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#21 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 1310 PM

 

Unless immortality also grants Masclus improved memory circuits, within 100 years he would forget most of the Latin save very basics. My grandparent, a native Saami speaker, forgot much of it after decades of living amongst Finnish speakers.

 

I was compelled to learn Latin at school and was fairly decent at it. I can't remember a bloody word of it now.

 

A common problem, even back then.....

 

 

Meanwhile Mary Beard is having to dodge some unjustified pilum:

 

http://www.abc.net.a...ace-row/8780634

 

A debate about ethnic diversity in the Roman Empire boiled over into a bitter dispute that saw classical scholar, author and TV presenter Mary Beard subjected to days of "nasty" attacks on social media.

 

 

It all started with a seemingly harmless BBC cartoon intended to depict a family in Roman Britain.

DFk4UBtXUAAlyVD.jpg

 

 

 

Alt-right commentator Paul Joseph Watson posted the cartoon and questioned its historical accuracy.

 

 

"Thank God the BBC is portraying Roman Britain as ethnically diverse. I mean, who cares about historical accuracy, right?" Mr Watson wrote.

Professor Beard, an expert on Roman history, and others including historian Mike Stuchbery, piped up to say they believed the depiction to be relatively accurate.

Professor Beard cited the case of Quintus Lollius Urbicus, who was born in what is now Algeria and went on to become governor of Britain.

It was then that a barrage of abuse followed, Professor Beard said in a blog post titled Roman Britain in Black and White.

She said she had been the target of a "torrent of aggressive insults, on everything from my historical competence and elitist ivory tower viewpoint to my age, shape and gender (batty old broad, obese, etc etc)".

 

 

"The cumulative effect was just nasty."

 

 

Professor Beard said she had reported some tweets but would not block people on social media.

"It doesn't stop them tweeting, it only means that you don't see it, and it feels to me like leaving the bullies in charge of the playground."

"It's rather too much like what women have been advised to do for centuries. Don't answer back, and just turn away."

Some of the strongest criticisms aimed at Professor Beard came from essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb who also went beyond Twitter and its 140 character restriction to unpack his perspective on the debate, in a post titled Something is Broken in the UK Intellectual Sphere.

Professor Beard said the insults were balanced out by support from others.

"It also feels very sad to me that we cannot have a reasonable discussion on such a topic as the cultural ethnic composition of Roman Britain without resorting to unnecessary insult, abuse, misogyny and language of war not debate (and that includes one senior academic)," she wrote.

"It's a bit of a bleak outlook for how we might talk about modern ethnic diversity."

You know, I loathe political correctness as much as the next person. But the truth is, those criticizing Mary Beard (whom from her documentaries strikes me as exceptionally well informed on the Roman Empire) would do well to recognize that among those that were stationed, lived, settled and ultimately died by Hadrians wall included a number of Soldiers from Assyria, whom must have looked comparably to how Syrians and Iraqi's look now. I think the scrolls already mentioned also support that view, as does the gravestones. Maybe they intermarried, maybe they didnt. There seems no reason to assume they did not as they settled there.

 

That is not saying that historical reconstructions do not have a large degree of contemporary perspective in them. I recall a really a very good BBC documentary showing how historical drama's have always been beset by this degree of reinvention. There was a BBC drama in the 1970s that showed Anglo Saxon women growing up under the Roman Empire expressing views far closer to that of contemporary feminists of the 1970's than would have been likely in reality. Still, when you read that Romans seem to have been able in many cases to take slaves as wives (and at least in some cases seem to have been terribly fond of them by the size of the tombs they set up) then its pretty arrogant to assume there was not interracial relationships occurring.

 

There tends to be an assumption in the UK that Britain was entirely white up till about 1955. I can recall my surprise at finding a photograph of  my local railway station sometime between 1912 and 1922, and noting the porter was Black. Im sure it wasn't common, but that didnt mean it didnt happen either.

 

Britain has always been a bastard nation. Im not sure why we are always in denial about it.



