Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Byzantine Sheep in Istanbul

Today's hero is my brother who has translated some of the Turkey pictures into something that can be shown on the blog. Here is a frieze of Byzantine sheep outside Haghia Sophia. (5th century). I love them. And their palm tree. Is it a date palm? Do sheep eat dates?

...must have dominated a large part of medieval Constantinople, it's still impressive today and it's hard to believe how old it is. (Emperor Valens built it in the late 4th century AD!) The Valens Aqueduct brought fresh water into the heart of the City and piped water into many of the palaces and fountains.

The Valens Aqueduct

This is how the Valens Aqueduct looked when we went on our research trip to Istanbul in the early spring of 2009.

According to my guide book, the Valens Aqueduct brought water from the Belgrade forest and mountains over 125 miles away. You can see how imposing it still is. In medieval times, it must have dominated a large part of the City, towering over the nearby houses and tenements. This wikipedia map of Medieval Constantinople (now Istanbul) shows the aqueduct as a blue line that runs across from the Fourth Hill to the Third Hill. (Like Rome, Constantinople/Istanbul has seven hills) I do love maps! They are enormously helpful when it comes to visualising the past.

But nothing beats actually seeing a place. I am not sure whether the cistern this aqueduct fed into would have resembled the Basilica Cistern, but seeing the Basilica Cistern and the Aqueduct inspired important scenes in  the Palace Brides trilogy.


Kate Hardy said...

What a gorgeous pic, Carol. Just lovely!

No idea if sheep eat dates. I bet goats do, though...

Carol Townend said...

Hi Kate
I don't think they do (?!), but they certainly are looking at that palm. Maybe they got bored with grass...