Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In the Byzantine Period

David’s Star in the Byzantine Period, between the 6th-9th centuries

This additional chapter is dedicated to a “pre-view” of the development of the Magen David in Byzantine and Islamic times, which inspired the Massoretic Movement of the Jews in the 9th-11th centuries, converting the Magen David and other signs to pure Jewish ones. This chapter has to be a short one as detailed explanations are planned for later, and are already in preparation. But, we don’t want to miss the great historical vision just now.
In spite of the suppression of the Davidic Sign by the Cross of the Constantinian Church the Judeo-Christian Movement did relatively well in the 4th century A.D. it even experienced the start of a rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple by Julian the Apostate (361-63), which had to be intercepted only by the early death of the emperor in his Russian War.

And in spite of the fact of the formation of the Judeo-Christian Movement in the 1st century C.E., being a separation from traditional Judaism, the clinging of its members to the Torah and their taking part in the religious service of the Synagogue made them a kind of partners in the historical fate of the Jewish people. A first severe blow against Jewish independent rule, represented by the Sanhedrin and the Patriarchate, has been suffered about the year 427 C.E. by the failure of Theodosius II to appoint a successor to Gamaliel the VI th, the last patriarch. But the Sanhedrin continued in its rule. The Magen David seems to have continued as an interior Judeo-Christian Sign, but no more as an official Sign to the outer world. But, to our great surprise we find the Magen David suddenly at the end of the 5th century and the first half of the 6th century on Byzantine coins, of Anastasius (491-518 C.E.), Justin (518-527 C.E.) and Justinian (527-565 C.E.)

59. Anastasius (491-518 C.E.) Large 'K' with Magen David above and below on half Follis
60. Justinian I (AD 527-565). Gold solidus with Magen David

61. Large 'M' with Magen David on Byzantine coin

The Davidic Star appears on these Byzantine coins once or sometimes twice on the Reverse side of follies beside the central sign of the big M or the big K, or also on the golden issues beside the Christian Ornamentation.

Baramki in his article in the QDPA has shown it in detail, but without mentioning the historical importance of it. These Byzantine rulers have truly saved David’s Star from oblivion and have become responsible for its acceptance by the Byzantine church architecture Istambul's of the 6th-9th centuries by the Islam, and also by its acceptance in Islamic art.

Yet, in addition to the acception of the Davidic Star in Byzantine Numismatics of the end of the 5th century and over to the first half of the 6th century these rulers are responsible, too, for its acceptance in Byzantine Church architecture. The most famous Church is the Hagia Irene, which is the second in importance after the Hagia Sophia. David’s Star appears in the Hagia Irene, most representative on the four pendantives of each of the two domes there, which were built under the patronage of Justinian in 532 C.E. at the reconstruction of the Church.

62. Hagia Irene, Constantinople - David' s Star as decoration of the four pendentives of both domes of the Church
63. Gul Camii, Istanbul. From: Les Eglises de Constantinople
Jean Ebersolt, Adolphe Thiers. Paris, 1913

XXI. Ottoman Restoration Work of Byzantine Churches
But there are in Constantinople other Byzantine Churches which have the Magen David. Part of them were reconstructed in the Ottoman period, repainting it were it appeared (Pl. ) [38], but also addishing on them.
One of these reconstucted churches is St. Theodosia, called Gul Cami, after becoming an Ottoman Mosque. [Pl. ]
All the supporting arches of the church are filled in short regular distances with the Magen David, but in combination, above and below, with one Lily Sign, growing out from a lobed base. This kind of combination between the Magen David and two additional Lily Signs, and its frequency on the arches is not known from church architecture of antiquity, and so it must be an innovation of the Ottoman rulers.
In the Dome of the church the Magen David is inscribed into a six radiated star-motive, which is enclosed by a six-pointed borderline. The center of the Davidic Star is occupied by a six-pointed Star. This complicated Star motive in the Dome appears 12 times around it. The six-partite Lily Sign accompanied again above and below by the lobed Lily Sign.

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