[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: Nabonidus

In a message dated 96-10-23 13:24:01 EDT, you write:

> RGmyrken@aol.com wrote:
>  > 
>  > >  Your reservations about the date of babylonian astrology are in
>  > >  However, certain observations are called for.  Although astrology is
>  > >  late comer to Mesopotamian science, astral divination is much older.
>  > >  Stars and planets were considered bearers of omens as early as the
>  > >  old-babylonian period and probably even before that.  Mathematical
>  > >  astronomy developed much later after centuries of star-gazing and
>  > >  meticulous observation.  Astrology is some kind of new phenomenon not
>  > >  be confused with the others.  
>  	Were there not astrological texts found among the Ebla tablet 
>  cache?  What is the date of the ruins of the astrological school/temple
>  at the site of Abu-Habbah (Sippar)?  I was under the impression that
>  it was an Old Babylonian (Sumerian) site.
>  Jack Kilmon

First, the quote above is Avigdor Hurowitz's response to my posting.  Perhaps
he can answer your specific questions. 

I can only generally comment that there may be some confusion about the term
astrology.  Sky-watching goes back to extremely ancient times, but much of
this was in large part astro-meteorology, i.e. weather prediction by a
variety of weather signs.  There was an attempt to predict the month's
weather by sky-signs at the beginning of the month, and observation with
detailed records was conducted under royal direction as early as 1800 BCE.
 The major corpus of astronomical records is the Enuma Anu Enlil, dating
around 1000 BCE, synthesizing the results of the large body of omen
literature that preceded it, listing about 7000 sky omens and the events
predicted to follow (based on past observations).  Some of these predictions
were also political:  if phenomenon X then there will be trouble in district
Y.  The idea was, if you can predict weather by sunset colors, etc., then why
can't you predict events?  As such this was the forerunner of astrology, but
this was still the stage of sky divination.  Astronomical observations of a
more mathematical nature only begin around 700 BCE.  There were about 19
different constellations mentioned.  The sky was first divided up into 12
equal segments (for time-keeping purposes) shortly before 400 BCE, and the
first horoscope so far discovered was written in 410 BCE.  This represents
the beginning of horoscopal astrology (which is what we moderns associate
with the term astrology).  It is not clear to me that 1 Enoch 8 polemicizes
against horoscopal astrology, seems more like sky divination to me; and in
Jubilees 12.16-18 the polemics is against predicting weather month by month
by means of sky signs (Abraham is seen abandoning this specific practice).
 So given the many flavors of sky-watching, I'm generally cautious about
using the blanket term astrology, which in my mind already oversimplifies a
complex phenomenon.

-- Russell Gmirkin