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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Symbolism of the Golden Background in Byzantine Mosaics

Gold is common to mosaic backgrounds in all phases of Byzantine art. After the iconoclasm it is extensively used for the creation of a unified golden background, while known examples of such a background in early Byzantine art are few and far between. Gold, due to its natural properties symbolizes in Byzantine art and literature the eternal World of God, the Divine Light and the Revelation. Thus, gold illuminates the universe with the divine light and reveals at the same time the reason common to all things, namely God. In this use of a uniformly golden background the fundamental, Byzantine view of oneness is placed on a formal, aesthetic, level.