The 6th Puzzle: The Mystery of the Missing Link Mosaic

Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Historical Puzzles

In my mystery novel The Istanbul Puzzle, Sean & Isabel discover a clue early on, a photograph of a mosaic. The mosaic is similar to the iconic Christian images of the Virgin & Child that are so well known all around the world. Here is an example from the Louvre museum in Paris. This is a copper plate believed to have been “taken” from Constantinople in 1204. “Looted” is probably what they meant: The puzzle for Sean & Isabel is that their mosaic is not Christian. But where is it from? Images of a mother and child have been used for thousands of years as objects of veneration. Here is Isis, for instance, with her son Horus: Isis was a goddess in Ancient Egypt, whose worship spread all over the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the Queen of Heaven, the friend of slaves and the downtrodden. According to Herodotus, writing in the fifth century BC, Isis was the only goddess worshiped by all Egyptians, whose influence was so widespread that she eventually became venerated all over the Greek world. Worship of the Queen of Heaven was also picked up by Jews. It is recorded in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, circa 628 BC, in the context of the Prophet condemning such religious worship as blasphemy and a violation of the teachings of the God of Israel. In Jeremiah 7:18: “The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to provoke me to anger.” Later the Romans used images of a mother and child for depictions of Aphrodite and Eros and other Roman and Greek Goddesses with their offspring. Here is another picture from the Louvre in Paris: The mosaic discovered in The Istanbul Puzzle is a clue that helps Sean and Isabel. The imagery in the mosaic is so similar to what we all take for granted as an image of the Christian Virgin and Child, they assume it must be a Christian mosaic. But it’s not. It’s a mosaic that shows where Christian artists got their inspiration from. Many such pre-Christian images of Virgins would have been destroyed as being pagan when Christianity came to power, but this one survived. The reason it did, and where it has been for almost two thousand years, are all key parts of the The Istanbul Puzzle. To go to the 7th puzzle click...

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