#22 DougRichards

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 1632 PM

 

That is not saying that historical reconstructions do not have a large degree of contemporary perspective in them. I recall a really a very good BBC documentary showing how historical drama's have always been beset by this degree of reinvention. There was a BBC drama in the 1970s that showed Anglo Saxon women growing up under the Roman Empire expressing views far closer to that of contemporary feminists of the 1970's than would have been likely in reality. Still, when you read that Romans seem to have been able in many cases to take slaves as wives (and at least in some cases seem to have been terribly fond of them by the size of the tombs they set up) then its pretty arrogant to assume there was not interracial relationships occurring.

 

There tends to be an assumption in the UK that Britain was entirely white up till about 1955. I can recall my surprise at finding a photograph of  my local railway station sometime between 1912 and 1922, and noting the porter was Black. Im sure it wasn't common, but that didnt mean it didnt happen either.

 

Britain has always been a bastard nation. Im not sure why we are always in denial about it.

 

 

 

Further back than 1912

 

http://www.dailymail...-year-1190.html

 

He was an African who had a strong jaw and a bad back... So what was he doing in Ipswich in the year 1190?

To me, as an anatomist and forensic anthropologist, he was a man in intractable pain  -  probably incontinent and most likely paralysed in both legs.

To Caroline he was a man with a strong jaw-line and a face full of character.

To Wolfram he was a set of intriguing chemical ratios that strongly suggested his North African birth origin. But to historian Jim, he was a revelation.

Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 16th Century there are few verifiable records of Africans in England, and here was a black man buried in a medieval Christian friary in Suffolk. 

 

This man was so very many things to different people and without the focus of an integrated team, you can miss what may turn out to be a pivotal moment of discovery.

Along with two colleagues from Dundee University  -  facial reconstruction expert Dr Caroline Wilkinson and bone isotope analyst Dr Wolfram Meier-Augenstein  -  I had spent nearly five months recording a four-part television series for the BBC.

We would start each case with an often rather uninspiring box of bones but by the end of our investigation we had uncovered a recognisable person, delved into their life and their death, and come face-to-face with how they would have looked.

And with the expertise of historians and archaeologists, such as University of London medieval historian and migration expert Professor Jim Bolton, we could try to make some sense of the importance and relevance of our findings.

Our African man was excavated from the burial ground of a friary in Ipswich. This incontrovertible statement generates a significant number of questions: why was an African man in Ipswich in medieval times?

What was he doing there? How did he get there? Where did he come from? Why was he buried in the cemetery of a friary? What did he look like? How did he die?

But these are the same questions that would form the basis of a modern-day forensic investigation into an unidentified corpse. The difference was that this man had been dead for 800 years.

The challenge here was to use our modern investigative practices and scientific techniques to see just how deep we could delve into this historical cold case.

While the time period may pose its own challenges, the processes would be the same as if he had died only months ago.

Looking at the chemical composition of the man's bones and teeth using stable isotope analysis told us that he had been born in North Africa. 


This 'chemical signature' is formed from everything we ingest  -  what we drink and eat becomes part of us and shows up in parts of our body, such as bones and teeth.

This man's chemical signature showed the diet in his first years was typical of a North African environment at the time  -  a good balance of fish, meat and vegetables.

Radiocarbon dating of the man's thigh bone told us that he died between 1190 and 1300, and the anthropology of his skull told us he had African traits, but they were not sub-Saharan in origin but those of someone from North Africa.

Independent of the stable isotope analysis and skull shape, the man's DNA also located him as coming from North Africa.

Small areas of the double helix in his DNA were consistent with an ethnic origin from that region of the world, or even further east towards the eastern border of the Mediterranean.

To have these different areas of science all independently confirming the same region of the world for his place of origin is compelling evidence of hi s ancestry.

However, it was a revelation for the historians  -  incontrovertible proof of African migration into England in the medieval times.

While he wouldn't have had the very dark skin of the sub-Saharan African, his skin colour would have been more like a modern Moroccan.

