In 1054, the inhabitants of our planet were considered 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 remained visible in the sky. Stargazers from all over the world commented on the extraordinary celestial event, but Europe was eerily silent. As far as contemporary historians are concerned, that never happened. Some have speculated that it was deliberately removed from history for religious reasons. But perhaps some hint of the censored event has slipped through the cracks. A group of scholars claim to have discovered evidence of a mysterious event hidden in the symbols on the limited edition gold coin.
Supernova event known as SN 1054 have become proverbial headlines around the world. The first sighting with the naked eye during daylight was recorded on July 4, 1054 in East Asia. In mid-August, the brightness of the explosion began to plummet with the last night vision recorded on April 6, 1056. Astronomers in China, Korea, and Japan have commented on this. Stars and scholars have connected Native American paintings from Arizona, an Anasazi petroglyph from New Mexico, and Aboriginal oral traditions to the event.
But in Europe, most would agree, archival evidence is negligible. The famous astrologer Ibn Butlan, who was in Constantinople during the explosion, only announced it when he left his well-compensated position and returned to Cairo. Scholars speculate that part of the reason Europe has been silent about the event is due to the theological issues that astrology and stars represent. Europe has not always been silent on astrological events — SN 1006 has been documented in many documents — but there is clearly something different about this latent sign.
Perhaps the solution lay in the complicated political and religious situation at that time. July 1054 was a busy time for Christians in Europe. The church was divided by the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches (known today as the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church). The centuries-long schism was carried out, usually dating to July 16, 1054, when three popes under the Pope excommunicated the Eastern Patriarch Michael Cerularius. The timing of the excommunication corresponds to the time when the supernova is most visible in the morning sky.
In an article recently published in European Journal of Science and Theologyand reported by Livescience, an international group of scholars examined a set of small coins minted during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX. Most coins featuring the emperor’s head come with a single bright star, but one set shows him with two sides. The head of the emperor, they argue, symbolizes the sun. The eastern star is the reference to Venus (or morning star) and the second star is the code for the supernova. Going further, they suggest that the subsequent minting of this binocular limited edition coin may actually show the star’s light waning over time.
The study’s authors explore the possibility that the two-star coin represents a puzzling interpretation of the Great Schism. Perhaps, they suggest, “the eastern star represents the stable and famous Venus and the Eastern Orthodox Church, while the western star represents the short-lived ‘new star’ and Western Catholic churches ‘are dying out’.” It is a powerful message that will not work with Church leaders in the West. Therefore, it is necessary to have the power to decide. While, as Collins, Claspy and Martin note in an earlier study, “this [kind of] argument is largely circumstantial, it provides the basis for understanding the lack of subsequent reference to the supernova 1054 AD in the mostly clerical European literature “in the at that moment.
There are other explanations for the image on the coin. 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 is possible that the stars have nothing to do with supernovae. But it is not necessary to choose between these two options. It is possible that those responsible for minting found an acceptable way to express their interest in the celestial event. By using the traditional symbol, the coin maker can yes hit a “hidden way to commemorate the arrival of SN 1054.”
While codes and hidden symbols may sound like conspiracy theories, adapting the dominant cultural text is one way that people can express themselves and push back against power structures without put yourself at risk. Because they are shaped by cultural conventions, these self-expression behaviors can fly under the radar. Take, for example, the renaming of sacred mescaline containing the plant huachuma to the more religious name “San Pedro”. The psychoactive cactus, used in the Moche and Chavin indigenous cultures, has been renamed the Roman Catholic Saint to make its use more acceptable to ecclesiastical authorities. . The name also alludes to Peter’s role as holder of the keys to heaven and the plant’s psychoactive properties.
In addition, a baptism in the late fifth and early sixth centuries C.E. in Ravenna, Italy, depicts a heretical Jesus. Called “The Arian Baptistery Mystery,” the artwork in the mosaic shows a young and clean-shaven Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River. Many scholars argue that this reflects the heretical views of the Arians, who viewed Jesus as inferior to God the Father. Although the reference is subtle, the fact that the octagonal baptism was authorized by the Arian and Gothic King Theodoric the Great means that there is not much debate about the identification. Although Theodoric was a powerful and overt Arian, the gilded mosaic was not later recreated or censored. Like the huachuma renaming, it’s an example of how “unorthodox” practices or attitudes can slip into plain view if they’re presented in familiar terms.
Perhaps the small limited edition coins of the reign of Constantine IX do a similar job. An intelligent astronomer, a craftsman, or both could use cryptography to record another censored celestial event. If you believe there are Masonic symbols hide in U.S. currency, none of this seems too far-fetched.