Ancient Zodiacs, Star Names, and Constellations: Essays and Annotated Bibliographies

Compiled by Gary D. Thompson

Copyright © 2001-2018 by Gary D. Thompson


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Introduction to the bibliography and essays

The compilation of the bibliography arose from requests for such by some HASTRO-L (History of Astronomy List) members in early August 2001; including David Fideler, David Bell, Nick Campion, and Hartmut Frommert. The requests arose from discussions on HASTRO-L that have focused on the origin and history of the constellations (i.e., flat patterns of stars). (Though originating as a forum for those persons teaching the history of astronomy (professionally) Hastro-L has, in recent years, become a platform for advocates of amateur fantasies.) This resulting bibliographic list is not intended to be definitive or exhaustive and is limited mostly to material I possess or have accessed through libraries. (This is largely to avoid mistakes. For example, the article "Constellations in Pindar" (Classica et mediaevalia, Volume 37, 1986) is unrelated to astronomical constellations. The frequently referenced articles "Jeremias and astral-mythology in the Old Testament" (London Quarterly Review, Volume 118, October, 1912 [Note: The correct year is indicated as 1913.]); and "Babylon and astral mythology" (London Quarterly Review, Volume 119, 1913) cannot be located in the journal cited.) The article "Jeremias and astral-mythology in the Old Testament" definitely exists (I have seen a snippet of it). In their outdated (even when first published) book Outer Space: Myths, Name Meanings, Calendars, From the Emergence of History to the Present Day (1964), Gertrude Jobes and James Jobes loosely (inadequately) reference "Jeremias and astral-mythology in the Old Testament" and "Babylon and astral mythology." They imply they are both articles. After persisting for a number of years in attempting to find more information I have concluded both are actually headings for book reviews. It would appear "Jeremias and astral-mythology in the Old Testament" actually a heading for a short book review article (highly critical) by Edward Maunder (on Pages 220-222 of the October issue) of the English edition of The Old Testament in the Light of the Ancient Near East by Alfred Jeremias. The details for "Babylon and astral mythology," only recently identified, seem to be it is also a heading for a book review article by W. F. Lofthouse. The book reviews in this section of the journal appear between pages 318-337 - the header "Babylon and astral mythology" and book review article starts on page 331. There are only some 100 items listed that I have not seen. I have, however, read detailed discussions of these items. If I were to simply list references that I came across then I could easily add another 300 items. However, this technique is known to introduce referencing mistakes regarding title, volume number, year published, and page numbers. The approximate starting date for the references listed is the mid 19th-century. Because early material is now largely inaccurate I have little interest in such. (The greater sophistication of web resources now (since 2006) enables details of (many) articles to be easily discovered. A large number of articles listed in the bibliography were identified by the time consuming method of repeatedly visiting and systematically working through material on the shelves of various university libraries in Melbourne, Canberra, and Sydney. (I have not bothered to use libraries in Adelaide or Brisbane.) As of 2008 I am not inclined to continue this huge time investment. The drive from Melton to Sydney is approximately 900 kilometres and takes approximately 9 hours. At least the cost of one overnight motel stay is required. The return journey repeats the travel distance and time. Usually a library would be visited during a 10-hour opening time which I would utilise with only one short 20 minute break. I would usually complete the return journey by driving through the night punctuated by a snack break and 'short sleep.')

The actual website content is the result of long periods of intensive research mixed with other periods of partial and total neglect due to other interests and work demands and changing circumstances (such as personal health issues). Though having 2 postgraduate degree qualifications and having been a sessional lecturer (off and on) over a period of some 15 years, and published on OHS, I decline to refer to myself as an academic or (now, since full retirement in 2015) independent researcher/scholar.

I have also included journal articles that a number of persons have kindly brought to my attention. However, twice now I have been supplied with incorrect page information by persons doing such.

The bibliographic list has no particular target audience in mind and simply reflects my own core interests regarding the history of astronomy. Both professional and popular material is included. Books and articles available in electronic form on the internet are not included in the list. Also, the references listed are mostly limited to English, French, and German. A few items that contain wide-ranging material are listed twice, under different headings. The intended audience for the essay type material is laypersons. The website content is based on personal interests.

