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Article

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.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

[Greco-Bactrians; Indo-Greeks]

A number of Hellenistic kingships that ruled portions of Afghanistan, Central Asia and India in the last three centuries bc. In ancient times the region of Bactria was bounded on the north by the Oxus and on the south-east by the Hindu Kush mountains. The western frontier remained ill-defined and in constant flux. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bc, Bactria and adjoining Sogdiana were controlled by the Seleucids until c. 250 bc, when the governor Diodotus asserted independence. A large body of coins, Hellenistic in style and iconography and with Greek legends, was minted by the Greco-Bactrian rulers. This style of coinage, but with bilingual Greek and Kharoshthi legends, continued into the Kushana period (1st to 3rd century ad). With the exception of Ai Khanum, a Greek-style city, few remains of the Greeks in Bactria have yet been uncovered. Control of Sogdiana was lost to the local kings in the late ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

E. Errington

[Pahlava]

Dynasty that replaced Shaka or Indo-Scythian rule in south-east Afghanistan and the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent in the 1st century ad. The origins of the dynasty are uncertain, and the suggestion that the Indo-Parthians came from the eastern borders of the Parthian empire remains unsubstantiated. Iranian influence is already evident in Afghanistan during the Shaka period. Vonones (c. 75–50 bc), for example, was apparently a Shaka king ruling with his associates in Arachosia (south-east Afghanistan), but he bears the same name as later Parthian kings and has the Iranian title ‘king of kings’ on his coinage.

The founder of the Indo-Parthian dynasty appears to have been Gondophares (reg c. ad 20–50), who took control of the Taxila and adjacent territories, although some Shaka satraps of the region apparently retained a degree of autonomy. The so-called Takht-i-Bahi inscription, dated in the year 103 (probably of the Vikrama Era of ...

Article

Jaynie Anderson

(b Paris, March 5, 1817; d London, July 5, 1894).

English archaeologist, politician, diplomat, collector and writer. From his boyhood in Florence, where he grew up in the Palazzo Rucellai and knew Seymour Kirkup (1788–1880) and Walter Savage Landor (1775–1864), he was inspired by a love of Italian art and culture. He returned to England at the age of 12 and, unable to go to university, was apprenticed as a solicitor from 1833 to 1839. He continued to pursue his Italian studies informally, however, and contemplated writing a history of Italy. In 1839 he interrupted an overland journey to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to visit ancient archaeological sites in remote and dangerous areas of Turkey, Iraq and Iran, where he copied cuneiform inscriptions and Assyrian reliefs, described in his Early Adventures (1887). From 1842 he was employed in Constantinople (now Istanbul) by Sir Stratford Canning on various diplomatic missions.

In 1845 Layard began his first systematic archaeological work (...

Article

Walter B. Denny

(b London, March 2, 1900; d Beckley, March 8, 1978).

English collector, archaeologist and writer. Trained as an artist, Reitlinger travelled widely, taking part in two Oxford University archaeological expeditions to Iraq in the 1930s. After World War II he wrote three studies on the history of the Nazi period in Germany and many articles on art, both as a scholar and a journalist. His best-known work is the seminal three-volume study of the art market from 1750 to the 1960s. His residence at Woodgate House at Beckley, E. Sussex, was the site of almost legendary social gatherings and housed the major passion in his life, his art collection, which comprised some 2000 pieces, mainly Far Eastern and Islamic ceramics. Although a fire ravaged Woodgate House in February 1978, the collection was spared, and after Reitlinger’s death a few weeks later, it came to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Some of the most important pieces in the collection were published in the catalogue accompanying a memorial exhibition....

Article

G. Herrmann

[Sassanian]

Name given to the Iranian dynasty that ruled from c. ad 224 to 631. The Sasanian empire was the foremost power of late antiquity in the Middle East; it was administered by an efficient bureaucracy and controlled by a monarch symbolically invested with power by the state religion, Zoroastrianism. Under the dynasty innovations were made that later permanently influenced Islamic architecture, and Sasanian rock reliefs and silverwork are famous. Influences on Sasanian art can partly be explained by the political and economic situation of the empire. In the west it was in contact with the Romano-Byzantine empire. In the east the situation is less clear, though contacts and a rich and flourishing trade were maintained with the Chinese. One of the dynamics of the period was an insatiable western appetite for eastern silks and spices, and the control of this trade was a major Sasanian interest and source of wealth....

Article

Andrew F. Stewart

Name given to the Macedonian kings of Syria and their territories between 311 and 64 bc, whose empire dominated the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th century bc until the 2nd. Seleukos I Nikator (reg 305–281 bc), one of Alexander the Great’s generals, founded the empire in Babylon in 311 bc; in 300 bc he moved its capital to Antioch, and by his death he controlled most of the region now occupied by Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey (about two-thirds of Alexander’s conquests). Continuous warfare on all fronts considerably eroded this vast territory during the 3rd century bc. Antiochos III (reg 223–187 bc) succeeded in reversing the situation by the 190s bc and even added Israel to the empire, but his unsuccessful invasion of Greece in 191 bc and subsequent defeat by Pergamon and Rome in 188 bc deprived him of most of Asia Minor and saddled the empire with a huge indemnity. A single Roman envoy prevented the ablest of his successors, the eccentric ...

Article

Sheila R. Canby

( Kyrle )

(b London, Oct 13, 1897; d Sharon, CT, April 18, 1986).

American archaeologist, curator and collector . Trained as an artist at the Slade School, University College, London, in 1920 he joined the graphic section of the Egyptian Expedition to Thebes, organized by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. During the 1920s and 1930s Wilkinson painted facsimiles of Egyptian tomb paintings in the museum collection, and he joined museum excavations in the Kharga Oasis (Egypt) and Qasr-i Abu Nasr and Nishapur (Iran). Transferred to the curatorial staff of the museum in 1947, he became curator in 1956 of the new Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, which merged with the Department of Islamic Art in 1957. Through his energetic collaboration on major excavations at Hasanlu, Nimrud and Nippur, Wilkinson greatly expanded the Ancient Near Eastern collections at the Metropolitan Museum. After his retirement from the museum in 1963, he taught Islamic art at Columbia University and was Hagop Kevorkian Curator of Middle Eastern Art and Archaeology at the Brooklyn Museum, New York (...