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Damanhur: The community they tried to brand a cult [Paperback]

Jeff Merrifield
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Feb 1999

The story of the extraordinary Italian spiritual and artisitic community.

In the foothills of the Italian Alps an extraordinary community has grown up. Founded by a handful of like minded people it has now become a 600 strong federation of communities. People in the community have chosen one of the eight possible paths to follow as a way of learning and contributing to the community.

There is no rigid dogma, the talented individuals who form the community come from various walks of life. The community supports itself by producing top quality goods e.g. organic foods for places like Harrods and beautifully woven cloth for the Milan fashion houses.

The ‘Temple of Mankind’ which lies at the heart of the community is an extraordinary feat. It has been described as one of the ‘Wonders of the Modern World.’

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thorsons; New edition edition (1 Feb 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 072253700X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0722537008
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,299,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A great introduction to some extremely remarkable people.’
Ken Campbell

From the Back Cover

Imagine a beautiful temple hidden inside a mountain in the Italian Alps. One that was built in absolute secrecy, with a concealed entrance, completely invisible from the outside. This is the Temple of Mankind – one of the most extraordinary buildings on Earth.

The Temple of Mankind at Damanhur has been under construction for the last 23 years by a community of people bound by common beliefs, all in search of self-realization and a different way of life. For 16 years, in secrecy, using only the most basic of tools, they hollowed out a huge edifice in the mountains to the north of Turin, specifically chosen for its exceptional natural energies.

Though Damanhur was known locally as an emerging community, the temple remained their secret. It might have remained so to this day had not circumstances persuaded them to reveal it to the media in 1992. Since then many have visited – from journalists, scientists and artists to spiritual seekers – all intrigued by the tales of experimental research and radical new technologies, and fascinated by the concept of this idealistic community who successfully support themselves by trading their wonderful fabrics and luxury foods with some of the leading fashion houses and stores around the world.

Today the temple is renowned for its exceptional beauty, its stunning artistry and its breathtaking mix of marble, mosaic and stained glass. This is the amazing story of a place where ideas are given a chance and dreams become reality – a story of a truly extraordinary community.

Jeff Merrifield is an author and playwright who first made contact with Damanhur in 1996. Since then he has spent many months living in their community and exploring their hopes desires and motivations. This book is the result of the fruitful association.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More "Rough Guide" than biography 10 Nov 2003
Every good travel book should fulfill three criteria - that it should be an entertaining read; actually be useful; and be written by someone who has been to the location.
Dr Merrifield's exceptional book on the history, structure and experience of the community of Damanhur is not only an excellent introduction to this most unique community but also acts as a very good reference guide for first time visitors!
Jeff's excellent index provides a good 'run to..' facility for all those things that may be confusing and warrant further explanation.
Having just visited the community and used Jeff's book as a guide whilst there - i found it to be accurate and exceptionally helpful. The writing style is also warm but objective which makes for a very readable book.
It is an excellent insight into a remarkable community's remarkable history, present and future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a really corking account of an interesting artistic and spritual community based in the Canavese district of northern Italy. They have constructed a beautiful work of art, inspired by humankind, by digging out a mountain and making the Temple of Humankind. Rich in mosaics, artworks, tiffany glasswork, sculpture and a gorgeous use of light, this place is one of the modern wonders of the world. Merrfield's highly readable account captures the essence of the project and the lives of the people involved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational 4 May 2004
By SteveM
This is a fantastic book about what can happen when a group of people are inspired to do what many would consider impossible.
The trials and tribulations of the people who set up this remarkable community are an inspiration to those who have a dream they wish to follow. The imagination in their art and social structure has much to teach - Some of what they do may seem a bit wacky - but they are trying and developing something different - and progress is never achieved by doing what people have always done. Inspirational!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is a new edition of this book now; many changes, new photos. 3 Dec 2006
By Kylea Taylor - Published on
This first edition of this book is great, but it is now out of print and out of date with the publication of a brand new edition of Jeff Merrifield's book, entitled: Damanhur: The Story of the Extraordinary Italian Artisitic and Spiritual Community (2006). Much has been updated and added to the new edition, including more than 150 black and white photos. The Federation of Damanhur is essentially about research and change, and the new book reflects many innovations in a number of areas of this remarkable community.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Damanhur 20 Nov 2001
By Alien Moon Cat - Published on
This is a detailed history of an Italian New Age Community that sounds like they have achieved utopia. The people have combined creativity, self-fulfillment, simple living, art and spirituality in an atmosphere of peace. There is hope for our world and this community reveals a path to a posssible, brighter furture. I am buying several copies of this book for my friends, many of whom have expressed a longing to create a group such as the Damanhurians.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice story about people trying a new way of life 31 Dec 2012
By Judy M. Johnson - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good to see that people are trying out new ideas, and are able to work in harmony...mostly.
With all our individual personalities that's quite an accomplishment. The proof will be in those young people born there, or mostly raised there, and who they become, and how loving and brilliant they are in their contribution to our swiftly changing world. Bless em all!
The constructs in the mountain are beyond STUNNING, Knock-out GORGEOUS, moving, inspiring, AMAZING, and I heartily congratulate them on that. It's almost unbelievable that they could have done what they did, but they did! You must buy the coffee table book with the glorious photos to accompany this story of the people of Damanhur.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DAMANHUR - THE "CITY OF LIGHT" COMMUNITY 26 Aug 2009
By Steven H. Propp - Published on
Damanhur (which this book tells us means "City of Light"; it was named after an ancient Egyptian city dedicated to the god Horus) is a modern spiritual community in Italy, living in an underground temple (the "Temples of Humankind") dug out of rock by hand. It was founded in 1977 by a young spiritual teacher named Oberto Airaudi. Jeff Merrifield's book explains that "this is a place of spiritual, philosophical research, not ... a new religion." Merrifield, who is an author and playwright, wrote this book in 1998 (he has revised it in 2006, under the title, Damanhur: The Story of the Extraordinary Italian Artistic And Spiritual Community).

Damanhur is one of the more successful "New Age" communities; Merrifield portrays them as "loosely associated, but spiritually linked," and as a "society of initiates, totally devoted to the evolution and uplifting of the whole of humanity." As described by Merrifield, they have nearly a thousand permanent residents, as well as their own Constitution, their own currency, and their own daily newspaper.

Local Italian authorities attempted to shut down their operation in 1992 (as the subtitle of Merrifield's book indicates, they were considered a "cult," who had built an illegal series of tunnels without advance approval), but that action has ceased.

Merrifield's books are a fascinating account of this community, which runs several dozen businesses, and is close to self-sufficiency. This book will be of great interest to anyone interested in intentional ("utopian") communities, or "New Age" movements in general.
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