Ancient coin could give clue to church cover-up of star explosion
In 1054, the inhabitants of our planet were treated to an unusual sight. A strange light exploded and lit up the sky. For no less than twenty-three days, the explosion – caused by a star running out of fuel and exploding – was visible in the sky. For several hundred nights after the event, the supernova was still visible in the sky. Astronomers around the world commented on the extraordinary celestial event, but Europe remained eerily silent. For contemporary historians, this never happened. Some have speculated that he was deliberately erased from history for religious reasons. But perhaps a clue to the censored event slipped through the cracks. A team of scholars claim to have discovered evidence of the mysterious event hidden in the symbols of a limited edition gold coin.
The supernova event known as SN 1054 made proverbial headlines around the world. The first sighting with the naked eye during the day was recorded on July 4, 1054 in East Asia. In mid-August, the brightness of the outburst began to decline sharply, with the last nighttime sighting recorded on April 6, 1056. Astronomers in China, Korea and Japan have commented on the star, and researchers have linked Native American paintings from Arizona, an Anasazi petroglyph. of New Mexico and native oral traditions at the event.
But in Europe, most agree that archival evidence is negligible. The famous astrologer Ibn Butlan, who was in Constantinople when the explosion took place, only announced it after he quit his well-paid job and returned to Cairo. Researchers have speculated that Europe’s silence on this event is partly explained by theological issues that astrology and the star represent. Europe hasn’t always been quiet about astrological events – SN 1006 has been recorded in many records – but there was clearly something different about this potential omen.
The solution may lie in the complicated political and religious situation of the time. July 1054 was a busy time for European Christians. The church was torn apart by the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches (what are now called the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches). The schism, which lasted for centuries, is usually dated to July 16, 1054, when three papal legates excommunicated Eastern Patriarch Michael Cerularius. The timing of the excommunication corresponds to the period when the supernova would have been most visible in the morning sky.
In an article recently published in the European Journal of Science and Theologyand reported by Life sciences, an international team of scholars examined a set of small coins minted during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX. Most coins show the emperor’s head accompanied by a single shining star, but one series shows it flanked by two. The head of the emperor, according to them, represents the sun. The eastern star is a reference to Venus (or the morning star) and the second star is a number for the supernova. Going further, they suggest that the subsequent minting of this two-star limited edition coin may actually show that the starlight is fading over time.
The study authors explore the possibility that the double-star coin represents a cryptic interpretation of the Great Schism. Perhaps, they suggest, “the eastern star represents the stable and well-known Venus and the Eastern Orthodox Church, while the western star represents the short-lived ‘New Star’ and the ‘declining’ Western Catholic Church. .” This is a strong message that would not have been welcomed by Church leaders in the West. There was therefore a need for discretion. While, as Collins, Claspy and Martin noted in an earlier study, “this [kind of] argument is largely circumstantial, it provides a basis for understanding the lack of subsequent reference to the 1054 AD supernova in the largely ‘clerical’ European literature of the time.
There are other explanations for the iconography of coins. In the eastern part of the Roman Empire, there was a long tradition of placing stars on either side of the emperor’s image. As such, it’s possible the stars had nothing to do with the supernova. But it is not necessary to choose between these two options. It is possible that those responsible for minting the coins have found an acceptable way to express their interest in the celestial event. By using traditional iconography, the coin maker may have discovered a “hidden way to commemorate the appearance of SN 1054”.
While hidden numbers and symbols can sound like conspiracy theories, adapting the dominant cultural script is a way people can express themselves and challenge power structures without putting themselves at risk. Because they are shaped by cultural conventions, these acts of self-expression might go unnoticed. Take, for example, the rebranding of the sacred mescaline-containing plant huachuma with the more religious name “San Pedro.” The psychoactive cactus, which was used in the indigenous Moche and Chavin culture, was renamed for the Roman Catholic saint to make the use of the plant more acceptable to church authorities. The name also makes a veiled cryptic reference to Peter’s role as holder of the keys to heaven and the psychoactive properties of plants.
Alternatively, a late 5th-early 6th century CE baptistery in Ravenna, Italy, which depicts a heretical Jesus. Known as the ‘Baptistry of the Arians’, the mosaic artwork shows a young, clean-shaven Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River. Many scholars argue that this reflects the now heretical non-Trinitarian views of the Arians, who viewed Jesus as inferior to God the Father. Although the reference is subtle, the fact that the octagonal baptistery was commissioned by the Arian and Gothic king Theodoric the Great means that there is not much debate over the identification. Although Theodoric was both powerful and openly Arian, the Golden Mosaic was not later reworked or censored. Like the renaming of the huachuma plant, it is an example of how “unorthodox” practices or perspectives can hide in plain sight if presented in colloquial terms.
Perhaps the small limited edition pieces from the reign of Constantine IX do a similar job. A clever astronomer, craftsman, or both could have used encryption to record an otherwise censored celestial event. If you think there are Freemason symbols hidden on US currency, none of this should seem like a stretch.