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Dr. Werner Karl:
Ananizapta and the Middleham Jewel

Dr. Karl thinks that his interpetation is confirmed best by the so called Middleham Jewel, a gold amulet probably made between 1450 and 1475, found near Middleham Castle in 1985. This "finest piece of English goldsmithery of the 15th century"(Jones - Olsan) is now in Yorkshire Museum in York.

It is still open whether there is any connection between the amulet and the owners of Middleham Castle - Richard Neville (†1460) and his son with the same name(†1471); Edward IV gave Middleham castle as a present to his brother Richard, the later King Richard III (1483 - 1485) who was Duke of Gloucester on Middleham Castle from 1471 to 1483. Dr. Karl thinks that Cecily Neville ( the mother of Edward IV and Richard III; Cecily`s daughter Margaret was the mother - in - law of Emperor Maximilian I in whose prayer books the word "Ananizapta" is found like on the Middleham Jewel) ordered the amulet to be made.

On the front of the Middleham Jewel is a sapphire (the symbol of the splendour of heaven; book of Exodus 24, 9-10). Under it is the Holy Trinity: God the Father, Christ on the cross, the dove of the Holy Ghost. The whole is surrounded by a border with the words:"ecce agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi miserere nobis tetragramaton ananizapta (Behold, the Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us! Tetragramaton Ananizapta)".

The back of the jewel shows Christ`s birth in the style of the vision of the Holy Birgitta of Sweden. Over the scene of Christ`s birth is God the Father, under it the Lamb of God with the triumphal flag of the Resurrection - symbol of Christ who sacrificed himself on the cross for mankind and who triumphantly rose from the dead. The back is surrounded by a border with fifteen saints.

The inscription on the front begins with the words John the Baptist said when he baptized Jesus in the Jordan (Gospel of St. John, chapter 1, verse 29): Ecce agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi (Behold, the Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world!).
When he was baptized Christ was called by John Lamb of God" whose blood takes away the sins of mankind. Both - Christ`s baptism by John and his death on the cross - are the beginning and the end of the mission of the Messiah. "When Jesus came to the baptism and saw the heaven open and the spirit of God come upon him in the shape of a dove, then the sacrament of the Holy Trinity began to reveal itself the first time". The picture of the Holy Trinity surrounded by the inscription expresses this theological content in a wonderful way.

The following words "Miserere nobis" (Have mercy on us!) are on the one hand together with "ecce agnus dei qui tollis peccata mundi" a firm liturgical formula of the Mass (song before the Communion which calls Christ who is present in the Eucharist the Lamb of God), on the other hand they can be connected with the following word "tetragramaton".

"Tetragramaton" is the name of God in the Old Testament: Jahwe; it consists of four letters (jhwh). "Miserere nobis tetragramaton" means: Have mercy on us, o God!" (an allusion to Psalm 51: Miserere mei, Deus: Have mercy on me, my God."). Not only the "Lamb of God" - Christ - but also the God of the Old Testament - tetragramaton - is asked for mercy.

"Tetragramaton Ananizapta" means "Lamb of God" ("Ananizapta tetragramaton" is also found in the Breslau Manuscript I. Q. 98 from the year 1451, on the Coventry Ring and a gold ring, 15th century, British Museum, and in the prayer books of EmperorMaximilian I).
As "Agnus" (lamb) and "Ananizapta" in the same way contain Christ`s redemption of mankind through his Baptism and his death on the cross, it is no pure chance that on the Middleham Jewel the words "ecce agnus dei" and "aton ananizap" are arranged axially symmetrically on both sides of the sapphire.
These two expressions consist of twelve letters each: symbol of the Heavenly Jerusalem (the Revelation of St John, chapter 21, verses 12.14.19).

The arrangement of "Ananizapta" on one side of the sapphire and above it makes Dr. Karl believe that the person who ordered the Middleham Jewel to be made also must have known Beda Venerabilis (the Venerable Bede) who says about the sapphire:
"It means that the souls of mortals are sublimely encouraged through the suffering of the Lord and the bath of the holy baptism to see the splendour of heaven in this life (Explanatio Apocalypsis III, chapter 21.)

Why is the word "Ananizapta" separated by the sapphire? Why are the letters "ta" over the sapphire?

Three observations are important for Dr. Karl:
  • The letters ta are not only the last letters of Ananizapta, but also of "apta" = baptism ("baptismate: through the baptism").
  • The letters ta are not exactly in the middle of the space over the sapphire. Exactly in the middle is only the letter a.
  • The sapphire is surrounded by a circular ornamental border that symbolizes the circle (symbol of the infinity and unity of God) as well as the sun (a very old symbol of God: Psalm 84,12; Revelation 1,16).

The circle of the sun surrounding the sapphire is also the letter o, the first letter of the Greek word "omega", the last letter of the Greek alphabet (w;W) and symbolizes the end, the completion (Revelation chapter 21, verse 6).
The letter "a", which is exactly in the middle above the sapphire, the circle of the sun and the o(mega), is not only the last letter of Ananizapta and of apta (baptism), but also the first letter of "alpha" (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) and means "beginning".

The letter t in front of the letter a is here not only a letter: The letter t has the form of a cross and is crowned with a decoration, a waving flag of victory. The letters ta means: The baptism (apta) is the beginning - a(lpha) - of man`s way to salvation whose end and completion is heaven (the sapphire in the middle of the o circle of the sun). This aim can only be achieved with the help of Christ`s cross (t).

The front of the Middleham Jewel makes it possible for the observer to have a look at the way to the heavenly Jerusalem; it leads according to the inscription over the "Lamb of God".
This way in the history of salvation on earth began in Bethlehem - theme of the back of the Middleham Jewel:
It was God`s will (God the Father in the clouds) that his son destined to be the Lamb of God (under Mary and child Jesus) became incarnated through the Virgin Mary.

In German

Detailed interpretation by Dr. Karl in:
Werner Karl, Ananizapta und der Middleham Jewel (Ananizapta and the Middleham Jewel),
Sammelblatt des Historischen Vereins Ingolstadt, 110. Jahrgang, 2001, S.57 ff.
(Collection of Articles of the Historical Society of Ingolstadt, 110th annual volume, 2001, pp. 57-74).

Also see:
Werner Karl, Ananizapta - eine geheimnisvolle Inschrift des Mittelalters
(Ananizapta - a mysterious inscription of the Middle Ages),
Sammelblatt des Historischen Vereins Ingolstadt, 105. Jahrgang, 1996, S.59 ff.
(Collection of Articles of the Historical Society of Ingolstadt 105th annual volume, 1996, pp. 59-90).

Further literature:
P.M. Jones - L.T. Olsan, Middleham Jewel: Ritual, power, and devotion, in: Viator, Medieval and Renaissance studies 31 (2000), S. 249 ff.
John Cherry, The Middleham Jewel and Ring, York 1994.

Also see:

Impressum - - - Nachricht an den Gestalter der Seiten: Kurt Scheuerer
Zur Auswahl Stadtgeschichte Ingolstadt - - - Zur Auswahl Materialsammlung Kurt Scheuerer