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Archaeoacoustic analysis in the imperial palace Felix Romuliana in Eastern Serbia

TAG: pyramid, Rtanj, electromagnetic waves, ultrasound, infrasound, voice pyramid, Felix Romuliana, Gamzigrad, Zaječar, SBRG, SB Research Group

In November 2013, our research group and the Museum of Zaječar (Serbia) began a collaboration. Members of SBRG travelled close to the village of Gamzigrad to study the archaeoacoustic phenomena at the Roman imperial palace Felix Romuliana.

Felix Romuliana was built at the end of the third century AD by Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximus , emperor of the Tetrarchy, who ruled the empire from 305 to 311 AD. It was once part of the ancient Dacia and is situated in the southeast of Serbia, nestled amongst the hills a few kilometers from the town of Zaječar.

"Romuliana" comes from the name of the mother of the emperor, Romula, who lived there until the end of her life.  According to the contemporary Roman historian Lattantius, Romuliana was a priestess of the cult of Cybele (the Great Mother) practising their rites at Felix Romuliana.


Fig. 1 – The East Gate of the imperial palace Felix Romuliana


Fig. 2 – Some striking images of the interior of the imperial palace Felix Romuliana


Archeoacoustic analysis was carried out in the temple of Cybele inside the palace where it is belived Romula performed many sacrifices. Romula lived in the palace continuously, while her son the emperor Gaius Galerius was rarely present. Every corner of this country palace seems to have been built for a magical or ritual function as its construction has not been built for military defense.
A lot of bulls were sacrificed in front of the temple on a big stone in public view, however in a hidden part of the temple it is believed sacrificial ritual were made privately, something not in line with the Roman tradition.

Romula was devoted to the ‘Gods of the Mountain’ who were not the traditional Roman Gods, (Lattantius) and the blood flowed freely during her rituals. There is a sort of channel in the most hidden part of the temple where the blood of the victims could flow. During our studies we placed our microphones in this place where there are also powerful vibrations caused by the movement of groundwater. These vibrations had a direct effect on the psyche of people present at these bloody rituals, like standing in the belly of Mother Earth.

But who were these ancient gods? But Lattantius, historian of the time, only speaks about mysterious and harmful rituals by Romula and her acolytes. The place is really impressive and thanks to our collaboration with the local museum and archaeologists we are conducting research from a broader perspective.


Fig. 3 – The physics researcher S. Mizdrak (in the centre) during an interview by the local television inside the palace Felix Romuliana


Georadar images taken by a German research team, show the palace was built on a more ancient settlement extending beyond the palace walls. Images reveal a settlement to the north of the palace which has been buried, this includes a stone circle.

One mile to the East lies Magura hill on top of which are two tumuli, dedicated to Romuliana and Gaius Galerius.  Although this site possess significant natural phenomena that could well explain the sanctity of the place for thousands of years (the tumuli were built over a necropolis dating back to 3,500 BC. It is full of vibrational energy tuned to around 18 - 20Hz, the beta brainwave state (reference: Frederick et al., 1999).


Fig. 4 – The top of Magura hill, where it is possible to see the huge tumuli of  Romula and her son, the emperor Gaius Galerius


Fig. 5 – The model of the tumula of Romula and Gaius Galerius with their two mausoleums places to the east (from Museum of Zaječar)


Fig. 6 – Most of our recordings on Magura hill were taken inside the ruins of the Mausoleum of Galerius to avoid collecting spurious sounds or being disturbed by the wind


Fig. 7 – The search for ultrasounds inside the building with the Pettersson ultrasound detector did not find any ultrasounds


Romuliana, devotee of a religion that traces its rituals to prehistoric times,  influenced the decision of where to build the palace. Not because it was the place where the emperor was born, as some people assert without any evidence, but because this location was considered "magic" since ancient times. And the extraordinary influence of Romuliana on Gaius Galerius is well known and attested by contemporary historians.

The site therefore undoubtedly lends itself to a study of archaeoacoustics. For now we have fully confirmed the observations made previously in August of 2013, albeit with less accuracy of this time.

Some features of the Palace of Galerius have some peculiarities that seem to fall outside of ordinary civil or military Roman architecture and  Roman religious culture, instead having an esoteric function in esoteric/magical key. For example, the temple dedicated to Cybele, placed in the north-east side of the palace and enclosed to form an independent and reserved space for esoteric rites by Romula, distorts the normal square shape plan of the building.



Fig. 8 Above: view from the sky of the imperial palace (from UNESCO). The Temple of Cybele is circled in red. Below: the map of the building that shows the significant distortion of the square shape of the palace with modifications to this angle near the temple (from Museum of Zaječar)


In this area we found sounds that might explain why Cybele temple is the only place within the palace not oriented along the east-west axis of the building as in the Roman tradition. The palace is developed along the so-called "decumanus" the only way of communication clearly expressed. It appears to be influenced by the contours of the ground, however this does not explain the different orientation of the temple of Cybele which does not have the size that would require a different position in the general layout of the building. In contrast, the larger temple dedicated to Jupiter, is oriented along the east-west axis, as in the Roman tradition.


