Tag: Brescia

The Byzantine Astrolabe

I can’t reconstruct how I came across this page, but now that I have I can’t let it go without some comment. A search for the pair of terms “Brescia astrolabe” or “Byzantine astrolabe” gives as the second result a link to a Wikimedia page, Byzantine astrolabe at Brescia, 5th century AD (reconstruction).jpg

Some Wikimedia user thinks this astrolabe is a reconstruction of a 5th-century instrument. It’s not.

A quick point: this astrolabe is not a reconstruction of a “5th-century” astrolabe. The Byzantine astrolabe now in City Museum in Brescia is from the 11th century. It’s dated 1062, to be precise.

I wonder: the user who uploaded the image claims it was taken at The Technology Museum in Thessaloniki. Did the museum mislabel this display? Did the Wikimedia user misread/mislabel the file? I could not find a page for this astrolabe (I assume it is part of the Ancient Greek Technology) so I can’t determine if the museum is to blame here. The Wikimedia user claims to be a native Greek speaker, so misreading the label might surprise me. But who knows.

I assume the reconstruction is somewhere in this gallery at The Technology Museum in Thessaloniki.

In any case, if want to know more about the Brescia astrolabe you should download David King’s thoughts on this astrolabe, Byzantine Astrolabe of 1062. Or read O.M. Dalton’s old but still very reliable essay, The Byzantine Astrolabe at Brescia (1926). Regrettably, there are no high-resolution images of it on the internet, so you’ll just have to travel to Brescia to see it. In the mean time, here is (a copy) of the image from Dalton’s essay.

The front of the Byzantine astrolabe (from Dalton’s essay).