He would certainly have stood out in 13th Century Britain, where virtually everyone else would have been light-skinned.

The man's bones also told us that he was not undernourished and ate a good, healthy, balanced diet.

They told us he was a well-built, middle-aged man with strong muscles who was unlikely to have been a slave.

Where muscles join bone they leave an imprint, and the stronger the muscle the bigger the imprint.

But this man had a spinal abscess that was slowly building up pressure on his spinal cord. The first thing he would have noticed from this would have been the pain in his back and in his legs.

Then there would have been the inconvenience and social unacceptance of loss of control of the bladder and possibly the bowel. Paralysis in his legs would follow, and ultimately his confinement to bed.

We can also tell from the bones that he did not have a long illness  -  it was months rather than years  -  as there is no evidence of bone loss. And the abscess could have begun as nothing more than a simple infection for which these days we would take penicillin.

The infection could have been caused by something as minor as a graze to the skin or an ingrowing hair in his lower back. 

In medieval England the only hope this man had for pain relief and medical care in his final days would have been from the religious establishments who tended the medicinal herb gardens and had some quite sophisticated and successful methods of easing pain.

The friars would have taken him into their infirmary as his condition declined and he probably paid for his ministrations as they nursed him towards his death.

For the man to be buried within the friary, he must have been a Christian. Had he converted religion? Coming from North Africa in medieval times, he would have been born a Muslim.

Did this explain his migration from his homeland to Ipswich? Were we looking at migration following the Crusades?

Unfortunately these are questions we can never realistically hope to answer to the level of courtroom certainty and we can only surmise, but the evidence is compelling.

What we can deduce further about this man from the evidence is that he was probably a trader. Ipswich was a port and it is likely that, given his foreign birth, he was involved in the shipping of materials or minerals of some sort.

The Crusades had sent Christian men from England to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslims, but one of the results of this was that more trade routes were opened up with the Muslim-dominated Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.

This man's presence in Ipswich could well have been as a consequence of that. This man was not poor  -  a poor man would never have been buried in a single grave in an important part of the friary, as he was.

The poor would have been buried in common graves.

And it is most likely that he would have had to pay for his treatment at the friary.

Sometimes wealthier people at the time would actually invest in a local friary in the knowledge that the friary would look after them when they fell ill and bury them when they died.

These days we would go into a hospice for such treatment  -  in medieval times the equivalent was a friary. It offered an early form of palliative care.

Forensic investigations progress under strict guidelines that fulfill the requirements of our judicial system.

But working with archaeological remains gave us an unexpected freedom to explore avenues of investigation not normally addressed by our techniques and our expertise, and opened a window into a long-past era for which we were perhaps unprepared.



#23 Tim Sielbeck

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Posted 07 August 2017 - 2017 PM

Being from north Africa does not necessarily equate to being "black."



#24 Ivanhoe

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 0036 AM

You know, I loathe political correctness as much as the next person. But the truth is, those criticizing Mary Beard (whom from her documentaries strikes me as exceptionally well informed on the Roman Empire) would do well to recognize that among those that were stationed, lived, settled and ultimately died by Hadrians wall included a number of Soldiers from Assyria, whom must have looked comparably to how Syrians and Iraqi's look now. I think the scrolls already mentioned also support that view, as does the gravestones. Maybe they intermarried, maybe they didnt. There seems no reason to assume they did not as they settled there.


 https://en.wikipedia...Roman_province)
 
Perhaps more like Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Iranians, but generally of the Mediterranean look one might assume.

 

However, the initial fray was because of a cartoon that presented a Roman of SSA appearance who was subsequently described as "typical." While there almost had to be some Romans of SSA ancestry, percentagewise I'll remain skeptical until DNA markers show that there were statistically significant numbers of SSA folks in Roman Britain.
 
But in that timeframe, its not intermarriage, its the oldest story in the book; camp followers.
 



