empire of Byzantium

The Byzantine Empire, also known as the Eastern Roman Empire, was founded in 395 when Emperor Theodosius I divided the Roman Empire into two parts: a Western part of Latin culture and an Eastern part of Greek culture. Constantinople, now Istanbul, became the capital. Byzantine art, which was developed from the 4th to the 16th century A.D., is characterised by a style that takes Hellenistic-Roman art and enriches it with oriental stylistic elements, typical of Asia Minor. If architecture has majestic and solemn churches, usually in the shape of a Greek cross, figurative art is characterised by mosaics.