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Domitian Obelisk (In Piazza Papiniano, Benevento)

Present Site:  Piazza Papiniano, Benevento, Italy
N 41°07'53.9"(41.131635) E 14°46'38.0"(12.777208)
Pharaoh:  Roman Emperor Domitian (Domitianus) (AD 1st Century)
Measurement:  Unknown
Weight:  Estimated 2.5 tons
Stone:  Red granite

About The Site:
Benevento is a small town among mountains, located about 50km northeast of Naples (Napoli), the polulation is about 60,000 including its vicinity.
Benevento was an important point of Appian Way (Via Appia) in the ancient Roman times, leading to the Adriatic coast of Brindisi from Rome. There are the triumphal arch, the Arch of Trajan (Arco de Trajano), and Roman Amphitheater, etc. as the remains of ancient Rome. In addition, although Lombard of Germanic invaded into Italy in 568 after the Roman Empire downfall, Lombard has caused the Duchy of Benevento in Benevento.
In 2011, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the seven groups of important buildings as "Longobards (Lombard) in Italy, Places of the Power (AD 568-774)". The church of Santa Sofia in Benevento is one of seven buildings, as one of the main surviving examples of Lombard architecture.

Piazza Papiniano
Piazza Papiniano
where the obelisk stands

How To Get There:
The direct train from Rome Termini to Benevento is available. It's in 2 hours, but you should check the time table in advance as the trains are few.
In terms of distance, Naples is nearer, but the train connection is not convenient. The bus would be the more convenient transportation than trains.
The railroad station of Benevento is far about 500 meters north of center of town. From the station, walk straight the broad street (Via Principe di Napoli) beyond the fountain, and then cross the river (Ponte Calore), and walk straight further, then meet the main street (Corso Giuseppe Garibaldi). Turn left (east direction), and 200 meter beyond, there is a Piazza Papiniano, which is not a wide space, but just like only the building next to the Piazza. The targeted obelisk stands in this small Piazza.


one of the two
by Emperor Domitian
About The Obelisk:
In ancient Roman times, Isis was actively worshiped, and Emperor Domitian (Domitianus) (reigned: AD 81-96) erected a pair of obelisks for the Temple of Isis.
In 1903, fallen two obelisks with many statues of Isis were discovered at the Ruins of Isis Temple, when Almerico Meomartini (an architect, archaeologist, and politician in Italy) excavated the area of the triumphal arch, the Arch of Trajan.
Among two obelisks, this is the one (in Piazza Papiniano), and another one is currently in Museo del Sannio di Benevento.
This obelisk was fragmented in 4 pieces when it was discovered. This was reassembled and then erected in Duomo in Benevento (Benevento Cathedral) in 1597, and then re-erected in Piazza Papiniano, where the obelisk currently stands.
Hieroglyphs are on all 4 sides of obelisk, and Greek and Latin inscriptions on the pedestal. It is said Jean-François Champollion (who deciphered the Rosetta Stone) did decipher the hieroglyphs of this obelisk. The Greek and Latin texts would probably be useful materials for him for research on hieroglyphs, because it was under development of hieroglyphs research at that time.
Although the different hieroglyphs are inscribed on each face, cartouche of Domitian are inscribed on all four faces. But the writing systems (of cartouche) are slightly different. The inscription on east side particularly remains clearly. On the other hand, the Greek inscription and Latin are heavily weathered, only last three lines were barely readable. Estimated Latin text is shown at right.
Although the Greek inscription is well-preserved, but the last portion is missing. Since I don't have a Greek knowledge, I couldn't read the Greek text.

Notes For Pictures:
When I visited here in August 2014, most shops excluding restaurants were closed due to the summer vacation season, and many companies were off work. Hence the town of Benevento was quiet. Particularly just after noon, it looked like a "ghost town" because nobody was on the street.

South Side

West Side

North Side

East Side

August 13, 2014    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)

Copyright Hiroyuki Nagase nagase@obelisk.org and Shoji Okamoto okamoto@obelisk.org