New research project: DyAs – Lines and Colours: Lunisolar Diagrams in Byzantine Astronomical Manuscripts (9th–15th C)

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 945298-ParisRegionFP.

DyAs studies how astronomical diagrams operate as vehicles for the delivery of scientific arguments in Byzantine manuscripts copied between the ninth and the fifteenth centuries. It focuses on diagrams involving and transmitting knowledge about the two luminaries, the sun and the moon (e.g., lunar and solar eclipse diagrams). Employing the geometric idiom of points, lines, intersections and circles, on the one hand, and differently coloured inks, on the other, lunisolar diagrams encode knowledge about the structure of the universe, light and its intensity, time, distance and movement. In doing so, they rely on the aniconicity they share with the surrounding script and on the use of colour they have in common with the image (eikōn). DyAs aims at understanding the cognitive functions and graphic conventions of Byzantine astronomical diagrams and their employment of light/shadow and colours/lines in order to structure knowledge. DyAs positions the Byzantine evidence in a comparative Afro-Eurasian context and demonstrates its importance within the network of interrelated cultures of the wider medieval world. The project’s comparative, global and highly interdisciplinary perspective is guaranteed through its collaboration with the open data repository and digital humanities platform DISHAS (Digital Information System for the History of Astral Sciences). Together with DISHAS, DyAs will break new ground in the use of AI and computer vision, thus opening up novel research venues in both Digital Humanities and Manuscript Studies. It will also make the Medieval Greek diagrammatic evidence publicly accessible and integrated in a network of contemporary Latin, Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Sanskrit and Chinese sources. Thus, DyAs will revolutionise the fields of Medieval and Byzantine Studies, History of Science, Digital Humanities and History of Art.


Author: Dr. Bernard Mulholland

Dr. Bernard Mulholland is a Byzantinist, archaeologist, historian and Patristics scholar with a Ph.D. in history (QUB, 2012). Bernard's publications include: Fiction: Bernard Mulholland, Nazareth Quest (2022). Non-fiction: Bernard Mulholland, The man from MENSA - 1 of 600: Mensa research (2016). ---, The man from MENSA - 1 of the 600: Politics 1990-1995 (2016). ---, Ratio analysis of financial KPI in the Higher Education sector: a case study (2018). ---, Early Byzantine Ireland: a survey of the archaeological evidence (2021). ---, Navan Fort, Ireland: archaeological and palaeoecological analysis (2021). ---, The Early Byzantine Christian Church (Oxford, 2014). ---, 'Identification of Early Byzantine Constantinopolitan, Syrian, and Roman church plans in the Levant and some possible consequences', Patristic Studies in the twenty-first century: proceedings of an international conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the International Association of Patristic Studies, ed. Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony, Theodore de Bruyn and Carol Harrison (Turnhout, 2015), 597-633. Mulholland, B. (2021). 'Can archaeology inform the climate change debate?' Academia Letters, Article4385.

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