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Read, Watch and Listen

Being Tested: The Stoning of the Pillars

Having collected pebbles at Muzdalifa overnight, pilgrims stone three jamarat (pillars) back at Mina. This cathartic ritual commemorates Ibrahim's physical actions in rejecting Satan's attempts to test him. In the 1970s a jamarat bridge was constructed to convey pilgrims to the pillars, a site notorious for stampedes. In 2004 the pillars were replaced by huge walls. However, as this photograph shows, following 300 deaths in 2006, an entirely new bridge and multi-storey system was introduced. British-Muslims report feeling much safer.

© Simon Martin Photography, 2009. Creative Commons licence – “CC-BY”

(Photo: Simon Keay/Portus Project)

Research Theme 2: The later 5th and the 6th c AD witnessed the gradual siltation of the outer Claudian basin, a contraction in the extent of the port, a transformation of the function of its buildings and in the volume and range of its traffic and cargo. In the 470s, the five buildings under study were enclosed within a defensive wall designed to protect the inner Trajanic basin from seaborne attack, possibly from Vandal pirates. Buildings 5 and 3 were systematically demolished in the mid to later 6th c, probably by the Byzantine authorities, and burials began to proliferate amongst the ruins.

The Musicians Journal, New Series 1 (April 1929)

This front-cover image entitled, “The Key To The Situation” directed musicians to an article advising them to join the Musical Performers Protection Association. However, the company was to fail in its objectives of collecting fees from recorded music. Nor did it reverse the takeover by sound films. Although too few talkies were produced in 1929-30 to fill cinemas’ programmes completely, the studios persuaded owners to meet the cost of conversion by focusing on the prospect of increased takings and cutting out musicians’ wages.

Serialisation and Self-Reflexivity

Nicola Streeten, Billy, Me & You (Brighton: Myriad Editions, 2011). Thirteen years after the death of her son the comics creator Nicola Streeten recounted her experience of loss and grief in Billy, Me & You. At the end of the narrative she reflects on how she came to write and draw the very graphic novel that readers are holding in their hands. As is often the case with graphic novels, Billy, Me & You did not first appear as an entire book: individual chapters were published separately in periodical form. Billy, Me & You © Nicola Streeten 2011

From Sacrifice to Charity: Eid al-Adha

Together with the shaving/cutting of pilgrims' hair, it is the qurbani or animal sacrifice that seals Hajj. Most restrictions associated with ihram now come to an end. ‘Eid al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice) is celebrated simultaneously in Makkah and across the Muslim world. It commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son, Isma‘il, in obedience to God. Today charities encourage British-Muslims to donate their qurbani offering to the poor world-wide. Here, an Islamic Relief shop in Bradford, promotes its campaign.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

(Photo: Simon Keay/Portus Project)

Research Theme 3: The large scale and complexity of the port infrastructure at Portus is best appreciated by remembering that by the early 2nd c AD it was the central node in what might term as a "port-system". Communication between Portus and Ostia and the commercial district of Rome, was articulated by a network of canals and the river Tiber itself. Our work has greatly increased understanding of a key part of this, the Isola Sacra, that lies between Portus and Ostia. It has revealed a massive new canal running south from the Fossa Traiana and parallel to the cemetery, field divisions, and warehouse complexes.

The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 2 (July 1929)

“Keep Blowing Boys.” This cover image introduced an article designed to raise players’ morale. The piece argued that the failings of talkies were so obtrusive that the fad could not last. For example, it alleged, someone other than the actor has to do the talking. For that reason the actor works with his or her back to camera to conceal the fact that the voice and the movement of the performer’s lips do not synchronise.

Romance

Posy Simmonds, True Love (London: Jonathan Cape, 1981). Already enjoying a successful career as a newspaper strip cartoonist, Posy Simmonds took on a new endeavour in True Love, a comics narrative published in its entirety as a one-off book. It took existing characters from Simmonds’s Guardian strip and wove them into a story of love and relationships. True Love illustrates how our ideas about romance are tangled up with their depiction in popular culture, and we regularly see the world via the reveries of the comics-reading character Janice Brady. True Love © 1981 Posy Simmonds

Souvenirs and Shared Blessings

Travelling material objects share the baraka (blessings) of the Holy Places. Perhaps the most significant of these is water from the well of Zamzam, which stands near the Ka’ba. Airlines currently allow each pilgrim to return home with up to 10 litres often in large, mass-produced plastic bottles like the one here at a mosque in Bury. Visitors may be invited to stand facing Makkah and drink the Zamzam from special cups, while listening to stories about its curative properties.

© Seán McLoughlin, 2015. Creative Commons licence - “CC-BY”

(Photo: Penny Copeland/ Portus Project)

Research Theme 5: Portus' primary role was to supply the 800,000 inhabitants of Rome with foodstuffs and the other materials. It was also a hub for re-distributing imports from other Mediterranean ports and, to a lesser extent, exporting construction material and other products from the Tiber valley. Analyses of amphorae, table and cooking wares, bricks, decorative stone and carbonized seeds from our excavations has enabled us to trace changing commercial connections to known sources across the whole Mediterranean basin, underlining the particular importance of north Africa (ceramics) and the east Mediterranean (decorative stone).  Our work has also reveal the presence of Italian products ceramics, either for use in the port or for export.