Exclusively for the readers of eternity Traces of an unpublished study by Simone Barcelli.
At the top of the ziggurat From the sixth millennium BC in Mesopotamia, in what is commonly known as the 'land between two rivers', began to leave important traces of civilization that still must be remembered, among other things, for the incredible astronomical knowledge. We have news from thousands of clay tablets from the library of Ashurbanipal, found in the ruins of Nineveh. This knowledge, then lost, were the prerogative of the priestly class, and on the basis of precise calendrical dating was possible to identify the right period for the execution of the work in agriculture. It puts the beginning of Mesopotamian astronomy to 4,000 BC, when intersected confused with religious worship and was lost in astrology. This hypothesis on the origins is dictated solely by the few written sources found so far, but you can objectively assume that the origins go back much further. The ability to observe the skies of these people certainly influenced the Egyptians and the Greeks. It is assumed that the priests practiced their observations on top of the ziggurat, a stepped towers equipped with temples dedicated to the gods. Places where they were preserved, transcribed on the stone, the information of a millennial know that united wisely astronomy with religion and agriculture, as if they were an indissoluble marriage. The only tools at their disposal to support visual observation, were sundials and hourglasses gnomons, maybe some slow and the astrolabe to measure the height of the stars. The timing of these priests, based on the phases of the moon, there were twenty-nine or twelve months of thirty days each, while the day was twelve hours (beru), corresponding to our clock. The time consisted of sixty minutes, twice as long compared with today. This particular division of time stemmed from the sexagesimal number system. The astronomers of Mesopotamia devoted a good part of their observations to what they called 'interpreters', that is, the planets, so named because it was thought to reveal the will of the gods. The clay tablets are recorded the motions of the five planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Mercury) then visible along the "path of the Sun." In particular Jupiter, which was to reveal the fate reserved for the ruling class.
The houses of the gods We can imagine generations of these priests, engaged in ancient observations then carefully decanted into books considered sacred, finally reaching locate the revolutions of the planets in the sky band called Kaspu, divided into twelve houses, the well-known constellations of the zodiac, introduced in the seventh century BC by the Chaldean priests, and for this they were mocked by the Greeks. Divide the sky into regions, probably for reasons sacred served, and still serves, also to have precise references to what we observe in the sky. Despite being a reconstruction perspective that does not correspond to reality, it is an effective method that sees the apparent motions of the planets, the Moon and the Sun, through the constellations. The most important was that of the constellation Taurus or "Bull of Heaven", animal symbolizes strength and power, associated with the Sumerian paradise and well represented in the early stages of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Alfredo Cattabiani explains that "had been created in Mesopotamia in 4380 BC, when the equinox fell into this portion of the sky. So it was then inaugurated the constellation that the zodiacal year, so that evoked the symbol of primordial energy and heavenly, so much so that it was called in Sumerian GU.AN.NA, 'bull of heaven' or GU.SI. DI, 'bull conductor': animal sacred to the moon goddess or its symbol. " The equinox is writing about the writer is to spring and the constellation is figured from the Hyades star cluster (the head) and Aldebaran (the eye), originally there were also the Pleiades (the upper horn), some of which are visible to the naked eye, and the chain of stars of Pi Orionis (the lower horn). The summer solstice was represented by the constellation of Leo, whose brightest star, Regulus, was commonly referred to by the Babylonians under the name of Sharru (the king). Scorpio, whose heart was personified by the bright Antares, the animal was connected to the autumnal equinox and associated with the goddess Ishhara. Originally, and up to at least four thousand years ago, belonged to the stars of this constellation Libra, which formed the claws. A fourth constellation was directly related to the three already known: the Aquarium, considered a deity of water dispenser (Enki, for the Sumerians, the Babylonians for Ea), which was the last cardinal point, the winter solstice. In mythology, this god, anthropomorphic imagined in the likeness of a fish and a man, who is bestowed the knowledge to mankind is not by chance is well represented, with this zodiac sign, while pouring water from two skins. These four constellations, certainly enough to be visible in the sky of the stars considered, well represented the cornerstone of the sky that appeared to the ancients around 4000 BC, and for another two thousand years to follow, with the cardinal points that corresponded approximately to the heliacal rising the Pleiades, Regulus and Antares. Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces signs were representing the cardinal points in an earlier period, between 6,600 and 4,400 BC They were also associated with many deities: the Twins represented Lugalgirra and Meslamta-Ea, defenders of the doors, the Virgin was the Mother Earth, goddess of fertility, Sagittarius (the center of our Galaxy) symbolized the god of war Ninurta, finally Pisces who saw the personification of the goddess of childbirth Anunito. The last four constellations, introduced only by the first millennium BC to complete the zodiac are Aries (Dumuzi, the god of pastoralism), Cancer (nangar or Kushu, a marine animal), Libra (introduced by the Romans with the dismemberment of part of Scorpio, so do not associated with any Mesopotamian deity) and Capricorn (Ea, anthropomorphic being).
