Part 2

    The Betrayal’s episode is a very important topic in the Cappadocian churches: for the purpose of our analysis we will take into consideration the frescoes of the Qaranlek Kilissé Church (Fig. 13), of the Email Kilissé Church (Fig. 14) and of the Tcharekle Kilissé (Fig. 15). The compositions of the three frescoes are very similar: the young men arresting Christ are soldiers led by a senior man, not armed, characterised by long white hair and a long beard (maybe representing the elder of the ἀρχιερεῖς of the Gospel), and a second junior officer (the chiliarchos), armed with a military knife (μαχαιρον, εγχειριδιον, παραξιφιδιον).28 The σπεῖρα [speira] are armed only with spears (Fig. 13) or with spears and war-axes (Figs. 14-15). Malchus and Saint Peter are represented on the left side of the scene, both armed with knives in the Qaranlek Kilissé and Malchus - always dressed like a soldier - holding a spear in the other two frescoes. We can see that the Cappadocian frescoes of the Betrayal usually follow the Gospel’s descriptions, with the representations of the Officer (chiliarchos), of soldiers and of the priest’s chiefs. But the men painted here are most probably the reflex of the local Roman infantry troops (Thema of Kappadokia, Anatolikon) and local notables or members of the provincial aristocracy. The mob is in fact armed with various infantry weapons, not only with clubs and swords as in the Gospel’s description. Spears (δορατα),29 axes and maces (τζικουρια and σαλιβα)30 mounted on pole-shafts are visible (Figs. 16-17). The date of the frescoes of the three Göreme Churches has been now fixed at the second half of the 11th c.31 This was the period of the last splendours of Byzantium in the region before the invasion of the Seljuk Turks. Again, the represented weapons correspond to real specimens of the second half of the 11th c. It is enough to compare the spearheads of the Roman army found on the Drastar battlefield of 1087 AD (Fig. 18) with those of the frescoes (Fig. 19) to understand that we deal with the same material culture. The same can be said comparing the daggers and knives (Machairia, Paraxiphidia) illustrated in the frescoes with the Anatolian and Rumenian finds in 11th c. East Roman fortresses and urban centres, particularly from Dinogetia32 and from Pergamon33 (Fig. 20). We can note the same decorated ivory and bone handles, and the similarity of the shape in the blades.

28 Kolias 1988, p. 139; Nicetae 574,42; 589,47-50.
29 Kolias 1988, p. 192; Sylloge Tacticorum., 38,3.
30 Ότι μαρτζοβάρβουλον ελέγετο νύν σαλίβα (L’Extrait Tactique…1942 - Excerptum Tacticum - Z98, 88) i.e. the actual saliva was once called martiobarbulum; originally the martiobarbulum was a Late Roman throwing weapon, a kind of javelin fitted with lead weight at the top, under the point (see Vegetius 2004, I, 17). In the military language of Byzantium it was translated as μαρτζοβάρβουλον (Strategikon... 1981, XII, B,2) and probably still used in the Roman army until the 8th-9th c. AD, when it was substituted on the battlefield by the throwing axe or mace. Leo, although in his Problemata (Leonis VI, XII, 4) follows Pseudo-Maurikios, in his Tactica substitutes this word as τζικούρια δίστομα, i.e. battle-axes. However, although it is impossible to deny that in the 10th c. the axe and the throwing mace substituted the weight-leaded javelin, we cannot exclude that the saliva were a last development of the late Roman martiobarbuli, similar to the τρίβολοι according to Pseudo-Codinus, in the 14th c. AD. The word saliva would have been used instead of σειρομάστης, which, according to my previous analysis of the sources, may have been originally a sort of javelin similar to the akontion, but already in the 11th-12th c. it was the fighting mace fitted with chains and iron pendants, i.e., the flail (Kolias 1988, p. 177; D’Amato 2005, p. 24-25 and particularly n. 125). For an example of it mounted on a pole and used by Veneto-Byzantine infantrymen see the scene of the Betrayal in San Marco at Venezia (Babuin 2009, fig. 1070 - 13th c.).
31 Thierry 2002, p. 275.
32 Barnea 1973, fig. 12 n. 3; fig. 13 nn. 1 and 2, pp. 312-313.
33 Radt 1982, fig. 6 Pl. 8.

