The geography of Byzantium shaped its history by defining its strategic possibilities and challenges, setting limits to the resources that the empire and its inhabitants could draw upon and exploit, and imposing restrictions on the movement of goods and people. The Roman Empire of the sixth century—Byzantium before the rise of Islam—annexed varying territories in the central and western Mediterranean, essentially forming the eastern half of the Roman Empire of the fourth and fifth centuries. Its core territories lay in the east and consisted of the Balkan peninsula, Anatolia, the western Transcaucasus, the Levant, northern Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Long before the empire ended in 1453, it had lost most of these territories, but even in its last two centuries this remained the wider geographical context in which Byzantium continued to exist. Rather than being a Mediterranean empire, Byzantium existed in the Mediterranean.
This article examines observation and description of the world through divination and astronomy in ancient Mesopotamian scribal culture. It discusses observation-statements that stand in relation to the omen divination programme and the astronomical observations of the Babylonian Diaries focusing on their relationships and the formation of the empirical foundation of mathematical astronomy. It suggests that the modern reconstruction of the Babylonian mathematical astronomical texts has been of profound significance for the history of science because the foundation of Western astronomy is traceable in those sources.
Scott Fitzgerald Johnson
This article discusses travel, cartography, and cosmology in Late Antiquity. Topics covered include Roman writers' preference for the overland genre, the itinerarium; the famous map called the Peutinger Table (Tabula Peutingeriana), which has long been the subject of scholarly investigation and debate; and Ptolemy's reception in two areas of study: cosmology and redictions of the movements of the stars and planets.