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Friday, November 09, 2007

Byzantium at the Roving Medievalist.

Jeffrey Smith's addictive Middle Ages eye candy blog, the Roving Medievalist, has acquired a Byzantine flavor over the past couple of days.

First, there is Church of Hagia Eirene (Holy Peace, and not, as is often thought, St. Irene). Hagia Eirene is the joint work of two Constantines, I and V. It was part of Constantine the Great's initial construction boom in Nova Roma, and served as a sort of co-cathedral with the original Hagia Sophia. Badly damaged in an earthquake in 740, Constantine reconstructed it and decked it out iconoclast-style. In fact, it is the only surviving iconoclast church. For whatever reason, the triumph of the iconodules left this specimen unadorned. The cross is from the reconstruction, and is flanked by citations from the Psalms (though they are hard to see). It escaped the Turkish Vosko treatment after the city fell, and the lack of decor (apart from the cross and some abstract mosaics) is likely a result of neglect and the area's frequent earthquakes.

Second is the underrated Hosios Loukas in Greece (I planted a suggestion in Jeffrey's ear, which he graciously followed up on). From the late "middle Byzantine" period (mid-11th Century), it is nothing short of dazzling. I'll try to scan in a couple more pictures soon, but this gives you a feel of the magnificence of the place.

Finally, he has a picture of the Stavronitika Monastery on Mount Athos. Stavronikita is the "newest" of the Athos monasteries, with this construction dating from the 16th Century.

Thanks, Jeffrey, for this. Great stuff, as always.

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