Lost WorldCivilization erased

by Christian piety, fanaticism and ambition

Jesus Never Existed – The Criminal History of the Christian Church

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Kenneth Humphreys



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Taliban cleric?

Imagine a world run by the "Taliban" for a thousand years. Imagine every civic amenity, every theatre, every stadium and every leisure centre either destroyed or consecrated to God.

Imagine women confined to domestic slavery, imagine unbelievers tortured to death, imagine education and science dismissed as an irrelevance and the only approved learning study of the Holy Book.

Imagine the only cure for sickness is prayer and imagine men dying in almost continuous Holy War.

Stop imagining. You are thinking of Christian Europe. It's not a dream. It's history.



Christian Bishop?







Pax Romana



Rapacious taxation, rather than barbarians, destroyed most Roman towns, abandoned as their citizenry dispersed across the countryside. Though taxed more than ever, urban residents received little in return.

For generations, the ostentatious patronage of the urban elite had been lavished on civic amenities. But in the late Roman world that patronage went, instead, into churches, monasteries, relics, holy men and pilgrimages.

The urban aristocracy increasingly abandoned the towns as a way to avoid their civic responsibilities. No longer spending money on maintaining public buildings, a moated manor or a bishop's palace for their own exclusive use became the residence of choice.

In a further step, small-holders sold themselves into serfdom with the local 'baron' to avoid more immediate dangers.



The Christian destruction of pagan temples tore the heart out of many cities which, over the course of centuries, had grown up around the sacred precincts – rather as medieval villages would grow around the parish church.

In Rome, as in other cities, the central forums, desolate and dangerous, were abandoned as a tiny Christian 'new town' grew up in the old suburbs, around a church or bishop's residence. Towns contracted, and farmlands were reclaimed by the wild.

Obvious conveniences, such as glass windows in domestic housing, disappeared for a thousand years. Floors reverted to the common earth; the finely laid mosaics and tiling beyond the wit of any Christianized artisan.

In a perverse caricature of history, the Church maintained that the original "perfect" Earth had indeed been ruined – but it was "Original Sin" that had done the damage!



Christian Europe built no sewers or aqueducts to flush the filth and squalor from the towns.

Ecclesiastic buildings might take the form of a great rural estate, seat of the local pontiff, but towns were a chaos of confusion, crisscrossed by dingy lanes and stinking alleyways.

Not until the frequent epidemics in the 19th century made males of military age unfit to serve in imperial armies did European governments address the issue.


Village People

The village, not the city, characterised the Christian empire.

Where the rump of a formerly great city continued into the Middle Ages, none had more than 50,000 residents. Where part of a city remained in use as a shanty town, urbanisation did not extend beyond the Roman walls until the 19th century.

Towns in reality were chaotic, overgrown villages.


Narrow cobbled streets, unsuitable for carriages, signalled the end of regularity and the grand thoroughfares of the early empire. Some of the alleyways were no more than 4 feet wide and passed beneath buildings, making sanitary conditions difficult if not impossible.

Byzantine Mystras (Greece).


Verulamium the Romans knew

Roman civilization was essentially urban. Three technologies made its great cities possible: huge, grain-carrying merchant ships; concrete; and efficient water supplies.

Roman engineers improved on the Greek pillar-and-beam design with the load-spreading arch.

Arches and vaults, made of brick-faced concrete, allowed Roman architects to build with great visual variety and to an immense size.


Town planning at Ostia

Iron-reinforcements and a cement called pozzolana (lime and volcanic ash) enabled the Romans to build with pre-stressed concrete – and underwater.

Fresh water flowed freely from this public fountain at Herculaneum

Road drainage, Herculaneum

Fast Food

Wine and bread shop, 1st century Pompeii.

Shopping Mall

Roman shopping mall on 6 floors – built early in the 2nd century. (Trajan's Market, Rome)

Nothing like it would be seen again until the 20th century.


Aqueduct, Segovia


Roman Aqueducts

Impressive by any standards – dressed stone without mortar and maintaining a steady gradient of 0.4%.

400 miles of piping supplied 1st century Rome with 900 million litres of water per day.

The Roman system of water supply was not equalled anywhere until the 19th century.

Aqueduct, Pont du Gard - Nimes



Even on the frontiers of the empire, the common soldier in the Roman army had fresh water and the use of flushing lavatories.


Public toilet – Ostia, Italy

Lavatory – Housesteads fort, Hadrian's Wall.





Making a departure from tossing human excrement from a pot, Sir John Harrington, godson to Queen Elizabeth, made a flush toilet for himself and his godmother in 1596. Harrington was teased by his friends and never made another one although he and the Queen continued to use the one he did make.

Two hundred years later Alexander Cummings reinvented the flush toilet – two thousand years after the Romans!

Elizabethan chamber pot.


