(The Vindolanda Trust/REUTERS/Felix Ordonez)
A mysterious bronze hand excavated by archaeologists in the vicinity of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England.
The child-sized hand was discovered in April during an excavation on the site of Vindolanda, an old Roman fort.
Discarded in a ditch, the hand was found near a temple dedicated to the god Jupiter Dolichenus. The temple is a part of the 3rd century A. D. the fort’s northern wall and goes back to a turbulent time in Roman history. Research out of the hand between the 208 and 212 A. D., which coincides with the time of the so-called “Severan” emperor in Rome, a period characterized by conflict, civil war, genocide and rebellion.
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The cult of Jupiter Dolichenus is shrouded in mystery. “The cult is one of the ‘mysterious’ oriental cults due to the die prior to the adoption of Christianity in the main body of the Rich,” Dr. Andrew Birley, CEO and director of excavations at the Vindolanda Trust, told Fox News, via e-mail. “What we do know is that the cult is associated with the weather (certainly something the Romans would have encountered many in the North of great Britain in their war), and metal work.”
The old bronze hand (The Vindolanda Trust)
The 4-inch hand originally had an attachment, now missing, which is inserted in the palm. Jupiter Dolichenus was usually depicted holding a lightning bolt in his hand with upraised arm, signifying his destructive power, according to experts. The open hand symbolizes the protection and well-being.
The hand of the base has an electrical outlet and it was originally fixed to a pole.
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“This period was at the end of one of the bloodiest conflicts that has ever taken place on British soil,” Birley told Fox News. “It is a small window in the Roman psyche of those who had come through the war, the relief of survival and the hope of success and blessing god.”
The artifact was found near Hadrian’s Wall (Vindolanda Trust)
At the time of the artifact’s dedication, Jupiter Dolichenus was at the height of his popularity, according to Birley, which extends from Vindolanda in the north of Britain to Rome, to the Crimea and Syria. Other votive hands are found in other parts of the Roman Empire, but are slightly larger than the artifact found in Vindolanda.
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The hand is the latest fascinating find on the historic site. Earliest this year, for example, archaeologists dug up the old boxing gloves at Vindolanda.
File photo Actors, dressed as Roman pretorian guards, holding their helmets in a parade during a show reviving the ancient Roman circus in the central Spanish village of Banos de Valdearados 22 August 2004. (REUTERS/Felix Ordonez)
Last year, a treasure trove of artifacts, including Roman swords, was discovered at Vindolanda. Researchers also found 25 wooden ink of the documents at the former fort, offering a fascinating glimpse into the daily life in the Roman Empire.
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