References dealing with both early (i.e., pre-Islamic) and late (i.e., medieval) Arabic constellation and star names have been included. This is to sensibly deal with the fact that whilst our inherited constellation names are basically Greek our inherited star names are largely due to the influence of medieval (Arabic) Islamic astronomy. It was rare for the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans to give names to individual stars. They only did so for the few brightest stars. Less than 300 stars have individual names and these names have historical and mythological importance. The names of these several hundred brighter stars have originated from various cultures but mostly from traditional Arabic names. For example Sirius is derived from the ancient Greek name "the scorching one, or brilliant one" and was reapplied during the Renaissance period. Betelgeuse was applied in the Medieval period and is a corrupted Latin transliteration from the Arabic name. Achernar is also a Latin transliteration of the Arabic name and was applied during the Renaissance period. The influence of Arabic names on Western star names dates from around the 10th-century AD when Arab astronomy flourished. After the demise of the Roman Empire most Greek scientific works were translated into Arabic (including Ptolemy's Almagest). Eventually these texts were re-introduced back into Europe (and into Latin and Greek) through Arab Spain. With the Arabs the influence of the Greek language was not very strong in the names of stars and constellations.

The web site remains a work in progress. As of December 2010 the bibliography contains some 2000 book, pamphlet, and journal articles (book reviews, etc. excluded).) This is far larger than I originally projected. Due to time constraints and health issues my original concept was a static project containing some 500 references. Additional entries, reviews, and annotations will continue to occur in a random manner. The book reviews and the annotations will be the common additions to the bibliographic list. Beginning August 2005 I also began adding some references to non-Western constellations and star names. As of December 2010 this list contains approximately 500 references. This particular list will continue to be added to but will likely be limited to approximately 550 references.

The lists of references are not intended to comprise a complete and exhaustive bibliography. It is becoming increasing difficult to keep track of all new publications dealing with constellations and star names up the Classical Period. Two publications that regularly publish articles on early constellations and star names are: (1) the annual Proceedings of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture, and (2) the journal Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry. I only occasionally sight either publication. If it is thought that I have made a glaring omission then please contact me.

The listing of references is set out in two ways: (1) bibliographic lists relevant to occidental constellations and star names to the classical period, and (2) bibliographic lists of specifically related topics (or closely associated topics). For (1) the listing is set out under broad geographical headings - and then sorted alphabetically by author surname then year of publication, and for (2) the listing is (usually) in chronological sequence by author surname. (Note: There is little duplication between the two types of lists.) The information in the listings will basically consist of : (1) last name and first name of author(s), (2) year(s) of publication, (3) (usually) short title of book or article, (4) whether multiple volumes, and (5) annotations variously comprising biographical details of author(s) or simply life dates, explanation of contents, critical comments on the content, book reviews, journal correspondence on topic, obituary references, and alternative references. Further information on any book (and possibly journals also) can be obtained using internet searches of library catalogues.

From the appearance of the lists, etc., up till early December, 2010 I have made some 400 minor corrections regarding authors names, dates of publications and other reference errors, (and spelling oversights and grammatical errors) etc. This was aided by the decision to switch to use of FrontPage 2003 which incorporates an automatic spellchecker. Minor errors are bound to occur and will be corrected as soon as noticed. Also, due to the protracted nature of the project some slight variation in bibliographic style is inevitable but should not present a problem. During October, 2010 I have made an attempt to identify and correct previously overlooked residual errors regarding misspellings and dates of publications; and also factual errors. Up till early December 2010 some 30-40 factual errors have been corrected.

During late December 2011 and early January 2012 I made a number of corrections (both factual and grammatical) and added greater detail to a number of entries and essays. Also added were book reviews and annotations to references. Book reviews are now easily (and reliably) identifiable due to the search facility of JSTOR. A number of interesting/relevant papers are continually presented at conferences. These present something of a problem. Unless eventually published, conference presentations are not papers that can be consulted. Because of this I tend to limit mention of them.

During September and early October 2014 I made a number of grammatical corrections and added greater detail to a number of entries and essays.

Between late August 2015 and late April 2016 I made a number of spelling and grammatical corrections, and reedited some material. I also checked the veracity of all the links on Page 8. During July and August 2017 I made further spelling and grammatical corrections and revised some information.

