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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

Ayodhya  

B. B. Lal

[Ayodhyā]

City in Faizabad District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Located on the right bank of the River Sarayu, it was the capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom, one of whose kings, Rama, is regarded by Hindus as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Excavations in 17 different parts of the ancient mounds have revealed that the first occupation at Ayodhya commenced c. 700 bc, as is indicated by the occurrence of the earliest variety of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) and a few sherds assignable to a late stage in the production of Painted Grey Ware (PGW). The NBPW is very well fired, thin-sectioned, with a shining surface and showing a variety of colours: steel grey, coal black, indigo, silver, even gold. In the earliest levels the houses were of wattle and daub, but later they began to be constructed of kiln-fired bricks. Terracotta ringwells were used for disposing of sullage water. Concomitantly, systems of coinage (punch-marked and uninscribed cast coins) and weights (cylindrical pieces of jasper, chert etc) also came into being, laying the foundation of urbanization in the Ganga Valley around the middle of the 1st millennium ...

Article

Garni  

J. M. Rogers

[anc. Gornea]

Armenian village, 30 km east of Erevan in the Abovian district, famous for its pagan and Christian architectural remains. The earliest indications of settlement are the Early Bronze Age (c. 2500 bc) foundation courses of Cyclopean masonry (see Masonry, §II) at the site of Garni’s fortress, which is strategically situated on a triangular promontory high above the River Azat. An Urartian inscription records its conquest by King Argishti I (reg 785–760 bc). The present fortress was probably built in the 3rd century bc, using massive dressed basalt blocks reinforced with iron clamps set in lead. Garni is recorded by Tacitus (Annals XII.xlv) as the Roman garrison of Gornea in ad 51, shortly after which the fortress was partially dismantled and the garrison expelled (62). If the Greek restoration inscription dated to the eleventh year of the reign of King Trdat is attributed to the first ruler of that name (...

Article

Rajgir  

Frederick M. Asher

[Rājgir, Rājagṛha]

Ancient capital of the kingdom of Magadha in Nalanda District, Bihar, India. Rajgir was a frequent resort of the Buddha and of Mahavira, the Jaina teacher (c. 5th century bc), and it is sacred to both religions. Its outer fortifications (c. 6th century bc) run for about 40 km over hilly terrain; this wide rubble rampart with projecting bastions is probably the earliest surviving stone monument in India. Within the walls is a citadel with earthen ramparts. Beyond the outer walls, to the north, are the remains of new Rajgir, laid out in an irregular square, possibly by King Ajatashatru (c. 491–459 bc).

While archaeological excavations have revealed much material, few ancient monuments have survived. The earliest are the two rock-cut Sonbhandar caves. These are similar in plan and elevation to the rock-cut sanctuaries in the Barabar Hills (3rd century bc; see Barabar and Nagarjuni...