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Black stone from Emessa

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Black stone from Emessa on a Roman coin
Black stone from Emessa on a Roman coin | Photo: Saperaud, GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Elagabalus was less than fourteen years old when he ascended the throne on May 16, 218 CE. Lost, he sought support from a god – El Gabal, whom he had served until recently. He brought from Emessa the black stone symbolizing Baal (most likely a piece of a meteorite; Herodian mentions that it “fell from heaven”) and made sacrifices before him, killing sheep and cows with his own hands.

After Elagabalus was killed, the sacred stone was sent back to Syria, where it was lost over the next several hundred years due to the fighting there. Interestingly, just when he disappeared in Syria, a short time after that, a black stone suddenly appeared among the Arab tribes, now being a sacred object of the followers of Islam. It is very possible that this is exactly the same stone.

  • Herodian, Roman History

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