Friday, June 1, 2012

The Million Stone

The Million Stone, The Mile Stone
When you walk up the Sultanahmet Square from Eminönü, you see a small stone pillar of 18-20 meters high on your right once you pass the entrance of the Basilica Cistern. The Million Stone is next to this stone pillar. It is a 4-5 meters high relic in the form of a rectangular prism. It is a part of the Million Stone found during the archeological excavations made in 1967-68 and it was erected again to represent the original Million Stone. The stone tower next to it was constructed in 16th century. It was a water gauge that had survived from the Ottoman period. It is probable that; the pillar was regarded to have been an obstacle for the builders of the water gauge, so they totally destroyed the already damaged pillar. The pillar remained lost for 400 years. If you know about the history of this pillar, you may feel a little bit disappointed by its present state. Istanbul Municipality must have the same feeling so that they wrote; "This stone pillar is all that remains from a Byzantine triumphal arch from which road distances to all corners of the empire were once measured.” in front of it.

"This stone pillar is all that remains from a Byzantine triumphal arch from which
road distances to all corners of the empire were once measured”. Date 4th  century AD

Constantine the 1st, His mother and in the middle,
 the true cross Js. Christ was believed to have been
crucified with ("True Cross")
The monument was erected by Constantine the 1st in the 4th century. Constantine was the first Roman emperor who accepted Christianity. He thought that; Rome, which was identified with its Pagan past, would not be suitable as the capital city of the empire he would found, thus, he chose another capital he would be able to Christianize. This was the Byzantium, which was the small Greek town geographically located just in the middle of Eastern Roman Empire, which possessed the name of its founder, the Mgeran commander Byzas. Constantinople chose this small town as the new capital the Roman Empire and called it the New Rome (“Nova Roma”), Constantinople (City of Constantine). When the capital of the empire was Rome; in forum, which was the center of Rome, there was this golden milestone called Milliarium Aureum erected by the Emperor Augustus. The monument was accepted as the milestone, and distances to significant cities of the empire were written on it. At those times, states apart from the Roman Empire were mostly unable to make infrastructural investments like roads and aqueducts that could be regarded as basic criteria of civilization. The roads made by the Roman Empire to all over their country leaded to the capital, Rome and gathered together in forum, in front of this monument located in the middle of the city.

The saying “All roads lead to Rome” comes from this.
Just like that; a monument was erected in the center of the Roman Empire, i.e. “in the center of the World” in New Rome, Constantinople, on which the distance of the empire to its significant cities were written. I guess these cities were Rome, Ravenna, Salonika, Athens, Antioch, Damascus, Jerusalem and Alexandria.
Milliarium Aureum, Relics of the Million Stone’s
conjugate in Rome
The main road (the way to Divan in the Ottoman period, today’s Turgut Özal Boulevard) of the Constantinople city, Messe, which stemmed from the monument divided into various roads in Y shape and leaded to the gates of Topkapı, Edirnekapı or Yedikule in city walls, then got distributed all over the Mediterranean. This point was regarded as the center of both the city and the World, as a milestone. This isn’t surprising when you bear in mind that, the Roman Empire was deemed to be the greatest country in the World. The capital of such a country would also be the center of the empire and the World, and the monument in its square would be the milestone for the measurement of all distances. In ancient Greek, “mile” means “thousand”. In ancient Rome, one mile length measured a thousand of double steps. This is so much close to today’s mile, indeed. It corresponds to 0.9 mile, that is, 1480 meters. So, it can be said that; the distances written on it, were quite similar to today’s mile.
The structure is a four legged triumphal arch: It consists of four legs, for arches connecting these together and a dome at the top. It is made of marble. Architecturally, it is much more complicated and magnificent than its column shaped conjugate found in Rome. On it, there are the portrays of the Emperor Constantine the 1st, his mother Helena (this is the reason why Yalova’s ancient name was Helenapolis), born in Yalova, who found the “True Cross” believed to have been used in the crucifying of Js. Christ and brought that to Constantinople, in between them, there was the statue of the True Cross, and behind them, the Goddess Tyche (“Fortuna” in Roman mythology), who was the protector of the city according to Greek mythology.
In 6th century, a sundial was added to the front side of it by Emperor Justinianos. At first, as  traces of its Pagan past, its walls hosted the statue of the God Of Sun, Zeus-Helios drawn by four carriages, bronze statue of emperor Theodosius the 2nd on a horse, and embossings of Hadrian and Trajan. In 8th century, the pictures of oecumenic council were drawn. In the iconoclastic period when all kinds of religious pictures were abolished, all religious depictions were erased, and embossings of the horse races in hippodrome were put on them.
You can find the 3D reconstruction of the Million Stone in the web-site Byzantium1200 ( ), which provides the 3d reconstructions of the monuments of the Byzantine period as of year 1200.

The statue of Tyche found in today’s Düzce
The Goddes of Wealth, Pluto is in her arms.
Istanbul archeology museum


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