Documentary Film based on Gibson's book: Qur'anic Geography


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Nabataeans in Italy
South of Rome, on the western cost of Italy is the ancient city of Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli) where the ancient Romans had a harbor on the Southern Tyrrenian Sea. Much of the old city is now submerged beneath the sea, but is visible from the air. During the mid 18th century, in the submerged quarters of the ancient city, next to the columnade known as Tempio delle Ninfe, an altar and two cultual bases were found that bore the inscription DVSARI SACRVM (‘Holy to Dusares’). As Dusares was a uniquely Nabataean god, it imediately became evident that Nabataeans had lived in Peteoli. (The altar and bases are now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Naples). At the same time, in the area surroundings Puteoli, a colossal bust of a god was found (presently housed at the Vatican Museum), that has also been tentatively associated with the Nabataean god Dusares.

Then in the mid 19th century, two Nabatean inscriptions were found in Pozzuoli, which provided indisuptable evidence of Nabataean settlement in Italy. The first inscription refered to Dusares and was dated from year 8 of king Malichus I (53/52 BC). The second inscription was in memory of the restoration of the local mah9ramah, or temple, accomplished in the year 14 of king Aretas IV (A.D. 5/6). Later, in 1966, a new cultual ara DVSARI SACRVM and a number of small betyls were found.

In the early 1970s the first aerial photographs of the submurged city stretching from Puteoli to the Portus Iulius at Baia became available: They portrayed complex structures, horrea and various buildings laying under the sea level. Further research led to the first identification of the site of the Nabataean temple. Then in 1977 Professor Giuseppe Camodeca identified a dedicatory inscription dated 121 AD made by the inquilini vici Lartidiani in honor of Emperor Hadrian. The vicus Lartidianus was part of a wider area, identified as the dwelling of foreign people engaged in trade and business in Puteoli.

In April 1989, two new marble inscriptions were found in the sea. Although they were removed from their original setting, these thin slabs proved that the ruins of the temple were still preserved. In the ’90s, underwater surveys were carried out in the vicus Lartidianus by Doctor Fabio Maniscalco and other specialized archaeologists under the supervision of Professor Giuseppe Camodeca. Along with this, two further fragments from the temple, written in Latin and found in the year 1972 but overlooked were published in 2001. They belong to another dedicatory inscription.

The Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli have a report on the Internet. You can find it by clicking here. This site contains pictures, and a bibliography of published sources for The Nabataean Temple of Puteoli Project.

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