Fig. 13. The Betrayal, Qaranlek Kilissé Church, Cappadocia, mid-second half of the 11th c., author’s photo [Karanlık Kilise or the Dark Church]

Fig. 14. The Betrayal, Email Kilissé Church, Cappadocia, mid-second half of the 11th c., author’s photo [Elmali Kilise or the Apple Church]

Fig. 15. The Betrayal, Tcharekle Kilissé Church, Cappadocia, mid-second half of the 11th c., author’s photo [Çarıklı Kilise or the Church with Sandals]

Fig. 16. The Betrayal, Email Kilissé Church, Cappadocia, detail of the infantry weapons, mid-second half of the 11th c., author’s photo

Fig. 17. The Betrayal, Tcharekle Kilissé Church, Cappadocia, detail of the infantry weapons, mid-second half of the 11th c., author’s photo

Fig. 18. Spearheads from the Drastar battlefield, 1087 AD, Bulgaria, courtesy photo of Prof. Valeri Yotov and Boyan Totev

Fig. 19. The Betrayal, Email Kilissé Church, Cappadocia, detail of the infantry spears, mid-second half of the 11th century, author’s photo

Fig. 20. Comparison between the battle knives of Qaranlek Kilissé and Tcharekle Kilissé with original East-Roman specimens from Pergamon and Dinogetia-Garvan, author’s photos and ex Barnea and Radt

    Also the represented clothing corresponds to the descriptions of Roman clothing in [the] Cappadocian epic of the Digenis Akritas. It is for instance the case of the military leggings with boots (Υποδηματα, Digenis Akritas, IV, 397), or of the Toubia (IV, 226), other kind[s] of leather boots or leggings, or even trousers, often decorated along the calf with images of dragons or griffins (gripsoi) or eagles. Such kind of military footwear are well represented on the legs of all the soldiers of the frescoes (Fig. 21). Also the military turban (fakeolis, III, 257), the military tunics called εσθητα (IV, 219, 488) and the precious τραχελον (IV, 223) are well represented. This tunic’s collar was a wide circular band of precious fabric applied to the tunic around the neck and often covered with precious material, and it is well visible in the frescoes (Fig. 22). Even the Rizai (IV, 221-222) i.e. gold or precious embroidery applied to the tunics and the clothing are represented with photographic precision (Figs. 21-22). There is no doubt: the Cappadocian artist of the 11th c. copied his models for the Betrayal scene from real soldiers of his age and of his social context.

Fig. 21. The Betrayal, Qaranlek Kilissé-Tcharekle Kilissé- Email Kilissé Churches, Cappadocia, detail of the infantry boots and footwear, mid-second half of the 11th c., author’s photo

Fig. 22. The Betrayal, Tcharekle Kilissé Church, Cappadocia, detail of military clothing, mid-second half of the 11th c., author’s photo

    We can at this point say that during the 11th c. the iconography of the Betrayal represents a mob armed with the same weapons as described in the Gospels, represented according to the reality of the period, to which the artists added other weapons, concretely taken from peculiar objects used by the warriors of that age. The soldiers and the officers of the Gospels are represented as Imperial Guardsmen (Varangians) or thematic or local troops. Again, however, we have really few or no representations of armoured warriors.


Source: Raffaele d'Amato The Betrayal: Military Iconography and Archaeology In The Byzantine Paintings Of The 11th-15th C. AD Representing The Arrest Of Our Lord

Part 3 The Betrayal: Military Iconography and Archaeology in the Byzantine Paintings of the 11th-15th c. AD Representing the Arrest of Our Lord Raffaele D’Amato