Categories
Research

Missing Archives

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss being able to work in the archives. Travel restrictions that prevent me from going to and working in the archives I need for my research depresses me, to say the least. The fact that there is no end in sight compounds my feelings of loss.[1] There […]

Categories
Press and Pop Culture

Astrology: Bugbear of Science

A recent survey of the “Conceptions of Science in Byzantium” opens with a general comment about the term “science”, and by extension the concept “science”. The author roots “science” in the culturally specific values of any given moment, values that are “constantly developing and changing.” These values determine what was and what was not, or […]

Categories
Research

Aphorism 75 and the Challenges for a Critical Edition

Critical editions are incredibly handy. They transform historical artifacts into an easily read, generic version of some text. They smooth out differences between versions, they correct grammar, and they normalize orthography. The labors of intrepid and tireless editors save us untold time and energy.[1] But those same labors, those efforts to efface differences and to […]

Categories
Research

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.

Categories
Academia

The Earth’s Shadow

Today’s image comes once again from the many diagrams in BL Royal MS 16 C XII. This particular drawing illustrates how the earth’s shadow is cast by the sun. I appreciate the detail the scribe added to the sun, giving it a face complete with attitude.

Categories
History

Interesting Planetary Diagram

The standard geocentric model assumed that the planets were arranged out from the center, the earth, according to the period of revolution. On this assumption, the shorter the period, the closer the planet was to the stationary, central Earth.[1] Claudius Ptolemy ensconced the order in his Syntaxis (commonly know as his Almagest) sometime in the […]

Categories
Museums

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 A quick […]

Categories
Research

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 […]

Categories
History

More Ὁ Καρπός Fun

Here is the next group of ten aphorisms, 21–30, from the copy of Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός in BNF gr. 2180. Idiosyncrasies continue to be the norm. As is common in this text, along with the orthographic tendency to reflect pronunciation, these aphorisms often lack words and include numerous errors (usually in grammatical case). Interestingly, the […]

Categories
History

Aphorisms 11–20 from Ptolemy’s Ὁ Καρπός

Here are aphorisms 11–20 from the copy of Ptolemy’s “Ὁ Καρπός” in BnF gr. 2180. As to be expected, there are a number of idiosyncrasies here, some going well beyond the orthographic changes (which are unsurprising really). In some cases, this copy of the text includes additional clauses that raise interesting questions. For example, the […]