In addition to the bibliographic lists I have also included other material (i.e., essays, journal articles, illustrations, and links) relating to the history of Western constellation and star names. Some repetition exists between essays. Hopefully I will be contributing to the elimination of popular misplaced beliefs concerning the great antiquity of the constellations (especially the zodiacal constellations). History is perforated and we have to guess about what once filled the gaps. But historians need to shovel away the debris that is unjustified speculation. 'Crackpot' claims for the early history of astronomy abound. The conventional academic/expert debates on the topic is not lacking vigour. The 'crackpot claims by would-be experts that encircle the legitimate discussion and debate needs to be dealt with. It needs to be shown why they lack substance, contribute nothing, and only serve to confuse the issue for the non-expert. Unfortunately, would-be experts are busy 'cobbling' together what they obviously believe is a convincing case - at least to themselves - for their various claims to revise the early history of astronomy. The many and varied arguments produced deal more in perhaps and possibility than in facts. Two persistent myths are: (1) the existence of Sumerian constellations, and (2) the zodiac originating with the Sumerians. There is scant evidence for the former belief and the extant cuneiform evidence clearly establishes the falsehood of the latter belief. The Internet is a constant source of unreliable information and actual misinformation. Sourcing reliable information from the Internet is an ongoing problem. (Current web sites persist in erroneously claiming that either the constellations or the zodiac were part of the historical record of Mesopotamia circa 4000 BCE. Some astrologers still erroneously write that the zodiac was undoubtedly recognised in Babylon 4000 or so years ago. It is still mistakenly believed that the constellation Taurus has one of the longest histories of the zodiacal constellations. Also, the erroneous statement is still made that the Sumerians placed the Vernal Equinox in Taurus. Various other extraordinary claims continue to be made for 'Sumerian astronomy' such as Zeccharia Sitchin's claims concerning the so-called 'Berlin Seal.') Dated and/or unreliable sources that people continue to use include: Richard Allen, Robert Brown, Andrew Crommelin, Alex Gurshtein, Willy Hartner, Edward Maunder, Michael Ovenden, Werner Papke, Archibald Roy, Richard Proctor, Giuseppe Sesti, and David Ulansey. These authors continue to have a major influence on the ideas expressed in many books and articles on the origin and development of the Western constellations. An example is the January, 2007, lecture by the British theoretical physicist, at Gresham College, Professor John Barrow on The Origin of the Constellations (http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/the-origin-of-the-constellations). All Barrow has done is repeated his views first presented in his book, The Artful Universe (1995) and expanded in the 2007 edition. A dated if not redundant two-part article by Dr John Rogers (then Jupiter Section Director of the British Astronomical Association), "Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, 1998, Number 1, February, Pages 9-28); and "Origins of the ancient constellations: II. The Mediterranean traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, 1998, Number 2, April, Pages 79-89) still tends to be highly regarded. However, both parts of this article (comprising a total of 31 pages) needs to be used with caution. The article, the result of prolonged research, ultimately comprises a speculative and misleading synthesis compiled in part from dated and/or unreliable sources. A suitable discussion of numerous problems with the basic methodologies of Maunder-Crommelin-Ovenden-Roy has been undertaken by the astronomer Bradley Schaefer in his important paper "The Latitude and Epoch for the Formation of the Southern Greek Constellations." (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume 33, Part 4, 2002, Pages 313-350). His conclusions are that the southern Greek constellations originated in the first millennium BCE, and are basically derived from Babylonia. Numerous dabblers persist in attempting to revise astronomical history with their own pet theories for what appears to be their own fame. The time consuming effort required to expose the numerous flaws in their arguments has no effect with them - they simply 'circle the wagons' and refine their word-smithing and/or invent arguments against their opponents. Some incredible mistakes seem to be innocently made. In, Wonders of the Sky (2004, Page 68) Tamra Andrews writes of Ian Ridpath's Star Tales (1988): "Includes myths of the stars and constellations as well as the origin and history of the eighty-eight constellations designed by the Greeks that are recognized today."! Presently Wikipedia is now an established source for unsatisfactory/misleading information on the history of the constellations.

In Page 8 I retain defunct links in the hope they will reappear (at the same or different URL). To date (March, 2013) this has occurred on 5 occasions. Verification and re-establishment of broken links (i.e., identifying changed URLs) in Page 8 is conducted on a random basis. I checked for broken links in January 2013 - the previous occasion was 2011. The links were again checked in January 2016.