The killing of Tiamat The Sumerians imagined the universe as a primordial sea, where they were not worth the concepts of time or space. The sky was AN and the underworld KUR, while the center was the Earth (KI), which floated on the liquid mixture APSU. According to the genesis of the Sumerians, the mother goddess Nammu gave shape to An and Ki, with the forces of nature called the Anunnaki. The Babylonians, for their part, believed that the universe was formed by divine conflict in which the god Marduk would have killed the goddess Tiamat, smembrandola in what would become the Earth and the sky. Look at the sky, for both these civilizations, was a necessity because it is considered a direct way to communicate with the gods. The diplomat and orientalist Creswicke Henry Rawlinson, one of the founders of the studies assiriologici, said he was convinced that the Babylonians had an unrivaled luggage astronomical, so as to allow them to observe the four main satellites of Jupiter, and perhaps even those of Saturn. It is to them the discovery of the saros cycle of about eighteen, because you need to renew their solar and lunar eclipses. In short, a science that had something more than that of the Greeks and, in some ways, like astronomy of the nineteenth century.
The stellar deity divine pantheon of Sumer, which as we saw was worthily placed in the heavens, is well known to us for thousands of cuneiform tablets, dating to the third millennium BC, found during archaeological excavations in what was once Mesopotamia, and almost all tell of the exploits of these gods. An was the god of the sky and the water goddess Nammu and creation. From their union was born the wise god Enki, associated with water. It was he who had the brilliant idea of creating a human being, in order to use it at work instead of the other minor gods, created by An and called the Annunaki. The management of earthly things was entrusted to the children of An: Enki, Enlil (lord of wind and storm, acting as regent in the name of the father) and Inanna (connected to heaven and earth, but also the goddess of war and childbirth of attraction erotica; generally represented as astral deity of Venus). Among the other gods remember the husband of Inanna, Dumuzi (gods of the steppe), Baba Ninhursaga of Lagash and Kish (mother goddesses), Nisaba (goddess of the scribes), Nanshe (goddess of fish and magic), Ninisina (goddess of healing), Ninurta (god of agriculture and rain), Lahar (goddess of livestock) and Ashnan (goddess of grain). Babylonians and Assyrians, later inherited these beliefs of the Sumerians, changing the name of the gods in the Semitic language. There was still room for a new god, Marduk (Assar by the Assyrians), son of the old Ea (Enki now), destined to become the greatest deity in the time of King Hammurabi. Marduk was often associated with Shamash the Sun (which, as written, did not appear in the Sumerian pantheon), although Ninurta remembered for some of its properties.
Keepers of clay tablets Know Some four thousand years ago lead us to think that astronomy and other sciences developed by the Babylonians, were the prerogative of the priestly caste of the Chaldeans, a lineage of the Aramaic language, perhaps from Arabia, is settled in the south of Mesopotamia in the fourteenth century BC The Chaldeans term means "connoisseurs of the stars" and, for this reason, in those days because they were accused of being charlatans, besides being scribes, as priests in the astrology and divination. They were certainly precursors and struggles over whether still have occasionally exceeded the knowledge of the Greek astronomers. The only reproach to the Chaldeans is that never came to understand the geometry and trigonometry. At the end of the seventh century BC, after the siege of Nivine and the expulsion of the Assyrians began a period of more accurate transcripts, which suggests an optimization of the observations, systematic and accurate, which flowed in a better computation of time. In Babylon, twenty years before, had come to power Nabopolassar, whose neo-Babylonian dynasty became extinct a hundred years after the conquest of the city by the Persians under Cyrus the Great. Even with the advent of Nabonasser in 747 BC, the science of astronomy had given a sign of profound changes. Ptolemy recognized later that stood at this period the first valid observations.
