THE BYZANTIUM INTELLECTUAL REVOLUTION
The emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire lived in a different region, were subjected to a different environment, embraced distinct cultures, worshipped a different religion, and spoke a different language. They spoke in eastern Greek instead of ancient Roman Latin. They were almost what we define today as Third Culture Kids. This made them see the world from a three-dimensional perspective. They developed a cosmopolitan lifestyle, and their interest in the arts and sciences of the civilisations they lived among, travelled far beyond the gates of their city. Their openness started to attract a pool of brains from across the Roman Empire, as far away as Damascus, Egypt and Spain. Soon mathematicians, scientists, astronomers, alchemists, artists together with the most reputable scholars descended on Constantinople seeking wealth and fortune. Up until that period, the classic style of civil Roman architecture was marred by rigid engineering. It was defined by heavy structural elements and very little ornamentation. But Byzantine wanted to raise the profile of the new empire and tell the story of a new emerging civilisation. It was eager to celebrate the richness of the land, but most importantly create a style that was distinctively Byzantium. Their vision was realised in Hagia Sophia, the Basilica of Holy Wisdom, built in the 5th century by the Emperor Justinian. The wealth of the empire with its piety, its wisdom and the amalgamation of it's heritage was on display at the heart of the lavishly embellished building. And for the next nine centuries, it became one of the best-preserved examples of Byzantine architecture.
[Painting Above: Empress Theodore, wife of Emperor Justinian. She was one of the most influential and powerful of the Eastern Roman empresses, who married into royalty from a humble background]