In: Down to the Hour: Short Time in the Ancient Mediterranean and Near East
In: Keeping Watch in Babylon
Volume Editor: John M. Steele
Astronomical and astrological knowledge circulated in many ways in the ancient world: in the form of written texts and through oral communication; by the conscious assimilation of sought-after knowledge and the unconscious absorption of ideas to which scholars were exposed.
The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World explores the ways in which astronomical knowledge circulated between different communities of scholars over time and space, and what was done with that knowledge when it was received. Examples are discussed from Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Greco-Roman world, India, and China.
Author: John M. Steele


A variety of cuneiform tablets from Babylonia and Assyria present astrological associations between celestial events and geographical locations on the Earth. These associations fall into two main groups: those dealing with four broad geographical regions (corresponding roughly to the north, south, east, and west) and those which associate constellations or signs of the zodiac with Babylonian (and occasionally Assyrian) cities. This chapter reviews the evidence for astrological geography in Mesopotamia and argues that, although there were some common associations which are found in several different texts, there was no unified system of astrological geography with a one-to-one correspondence between a celestial location or phenomenon and a terrestrial region or city.

In: The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi
In: The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World
In: The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World
In: The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World
In: "The Scaffolding of Our Thoughts"

Can confrontation of mortality – facing down our fears and denial of death – make what time we have into a better life? We think so. Through a study of the issues and experience with dying individuals and their loved ones, we will show evidence of how this happens, and how it might be made to happen more often. Years ago in the U.S., as is often still true in some cultures, death and dying were seen up close and personal from an early age. The old and infirm spent their final weeks and months at home, surrounded and cared for by relatives or close friends. It’s a system that worked for centuries. By weaving the experience of dying into the souls of the living, generation after generation learned to accept the cyclical nature of life, and to experience joy even in its lingering moments. But thanks to relentless urbanization, increasingly mobile societies and the loosening of family ties in the 20th century, dying happened more and more in isolation. People died in cold, bright-lit intensive care units or in impersonal nursing homes and institutions, and the notions of staying young forever or prolonging life at all costs turned dying into some alien act, something to be feared and fought. Along with the familiarity with life’s end, the celebration of life itself became diminished.

In: Exploring Issues of Care, Dying and the End of Life