Revista de Arqueología republishes “Orpheos Bakkikos”


Caesar’s funeral: wax effigy on tropaeum (left) | “Orpheos Bakkikos” artifact (right)

The Spanish journal for ancient archaeology Revista de Arqueología has reprinted an abridged version of the article “Orfeo Báquico – La Cruz Desaparecida”, originally published in 2009 in the theological journal Isidorianum 18 (35): 179–217. Here’s the abstract taken from the English version “Orpheos Bakkikos — The Missing Cross”:

The tiny Orpheos Bakkikos stone, engraved with the representation 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 its classification as early Christian. The dispute continues to this day. In this study we examine previous arguments for and against the artefact’s authenticity and conclude 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. The supporting argumentation leads from the Roman imperial cult via the Athenian Iobakchoi of the second century A.D. as well as the Roman poets and Cultores Liberi of the Augustan era back to the funeral of Julius Caesar, where his wax effigy, which closely resembled the ‘crucified figure’ in the Orpheos Bakkikos engraving, was affixed to a cruciform tropaeum and shown to the people. On these grounds we establish hypotheses that explain both 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 Papal and Patriarchal headdresses, as well as the origin of the articulated crucifixes, which were handed down from Antiquity and are used during the Holy Week to this day.

See the database references for Revista de Arqueología here, and for the article here. If you want to read the original unabridged article including footnotes and bibliography, the three language versions are available as PDFs at the following links:

  • Spanish version (Isidorianum: scan)
  • English version
  • German version