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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

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 ...