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Article

E. Haerinck

Area in the province of Gilan in northern Iran that has given its name to a series of ancient objects. Since the 1950s the area around the village of Amlash has served as a local market for clandestinely excavated objects from the surrounding valleys. Although the term ‘Amlash’ should only be used in a geographical sense, to indicate material from Gilan, it has often wrongly been given a chronological meaning. Many objects purporting to come from this area (including fakes) have entered collections and museums, but their dating is often problematic.

Iranian and Japanese archaeological teams explored several sites in Gilan, of which Marlik, Kaluraz, Dailaman (including Ghalekuti, Nouruz and Hassani Mahaleh) and Tomadjan are the best known. Excavation of the cemeteries provided evidence that the objects belonged to several periods, from the middle of the 2nd millennium bc to the Islamic era. The area was probably inhabited only from the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age by nomads, who buried their dead in stone-built tombs or later in vaulted burial chambers cut into the mountain slopes....

Article

Amman  

Adnan Hadidi, Alastair Northedge and Jonathan M. Bloom

revised by Sheila S. Blair

[Arab. ‛Amman; anc. Rabbath Ammon, later Philadelphia]

Capital of the kingdom of Jordan and site of a city that flourished between the 2nd millennium bc and the 14th century ad. The site lies in a fertile, well-watered area in the tableland to the east of the River Jordan, on the biblical King’s Highway (the ancient Roman Via Nova Traiana), which ran from Bosra in the north to the Red Sea in the south.

The ancient city consisted of the citadel, or acropolis, built in three terraces rising from west to east on a steep-sided, L-shaped hill, and the lower town in the valley of the Wadi ‛Amman to the south. The earliest material found on the citadel dates to the 3rd millennium bc; from c. 1100 bc until 582 bc the city was the capital of the kingdom of Ammon. Excavations around the perimeter of the hill have uncovered Ammonite tombs and Hellenistic and early Roman occupation from the ...

Article

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

Babylon  

[Akkad. Bab-ilim: ‘gate of god’]

Site in Iraq, 80 km south of modern Baghdad. It was once the capital and most important city of Babylonia (see Babylonian). It first rose to prominence under Hammurabi (reg 1792–1750 bc) and reached its peak of development under the Neo-Babylonian kings in the 6th century bc and was occupied until Sasanian times. Babylon was excavated by Austin Henry Layard (1850), Fulgence Fresnel (1852), Hormuzd Rassam (1879–82), and Robert Koldewey and Walter Andrae (1899–1917). Since 1958, excavations have been carried out by the Directorate-General of Antiquities, Baghdad, and the German Archaeological Institute. Finds from the early excavations are divided between the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin. More recent finds are in Baghdad (Iraq Mus.) and in a museum on the site.

Babylon was the largest settlement in ancient Mesopotamia, extending over an area of some 850 ha. The oldest known reference attests the construction of a temple in Akkadian times (late 3rd millennium ...

Article

[Greco-Bactrians; Indo-Greeks]

A number of Hellenistic kingships that ruled portions of Afghanistan, Central Asia and India in the last three centuries bc. In ancient times the region of Bactria was bounded on the north by the Oxus and on the south-east by the Hindu Kush mountains. The western frontier remained ill-defined and in constant flux. Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 bc, Bactria and adjoining Sogdiana were controlled by the Seleucids until c. 250 bc, when the governor Diodotus asserted independence. A large body of coins, Hellenistic in style and iconography and with Greek legends, was minted by the Greco-Bactrian rulers. This style of coinage, but with bilingual Greek and Kharoshthi legends, continued into the Kushana period (1st to 3rd century ad). With the exception of Ai Khanum, a Greek-style city, few remains of the Greeks in Bactria have yet been uncovered. Control of Sogdiana was lost to the local kings in the late ...

Article

Bazaar  

Mohammad Gharipour

Bazaar, which is rooted in Middle Persian wāzār and Armenian vačaṟ, has acquired three different meanings: the market as a whole, a market day, and the marketplace. The bazaar as a place is an assemblage of workshops and stores where various goods and services are offered.

Primitive forms of shops and trade centres existed in early civilizations in the Near East, such as Sialk, Tepe in Kashan, Çatal Hüyük, Jerico, and Susa. After the 4th millennium BC, the population grew and villages gradually joined together to shape new cities, resulting in trade even with the remote areas as well as the acceleration of the population in towns. The advancement of trade and accumulation of wealth necessitated the creation of trade centres. Trade, and consequently marketplaces, worked as the main driving force in connecting separate civilizations, while fostering a division of labour, the diffusion of technological innovations, methods of intercultural communication, political and economic management, and techniques of farming and industrial production....

