We all basically have an entire year to twiddle our thumbs and analyze every single moment of Game of Thrones before it returns for Season 7, so let's get started with that right now by answering the question that's been on my mind for days now— what does the sphere Sam saw in the library mean? I'm referring to that moment in the Game of Thrones Season 6 finale when Sam Tarly finally arrives at the Citadel and gains access to the library. As the camera panned over the vastness of the chamber, I spotted something that looked a bit familiar: that golden twirly orb thing (this is the scientific term, yes) hanging down from the ceiling, catching the sunlight like some huge, ancient chandelier.
It turns out that none of the ways I've described it so far are strictly accurate — sorry I lied to you about "that golden twirly orb thing" being a scientific term — and the item is actually called an "astrolabe." It also goes by "armillary sphere," "armilla," or "armil," because interestingly enough it's a real-life item, and not one created by or for the show. The astrolabe dates back to the third century BCE, when it was invented by the ancient Greeks to make astronomic calculations. The orb at the center began as the Earth, and was later replaced by the sun once we figured out that we weren't at the center of the galaxy, and it was used to triangulate the locations of all the astral bodies.
And if you're up-to-date on your astronomical knowledge, you may have put together that this is how the Citadel is able to send out those white ravens marking the beginning of winter — knowledge of the position of the Sun in relation to us gives you knowledge of the seasons. Pretty huge in a show where the most common reminder is that "winter is coming." And, if you aren't yet convinced that the astrolabe will be an important plot device, consider the fact that it appears in the opening sequence of ever Game of Thrones episode.
Yup, that's why it looks so familiar. Those golden bars depicting scenes of war that we scroll over and that go slicing by as we zoom down onto the map are the rotating arms of the astrolabe, so I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of it in Season 7 as Sam becomes more familiar with it and its uses. Can't wait!
Images: HBO (2)