The door of God From a stone called Kudurru we know that the Babylonians saw the sky divided into three portions: the road of Enlil (northern part), the road of Anu (band of the zodiac) and the road of Ea (southern part). The first evidence of the Babylonian sky is contained in the "three stars each" system or thirty-six stars, transcribed on some tablets dating from the late second millennium. The calendar, with clear values farm was divided into twelve or thirteen months, and each was marked by three stars, which could be even planets. The year began with the first new moon nearest the spring equinox. The astronomer Galegati Augustine believes that the data contained in these tablets there are "too many errors ... perhaps produced by incorrect transcriptions by copyists or because the data were reported for non-astronomical." Another remarkable document for the understanding of astronomical wisdom attained in the Land between two rivers is the pair of tablets Mulapin, dated to 700 BC, while containing the same stars of the previous document, it is surely more complete because it is based on accurate observations. It is here that we find indication of the cardinal points in which they are the Sun and the conjunctions of the planets with it. For the first time, is given a catalog of constellations with specific references also about the association with the deities. Belongs to this period the birth of important constellations (some since disappeared), including Aries (Farm hand), Virgin (Furrow), Orion (Shepherd), Sagittarius (Pabilsag) and Gemini. The introduction of the zodiac with twelve houses, one still in use today, dates back to 750 BC After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, this ancestral knowledge became astrology, astronomy separating permanently.
Kidinnu of Sippar Not for nothing is passed into history (thanks to the testimony of Strabo and Pliny the Elder), a Chaldean astronomer and mathematician, Kidinnu (or even Kidenas / Cidèna), who lived in the fourth century BC and the head of the astronomical school of Akkadian Sippar. It was he, in fact, to develop a personal method to calculate, with considerable accuracy, the different movement of the Sun, Moon and other planets. That method, called 'System B', was later successfully used by astronomers Chaldeans. To realize the outstanding achievements by Kidinnu, will be sufficient to note that calculated with precision lunar eclipses, determined the length of the year three hundred sixty-five days and six hours, and the lunar motion in the synodic month of twenty-nine days twelve hours, forty-four minutes and five seconds (with an error of about one second), it is likely that it was he who introduced, in the Babylonian calendar, the Metonic cycle of nineteen years (every lunar year had twelve months, with another seven months which were added in the nineteen years to offset the difference between the solar year and lunar). Before he died he managed to understand that the different speed of the Sun on the ecliptic caused the difference of the seasons, which the sidereal year was longer than that tropic and went to the understanding of the particular mechanism of the precession of the equinoxes. Hipparchus and Ptolemy were definitely influenced by the studies of Kidinnu, who gave inspiration to future discoveries of the two Greek astronomers. It will be good to remember, for the avoidance of doubt, that Kidinnu obtained impressive results without the use of the telescope and, most importantly, without the use of modern instrumentation observers. Nevertheless, the great Babylonian astronomer could use an unparalleled archive, which probably contained an account of astronomical observations made in a very long period. It should not, therefore, seem surprising that before the method invented by Kidinnu, in the astronomical schools of Mesopotamia was in use a system for calculating much older, whose faint clues came to light only in the second half of the nineteenth century, thanks to the remarkable progress in the deciphering of cuneiform, which allowed the understanding of fundamental astronomical documents. Reminds us, the readers, the astronomer Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli, citing studies (published in German) by Franz Xaver Kugler and Johann Nepomuk Strassmaier, who first spotted the elements that led back to another computing system oldest, founded on periods less exact, made use of different methods to compute the time. Kugler rightly called it "a masterpiece of arithmetic Babylonian."
Predicting the renewal Babylonian astronomy amazes us for another particular: the study of celestial phenomena tended to discover all that is periodic in order to reduce it to numerical expressions to predict the renewal. Determine if the calculation of the apparent velocity of the Sun and Moon could be relatively simple, it was very different to the other five planets known, if only because of their irregular course along the zodiac: the motion, in fact, after being retrograde, you stopped and then resumed normally. The apparent motion of the planets seemed to depend on two factors magazines that were combined together, the revolution siderare (movement around the zodiac) and the synodic (configuration relative to the Sun that produces conjunctions and oppositions). The prolonged observations of the astronomers of Mesopotamia, had enabled him to understand that the return of these planets in the same star was due to two phenomena evaluated together, so that the interval was due to the sum of a certain number of years that intersected with many sinodiche different revolutions. What they discovered, astronomers were the perpetual ephemeris of the planets, which allowed to determine in advance, for each cycle, conjunctions and oppositions with the Sun, conjunctions with the Stars main entrance of the planets in the signs of the zodiac, stations and regressions, and lift up eliaci and sunsets. The astrologers of antiquity, on the basis of these figures, so they could venture into the reading of the future, imagine the benefit of the rulers. Or, at the origin of these calculations, there was something else?
Share on Facebook Scridb filter