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"Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance: 15th-18th Century Treasures from the Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens" by George Kakavas and The Hellenic Ministry of Culture.
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DESCRIPTION: Softcover. Publisher: Hellenic Ministry of Culture (2002). Pages: 220. Size: 11½ x 9¼ x 1 inch; 3¼ pounds. Summary: Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance: 15th–18th Century Treasures from The Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, an exhibition of rare treasures from The Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens was the first exhibition in the United States to focus on this area of art history. It was presented at the Onassis Cultural Center in New York, as documented in the accompanying catalogue. Fifty works in various media, from paintings to filigree, highlight the range and influence of the Byzantine tradition that continued after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Most of the works in the exhibition, including such masterpiece icons as St. Antonios and The Three Hierarchs, by the 16th-century Cretan master Michael Damaskenos, have never been shown in the US.
Traditionally, art historians have focused their celebration of these centuries on the artistic developments and influences of the Renaissance in Western Europe, while the study of Byzantine art has often left off with the collapse of the Empire in the East. Post-Byzantium illuminates the persistence of the highly influential Byzantine style through this political change and for centuries afterwards. The pervasive strength of Byzantine culture meant that its artistic tradition continued to flourish after the disbanding of the Empire - a "Byzantium after Byzantium," in effect a Greek renaissance. Furthermore, the Eastern Orthodox Church, which served as a cohesive social and cultural institution, subsequently formalized many of the guidelines for artistic production in reverence for the Church's teachings and theological perspectives.
Sculpture, architecture, and particularly painting in the classic Byzantine style remained widespread in the world after the Fall. Byzantine artists and artisans from Crete, the Ionian Islands, Venice, and Ottoman held Central Greece and Asia Minor continued to work in communities that were far flung across the former empire. Although many of these artists were not celebrated as individual geniuses, subsequent study of Post-Byzantium has identified a number of them as unqualified masters of their genres.
"Post-Byzantium" is grouped into three thematic sections, including Icons, Golden Embroidered Textiles, and The Flourishing of Minor Arts, which includes art of gold and silver, enamels, filigrees, and carved wooden crosses. Icons, the largest section, is divided into sections from Constantinople-Crete, Italian-Cretan Works, Cretan Maistros, and Wall Paintings. The emphasis on different geographical areas reflects a historical moment in the spread of flourishing Post-Byzantine culture, which took place in all parts of the former empire. Men of letters and artists had begun gathering in Italy long before the Fall of the Empire, and after the Fall, Venice came to be known as 'the second Byzantium'.
Golden Embroidered Textiles presents a series of priests' garments, elaborately embroidered in the signature decorative Byzantine style. This section also includes an 18th century epitaphios, a type of embroidery that depicts Christ's bier and is common in Orthodox iconography. "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance" was organized by Dr. Dimitrios Konstantios, Director of the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens and curated by Dr. Eugenia Chalkia, Deputy Director of the Museum, which rarely lends works in its holdings.
CONDITION: VERY GOOD. HUGE unread(?) softcover. Hellenic Ministry of Culture (2002) 220 pages. Based on appearances I'd guess the first 20-30 pages were read, then the remainder of book flipped through, then put away never to be actually "read" through (there's a single faint "reading crease" evidenced by examining the book's spine). I'd guess that this was the display copy for an open-shelf book store, based on the fact that while the book seems largely unread, there is modest shelfwear to the covers. Inside the book is virtually pristine, the pages are clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated (except as noted below), tightly bound, and beyond the first 20-30 pages, seemingly only partly read (at the very worst, read through once by someone with an exceedingly light hand). From outside the book evidences modest shelfwear, but merely of a superficial, cosmetic nature. There's a tiny bump at the bottom edge of the front cover, which is "echoed" through the first dozen pages in the book which have a very faint "crinkle" mark at the bottom edge. There's also very mild crinkling and slightly abrasive rubbing to the spine heel. Large, heavy books like this are awkward to handle and so tend to show accelerated shelfwear, frequently bumped, and particularly with respect to the bottom edges and corners, as due to their size and weight they are frequently the victim of careless, lazy or clumsy re-shelving. Except for the faint reading crease to the spine evidencing that the first 20-30 pages of the book have (at least) been flipped through a few times, the overall condition is not too distant from what might pass as "new" (albeit "shop worn") stock from an open-shelf book store (such as Barnes & Noble or B. Dalton, for instance) wherein patrons are permitted to browse open stock, and so otherwise "new" books often show modest handling/shelf/browsing wear, consequence simply of being shelved and re-shelved. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! #9041b.
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REVIEW: Post-Byzantium, as the Romanian historian Nicolai Iorga aptly named the centuries that followed the collapse of the Byzantine Empire, is a period that is little known, particularly to the non-Greek public. The Byzantine and Christian Museum, desiring to enhance this period, during which the foundations were laid for the creation of the modern Greek state, organized this exhibition entitled “Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance”, in collaboration with the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA) at its Cultural Center in New York.
The aim of the exhibition is to present, through fifty-four splendid works of art form the collections of the Byzantine and Christian Museum (Athens), the survival of Byzantine artistic tradition after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, as well as the cultural achievements of Hellenism during the centuries when it was living and creating under foreign domination. The preservation and assimilation of the Byzantine heritage is the principal characteristic of the art that was cultivated in all regions of Hellenism, and which, through its radiance, served as an inspiration for the other Orthodox Christian peoples.
REVIEW: It is with great pleasure that the Onasis Foundation (USA) hosts at its Cultural Center in New York and exhibition organized by the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens from the period which follows the Fall of Constantinople to the hands of the Ottoman Turks (1453). The exhibits are artifacts of devotion and Christian faith with a strong Hellenic character. Their artistic, humanistic, and cultural value is indisputable and present in all.
They impress the viewer, regardless of religion, nationality, or cultural background. They reflect both Hellenic and Christian culture in their broadest ecumenical aspects. The far-reaching consequences of the Fall of Constantinople for the Christian world at large, be it Western, Central, or Eastern Europe, the Balkans or the Middle East, will be better understood and appreciated by those who view this exhibition. The Renaissance of the West owes much to the East and, in particular, to the rebirth of Hellenism in certain parts of Greece from the ashes of the Byzantine Empire.
REVIEW: Byzantium has been publicized and will be publicized even more by the excellent exhibitions mounted by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and other institutions. But how much do we know about the splendid period of art that flourished not long after 1453 and during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries? The period is not, of course, a renaissance in the sense or with the characteristics of the quattrocento. It is however an artistic heyday after a political collapse. As recent research has demonstrated, the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 is a watershed event in history. But the tradition of government, the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the entire artistic expression continued after the end of the Byzantine Empire.
The new Christian East, with its political uniformity, can be dubbed Post-Byzantium at the level of art. This is the period of great artists and outstanding workshops. The period of influences and fertile contacts as well as of reaction, conflict, and transfusion. The Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens is fortunate in possessing superb works of this period. The present exhibition is but a small sample of the wealth of its collections. On display are fifty-four objects (icons, triptychs, wall-paintings, items in the minor arts, textiles, and books) spanning the period from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, organized in units that enhance the artists and explicate the tole of the workshops in the context of the new political and social reality.
The significance of the exhibition is based on two nuclei. The first is the major eponymous painters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Angels, Ritzos, Tzafouris, Damaskenos, Lambardos), who set their own seal on this Neohellenic “renaissance”. The second is the artistic workshops dispersed throughout the Orthodox Christian world of the East. Exquisite works by anonymous craftsmen imprint on metal, paper, and textile Byzantine tradition enriched with contemporary inquiries.
REVIEW: Published in conjunction with an exhibition held in New York in the Olympic Tower Atrium at the Onassis Cultural Center. Exhibition presents 54 works of art from the collection that represent the survival of Byzantine artistic tradition after the Fall of Constanipole in 1453 as well as the cultural achievements of Hellenism during the centuries when it was living and creating under foreign domination.
REVIEW: Dr. George Kakavas is director of both Athens National Archaaelogy Museum and the Numismatic Museum. He talks with Paul about the importance of preserving antiquities and how the archaeological museum works to preserve and also extend the knowledge of Greek antiquities. The Numismatic Museum is one of the only institutions of its kind in the world. It’s collections illustrate the evolution of stamps from ancient times to the present.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Salutation from the Hellenic Minister of Culture, Professor Evangelos Venizelos.
Salutation from the President of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), Mr. Stelio Papadimitriou.
Forward of the Director of the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Dr. Dimitrios Konstantios.
“Byzance Apres Byance” Post-Byzantine Art (1453-1830) in the Greek Orthodox World by Professor Demetrios D. Triantaphyllopoulos.
Greece, Hearth of Art and Culture After the Fall of Constantinople by Dr. Dimitrios Konstantios.
Introduction by Eugenia Chalkia.
Authors of the Catalogue Entries.
Icons: From Constantinople to Crete.
Triptyches: Icons for Personal Devotions.
Churches and their Wall-Paintings.
Ecclesiastical Objects in the Applied Arts.
Gold-Embroidered Ecclesiastical Textiles.
From Manuscripts to Printed Books.
Bibliography - Abbreviations.
REVIEW: With its East-meets-West styles, it is fabulous stuff, and that's how it looks in Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance. [The New York Times].
REVIEW: An intimate and beautifully designed exhibition of treasures from the Greek Orthodox world after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. [ARTnews].
REVIEW: Now on display in New York at the Onassis Cultural Center, "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance" is one of the nicest small-scale exhibitions I have ever seen. Subtitled "15th-18th Century Treasures from the Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens", it presents 54 objects including icons, frescoes, early books (manuscript and printed), and liturgical metalworks and robes. Given the basic goal of the exhibition--"We wanted to make the post-Byzantine period better known to the public"--Eugenia Chalkia, the museum's deputy director and curator of the show, has made an outstanding selection of artworks.
Many people believe, says Chalkia, that with the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D. there was an end to artistic creation in the Byzantine tradition, but there was continuity and important works were created in the following centuries. Each of the objects on display proves her point. One particularly significant artifact, ascribed to Nikolaos Tzafouris, is a late-fifteenth century icon showing Christ standing in a marble sarcophagus, with the lance at left, sponge at right, and cross behind him. It is a type produced by Cretan artists based on Western models.
The icons and triptychs (small three-paneled icons for private devotion or for use on travels) are the highlight of the exhibition. The most important post-Byzantine center for these was Crete, where painters sought refuge under the protection of Venice after the fall of Constantinople. There's an imposing mid-fifteenth century painting of Saint John the Baptist by a Cretan painter, but what impressed me more was the versatility of Cretan artists, embodied by Michael Damaskenos of the sixteenth century. Four icons by him are on display and show his ability to create extraordinarily beautiful works for Orthodox clients in the Byzantine style and for Catholic clients in a Venetian style.
Only two fresco fragments are in the show, a sixteenth-century head of a saint by a Cretan artist and Saint Anne, dating from the eighteenth century but in a severe, Byzantine style. This fresco fragment may be the work of the sixteenth-century painter Theophanis Strelitzas Bathas, who was born into a family of artists who fled from southern Greece to the safety of Venetian-occupied Crete after of Constantinople fell in 1453 A.D. Of the four early books on display, two are pilgrim's guides to Jerusalem. One of these, a late-seventeenth-century manuscript, has neat calligraphic script and exquisite miniatures depicting holy sites.
There are a number of liturgical vessels and implements, notably a gilded silver crosier with precious stone, enamel inlays, and delicate filigree work, showing the magnificent metalwork in the Byzantine tradition that was made during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (later than the peak of painting, which was more important in the first centuries after the fall of Constantinople). To demonstrate continuity in metalworking, a gilded filigree reliquary cross with carved steatite plaques, which dates from the last decades before 1453, is placed side-by-side with one made during the sixteenth or seventeenth century.
Religious vestments made of costly materials--silk and velvet, embellished with gold and silver thread and pearls--complete the exhibition. Unlike the icon painters and metalworkers who were men, the artists who created these were women. Made in Constantinople in the first half of the seventeenth century, one gold enkolpion was decorated with rubies and emeralds on one side and enamel inlays on the other. Such medallions are worn by Orthodox Bishops. The gilded silver chalice, with enamel and filigree work, was created by Papamanolis Nazloglou in 1710.
