by Patrick S. Baker
Princeps Nonus Volusenus Vala,
Pro-Aedile of Excavations,
Collegium of History, Rome
Greetings with All Deference
I, Claudius Cantius Viator, have been directed by my magister, Sextus Seius Pennus, Master of Excavations in the Old East, to provide you a brief report on the latest and most unusual findings from one particular excavation. Since, Princeps, you are an expert on the pre-Discovery barbarian cultures of the Nova Terra across the Ocean-Sea, and I am unaware how deep your knowledge of the Old East of the First Republic goes, my apologies if I cover information of which you are already cognizant.
For the previous five seasons I and my team have been exhuming the city of Aelia Capitolina which was destroyed after a siege during the Third Roman-Sassanid War (Years of the City 1954 – 1961). Aelia Capitolina was the first Roman city that had its walls destroyed by Sassanid fiery weaponry, although surely not the last.
Our goal was to dig below the Roman city, founded circa 890 Y.C. by Emperor Hadrian of the First Empire, into the First Republic city, if able. Some sources report that the city, then called Hierosolymum, was the main town of many sects of monotheists and the foremost of those cults, called the Iudaeum, was often in revolt against the First Empire.
After five seasons, and within a layer of destruction we have dated to 823 Y.C., which was caused when the city was destroyed after another of the rebellions by the Iudaeum, we discovered an absolute trove of documents, all in excellent condition, sealed in a vault within what we came to identify as the primary First Empire base in the city, the Fortress Antonia. Our documents expert, Gallio Caeparius Indus, quickly identified the owner of the collection as Legate Marcus Antonius Julianus, who governed the province as procurator from 819 Y.C. to 823 Y.C. (a brief biography and his service record is attached). Further, we have one written reference to Julianus as the author of a history of the Iudaeam. Their main cultic center was adjacent to the Fortress Antonia, which may have fired the interest of the legate in writing such a history. There is little doubt that the volumes we found were the legate’s research library for his opus. (A complete inventory of the documents is also attached).
Most interestingly, the collection included a number of texts that appear to be the sole surviving copy of the said document. Several have no listing in the definitive Codex Libri Antiquorum. Among these unlisted documents are letters written in Greek, from a Little Saul of Tarsus, to various monotheistic cult communities around Our Sea, including one in Rome. This cult, called the Way, worshipped a god, or demi-god called the “Anointed One”. Another document, also written in Greek, is a loosely woven biography of a rebel magician who was crucified in 786 Y.C. on the orders of Pontius Pilate, Prefect of the province from 779 Y.C. to 789 Y.C.. The reason these documents are of special interest is they appear to reference the same person described in a report that the Prefect Pilate wrote to Emperor Tiberius Caesar. The two curious things regarding all of these are: First, is that this official report does not appear in any archive in the City and Pilate appeared to have a long and familiar relationship with this magician and rebel, who was named Joshua, son of Joseph, and was also this “Anointed One” adored by the cultic communities referenced in the letters of the Little Saul of Tarsus.
Princeps, my team’s ancient religions specialist, Aulus Blandius Geta, informs me that this cult of the Way was vile in the extreme; eating human flesh and drinking human blood in foul ceremonies, as well as practicing incestuous marriage and other sexual perversions. Further, the First Empire went to some efforts to suppress the Way and the Iudaeum after their revolt. Geta also informs me that the two suppressed cults somehow continue into this day and are even growing in popularity despite being subject to proscription by the Magistratium of the Pontifax.
All of this, brings forth the questions as to why a library of texts would be written regarding an executed criminal dissident from a minor religious sect on the edge of the First Empire? How this crucified criminal, Joshua Bar Joseph, became the so-called “Anointed One” and the founder of the foul sect of the Way? And why a legate and procurator such as Marcus Antonius Julianus would have such interest in this minor and suppressed cult? Answers to these questions will hopefully yield to further investigations.
Very Respectfully, in Service to the Caesar
Claudius Cantius Viator
Former Questor Legio XII Victrix
Sub-magister of excavations Syria Palaestina
Submitted in the Year of the City 2773
Patrick S. Baker is a U.S. Army Veteran, and a retired Department of Defense employee. He holds Bachelor degrees in History and Political Science and a Masters in European History. He has been writing professionally since 2013. His nonfiction has appeared in New Myths. His fiction has appeared in Astounding Frontiers and Broadswords and Blasters Magazine as well as the After Avalon and Uncommon Minds anthologies. In his spare time, he plays golf, reads, works out, and enjoys life with his wife, dog, and two cats.
Is history an unchanging and fixed set of events; driven by fate, destiny, or the plan of God? If so, where does free will come into it? Are humans all just “time’s puppets”? Or else, does free will exist in an absolute sense and history propelled forward by the billions and billions of decisions humans, famous and humble, make every day? Or is there a middle course to the flow of human events, where some occurrences are indeed fixed, like the birth of Christ and the founding of Christianity, and how humans respond to such idée fixe of the mind of God where free will is given reign?