Babylonian Astronomy

Introduction

Within the Babylonian tradition of astronomy there have been two genres of texts: There are mathematical astronomy texts, which mostly consist of tables recording or calculating various statistics about the behavior of heavenly bodies. These texts themselves do not deal with the interpretation or prognostication of the events they record. The second type of document is the 'non-mathematical' astronomy text, which are mostly omens? involving astronomical events.

List of topics:

  1. Basic terms and concepts
  1. Mathematical Astronomy
  1. Non-mathematical Astronomy

Basic terms and concepts

Metrological Units

  1. Barleycorn (sze): Defined as 1/180 of a cubit (kusz3). Originally taken from weight metrology, where 180 sze = 1 gin2.
  2. GAR: This equals 1/60 of a degree.
  3. Finger (szu-szi): In the OB period, there are 30 fingers in a cubit, while in the NB period there were 24.
  4. Degree (usz): This is a fundamental unit of measurement in astronomy. There are 12 fingers in a degree. One degree also corresponds to 4 minutes rotation time.
  5. Cubit (kusz3): This is a fundamental unit in length metrology. In Babylonian astronomy, it is given as either 30 fingers (OB) or 24 (NB).
  6. Double hour (danna): This corresponds to 30 degrees, or 12 cubits. It also equals 2 hours, hence the name.
Other units used for modern convenience
  1. Hour: This is half of a double hour, or 15 degrees.
  2. Large hour: Twice of a double hour.
  3. Day: Equal to 24 hours.
Names of the months
Month Logogram Month Name
I bar Nisannu
II gu4 Aiaru
IIIsig Simanu
IV szu Duzu
V izi Abu
VI kin Ululu
VIIdu6 Taszritu
VIIIapinArahsamna
IXganKislimu
XabT,ebetu
XIziz2Szabat,u
XIIszeAdaru

In addition, two intercalary months were used as needed. One was placed after month six, and written kin-2-kam (denoted here VI2), and the other after month twelve, written dirig or dir-sze (denoted XII2).

Signs of the Zodiac
Modern Name Cuneiform designation Greek Symbol
Arieshun
Taurusmul2
Geminimasz
Cancerkuszu2
Leoa
Virgoabsin
Librarin2
Scorpiusgir2-tab
Sagittariuspa
Capricornmasz2
Aquariusgu
Pisceszib
Year notation

Years were denoted by whole numbers starting from…

akkadian_astronomy.txt · Last modified: 2010/03/28 21:41 by ong
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