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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....



C. A. Burney

Site of an Urartian temple of the 9th and 8th centuries bc in eastern Anatolia, Turkey. It is situated on a hilltop more than 300 m above the main road from Erciş, on the north-east shore of Lake Van, to Karaköse (Ağrı). The temple is the earliest known example of the Urartian square tower form, built of ashlar masonry with a mud-brick superstructure (see Urartian, §2). It was excavated by a Turkish expedition in the 1960s and finds are in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. Set into the fine basalt ashlar are the only two known copies of the Annals of Menua (c. 810–c. 788 bc), suggesting that he accorded this district a special status, perhaps as providing a base for his northern campaigns. Fragmentary wall paintings were discovered but left in situ.

A fortified enclosure below the temple, known as Aznavurtepe, may well have served as a compound for the cavalry and for captured livestock; there are traces of a reservoir for the storage of melted snow from the slopes. The perimeter wall is of a design not found elsewhere in Urartu and incorporates a series of towers (8×9 m) that straddle the wall, projecting from both the outer and inner faces; the towers were constructed first....