Over the past 7 months I have published a series of posts related to the mysteries of Istanbul. This 7th post will be the last in this series. Further posts will cover more general mysteries related to the series of novels coming up over the next few years and updates on writing each novel.
The 7th puzzle related to The Istanbul Puzzle is about the meaning of the symbol you will find below. This symbol is discovered by Sean and Isabel during their Istanbul Puzzle adventure.
Here is the symbol:
At first glance it appears to simply be a square with some lines inside it, which form an upward shaped arrow with 4 double-headed eagles at the compass points.
As I explored what this symbol might mean I uncovered a series of interpretations. These interpretations might help you solve the puzzle and win a £100 prize. The details of that prize are after the above link.
One of the first interpretations that struck me was that the shapes were also used in a Byzantine children’s game. The objective of the game is to see how many shapes you can create with just four basic elements. The first test in the game, under the old rules, is to see how fast you can create a pyramid and a devil shape.
The second interpretation I found was that some astrological charts used the same shape to chart the positions of the planets at the moment of birth.
Here is an astrological chart taken from the Tractatus Astrologicus II, which contained the astrological charts of early European states. It was created by Luca Gaurico, one of Nostradamus’ teachers, and was published in Rome in 1524.
The third interpretation of the image is as a Byzantine magic symbol.
The square is universally acknowledged as the magical symbol of earth and the triangle as the symbol of fire. These symbols can be seen on banners from the middle Byzantine period, around the time of the 4th Crusade.
The fourth interpretation is as a Kabbalistic symbol.
After the expulsion of jews on 31 March 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain many settled in Ottoman territories. Rabbeinu ben Adaret, a rabbi and early scholar of the Kabbalah, moved to Constantinople during that period. The symbol shown is taken from a commentary on his work published in Constantinople in 1574.
There are other interpretations of this symbol too. It was used by the Marcianius family, one of the earliest aristocratic families of the Byzantine period as their family symbol.
The symbols of the square and the arrow are also alchemical symbols for soot and zinc. The combined symbol is believed to be an alchemical recipe. The Byzantine eagles were part of the formula, whose meaning has since been lost.
And finally, at this stage of the plot, and because all the books in this series will form a complete story, the seventh interpretation of the symbol is a symbolic representation of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
None of the above interpretations is the answer required to win the prize, however, but in them you will find a clue.