Chapter Thirty Seven.
Lost Pharaohs of Aotearoa
Life in the far-flung mining colonies beyond the Egyptian homeland was not all work. There were days of rest, and there were religious holidays with festivals, during which the people made merry. There were religious processions in which images of the gods were carried by priests and ordinary folk to their temples b
edecked with flowers, as musicians played their instruments and the people sang joyful hymns to the gods. Children played while the adults drank wine and feasted upon the produce of the land and the meat of animals killed in the hunt. It would have been the same picture from the Australian colonies to the Solomons and the remotest colonised pearl-bearing islands of the Pacific wherever the triremes penetrated.
Dancing and general merry-making had to have occurred around the stone circles and other temple structures, and upon the surrounding fields and in the settlements scattered around the Bay of Islands.
Upon one offshore island, hidden amid dense scrub there stand fallen stoneworks and half-buried outlines of stone structures, and the remains of a stone wall that surrounded the island, its remains extending down into the mangroves that surround the island at the waters edge.
There are altar stones, even an alignment of standing stones erected upon an east-west axis in the islands midst. And engraved upon stones still turning up around the islands, are Celto-Phoenician inscriptions which identify these ruins as those of a former great temple dedicated to the worship of the Phoenician Sun-God Baal.
Heather and I, together with our foremost New Zealand [North Island] field assistant Yvonne Stephens, have visited this island during more than one of the Gilroys New Zealand expeditions, and I dare say that there will always be something new to uncover here.
In March 2000 we carried out a complete survey of the island, listing all the many rock inscriptions and structural remains. Among these was a half-buried stone wall, about 60cm of which was above ground. The wall extended for 5.8m west to east before vanishing into the ground at both ends on the southern side of the island.
At one point a platform juts out 2.3m from the wall and is 2.5m in width being a metre or so above the ground, its interior packed with ancient shell grit. One of the large stones forming this platform on its southern side, measuring 40cm tall by 48cm width and 20cm thick, bore a Phoenician inscription:
As there were signs that the later Maoris occupied this island, it was obvious that the shell grit that covered this former sacred temple of the Bronze-Age colonists had been deposited by them.
Nearby this wall and close to the shoreline, I found a 47.5cm length and 38cm width and 13cm thick “message stone”. It bore an inscription in large Celtic ogham glyphs and other symbols of Phoenician type. It read:
“At this temple stand upon the prepared place of
Baal the Sun where his secrets are revealed”.
Had ancient Masonic rituals been performed at this temple as at the destroyed example previously described?
While Yvonne and Heather assisted with the measuring of the temple structures, I bush-bashed into the surrounding scrub. On the island’s north side I came across further tumbled stoneworks and a large altar stone, tilted at an angle and half-buried in the soil.
I dug away at the soil to expose the stone’s buried edges, enough to obtain a good measurement of the relic, which was 1.24m in length by 1m width and 70cm tall when erect and standing upon the surface. Its flat summit was carved in very deep, large and weathered Phoenician glyphs, which stated:
“Altar of the Temple of the Sun Baal”.