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<   No. 4165   2020-01-10   >

Comic #4165

1 Minnesota Jones: Last time I was in Egypt, I was tracking down a late Byzantine baptismal bowl.
2 Minnesota Jones: I found it being hocked by an antiquities dealer in Alexandria.
3 Minnesota Jones: Unfortunately part of the decorative silverwork had been damaged. Someone had removed the surmounting angels. The result was grotesque!
4 Prof. Jones: You mean...?
4 Minnesota Jones: It was a sans-seraph font.

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I think you're all informed enough to get the joke here, so I won't go into details about seraphim and fonts.

The Byzantine Empire may be slightly less well known in modern culture. The Empire traces its precursory origins to the year 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to the new city of Constantinople. Constantinople is the site of modern day Istanbul in Turkey, but back then it was built on the ruins of an even older Ancient Greek city, known as Byzantium. Constantine was also responsible for supporting Christianity as an acceptable religion within the Empire, and although living his life as a pagan ultimately converted with a deathbed baptism in 337.

The Roman Empire continued merrily for another 58 years until the death of the Emperor Theodosius I in 395. During his reign, Theodosius had gone a step further than Constantine, outlawing paganism and establishing Christianity as the state religion of the Empire. Theodosius had two sons, and decided to give each one half the Empire. He gave his elder son Arcadius the Eastern Roman Empire (which went on to become the Byzantine Empire), and his younger son Honorius the Western Roman Empire.

The Western Roman Empire fell victim to numerous invasions and incursions from barbarian kingdoms occupying the remainder of Europe, resulting in it losing cohesion until in the year 476 the Germanic barbarian leader Odoacer deposed the Emperor Romulus Augustus, and eventually established himself as the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.

The Eastern Empire had better luck. It survived for 1058 years, finally falling in 1453, when Mehmed the Conqueror's Ottoman army conquered Constantinople and added its territory to the Ottoman Empire.

Which itself ended in 1922. There are people alive today who were born during the reign of the Empire that destroyed the Roman Empire.


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