The exhibition gives an idea of the scope of the Byzantine & Christian Museum's collection, which includes objects gathered by the Christian Archaeological Society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, others brought by Greek refugees from Asia Minor in 1923, as well as individual donations and excavated material, especially from Athens and its surrounding areas. Expansion of the museum in Athens is under way, says its director, Dimitrios Konstantios. Currently about 400 objects from the collection are on display. That number will jump to 2,400 when the new exhibition areas are opened to the public in 2004, making it the world's largest Byzantine and post-Byzantine museum.
A tribute to those who, living in areas dominated by the Ottomans and Venetians, kept the artistic legacy of Byzantium alive, "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance" travels to Rome after its run in New York, where it will be exhibited at the Capitoline Museum. "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance" is sponsored by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation. It's worth noting that the accompanying catalogue (220 pages mostly in full-color) is exquisite and a highly recommended acquisition. [Archaeological Institute of America].
REVIEW: The exhibition demonstrates the cultural and artistic flourishing of Hellenism in the Post-Byzantine period. The Post-Byzantine period, which begins with the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and ends conventionally with the founding of the Modern Greek State in 1830, is characterised by the survival of many elements of Byzantine civilisation. This survival is most evident in the arts, which were practiced in the centres where Hellenism was living under foreign domination, mainly Ottoman and Venetian. Despite the difficult conditions, especially in the Ottoman-held regions, artistic creativity never ceased, but on the contrary produced notable results. Examples of this art, splendid works by eponymous and anonymous artists from various regions in which Hellenism thrived, are presented in the exhibition, worthily deserving the title 'The Greek Renaissance'.
The term 'renaissance' should, of course, be understood in a conventional sense and should not be identified with the well-known historical phenomenon that emerged and evolved in totally different historical circumstances. The Post-Byzantine artistic 'renaissance' should be regarded as a phenomenon that lies at the antipode of the Fall of Constantinople, as an art that flourished under adverse conditions, an endeavour to keep alive the artistic legacy of Byzantium. The works selected for this exhibition, paintings, objects in the applied arts and gold embroideries give the visitor some idea of the floruit in the visual arts that would have been impossible to accomplish without the education that is manifested by the manuscript codices and printed books.
After the introduction to the space and features of Post-Byzantium (I), the exhibition opens with books (II), so that the visitor is informed of the intellectual output of Hellenism during the Post-Byzantine period. The manuscript codices, ecclesiastical and secular, continue the Byzantine tradition, whereas concurrently printed books began to appear, published by Greek-run printing presses in major European cities, such as Venice and Vienna. Next comes the unit dedicated to painting, which is also the most important artistic expression of the Post-Byzantine period, covering both wall-paintings and portable icons.
Wall-paintings (III) are the principal genre of monumental painting during the Post-Byzantine period, since the tradition of mural mosaics, which was cultivated until the final years of Byzantium, was not continued. The churches these paintings decorate, of which they are an integral part, are of several architectural types in Post-Byzantine times. The closest to the Byzantine tradition are the katholika of monasteries which are of the cross-in-square or the triconch type, while the parish churches display greater variety (transverse-vaulted, aisleless, three-aisled). The wall-paintings, which usually cover the entire interior surface of the church, narrate scenes from the Old and the New Testament and/or the lives of saints. Apart from their symbolic meaning, they present in pictures the sacred texts for the congregation and are at once didactic and paradigmatic.
During the Post-Byzantine period, the art of wall-painting continued the tradition of previous centuries, producing notable ensembles in major monastic centres, such as Mount Athos and the Meteora, as well as in historiated churches and monasteries, mainly in Macedonia, Thessaly and Epirus. Leading exponents of the art were the Cretan Theophanis Strelitzas Bathas, the Theban Frangos Katellanos and the Kontaris brothers. Directly associated with the art of Theophanis is the fragment of a wall-painting with the head of a saint, presented in the exhibition, while a small piece with Saint Anne is typical of the severe wall-painting style of the 18th century, with overt Byzantine memories.
Portable icons (IV) are the paramount cult objects of the Orthodox Church. Painted on wood in the technique of egg tempera, they depict holy persons or biblical scenes, charged with abstruse theological meanings. Their veneration was established triumphantly after the end of Iconoclasm, which tormented Byzantium for more than a century (726-843). Icon-painting, which reached its peak during the final centuries of Byzantium (14th-15th centuries), continued to be cultivated after the Fall of Constantinople, maintaining the high artistic standards and the heritage of the Byzantine capital. The most important centre of icon production during the early centuries of Post-Byzantium (15th-16th centuries) was Crete, where the well-known Cretan School of painting was created by artists who had sought refuge from Constantinople on the island under Venetian occupation.
The relationship between works of the Cretan School dated to the first half of the fifteenth century, that is before the break up of Byzantium, and those painted in the second half of the century can be appreciated by comparing the icons of Saint Marina, the Hospitality of Abraham, the Ascension and Saint John the Baptist, signed by the great painter Angelos Akotantos, with the Royal doors bearing the scene of the Annunciation and the icon of the Dormition of Hosios Ephraim. Other great painters, representatives of the Cretan School, such as Andreas Ritzos and Nikolaos Tzafouris, are featured in the exhibition with their works, J(esus) H(ominum) S(alvator), the first, and the Virgin Madre della Consolazione with Saint Francis and Christ Man of Sorrows, the second.
These three works are characterised by pronounced iconographic and stylistic influences from Western art, one of the principal traits of the Cretan School. There is nothing strange about this fact, if we consider that the painters were living in a Venetian-held region and receiving commissions from both Orthodox and Catholic clients. Thus they were cognisant of and competent in two painting manners, the maniera greca and the maniera latina. This tradition was continued in the following century, as can be observed in the icon of the Virgin Galaktotrophousa (Lactans) with Saint John the Baptist, but especially in the icons by the famous 16th-century painter Michael Damaskenos, who practised and combined both painting manners with equal facility.
To his austere works, in which he cleaves to Byzantine tradition, is countered the icon of the Crucifixion of Saint Andrew, with overt borrowings from Western art. The later representatives of the Cretan School, Thomas Bathas and Emmanuel Lambardos, followed in the footsteps of the great mentors. Triptychs (V), three-leaved icons with the main subject on the middle leaf, secondary representations on the side leaves, and an elaborate wood-carved frame, constitute a special category of icons. They are usually intended for private devotion and are kept in the household icon-shrine or carried by their owner as amulets on his/her travels. Fewer in number are the liturgical triptychs, which are placed in the prothesis of the church and contain, on the inside of the leaves, columns with names of persons living and dead, whom the priest remembers during the order of preparation (Prothesis) of the Sacrament the bread and wine of the Eucharist.
The triptychs in the exhibition, two for private devotion and one liturgical, with their rich thematic repertoire and flawless technique, are classed among the good works of the Cretan School in the sixteenth century. Vestments (VI) represent one of the most opulent branches of art. Both the sacerdotal vestments, which are the attire of clerics of all ranks, and the liturgical ones worn by celebrants of the Mass, are charged with symbolic meanings which are usually expressed in the iconographic subjects chosen for their adornment, as is the case with all the paraphernalia of worship. Fashioned from precious textiles, such as silk and velvet, and embroidered with gold and silver threads and pearls, they enhance the status of the priesthood and endow religious rites and ceremonies with splendor.
In Post-Byzantium the art of embroidery also continued the Byzantine tradition, producing important works, very often signed by accomplished needlewomen. One of the most important centres of the art of ecclesiastical embroidery was Constantinople, which is the provenance of some of the vestments displayed in the exhibition. The applied arts (VII) or minor arts, which encompass diverse works in many materials, are represented in the exhibition mainly by ecclesiastical silverware. In contrast to painting, which produced its most magnificent examples in the first centuries after the Fall of Constantinople, the applied arts came into their own mainly during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which period coincides with the zenith of the monastic centres and the appearance of workshops around these, as well as with the burgeoning of the economy that enabled the faithful to dedicate precious works in the churches.
In general, the iconography and techniques of church silverware reproduce those of corresponding Byzantine pieces, while in parallel accepting and assimilating influences from both Ottoman and Western art. Although the silversmith’s art did not reach the level achieved by its Byzantine models, it nonetheless produced admirable works, distinguished by elaborate decoration and impeccable technique. The reliquary-cross with gilded filigree revetment and steatite plaques is among the works of the last years of Byzantium which served as prototypes in the ensuing centuries, as is apparent from the processional or litany cross with similar decoration. It was most probably made in Constantinople, where silversmiths’ workshops continued to operate after the Fall. Among their products are the refined double-sided enkolpion or pectoral, set with precious stones, and the artophorion and paten that were dedicated by the Metropolitan of Adrianople, Neophytos, to churches in his See.
Another important votive offering, this time of a political leader, is the Gospel book, gifted by the Prince of Wallachia, Matthaios Basarabas, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. An assemblage of high quality artworks in the exhibition comes from the workshops that operated around the Backovo monastery in what is now Bulgaria, a region in which there were prosperous Greek communities. The technique of the delicate filigree decoration upon an enamelled ground and the colourful precious and semi-precious stones are distinctive of all these luxurious objects that were dedicated, usually by prelates, in the renowned monastic foundation. Of simpler art yet of equally good quality is the silverware from workshops in other regions, such as Asia Minor, one of the most important centers of Hellenism during the Post-Byzantine period. Included among works in the applied arts are the carved wood crosses without metal revetment, works of remarkable intricacy and excellent technique that were usually made in Athonite workshops. [Euromuse.net].
REVIEW: Reflections of Byzantium, Where East Meets West. I went to Mount Athos -- Hagion Oros, the Holy Mountain -- in Greece in 1982, and I went the way everyone does: very slowly. From New York I wrote to the Greek Foreign Ministry asking permission to visit this great monastic center, isolated on a squared-off peninsula in the northern Aegean. In Athens, I picked up my pass for a four-day stay, then took a long bus ride to Thessalonika, and another to the port town of Ouranopolis.
From there you reach Athos by a boat that makes the short trip daily. I had to wait two days, though, when word came that a distraught monk had locked himself in a cell with explosives, threatening to blow up a monastery. Athos was in lock-down mode until he was subdued or changed his mind. The 15 passengers on the small boat were men; women, unless they were theology students, were not allowed on Athos. Greek workers and farmers, they had come on pilgrimage, for spiritual retreat. I had come for an experience of a still living Byzantine culture, and I got it: in monastery churches glinting with icons, in their libraries dense with manuscripts and in the oceanic sound of chanting in the night.
Much of what I saw was actually post-Byzantine art, dating from the centuries after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. With its East-meets-West styles, it is fabulous stuff, and that's how it looks in "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance", a true sleeper of an exhibition at the Onassis Cultural Center in Midtown Manhattan. All of the show's 50 objects -- paintings, embroideries, liturgical implements -- are on loan from the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. That alone makes the show an occasion. They also represent, as the curator, Eugenia Chalkia, points out in the exhibition catalog, a still little studied aspect of the Byzantine tradition: a late, hybrid, ''impure'' style of a kind that art historians are only beginning to value and savor.
Although Byzantium had an incalculable effect on art in Italy in earlier centuries, by the time of the Italian Renaissance, the flow of influence had reversed. The effect on Greek art was gradual and subtle. The earliest painting in the show, a half-length, almost life-size icon of St. Marina, dates from the late 14th or early 15th century. Posed on a solid gold ground and staring out from a scarlet robe that encases her like a carapace, she represents a Byzantine style still intact. Then other elements filter in. A marvelous 15th-century panel painting by the Cretan master painter Angelos Akotantos depicts St. John the Baptist with wings, a Byzantine convention. But the flex of the saint's body and the closely observed form of the dove at his feet are naturalist in an Italian way.
