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Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....


Sarah Morgan

Doctrinal position on the nature of Jesus Christ followed by the Nestorian or Assyrian Church, more properly known as the Ancient Church of the East. The name is derived from Nestorius (c. ad 381–c. 451), who was Patriarch of Constantinople (now Istanbul) between 428 and 431. The theological views that came to be associated with him had arisen in the late 4th century among Christian thinkers of the Antioch school, who rejected the Orthodox dogma as established at the Council of Nicaea in 325. The Antiochenes taught that Christ had two distinct natures, human and divine, whereas the Nicene formula maintained that these two natures were perfectly united in Christ. The Christological debate intensified when Nestorius, a follower of the Antioch school, succeeded to the patriarchate. After he was deposed, the doctrine he represented was declared heretical. By the mid-5th century the Nestorians had split away from the Orthodox Church and controlled the see of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in Iraq, later spreading into Iran. For the next 800 years the Nestorian Church flourished, establishing important missionary communities in Central Asia, India and China, where inscribed stelae commemorating its expansion have been found. Converts were also made among the Turks and Mongols. From the 11th century the Nestorian Church began to decline under the attacks of the Mongols (now converted to Islam), until in the 14th century it was forced to remove itself into Kurdistan, where it survived into the 20th century....