Day 4 of #TweetHistorian Mark Saltveit @taoish's look at #palindromes. Thursday we viewed palindromic forms in non-European languages, a sadly neglected topic. "Today": the SATOR / ROTAS square, attested 4x in the first c. CE: 3x at Pompeii, 1x at Conimbriga in Portugal. 1/12 -ms The oldest known ROTAS squa...The third ROTAS square foun...ROTAS square graffito from ...ROTAS square on a brick fou...
It's the Hollywood celebrity of #palindromes, thx to Chris Nolan's film TENET. It starts at an OPERA. ROTAS is the time reversal machine. TENET is the name of the conspiracy. Andrei SATOR is the villain. Thomas AREPO is an art forger we never see. 2/12 -ms… John David Washington, ex-p...TENET's director Christophe...Promotional poster for the ...A promotional image for the...
This square is an image, a graphic composed of letters, arguably the world's first and most successful meme. Calling it a Latin sentence (SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS, or the reverse) is a hypothesis with v. little historical support. AREPO is not a Latin word or name. 3/12 -ms ROTAS stone now embedded in...
There are 12 Roman examples, all squares starting with ROTAS plus a few other dubious examples. 4x at Dura Europos in Syria. 1 in Pannonia (near Budapest). 2 in England (Cirencester & Manchester). 1 at tavern (thermopolis) under later church of St. Mary Maggiore in Rome. 4/12 -ms 4th century CE ROTAS square...Roof tile from Aquincum in ...A piece of wall plaster wit...One of four ROTAS squares f...
The ROTAS square disappeared from W. Europe & re-emerged in the 6th c. CE in Egypt, then Nubia and later Ethiopia, written in Coptic letters with αpeτω/ARETO ωτϵρα/OTERA, used as a Christian magical amulet. At least 29 examples - h/t Raymond Dosoo 5/12 -ms Egyptian amulet with SATOR ...Sketch of the oldest SATOR ...Berlin P 982 (KYP M226), a ...Tomb of the Archbishop Geor...
These Coptic cατωρ squares are drastically undervalued in both popular & scholarly discourse. It was the ROTAS square before these, and there is zero evidence of connection to religion, Christian or otherwise. Roman squares were linked to military outposts, not churches. 6/12 -ms P. Heid. Inv. Kopt. 685 (KY...Description of London BL Or...Text description of Vienna ...
The Coptic texts were the first witnesses to start with SATOR (cατωρ), to clearly link to Christianity (or any religion), and to use it in magic spells. When the square re-emerges in Europe in the 9th c., all 3 features are common, though we see AREPO again, not ARETO. 7/12 -ms German wooden SATOR plate u...SATOR square from Castle at...SATOR used as a magical spe...
When the square re-emerges, it is in the 9th c. as Charlemagne and Alcuin work to collect and republish classical knowledge. At first, ROTAS starting squares and linear forms are mixed in. This 822 CE MS hedges its bets; you can rotate it to start with SATOR or ROTAS. 8/12 -ms Paris MS BNF Lat 11505, abb...Image
The image appears in varied forms from the 9th through 11th c., though still just in a couple dozen manuscripts that we know of. It continues to appear in Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia, and emerges in Anatolia and Cappadocia as church and cave paintings. 9/12 -ms First western SATOR square,...SATOR circle in London BL H...3 magical figures, includin...Leiden MS Scaliger 28, foli...
Then, in the 12th century CE, several churches in Italy inscribe SATOR squares on their exteriors or on floor mosaics for all to see (not tucked away in monastic library manuscripts). Quickly it spreads everywhere -- in magic, folk medicine, texts, etc. - to this day. 10/12 -ms Mosaic at Pieve Terzagni, I...SATOR square at Duomo of Si...Campiglia Marittima, Pieve ...A SATOR square stone in the...
In 1922, a German evangelical preacher named Felix Grosser proposed that the square was an anagram for PATERNOSTER (Latin for the "Our Father" prayer). This is BS unsupported by ANY historical evidence or examples, but proved wildly popular despite scholarly refutation. 11/12 -ms Image of a skull with the S...
Most scholars renounced it as soon as the first Pompeii squares were found; any Christians in Pompeii used Greek for religion, & the prayer was not used yet. A few persisted; archaeologist Margherita Guarducci demolished what remained in 1965. Don't repeat this theory! 12/12 -ms
BONUS MATERIAL: Guarducci's article is masterful, funny & brutal: "Tutto ciò — diciamolo pure — non è né storia né archeologia: è, semplicemente, romanzo.”
(All of this – let us say it – is neither history nor archaeology. It is simply a novel.) Arch Class 1965 p217 13/12 -ms Opening page of Margherita ...Photo of Margherita Guarduc...
MORE BONUS: The theory argues that the square is an anagram for PATERNOSTER but it isn't. It's an anagram for PATERNOSTER PATEROSTER AAOO. Grosser arranged it as a cross to hide the missing N, and claimed the As and Os were Alphas and Omegas, as in the Apocalypse of John. 14/12 Felix Grosser's alleged PAT...
MORER BONUS: No such figure was ever drawn before Grosser's 1926 paper, and the Apocalypse of John wasn't written until decades after Pompei was buried by volcanic ash. Guarducci noted that anagrams prove nothing, and produced 3 Satanic palindromes from the same letters. 15/12 Page 258 of Guarducci's  ar...
A reminder that your #TwitterHistorian guest host Mark Saltveit is presenting at IMC-Leeds Thursday at 9am, on Latin verse palindromes of Carolingian era. Also co-hosting a palindrome improv show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Aug 6-28th, Kilderkin Pub 7:30pm, PBH Free Fringe. Listing for Mark Saltveit's...The listing for Palindrome ...