There are also Italian themes. In a late-15th-century painting by Andreas Ritzos, another artist working on Crete, which had become a center of Byzantine religious art, scenes of the Crucifixion and Resurrection are ingeniously composed to form the letters J. H. S. This is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase Jesus Hominum Salvator (''Jesus Savior of Men''), a Franciscan emblem. And St. Francis of Assisi himself turns up in another painting from the same period, attributed to Nikolaos Tzafouris. Even as time passed, though, and the world changed, the Byzantine style was preserved, as is seen in two late-16th-century paintings by Michael Damaskenos. His depiction of a gray-bearded St. Anthony is as imperturbably monumental as something carved from stone, though the saint's petite, youthful hands have the warmth of life.
No such concessions to realism are made in a depiction of Jesus as a regal high priest. His jewel-studded miter and assertively patterned, form-flattening vestments give him an abstract magnificence that has nothing to do with life on earth. Here you know at a glance that you are in the Byzantium of old, and you know it again and again in the elaborate wood-and-enamel liturgical crosses and silver-threaded vestments that fill out the show. Roman Catholicism created a grand, competitive version of such opulence. But Byzantine art has something all its own: a time-suspending stillness that Western art never really absorbed.
I certainly resisted it on my Athos visit. I knew I had just four days, and I wanted to see everything. This meant staying on the move, making dusty hikes on foot between monasteries -- there are almost 20 -- always hoping I would arrive in time for someone to show me around. On my last morning, I arrived at the little monastery called Stavronikita, compact and fortresslike on a headland over the sea. In the gatehouse, the monk in charge of receiving guests served me a glass of cold water and a sugar-dusted sweet, customary welcoming fare. I pulled out a notebook with my list of must-see things -- the church has 16th-century frescoes -- eager to begin a tour, but the monk, who spoke no English, had chores to attend to first.
The day was hot, and I was tense and frazzled. I was on world time; he was on Athos time, icon time. He knew; he had seen all this before. He stood directly facing me and with a slow, lowering gesture of both hands indicated "sit". So I did; then I put the notebook away; then I looked around me for a long time. "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance" is memorialized in a catalogue of the same title, a worthy presentation of the ehibitgs together with historical insights. [New York Times].
REVIEW: "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance", a major exhibition in Rome. After its successful presentation in the US, the exhibition "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance" travels to Rome, Italy, where it is presented at the Musei Capitolini. The exhibition showcases 54 masterpieces that highlight the range and influence of the Byzantine tradition after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 until the first half of the 19th century. All the exhibits come rom The Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens. "Post-Byzantium", produced by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, is co-organized by the Greek Embassy in Rome and the Municipality of the Italian capital city. It is grouped into three thematic sections, including Icons, Golden Embroidered Textiles, and The Flourishing of Minor Arts.
Icons, the largest section, is divided into sections from Constantinople-Crete, Italian-Cretan Works, Cretan Maistors, and Wall Paintings. The emphasis on different geographical areas reflects a historical moment in the spread of flourishing Post-Byzantine culture, which took place in all parts of the former empire. Men of letters and artists had begun gathering in Italy long before the Fall of the Empire, and after the Fall, Venice came to be known as 'the second Byzantium'. Golden Embroidered Textiles presents a series of priests' garments, elaborately embroidered in the signature decorative Byzantine style. This section also includes an 18th century epitaphios, a type of embroidery that depicts Christ's bier and is common in Orthodox iconography.
The Flourishing of Minor Arts, which includes art of gold and silver, enamels, filigrees, and carved wooden crosses. Traditionally, art historians have focused their celebration of these centuries on the artistic developments and influences of the Renaissance in Western Europe, while the study of Byzantine art has often left off with the collapse of the Empire in the East. Post-Byzantium illuminates the persistence of the highly influential Byzantine style through this political change and for centuries afterwards. The pervasive strength of Byzantine culture meant that its artistic tradition continued to flourish after the disbanding of the Empire - a "Byzantium after Byzantium," in effect a Greek renaissance.
Furthermore, the Eastern Orthodox Church, which served as a cohesive social and cultural institution, subsequently formalized many of the guidelines for artistic production in reverence for the Church's teachings and theological perspectives. Sculpture, architecture, and particularly painting in the classic Byzantine style remained widespread in the world after the Fall. Byzantine artists and artisans from Crete, the Ionian Islands, Venice, and the Ottoman-held Central Greece and Asia Minor continued to work in communities that were far flung across the former empire. Although many of these artists were not celebrated as individual geniuses, subsequent study of Post-Byzantium has identified a number of them as unqualified masters of their genres.
The exhibition "Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance" is hosted at Rome's Musei Capitolini under the title "Glimpses of Byzantium." From November 2002 to February 2003 it had been presented in New York and that was the first time that the precious exhibits ever left Greece. [Biblioteca Theologica].
REVIEW: Great selection, nice reproductions and text. This must have been a nice little exhibition, worthy of ruminating over. As with many of the exhibition catalogs I've bought, I wish I'd seen it. This is a good substitute.
REVIEW: Superb catalogue. Exquisite art. Well-written and informative narration. Splendid photography. This is a real winner, cataloguing wondrous works of art!
REVIEW: Greece is a country in southeastern Europe, known in Greek as Hellas or Ellada, and consisting of a mainland and an archipelago of islands. Greece is the birthplace of Western philosophy (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle), literature (Homer and Hesiod), mathematics (Pythagoras and Euclid), history (Herodotus), drama (Sophocles, Euripedes, and Aristophanes), the Olympic Games, and democracy. The concept of an atomic universe was first posited in Greece through the work of Democritus and Leucippus. The process of today's scientific method was first introduced through the work of Thales of Miletus and those who followed him.
The Latin alphabet also comes from Greece, having been introduced to the region by the Phoenicians in the 8th century B.C., and early work in physics and engineering was pioneered by Archimedes, of the Greek colony of Syracuse, among others. Mainland Greece is a large peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea (branching into the Ionian Sea in the west and the Aegean Sea in the east) which also comprises the islands known as the Cyclades and the Dodecanese (including Rhodes), the Ionian islands (including Corcyra), the isle of Crete, and the southern peninsula known as the Peloponnese.
The geography of Greece greatly influenced the culture in that, with few natural resources and surrounded by water, the people eventually took to the sea for their livelihood. Mountains cover eighty percent of Greece and only small rivers run through a rocky landscape which, for the most part, provides little encouragement for agriculture. Consequently, the early Greeks colonized neighboring islands and founded settlements along the coast of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor, modern day Turkey). The Greeks became skilled seafaring people and traders who, possessing an abundance of raw materials for construction in stone, and great skill, built some of the most impressive structures in antiquity. Greece reached the heights in almost every area of human learning.
The designation Hellas derives from Hellen, the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha who feature prominently in Ovid's tale of the Great Flood in his Metamorphoses. The mythical Deucalion (son of the fire-bringing titan Prometheus) was the savior of the human race from the Great Flood, in the same way Noah is presented in the biblical version or Utnapishtim in the Mesopotamian one. Deucalion and Pyrrha repopulate the land once the flood waters have receded by casting stones which become people, the first being Hellen. Contrary to popular opinion, Hellas and Ellada have nothing to do with Helen of Troy from Homer's Iliad.
Ovid, however, did not coin the designation. Thucydides writes, in Book I of his Histories: "I am inclined to think that the very name was not as yet given to the whole country, and in fact did not exist at all before the time of Hellen, the son of Deucalion; the different tribes, of which the Pelasgian was the most widely spread, gave their own names to different districts. But when Hellen and his sons became powerful in Phthiotis, their aid was invoked by other cities, and those who associated with them gradually began to be called Hellenes, though a long time elapsed before the name was prevalent over the whole country. Of this, Homer affords the best evidence; for he, although he lived long after the Trojan War, nowhere uses this name collectively, but confines it to the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes; when speaking of the entire host, he calls them Danäans, or Argives, or Achaeans." Greek history is most easily understood by dividing it into time periods. The region was already settled, and agriculture initiated, during the Paleolithic era as evidenced by finds at Petralona and Franchthi caves (two of the oldest human habitations in the world). The Neolithic Age (circa 6000-2900 B.C.) is characterized by permanent settlements (primarily in northern Greece), domestication of animals, and the further development of agriculture. Archaeological finds in northern Greece (Thessaly, Macedonia, and Sesklo, among others) suggest a migration from Anatolia in that the ceramic cups and bowls and figures found there share qualities distinctive to Neolithic finds in Anatolia. These inland settlers were primarily farmers, as northern Greece was more conducive to agriculture than elsewhere in the region, and lived in one-room stone houses with a roof of timber and clay daubing.
The Cycladic Civilization (circa 3200-1100 B.C.) flourished in the islands of the Aegean Sea (including Delos, Naxos and Paros) and provides the earliest evidence of continual human habitation in that region. During the Cycladic Period, houses and temples were built of finished stone and the people made their living through fishing and trade. This period is usually divided into three phases: Early Cycladic, Middle Cycladic, and Late Cycladic with a steady development in art and architecture. The latter two phases overlap and finally merge with the Minoan Civilization, and differences between the periods become indistinguishable.
The Minoan Civilization (2700-1500 B.C.) developed on the island of Crete, and rapidly became the dominant sea power in the region. The term `Minoan' was coined by the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who uncovered the Minoan palace of Knossos in 1900 CE and named the culture for the ancient Cretan king Minos. The name by which the people knew themselves is not known. The Minoan Civilization was thriving, as the Cycladic Civilization seems to have been, long before the accepted modern dates which mark its existence and probably earlier than 6000 B.C.
The Minoans developed a writing system known as Linear A (which has not yet been deciphered) and made advances in ship building, construction, ceramics, the arts and sciences, and warfare. King Minos was credited by ancient historians (Thucydides among them) as being the first person to establish a navy with which he colonized, or conquered, the Cyclades. Archaeological and geological evidence on Crete suggests this civilization fell due to an overuse of the land causing deforestation though, traditionally, it is accepted that they were conquered by the Mycenaeans. The eruption of the volcano on the nearby island of Thera (modern day Santorini) between 1650 and 1550 B.C., and the resulting tsunami, is acknowledged as the final cause for the fall of the Minoans. The isle of Crete was deluged and the cities and villages destroyed. This event has been frequently cited as Plato's inspiration in creating his myth of Atlantis in his dialogues of the Critias and Timaeus.
The Mycenaean Civilization (approximately 1900-1100 B.C.) is commonly acknowledged as the beginning of Greek culture, even though we know almost nothing about the Mycenaeans save what can be determined through archaeological finds and through Homer’s account of their war with Troy as recorded in The Iliad. They are credited with establishing the culture owing primarily to their architectural advances, their development of a writing system (known as Linear B, an early form of Greek descended from the Minoan Linear A), and the establishment, or enhancement of, religious rites. The Mycenaeans appear to have been greatly influenced by the Minoans of Crete in their worship of earth goddesses and sky gods, which, in time, become the classical pantheon of ancient Greece.
The gods and goddesses provided the Greeks with a solid paradigm of the creation of the universe, the world, and human beings. An early myth relates how, in the beginning, there was nothing but chaos in the form of unending waters. From this chaos came the goddess Eurynome who separated the water from the air and began her dance of creation with the serpent Ophion. From their dance, all of creation sprang and Eurynome was, originally, the Great Mother Goddess and Creator of All Things.
By the time Hesiod and Homer were writing (8th century B.C.), this story had changed into the more familiar myth concerning the titans, Zeus' war against them, and the birth of the Olympian Gods with Zeus as their chief. This shift indicates a movement from a matriarchal religion to a patriarchal paradigm. Whichever model was followed, however, the gods clearly interacted regularly with the humans who worshipped them and were a large part of daily life in ancient Greece. Prior to the coming of the Romans, the only road in mainland Greece that was not a cow path was the Sacred Way which ran between the city of Athens and the holy city of Eleusis, birthplace of the Eleusinian Mysteries celebrating the goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone.
