The Hidden History of Istanbul – Andrea Hague

Our Late Antique & Byzantine art history class traveled to Sultanahmet two Saturdays ago to see for ourselves what remained of what we have read about and discussed in class. As we waited in front of the Hagia Sophia for everyone to arrive, Dr. Ricci repeated what we had learned in class, that we were standing had been the Augusteon, the forum where Justinian had placed his great equestrian statue. And yet, even as we were standing there staring up at the church that he had built, I did not feel that much more connected to that time period than when I had studied the diagrams in class. In place of the Augusteon there is still a plaza of sorts, but nothing remains of its Byzantine past. This disconnect that I experienced as I stood in what I knew had once been the Augusteon continued throughout the day. Even in the places where we were still able to see remnants of the city’s early history, it was difficult to put them into context. (more…)