correspond to Fireballs or Bolides, some of which are recovered as Meteorites.

Pottery (clay) showing symbol of the fireball, aka the Thunderbolts of Zeus:

Late archaic/early classical, ca. 470 BCE. Veii, Portonaccio sanctuary (votive offering) - Roma, Museo nazionale etrusco di Villa Giulia. - ArchaiOptix, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Head of Athena with Corinthian helmet. Reverse shows a Thunderbolt of Zeus. Inscription (Greek): ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΟ:

Item 1544823001 Obverse and Reverse Gold coin. - The Trustees of the British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

More Thunderbolts:

Octavian with winged Thunderbolt, other side: seated left on curule chair, holding Victoriola in right hand. Item 632999001. - The Trustees of the British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Head of Septimius Severus and Thunderbolt on curule chair. Item 1612993593. - The Trustees of the British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Symbol of the Thunderbolt from Ancient Elis, Greece (pre) 471 BCE. Perhaps the origin of the Fleur-de-lis, The Flower of Elis?

Item 352066001 - The Trustees of the British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.

Curiously, being more abstract, split the above Thunderbolt apart and common symbols reveal themselves: that of Hathor and the Bee.

(Omega Symbol of Ninhursag = Symbol of Hathor)

The sella curulis or Roman curule chair was a chair of special significance. For anything to be seen upon it would indicate that it was regarded in high esteem.

A bit speculative, but it seems plausible: Are some of these coins (see link below) depicting a stone upon a curule?

Based on the dates, and considering also how they show the image of Cybele (Magna Mater), it would appear to depict the meteoritic stone of Cybele placed upon a curule. (As Falconet explains, this stone was small and could be held in the hands.)

Item 629986001 - The Trustees of the British Museum CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Many similar examples can be seen here:

Comets too can be seen depicted on coins:

Augustus wearing the corona civica. Reverse side: "Depicts the comet which made a continuous daylight appearance during July 44 BC, and was associated with the deification of Julius Caesar." - Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

"When Zeus was born, however, Rhea hid him in Crete and tricked Cronus into swallowing a stone instead." Britannica: Cronos.

Cronos and Rhea by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Rhea in this picture holds a meteorite, the stone disguised as a wrapped-up baby:

Karl Friedrich Schinkel; 1781-1841, Public domain, attraverso Wikimedia Commons.

The inspiration of Schinkel's drawing (and the one on the cover of von Dalberg's book) originates from a stone monument, seen here:


Conical Image of the Goddess (Meteorite?) shown at the Temple of Baalat Gebal ("Lady of Byblos").

Botton coin: "Macrinus coin from Byblos (Obverse showing Emperor Macrinus and reverse showing the Temple of Baalat Gebal including the temple court and cultic object inside a sacred horned enclosure)" from "Catalogue of the Greek coins in the British Museum" by George Francis Hill (1910) p. 571, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Plate 27: coins 10 and 11 from "Les perses achéménides, les satrapes et les dynastes tributaires de leur empire Cypre et Phénicie" by Ernest Babelon (1893).


Just like Aphrodite at Paphos.