By 1100 B.C. the great Mycenaean cities of southwest Greece were abandoned and, some claim, their civilization destroyed by an invasion of Doric Greeks. Archaeological evidence is inconclusive as to what led to the fall of the Mycenaeans. As no written records of this period survive (or have yet to be unearthed) one may only speculate on causes. The tablets of Linear B script found thus far contain only lists of goods bartered in trade or kept in stock. No history of the time has yet emerged. It seems clear, however, that after what is known as the Greek Dark Ages (approximately 1100-800 B.C., so named because of the absence of written documentation) the Greeks further colonized much of Asia Minor, and the islands surrounding mainland Greece and began to make significant cultural advances. Beginning in circa 585 B.C. the first Greek philosopher, Thales, was engaged in what, today, would be recognised as scientific inquiry in the settlement of Miletus on the Asia Minor coast and this region of Ionian colonies would make significant breakthroughs in the fields of philosophy and mathematics.
The Archaic Period (800-500 B.C.) is characterized by the introduction of Republics instead of Monarchies (which, in Athens, moved toward Democratic rule) organised as a single city-state or polis, the institution of laws (Draco’s reforms in Athens), the great Panathenaeic Festival was established, distinctive Greek pottery and Greek sculpture were born, and the first coins minted on the island kingdom of Aegina. This, then, set the stage for the flourishing of the Classical Period of Greece given as 500-400 B.C. or, more precisely, as 480-323 B.C., from the Greek victory at Salamis to the death of Alexander the Great.
This was the Golden Age of Athens, when Pericles initiated the building of the Acropolis and spoke his famous eulogy for the men who died defending Greece at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. Greece reached the heights in almost every area of human learning during this time and the great thinkers and artists of antiquity (Phidias, Plato, Aristophanes, to mention only three) flourished. Leonidas and his 300 Spartans fell at Thermopylae and, the same year (480 B.C.), Themistocles won victory over the superior Persian naval fleet at Salamis leading to the final defeat of the Persians at Plataea in 379 B.C.
Democracy (literally Demos = people and Kratos = power, so power of the people) was established in Athens allowing all male citizens over the age of twenty a voice in government. The Pre-Socratic philosophers, following Thales' lead, initiated what would become the scientific method in exploring natural phenomena. Men like Anixamander, Anaximenes, Pythagoras, Democritus, Xenophanes, and Heraclitus abandoned the theistic model of the universe and strove to uncover the underlying, first cause of life and the universe.
Their successors, among whom were Euclid and Archimedes, continued philosophical inquiry and further established mathematics as a serious discipline. The example of Socrates, and the writings of Plato and Aristotle after him, have influenced western culture and society for over two thousand years. This period also saw advances in architecture and art with a movement away from the ideal to the realistic. Famous works of Greek sculpture such as the Parthenon Marbles and Discobolos (the discus thrower) date from this time and epitomize the artist's interest in depicting human emotion, beauty, and accomplishment realistically, even if those qualities are presented in works featuring immortals.
All of these developments in culture were made possible by the ascent of Athens following her victory over the Persians in 480 B.C. The peace and prosperity which followed the Persian defeat provided the finances and stability for culture to flourish. Athens became the superpower of her day and, with the most powerful navy, was able to demand tribute from other city states and enforce her wishes. Athens formed the Delian League, a defensive alliance whose stated purpose was to deter the Persians from further hostilities.
The city-state of Sparta, however, doubted Athenian sincerity and formed their own association for protection against their enemies, the Peloponnesian League (so named for the Peloponnesus region where Sparta and the others were located). The city-states which sided with Sparta increasingly perceived Athens as a bully and a tyrant, while those cities which sided with Athens viewed Sparta and her allies with growing distrust. The tension between these two parties eventually erupted in what has become known as the Peloponnesian Wars. The first conflict (circa 460-445 B.C.) ended in a truce and continued prosperity for both parties while the second (431-404 B.C.) left Athens in ruins and Sparta, the victor, bankrupt after her protracted war with Thebes.
This time is generally referred to as the Late Classical Period (circa 400-330 B.C.). The power vacuum left by the fall of these two cities was filled by Philip II of Macedon (382-336 B.C.) after his victory over the Athenian forces and their allies at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 B.C. Philip united the Greek city states under Macedonian rule and, upon his assassination in 336 B.C., his son Alexander assumed the throne.
Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.) carried on his father's plans for a full scale invasion of Persia in retaliation for their invasion of Greece in 480 B.C. As he had almost the whole of Greece under his command, a standing army of considerable size and strength, and a full treasury, Alexander did not need to bother with allies nor with consulting anyone regarding his plan for invasion and so led his army into Egypt, across Asia Minor, through Persia, and finally to India. Tutored in his youth by Plato’s great student Aristotle, Alexander would spread the ideals of Greek civilization through his conquests and, in so doing, transmitted Greek philosophy, culture, language, and art to every region he came in contact with.
In 323 B.C. Alexander died and his vast empire was divided between four of his generals. This initiated what has come to be known to historians as the Hellenistic Age (323-31 B.C.) during which Greek thought and culture became dominant in the various regions under these generals' influence. After a series of struggles between the Diodachi (`the successors' as Alexander's generals came to be known) General Antigonus established the Antigonid Dynasty in Greece which he then lost. It was regained by his grandson, Antigonus II Gonatus, by 276 B.C. who ruled the country from his palace at Macedon.
The Roman Republic became increasingly involved in the affairs of Greece during this time and, in 168 B.C., defeated Macedon at the Battle of Pydna. After this date, Greece steadily came under the influence of Rome. In 146 B.C. the region was designated a Protectorate of Rome and Romans began to emulate Greek fashion, philosophy and, to a certain extent, sensibilities. In 31 B.C. Octavian Caesar annexed the country as a province of Rome following his victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium. Octavian became Augustus Caesar and Greece a part of the Roman Empire. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
REVIEW: Ancient Greek Colonization. In the first half of the first millennium B.C., Greek city-states, most of which were maritime powers, began to look beyond Greece for land and resources, and so they founded colonies across the Mediterranean. Trade contacts were usually the first steps in the colonization process and then, later, once local populations were subdued or included within the colony, cities were established. These could have varying degrees of contact with the homeland, but most became fully independent city-states, sometimes very Greek in character, in other cases culturally closer to the indigenous peoples they neighboured and included within their citizenry.
One of the most important consequences of this process, in broad terms, was that the movement of goods, people, art, and ideas in this period spread the Greek way of life far and wide to Spain, France, Italy, the Adriatic, the Black Sea, and North Africa. In total then, the Greeks established some 500 colonies which involved up to 60,000 Greek citizen colonists, so that by 500 B.C. these new territories would eventually account for 40% of all Greeks in the Hellenic World. The Greeks were great sea-farers, and travelling across the Mediterranean, they were eager to discover new lands and new opportunities.
Even Greek mythology included such tales of exploration as Jason and his search for the Golden Fleece and that greatest of hero travellers Odysseus. First the islands around Greece were colonized, for example the first colony in the Adriatic was Corcyra (Corfu), founded by Corinth in 733 B.C. (traditional date), and then prospectors looked further afield. The first colonists in a general sense were traders and those small groups of individuals who sought to tap into new resources and start a new life away from the increasingly competitive and over-crowded homeland.
Trade centres and free markets (emporia) were the forerunners of colonies proper. Then, from the mid-8th to mid-6th centuries B.C., the Greek city-states (poleis) and individual groups started to expand beyond Greece with more deliberate and longer-term intentions. However, the process of colonization was likely more gradual and organic than ancient sources would suggest. It is also difficult to determine the exact degree of colonization and integration with local populations. Some areas of the Mediterranean saw fully-Greek poleis established, while in other areas there were only trading posts composed of more temporary residents such as merchants and sailors.
The very term 'colonization' infers the domination of indigenous peoples, a feeling of cultural superiority by the colonizers, and a specific cultural homeland which controls and drives the whole process. This was not necessarily the case in the ancient Greek world and, therefore, in this sense, Greek colonization was a very different process from, for example, the policies of certain European powers in the 19th and 20th centuries A.D. It is perhaps here then, a process better described as 'culture contact'. The establishment of colonies across the Mediterranean permitted the export of luxury goods such as fine Greek pottery, wine, oil, metalwork, and textiles, and the extraction of wealth from the land - timber, metals, and agriculture (notably grain, dried fish, and leather), for example - and they often became lucrative trading hubs and a source of slaves.
A founding city (metropolis) might also set up a colony in order to establish a military presence in a particular region and so protect lucrative sea routes. Also, colonies could provide a vital bridge to inland trade opportunities. Some colonies even managed to rival the greatest founding cities; Syracuse, for example, eventually became the largest polis in the entire Greek world. Finally, it is important to note that the Greeks did not have the field to themselves, and rival civilizations also established colonies, especially the Etruscans and Phoenicians, and sometimes, inevitably, warfare broke out between these great powers.
Greek cities were soon attracted by the fertile land, natural resources, and good harbors of a 'New World' - southern Italy and Sicily. The Greek colonists eventually subdued the local population and stamped their identity on the region to such an extent that they called it 'Greater Greece' or Megalē Hellas, and it would become the most 'Greek' of all the colonized territories, both in terms of culture and the urban landscape with Doric temples being the most striking symbol of Hellenization.
Some of the most important poleis in Italy were Cumae (the first Italian colony, founded circa 740 B.C. by Chalcis), Naxos (734 B.C., Chalcis), Sybaris (circa 720 B.C., Achaean/Troezen), Croton (circa 710 B.C., Achaean), Tarentum (706 B.C., Sparta), Rhegium (circa 720 B.C., Chalcis), Elea (circa 540 B.C., Phocaea), Thurri (circa 443 B.C., Athens), and Heraclea (433 B.C., Tarentum). On Sicily the main colonies included Syracuse (733 B.C., founded by Corinth), Gela (688 B.C., Rhodes and Crete), Selinous (circa 630 B.C.), Himera (circa 630 B.C., Messana), and Akragas (circa 580 B.C., Gela).
The geographical location of these new colonies in the centre of the Mediterranean meant they could prosper as trade centres between the major cultures of the time: the Greek, Etruscan, and Phoenician civilizations. And prosper they did, so much so that writers told of the vast riches and extravagant lifestyles to be seen. Empedokles, for example, described the pampered citizens and fine temples of Akragas (Agrigento) in Sicily as follows; "the Akragantinians revel as if they must die tomorrow, and build as if they would live forever". Colonies even established off-shoot colonies and trading posts themselves and, in this way, spread Greek influence further afield, including higher up the Adriatic coast of Italy. Even North Africa saw colonies established, notably Cyrene by Thera in circa 630 B.C., and so it became clear that Greek colonists would not restrict themselves to Magna Graecia.
Greeks created settlements along the Aegean coast of Ionia (or Asia Minor) from the 8th century B.C. Important colonies included Miletos, Ephesos, Smyrna, and Halikarnassos. Athens traditionally claimed to be the first colonizer in the region which was also of great interest to the Lydians and Persians. The area became a hotbed of cultural endeavour, especially in science, mathematics, and philosophy, and produced some of the greatest of Greek minds. Art and architectural styles too, assimilated from the east, began to influence the homeland; such features as palmed column capitals, sphinxes, and expressive 'orientalising' pottery designs would inspire Greek architects and artists to explore entirely new artistic avenues.
The main colonizing polis of southern France was Phocaea which established the important colonies of Alalia and Massalia (circa 600 B.C.). The city also established colonies, or at least established an extensive trade network, in southern Spain. Notable poleis established here were Emporion (by Massalia and with a traditional founding date of 575 B.C. but more likely several decades later) and Rhode. Colonies in Spain were less typically Greek in culture than those in other areas of the Mediterranean, competition with the Phoenicians was fierce, and the region seems always to have been considered, at least according to the Greek literary sources, a distant and remote land by mainland Greeks.
The Black Sea (Euxine Sea to the Greeks) was the last area of Greek colonial expansion, and it was where Ionian poleis, in particular, sought to exploit the rich fishing grounds and fertile land around the Hellespont and Pontos. The most important founding city was Miletos which was credited in antiquity with having a perhaps exaggerated 70 colonies. The most important of these were Kyzikos (founded 675 B.C.), Sinope (circa 631 B.C.), Pantikapaion (circa 600 B.C.), and Olbia (circa 550 B.C.). Megara was another important mother city and founded Chalcedon (circa 685 B.C.), Byzantium (668 B.C.), and Herakleia Pontike (560 B.C.). Eventually, almost the entire Black Sea was enclosed by Greek colonies even if, as elsewhere, warfare, compromises, inter-marriages, and diplomacy had to be used with indigenous peoples in order to ensure the colonies' survival.