The posted essays are draft form only and will be subject to revision as time permits. The intent is to provide accurate information and they are not specifically meant to be a "good read." Several comprise little more than a rough draft and the "roughest" are flagged as being "under construction." (Revisions or additions to essays are incorporated without extensive rewriting.) Shorter essays appear in the topics cover in Section 11: Illustrations. At times they express slightly differing points of view from each other. This is an inevitable result of their being written and revised over an extended period of time. The posting of scanned articles posed a problem in the past when available web space was 10 megabytes. However, as the available web space is now 20 megabytes several articles will be posted. Generally only short articles will be posted (and perhaps some will be changed approximately half yearly). February, 2010 update: The two long-standing articles will remain and I have added one more. Criticisms are given in the spirit of honest inquiry.

Section 11 containing 44 entries of uneven length dealing with the history of the development of constellations and star names (mostly occidental) is now (December, 2010) more or less complete. Hopefully it serves as an accurate chronological guide for people wanting to obtain an overview of the topic. It covers a number of issues not usually found in the usual popular material on the history of the constellations. I now intend to use available time to focus on Essay Thirteen (13): An Outline Sketch of the Origin and History of Constellations and Star-Names. It is not my intention to use a lot of material that already appears in Section 11. (After an interruption of several years I intend to renew this focus in 2013.)

The persistence or accuracy/appropriateness of 3rd-party internet website url's provided is not guaranteed.

I was very happy that this web site was selected to receive the prestigious Griffith Observatory Star Award for the week of September 4-10, 2005, for excellence in promoting astronomy to the public through the World Wide Web. I am grateful to Griffith Observatory (a major Los Angeles landmark having almost 2 million visitors each year) for the honour.

In 2007 my web site was described by one person as "ugly but informative." My focus very much remains being informative. However, in early February 2010 I made an effort to improve it appearance but I have left its design/navigation simplicity untouched. Maintaining a simple HTML 4 should ensure the website remains readily accessible to most browsers into the future.

Update, August, 2009: On 8th August 2009 I relocated the entire website to Westnet. (Basically due to the atrocious customer service provided by Optusnet.) This move has enabled me to gain 10 MB additional space - which I require in order to expand the material appearing on the website. However, I also lost (temporarily at least) my ranking on the Google search engine. In order to facilitate easier access to material a site search engine has been added to the content page. Redirects from the old Optusnet website continued to exist until Optusnet denied me the possibility of renewing the account (circa 2014). They either denied its existence or stated I could only renew online. Dealing with "customer support" people located overseas is a huge problem. (Hopefully Google will discontinue referencing the old website and suitably recognise the changed location.)

In mid-September 2009 I extensively corrected and clarified material on Page 11-3 dealing with the ideas of Dr Sara L. Gardner. Thanks to her assistance I am now satisfied the discussion accurately reflects her ideas. During December, 2012-January 2013 I corrected and made clear the material comprising Page 11-9.

On July 27th, 2011 I noticed that Sky & Telescope associate editor Tony Flanders, in commenting upon a short list of recommended websites on star names and constellation myths - which included mine, wrote (www.cloudynights.com) on May 5th, 2011: "That list tends heavily toward the speculative side -- to put things mildly! I would treat all of those sources with great caution." The inclusion of my website as a target of his comment makes it a truly inane and clueless remark. Hopefully Tony Flanders sometimes makes the attempt to read what he chooses to criticise. Tony Flanders also dismisses the important work of the astronomer Bradley Schaefer on the origin of the constellations. All this is done without any evidence being offered.

From November 2012 my focus will be to complete "The Recovery of Babylonian Astronomy." I have some 500,000 words of notes that I want to place on the internet. I estimate this will take me 3-5 years. As of early 2017 this project has slowed considerably. However, a lot of important information has been added. I have avoided writing heavily documented essays. This helps promote readability. However, some intellectual debts go unpaid. The more important ones have been included.

From October 2015 through to May 2016 I spent most days expanding and revising my website material. I have been particularly interested in obtaining information on George St. Clair, Stansbury Hagar/Hager, and Günter/Guenter Martiny. All biographical details for these persons are difficult to find and it appears some received no obituaries/detailed obituaries.

