The Greek side of Istanbul

Today’s Zaman has an interesting article about Greeks in Istanbul. The article discusses mainly a few Greek remains to be seen in the city and some information about remaining Greek Orthodox churches.The article is interesting because of the historical developments and conflicts between Greek and Turks. The note about the Serpentine Column caught my attention.

Being approximately 2,500 years old, the Serpentine Column is said to be İstanbul’s oldest remaining Greek monument. Erected to honor the triumph of the Greeks over the Persians at Plataea, it originally stood at Delphi (both ancient cities on Greek ground) and was moved to İstanbul in 324 B.C. by Constantine the Great to mark the declaration of the new capital city of the then-founded Roman Empire under the name of Constantinople. The originally eight-meter-high piece was made up of three intertwined serpents which supported a golden bowl. The bowl is believed to have been lost or stolen when the city was sacked during the Fourth Crusade. Some say the heads were hit and cut off by a drunken nobleman in the 17th century but one of them can still be seen in the İstanbul Archaeology Museum. The rest of the column can be found today at the Hippodrome in the Sultanahmet quarter.

There is a serious mistake in the article. The Serpentine Column was originally erected at Delphi in 479 B.C., but it was placed in the hippodrome of Constantinople by Constantine in 324 A.D.

Here is a photo of the bronze Serpentine Column as it stands in the hippodrome.

Serpentine Column in Istanbul. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bronze Serpentine Column in Istanbul. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A sign marking the Serpentine Column indicates that the column was erected in the 4th century A.D. That is the date when Constantine had it erected in the hippodrome, but the column dates to the 5th century B.C.

Sign marking the Serpentine Column. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Read the full  Today’s Zaman article here.

HT: Biblical Paths.


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