In the late 6th century B.C. particularly, the colonies provided tribute and arms to the Persian Empire and received protection in return. After Xerxes' failed invasion of Greece in 480 and 479 B.C., the Persians withdrew their interest in the area which allowed the larger poleis like Herakleia Pontike and Sinope to increase their own power through the conquest of local populations and smaller neighbouring poleis. The resulting prosperity also allowed Herakleia to found colonies of her own in the 420s B.C. at such sites as Chersonesos in the Crimea. From the beginning of the Peloponnesian War in 431 B.C., Athens took an interest in the region, sending colonists and establishing garrisons. An Athenian physical presence was short-lived, but longer-lasting was an Athenian influence on culture (especially sculpture) and trade (especially of Black Sea grain). With the eventual withdrawal of Athens, the Greek colonies were left to fend for themselves and meet alone the threat from neighbouring powers such as the Royal Scythians and, ultimately, Macedon and Philip II.
Most colonies were built on the political model of the Greek polis, but types of government included those seen across Greece itself - oligarchy, tyranny, and even democracy - and they could be quite different from the system in the founder, parent city. A strong Greek cultural identity was also maintained via the adoption of founding myths and such wide-spread and quintessentially Greek features of daily life as language, food, education, religion, sport and the gymnasium, theatre with its distinctive Greek tragedy and comedy plays, art, architecture, philosophy, and science. So much so that a Greek city in Italy or Ionia could, at least on the surface, look and behave very much like any other city in Greece. Trade greatly facilitated the establishment of a common 'Greek' way of life. Such goods as wine, olives, wood, and pottery were exported and imported between poleis.
Even artists and architects themselves relocated and set up workshops away from their home polis, so that temples, sculpture, and ceramics became recognisably Greek across the Mediterranean. Colonies did establish their own regional identities, of course, especially as they very often included indigenous people with their own particular customs, so that each region of colonies had their own idiosyncrasies and variations. In addition, frequent changes in the qualifications to become a citizen and forced resettlement of populations meant colonies were often more culturally diverse and politically unstable than in Greece itself and civil wars thus had a higher frequency. Nevertheless, some colonies did extraordinarily well, and many eventually outdid the founding Greek superpowers.
Colonies often formed alliances with like-minded neighbouring poleis. There were, conversely, also conflicts between colonies as they established themselves as powerful and fully independent poleis, in no way controlled by their founding city-state. Syracuse in Sicily was a typical example of a larger polis which constantly sought to expand its territory and create an empire of its own. Colonies which went on to subsequently establish colonies of their own and who minted their own coinage only reinforced their cultural and political independence.
Although colonies could be fiercely independent, they were at the same time expected to be active members of the wider Greek world. This could be manifested in the supply of soldiers, ships, and money for Panhellenic conflicts such as those against Persia and the Peloponnesian War, the sending of athletes to the great sporting games at places like Olympia and Nemea, the setting up of military victory monuments at Delphi, the guarantee of safe passage to foreign travellers through their territory, or the export and import of intellectual and artistic ideas such as the works of Pythagoras or centres of study like Plato's academy which attracted scholars from across the Greek world.
Then, in times of trouble, colonies could also be helped out by their founding polis and allies, even if this might only be a pretext for the imperial ambitions of the larger Greek states. A classic example of this would be Athens' Sicilian Expedition in 415 B.C., officially at least, launched to aid the colony of Segesta. There was also the physical movement of travellers within the Greek world which is attested by evidence such as literature and drama, dedications left by pilgrims at sacred sites like Epidaurus, and participation in important annual religious festivals such as the Dionysia of Athens.
Different colonies had obviously different characteristics, but the collective effect of these habits just mentioned effectively ensured that a vast area of the Mediterranean acquired enough common characteristics to be aptly described as the Greek World. Further, the effect was long-lasting for, even today, one can still see common aspects of culture shared by the citizens of southern France, Italy, and Greece. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
REVIEW: "The Hellenic World" is a term which refers to that period of ancient Greek history between 507 B.C. (the date of the first democracy in Athens) and 323 B.C. (the death of Alexander the Great). This period is also referred to as the age of Classical Greece and should not be confused with The Hellenistic World which designates the period between the death of Alexander and Rome's conquest of Greece (323 - 146 - 31 B.C.). The Hellenic World of ancient Greece consisted of the Greek mainland, Crete, the islands of the Greek archipelago, and the coast of Asia Minor primarily (though mention is made of cities within the interior of Asia Minor and, of course, the colonies in southern Italy). This is the time of the great Golden Age of Greece and, in the popular imagination, resonates as "ancient Greece".
The great law-giver, Solon, having served wisely as Archon of Athens for 22 years, retired from public life and saw the city, almost immediately, fall under the dictatorship of Peisistratus. Though a dictator, Peisistratus understood the wisdom of Solon, carried on his policies and, after his death, his son Hippias continued in this tradition (though still maintaining a dictatorship which favored the aristocracy). After the assassination of his younger brother (inspired, according to Thucydides, by a love affair gone wrong and not, as later thought, politically motivated), however, Hippias became wary of the people of Athens, instituted a rule of terror, and was finally overthrown by the army under Kleomenes I of Sparta and Cleisthenes of Athens.
Cleisthenes reformed the constitution of Athens and established democracy in the city in 507 B.C. He also followed Solon's lead but instituted new laws which decreased the power of the artistocracy, increased the prestige of the common people, and attempted to join the separate tribes of the mountan, the plain, and the shore into one unified people under a new form of government. According to the historian Durant, "The Athenians themselves were exhilarated by this adventure into sovereignty. From that moment they knew the zest of freedom in action, speech, and thought; and from that moment they began to lead all Greece in literature and art, even in statesmanship and war". This foundation of democracy, of a free state comprised of men who "owned the soil that they tilled and who ruled the state that governed them", stabilized Athens and provided the groundwork for the Golden Age.
The Golden Age of Greece, according to the poet Shelley, "is undoubtedly...the most memorable in the history of the world". The list of thinkers, writers, doctors, artists, scientists, statesmen, and warriors of the Hellenic World comprises those who made some of the most important contributions to western civilization: The statesman Solon, the poets Pindar and Sappho, the playwrights Sophocles, Euripedes, Aeschylus and Aristophanes, the orator Lysias, the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the philosophers Zeno of Elea, Protagoras of Abdera, Empedocles of Acragas, Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the writer and general Xenophon, the physician Hippocrates, the sculptor Phidias, the statesman Pericles, the generals Alcibiades and Themistocles, among many other notable names, all lived during this period.
Interestingly, Herodotus considered his own age as lacking in many ways and looked back to a more ancient past for a paradigm of a true greatness. The writer Hesiod, an 8th century B.C. contemporary of Homer, claimed precisely the same thing about the age Herodotus looked back toward and called his own age "wicked, depraved and dissolute" and hoped the future would produce a better breed of man for Greece. Herodotus aside, however, it is generally understood that the Hellenic World was a time of incredible human achievement. Major city-states (and sacred places of pilgrimage) in the Hellenic World were Argos, Athens, Eleusis, Corinth, Delphi, Ithaca, Olympia, Sparta, Thebes, Thrace, and, of course, Mount Olympus, the home of the gods.
The gods played an important part in the lives of the people of the Hellenic World; so much so that one could face the death penalty for questioning - or even allegedly questioning - their existence, as in the case of Protagoras, Socrates, and Alcibiades (the Athenian statesman Critias, sometimes referred to as `the first atheist', only escaped being condemned because he was so powerful at the time). Great works of art and beautiful temples were created for the worship and praise of the various gods and goddesses of the Greeks, such as the Parthenon of Athens, dedicated to the goddess Athena Parthenos (Athena the Virgin) and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (both works which Phidias contributed to and one, the Temple of Zeus, listed as an Ancient Wonder).
The temple of Demeter at Eleusis was the site of the famous Eleusinian Mysteries, considered the most important rite in ancient Greece. In his works The Iliad and The Odyssey, immensely popular and influential in the Hellenic World, Homer depicted the gods and goddesses as being intimately involved in the lives of the people, and the deities were regularly consulted in domestic matters as well as affairs of state. The famous Oracle at Delphi was considered so important at the time that people from all over the known world would come to Greece to ask advice or favors from the god, and it was considered vital to consult with the supernatural forces before embarking on any military campaign.
Among the famous battles of the Hellenic World that the gods were consulted on were the Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis (480 B.C.), Plataea (479 B.C.,) and The Battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.) where the forces of the Macedonian King Philip II commanded, in part, by his son Alexander, defeated the Greek forces and unified the Greek city-states. After Philip's death, Alexander would go on to conquer the world of his day, becoming Alexander the Great. Through his campaigns he would bring Greek culture, language, and civilization to to the world and, after his death, would leave the legacy which came to be known as the Hellenistic World. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
REVIEW: The Byzantine Empire was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the Greek-speaking, eastern part of the Mediterranean. Christian in nature, it was perennially at war with the Muslims, Flourishing during the reign of the Macedonian emperors, its demise was the consequence of attacks by Seljuk Turks, Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks. Byzantium was the name of a small, but important town at the Bosphorus, the strait which connects the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean to the Black Sea, and separates the continents of Europe and Asia. In Greek times the town was at the frontier between the Greek and the Persian world. In the fourth century B.C., Alexander the Great made both worlds part of his Hellenistic universe, and later Byzantium became a town of growing importance within the Roman Empire.
By the third century A.D. the Romans had many thousands of miles of border to defend. Growing pressure caused a crisis, especially in the Danube/Balkan area, where the Goths violated the borders. In the East, the Sasanian Persians transgressed the frontiers along the Euphrates and Tigris. The emperor Constantine the Great (reign 306-337 A.D.) was one of the first to realize the impossibility of managing the empire's problems from distant Rome. So, in 330 A.D. Constantine decided to make Byzantium, which he had refounded a couple of years before and named after himself, his new residence. Constantinople lay halfway between the Balkan and the Euphrates, and not too far from the immense wealth and manpower of Asia Minor, the vital part of the empire.
"Byzantium" was to become the name for the East-Roman Empire. After the death of Constantine, in an attempt to overcome the growing military and administrative problem, the Roman Empire was divided into an eastern and a western part. The western part is considered as definitely finished by the year 476 A.D. when its last ruler was dethroned and a military leader, Odoacer, took power. In the course of the fourth century, the Roman world became increasingly Christian, and the Byzantine Empire was certainly a Christian state. It was the first empire in the world to be founded not only on worldly power, but also on the authority of the Church. Paganism, however, stayed an important source of inspiration for many people during the first centuries of the Byzantine Empire.
When Christianity became organized, the Church was led by five patriarchs, who resided in Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome. The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) decided that the patriarch of Constantinople was to be the second in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Only the pope in Rome was his superior. After the Great Schism of 1054 A.D. the eastern (Orthodox) church separated form the western (Roman Catholic) church. The centre of influence of the orthodox churches later shifted to Moscow.
Since the age of the great historian Edward Gibbon, the Byzantine Empire has a reputation of stagnation, great luxury and corruption. Most surely the emperors in Constantinople held an eastern court. That means court life was ruled by a very formal hierarchy. There were all kinds of political intrigues between factions. However, the image of a luxury-addicted, conspiring, decadent court with treacherous empresses and an inert state system is historically inaccurate. On the contrary: for its age, the Byzantine Empire was quite modern. Its tax system and administration were so efficient that the empire survived more than a thousand years.