In February 2016, iiNet, after taking over Westnet, decided to change the url's of member accounts. The result was that my ranking on Google (and other search engines) was lost and effectively my website disappeared from the internet, unless its changed url was known. Circa early May 2016 the Google search engine re-established (near enough) the former ranking of the website contents. The Google search engine url for the website now deletes the iiNet component and retains the Westnet component. The iiNet form of the url (http://members.iinet.net.au/~gary-david-thompson@westnet.com.au/) still works. Simply putting, members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/index1.html (or other specific (relevant) page variant replacing index1) into Google or any other browser will work. What no longer works (directly into search engines or though old existing links) is the old url, http://members.westnet.com.au/~gary-david-thompson@westnet.com.au/index1.html (or other specific (relevant) page variant replacing index1).

In March 2016 I began the process of changing the website title to: Ancient Zodiacs, Star Names, and Constellations: Essays and Annotated Bibliographies. I also began the process of reorganising the website. A lot of this was done by the end of May 2016. Further projected tasks will involve re-indexing the essays and creating separate pages for what are lengthy appendices. This final phase will be done as time and energy permits. I also intend to place the website on Academia.edu, as a single PDF file.

In November 2016 I corrected a historical mistake on Pages B3 and a historical mistake/confusion on Page 11-32. I also corrected a number of grammatical errors.

During January and February 2018 I made a large number of grammatical and other corrections.

Astronomy preceded astrology

Astronomy was the first natural science to be developed into the form of a precise mathematical theory.

I am surprised by the large number of pro-astrology websites that have a link to this website. One pro-astrology website claims I trace constellation and star names from the Sumerian period. Actually I set out we have no knowledge of Sumerian constellation and star names. Some pro-astrology websites include the statement that my information must/should be used with care as I am obviously 'hostile' to astrology. In his book, Dance of the Moon (2009) the author Dan Furst (an astrologer) describes me as a historian of astrology! Most other statements in his book seem to be just as accurate. As my website really has nothing to do with the practice of astrology It is difficult to have any patience with serious claims for astrology and with horoscopes. I do not understand how my view of astrology as nonsense would bias the astronomical information I place on my website. However, scope is provided for the remarks on astrology appearing below. It is certainly not my attention to provide support for astrology. Astrologers also like to claim too much. Astrologers now like to increasingly assert that astrology necessarily precedes astronomy. (The astrologer Patrick Curry (Astrology, Science and Culture: Pulling Down the Moon (2004)), without suitable evidence, has proposed that astrology necessarily goes back to the Paleolithic period.) I would offer that the evidence indicates that astronomy preceded astrology. The earliest concerns were astronomical. Western astrology originated from the ancient Mesopotamian practice of celestial divination that originated circa 2000 BCE. The earliest known astral omen texts (the first direct evidence of celestial divination) date to the Old Babylonian Period (circa 2000-1600 BCE).

Astral observation was undoubtedly an intrinsic part of ancient civilisations. Magical and divinatory practices were also likely included, as an integral part of religion belief and practice. It is also accurate to talk of astral mythology, astral worship, and astral religion. Without radical redefinition this is not the same as astrology or astrological practice. Astrology is simply fortune-telling.

The British astrologer and historian of astrology Nick Campion offers several simple definitions of astrology as (1) 'the quest for meaning in the sky" (also stated as "the search for meaning in the stars"), and (2) the investigation of possible relationships between celestial and terrestrial events". The definitions seem to be a tactic to undercut criticisms. However, both imply celestial influence/causation. These definitions should be contrasted with the high point of astrology in the Middle Ages. The historian Richard Kieckhefer (Magic in the Middle Ages (1989, 1990, Pages 125-126) writes: "Astrology presupposed a certain view of astronomy, or the way the cosmos was structured. ... Yet most Europeans would also have recognised that these planets and stars, and to a lesser extent other stars outside the zodiac, did influence human affairs in various ways. ... If one knew the identity and position of each plant (sic) [planet] and star one could in large measure gauge the degree of its impact. The nature of that influence, on the other hand, was inherent in each star and planet, not something relevant to its position in the sky."

