The Babylonian Astronomical Diaries: A Graphical Analysis Of Their Implied Reference System

S. Gullberg
2016 Zenodo  
The intent of this study is to describe the directional relations employed in the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries and visually demonstrate their function with charts showing positions of the Moon, planets and stars as viewed on dates corresponding with diary entries. The Babylonians observed and recorded celestial events each night for over six centuries during the first millennium BC. A number of cuneiform tablets containing these astronomical diaries have been recovered and were later
more » ... were later translated by Abraham Sachs and Hermann Hunger. The majority of diary entries track the position of the Moon with reference to 31 "normal stars," all within 10 degrees of the ecliptic. Entries specify the moon as being "above," "below," "in front of," or "behind" a second body by a specified distance in "cubits." The extant tablets fail to adequately define the reference system used for the topographical relations. Computer-generated star-charts that are specific for the date and location of selected diary entries show a general interdependence between the topographical relations and the celestial course of the Sun, Moon, and planets. John Steele has discussed the Babylonians as having considered the Moon and planets to move through the zodiac within their own individual bands. This is considered with regard to graphical data that represents a distinct correlation between diary descriptions and the path of the general direction of ecliptic travel.
doi:10.5281/zenodo.220916 fatcat:wydtsmt7x5dxddzixqrdgncg5y