The culture of Byzantium was rich and affluent, while science and technology also flourished. Very important for us, nowadays, was the Byzantine tradition of rhetoric and public debate. Philosophical and theological discources were important in public life, even emperors taking part in them. The debates kept knowledge and admiration for the Greek philosophical and scientific heritage alive. Byzantine intellectuals quoted their classical predecessors with great respect, even though they had not been Christians. And although it was the Byzantine emperor Justinian who closed Plato's famous Academy of Athens in 529 A.D., the Byzantines are also responsible for much of the passing on of the Greek legacy to the Muslims, who later helped Europe to explore this knowledge again and so stood at the beginning of European Renaissance.
Byzantine history goes from the founding of Constantinople as an imperial residence on 11 May 330 A.D. until Tuesday 29 May 1453 A.D. when the Ottoman sultan Memhet II conquered the city. Most times the history of the Empire is divided into three periods. The first of these, from 330 till 867 A.D., saw the creation and survival of a powerful empire. During the reign of Justinian (527-565 A.D.), a last attempt was made to reunite the whole Roman Empire under one ruler, the one in Constantinople. This plan largely succeeded: the wealthy provinces in Italy and Africa were reconquered, Libya was rejuvenated, and money bought sufficient diplomatic influence in the realms of the Frankish rulers in Gaul and the Visigothic dynasty in Spain.
The refound unity was celebrated with the construction of the church of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia, in Constantinople. The price for the reunion, however, was high. Justinian had to pay off the Sasanian Persians, and had to deal with firm resistance, for instance in Italy. Under Justinian, the lawyer Tribonian (500-547 A.D.) created the famous Corpus Iuris. The Code of Justinian, a compilation of all the imperial laws, was published in 529 A.D. Soon the Institutions (a handbook) and the Digests (fifty books of jurisprudence), were added. The project was completed with some additional laws, the Novellae. The achievement becomes even more impressive when we realize that Tribonian was temporarily relieved of his function during the Nika riots of 532 A.D., which in the end weakened the position of patricians and senators in the government, and strengthened the position of the emperor and his wife.
After Justinian, the Byzantine and Sasanian empires suffered heavy losses in a terrible war. The troops of the Persian king Khusrau II captured Antioch and Damascus, stole the True Cross from Jerusalem, occupied Alexandria, and even reached the Bosphorus. In the end, the Byzantine armies were victorious under the emperor Heraclius (reign 610-642 A.D.). However, the empire was weakened and soon lost Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Cyrenaica, and Africa to the Islamic Arabs. For a moment, Syracuse on Sicily served as imperial residence. At the same time, parts of Italy were conquered by the Lombards, while Bulgars settled south of the Danube. The ultimate humiliation took place in 800 A.D., when the leader of the Frankish barbarians in the West, Charlemagne, preposterously claimed that he, and not the ruler in Constantinople, was the Christian emperor.
The second period in Byzantine history consists of its apogee. It fell during the Macedonian dynasty (867-1057 A.D.). After an age of contraction, the empire expanded again and in the end, almost every Christian city in the East was within the empire's borders. On the other hand, wealthy Egypt and large parts of Syria were forever lost, and Jerusalem was not reconquered. In 1014 A.D. the mighty Bulgarian empire, which had once been a very serious threat to the Byzantine state, was finally overcome after a bloody war, and became part of the Byzantine Empire. The victorious emperor, Basilius II, was surnamed Boulgaroktonos, "slayer of Bulgars". The northern border now was finally secured and the empire flourished.
Throughout this whole period the Byzantine currency, the nomisma, was the leading currency in the Mediterranean world. It was a stable currency ever since the founding of Constantinople. Its importance shows how important Byzantium was in economics and finance. Constantinople was the city where people of every religion and nationality lived next to one another, all in their own quarters and with their own social structures. Taxes for foreign traders were just the same as for the inhabitants. This was unique in the world of the middle ages.
Despite these favorable conditions, Italian cities like Venice and Amalfi, gradually gained influence and became serious competitors. Trade in the Byzantine world was no longer the monopoly of the Byzantines themselves. Fuel was added to these beginning trade conflicts when the pope and patriarch of Constantinople went separate ways in 1054 A.D. (the Great Schism). Decay became inevitable after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 A.D. Here, the Byzantine army under the emperor Romanus IV Diogenes, although reinforced by Frankish mercenaries, was beaten by an army of the Seljuk Turks, commanded by Alp Arslan ("the Lion"). Romanus was probably betrayed by one of his own generals, Joseph Tarchaniotes, and by his nephew Andronicus Ducas.
After the battle, the Byzantine Empire lost Antioch, Aleppo, and Manzikert, and within years, the whole of Asia Minor was overrun by Turks. From now on, the empire was to suffer from manpower shortage almost permanently. In this crisis, a new dynasty, the Comnenes, came to power. To obtain new Frankish mercenaries, emperor Alexius sent a request for help to pope Urban II, who responded by summoning the western world for the Crusades. The western warriors swore loyalty to the emperor, reconquered parts of Anatolia, but kept Antioch, Edessa, and the Holy Land for themselves.
For the Byzantines, it was increasingly difficult to contain the westerners. They were not only fanatic warriors, but also shrewd traders. In the twelfth century, the Byzantines created a system of diplomacy in which deals were concluded with towns like Venice that secured trade by offering favorable positions to merchants of friendly cities. Soon, the Italians were everywhere, and they were not always willing to accept that the Byzantines had a different faith. In the age of the Crusades, the Greek Orthodox Church could become a target of violence too. So it could happen that Crusaders plundered the Constantinople in 1204 A.D. Much of the loot can still be seen in the church of San Marco in Venice.
For more than half a century, the empire was ruled by monarchs from the West, but they never succeeded in gaining full control. Local rulers continued the Byzantine traditions, like the grandiloquently named "emperors" of the Anatolian mini-states surrounding Trapezus, where the Comnenes continued to rule, and Nicaea, which was ruled by the Palaiologan dynasty. The Seljuk Turks, who are also known as the Sultanate of Rum, benefited greatly of the division of the Byzantine Empire, and initially strengthened their positions. Their defeat, in 1243 A.D., in a war against the Mongols, prevented them from adding Nicaea and Trapezus as well. Consequently, the two Byzantine mini-states managed to survive.
The Palaiologans even managed to capture Constantinople in 1261 A.D., but the Byzantine Empire was now in decline. It kept losing territory, until finally the Ottoman Empire (which had replaced the Sultanate of Rum) under Mehmet II conquered Constantinople in 1453 A.D. and took over government. Trapezus surrendered eight years later. After the Ottoman take-over, many Byzantine artists and scholars fled to the West, taking with them precious manuscripts. They were not the first ones. Already in the fourteenth century, Byzantine artisans, abandoning the declining cultural life of Constantinople, had found ready employ in Italy. Their work was greatly appreciated and western artists were ready to copy their art. One of the most striking examples of Byzantine influence is to be seen in the work of the painter Giotto, one of the important Italian artists of the early Renaissance. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
REVIEW: Built in the seventh century B.C., the ancient city of Byzantium proved to be a valuable city for both the Greeks and Romans. Because it lay on the European side of the Strait of Bosporus, the Emperor Constantine understood its strategic importance and upon reuniting the empire in 324 A.D. built his new capital there; Constantinople. Foundation by Constantine (284 - 337 A.D.) Emperor Diocletian who ruled the Roman Empire from 284 to 305 A.D. believed that the empire was too big for one person to rule and divided it into a tetrarchy (rule of four) with an emperor (augustus) and a co-emperor (caesar) in both the east and west.
Diocletian chose to rule the east. Young Constantine rose to power in the west when his father, Constantius, died. The ambitious ruler defeated his rival, Maxentius, for power at the Battle of Milvian Bridge and became sole emperor of the west in 312 A.D. When Lucinius assumed power in the east in 313 A.D., Constantine challenged and ultimately defeated him at the Battle of Chrysopolis, thereby reuniting the empire. Constantine was unsure where to locate his new capital. Old Rome was never considered. He understood the infrastructure of the city was declining; its economy was stagnant and the only source of income was becoming scarce. Nicomedia had everything he could want for a capital; a palace, a basilica and even a circus; but it had been the capital of his predecessors, and he wanted something new.
Although he had been tempted to build his capital on the site of ancient Troy, Constantine decided it was best to locate his new city at the site of old Byzantium, claiming it to be a New Rome (Nova Roma). The city had several advantages. It was closer to the geographic center of the Empire. Since it was surrounded almost entirely by water, it could be easily defended (especially when a chain was placed across the bay). The location provided an excellent harbor; thanks to the Golden Horn; as well as easy access to the Danube River region and the Euphrates frontier. Thanks to the funding of Lucinius’s treasury and a special tax, a massive rebuilding project began. Constantinople would become the economic and cultural hub of the east and the center of both Greek classics and Christian ideals.
Although he kept some remnants of the old city, New Rome, four times the size of Byzantium, was said to have been inspired by the Christian God, yet remained classical in every sense. Built on seven hills (just like Old Rome), the city was divided into fourteen districts. Supposedly laid out by Constantine himself, there were wide avenues lined with statues of Alexander the Great, Caesar, Augustus, Diocletian, and of course, Constantine dressed in the garb of Apollo with a scepter in one hand and a globe in the other. The city was centered on two colonnaded streets (dating back to Septimus Severus) that intersected near the baths of Zeuxippus and the Testratoon.
The intersection of the two streets was marked by a four-way arch, the tetraphylon. North of the arch stood the old basilica which Constantine converted into a square court, surrounded by several porticos, housing a library and two shrines. Southward stood the new imperial palace with its massive entrance, the Chalke Gate. Besides a new forum, the city boasted a large meeting hall that served as a market, stock exchange, and court of law. The old circus was transformed into a victory monument, including one monument that had been erected at Delphi, the Serpent Column, celebrating the Greek victory over the Persians at Plataea in 479 B.C. While the old amphitheater was abandoned (the Christians disliked gladiatorial contests), the hippodrome was enlarged for chariot races.
One of Constantine’s early concerns was to provide enough water for the citizenry. While Old Rome didn’t have the problem, New Rome faced periods of intense drought in the summer and early autumn and torrential rain in the winter. Together with the challenge of the weather, there was always the possibility of invasion. The city needed a reliable water supply. There were sufficient aqueducts, tunnels and conduits to bring water into the city but a lack of storage still existed. To solve the problem the Binbirderek Cistern (it still exists) was constructed in 330 A.D.
Religion took on new meaning in the empire. Although Constantine openly supported Christianity (his mother was one), historians doubt whether or not he truly ever became a Christian, waiting until his deathbed to convert. New Rome would boast temples to pagan deities (he had kept the old acropolis) and several Christian churches; Hagia Irene was one of the first churches commissioned by Constantine. It would perish during the Nika Revolts under Justinian in 532 A.D. In 330 A.D., Constantine consecrated the Empire’s new capital, a city which would one day bear the emperor’s name. Constantinople would become the economic and cultural hub of the east and the center of both Greek classics and Christian ideals. Its importance would take on new meaning with Alaric’s invasion of Rome in 410 A.D. and the eventual fall of the city to Odoacer in 476 A.D. During the Middle Ages, the city would become a refuge for ancient Greek and Roman texts.
In 337 A.D. Constantine died, leaving his successors and the empire in turmoil. Constantius II defeated his brothers (and any other challengers) and became the empire’s sole emperor. The only individual he spared was his cousin Julian, only five years old at the time and not considered a viable threat; however, the young man would surprise his older cousin and one day becomes an emperor himself, Julian the Apostate. Constantius II enlarged the governmental bureaucracy, adding quaestors, praetors, and even tribunes. He built another cistern and additional grain silos. Although some historians disagree (claiming Constantine laid the foundation), he is credited with building the first of three Hagia Sophias, the Church of Holy Wisdom, in 360 A.D. The church would be destroyed by fire in 404 A.D., rebuilt by Theodosius II, destroyed and rebuilt again under Justinian in 532 A.D.
A convert to Arianism, Constantius II‘s death would place the already tenuous status of Christianity in the empire in jeopardy. His successor, Julian the Apostate, a student of Greek and Roman philosophy and culture (and the first emperor born in Constantinople), would become the last pagan emperor. Although Constantinius had considered him weak and non-threatening, Julian had become a brilliant commander, gaining the support and respect of the army, easily assuming power upon the emperor’s death. Although he attempted to erase all aspects of Christianity in the empire, he failed. Upon his death fighting the Persians in 363 A.D., the empire was split between two brothers, Valentinian I (who died in 375 A.D.) and Valens.
