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ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Nadia Maria El-Cheikh


From : “Byzantium through the Islamic Prism from the Twelfth to the Thirteenth Century”, included in The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, ed. Angeliki E. Laiou and Roy Parviz Mottahedeh, Dumbarton Oaks © 2001 - Here published with title and subtitles by Elpenor.

Historiography ||| The twelfth and thirteenth centuries ||| al-Rum ||| Byzantine skills ||| General character ||| Constantinople ||| Constantinople and Jerusalem ||| 1204 ||| Symbols of Constantinople ||| Islamic monuments of Constantinople 


Page 12

Symbols of Constantinople

The twelfth-and thirteenth-century Arabic-Islamic sources include a few major sites that repeatedly appear in Muslim sources. Although the authors copied one another, it is these sites, whether or not actually visited by our authors, that seem to have served as prototype symbols of Constantinople. The list includes the Golden Gate, the Column of Justinian, the Column of Theodosius, the Horologium, the Bronze Horses, and Hagia Sophia.

According to al-Harawi, “the great church is Haghia Sophia.“ Al-Qazwini gives the following description:

The king’s church has a golden dome and ten gates: six of gold and four of silver. The place where the king stands is 4 by 4 arms’ lengths and is ornamented with pearls and rubies. ... All the walls of the church are covered with gold and silver. There are twelve columns, each four arms’ length, and on top of each is a statue of a human, a king, a horse, a lion, a peacock, an elephant, or a camel. Next to it is a container which, when filled, brings the water up to the statues. On Palm Sunday ... they fill the divisions of the container with oil, wine, honey, rose water, and vinegar, which are all scented. ... As the container is covered, the liquids flow out from the mouths of the statues.

Haghia Sophia - ConstantinopleSimilarly, al-Dimashqi describes “the Great Church, where it is said that an angel resides and where lies a colossal high altar with huge doors and columns.“ Al-Jazari also includes a description of Hagia Sophia provided by the merchant ‘Abdallah: “The church is one of the most considerable and marvelous buildings that we can see. The place in which they stand for praying is surrounded by grills. ... On the walls of this church are represented all the cities of the world and all the crafts. When one of them wants to choose a craft for his son, he takes him to the walls and shows him the crafts.“

Cf.  Christianity and Islam - Two related, yet different religions * Koran – the invention of an artificial religion * Turkey * The Orthodox Church * Byzantine history * On the Byzantine Military Strategy * Greek Language

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