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A NEW TEMPLE FOR BYZANTIUM: ANICIA JULIANA, KING SOLOMON, AND THE GILDED CEILING OF THE CHURCH OF ST. POLYEUKTOS IN CONSTANTINOPLE

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The extent to which the design of Anicia Juliana’s church of St. Polyeuktos influenced Justinian’s cathedral of St. Sophia is an issue that has attracted much attention. There is broad agreement that Juliana’s church is likely to have been crowned with a brick dome on pendentives (a precursor of that crowning St. Sophia). But a reconsideration of the literary and archaeological evidence suggests that this was not the case. I argue here that a tale related by Gregory of Tours on the gilding of the roof of St. Polyeuktos reliably describes the church’s panelled wooden ceiling, and that the account is consonant with the archaeological evidence from the excavated site. Juliana commissioned for her church a ceiling similar to that which had adorned Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Inspired by political and religious circumstances, she claimed to have built a copy of the New Temple, which, according to Biblical prophecy, would descend from heaven in the eschatological era and surpass the defiled Solomonic Temple.

10.1163/22134522-90000048
/content/journals/10.1163/22134522-90000048
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/content/journals/10.1163/22134522-90000048
2006-01-01
2016-12-04

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