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Bianchini’s planisphere


Bianchini's planisphere, 2nd century A.D.
Paris, Musée du Louvre, inv. Ma 540

Discovered in Rome in the 18th century, this plate displays the surviving fragments of a planisphere incorporating the so-called "Barbaric Sphere", which depicts the Greek, Egyptian and Mesopotamian constellations. In the centre we see the constellations of Ursa Major, Ursa Minor and Draco. The four circles contain images of the Chaldean zodiac, two Greek zodiacs, an area with numbers that indicate the planets' influence on the individual signs of the zodiac, and lastly, the Egyptian Decans (the gods who preside over the 10-day sequence), each with his name. The outer circle shows the faces of the Greek Decans, or personifications of the seven planetary deities.