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Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Large areas of the world that came under Muslim sway beginning in the 7th century—notably the Iberian peninsula, North Africa, Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Central Asia—had sizeable Christian communities, and it took several centuries for Muslims to become the majority population in these regions. Christian minority communities continue to survive—and even flourish—in such regions as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Christians—as well as Jews, Zoroastrians and others—shared the visual vocabularies of their Muslim neighbors, if not their faith, and it is often difficult if not impossible to distinguish a work of “Islamic art” made for a Muslim from one made for a non-Muslim. Indeed, many of the craftsmen making “Islamic art” may have been Christians or Jews, for ...

Article

Jerome Murphy O’Connor, Michael Turner, Sheila S. Blair, Jonathan M. Bloom, Leen Ritmeyer, Robert Hillenbrand and Alan Borg

City sacred to the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, now in Israel. It is built on limestone hills in the central plateau of Judaea, and limited by the Kidron Valley on the east and the Hinnom Valley on the west and south....

Article

S. J. Vernoit

Persian painter. He signed a number of large oil paintings (Tehran, Nigaristan Mus.; ex-Amery priv. col.), including two life-size portraits of princes and a painting of Shaykh San‛an and the Christian Maiden. Other paintings that can be attributed to the artist on stylistic grounds include a third portrait of a prince in the same collection and two paintings of women (Tbilisi, Mus. A. Georg.). His style is characterized by a soft rendering of features, fondness for reddish brown and a hallmark vase of flowers. He also produced miniature paintings in the form of monochrome portraits. European travellers in Tehran in the 19th century erroneously attributed to him the large mural in the Nigaristan Palace depicting the court of the Qajar monarch Fath ‛Ali Shah (...

Article

Alan Borg

Crusader castle in Syria. It is generally considered to be the finest of all crusader castles, but this reputation is to some extent an accident of scholarship, for it remains the only such castle to have been thoroughly investigated and restored. This work was done by a French team, led by ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Region between the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian desert, containing sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. The exact borders have varied in different periods, but the term has come to be applied to the area now covered by Israel and ...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....