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Angel of antiquity unveiled in Turkey

2009-07-27 14:34 BJT

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Turkey's Minister of Culture says restoration workers have uncovered a well-preserved mosaic face of an angel long-hidden at the former Byzantine cathedral of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul.

Turkey's Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay speaks to journalists beside a well-preserved, long-hidden mosaic depicting the face of an angel which was uncovered by restoration workers in the former Byzantine cathedral of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, July 25, 2009. The seraphim figure — one of two located on the side of a dome — had been covered up along with the building's other Christian mosaics shortly after Constantinople — the former name for Istanbul — fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 and the cathedral was turned into a mosque. The mosaics were plastered over according to Muslim custom that prohibits the representation of humans.(AP Photo/Ibrahim Usta) 
Turkey's Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay speaks to journalists
beside a well-preserved, long-hidden mosaic depicting the face of
an angel which was uncovered by restoration workers in the former
Byzantine cathedral of Haghia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday,
July 25, 2009. The seraphim figure — one of two located on the 
side of a dome — had been covered up along with the building's 
other Christian mosaics shortly after Constantinople — the former
name for Istanbul — fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 and the
cathedral was turned into a mosque. The mosaics were plastered over
according to Muslim custom that prohibits the representation of
humans.(AP Photo/Ibrahim Usta)

The seraphim figure is one of two located on the side of a dome. The figures had been covered up along with the building's other Christian mosaics shortly after Constantinople - the former name for Istanbul - fell to the Ottomans in 1453. At that time, the cathedral was turned into a mosque.

The mosaics were plastered over according to Muslim custom that prohibits the representation of humans.

Some of the mosaics were revealed when the domed complex was turned into a museum in 1935, but the seraphim remained largely hidden.

Ertugrul Gunay, Turkish Minister of Culture, said, "According to the information we have, these mosaics were found and covered by the restorer Fossati. Fossati was the last human being who saw these mosaics. Today, we will be the first ones to see these precious mosaics since then. We will today announce to the world that these mosaics have been found."