#25 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 0157 AM

 

You know, I loathe political correctness as much as the next person. But the truth is, those criticizing Mary Beard (whom from her documentaries strikes me as exceptionally well informed on the Roman Empire) would do well to recognize that among those that were stationed, lived, settled and ultimately died by Hadrians wall included a number of Soldiers from Assyria, whom must have looked comparably to how Syrians and Iraqi's look now. I think the scrolls already mentioned also support that view, as does the gravestones. Maybe they intermarried, maybe they didnt. There seems no reason to assume they did not as they settled there.


 https://en.wikipedia...Roman_province)
 
Perhaps more like Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Iranians, but generally of the Mediterranean look one might assume.

 

However, the initial fray was because of a cartoon that presented a Roman of SSA appearance who was subsequently described as "typical." While there almost had to be some Romans of SSA ancestry, percentagewise I'll remain skeptical until DNA markers show that there were statistically significant numbers of SSA folks in Roman Britain.
 
But in that timeframe, its not intermarriage, its the oldest story in the book; camp followers.
 

 

Yes indeed. And considering how many different races were in the Roman Army, the effect must have been quite considerable. I mean, squaddies will be squaddies, particularly if they have like 6 months pay to spend.



#26 DougRichards

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 0506 AM

 

You know, I loathe political correctness as much as the next person. But the truth is, those criticizing Mary Beard (whom from her documentaries strikes me as exceptionally well informed on the Roman Empire) would do well to recognize that among those that were stationed, lived, settled and ultimately died by Hadrians wall included a number of Soldiers from Assyria, whom must have looked comparably to how Syrians and Iraqi's look now. I think the scrolls already mentioned also support that view, as does the gravestones. Maybe they intermarried, maybe they didnt. There seems no reason to assume they did not as they settled there.


 https://en.wikipedia...Roman_province)
 
Perhaps more like Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Iranians, but generally of the Mediterranean look one might assume.

 

However, the initial fray was because of a cartoon that presented a Roman of SSA appearance who was subsequently described as "typical." While there almost had to be some Romans of SSA ancestry, percentagewise I'll remain skeptical until DNA markers show that there were statistically significant numbers of SSA folks in Roman Britain.
 
But in that timeframe, its not intermarriage, its the oldest story in the book; camp followers.
 

 

 

This casts some further light perhaps:

 

http://www.abc.net.a...yptians/8572076

 

===================================================

 

Mummies from ancient Egypt have revealed another secret — some of them share very little of the sub-Saharan African ancestry that dominates the genetic heritage of modern Egyptians.

 

The discovery, published today in Nature Communications, suggests the African heritage evident in modern Egyptian populations may have been the result of the slave trade down the Nile in the past 1,500 years.

Researchers used modern genetic analysis techniques to study the genomes of 93 mummies that lived between 1300 BC — the late New Kingdom Period — and around 30 BC during the time of the Romans.

The mummies were buried at Abusir el-Meleq, which was an important religious and trading centre.

 

"One of the questions that motivated us for our study is trying to find out when Egypt was conquered by the Greeks or Alexander the Great or by the Nubians or by the Romans, and did that actually have an impact on the population?" said archaeogeneticist Professor Johannes Krause, from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.

It's a question that is difficult to answer using artefacts and historical records, so Professor Krause and his colleagues decided to look in preserved genetic material.

They took samples of biological material from the bones and teeth of the mummies, and extracted the DNA using sequencing techniques that also allow them to verify the genetic material was indeed ancient, and not the result of modern contamination.

They then compared the genomes of these ancient Egyptians with data from the genome of modern Egyptians.

Their results were the opposite of what they were expecting to find, Professor Krause said.

 

"They have these closest genetic links to the fertile crescent and the eastern populations of what's now Israel, but if they came from there or if they just evolved with gene flow all the time in this region, we cannot really say."

They also saw a clear genetic continuity right across the 1300-year time period of the studied mummies, despite the fact that over that time course Egypt was invaded by the Greeks, the Romans and Nubians.

"We don't really see that there is a lot of genetic turnover when all those foreign invaders came, so they don't seem to have an impact on the normal population of Egypt," Professor Krause said.

