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Edited by 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.

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John M. Steele

Abstract

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.

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Alexander Jones and John Steele

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Johannes Haubold, John Steele and Kathryn Stevens

Keeping Watch in Babylon

The Astronomical Diaries in Context

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Edited by Johannes Haubold, John Steele and Kathryn Stevens

This volume of collected essays, the first of its kind in any language, investigates the Astronomical Diaries from ancient Babylon, a collection of almost 1000 clay tablets which, over a period of some five hundred years (6th century to 1st century BCE), record observations of selected astronomical phenomena as well as the economy and history of Mesopotamia and surrounding regions. The volume asks who the scholars were, what motivated them to ‘keep watch in Babylon’ and how their approach changed in the course of the collection’s long history. Contributors come from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including Assyriology, Classics, ancient history, the history of science and the history of religion.