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Marion Dolan

Dr Marion Dolan is retired from the University of Pittsburgh where she was an adjunct professor in the history of art and architecture and lectured for the Osher Lifelong Learning program at Carnegie-Mellon University for many years. She published a book on astronomical art, Astronomical Knowledge Transmission Through Illustrated Aratea Manuscripts. This book on astronomical manuscripts investigates the transmission of ancient knowledge carried in a Greek poem on astronomy written in the third century BC. It tracks the astronomical content and artworks as they changed through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and how that information was received and taught. She has also written two historical novels, one on the life of Emperor Frederick II and one on the British Raj in India. Her most recent publication is Decoding Astronomy in art and Architecture (Springer Praxis Books), October 2021.
Dr. Dolan received her BS, MFA and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in medieval manuscripts, minoring in medieval architecture and history of astronomy. Now an independent scholar, she continues her research on the transmission of astronomical knowledge and teaches art history at the NSU Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, where she also serves as a docent. Archeoastronomy has been a lifelong area of study; she has taught the subject many times, including aboard a ship during a cruise around the world as faculty member for Semester at Sea based at the University of Virginia.

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Islamic scientist at work ( Kemal/Abode Stock)

The Golden Age Of Islamic Astronomers

Astronomical understanding, accurate calendars and knowledge of exact geographic latitudes and longitudes were essential for all Islamic cities and towns. This body of astronomical knowledge was not...
Main temple at Tulum with hieroglyphic stairway by Frederick Catherwood, from Views of Ancient Monuments (Public Domain)

Stephens And Catherwood: Adventurers Discovering the Ancient Maya

The astounding journeys of John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood to Central America in 1839 to 1842 introduced the ancient, unrecognized Maya civilization to the rest of the world. Their life-...
Archaeo-astronomy Of The Ancient Nabataeans In Petra

Archaeo-astronomy Of The Ancient Nabataeans In Petra

Adoration of the Sun and alignment of monuments to its annual path through the skies was universal in the ancient world. Evidence of that devotion has been uncovered in sacred architecture across...
Night Time over Hagia Sophia or Hagia Sophia Church of the Holy Wisdom in Istanbul, Turkey  (Savvapanf Photo / Adobe Stock)

The Many Incarnations Of Hagia Sophia In Istanbul

Towering over Istanbul atop one of its highest hills, Hagia Sophia has stood for over 1,500 years as an architectural wonder, one of the largest and most remarkable Christian churches ever built. Its...
The Perplexity Of The Villa Of Mysteries In Pompeii

The Perplexity Of The Villa Of Mysteries In Pompeii

The Villa of Mysteries was one of the most luxurious villas unearthed during the 1909-1911 excavations of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii , which was buried in volcanic ash with the eruption of...
The illuminated Our Lady of Chartres cathedral, France (kovalenkovpetr / Adobe Stock)

The Allure Of Chartres Cathedral, An Aura Of Pagan Mysticism

Researchers say the celebrated Chartres Cathedral encodes lost information on the Knights Templar, the Ark of the Covenant, sacred geometry, alchemy and numerology. Innumerable books and articles...
17th-century icon of the Translation of the Relics of Saint. Nicholas of Myra. Historic Museum in Sanok, Poland. (Public Domain)

Furta Sacra: Medieval Trafficking In Saintly Relics

It is hard to imagine that the gruesome topic of bodysnatching and the ghastly, gory and gorgeous world of relics would be a main focus of religious veneration throughout the Middle Ages. Through...
Christine de Pisan presenting her book to queen Isabeau of Bavaria. Illuminated miniature from The Book of the Queen (various works by Christine de Pizan) (Public Domain)

Christine de Pizan, 15th-Century Feminist And Social Commentator

“The female sex has been left defenseless for a long time now, like an orchard without a wall and bereft of a champion to take up arms in order to protect it…” The Book of the City of Ladies by...
Arabic astronomical chart (Sergey Kamshylin  /Adobe Stock)

Ancient Transmissions Of The History Of The Constellations

How old are the constellations? How were they transmitted through human history? Quite early during humanity’s long journey on earth, many of the brighter stars were named and then arranged into...
The Romance of Hurrem, The Slave Empress And Suleiman The Magnificent

The Romance of Hurrem, The Slave Empress And Suleiman The Magnificent

During the 16th century a Christian slave, captured when only 15-years-old, shattered the traditional rules of the Ottoman Empire and through her intelligence and charm became its first Empress,...
Crusaders thirsting under the walls of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez (1836-50) Web Gallery of Art (Public Domain)

The Bloodless Sixth Crusade Led By The Excommunicated ‘Son Of Satan’ Frederick II

The conquest to free the Holy Land was a vital component of the late Middle Ages. Sacred to all three major religions, Christians, Jews and Muslims, control of Jerusalem was significant to each. The...
The Court of Emperor Frederick II in Palermo by Arthur vom Ramberg (1865) Web Gallery of Art (Public Domain)

The Wonder Of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II Stupor Mundi

Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (1194-1250) was known as the Wonder of the World, Stupor Mundi , because there had never been anyone like him; nor will there ever be another to match him. Like many...
King Roger II Of Sicily: Christian Sultan And Half Heathen King

King Roger II Of Sicily: Christian Sultan And Half Heathen King

One of the most successful, but little known kings who reigned during the Middle Ages was Roger II (1095-1154) who controlled the island of Sicily along with Apulia and Calabria in Southern Italy...