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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

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 Islamic art has been defined as the art made by artists or artisans whose religion was Islam, for patrons who lived in predominantly Muslim lands, or for purposes that are restricted or peculiar to a Muslim population or a Muslim setting. In some times and places, Muslims and Christians violently contested the same spaces, whether during the “Reconquest” of the Iberian Peninsula or the Crusades in the Levant. Despite the bellicosity, in both cases artistic interchange created such distinctive traditions as ...

Article

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

[Heb. Yerushalayim; Arab. al-Quds]

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.

Following Jerusalem’s inclusion in the Roman and Byzantine empires, Muslim forces captured Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099, when European Crusaders captured the city and transformed many of its Muslim monuments. They held it until 1187, when Saladin reconquered the city for Islam. Subsequently held by the Mamluk (to 1516) and Ottoman sultans, the city became the administrative centre of the British mandate in Palestine during World War I. In 1949 Israel declared that [west] Jerusalem was its capital city; following the annexation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel unilaterally declared that [undivided] Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, although Palestinians continue to maintain that East Jerusalem must be the capital of a future Palestinian state....

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Muḥammad Ḥasan Khān]

(fl c. 1800–40).

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 (reg 1797–1834), but this painting is now considered the work of ‛Abdallah Khan.

S. Y. Amiranashvili: Iranskaya stankovaya zhivopis’ [Iranian wall painting] (Tbilisi, 1940)...

Article

Alan Borg

[Arab. Ḥisṇ al-Akrād]

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 Paul Deschamps. Krak represents the ultimate development of crusader fortification, however, and the earlier phases are better studied at the equally impressive sites of Saone (Sahyun) and Margat (al-Marqab) in Syria and Kerak (al-Karak) in Jordan. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.

The stone castle of Krak occupies a dominant hilltop, near two Roman roads and overlooking a fertile valley (see fig.). The site was apparently occupied by a fortress as early as the 13th century bc. It was mentioned in Arab texts in ad 1031, when a settlement of Kurds was established, with a small castle. These fell to a crusading force in ...

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 Jordan, Hashemite Kingdom of. Artistic development in this region between the 13th millennium and the 1st bc is discussed in the survey on Syria-Palestine, and development of some specific types of art is also discussed in the wider context of the Ancient Near East. The first permanent agricultural settlements were established in 8000 bc at Jericho. After c. 1200 bc the coastal zone of Palestine was settled by the Peleset, later known as the Philistines (see Philistine), from whom the name of the region is derived. By 1000 bc the area was dominated by Hebrew tribes, who made Jerusalem their capital. The Kingdom of Palestine became divided into the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, but these were destroyed, the former by Assyria in ...

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....