Monday, March 30, 2009

Journey to the center of the world

In the Biblical book of Ezekiel (5:5) God says, "This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her."
In the Middle Ages, maps of the known world were often circular and had Jerusalem in the center.
In Christian tradition the exact center of the world came to be identified as located under the dome of the Catholicon, the dome on your left in this photo of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Catholicon is the prayer hall of the Greek Orthodox, the largest Christian community in Israel.

The middle of the center was called in ancient Greek the omphalos, meaning the navel or bellybutton.
This large urn is supposed to mark the exact spot of the omphalos.

One of my favorite guidebooks to Jerusalem says that the Greek Orthodox today have somewhat modified their worldview and now state that the omphalos is actually the spiritual center of the world.
For those who can see PBS on television, mark your calendar! On Wednesday evening, April 1, a new 2-hour epic, "Jerusalem: Center of the World," will be broadcast. For more about it and a video preview, see PBS or the producer's website. Let me know how it was!
Over at That's My World Tuesday, other bloggers invite you to tour their side of the world.


Louise said...

Seems those in authority got quite specific about things!

ewok1993 said...

I will definitely try to see this. Sounds like an interesting and informative show.

Have a great week.

Janie said...

I never would have imagined there was a belly-button vase!
Interesting history. I'll try to catch the PBS special.

Catherine said...

Sounds very interesting!
Beautiful captures! The urn is amazing..minus the padlock around the bottom..? :)
Have a beautiful week!

JM said...

Wonderful information! The urn is fantastic!

Guy D said...

Awesome posting as always!

Have a great week!
Regina In Pictures

Babooshka said...

I live in palce of myth and legend, you have geniune history. Fascinating and strangely humbling whenever I visit.

Gaelyn said...

What a marvelous post. Enjoyed the history and great captures. Also thanks for the info on the PBS show.

fishing guy said...

Dina: What a neat post with a great story of your area of the world, thanks for sharing the info.

Femin Susan said...

Sounds interesting. i will, for sure see this.

Arija said...

As always Dina, your post is interesting to say the least. Anyone from Indianapolis will tell you that that is the centre of the universe. If you take a National Geographic map of the world where America is securely placed in the middle, you can actually prove with a ruler that it is so!
I rather like the older version you present.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, I thought I was the center of the world. Seriously, I learned something new. Thanks.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'd love to see that program. I've been in a Greek Orthodox church but it was done on the cheap (stucco and florescent lighting) a far cry from this beauty

Catherine said...

As usual, Dina, your post is very interesting.
Being concidered as the center of the World is a cconcept shared by so many communities. It brings peoples to the best and the worst.
That's the essence of History.
Thanks for this journey and pictures.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

LOVED learning about your world and Greek Orthodoxy in Jerusalem! Thanks for sharing.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

that urn is under lock and key!
lvoely post about the omphalos (we still use that word today to mean 'belly button')

oldmanlincoln said...

I will have to watch that program. I always seem to get stuck on the Naked Archaeologist. Have you seen that one on every week.

Clara said...

Thanks for the info about the show. I'll be sure to watch it. I love the info and the 'belly-button' vase. But the floor! What beautiful stone and patterns.

jordaenne said...

beautiful Dina

We all drink from the same godlike urn from the same spiritual center.

Erin said...

as always your posts are so informative and i so enjoy visiting your blog.
will let hubby know about show this evening. i am sure he will enjoy.

have a lovely evening.

susieofarabia said...

Dina - Wonderful photos! And another very interesting post...