Article

Jonathan N. Tubb

[Arab. Beisān; anc. Gr. Scythopolis; now Tell el-Husn]

Site in Israel between the Jezreel and Jordan valleys, on the south side of the Harod River. Extensive excavations, undertaken 1921–3 by a University of Pennsylvania expedition directed by C. S. Fisher, A. Rowe and G. M. Fitzgerald, disclosed a long history of almost unbroken occupation from the Chalcolithic period (c. 5000–c. 3500 bc) virtually to the present day. Excavations to the south-west of the mound have been undertaken since 1950 by N. Tzori on behalf of the Israel Department of Antiquities.

The earliest phases of occupation (strata XVIII and XVII) are best related to the Yarmukian or Jerico Pottery Neolithic B cultures of the mid-4th millennium bc. An apsidal house (stratum XVI; last quarter of the 4th millennium bc) contained a number of copper implements; grey burnished Esdraelon ware was stratified within the walls. The following Early Bronze Age (c. 3500–c. 2000 bc...

Article

G. Herrmann

[Bîchâpour; Pers. Bĭshăpŭr]

Site of Sasanian city 21 km east of Kazerun in south-west Iran. It was founded by the Sasanian king Shapur I (reg ad 241–72) and flourished in the early and middle Sasanian periods (see Sasanian). A relatively small area of the large, approximately rectangular city was cleared by Ghirshman in the 1930s, together with some of the defensive walls.

The purpose of the excavated buildings is disputed. They were once identified as a temple and associated palaces, but the whole area may have had a religious function. One structure, built of fine, ashlar masonry, is semi-subterranean and consists of a central square cella or court surrounded by an ambulatory. A series of subterranean stone channels linked the structure to the river, enabling the cella to be flooded when required. The building was once considered to be a fire temple (see Zoroastrianism, §1), but was more probably dedicated to the goddess Anahita. Another building consists of an enormous hall with four iwans opening on to it; its roofing and that of the stone temple are conjectural. The walls were decorated with simple painted stucco, and the pavements of some floors were covered with mosaics, almost certainly the work of Roman mosaicists. The geometric motifs and ornamental details in these mosaics are Greco-Roman, but there are also distinctively Iranian scenes with subjects such as dancers and harpists. Shapur’s greatest military successes were achieved against the Romans, whom he defeated three times, finally capturing the unfortunate Emperor Valerian alive. Many prisoners were settled in Iran, and their influence is much in evidence at Bishapur, in its orthogonal plan, in the ashlar masonry used for the temple and for the commemorative monument erected at the intersection of the city’s two main axes, and in the mosaics....

Article

Bisitun  

Vesta Sarḳhosh Curtis

[Pers. Bīsutūn; anc. Bagastāna: ‘Site of the gods’; Behistan, Behistun]

Site in Iran on the eastern edge of the Zagros Mountains, situated on the Great Khorasan Road, the ancient Silk Road, which leads from southern Mesopotamia to Kirmanshah and eastern Iran. Set high on a cliff overlooking the road is the famous rock-relief of the Achaemenid king Darius I (reg 521–486 bc;, which commemorates his victory over Gaumata, the false Smerdis, and nine rebel kings. Work on the relief took from 520 to 519 bc. The relief is accompanied by a trilingual inscription in Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian. This describes Darius’s royal descent and lineage, his campaigns and his victories over his opponents.

The relief, measuring 3.0×5.5m, shows Darius followed by a spear-bearer and a bow-bearer. He is depicted in profile wearing a crown and a long robe. In triumphant gesture he puts one foot on the defeated Gaumata, who is lying on the ground, pleading to the king of kings. Darius’s right hand is raised towards the figure in a winged disc set above. Behind Gaumata is the row of captured kings roped together at the neck, with their hands tied behind their backs. They include the Persian Martya, the Sagartian Chissantakhma, the Persian Vahyazdata, the Armenian Arakha and the Median Fravartish. The final figure, that of the Scythian Skunkha, was added to the relief at a late stage. The theme, with the king stepping with one foot on the body of an outstretched captive, is similar to that on a relief of King ...

Article

Byblos  

Muntaha Saghie

[anc. Gebal, Gabla; now Gebeil, Jbeil]

Ancient city built on a low cliff (h. 24 m) on the Mediterranean coast c. 40 km north of Beirut, Lebanon. Founded in the 6th millennium bc as a fishing village, it later developed into a cosmopolitan centre where trade and various industries flourished. During the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc it was the foremost harbour town in the eastern Mediterranean. The Phoenician alphabet was developed there (see Ancient Near East §I 3..). The word ‘Bible’ is derived from the Greeks’ name for the city whence they obtained the parchment (Gr. biblos) from which they made books (biblia). The site was excavated from 1921 onwards by Pierre Montet (until 1924) and Maurice Dunand. Most of the finds were deposited in the Musée National in Beirut.

The flimsy houses of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods (6th–4th millennia bc) consisted of one big room, rounded or oval for the earlier period, rectangular or apsidal for the later. In the Early Bronze Age (...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

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

Elymais  

Vesta Sarḳhosh Curtis

Name given in later antiquity (2nd century bc onwards) to an area in south-western Iran that originally probably covered the geographical region of the Bakhtiari Mountains, linking lowland and highland Iran. One route, coming from Susiana, led over the Bakhtiari Mountains through Izeh (Malamir) towards central Iran; another route, passing further south through Behbehan, led to the province of Fars.

