Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Photos from last Friday's Webinar

Celsus Library in Ephesus

Synagogue at Sardis

Temple of Artemis at Sardis
 Here are a few photographs from Deirdre's part of the talk in the webinar last Friday March 23rd.
Katherine's talk was on Ephesus so she will add her pictures later with descriptions.

The 3rdCentury CE synagogue at Sardis is the largest in Asia Minor and is over 300 feet in length. The synagogue floors were paved with mosaics some of which can still be seen today thanks to restoration by Jewish communities in the US and elsewhere. The walls are inset with marble panels of floral and animal designs. It indicates a wealthy and publicly active Jewish community at Sardis with seats on the city council.
Hagia Sophia
The temple of Artemis at Sardis is the 4th largest Ionic Temple in the world. Built around 300BCE, it was restored by the Romans in the 2nd Century CE as a result of Sardis' enhanced status. In the front left foreground of the photograph, you can see a small Christian chapel of the 4th Century CE. This will enable us to reflect on the continuity of religious traditions in sacred buildings.

Our trip will end in Istanbul where we will see Aya Sofia (Hagia Sophia) perhaps even in a light dusting of snow! Built on older constructions, and near the hippodrome and the Great Palace of the Emperors, the Emperor Justinian had material for the Byzantine church brought from everywhere in the Empire: hellenistic columns from the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, for example. Nothing like it existed. A domed basilica, the building was dedicated in December 537. It is one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture and influenced the shape and constructions of religious buildings for centuries to come. Further architectural details here.

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottomans, the building became a the first Imperial mosque of the Ottoman Empire. Subsequent Sultans restored and enhanced the building. And great architects like Mimar Sinan (1489-1588) used and developed the roof design of Aya Sofia as a model for many other buildings including like Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul.

In 1953, President Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey, declared the building a museum.

Deesis in Hagia Sophia

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Welcome to everyone interested in travel to Turkey!

From January 9-20, 2013, Professor Katherine Shaner and I will co-lead a trip to Asia Minor (modern Turkey). The trip is organized by Illume Travel of Boston and details (including costs and registration) are here.

The purpose of this blog is initially to provide information about the trip. Prior to the trip, participants can get to know each other and the group as a whole through the blog. We will then hold a webinar nearer to the departure to cover final details.

We will fly into Izmir (ancient Smyrna) and travel south to Miletus and Didyma before we visit Ephesus for a day and a half.

Then we will travel through Aphrodisias, Laodicea and Hiearapolis after which we will visit the largest synagogue in Asia Minor at Sardis. We will continue travelling north through ancient Troy and conclude the trip with 3 days in Istanbul to take in Byzantine churches that are now museums (Hagia Sophia and the Church of Our Savior in Chora), mosques (Blue Mosque), TopKapi palace, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market.

To help participants prepare for the trip, we will cover each site in a different blog post and supply appropriate bibliographical resources and links.

Plans for the blog
I want to end the first post of this new blog by sharing more information about Hagia Sophia. This link comes from a blog post of March 23rd (last Friday) attached to a current exhibit, Byzantium and Islam at the Metropolitan Museum of NYC, on display until July 2012. I will blog the exhibit --which I have now visited twice-- in a future post.

Also in future posts, Prof Shaner and I will create an FAQ about the trip and visiting Turkey; information about Turkish history and Turkey today (ranging from politics to football and food); rudimentary Turkish and useful phrases to know.

In the meantime, please post comments and questions you might have. Thanks!