Magna Mater Project
Honouring the Megalesia Ludi, they singled out, among others, the temple of the Goddess on the Palatine Hill of Rome, as a monument that Nova Roma could somehow adopt. They then began a project with the goal of restoration of the temple, and sought the collaboration of interested propraetors, former magistrates, priests and citizens.
A Joint Declaration was signed by those who supported the project: http://italia.novaroma.org/cohorsaedilis/ludi/templemagnamater.htm
The project continued under F. Apulus Caesar's Aedileship during this year, and he involved several citizens: Manius Constantinus Serapio, Marcus Iulius Perusianus, Sacredos Magna Mater Vopisca Iulia Cocceia, Gaius Curius Saturninus, Aurelia Iulia Pulchra, and Lucius Iulius Sulla.
Their first goal was to try to restore part of the Temple, but it was soon realized that this kind of action would be very expensive, and absolutely out of reach with current NR financial means. M. Iulius Perusianus wrote two reports (the first being as Scribae Ad Historiam Provinciae Italiae M. Octavio L. Sulla (II) cos. ‡ MMDCCLV a.u.c.) about the history of the cult, the history of the temple, the current archeological situation of the Temple and the connections established with key persons in Rome.
Report II: "The Sanctuary of the Magna Mater"
He first met with the Sovrintedenza of Rome, thereby obtaining good collaboration with the local public institution whch manages the economic and beaurocratic business of the Palatine. At the same time, M. Constantius Serapio and C. Fabius Quintilianus proposed to the Nova Roma Senate a new feature for the Curule Aedile, which was the possibility of raising donations for a detailed project, by way of a Nova Roma bank account, under the authorization and control of the Senate.
Approval of the Aedilian Fund: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nova-Roma/message/13411
The Sovrintedenza of Rome provided the name of the Director the Archeological Areas of the Palatine, D.ssa Irene Iacopi, who informed us that the University "La Sapienza" of Rome is directing the South West Archeological Park, where the Magna Mater temple stands. Scriba Perusianus met the Director of Staff working on this side of the Palatine, Professor Patrizio Pensabene, one of the most important scholars of the Palatine and of the Magna Mater. He has 25 years of excavation involvement on the hill to his credit.
The area is now closed to the public, being under a massive restoration, but Professor Pensabene allowed us to enter this restricted area to check the status of the Temple, visit other sites (Clivus Victoriae and Romulean huts) and take some unofficial photos. We presented this data and photos during the International Nova Roma Rally in Bologna to the Senior Consul Caeso Fabius Quintilianus.
The most important development, at that time, is that close collaboration was obtained with Professor Pensabene and his assistant, Doc. Alessandro D'Alessio. Several suggestions were recieved regarding the goals of the project.
At the end of the year, the Senate approved Senior Curule Aedile Franciscus Apulus Caesar's proposal to use the Aedilician Fund to raise the donations for this project.
The text of the MM project website (later approved): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Nova-Roma/message18177
Fr. Apulo C. Laenate cos. ‡ MMDCCLVIII a.u.c.
Magna Mater Project website is created at http://www.magnamaterproject.org/ .
The archeological area where the Temple stands is restricted but we may have unofficial admission authorization by Prof. Pensabene, though we seek a more official permission to visit the area from the Sovrintedenza Archeological of Rome.
We have all the information about the history of the building and some maps about it. We will continue to look for further information about the Cult of Magna Mater. As said before, it's quite clear that it is not possible to restore the Temple itself, because its structural platform is nowadays covered by a tree growth known as Little Wood, which is in itself protected as an historical structure, and is also currently conserved for environmental reasons. However, in future it will be possible to restore some of the outer parts of the building or material found there. These restorations have huge costs. We are encouraged, nonetheless, in that we have established a good rapport with the university, but plans must be well detailed.
We are working in hope of attaining Official Patronage of the University: in this way we could promote the project (and Nova Roma) to other universities in the world, thus creating a network. The collaboration with the University of Rome give us an important credit, as does access to the closed archeological area and current information about the Temple.
What is the purpose of the Magna Mater Project?
The ultimate goal is the restoration of the temple, but this is honestly very long term, especially when one takes into account our current financial situation. But even having money, there are several other small, but necessary steps which are already under development to 'restore' the temple, in a wider significance of the meaning. To restore it also means to 'valorize' the sancturary, its historical and archaeological aspects, the significance of the cult of the Magna Mater. Put another way, 'enhancing' would be perhaps a better term for these first steps of the Project. Periodically, a bulletin such as this report is published to keep the citizenry appraised of project developments.
How are the donations from Nova Roma ustilized in the Magna Mater Project?
Consider this list of things to do in the near future (as part of the MM project):
- i. official website
- ii. material to promote this project (leaflets publications, DVD with topographical introduction to the location, archaeological remains and evidences, history of the Sanctuary of the Cult of Cybele in Rome
- iii. a six-month scholarship for a student of the University of Rome
- iv. multimedia CD Rom
What is the return on this investment? Why is the Magna Mater Project so important?
It is important because it permits Nova Roma to spread its name into the academic world, and provides the mechanism by which we may be entitled to manage Roman monuments. It's an opportunity to make our name known in the macronational, physical world, after having done so much in the virtual, electronic world.
Will Nova Roma ever be allowed to hold ritual there to Magna Mater?
A certain number of Nove Roma citizens were able to visit the proximity of the temple this past April, courtesy of a special pass by the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma (the entire south-west side of the Palatine, the Germalus, has been closed for the past 5-7 years). We were accompanied by a guardian for almost the entire visit, and at our tour of the house of Augustus, I guess a very simple rite could have been held. I believe that a longer than 5 minute ceremony, with an attendance of more than 10-15 people, would hardly be tolerated. I am not talking about 'religious' intolerance; it is just a question of security. Soprintendenza is working in the Germalus areas, and it is not easy to attain permission to enter. Honestly, I think to have a ritual there is currently quite impossible. Mind you, I am only speaking of what I foresee during my Aedileship. (M. Iulius Perusianus)
What historical importance do the trees currently growing on top of the Magna Mater sanctuary hold? Why are they more historically important than then restoration of one of the more important temple sites of Roma?
I have asked this of the manager of the Palatine ruins. Currently, it is deemed a useless effort to cut these environmentally and historically protected trees, as the only part of the structure remaining is the basement of the temple (not considering the short remains of a couple of columns). We won't have a better view of the bricks with the presence of these trees, which have been there for some centuries. The general guidelines of the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma is to maintain the monuments as they are, unless there is original material of the structure to position in their respective places. And, even when these materials are found, it takes a lot of time to study exactly where they fit. It is a matter of academic official opinion that not a single reconstruction effort can be made without appropriate archaeological evidence to support such action. (Marcus Iulius Perusianus)