The Apse Inscription at Hagia Sophia

H.Sophia’s apse mosaic dedicated 29 March 867. Originally inscribed w/12-syllable epigram along the arch. First & last letters still visible. Epigram preserved in AP I.1. References Iconoclasm: “The images which the impostors had cast down here, pious emperors have set up again.” — Brad Hostetler (@bradhostetler) December 15, 2017 A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted on the inscription partially preserved on the arch around the apse at Hagia Sophia. The mosaic Virgin and Child and the accompanying inscription commemorated the end of Iconoclasm within the Byzantine Empire. The Iconoclastic controversy was a religious and political movement during the …

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“Entreaty of the servant of God”: An inscription on an icon of the Virgin and Child

The Byzantine Museum in Nicosia, Cyprus owns this lovely icon of the Virgin and Child. According to the label, the icon came from the Church of the Panagia Chrysaliniotissa, and was made in the 12th century and repainted in the 16th. The hem of the Virgin’s left sleeve preserves a short formulaic prayer that names the donor: ΔΕΗΣΙΣ ΤΟΥ ΔΟỴΛΟΥ ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥ (Entreaty of the servant, Constantine). Such inscriptions on the Virgin’s hem are known (Drpić, “Chrysepes Stichourgia,” p. 64), but the particular arrangement of this text is unusual. It begins at (a) and reads from left to right, then jumps back …

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Hippodrome Mosaics Uncovered in Cyprus

The Department of Antiquities in Cyprus uncovered a fourth-century Roman floor mosaic in the village of Akaki, approximately 30 km west of Nicosia. The mosaic is part of a complex of buildings that are believed to have been a private villa. One large section, measuring 11 x 4 meters, depicts a chariot race around the spina of a hippodrome (fig. 1). Greek inscriptions are placed next to the charioteers and horses. Additional images, and a video, are available here. Chariot racing was a popular form of entertainment in the metropolitan centers of the Roman Empire. There are several Late Antique depictions of chariot racing in a variety …

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