October 1, 2022

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“Historically, conversions like Hagia Sophia are no isolated cases”

From a historic point of view, the conversion of religiously and politically billed buildings this sort of as Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is no new phenomenon, branching back again to antiquity. “The track record and context of this sort of transformations usually have to do with changes in the harmony of electricity and the wish to make these obviously visible,” generate Prof. Dr. Katrin Kogman-Appel and Franziska Kleybolte from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” and the Institute for Jewish Experiments of the College of Münster. A multitude of this sort of circumstances can be identified in all epochs, religions and locations. “The architecture and visible language of ritual spaces have a particularly wonderful opportunity for expressing id and, so, for distinguishing one’s own team from other groups,” the researchers reveal in a dossier article on the Cluster’s website, “The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque2. An function with historic parallels, highlighting illustrations from antiquity, the Center Ages and the current working day. They investigate the phenomenon utilizing the case in point of medieval buildings in current-working day Spain, evaluating religions and locations. “Appropriations on the Iberian Peninsula happened as a consequence of conquests, pressured baptisms on a massive scale and the expulsion of Jewish and Muslim minorities.”

In accordance to Kogman-Appel and Kleybolte, these medieval conversions of synagogues into church buildings had been “functions of seizure of electricity” which had been intended to categorical “the triumph of the Church over Judaism”. The visible language of the buildings was religiously reinterpreted, new performs of art with anti-Jewish information had been mounted, and making resources of the synagogues had been reused. “To the conquered – if they ongoing to live in the place – this created their defeat all too evident to them.” Financial motives also played a job, on the other hand, since in most circumstances the Jewish neighborhood misplaced all its general public and private home collectively with the synagogue.

Getting rid of mortal remains, whitewashing partitions

Minimal is known about the rituals of re-consecration, as the researchers reveal, but the conversions had been comprehended as “purifications”. Quite a few church buildings had been consecrated to Mary, the immaculate just one. “In Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany, for instance, care was taken through the conversion in 1519 that there had been no much more mortal remains of a Jew in the place and that the whitewash was stripped off the partitions and repainted so that almost everything ‘Jewish’ was expelled from the partitions.” A equivalent move happened in the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque right after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. “It too was ‘purified’: the Byzantine mosaics had been whitewashed in get to do justice to the Qur’anic restraint towards pictures in spiritual contexts.”

With a perspective to the current, the researchers generate: “Using over, reusing and transforming religiously and politically billed space is by no usually means an isolated circumstance – neither within Turkey nor in the longue durée: for case in point, a museum – previously a mosque – in the Turkish town of Iznik was re-converted into a mosque in 2011 the exact was thought of for the Turkish town of Trabzon in 2013 and it has also been a phenomenon in record considering the fact that antiquity, identified once again and once again in all epochs, religions and locations.” The Jewish Experiments challenge at the Cluster of Excellence is entitled “Spiritual Properties Change their Identification. Iberia 709-1611”. This was preceded in the to start with funding section by the challenge “The Destruction of Sanctuaries in Late Antiquity” of historical historian Prof. Dr. Johannes Hahn.

“Hagia Sophia not a spiritual circumstance, but nationwide(istic) affectivity”

The article “The conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque. An function with historic parallels” has been posted as part of a thematic dossier on the website of the Cluster of Excellence entitled “Hagia Sophia – spiritual buildings and the record of their conversion”. In a even more dossier article, Byzantinist Prof. Dr. Michael Grünbart traces the eventful record of Hagia Sophia with its interior and exterior changes from the sixth to the twenty first centuries. He stresses that the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque was a lot less a spiritual make any difference than a “nationwide(istic) affectivity”. The making has not been a Christian church for much more than 550 several years. His article is entitled “Religion and politics at the Golden Horn? Turning over a new leaf on Hagia Sophia”. (vvm/sca)

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