Vitruvius's massive crane

Cranes and pulleys were in use from the 6th century BC.

Vitruvius, chief engineer of Augustus, wrote an encyclopedic work "De architectura" which became the standard reference book for Renaissance architects and engineers – fifteen centuries after his death.

Jerry-built Dark Age

In cannibalising the remnants of imperial structures Christian artisans had little regard for principles of architecture!

Building – Medieval style.

After 15 centuries, Renaissance architects turned to Vitruvius's ancient Roman manual as their guide!


Roman brick

The Romans took the art of brick making to the far reaches of the empire. So long as suitable clay, sand and water was available, tiles and bricks were manufactured on-site or in kilns nearby.

Flatter than modern bricks Roman bricks were seldom more than 2 inches thick. Today they are practically as sound as when they were made, fifteen centuries ago.


Polychromatic marble floor, Hadrian's Villa, Tivoli (2nd century AD)

The grandeur of antiquity becomes a 1000-year quarry

During the dark centuries of Christendom the art of brick and tile making was almost entirely lost in Europe. In England brick making was practically unknown until the time of Henry VIII.

Medieval church builders simply helped themselves to the stone, tile, carved columns and other decorative features freely available from the ruins of antiquity.

Thus, for example, the nave of St. Alban’s Abbey is largely built of Roman bricks from Verulamium.

The supply lasted over a thousand years. When it finally gave out, the Christian builders reverted to flint with lime mortar, a crude substitute.

Flint wall, Thetford Priory, England

Roman roof tiles

Villas & Agriculture


Roman villa


The Roman villa was more than a home for a rich family. It was the centre of an 'agribusiness', producing food for the army, neighbouring towns and export.

It was also a taxable unit, with tax levied on acreage.

Decorated with mosaics, painted wall-plaster and exotic statuary a villa proclaimed the owner’s taste, knowledge of the classics and obvious wealth.

The villa had been an integral part of a money economy. When trade and urban life collapsed the great villas followed suit.

As Europe's population fell, farmlands were reclaimed by the wild.


Villas, like everything else, were robbed out for their tiles and bricks. For a century or two, part of a villa may have remained occupied but then maintenance became impossible.


"For more than 1000 years after the fall of Rome there was little significant change in agricultural practice."
– Williams (The Triumph of Invention, p198)

Roman plough (mosaic)

Roman harvesting machine

The Romans introduced the iron-bladed plough to northern Europe, and mounted it on wheels.

The Romans also introduced into the local diet carrots, peas, apples, pears, apricots, turnips, coriander and asparagus – and the idea of a 3-course meal! They also took the cultivation of the vine into conquered lands.

Lucius Columella, a Roman soldier and farmer of the 1st century, wrote extensively on agriculture, viniculture and animal husbandry ('De re rustica').




Roman bridge, Alcantara, Spain

Roman bridge, Chaves, Portugal

After two millennia Roman bridges are still serviceable.

After the fall of Rome bridge builders reverted to the use of wood and many a medieval bridge went up in flame.

Wood was only superseded – by iron and steel – in the early Industrial Revolution.

Ponte Vecchio (Italy) – stone now but for centuries wooden


Tropaeum to Augustus – La Turbie, France

At half its original height the Trophy of Augustus (6 BC), built to symbolise the Romanisation of Gaul, dwarfs the medieval church built more than 1500 years later from stone pillaged from its structure.

Monks from Lérins tried their hand at destroying the edifice in the 8th century. Louis XIV had another go with explosive in the 18th century.

Post-Roman Squalor

Places like 6th century Canterbury (artistic impression, above) show no evidence of destruction by 'barbarians.'

They seem to have been abandoned a few years prior to their occupation by the opportunistic Saxons.

Within the redundant circuit of a Roman wall a few serviceable buildings were pressed into use by hierarchs of the church. A shanty town of wooden buildings, chaotically assemble amidst the ruins, housed the remnants of a depleted population. Christ Ruled.


Abandoned palace becomes a Town

In the 7th century Christian refugees from the city of Salona (Croatia) moved into the retirement home of their old pagan nemesis – Diocletian – and created the town of Split. They carved a few crosses into the stonework.



Recycled amphitheare

Lucca (Italy). The 1st century amphitheatre was converted into a fortress during the Gothic wars of the 6th century and became what was left of the town. After two millennia the Roman origin of the 'piazza' is still very apparent.


Diocletian's Palace in its heyday – about 30,000 square metres.

Lateran Palace – a late Roman basilica which stood for a 1000 years.

The palace had belonged to Constantine's wife – before he ordered her murder.


Sacred Space


Roman Temple. This classic beauty survived thanks to Mussolini!


That hero of early Christian scholarship "the Venerable Bede" records that the 9 metre hole in the dome of the Pantheon (the 'oculus') was made by the Devil fleeing the building.

