Astronomy and astrology, or the astral sciences, played an enormous, if not a key role in the political and religious life of the Ancient Near East, and, later, of the Greek and Roman world. This is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the origins of the astral sciences in the Ancient Near East.
Every type of Sumerian or Akkadian text dealing with descriptive or mathematical astronomy, including many individual tablets are thoroughly dealt with. All aspects, such as the history of discovery, reconstruction, and interpretation come to the fore, accompanied by a full bibliography. At that the reader will find descriptions of astronomical contents, an explanation of their scientific meaning and the place a given genre or tablet has in the development of astronomy both within the Mesopotamian culture and outside of it. Because celestial omens are intimately related to astronomy in Mesopotamian science, these are also discussed extensively.
The material is arranged both chronologically and thematically, so as to help make
Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia a reference work on the subject in its truest sense.
David Pingree, Ph.D. (1960), Harvard University, is Professor of the History of Mathematics at Brown University. He has edited numerous scientific texts in Arabic, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, and has collaborated for many years with Assyriologists in publishing cuneiform texts on astronomy and astral omens.
Hermann Hunger, Ph.D. (1966) in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of Münster (Germany), is Professor of Assyriology at the Institut für Orientalistik of the University of Vienna. He has published widely on Babylonian astronomy, e.g.,
Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings (Helsinki 1992).
The handbook under review is the first reference work on the astral sciences in Mesopotamia to deserve that name…an excellent reference work indispensable to anyone working with astronomical and astrological cuneiform texts. It succeeds in summarizing a hundred and twenty years of research and provides stimulating discussions of many aspects of the texts. The enormous amount of information in this book outweighs the limitations of a conservative choice of methods.'
Journal of the American Oriental Society, 2001.
This is a real handbook, long awaited by Assyriologists…Those who work daily with cuneiform texts will find here a quick reference for data, units, parameters, problems and information on the state of the art; those who want to proceed to further Assyriological studies will benefit from a clear and competent guide. It is another fine example of scholarship given by Hermann Hunger and David Pingree.'
Salvo de Meis,
Annals of Science, 2001.
Assyriology, Judaic Studies, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Classical Studies, History of Science, all those interested in the history of astronomy, or cultural history of the Ancient Near East in general.