A bronze church bell

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A bronze church bell

Post by wangrong on Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:24 am

A bronze church bell with a relief Medieval Greek text, believed by Bulgarian researchers to be among the oldest extant church bells in Europe,[3][6][7] was unearthed in Melnik in the 2000s. The inscription prompted the researchers to associate the bell with the Church of St Nicholas. It reads: "Copper-smelted church bell, a gift by Alexius, who is the pious Slav, to Saint Nicholas of Myra".[4] The text is thought to reference Alexius Slav. A very similar bell, also found in Melnik, bears an inscription which mentions Byzantine Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (r. 1259–1282) and the year 1270 specifically. However, this second bell may not have belonged to the Church of St Nicholas, but rather to another church in Melnik.[4]
The church's frescoes were painted in the 12th–13th century by three artists. The surviving murals include rare depictions of the ordination of Apostle James the Greater for bishop of Jerusalem by the Church Fathers and the vision of Peter of Alexandria. The life of church patron Saint Nicholas is also painted on the walls of the church. The frescoes also feature portraits of Antipas of Pergamum, Anthimus of Nicomedia, Gregory of Nyssa and Procopius of Scythopolis.[2] Some of the murals have been stripped from the walls and sent to the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia, though others remain in place.[1]
A 13th-century Greek-language inscription was discovered on the interior walls of the Church of St Nicholas. In translation, it reads: "Prayer of God's slave sebastos Vladimir, brother of a single womb of the sebastos of the Franks"[2] or "... of sebastos Frank", the former considered more likely.[5] The epigraph is linked with the rule of Alexius Slav over Melnik and provides an insight into the organization and makeup of Alexius Slav's court.[5]


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