Pliny wrote of Babylon that "here the creator of the science of astronomy was". Excavations have shown this statement to be true. This book argues that the earliest attempts at the accurate prediction of celestial phenomena are indeed to be found in clay tablets dating to the 8th and 7th centuries BC from both Babylon and from Nineveh. The author carefully situates this astronomy within its cultural context, treating all available material from the relevant period, and also analysing the earlier astrological material and the later well-known ephemerides and related texts. A wholly new approach to cuneiform astral concerns emerges - one in which both celestial divination and the later astronomy are shown to be embedded in a prevailing philosophy dealing with the ideal nature of the early universe, and in which the dynamics of the celestial divination industry that surrounded the last Assyrian monarchs account for no less than the first recorded "scientific revolution". This work closely adheres to the original textual sources, and argues for the evolution on the basis of the needs of the ancient scholars and the internal logic of the divinatory and predictive systems employed. To this end, it offers, for the first time, a Mesopotamian contribution to the philosophy, and not only the history, of science.
leaves many details in these historical reports uncertain. 6 Since the Diaries can be dated by their astronomical contents, the information about historical events can also be dated securely. 722.2 Goal-Year Texts Goal-Year Texts [ Hunger 2001–2012 , vol. 6] contain materials for the prediction of
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.
"Babylon has always exerted a magical charm on everyone who has been told of its splendour and grandeur. Nobody who has succumbed to this charm, whether he is a layman who just wants to browse a little in his search for old secrets, or a scholar who wants to inform himself about the latest academic research, will be disappointed by this volume."
Erlend Gehlken, Universität Frankfurt/Main,
Bryn Mawr Classical Review February 2, 2020
then projected into the future. Hellenistic astronomy chose a different path: it began geometrically by representing the celestial motions in terms of circles and straight lines linked in various ways. But using these representations to make predictions required the introduction of quantitative
. 128], so that for the first time in Greco-Roman astronomy, astronomical hypotheses coupled with kinematic geometrical hypotheses could function as an accurate basis for prediction. All of Hipparchus’ works are lost save his commentary on Aratus’ Phaenomena ; such knowledge as we have of his
Empiricus, Adv. math . 9.132]. An analogous argument was used to prove the existence of Fate as the connection of all causes: if it is not the case that all things are engendered by Fate, the seers’ predictions were not true. Fate, then, is a necessary condition for the possibility of divination in that
different, I shall treat them separately. 1232 The Original Horoscopes The original horoscopes in Greek and Latin are normally nothing but brief records of the minimum necessary astronomical data [ p. 490n 1 ] without biographical details and, typically, without predictions. Very few of them (5 out of 169
year. It takes the form of an archaic Mesopotamian-style prediction that can be used with the Moon’s position in the schematic zodiacal calendar, which precedes it in the manuscript, on the day that thunder occurs; hence, the thunder omen-text is based on the Moon’s zodiacal sign. The Qumran
causes for the effects of heavenly phenomena on earthly events, earlier practices, such as those in Babylon, relied on the heavens to give “signs”; and astronomy, which could eventually furnish predictions of future astronomical events, enhanced the astrological interpretation by such prediction. It
bulk of the limited Egyptian astronomical corpus in three volumes [ 1960–1969 ] but a handful of sources have appeared after this collection. In particular, the coordination of reports and predictions of the heliacal rising of Sothis (Sirius) with the beginning of lunar months 1 and a schema for lunar