General Overviews on the Mesopotamian Astral Sciences

Mesopotamian Astronomy & Astrology (Major Studies)

Mesopotamian Astronomy & Astrology (Shorter Studies)

Units and Measures in Mesopotamian Astronomy & Astrology

Editions of Source Material

The Astronomical Diaries of Babylon

These consist of a remarkably continuous collection of astronomical observations which were compiled in Babylon, probably by priest-scholars employed at the Esagil, the Temple of Marduk.

The earliest preserved observations date from around the middle of the 7th century BCE and the collecting of these observations continued far into the 1st century BCE. Probably, this collection originally went back as far as the reign of Nabû-nasir, as the first year of his reign (747 BC) coincides with the Era of Nabonassar which was adopted by Claudius Ptolemy (around AD 150) for the astronomical tables and calculations in his Almagest. According to Ptolemy the Era of Nabonassar was “the era beginning from which the ancient observations are, on the whole, preserved down to his own time” (Almagest III 7).

The diaries also contain non-astronomical material such as reports of market prices of several staple commodities, water level of the Euphrates and other notable events. Thus, the death of Alexander the Great was noted dryly in LBAT 209 as “29th day of Aijaru: The King died”.

The Reports of the Astrologers

These mainly consist of the letters and reports of Babylonian and Assyrian astronomer-priests to the Assyrian kings Esarhaddon (reigned 680 to 669 BCE) and Assurbanipal (reigned 668 to 627 BCE) and were largely excavated during the second half of the 19th century from the ruins of the latter king’s library in Nineveh (Tell Kouyunjik).

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