Byzantine eclipse diagram adopted from Indian astrology

Byzantine eclipse diagram with a “dark sun” and a “dark moon,” two pseudo-planets adopted from Indian astrology (Munich, BSB gr. 287, 104v, fifteenth century).

Project (2022-2023)

Interpreting Eclipses in Byzantium: Knowledge Transfer from India to the Eastern Mediterranean (1000–1500)

The aim of this project is to identify and analyze visual representations and descriptions of eclipses and/or the lunar nodes from the Eastern Mediterranean, and analyze their relationship to similar types of iconographic and textual sources from the Indian subcontinent, the Islamicate Middle East, and Central Asia. Although the project focuses on diagrams, drawings, and illustrations found in manuscripts from the period 1000 to 1500 CE (Greek, Syriac, Hebrew, Arabic, and other languages), other relevant artifacts (paintings and other artworks, seals, amulets, scientific instruments) will also be taken into account.

By way of this case study, the project will contribute to a better understanding of how astral knowledge and the visual culture of the heavens was transferred and transformed across pre-modern Eurasia. In particular, the project will highlight the importance of those astral representations and concepts that either originated, or became particularly significant in Indian astral science—such as the pseudo-planet(s) responsible for eclipses (Skr. Rāhu, Arab. Jawzahr), the Indian iconography of the decans, the lunar mansions (Skr. nakṣatra, Arab. manāzil), or the comet-planets (Skr. ketu, Arab. kaid)—and trace their diffusion to other parts of Eurasia and North Africa.