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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....

Article

Irene Bald Romano

Image of a divinity that served in antiquity as a focal-point for worship and cult rituals. Most cult statues were housed in temples or shrines, although outdoor worship of images is also attested. Although aniconic worship (i.e. of a non-anthropomorphic symbol of a deity such as a rock or pillar) is known in Near Eastern, Greek and Roman cults, most deities by the late 2nd millennium bc were worshipped in an anthropomorphic form and were, as such, earthly substitutes or humanized manifestations of the presence of a deity.

Anthropomorphic cult statues are well attested in the Ancient Near East, Anatolia, the Levant and Egypt. Near Eastern cuneiform records going back at least to the 2nd millennium bc indicate that Mesopotamian cult images were made of wood and opulently clad in tiaras, robes and jewellery. The garments of the statue were ceremonially changed, and ritual meals were served up to the cult image. Specific attributes and attire aided identity. From ...

Article

Cyprus  

R. S. Merrillees, Nicolas Coldstream, Edgar Peltenburg, Franz Georg Maier, G. R. H. Wright, Demetrios Michaelides, Lucia Vagnetti, Veronica Tatton-Brown, Joan Breton Connelly, Paul Åström, Jean-Claude Poursat, Elizabeth Goring, Louise Schofield, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. Papageorghiou, Michael D. Willis, Michael Given, Elise Marie Moentmann, Kenneth W. Schaar, Euphrosyne Rizopoulou-Egoumenidou and Helena Wylde Swiny

[Gr. Kypros; Turk. Kibris]

Third largest island in the Mediterranean (9251 sq. km), 70 km south of Turkey and 103 km west of Syria (see fig.). The island’s geographical location and its natural resources of copper and shipbuilding timber have had a considerable impact on the destiny of its inhabitants. Cyprus has throughout its history been vulnerable to the geopolitical ambitions of the powers controlling the neighbouring countries, which have not hesitated to exploit its resources and to use it as a stepping stone or place of retreat. Although it possessed a vigorous and distinctive local culture in Neolithic times (c. 7000–c. 3800 bc), it lacked the population, resources and strength to withstand the external pressures to which it was subjected from the start of the Bronze Age (c. 2300 bc). Since then and over the subsequent millennia Cyprus has been invaded and colonized for varying periods by Achaeans, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines, Crusaders, Venetians, Turks and the British. While its strategic position has always given it certain commercial and cultural advantages, it has also been the source of most of the island’s troubles since the beginning of recorded history, because too often the interests and concerns of the native inhabitants were subordinated to the ambitions and dictates of the powers around it. Yet, despite the ultimate demise of the native Cypriot style in the Late Bronze Age, the Cypriot craftsman’s ability to adapt and amalgamate the forms, designs and subject-matter of successive incoming groups produced a range of artefacts that ingeniously blended traditional with foreign concepts. While the forms of Cypriot expression after the introduction of outside influences could be mistaken for provincial imitation, the island’s art never lost its essential native characteristics: a strong underlying sense of inventiveness, superstition and wit. This has left a large body of captivating and whimsical material which, in turn, has inspired not only students and collectors of the island’s past art but modern Cypriot craftsmen as well....

Article

Elmalı  

M. J. Mellink

Town in the district of Antalya, south-west Turkey. Elmalı is set in a fertile plain c. 1100 m above sea-level, which is dotted with ancient sites that belonged to Lycia or the Milyad in Classical times. Roads from Lycian coastal sites lead through mountains and river valleys to Elmalı, from where connections upland to Pisidia and Burdur are easy. Excavations of a site of the 3rd millennium bc and of two painted tombs of c. 500 bc were carried out by M. Mellink from 1963 onwards on behalf of Bryn Mawr College, PA. Finds are in the Archaeological Museum in Antalya; the wall paintings remain in situ. In 1986–7 two tumuli excavated by a team from Antalya Museum produced Phrygian and other grave goods of c. 700 to c. 600 bc.

At Karataş-Semayük, excavations revealed a fortified mansion of the early 3rd millennium bc and a village of megaron-shaped houses in which the extensive use of timber is noticeable. In the burial grounds individual and family burials were contained in large jars. Early art is evident in metalwork (e.g. a silver pendant in double-axe shape and a silver pin with boar’s head finial), in designs on terracotta stamp seals and in incised and applied animal figures on pottery. Red polished pottery is decorated with white painted ornament....

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R. S. Merrillees

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R. S. Merrillees

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A. Papageorghiou

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Michael D. Willis

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Samaria  

Jonathan N. Tubb

[Bibl. Shomeron; Gk. Sebaste; Arab. Sebastiyah]

Ancient capital of the northern kingdom of Israel from the time of Omri (reg 882–871 bc) until the final conquest of the kingdom by the Assyrian king Sargon II in 721 bc. It has been identified with the modern Arab village of Sebastiyah, which lies c. 10 km north-west of Nablus and 40 km west of the River Jordan. The site is situated on a hilltop about 90 m above a large and extremely fertile agricultural plain; more importantly, it stands at the crossroads of two ancient major routes, one passing west to east from the coastal plain, through Shechem to the Jordan Valley, and the other leading north from Judah to Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley. According to biblical tradition (1 Kings 16:24), the hill on which the capital was to be established was purchased by Omri from Shemer (hence the name Shomeron) for two talents of silver. During the reign of Herod the Great (...

Article

Sidon  

Nina Jidejian

[Arab. Saida]

City on the coast of Lebanon, 40 km south of Beirut. Sidon has been a rich source of stone anthropoid sarcophagi and elaborately sculptured marble sarcophagi manufactured between the 6th and 4th centuries bc. The anthropoid sarcophagi were inspired by the Egyptian mummy case but the features and hair of the deceased were sculpted in the Greek style. They appear to be a Phoenician invention. Sidon was first recorded in the royal Egyptian archives at Amarna, (Tell) el-. Homer and Strabo praise the skill of its artisans and it occurs frequently in the Old and New Testaments. The city came under Assyrian and Babylonian domination (900–550 bc) and was incorporated in the Fifth Persian satrapy between c. 550 bc and 330 bc. Sidon welcomed Alexander the Great and was rapidly Hellenized. At his death the city became a possession of the Ptolemies and the Seleucid kings; it came under Roman rule in ...

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R. S. Merrillees

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