Tuesday, January 26, 2016

5th Century Church with Frescoes Discovered in Cappadocia

Another historical church has been unearthed in the Cappadocia region of Central Anatolia and experts are excited about its frescoes, which depict scenes hitherto unseen.

Archeologist: "It is reported that some of the frescoes here are unique. There are exciting depictions like fish falling from the hand of Jesus Christ, him rising up into the sky, and the bad souls being killed. When the church is completely revealed, Cappadocia could become an even bigger pilgrimage center of Orthodoxy"

Click here for more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Book: Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium Monks, Laymen, and Christian Ritual

From Oxford University Press:
Among medieval Christian societies, Byzantium is unique in preserving an ecclesiastical ritual of adelphopoiesis, which pronounces two men, not related by birth, as brothers for life. It has its origin as a spiritual blessing in the monastic world of late antiquity, and it becomes a popular social networking strategy among lay people from the ninth century onwards, even finding application in recent times. Located at the intersection of religion and society, brother-making exemplifies how social practice can become ritualized and subsequently subjected to attempts of ecclesiastical and legal control.Controversially, adelphopoiesis was at the center of a modern debate about the existence of same-sex unions in medieval Europe.

This book, the first ever comprehensive history of this unique feature of Byzantine life, argues persuasively that the ecclesiastical ritual to bless a relationship between two men bears no resemblance to marriage. Wide-ranging in its use of sources, from a complete census of the manuscripts containing the ritual of adelphopoiesis to the literature and archaeology of early monasticism, and from the works of hagiographers, historiographers, and legal experts in Byzantium to comparative material in the Latin West and the Slavic world, Brother-Making in Late Antiquity and Byzantium examines the fascinating religious and social features of the ritual, shedding light on little known aspects of Byzantine society.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Astonishing Byzantine Art and Islam

A great resource, the online interface of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has published several images and historical introductions of Byzantine objects. Here is an example of a page from an Illuminated Gospel, late 14th centuryEthiopia, Highland region:

This illuminated manuscript of the Four Gospels was created at a monastic center in northern Ethiopia. Twenty full-page paintings depict scenes from the life of Christ and four portraits of the evangelists introduce the respective Gospel texts. The New Testament was translated from Greek into Geez, the classical language of Ethiopia, in the sixth century. Both this text and its pictorial format draw upon Byzantine prototypes, which were transformed into a local idiom of expression. Stylistically consistent, the paintings reflect the hands of two distinct artists. The color scheme consists of red, yellow, green, and blue. A stylized uniformity is reflected in the abbreviated definition of facial features and the bold linear articulation of the human form in black and red. Figures' heads are depicted frontally, their bodies often in profile. Bodies are treated as columnar masses encased in textiles composed of striated fields juxtaposed against one another.This work is evidence of sub-Saharan Africa's historically complex interrelationships with Arabia, Egypt, and the eastern Mediterranean.

The origins of civilization in Highlands Ethiopia can be traced to the sixth century B.C.E., when emigrants from Arabia merged with indigenous groups to develop the kingdom of Aksum. In the fourth century C.E., scholars from Alexandria converted the Ethiopian king Ezana, and Christianity became the official religion of a state that endured until modern times. Over the centuries, as the Ethiopian state expanded, monasteries were founded as centers of learning responsible for disseminating knowledge and consolidating the power and influence of the monarchy. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the text of the Gospels was considered the most important holy writing; the miniatures at the beginning of this manuscript were intended to be viewed during liturgical processions. Such works were frequently presented to churches by distinguished patrons; they reflected both the prestige of royal benefactors and the erudition of the monastic scriptoria in which they were created. Recent research suggests that a member of Ethiopia's ruling elite may have commissioned this manuscript at Dabra Hayg Estifanos monastery for presentation to his or her favored church or monastery. Brief notations indicate that the church in question was dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
Click here for the full record

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Late Roman Sarcophagus found in Iznik, Turkey

From: http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.co.uk
A late-Roman era sarcophagus thought to be belonging to the Late Roman Empire was unearthed and transferred to a museum in Iznik, Bursa. The sarcophagus weighing nearly 7 tons.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Introduction to the Grammar of Hebrew Poetry in Byzantine Palestine By Michael Rand

From Gorgias Press:
This work is concerned with investigating a corpus of several thousand lines of poetry, selected from the oeuvre of Eleazar be-rabbi Qillir, a liturgical poet (payyetan) whose period of activity dates to the early seventh century CE. The first portion of the work is a grammar devoted mainly to morphology and syntax. The aim of this portion is (1) to provide a structural description of the most salient/individuating features of the Qillirian dialect, and (2) to compare the morphological and syntactic data thus gathered with analogous phenomena in Biblical, Dead Sea Scrolls, and Mishnaic Hebrew, thereby establishing the position of the Qillirian dialect within the developmental trajectory of Hebrew in Roman/Byzantine Palestine. The second portion of the work is an investigation of the poetic norms, as well as rhetorical techniques employed by Qillir, together with an assessment of their impact on the grammar (e.g., the influence of rhyme on morphology). This portion seeks to integrate a formal analysis of Qillirian poetics into a linguistic evaluation of the Qillirian dialect vis-à-vis its Palestinian contemporaries (including Aramaic and Greek) and antecedents. The overall aim of the project is to design an analytical framework within which a self-conscious poetic dialect might be investigated, both as a linguistic and an aesthetic object.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Humans of Byzantium: Emperor Basil I (9th century)

I was born in a family of peasants in Macedonia, but my family became a most glorious one. The other emperor Michael III had to die. I had a biography written, you'll find all the reasons for my actions there (Emperor Basil I, 9th century).

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