"It turns around some of the assumptions that people had on Egyptians' history."

 

And yet, at some point in the past 1,500 years, there has been a major addition of sub-Saharan genetic material — largely West-African Yoruba — into Egypt's population.

Unfortunately, there isn't much archaeological information from Egypt that covers this medieval period, Professor Strause said.

"In fact, we have sometimes better historical records from the Roman or the ancient Egyptian time than we have from the medieval time in Egypt," he said.

But there is evidence of an active slave trade that reached its peak in the 19th century, and which was responsible for the transportation of millions of slaves from sub-Saharan Africa to Northern Africa and Egypt.

Modern techniques key to unravelling the past

Even though some of the earliest work on ancient DNA was done using Egyptian mummies, Professor Krause said this is first time their genetic material has been analysed using such modern techniques.

Previous attempts to do this sort of research were thwarted by contaminated samples, and the difficulties in extracting viable DNA from soft tissue such as muscles.

"What we show in our paper is that soft tissue is extremely bad, so you should not look at soft tissue, you should actually look at bones and teeth; they are much better preserved in ancient mummies," he said.

As the genetic material comes from just one site in Middle Egypt, the researchers said the study may not be representative for all of ancient Egyptians.

But it paves the way for genetic analysis of more and older mummies, which will hopefully shed more light on their origins, said Professor Krause.



#27 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 0544 AM

So the Pyramids belong to the Evil Joo's ™. Who knew? :D

 

Another thought occurs about genetic diversity. I seem to recall a BBC documentary (it may even have been one Mary Beard narrated actually) where they found what they thought was a temple with dozens of baby infants, apparently sacrificed, buried in the vicinity. You idly wonder if the child's racial profile, brown skin, what have you, made them murder the child? I seem to recall the locations were described either has being temples or brothels (maybe in the Roman mind perhaps there was less of a distinction) and that could create some diversity.

 

Just an idle thought.



#28 DougRichards

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 0610 AM

So the Pyramids belong to the Evil Joo's ™. Who knew? :D

 

Another thought occurs about genetic diversity. I seem to recall a BBC documentary (it may even have been one Mary Beard narrated actually) where they found what they thought was a temple with dozens of baby infants, apparently sacrificed, buried in the vicinity. You idly wonder if the child's racial profile, brown skin, what have you, made them murder the child? I seem to recall the locations were described either has being temples or brothels (maybe in the Roman mind perhaps there was less of a distinction) and that could create some diversity.

 

Just an idle thought.

 

Considering that Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to Egypt to escape from Herod's evil grasp....

 

Matthew 2:13

 

The World English Bible translates the passage as:

 

 

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him."

 

 

Tends to show that people in the Middle East and North Africa tended to look fairly similar to each other and probably spoke similar languages.  After all, it would have been otherwise difficult to blend in with Egyptian society.  This was, of course, before the Suez Canal.

 

Martin Bernal 'a controversial' 'scholar' has proposed that Athens was actually founded by Phoenicians (those nasty Philistines....)  and black Egyptians rather than by people of Indo-European background, in his Black Athena works. 

 

https://en.wikipedia...ki/Black_Athena

 

The recent research into Egyptian DNA may tend to show that Bernal over-reached, it is possible that everyone around the Mediterranean for around that thousand years, except those damned Celts in the north, may have been related, and none of them were 'sub-Saharan (ie 'black').


Edited by DougRichards, 08 August 2017 - 0613 AM.


#29 DougRichards

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 0643 AM

 

 

You know, I loathe political correctness as much as the next person. But the truth is, those criticizing Mary Beard (whom from her documentaries strikes me as exceptionally well informed on the Roman Empire) would do well to recognize that among those that were stationed, lived, settled and ultimately died by Hadrians wall included a number of Soldiers from Assyria, whom must have looked comparably to how Syrians and Iraqi's look now. I think the scrolls already mentioned also support that view, as does the gravestones. Maybe they intermarried, maybe they didnt. There seems no reason to assume they did not as they settled there.


 https://en.wikipedia...Roman_province)
 
Perhaps more like Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Iranians, but generally of the Mediterranean look one might assume.

