In the Path of the Moon

Babylonian Celestial Divination and Its Legacy


Celestial divination, in the form of omens from lunar, planetary, astral, and meteorological phenomena, was central to Mesopotamian cuneiform scholarship and science from the late second millennium BCE into the Hellenistic period. Beyond the boundaries of ancient Mesopotamia, the ideas, texts, and traditions of Babylonian celestial divination are traceable in Hellenistic sciences and philosophies. This collection of essays investigates features of Babylonian celestial divination with special focus on those aspects that influenced later Greco-Roman astronomy, astrology, and theories of signs. A multi-faceted collection of philological, historical, and philosophical investigations, In the Path of the Moon offers Assyriologists, Classicists, and historians of ancient science a wide-ranging series of studies unified around the theme of Babylonian celestial divination's legacy.

"The collected essays in this volume, successive steps in an ordered path, constitute an invaluable contribution to a better understanding of Babylonian divination."
Lorenzo Verderame, "Sapienza" Università di Roma

"The reader interested in the multifaceted presentation of the problems related to the explanation of Babylonian celestial divination and well equipped with the knowledge of Akkadian will certainly be rewarded by the study of Rochberg’s latest publication."
Henryk Drawnel, SDB
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Biographical Note

Francesca Rochberg, Ph.D., University of Chicago, is Catherine and William Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published widely on Babylonian divination and science, including The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Table of contents

Chapter One Fate and Divination in Mesopotamia
Chapter Two New Evidence for the History of Astrology
Chapter Three Canonicity in Cuneiform Texts
Chapter Four The Assumed 29th Aḫû Tablet of Enūma Anu Enlil
Chapter Five TCL 6 13: Mixed Traditions in Late Babylonian Astrology
Chapter Six Benefic and Malefic Planets in Babylonian Astrology
Chapter Seven Elements of the Babylonian Contribution to Hellenistic Astrology
Chapter Eight Babylonian Seasonal Hours
Chapter Nine Babylonian Horoscopy: The Texts and their Relations
Chapter Ten Continuity and Change in Omen Literature
Chapter Eleven The Babylonian Origins of the Mandaean Book of the Zodiac
Chapter Twelve Scribes and Scholars: The Ṭupšar Enūma Anu Enlil
Chapter Thirteen Lunar Data in Babylonian Horoscopes
Chapter Fourteen A Babylonian Rising Times Scheme in Non-Tabular Astronomical Texts
Chapter Fifteen Old Babylonian Celestial Divination
Chapter Sixteen The Heavens and the Gods in Ancient Mesopotamia: The View from a Polytheistic Cosmology
Chapter Seventeen A Short History of the Waters Above the Firmament
Chapter Eighteen Periodicities and Period Relations in Babylonian Celestial Sciences
Chapter Nineteen Conditionals, Inference, and Possibility in Ancient Mesopotamian Science
Chapter Twenty “If P, then Q”: Form and Reasoning in Babylonian Divination
Chapter Twenty-One Divine Causality and Babylonian Divination


All those interested in cuneiform intellectual culture, Babylonian divination, astrology, and astronomy, as well as Assyriologists, Classicists, historians of Near Eastern and Mediterranean antiquity, and historians of science.


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