Fig. 9 - The “decumanus” with a perfect orientation along the East–West axis


We tried to emulate the methods the soothsayers of that time (the àuguri) who perceived the geomagnetic anomalies from underground using a " lituum", (a rod used by Roman dowsers as described by the historians of the period). The checks made with the help of a dowser seemed to be similar to the data obtained using our ultra-sensitive microphones. This confirms the possibility that the àuguri who were responsible for the orientation of the temple, were able to clearly perceive the low-frequency vibrations emanating from underground through their vibration receptors, (called Meissner 's receptors, which are found in the human skin, they are more efficient in people who are sensitive). These vibrations can also be felt by placing our ear to the ground close to where they eminate from to detect the same vibrations (through bone transmission).


Fig. 10 – The receptors (corpuscles) of Meissner in the skin, which are able to perceive low frequencies that the ear is not able to grasp (image from Wikipedia)


There is a variation of sounds coming from under the earth which follow the orientation of the temple (which is not perfectly oriented to the east, but is offset approximately 10 degree to the south).
We placed the microphones in the sacrificial pit of the temple, here is one of the sound files captures (to hear this, you need high-fidelity headphones with a large component of low frequencies otherwise you can not hear anything).

This structure includes a pit surrounded by bricks reliably identified as a "fossa sanguinis" (bloody pit): the space within which the worshipers of Cybele carried out the rite of "Taurobolium". During this cermony, the faithful stood below while above there was a priest  standing on a sturdy grille where a bull was sacrificed. The worshiper would then be bathed in the blood of the bull. It was believed that this was a rite of extraordinary power conducted in connection with the imperial cult. But here in Cybele’s Temple there is a distortion, because the “fossa sanguinis” is too small to accommodate a bull above us, this would have been sacrificed outside. Probably in these rites something else was sacrificed else and it was not certainly a chicken.

The sound coming from the basement has a continous frequency of 18-20 Hz, which has the possibility to entrain the psyche of those people present.  Creating  an atmosphere of excitement, while immersed in the darkness of the womb of the Great Mother, or rather inside the “fossa sanguinis”.

No similar sounds were found in the perimeter of the building, only some vibrations in the area of the former public baths, likely to result from the thermal water source which evidently once flowed into this structure.


Fig. 11 – We searched for sound frequencies in several locations within the perimeter of the building and even in a pond outside the perimeter without finding anything similar to those frequencies found in the temple of Cybele


In the picture below the remains of the pit at the bottom of the sacrificial part of the temple.


Fig. 12 – The "fossa sanguinis" (pit of blood) in the temple of Cybele


Fig. 13 – Here is the drain of blood probably which was very abundant seen the diameter


What kind of gods were those to whom Romula was inspired? What rituals were imposed? We can not know with any certainty, but you can see in the graph below the sounds we found in the sacrificial pit. These low frequencies and infrasounds contributed to a general atmosphere of excitement in a temple whose acoustical properties would have been at the very least at the same level as that of other buildings that remain standing in the palace today.
For an overview of the difference of vibrations which can be perceived in the temple of Cybele, or outside of this, it is useful to take a look at the graphic chart of the recordings made there.


Fig. 14 – Graphs of the recordings made in and around the Temple of Cybele. Above: there is a strong peak of low frequencies and infrasounds inside the "fossa sanguinis ". Below: here is the graphic that can be detected outside the temple on the stone where the bulls were sacrificed. As you can see there are no particular sounds


As you can see, there are no peaks outside of the temple of Cybele and the graph looks flat, also near the sacrifice stone positioned right in front of the temple at a distance of almost fifteen meters . The peak visible at the end of the curve is only an artifact imposed by the microphones which become unreliable over 60.000Hz .

Because this line of low frequencies follows perfectly the direction of the bottom of the temple and the orientation of the pit of sacrifice (fossa sanguinis) it is possible to say this is the reason for which the temple was built there and with the anomalous orientation. Romula probably wanted the maximum effect in the temple of the vibration from the subsoil.


Fig. 15 – In the images you can see what remains of the temple of Cybele today: only the base of the building


Fig. 16 – And this is the outside stone on which the bulls were sacrificed in front of the public


The study is already at an advanced stage and in the coming months, we will publish the preliminary results of the collaboration between our research group and the Museum of Zaječar.


Fig. 17 – The director of the Museum of Zaječar (from behind), Bora Dimitrijević, observing our measurements


A sincere thanks to the Director of the Museum of Zaječar, Bora Dimitrijević, to whom we extend our appreciation and to Maja Živić and Adrijana Maksimović who helped us obtain our measurements.

Paolo Debertolis, Nina Earl – December 4, 2013



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