 

However, the initial fray was because of a cartoon that presented a Roman of SSA appearance who was subsequently described as "typical." While there almost had to be some Romans of SSA ancestry, percentagewise I'll remain skeptical until DNA markers show that there were statistically significant numbers of SSA folks in Roman Britain.
 
But in that timeframe, its not intermarriage, its the oldest story in the book; camp followers.
 

 

Yes indeed. And considering how many different races were in the Roman Army, the effect must have been quite considerable. I mean, squaddies will be squaddies, particularly if they have like 6 months pay to spend.

 

 

 

Given Hannibal's (and HIS squaddies....) 15 year time on the Italian peninsular, it would not be surprising if a large number of 'Italians' has  a fair amount amount of Phoenician, and Celtic, DNA running through their vital bodily fluids.



#30 Ivanhoe

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 0749 AM

Absolutely, boys will be boys. And sailors will definitely be sailors, so the Med surely must be a genetic melting pot.



#31 Markus Becker

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 0324 AM

"Professor Beard cited the case of Quintus Lollius Urbicus, who was born in what is now Algeria and went on to become governor of Britain."

OTOH that might mean nothing. Was Roman Algeria ethnically different from the heartland, Gaul ans so on? Furthermore what are the odds of someone not 100% Romanized getting that job?

#32 DougRichards

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 0503 AM

"Professor Beard cited the case of Quintus Lollius Urbicus, who was born in what is now Algeria and went on to become governor of Britain."

OTOH that might mean nothing. Was Roman Algeria ethnically different from the heartland, Gaul ans so on? Furthermore what are the odds of someone not 100% Romanized getting that job?

 

Picky picky picky

 

You want some blonde Thor lookalike from Scandinavia to be the governor of Brittanicus?

 

How about just accepting that not all 'Romans' were as white as Christ appears in so many post 1300ad images? 



#33 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 0613 AM

I think a Blaxploitation version of 'The Last Temptation of Christ' is long overdue personally.



#34 Markus Becker

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 0804 AM

Picky picky picky

 

You want some blonde Thor lookalike from Scandinavia to be the governor of Brittanicus?

 

How about just accepting that not all 'Romans' were as white as Christ appears in so many post 1300ad images? 

 

 

 

You have completely missed the point. If Assyrian Roman Regulars more or less shared the same values and beliefs as Keltic Romans from Britannia or black Romans from Nubia than you have a monocultural society. Ok, it is also multi ethnic but that didn't mean anything back then. At least not the same as multi ethnic means today. 



#35 Ivanhoe

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 1054 AM

How about just accepting that not all 'Romans' were as white as Christ appears in so many post 1300ad images?


Aside from Hollywood, has anyone ever asserted that all Romans looked like John Cleese?

The real issue is that folks are trying to project second millennium ethnography onto modern understanding of ancient times.

#36 Ivanhoe

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 1058 AM

I think a Blaxploitation version of 'The Last Temptation of Christ' is long overdue personally.


Man, that's so 1970s. How about a Desi-ploitation version? With Sunny Leone as Mary Magdalene?

#37 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 1106 AM

Kendra Sunderland as the Archangel Gabriel?

 

Ok, im probably going to hell for that one. Sorry God.:D



#38 Gregory

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 1253 PM

I'm sorry, but you cannot have this discussion without citing Dr. Dennis Hopper

 



#39 Markus Becker

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 1350 PM

Kendra Sunderland as the Archangel Gabriel?

 

Ok, im probably going to hell for that one. Sorry God. :D

 

If we do this we might as well do it right. She gets cast as the 'virgin' Mary while this guy play Gaberiel,

 

https://www.ok-magaz...ald-gloeoeckler



#40 Stuart Galbraith

Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 10 August 2017 - 0216 AM

Ok, that is so disturbing it would probably work.






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