Science & Mathematics, April-2021
Author: N. M. Swerdlow
Number of Pages: 388
In the ancient world, the collection and study of celestial phenomena and the interpretation of their prophetic significance, especially as applied to kings and nations, were closely related sciences carried out by the same scholars. Both ancient sources and modern research agree that astronomy and celestial divination arose in Babylon. Only in the late 19th century, however, did scholars begin to identify and decipher the original Babylonian sources, and the process of undertsanding those sources has been long and difficult. This volume presents recent work on Babylonian celestial divination and on the Greek inheritors of the Babylonian tradition. The essays shed new light on all of the known textual sources, including the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil, which contains omens from as far back as the early second or even third millennium, and the earliest personal horoscopes, from about 400BC, as well as the Astronomical Diaries, ephemerides and other observational and mathematical texts. One essay concerns astronomical papyri that confirm the extensive transmission of Babylonian methods into Greek; a study of Ptolemy's lunar theory suggests that Ptolemy relied more on his own observations than previously thought; and an analysis of Theon's commentary on Ptolemy's "Handy Tables" shows that Theon explicated their meaning both conscientiously and competently.