Valentinian, the more capable of the two, ruled the west while the weaker and short-sighted Valens ruled the east. Valens only contribution to the city and the empire was to add a number of aqueducts, but in his attempt to shore up the empire’s frontier --he had allowed the Visigoths to settle there-- he would lose a decisive battle and his life at Adrianople in 378 A.D. After Valens embarrassing defeat, the Visigoths believed Constantinople to be vulnerable and attempted to scale the walls of the city but ultimately failed. Valen’s successor was Theodosius the Great (379 – 395 A.D.).
In response to Theodosius outlawed paganism and made Christianity the official religion of the empire in 391 A.D. He called the Second Ecumenical Council, reaffirming the Nicene Creed, written under the reign of Constantine. As the last emperor to rule both east and west, he did away with the Vestal Virgins of Rome, outlawed the Olympic Games and dismissed the Oracle at Delphi which had existed long before the time of Alexander the Great. His grandson, Theodosius II (408 – 450 A.D.) rebuilt Hagia Sophia after it burned, established a university, and, fearing a barbarian threat, expanded the city’s walls in 413 A.D.; the new walls would be forty feet high and sixteen feet thick.
A number of weak emperors followed Theodosius II until Justinian (527 – 565 A.D.), the creator of the Justinian Code, came to power. By this time the city boasted over three hundred thousand residents. As emperor Justinian instituted a number of administrative reforms, tightening control of both the provinces and tax collection. He built a new cistern, a new palace, and a new Hagia Sophia and Hagia Irene, both destroyed during the Nika Revolt of 532 A.D. His most gifted advisor and intellectual equal was his wife Theodora, the daughter of a bear trainer at the Hippodrome. She is credited with influencing many imperial reforms: expansion of women’s rights in divorce, closure of all brothels, and the creation of convents for former prostitutes.
Under the leadership of his brilliant general Belisarius, Justinian expanded the empire to include North Africa, Spain and Italy. Sadly, he would be the last of the truly great emperors; the empire would fall into gradual decline after his death until the Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1453 A.D. One of the darker moments during his reign was the Nika Revolt. It started as a riot at the hippodrome between two sport factions, the blues and greens. Both were angry at Justinian for some of his recent policy decisions and openly opposed his appearance at the games. The riot expanded to the streets where looting and fires broke out. The main gate of the imperial palace, the Senate house, public baths, and many residential houses and palaces were all destroyed.
Although initially choosing to flee the city, Justinian was convinced by his wife, to stay and fight: thirty thousand would die as a result. When the smoke cleared, the emperor saw an opportunity to clear away remnants of the past and make the city a center of civilization. Forty days later Justinian began the construction of a new church; a new Hagia Sophia. No expense was to be spared. He wanted the new church to be built on a grand scale -- a church no one would dare destroy. He brought in gold from Egypt, porphyry from Ephesus, white marble from Greece and precious stones from Syria and North Africa. The historian Procopius said: "it soars to a height to match the sky, and as if surging up from other buildings it stands as high and looks down on the remnants of the city … it exults in an indescribable beauty."
Over ten thousand workers would take almost six years to build it. Afterwards Justinian was reported to say, “Solomon, I have surpassed thee.” Near the height of his reign, Justinian’s city suffered an epidemic in 541 A.D. --the Black Death-- where over one hundred thousand of the city’s residents would die. Even Justinian wasn’t immune, although he survived. The economy of the empire would never completely recover. Two other emperors deserve mention: Leo III and Basil I. Leo III (717 – 741 A.D.) is best known for instituting iconoclasm, the destruction of all religious relics and icons, the city would lose monuments, mosaics and works of art, but he should also be remembered for saving the city.
When the Arabs lay siege to the city, he used a new weapon “Greek fire”, a flammable liquid to repel the invaders. It was comparable to napalm, and water was useless against it as it would only help to spread the flames. While his son Constantine V was equally successful, his grandson Leo IV, initially a moderate iconoclast, died shortly after assuming power, leaving the incompetent Constantine VI and his mother and regent Irene in power. Irene ruled with an iron hand, preferring treaties to warfare, aided by several purges of the military. Although she saw the return of religious icons (endearing her to the Roman church), her power over her son and the empire ended when she chose to have him blinded; she was exiled to the island of Lesbos.
Basil I (867- 886 A.D.), the Macedonian (although he had never set foot in Macedonia), saw a city and empire that has fallen into disrepair and set about a massive rebuilding program: Stone replaced wood, mosaics were restored, churches as well as a new imperial palace were constructed, and lastly, considerable lost territory was recovered. Much of the rebuilding, however, was lost during the Fourth Crusade (1202 -1204 A.D.) when the city was plundered and burned, not by the Muslims, but by the Christians who had initially been called to repel invaders but sacked the city themselves. Crusaders roamed the city, tombs were vandalized, churches desecrated, and Justinian’s sarcophagus was opened and his body flung aside. The city and the empire never recovered from the Crusades leaving them vulnerable for the Ottoman Turks in 1453 A.D. [Ancient History Encyclopedia].
REVIEW: The double-headed eagle has been a popular symbol associated with the concept of a powerful Empire. Most contemporary uses of the symbol are exclusively associated with its use by the Byzantine Empire and the Greek Orthodox Church. However, the double-headed eagle has been in use for thousands of years – way before the Greeks identify it with the Byzantine Empire and Orthodox religion – while its original meaning is debated among scholars. The eagle was a common symbol representing power in ancient Greek city-states.
In Greek mythology, there was an implication of a "dual-eagle" concept in the tale that Zeus let two eagles fly East and West from the ends of the world with them eventually meeting in Delphi thus proving it to be the center of the earth. According to many historians, however, the two-headed eagle appears to be of Hittite origin. Early examples of the symbol come from the Hittite empire in central Anatolia, where two-headed eagles can be found on seals and also on sculptures. Interestingly, some of those sculptures also have other beasts in their claws and appear to be the symbol of the ruler standing on it.
Thus, the two-headed eagle could have been the symbol of the tribe of the ruler but also of the ruler himself. After the Hittite two-headed eagles there is a gap of almost two millennia to be filled. In the meantime, the emblem of the supreme commander in the Hellenistic world was a monstrous head, being the head of the army personified by Medusa or Nike (Goddess of Victory). The famous symbol re-appears again thousands of years later, during the Early Middle Ages, around the 10 th century, where it was mainly used as the absolute symbol of the Byzantine Empire. It is suggested that the early Byzantine Empire inherited the Roman eagle as an imperial symbol. During his reign, Emperor Isaac I Comnenus (1057–1059) modified it as double-headed, influenced by traditions about such a beast in his native Paphlagonia in Asia Minor.
After the recapture of Constantinople by the Byzantine Greeks in 1261, two crowns were added (one over each head) representing the newly recaptured capital and the intermediate "capital" of the empire of Nicaea. In the following two centuries (11th and 12th), representations of the symbol were also found in Islamic Spain, France and Bulgaria, while from the 13th century onward it becomes more and more widespread. In the meantime the two-headed eagle was adopted by the Islamic world as well, especially after the fall of the Seljuq Empire and the restoration of the temporal power of the Caliphate of Bagdad in 1157. This is testified mainly by coins bearing a two-headed eagle and from the vassals of the Caliphate.
Even more impressively, the two-headed bird is also found in Indian culture. Known as “Gandhabherunda” in India, the symbol has the same Hittite origin as the two-headed eagle in the West. A myth says that Vishnu assumed the form of a two-headed eagle to annihilate Sarabha, a form taken by Shiva to destroy Narasimha (an avatar of Vishnu) again, a sectarian device to humble a rival creed. Such a bird appears at Sirkap Stupa which usually is dated at about the beginning of the Christian era. It is depicted there sitting and turned to the dexter and this seems to have been the common attitude for centuries. It can also be found on a fresco in Brihadiswara Temple, consecrated 1010, and much later on a 16th century Vijayanagar coin.
However, it was Christianity that ultimately arrogated the symbol. The now widely-recognized yellow with a black crowned double-headed eagle flag, became the symbol of the Palaiologoi family, the last Greek royal family to rule the Byzantine Empire before the fall of Constantinople in 1453. As already mentioned, after Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos recaptured Constantinople from the Crusaders in 1261, he adopted the double-headed eagle which symbolized the dynasty's interests in both Asia and Europe. During these two centuries of the dynasty’s reign though, the flag became identified not just with the specific family but with the Empire itself.
Additionally, in the eyes of the Byzantines the double-headed eagle gradually became the absolute symbol of Orthodoxy, symbolizing the unity between the Byzantine Orthodox Church and State, which was governed by the principle of “Symphonia”, thus the "symphony" between the civil and the ecclesiastical functions of Byzantine Orthodox society. In addition, the heads of the eagle also represented the dual sovereignty of the Byzantine Emperor, with the left head representing Rome (the Western part) and the right head representing Constantinople – the Hellenistic part of the Empire.
Apparently, when the Holy Crusaders passed through Constantinople on their way to what is now Israel, they most likely first came in contact with the impressive double-headed symbol embroidered in gold on heavy banners of silk, borne aloft by the Seljuk Turks. It was from the Turks and not the Byzantines, as some may falsely think, that the crusaders took this banner to adorn the courts of Charlemagne and hung as a sacred relic in the great cathedrals. Frederick of Prussia is the one to “blame” for popularizing the eagle symbol throughout Western Europe, as he was the one who supplied the emblem during the formative stages of the Rite, even though he or Prussia couldn’t use it exclusively as their own.
In England we find it used upon knightly arms. Most notably Robert George Gentleman displayed it upon his shield, with the motto, "Truth, Honour and Courtesy." In France, it became popular by Count de Montamajeur, who associated with the motto, "I shall hold myself erect and not blink,” and in Italy we find it upon the arms of the Duke of Modena in 1628 under the motto "No age can destroy it. As for its modern use? It remains the absolute symbol of the Greek Orthodox Church, while it is often seen in the world of sports. Several football (soccer) clubs across Europe, bear the double-headed eagle in their insignia, with the Greek sport club of AEK – Athletic Union of Constantinople – which was founded by Greek refugees who fled to Greece from Constantinople in the 1920s, being the most popular and successful of them. [Ancient Origins].
REVIEW: The Varangian Guard: Berserkers of the Byzantine Empire. The tale of the Varangians continues in its prime in the form of the Varangian Guard, a prominent and selective Byzantine army arising in the tenth century. Composed of the Scandinavian marauders in the beginning, the Varangian Guard survived until the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries as the Byzantine Emperor's elite sentinel. Dressed in battle armor of blue tunics and crimson cloaks, with man-high battle axes gilded with gold, the bright colors of the Varangian Guard did nothing to quell the terrible berserking power, which they laid against all those who threatened their Byzantine leader.
Berserkers were Old Norse warriors who fought as unchecked, frenzied shock troops who, when deployed, appeared so mad that neither "fire nor iron" frightened them. Much of what is known about the Varangian Guard comes down through the centuries from scholars such as Princess Anna Komnene, daughter of Emperor Alexios I, and Michael Psellos, a monk from Constantinople—both writing in the eleventh century A.D. It is believed that the Varangian Guard had been formed around the year 874 when a treaty between the Rus' and Byzantine Empire dictated that the Rus' had to send warriors to the aid of the Empire as necessary.
Though it was initially a forced military draft, the practice later became voluntary, undoubtedly in part to ensure the Varangians did not revolt against their new Byzantine leaders. However, it was not hard to keep the foreign warriors working in the Empire, as the Empire reportedly treated the Varangians far more generously than the leaders of Rus', who tended to withhold payments and ignore promises of land and status. It was Emperor Basil II, also known as Basil Bulgaroktonos (Bulgar slayer), who truly brought the Varangians to the forefront of Byzantine culture in the tenth century. Born of Macedonian stock, Basil II reigned from 976 to 1025, and is in large part remembered for stabilizing the eastern empire against foreign threats.
