Volvelle from BL Harley 941, f. 29v
Volvelle for calculating Easter, other movable feasts, Sunday letters, the Golden Number and the leap year, with a figure (a woman?) in the centre. Image taken from f. 29v of A literary and scientific miscellany, including the third version of the Latin Brut Chronicle of England (ff. 1-3v); Honorius's 'Imago mundi' (ff. 6-21); 'On the Times', a rhymed macaronic complaint lyric (ff. 21v-23v); Lydgate's 'Dietary' (ff. 24-25); Sacro Bosco's 'Tractatus de sphaera' (index De sphera)(ff. 30-49v); Langenstein's 'Expositio terminorum astronomiae' (ff. 51-58, 58-61v); Decembrius's 'Liber de Historia peregrina', Book 1, 'Cosmographia' (ff. 72-79v). Written in English and Latin.
Approximately 2000 B.C., Babylonian astrologers believed that the Sun, Moon, and the five planets known at that time (Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus) possessed distinct powers. Mars, for example, appeared to be red and was associated with aggression and war. Astrology was inherited by the Greeks from Babylonians around the 4th century B.C.Through the studies of Plato, Aristotle, and others, astrology came to be regarded as a science. It was embraced by the Romans and the Arabs. The zodiac (which is derived from the Greek word meaning "circle of animals") is believed to have developed in ancient Egypt and later adopted by the Babylonians. Early astrologers knew it took 12 lunar cycles (i.e., months) for the sun to return to its original position. They then identified 12 constellations that they observed were linked to the progression of the seasons and assigned them names of certain animals and persons (in Babylonia, for example, the rainy season was found to occur when the Sun was in a particular constellation which was then named Aquarius, or water bearer). Each of these four groups is inscribed in its own quadrant, or group of "houses," on a circle. The division of the 12 houses is based on Earth's daily rotation and relates to such circumstances as relationships, finances, travel, etc. The division of the 12 signs of the zodiac is based on the earth's year-long rotation around the Sun and relates to character traits and areas of life.
The Moon has always been a magical and mystical object for people throughout history. It is the 2nd brightest object in the sky after the Sun. Since prehistoric times, the Moon has been an object of fascination, awe, and worship. The Moon has its influence on our culture through music, theater, literature, and more.
During the Medieval period, European maps were dominated by religious views. All maps were, of course, drawn and illuminated by hand, which made the distribution of maps extremely limited. Medieval geography divided the world into three schematic parts: Asia, Europe, and Africa. Asia was depicted on top as the birthplace of Christ and the original site of the Garden of Eden. A T-O map (orbis terrarum, orb or circle of the lands; with the letter T inside an O), also known as an Isidoran map, is a type of early world map that represents the physical world as first described by the 7th-century scholar Isidore of Seville in his De Natura Rerum and later his Etymologiae. In this map format, Jerusalem was depicted at the center and east was oriented toward the map top. The design had great religious significance, with the “T” representing the central Christian symbol of the cross and placing Jerusalem at the center of the world. The “T” also separated the continents of the known world—Asia, Europe, and Africa—and the “O” that enclosed the entire image, represented the medieval idea of the world surrounded by water.