Monday, December 19, 2016

MARCIAN COLUMN

Kıztaşı, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'55.0"N 28°57'01.0"E / 41.015278, 28.950278

Marcian Column / Kiztasi - Fatih photo marcian_column110.jpg

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Located in Fatih, Kıztaşı, the Maiden's Rock, was built during the reign of Emperor Marcianus between 450-457. The 17 meter-high granite column rests upon a three-step pedestal. The Corinth is decorated with a relief depicting angels. The Column of Marcian (Turkish: Kıztaşı, meaning "Column of the girl") is a monument erected in Constantinople in 455 dedicated to the Emperor Marcian. It is made of red-grey Egyptian granite, in two pieces.

It is located in the present-day Fatih district of Istanbul. The column is not documented in any late Roman or Byzantine source and its history has to be inferred from its location, style and dedicatory inscription.

The basis is quadrilateral, formed by four slabs in white marble, decorated with Greek crosses inside medallions on three faces, and two genii (who account for the Turkish name of the column) holding a globe. The column is topped by a Corinthian capital, probably a basis for a statue of Marcian (as per the Column of Trajan and Column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, which definitely were topped by statues of the emperor they commemorated).

The column is carved from red-grey Egyptian granite, in two sections. The quadrilateral basis is encased by four slabs of white marble. Three faces are decorated with IX monograms within medallions, and the fourth with two genii supporting a globe. The column is topped by a Corinthian capital, decorated with aquilae.

The inscription confirms that the capital was originally surmounted by a statue of Marcian, in continuation of an imperial architectural tradition initiated by the Column of Trajan and the Column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome. The basis of the column is orientated northwest/southeast, while its capital is aligned north/south, possibly so that the statue could look towards the nearby Church of the Holy Apostles.

A dedicatory inscription is engraved on the northern side of the basis. Its lettering was originally filled with bronze, which has since been removed. The inscription reads:
[pr]incipis hanc statuam Marciani | cerne torumque |
[prae]fectus vovit quod Tatianus | opus
(Behold this statue of the princeps Marcian and its base, a work dedicated by the prefect Tatianus.)

The column of the emperor Marcianos (450-457) is identified by the remains of an inscription on its base, but never mentioned by Byzantine sources. Perhaps it was regarded as a part of the public square called Leontes (the Lions) which lay in this region. It survives nearly completely until today except the statue on the top. The column has the particularity that its base is oriented northwest-southeast along the streets, but the capital north-south, possibly to make the statue look to the Church of the Apostles.

The column itself, about 10 meters tall, is made of grey granite that was imported from Syene in Egypt. The marble capital is decorated with eagles and will have served as base for a statue of the emperor. The square pedestal, which stands on three steps, is decorated with slabs of marble. On the western, southern, and eastern sides, you can see a christogram (), a damaged symbol (a fish?), and a Greek cross, all surrounded by laurel wreaths.

They may represent the victory of the emperor's Christianity over alternative interpretations. On the northern face of the pedestal, one can see a globe, carried by two genii. The inscription, in bronze letters, was above the representation of the globe and the genii; the bronze has been removed, but we can still read the elegiac verses, which are known as CIL 3.738).

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