The stabilization, however, was in large part due to Varangian aid, given to him by Vladimir I of the Kievan Rus', and cemented because of Vladimir's marriage to Basil's own sister, Anna. With this wedding, the Varangian forces became a interchangeable unit between Rus' and the Byzantine Empire, and they were uniquely tied for as long as the Empire remained. This is how the Varangians became Christianized (see Part 1). Part of Basil's agreement to allow Vladimir to wed his sister was that Vladimir had to accept Anna's religion. Thus, Vladimir was baptized and Rus' was Christianized not long after. Initially, the Varangian Guard was utilized as extra fighting power in skirmishes between Byzantium and some of her eastern foes. However, as history shows, with usurpers such as Basil II's own namesake Basil I, the native protectors of the city and of the Emperor could easily be swayed to shift loyalties. Thus Emperor Basil II came to actually trust the Varangians more than his own people, and they were therefore given a more critical role in his armed forces. Princess Anna even notes in her work The Alexiad, the Varangians were uniquely known for their loyalty to the ruling emperor. (This is in reference to her father's own seizing of the Byzantine throne).
Eventually, they became the personal protectors of the emperor himself: an elite, close knit force that remained near the emperor's side at all times. Accompanying him to festivals and parties, religious activities and private affairs, the Guard remained at all times close to the emperor and his family. They were the guardians of his bedchambers in the evenings, remaining barracked within the palace to ensure they were always nearby, and went so far as to provide crowd control at illustrious gatherings to ensure the emperor was always protected and always had a way to escape. Within a short time, it became quite a prestigious endeavor to be one of the emperor's elite defenders. Though initially comprised of Scandinavian descendants, the Varangian Guard grew over the years to include most of the races of the British Isles: Anglo-Saxons, Irishmen, Scotsmen, etc.
A fee of seven to sixteen pounds of gold was charged to allow entrance into the army, oftentimes on a loan basis from the Byzantine emperor himself. The warriors then quickly repaid their debt with the large salary they were provided for their services, on top of the booty they were allowed to take after the success of decisive battles. Furthermore, modern author Lars Magnar Enoksen claimed that, upon the death of each Byzantine Emperor, it was customary for the Varangians to pillage the palace treasury in an Old Norse rite. This act made the warriors even wealthier, and in showing off this wealth to their own families, many other Scandinavians were eager to pay the fee to become part of the Guard.
The berserkers of the Byzantine Empire, the Varangian Guard allowed the Viking name to survive well into the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as protectors and warriors of the eastern empire. It can be postulated that without the Varangian Guard the Byzantine Empire could have taken a vastly different turn. The unyielding protection they provided their emperors helped prevented the vicious usurpations that had plagued the Roman Empire that preceded them. Though even this defense eventually came to an end with the Fourth Crusade's siege of Constantinople in the year 1204 AD, the Varangians survived long beyond their Viking ancestors as a strong, elite force, rich in both wealth, as well as power. [Ancient Origins].
REVIEW: A trove of ancient Byzantine ships found in waters near Istanbul, Turkey, displayed more advanced construction than scholars previously knew for that era. The ships include two unique Byzantine galleys propelled by oars, which are the first of their kind to be salvaged and were previously known only from text and images. Officials are planning a large museum to show the ships, which date back between 800 and 1,500 years, but it may be several years before their hulls are prepared to the point that they may be exhibited. Ships so far removed from the waters of the Sea of Marmara have had to be continuously sprayed with water to prevent deterioration.
The Byzantine Empire, extant from 330 to 1450 A.D., at one point covered much of southern Europe, Asia Minor and North Africa. Several historians have called it a ‘maritime empire’ as the sea became vital to its very existence. Excavated along with the galleys, were 35 other Byzantine shipwrecks at the port of Yenikapi in Istanbul, known then as Constantinople. "Never before has such a large number and types of well-preserved vessels been found at a single location," study author Cemal Pulak of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University told LiveScience.com. "The ships are in very good condition."
A new report, published in December in the International Journal of Nautical Archeology, highlights eight of the ships. The report says the ships were built incorporating two techniques: building the shell first and then adding the skeleton, and vice versa. This shift in technique from shell first to skeleton first, which is more advanced, was underway by the seventh century. Scholars thought the skeleton-first technique came later in history. Six of the eight ships examined in the new report were round ships 26 to 48 feet (8 to 14.7 meters) long and between 8 and 16 feet (2.5 to 5 meters) wide. Round ships are propelled mostly or fully by sails. The two others were oar-propelled galleys 100 feet (30 meters) long by 13 feet (4 meters) wide.
“Previously, Byzantine galleys were known only from books and artwork dating to the time period, and such sources tend to be difficult to interpret. Therefore the well-preserved remains of these vessels at Yenikapi play a crucial role in archaeologists' study of Byzantine ships, the researchers said,” LiveScience reports. Much information about Byzantine ships prior to the 2004 find had come from several medium-size seagoing ships excavated in the Mediterranean Sea. "Yenikapi has yielded a wide array of small rowboats, fishing boats, utility vessels and even naval ships, all directly from Constantinople itself, the capital of the Byzantine Empire," Pulak told LiveScience.com.
Some magnificent discoveries have been made in Turkish waters in the last year, including eight Ottoman era shipwrecks near Antalya , and an ancient ship in the Port of Urla underwater site, a port city located near Izmir, which is believed to date back an incredible 4,000 years, making it the oldest known shipwreck in the world. [Ancient Origins].
REVIEW: Vedic Discoveries: Krsna and Balarama in Greece — Dionysus — Herakles. The people of Marathon worship both those who died in the fighting, calling them 'heroes,' and [a semi-divine being called] 'Marathon,' from whom the country derives its name, but also Heracles . . . . They say also that a man took part in the battle who looked and was dressed like a farmer. He slaughtered many of the Persians with his plowshare, and when everything was over he disappeared. But when the Athenians consulted the oracle, the god would not tell them anything except to honor 'Echetlaeus' [i.e. the man with the plowshare] as a hero."
However, the worship of Sankarsana appears to have been quite popular in the fourth century B.C. and Megasthenes seems to refer to him. The Greek writer referring to Dionysos clearly states that the Indians speak of three individuals of this name appearing in different ages and they assign suitable achievements to each of these. The oldest of these was Indos, apparently the same as Indra, "who crushed grapes and discovered the use of the properties of wine." He further states that Dionysos also found out the method of growing figs and other fruit trees and taught this knowledge to others whence he was called Lenaios.
This may be a corruption of Lingayasas or Lingin, a name for Siva. The third god spoken of in this context is Katapogon; and Megasthenes states that he was so named because it is a custom among Indians to grow their beards with great care. Katapogon is evidently the same as Kapardin, meaning one wearing braided and matted hair. The epithet is usually applied to Siva, but it may have been applied to Sankarsana also since the worshippers of Sankarsana, as we have noted earlier, wore braided (jatila) hair.
At any rate, the three gods who could have been confused with Dionysos by Megasthenes are apparently Indra, Siva and Sankarsana, all the three are associated with wine and renowned for their bacchanalian habits. Arrian informs us that before the coming of Dionysos, Indians were nomads subsisting on the bark of the trees known as tala (fan-palm) and that when Dionysos came to India he taught them to sow the land, and it was he who "first yoked oxen to the plough and made many Indian husbandmen and gave the people the seeds of cultivated plants."
The description eminently suits the agricultural divinity Sankarsana, the wielder of the plough, with the fan-palm as his emblem. Arrian also writes that according to the Indians, Dionysos was earlier than Herakles by fifteen generations; and, as Herakles is generally identified with Vasudeva-Krsna in the popular mythology of the fourth century B.C., the Krishna and Baladeva legends had not yet acquired the final shape in which they are presented to us in the Mahabharata and the Puranas." (From ‘Pausanias, Description of Greece’, 1.32.4, quoted in George Luck’s ‘Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds’).
"It is pointed out in the Bhagavad-gita that Arjuna often addresses Vasudeva Krsna as Visnu. But the date of this work is highly controversial. It is closely linked with that of the epic in its present form. The assertion of another scholar (Pusalkar) about Megasthenes "The Greek ambassador definitely states that Krsna was regarded as an incarnation of Visnu" is evidently baseless. All that Megasthenes is reported to have said is "This Herakles is held in especial honour by Sourasenoi, an Indian tribe who possess two large cities Mathora and Cleisobora and through whose country flows a navigable river called Iobares." Herakles has been identified with Vasudeva Krsna and Sourasenoi with the Surasena Yadavas.
The use of the words "especial honour" clearly indicates that Krsna was still a minor divinity, far from being the supreme god that he becomes with his identification with Narayana-Visnu; by no stretch of the imagination can it be construed to refer to Narayana-Visnu. In the early centuries preceding and succeeding the Christian era, the entry of foreign tribes into India produced a favourable impact on the cults of Vaisnvaite and Saivite divinities, which, on the whole, enjoyed the support of the foreigners. The Greeks identified Krsna with Herakles and Sankarsana with Dionysos, and it is no wonder that they were favourably inclined to their worship. The Besnagar inscription describes the Greek ambassador Heliodorus as a Bhagavata who dedicated a Garuda banner to Lord Vasudeva.
The earliest epigraphic evidence for the existence of the Bhagavata cult is found in Madhya Pradesh. The discovery of the Garuda pillar inscription of Besnagar is a landmark in the history of Bhagavatism. The inscription records the erection of a Garuda standard in honour of Vasudeva, the god of gods, by a Greek ambassador Heliodorus who describes himself as a Bhagavata (see Heliodorus Column), and a resident of Taksasila. The ambassador came from the Greek king Antialcidis to Kautsiputra Bhagabhadra identified with the fifth Sunga king, and the record is dated in the fourteenth year of his reign, approximating to circa 113 B.C." Suvira Jaisval, The Origin and Deveopment of Vaisnavism (Munshiram Manoharlal, 1967).
The Times of India reports a major archeological find of structures dating back to the Mahabharata period: "Archaeologists have discovered ancient monuments, dating back to the Mahabharat period, during excavations carried out near Gwalior. The excavations, carried over a period of five months, were suspended on July 7 due to the monsoon.' The archaeologists believe that Gwalior town was established in the first century AD and not in eighth century AD, as was believed earlier. They came to this conclusion following the discovery of a large community structure at the Gwalior fort.
Superintending archaeologist of Madhya Pradesh A.K. Sinha said the excavations had exposed a 1.7-metre thick burnt brick wall having a height of about three metres. Mr Sinha told TOINS that the wall appeared to be a part of a large community structure, possibly a huge reservoir. On the basis of the ceramic industry and workmanship, the structure was dated to the first century AD. Though Naga coins dating to the 2nd or 3rd century AD were found from the surface on earlier occasions from Gwalior fort, this is the first time that any structural remains dating back to the beginning of the Christian era has been found. The ASI plans to carry out more excavations after the monsoon.
A Mahabharat period site has also been found at Kotwar, about 40 km from here. The site is located about eight km from Noorabad, a sub-divisional town on the Agra-Mumbai highway. The excavations, which started in February last, will be resumed after the monsoon. According to the archaeologists, the site has been identified with Kamantalpur, which was derived from the name of its founder, Kamant, father of the mythological character in the Mahabharat, Kunti, who later became the mother of the five Pandva brothers.
The site has a 18 to 20-metre-high mound and covers an area of about 2.5 sq km, according to Mr Sinha. He said the site had also been identified as one of the chief cities of the nine., Naga kings.The archaeologists claim that the digging at Kotwar had led to the recovery of painted greyware which had been interpreted by noted archaeologists B.B. Lal, as belonging to the Mahabharat period.
During the excavations at Kotwar, black and redware and black slipped ware, typical ceramic industries which pre-dated even the painted greyware (1100-800 B.C.), were found from the lowest levels. The remains found at Kotwar have been sent to the Physical Research Laboratory and the Birbal Sahni Institute of Botany for precise dating. The excavations also revealed a number of ring wells which date back to the later half of the first millennium B.C.." [Archaeology Online].
I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site) and free insurance coverage. A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher.
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Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology.
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