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Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

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

S. J. Vernoit

[Edhem, Osman Hamdi; Hamdi Bey]

(b Istanbul, Dec 30, 1842; d Eskihisar, Gebze, nr Istanbul, Feb 24, 1910).

Turkish painter, museum director and archaeologist. In 1857 he was sent to Paris, where he stayed for 11 years, training as a painter under Gustave Boulanger and Jean-Léon Gérôme. On returning to Turkey he served in various official positions, including two years in Baghdad as chargé d’affaires, while at the same time continuing to paint. In 1873 he worked on a catalogue of costumes of the Ottoman empire, with photographic illustrations, for the Weltausstellung in Vienna. In 1881 he was appointed director of the Archaeological Museum at the Çinili Köşk, Topkapı Palace, in Istanbul. He persuaded Sultan Abdülhamid II (reg 1876–1909) to issue an order against the traffic in antiquities, which was put into effect in 1883, and he began to direct excavations within the Ottoman empire. As a result he brought together Classical and Islamic objects for the museum in Istanbul, including the Sarcophagus of Alexander, unearthed in Sidon in ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Kilmarnock, Aug 18, 1835; d Edinburgh, July 3, 1900).

Scottish soldier, archaeologist, diplomat and collector of Iranian art. He was educated at Glasgow University, and in 1855 he obtained a commission in the Royal Engineers. The following year he joined the expedition of Charles Newton to Halikarnassos, which resulted in the discovery of the Mausoleum and the acquisition of its sculptures for the British Museum. In 1860 with E. A. Porcher, Murdoch Smith formed at his own expense an expedition to Cyrene in Libya. From this expedition he returned with Greek sculptures and inscriptions (London, BM). In 1863 he was selected for service on the Iranian section of a proposed telegraph line from Britain to India, and in 1865 he became its director in Tehran, holding that post for the next 20 years. He initiated his collecting activities for the South Kensington (later Victoria and Albert) Museum in 1873 when he offered his services as an agent. From 1873 to 1885...