Astrologers pretentiously explain human conduct and astrophysical phenomena using a scheme of cosmological speculations that were invented nearly 4000 years ago. One astrologer has suggested that they should be seen as psychologists or seers! Altogether weird when one considers that some astrologers claim that astrology is a mystical art. The premises on which astrology is based have been long abandoned by astronomy. Astrology does not contribute to science and scientific understanding. Whilst astral divination was a rational belief system for the ancient Mesopotamians who originated it, progress in scientific thinking from some 2000 years ago has enabled it to be understood as an irrational belief system. It is simply no longer relevant or valid as a tool for inclusion in a contemporary rational belief  system. In the light of scientific knowledge it is a nonsensical belief system. Astrology is a hypothetical and deductive way of thinking rather than the careful examination of facts and experience. The German astronomer and opponent of astrology Robert Henseling recognised that the primary basis for cosmic/terrestrial relationships being inferred lies in the ecliptic and the stars in close proximity to it. The concept of cosmic/terrestrial relationships was based on the astro-meteorological seasons and weather-lore as then understood.

Otto Neugebauer (1945) noted: "Mesopotamian "astrology" can be much better compared with weather predictions from phenomena observed in the skies [i.e., are astromantic] than with astrology in the modern sense of the word." Judith Bjorkman (1973) wrote: "One of the major differences between astrology and astromancy is as follows: astrology believes that the stars themselves cause certain events inevitably, whereas astromancy holds that the stars only announce events which may be changed or avoided by appropriate, often magical actions."

An early concern was the establishment of a calendar. In this regard astronomy was the oldest numerical science. Counting was crucial for the establishment of astronomical calendars. It has been remarked that: "Calendar systems are perhaps the highest form of practical technology ever to emerge from humanity's observations of the heavens." The earliest calendars were always based on such simple elements as references to the position of the sun or moon, or the movement of the seasons or stars. Mesopotamian lunar calendars were established circa 4500 BCE. The origin of the first lunar calendars will never be known. From the earliest written records we know that intercalations were used to adjust/correct the early Babylonian calendars. Rather ambitiously, a hypothetical Halafian Culture calendar has been proposed for Tell Halaf (northwest Syria, near the Turkish border) for circa 7th millennium BCE.

"In 1997 Carlos Jaschek ([Proceedings of the IVth SEAC Meeting "Astronomy and Culture"] 135–145) set out a standardized pattern for the development of astronomy, moving from the measurement of solar and lunar risings and settings to the identification of first individual stars and then planets, the creation of calendars (to facilitate political order), and the recognition that celestial movements are periodic, allowing the crucial transmission from an observational to theoretical astronomy. In this process astrology occupies a crucial place between these last two stages, its requirement for correct forecasts eventually making it essential to predict future planetary positions. (Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, edited by Helaine Selin; Volume 1, AK, Page 249.)"

Not all early cultures developed a belief in astrology (i.e., Egypt); but all developed calendars very early. Astronomical observation in early Mesopotamia had both calendrical and prognosticatory significance. There is no evidence the prognosticatory aspect of astronomical observation in Mesopotamia preceded the calendrical importance of such. 

The establishment of early lunar calendars is a likely influence for the beginning of omen astrology (which was, on the evidence, preceded by diverse forms of divination). Astral omens are only sparsely attested in 2nd-millennium BCE Mesopotamia. Expispicy was dominant. However astral omens/astrology eventually supplanted extispicy as the dominant form of Mesopotamian divination. For the early Mesopotamians the measurement of time, the determination of the seasons, and the identification of when to hold lunar festivals were of key importance. No astrology here. On the basis of the evidence I think we can be confident that the fundamental ideas of astrology (beginning with astral omens) are religious ideas. Astral omenology in Mesopotamia was about the indigenous gods/goddesses revealing possible (changeable) future events affecting the king and country whose belief system they were part of. Basically its origin and development pivoted around the gods/goddesses in the sky signalled, through various celestial phenomena, their avoidable intentions regarding the king to his 'tupsarru' (loosely 'astrologers') on earth. The astral omens were localised, affecting the king and the state, and included advice on foreign ventures. Appropriate ritual action could be taken to change the outcome of indicated events. Though religion has been around far earlier it took the Mesopotamians to extend some particular ideas and give astral omens the kick-off. It can be reasonably argued that little work has been done yet to uncover the roots of astrology. However, vaguely pointing to astral gods and goddesses does not really establish a link to astrology. Also, the system of astral omens does not equal astrology.