Classical authors, rock inscriptions and the coins of Elymaian kings (see Ancient Near East §II 8.) provide information on the history of this area. Although some Elymaian kings from the 2nd century bc to the 2nd century ad are known, the exact sequence of their rule is uncertain. The Elymaians were regarded by Strabo as different from the people of Susiana. They successfully withstood attacks by the Seleucids in the first half of the 2nd century bc, briefly conquered the Greek city of Susa under the Elymaian king Kamnaskires I in ...

Article

G. Herrmann

[anc. Gur, Ardashir-Khurrah; Pers. Fīrūzābād]

Site of Sasanian city in south-west Iran, just outside the modern town of Firuzabad. It was planned by Ardashir I (reg c. ad 224–41), the founder of the Sasanian dynasty (see Sasanian); its ancient name Ardashir-Khurrah means ‘glory of Ardashir’. The walls of the city form a perfect circle, within which is a circular inner core, probably containing the public buildings, surrounded by radiating streets dividing the city into 20 sectors. The pattern continued into the countryside, resulting in an intricate web of paths with the city at its centre.

Ardashir built his fortress, Qal‛a-i Dukhtar, well away from the city, on a crag commanding the road from Shiraz to Firuzabad and thence to the Persian Gulf. The strongly fortified structure was built in the early 3rd century ad, when Ardashir was still nominally a Parthian vassal. It was constructed of rough stone and mortar and still stands to a considerable height. It is defended by a massive set of outer curtain walls and has an elaborate system of wells securing the water. It is built on three levels, a low entrance level with winding ramps, an outer courtyard surrounded by rooms serving as a barracks, and an upper terrace with an impressive set of reception rooms. These consist of a monumental iwan serving both as a reception hall and as an entrance to a large domed chamber, the dome resting on squinches above a square room. This combination of iwan and domed chamber became a standard feature of ...

Article

Gerasa  

M. Rautmann and J. M. C. Bowsher

[anc. Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas; now Jerash]

Ancient city in Jordan, set in the hills of Gilead c. 45 km north of Amman. It flourished from the 2nd century bc to the 7th century ad; the site is in the modern town of Jerash. Founded by Antiochos IV of Syria (reg 175–164 bc), Gerasa first rose to importance as Antioch-on-the-Chrysorrhoas during Hellenistic and Roman times. Its location between Pella and Philadelphia ensured its continued prosperity as one of the cities of the Decapolis in Roman Syria. Gerasa’s shift to the new province of Arabia in ad 106 sparked its greatest urban flourishing, which continued until its capture by the Persians in ad 614 and the Arabs around ad 635. Although ancient Gerasa remained occupied until the 8th century ad, it was devastated by a major earthquake c. ad 746, and later sources suggest that it was abandoned. The site was discovered in 1806 by the German traveller ...

Article

Hama  

Rupert L. Chapman

[Ḥamā, Ḥamāh; bibl. Hamath; anc. Gr. Epiphania]

City on the River Orontes in inland western Syria. The tell has been occupied almost continuously since Neolithic times.

Hama’s location on the Aleppo–Damascus road ensured its prosperity for long periods (see also Syria-Palestine, §I, 1). Its position also exposed it to influence and domination by a wide variety of cultures. In the 9th century bc Hama was ruled by a Neo-Hittite dynasty, which was replaced c. 800 bc by an Aramaean one (see Aramaean). The city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 bc and its population deported, as mentioned in the Bible (2 Kings 17:24); occupation on the tell was limited to an Assyrian garrison. Hama was included in the Roman Empire after the conquest of Syria by Pompey in 64 bc. In 1812 J. L. Burckhardt visited Hama and discovered what later proved to be hieroglyphic Hittite inscriptions (see Hittite). The tell, which dominates the modern town, was excavated in ...

Article

Hatra  

Wathiq al-Salihi

[Arab. al-Ḥaḍr]

City in northern Iraq about 110 km south-west of the modern city of Mosul, in an area known as the Jazira. It flourished from the 2nd century bc to the 3rd century ad and was an important caravan city that played a significant role in the cultural and political development of the area. It was a great centre for Arab tribes since it had an abundance of fresh water from numerous springs and from the nearby Wadi Tharthar, and every house, temple or courtyard had at least one well. The site also had a strategic importance, for it controlled the military and trade routes across the desert and along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Consequently, wealth poured in, allowing its rulers to build new temples and public buildings and to strengthen the fortifications so that it became one of the wealthiest cities in Mesopotamia.

There are no literary sources concerning the foundation and development of the city, so that its early history is mainly dependent on archaeological and architectural evidence. It seems that the site was partially settled in the ...

Article

Dominique Collon

In 

Article

R. S. Merrillees

In