Must have worked a treat in selling those bones to gullible pilgrims!


Pantheon – unsurpassed masterpiece.

Hadrian, enthusiastic architect as well as emperor, prepared much of the design.


At 43 metres the Pantheon's dome is larger than St Peter's and was not surpassed until 1960.


The finest sacred architecture of antiquity was destroyed by gangs of Christian monks "who alone had time and inclination to execute such laborious destruction" – Gibbon.

What remained was patched up and consecrated to the Christian god.


Pagan temple on the outside, Christian Church within.

(Forum, Rome).



Half as Good? Using the foundations of a destroyed temple to Demeter the Christians built a much smaller church for 'St Biagio' (aka 'Blaise') – an 8th century fiction.

(Agrigento, Sicily)


Not quite the Pantheon 7th century Christian Monastery.

Built 500 years later than the Pantheon by Christian monks.

(Skellig Michael, Ireland)

The Pantheon owes it survival to the groveling of Pope Boniface IV to the tyrant usurper in Constantinople, Phocas. The grateful emperor gave the pope the temple in 609. Boniface promptly dedicated the structure to 'Mary and the Martyrs' and filled it with 28 cartloads of bones from the catacombs. Heap Big Magic.

In the 16th century Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini) helped himself to bronze panels from the Pantheon for use in St. Peter's and also to cast cannons, which he installed on the roof of Hadrian's mausoleum.

"What the barbarians spared the Barberini destroyed."
– Pasquino.

Infamous for his prodigious extravagance and nepotism it was Urban VIII who condemned Galileo.


Hadrian's tomb

Hadrian's mausoleum

About this reassuring hulk huddled medieval Rome – barely 30,000 impoverished inhabitants.

In the heyday of the caesars, the city had housed more than a million people.


Tomb Robber

Built by Emperor Hadrian as his final resting place, the tomb was converted into a papal fortress in the 6th century.

Re-styled as the "Castel Sant' Angelo" (because a plague-ending angel had hovered there according to Pope Gregory), this massive edifice of paganism was later connected to the Vatican by a secret passage, thus providing the popes with a convenient hideaway.



The bridge linking Hadrian's mausoleum to the city, Pons Aelius (aka Ponte S. Angelo) from the end of the 17th century has sported Bernini's 'angels.'

But from 1480 AD it had been lined by a row of gallows displaying headless corpses – no doubt, the godless.

Castle? No, actually it is the palace of the Bishop of Wells (Somerset, England).

This moated fort was built by the "shepherd" to protect himself from the fury of his "flock" – the ruthlessly exploited peasantry.

Civic Amenities


Amphitheatre – Nimes

Amphitheatre – Arles

There had been well over 250 amphitheatres in the Roman empire.

Thysdrus (El Djem) Tunisia

Christendom – dour & cruel

No amphitheatres– just a field for ‘jousting.’ No stadia for spectacles, just the debasement of its worst aspect, tormented animals in bear pit and pen, the sport of cruelty.

The grand forums, multi-story ‘supermarkets’ of antiquity, found a pale reflection in the village fair, held under the auspices of the church on saints' days.


Roman Gymnasium, Sardis (Turkey)


Stadium at Epidaurus, Greece

Christendom – a sickly world

In the sick world of Christendom, no gymnasia were available for the refinement of physical prowess.

The fine basilicas built by the legions themselves became the very structures pressed into new use as sanctuaries of the Faith.

"By the 380s nothing more is heard of the civic gymnasium and its officials ... The physical side of education languished in a Christian environment: in the cities it had been linked with naked exercise, paganism and consenting homosexuality.The eventual collapse of the gymnasia, the focal point of Hellenism, more than any other single event brought in the Middle Ages."

– Robin Lane Fox (Pagans & Christians, p670)

The Baths



Medieval squalor

Public baths for leisure and hygiene was unheard of in Christendom – water was too precious to use for anything except drinking and cooking, so people rarely bathed.

Unwashed clothes were worn every day, with more rags piled on top in colder weather.

Everywhere, fleas and flies, excrement and filth, stagnant and contaminated water of every description.

This was the great age of lice and rats, of plague and epidemic! Cleanliness next to godliness?

No schools of rhetoric and learning, no libraries, no law courts ...

Where once fine forum porticoes carried the towering statuary of the Roman elite, confident and dynamic, now simply the cross, ironically symbolic of human suffering.



"Nero provided the first public baths ... As dynasties succeeded one another, the baths became larger and more luxurious ... it became the custom to linger there for hours on end, so that they became the social centres, clubs and cafés of Imperial Rome."

– Grimal (Rome of the Caesars, p21)


Hadrianic baths – Leptis Magna
Baths, Herculaneum – ready for use after 20 centuries!

Roman central heating was not only under floor heating, it included wall vents as well – an all-round solution unknown even today!


