Hellenistic Astronomy

The Science in Its Contexts


In Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in Its Contexts, new essays by renowned scholars address questions about what the ancient science of the heavens was in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean worlds, and the numerous contexts in which it was pursued. Together, these essays will enable readers not only to understand the technical accomplishments of this ancient science but also to appreciate their historical significance by locating the questions, challenges, and issues inspiring them in their political, medical, philosophical, literary, and religious contexts.

Winner of the 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award

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Alan C. Bowen, Ph.D. (1977: Philosophy, University of Toronto), is Director of the Institute for Research in Classical Philosophy and Science. He has published numerous books and articles in the history of ancient Greek and Roman science and philosophy.
Francesca Rochberg , Ph.D. (1980: Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago) is Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published widely in the history of Babylonian celestial divination, astrology, and astronomy.

Contributors are: Siam Bhayro, Alan C. Bowen, Lis Brack-Bernsen, Giuseppe Cambiano, Nicola F. Denzey-Lewis, Dennis W. Duke, James C. Evans, Klaus Geus, Gerd Grasshoff, Dorian G. Greenbaum, Robert Hannah, Stephan Heilen, Wolfgang Hübner, Hermann Hunger, Helen Jacobus, Richard L. Kremer, Alexandra von Lieven, Stamatina Mastorakou, Clemency Montelle, Mathieu Ossendrijver, Tracey E. Rhill, Francesca Rochberg, Micah T. Ross, Alfred Schmid, Nathan C. Sidoli, Anthony Spalinger, Glen Van Brumelen, James C. Vanderkam, James Wilberding, Christian Wilder
"This is an absolutely wonderful book, well-written and a pleasure to read. It is generally based on the most recent research and very informative without being inaccessible to the layman. That the field of ancient astronomy is under rapid development is evident from the bibliography alone. [...] It is generously supplied with interesting and relevant illustrations and its structure and composition take the reader by the hand so that it can be read easily from cover to cover. The individual chapters can also be read on their own, and the “Historical Glossary” and indices make it an excellent handbook as well. It provides a status quaestionis in a way which is at the same time accessible to the interested layman and contains a brilliant survey and much new to be learnt for the specialist in any parts of the vast topic covered as well." - Ulla Koch, in: BMCR 2021.04.23
"This is an excellent and eminently useful volume, surveying and advancing the state of the field in a very welcome, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary format. Corners of this field seem to have been developing rather quickly in the last decade or two, and scholars will be grateful to the editors and authors for the timely appearance and impressive scope of this large book." - Daryn Lehoux, in: The Classical Review 71.2 442–444
Preface Acknowledgments List of Illustrations and Tables List of Abbreviations
0 Prolegomena to the Study of Hellenistic AstronomyAlan C. Bowen and Francesca Rochberg

Part A Technical Requirements

1 The Celestial SphereClemency Montelle
2 Methods of Reckoning TimeRobert Hannah
Chapter 3 Quantitative Tools 3.1 Techniques of Measurement and ComputationMathieu Ossendrijver
3.2 Planar and Spherical TrigonometryGlen Van Brummelen

Chapter 4 Theory of the Sun, Moon, and Planets 4.1 Fundamentals of Planetary TheoryNathan Sidoli
4.2 Hypothesis in Greco-Roman AstronomyAlan C. Bowen
4.3 Some Early Hypotheses in Greco-Roman AstronomyAlan C. Bowen
4.4 The Ptolemaic Planetary HypothesesJames C. Evans
4.5 The Hellenistic Theory of EclipsesClemency Montelle
4.6 Hellenistic Babylonian Planetary TheoryMathieu Ossendrijver
4.7 The Babylonian Contribution to Greco-Roman AstronomyFrancesca Rochberg
4.8 Hellenistic Egyptian Planetary TheoryMicah T. Ross

Part B Observations, Instruments, and Issues

Chapter 5 Observational Foundations 5.1 The Observational Foundations of Babylonian AstronomyLis Brack-Bernsen
5.2 Experience and Observation in Hellenistic AstronomyRichard L. Kremer

Chapter 6 Astronomical Instruments 6.1 Hellenistic Surveying InstrumentsTracey E. Rihll
6.2 Hellenistic Maps and Lists of PlacesKlaus Geus
6.3 Star-Lists from the Babylonians to PtolemyGerd Graßhoff
6.4 Ptolemy’s InstrumentsDennis W. Duke

Chapter 7 Thematic Questions 7.1 Issues in Hellenistic Egyptian Astronomical WritingsAnthony Spalinger
7.2 The Texts and Aims of Babylonian AstronomyHermann Hunger
7.3 Issues in Greco-Roman Astronomy of the Hellenistic PeriodAlan C. Bowen

Part C Contexts

8 The Professional ἀϲτρολόγοϲWolfgang Hübner
Chapter 9 Hellenistic Astronomy in Public Service 9.1 The Sundial and the CalendarRobert Hannah
9.2 The Antikythera MechanismJames C. Evans
9.3 Hellenistic Astronomy in MedicineDorian Gieseler Greenbaum

Chapter 10 Hellenistic Astronomy in Literature 10.1 Aratus and the Popularization of Hellenistic AstronomyStamatina Mastorakou
10.2 The Authority of the Roman HeavensAlfred Schmid

Chapter 11 Hellenistic Astronomy in the Training and Work of Priests 11.1 Hellenistic Astronomy and the Egyptian PriestAlexandra von Lieven
11.2 Hellenistic Astronomy and the Babylonian Scribal FamiliesMathieu Ossendrijver

Chapter 12 Astral Divination and Natal Astrology 12.1 The Hellenistic HoroscopeDorian Gieseler Greenbaum
12.2 Hellenistic Babylonian Astral Divination and NativitiesFrancesca Rochberg
12.3 Hellenistic Horoscopes in Greek and Latin: Contexts and UsesStephan Heilen
12.4 Demotic HoroscopesMicah T. Ross

Chapter 13 Theological Contexts 13.1 Hellenistic Astronomy in Early Judaic WritingsJames C. VanderKam
13.2 Astral Divination in the Dead Sea ScrollsHelen R. Jacobus
13.3 Hellenistic Astronomy in Early ChristianitiesNicola Denzey Lewis
13.4 Cosmology in Mandaean TextsSiam Bhayro
13.5 Astral Discourse in the Philosophical Hermetica (Corpus Hermeticum)Christian Wildberg

Chapter 14 Hellenistic Astronomy in the Philosophical Schools 14.1 Astronomy and Divination in Stoic PhilosophyGiuseppe Cambiano
14.2 Plotinus on the Motion of the StarsJames Wilberding

Historical Glossary of Important Terms in Hellenistic Astronomy Bibliography Index of Passages Index of Names Index of Subjects
This volume will appeal to all interested in the history of ancient astronomy as found in Mediterranean and Near Eastern sources, its technical requirements, its fundamental questions, and its diverse contexts.
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