Piraeus Lion 

The Piraeus Lion is one of four lion statues on display at the Venetian Arsenal, where it was displayed as a symbol of Venice's patron saint, Saint Mark. It was originally located in Piraeus, the harbor of Athens. It was looted by Venetian naval commander Francesco Morosini in 1687 as plunder taken in the Great Turkish War against the Ottoman Empire. The lion was originally sculpted in about 360 BCE, and became a famous landmark in Piraeus, having stood there since the 1st or 2nd century AD. The statue, which is made of white marble and stands some 3 meters high, is particularly noteworthy for having been defaced sometime in the second half of the 11th century by Scandinavians who carved two lengthy runic inscriptions into the shoulders and flanks of the lion. The runes are carved in the shape of an elaborate lindworm dragon-headed scroll, in much the same style as on runestones in Scandinavia. The carvers of the runes were almost certainly Varangians, Scandinavian mercenaries in the service of the Byzantine Emperor.

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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016