Colosseum: the quintessential symbol of Roman culture.


The Flavian amphitheatre – over 620 feet long, 525 feet wide and 157 feet high.The cement foundations alone were 23 feet thick.

According to the "Chronographia" of 354 AD, it could contain 87,000 spectators, about half of them sitting.

End of the Games?

Gladiatorial contests and blood sports – like slavery itself – continued long after the triumph of Christianity. Only war and poverty brought them to a close – NOT 'Christian compassion.'

The last shows seen in the Colosseum were early in the 6th century, during the reign of the Gothic king Theodoric, a Christian monarch.

After Theodoric's death, Justinian invaded Italy and in the general ruin of the peninsula grand entertainment of all kinds disappeared.

The Colosseum, like other great structures, was scavenged for building material for centuries.

Cardinal Farnese (1534-49) used 4000 men in a single day to pillage material. Cut stone from the Colosseum was used in St. Peters, the Lateran, Palazzo Venezia, even in the Tiber's river defences.

Looting of the arena only stopped in the 18th century when the popes found it more profitable to turn the ruin into a 'holy site,' honouring supposed martyrs.

What Martyrs?

The idea of Christians martyred in the Colosseum was unheard of before the 17th century. Admits the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are "no historical grounds" for the supposition.

Throughout the Middle Ages the Colosseum was never on the list of sites of veneration, being nothing more than a huge quarry and sometime fort.



Roman Theatre (Verulamium)



The Roman theatre had to compete with a great many other spectacles: circuses, race tracks, amphitheatres.


Theatres were actually more numerous than the more spectacular amphitheatres. Rome itself had several.

The first permanent Roman playhouse was Pompey's Theatre, built in 55 BC.

Larger than the Greek prototypes, the Romans built immense, freestanding, open-air theatres, seating over 15,000 spectators.


General supervision of the theatre came from an official called an ædile, but the productions themselves were private investments – in some cases, as part of a political contest.

Coarse buffoonery, satire, indecent humour, burlesque and wrestling were standard fare. Often, one actor spoke the lines while a second mimed with exaggerated gestures. Decorative masks, costumes and dancing completed the show.


The Church, competing in the same crowded market place as the theatre, condemned the "unhappy slaves of a cruel voluptuousness."

The last recorded performance in Rome took place in AD 533 during the reign of Theodoric, the Gothic Christian king.

In Constantinople, the actress 'Theodora from the brothel' ('ek tou porneiou' – Bishop John of Ephesus) married a prince and became a most pious empress. The theatre which had given her a start came under a cloud and in the 7th century was banned throughout the east.

In the desperate and cruel centuries that followed the fall of Rome public entertainment sank to the level of 'street performances' of various kinds – jesters, minstrels, jugglers. These hapless souls, outside the control of the church, were often beaten or jailed for their efforts.

No theatres were raised for drama and vaudeville; at best, horse-drawn carts trundled between towns, enacting Christian pageants.

Western theatre reappeared in the 10th century as a church-sponsored substitute for literacy. Small booths (called 'mansions'), represented places such as Jerusalem, Heaven, and Hell (the most elaborate!) These were set up in churchyards or market squares and both the players and the audience moved about.

A Christian pageant wagon or 'mobile stage,' outside a church.

Christian Science?

For fifteen centuries the only ‘great’ architecture in Europe was the twin bastions of oppression – the castle and the church. However, a thousand years did produce two great Christian 'inventions' ...

671 Byzantine Kallinikos of Heliopolis invented a napalm-type weapon – "Greek fire."

This secret weapon was first used against the Saracens at the Battle of Cyzicus.

Well, actually, it seems Kallinikos was a Jew in the employ of the Christians.


14th century – and Christian Europe 'discovers' another marvel – gunpowder. Cannons and pistols follow.

Now we can REALLY have Holy War ...

Well, actually, the Christians learned of an ancient Chinese discovery from several centuries earlier. The first successful casting of a European bronze canon is usually attributed to a German – a friar Berthold der Schwarze.



Lost World – Civilization Erased by Piety and Fanaticism (Part Two)


K.D. White, Greek & Roman Technology (Thames & Hudson, 1984)
Trevor Williams, The Triumph of Invention (Macdonald Orbis, 1987)
Thomas Crump, A Brief History of Science (Robinson, 2001)
John Gribbin, Science, A History (Penguin, 2003)
Lisa Rosner(Ed.), Chronology of Science (Helicon, 1999)
F. G. Bratton, A History of the Bible (Robert Hale 1961)
Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (Doubleday, 1995)
Frank Delaney, A Walk in the Dark Ages (Fontana, 1988)
Henri Pirenne, Medieval Cities (Princeton, 1952)



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Copyright © 2004 by Kenneth Humphreys.
Copying is freely permitted, provided credit is given to the author and no material herein is sold for profit.