Ancient Symmetria

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"Pythagoras and the Hagia Sophia"

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This is the first in a series of videos about the Pythagorean influence on the design of Byzantine architecture.

This episode introduces the concept of Symmetria in the design of the Hagia Sophia (537 CE, Istanbul), with a focus on a visual, astronomical and mathematical scheme.

An Astronomical Imperial Entrance and Floor
in the Hagia Sophia

Presented at UCLA January 2012
Ruth Dwyer PhD

Every once in a long while an extraordinary finding concerning a major historical architectural site reveals an important truth that has been in plain site the entire time. This particular finding concerns the beautiful church of the Hagia Sophia, located in Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople.

Completed in the 6th century, the building's interior decorations have been a mystery waiting to be discovered.

It can now be proven that the site was located purposefully to align itself with a particular constellation, Lyra. This can be demonstrated using modern technology: Google Earth and Google Sky.

Importantly, the link with the constellation begins at the Emperor's Entrance, the doorway by which the Emperor Justinian entered the church. How do we know this? When we arrive there is a set of remarkable doors leading to the Entrance. This set of two bronze doors each has a large arrow which points upwards. Another arrow beneath a ringed circle immediately above the Emperor's door tells us to do the same.

If we follow the three arrows' instructions and direct our attentions upward, with the help of Google Earth we can discover something quite remarkable: that the Imperial Entrance has a mathematically important location on earth, and that this location is connected mathematically to the constellation Lyra in the sky.

The proof of this is most interesting. According to Google Earth the latitudinal planetary co-ordinates for the Imperial Entrance include Pi, 3.14. In fact the number is not just Pi, but 3141592, which is Pi to 6 decimal places. Such precision indicates that the location of the Imperial Entrance is not a coincidence. And, considering that the compass heading from the Imperial Entrance to the apse, 123.6 degrees, was a Pythagorean proof of the perfection of the number 6, it becomes apparent that the design of the Imperial Entrance was pre-determined and was an important part of the overall plan.

As we know, Pi is important mathematically in determining the measurement, particularly the diameter, of circles. And within the Hagia Sophia there is a remarkably large number of circles in the building, on the ceiling, roof, walls and floors.

One ringed circle is of particular interest in this building, as it proves to be the ''heart'' of the series of circles, all linked to the numbers 6 and 10, and that is the Emperor's and/or the Empress's Monogram, which are interchangeable. It is a part of a pattern known to the ancient Greeks as Symmetria, a symmetry of design which encompasses not only number progressions and number patterns, but also size progressions, from the small to the large.

Why is the Imperial monogram important? Because of its diameter, it is at the heart of a numerical 6-10 progression. As demonstrated in the video, the circles and their diameters - in the floor and on the walls of the building, are multiples of 6 and 10. And, when associated with Pi, the pattern extends beyond this earth to include a ringed circular star in the sky.

When we ask Google Sky to take us to a location in the sky which includes Pi in its latitudinal co-ordinates, where does it take us?

It takes us to the constellation Lyra and the star Vega, a star which has always been important for its circular white ring. Note the latitudinal co-ordinates at the lower right side of the Vega: again Pi is present to 5 decimal places, 31415. Therefore: visually and mathematically this is a cosmic echo of the Emperor's monogram. This could not possibly be a coincidence.

Clearly, the star Vega in the constellation Lyra is directly linked to the Emperor's Entrance.

Now, let us look at a magnificent marble floor pattern located just underneath the dome. It has 16 circles banded with white and 16 that are not banded.

The diameter of the largest banded circle in the center measures exactly 16 times the diameter of the Emperor's Monogram! (The video mentions that the diameter is 10x the monogram; it is in fact 16x the monogram.)

According to the Armagh Observatory Star Chart, the constellation Lyra has 16 star formations. When we compare the marble formations in the floor we can see an astonishing similarity to the star chart of Lyra. For instance, there is Alpha Lyrae (Vega), a giant star with a white dust ring, which is comparable to the central large disc.

There is Cliese, a binary system in which two stars revolve around each other, including a star which is a Red Dwarf. This is matched in the floor.

There is Theta Lyra, a trinary system in which 3 stars revolve around each other. Three banded discs in the floor, all connected, match the star chart.

There is Beta Lyrae, two stars which are evolving and eclipsing. In the floor we can see two circles, one of which is clearly eclipsing the other.

There are Kappa Lyra and Lambda Lyra, two orange giants. In the floor the two large orange discs each has 60 small equilateral triangles around its perimeter. (Some are missing now due to damage, but the number is easily calculated.)

And there is XY Lyrae, a pulsating red giant. Interestingly, there is particular piece of marble which is quite veined, unlike the other red marble discs on site. Perhaps this piece was chosen to suggest a pulsating quality?

Such evidence of matching is no coincidence. And there is much more of importance to the design on the walls and in the floors of the Hagia Sophia.

This is just a small taste. The very sophisticated decorative plan of the Hagia Sophia will continue to be revealed.

Stay tuned.


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