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Mesopotamian Astronomy

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Lauren Jones

on 9 October 2013

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Transcript of Mesopotamian Astronomy

Mesopotamian Astronomy
The Sumerians created Cuneiform around 3500 BC. All of the Mesopotamian astronomical and astrological texts are written in it.
Mesopotamian astronomers worked out a 12/13 month calendar based on the cycles of the moon. Each month consisted of three 7-day weeks and one 8 or 9 day week.
The MUL.APIN (The Plough) is an extensive star catalogue, compiled around 1000 BC. It tells names about 70 stars, their rising and setting dates, the solar calendar, and planetary paths.
Babylonians had the first organized system of astrology, starting around 2000BC. It was featured heavily in every day life and had much to do with the planets Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Mercury, and Mars, as well as the sun and moon. Their movements and position were considered omens of occurences on Earth.
Enuma Anu Enlil
The Enuma anu enlil ('In the Days of Anu and Enlil') was a collection of 70 tablets dealing with astrology. Approximately 7000 interpretations of various celestial and atmospherical events were made.
The Chaldean astronomers observed and recorded the Eclipse cycles(when eclipses would happen and where) and the Saros cycles(a period of about 18 years that can be used to predict solar and lunar eclispes. They also figured out that the suns path is not circular, but elliptical.
The Urra=hubullu was a primitive encyclopedia consisting of 24 tablets. It covered a wide variety of topics including plants, animals, and boats but the tablets that still remain are mostly about stars.
Kidinnu was the head of a Babylonian astronomical school. He came up with the theory of precession of the equinoxes, a theory that explains how the circular motion of Earths rotational axis is caused by the torque of the sun and the moon on the earths rotational bulge.
The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy (Google eBook)
1)What language are all the texts written in?
2)What was the Mesopotamian calendar based on?
3)List 3 of the 5 planets Babylonian astrology focused on.
4)What 2 cycles did the Chaldeans observe?
Lasting Influences
The Hellenistic period in Greece has been found to have been largely influenced by Babylonians. Many cuneiform tablets have been found in Greece. The most notable of tablet-borrowers being Hipparchus and Ptolemy.
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