Chapter

The Descriptive Tradition in the Middle Ages

Elly Dekker

in Illustrating the Phaenomena

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609697
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745645 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609697.003.0003
The Descriptive Tradition in the Middle Ages

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Celestial maps in medieval illustrated manuscripts can be divided into three groups. The majority of the summer and winter hemispheres appear with the text of the Revised Aratus latinus. One pair and one winter hemisphere reflects a map tradition copied from an early Eudoxan globe. Planispheres present the celestial sphere in one piece from the North Pole to the ever-invisible circle. The parallel circles on planispheres are proportional to their distance from the North Pole. Some planispheres have constellations as depicted on a globe and others as in the sky. These latter maps were probably obtained by the mirror image of a planisphere in globe view. Two pairs of maps consist of hemispheres separated by the equator. One pair recalls a constellation cycle originating from Carolingian times. The other pair occurs in the middle of an astronomical poem and may be connected to the globe making ventures of Gerbert of Aurillac.

Keywords: middle ages; celestial maps; hemispheres; planispheres; globe making; Gerbert of Aurillac

Chapter.  78205 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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