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Byzantine Astrolabe (sort of)

In a fragment on the astrolabe attributed to John Kamateros are a handful of interesting diagrams illustrating the various parts of an astrolabe. Here is the diagram showing the rete. There is also diagram illustrating the plate, and two showing different views of the back of the instrument.

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Filed under “Amusing Diversion”

Working through a manuscript I came across this folio with a large diagram of the zodiac in the center. What caught my attention was the drawing in the upper right corner. The scribe seems to have thrown his arms up in confusion (?), exasperation (?), or simply resignation. Either that, or he’s being held up […]

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Digital Manuscripts

Elly over at Medieval Robots revels in how digital humanities are making medieval and early modern material available to broader audiences (see her “How Early Modern Animal Jetpacks Went Viral). I too am delighted to see digital resources making so much material available both for scholarly use and for the interested audience. Recently the Vatican […]

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A Scurvy Epidemic in 17th-Century England

Direct-to-consumer drug marketing has become an important part of the pharmaceutical industry. We see ads on TV, in magazines and newspapers, on webpages, and we hear them on the radio. Mary Ebeling has recently written about how companies use checklists to present symptoms. She finds that the checklist has a particular authority with consumers that […]

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Analyzing Astrological Prognostications

Today I played around a bit more with Wordle and made a series of word clouds from astrological prognostications. As I play with it, I am seeing more ways that this could be useful both in class and in guiding research, both my own and student research. In order to make it practical, however, the […]

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The Politics of Astrology in Renaissance Hungary

One of the highlights of the Diet of Presburg in 1468 was a debate between two Polish astrologers, Martin Bylica and Jan Stercze. At issue was the proper interpretation of a geniture that Stercze had calculated in 1467 for János Rozgon, a Hungarian Count. Upon reviewing the geniture. Bylica declared that Stercze’s interpretation was founded […]

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Images of Byzantium: Nicephorus Gregoras’s “On the Construction and Origin of the Astrolabe”

In 1498 Giorgio Valla published a Latin excerpt from Nicephorus Gregoras’s treatise “On the Construction and Origin of the Astrolabe.” Despite appearing as the fifth tract in Valla’s compendium, which included other Byzantine and Greek authors, Gregoras’s text quickly became a standard authority amongst scholars in 16th-century Europe. Authors such as Johannes Schöner and Peter […]

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Nikephoros Gregoras and Byzantine Science

In March I am talking on the Byzantine polymath Nikephoros Gregoras and his efforts to establish his scientific authority. In “Empiricism, Prediction, and Instruments: The Creation of Expertise in 14th-Century Constantinople” I will examine the ways that Gregoras tried to distinguish his own expertise by grounding it in precise, empirical predictions and his command of […]