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More from @Tweetistorian

Jul 3
Here is a thread recapping #palindrome history week for #TweetHistorians, courtesy of Mark Saltveit who reverts to @taoish now.

Monday, we started with a thread on the ancient sacred origins of palindromes as spells, curses and words of the gods. 1/7 -ms
Tuesday: Sotades the Obscene, inventor of palindromes, the Priapeia, sotadean metre and so much more. Also: the kinaidoi (effeminate dancers of Alexandria), Arsinoe the sex-positive proto-feminist queen, incestual royal marriage and sick burns. 2/7 -ms
Wednesday: later antique Greek palindromes from the oldest letter-by-letter verse (a school exercise in Tebtunis Egypt) through the Greek Anthology, Leo the Wise, Western Euopean baptismal fonts and Theodoros Prodromos. 3/7 -ms
Read 6 tweets
Jul 2
Day 6 of palindromic #TwitterHistorian @taoish Mark Saltveit's stint. Yesterday, the SATOR / ROTAS square. Today, "versus recurrentes" = Latin palindromic poetry, mostly 1 line. At #IMC2021, I argued that it was a continuous & self-referential genre from 2nd-15th c. CE.
1/12 -ms
I listed 42 but documenting is tricky. These were rarely in main texts. Most appeared in margins or on fly leaves, but repeated over the centuries. Theory: these were transmitted by teachers, esp. of scribes, and passed via wax tablets, memory & pen tests (federproben).
2/12 -ms Slide from Mark Saltveit's ...A second slide from Mark Sa...
The classic (and first known) Latin verse #palindrome is a dactylic pentameter: "Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor." Sidonius Apollinaris (ep. 9.14, ~480 CE) called it ancient. It's on a roof tile from Aquincum dated 107 CE next to a ROTAS square & at Ostia (200 CE). 3/12 -ms Roof tile from Aquincum, Pa...The text of that portion of...St. Gall MS 889 with "...Roma Tibi graffito at Ostia...
Read 15 tweets
May 22
Day 7.

Let's try to tie this all together. Yesterday, we looked at how the spread of monotheism to South Arabia impacted its political sphere. Today, let's take a look at South Arabia during the early Islamic period.

Yesterday I mentioned how the Ethiopian Aksumites invaded South Arabia and installed a local Christian ruler. Around 530 AD, it was followed by that of the Ethiopian general ʾAbraha.

However, ʾAbraha made sure to follow in the footsteps of his Himyaritic predecessors.

~ik In the Islamic tradition, Abraha is called ʾAbraha al-ʾAš
For example, he claimed the Himyarite royal title, had reparations made at the Marib dam, and continued to leave inscriptions in the Sabaic language. He also continued to wage campaigns in Central Arabia; the inscription mentioned day 5 is actually one of his!

Read 18 tweets
May 21
Day 6.

Yesterday, we looked at what the Amirite and Himyarite inscriptions tell us about the linguistic landscape of South Arabia in the late pre-Islamic period.

Now, let's look at the socio-political environment during the same period.

~ik ImageImage
The 3rd century AD saw an intensification of relations between South Arabia and the Mediterranean/Levant. These statues depicting the Himyaritic rulers Ḏamarʿalī Yuhabirr and his son, Ṯaʾban are a fantastic example of this cultural exchange.

~ik Image
The statues show a coalescence of Hellenistic and South Arabian features: their nudity and the headbands typical ot former, the long hair and the moustache, ot the latter.

Also: the sculptors left their signature on the statues' knees, showing Hellenistic/SA collaboration.

~ik ImageImageImage
Read 12 tweets
May 20
Day 5 – slightly delayed.

Today, let's look more at the Himyarites and the language of their inscriptions. They reveal some more important clues about South Arabia's linguistic landscape during the late pre-Islamic period. ~ik
The Himyarites became the main political force in S-A around 300 AD. Around 280 AD, the Himyarite ruler Yāsir Yuhanʿim conquered the Sabaeans; his successor Šammar Yuharʿiš took parts of Ḥaḍramawt. By the early 4th century all of Ḥaḍramawt had been conquered ~ik
The Himyarites' success is reflected in the language of the inscriptions. From the 4th to the 6th centuries, all the S-A inscriptions are written in what we call Late Sabaic.

The differences are both linguistic and paleographic. ~ik Middle Sabaic inscription CIAS 95.11/j 4 n° 1 Late Sabaic inscription Gar Sharahbil A
Read 16 tweets
May 19
Back for day 4!
Yesterday, we saw how the inscriptions of the different South Arabian states show the region's linguistic diversity.

Today, we're going to look at the first evidence of Arabic and the importance of the Himyarites.

Link to day 3: ~ik
Around 200 BC, the Minaean state collapsed. This was likely due to both ecological and economic changes in the region.

The Minaeans' homeland, the Jawf, saw the arrival of a new group of settlers: the North Arabian tribe of ʾAmīr (ʾmr(m), also known as the Amirites. ~ik ImageImage
The arrival of the Amirites had some important social consequences. For example, they brought with them a new deity, Ḏu Samāwī (ḏ-s¹mwy), who was integrated into the broader South Arabian pantheon.

The Amirites also took over the S-A script, and began leaving inscriptions ~ik ImageImage
Read 16 tweets

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