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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....

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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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A. J. Mills

Egyptian oasis c. 600 km south of Cairo and c. 200 km west of the Nile. Throughout history, Kharga was closely connected with the civilization of the Nile Valley as an important stage in the great overland trade route known as the Darb el-Arbain (‘Forty Days’ Road’) between Egypt and the Sudan. Ancient texts praise the oasis products. The oasis is narrow but measures c. 160 km from north to south; it is dotted with monuments in varying states of preservation. The earliest of these is the Temple of Amun at Hibis (see fig. and Egypt, ancient, §VIII, 2, (i), (a)), which was begun on earlier foundations in the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc), completed during the reign of Darius I (reg 521–486 bc) and enlarged in later periods. The temple is a well-preserved example of the Saite Renaissance style, while its sandstone walls are decorated with finely cut Persian period reliefs. A series of mud-brick fortified settlements of the Roman period (...

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R. S. Merrillees

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