Circa 3500 BCE the Sumerians recognised Venus was both a morning and evening star. The Sumerian Inanna myth, centred on the city of Uruk, is readily interpretable as referring to the periodic disappearance of the planet Venus from sight and the planet's reappearance in the sky. The two epithets húd 'morning' and sig 'evening' describe the goddess Inanna (Venus) as two manifestations of the planet Venus, one shining in the morning sky and one shining in the evening sky. This is basic observational astronomy for one of the brightest objects in the night sky. Nothing remotely resembling any kind of astrology exists in the texts for Venus circa 3500 BCE.

The early great Mesopotamian omen series was Enuma Anu Enlil, listing around 7000 astral omens all the equivalent of the conditional statement. The early/original astral omens comprised simple conditional pairings of a protasis (the introductory statement expressing the condition i.e., "if x") and an apodosis (the concluding/predictive statement expressing the consequence i.e., "then y"). It has not been demonstrated that the content of the early omen series Enuma Anu Enlil (consolidated circa 1200 BCE) was necessarily (or always) observation based. During the 7th- and 8th-centuries BCE of the Assyrian Empire there was an increase in omen reports to kings. However, most of the texts that are termed astronomical show no evidence of being used in connection with omens.

Astral omenology was about the indigenous gods/goddesses revealing possible (changeable) future events affecting the king and country (Babylonia/Assyria) whose belief system they were part of. Basically the gods/goddesses in the sky signalled their avoidable intentions regarding the king to his 'tupsarru' (loosely 'astrologers') on earth. The astral omens were localised, affecting the king and the state, and included advice on foreign ventures. AO 8196 includes sections identifying the quadrants of the Moon, months, and watches of the night with the countries/lands of Akkad, Elam, Amurru, and Subartu. These 4 countries/lands appear frequently in the apodoses of astronomical omens. The interpretation of astral phenomena was dependent on the month of the year and the time of night that the phenomena were observed. Appropriate ritual action could be taken to change the outcome of indicated events. "[Jeffrey] ... Cooper makes the significant observation that when Mesopotamians affirmed that omen x "predicts" event y, they did not so so, as widely thought, from a belief that in the universe x was always linked to y, independent of divine will. It was, to paraphrase him, that omen x was a kind of lexeme in a divinely ordained language, where it referred to the class of y events, and that once the gods[/goddesses] had decoded to bring y about, they might then select x to communicate their decision to a diviner, the human specialist in their language, who would, in turn, translate it for his clients." (Book review by Peter Machinist of Death in Mesopotamia edited by Bendt Alster (1980) (Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 104, Number 3, July-September, 1984, Pages 568-570, Pages 568-569).

The British assyriologist David Brown makes the case that in Mesopotamia divinatory thinking/tradition/purpose was given precedence over strict astronomical reality and shaped astronomy.

The Mesopotamian system of astral omens does not equal astrology. For most of its life in Mesopotamia 'astrology' is more accurately described as the divination of celestial omens (the signaled intentions of gods/goddesses could be influenced). It is radically distinguished from the astrology of the Hellenistic period (a mechanistic universe in which gods/goddesses could not be influenced). Astrology spread from the royal domain in Babylonia to the private domain in Greece.

Babylonian astral divination was a far less developed doctrine than is found in the later (and expanded) Greek astrological doctrine. However, horoscopic astrology inherited and adapted elements from astral omens. The overlap between Babylonian 'astrology' and Greek astrology included the development of birth charts using the zodiac of 12 30-degree signs. It was from the late branch of Babylonian 'astrology' involving birth charts (which represented a significant departure from traditional Babylonian astral divination) that later Greek genethlialogy developed. Graeco-Roman culture developed and refined the Babylonian beliefs of celestial influences.

Babylonian astrology (i.e., horoscopy) is dated to the second half of the 1st-millennium BCE. When Babylonia was annexed by Alexander the Great it had, under previous Persian influence, begun to develop a primitive horoscopic astrology. Mesopotamian horoscopes did not appear from nowhere but drew on the long-established traditions of birth omens.

There is only a superficial resemblance between Babylonian horoscopes and later Greek horoscopes. The cuneiform texts containing horoscopes are grounded in the idea of applying the situation of the night sky at the moment of birth to the life and fortune of a person. However, few personal predictions are found in Babylonian horoscopes. The few that are given are in the form of omen apodoses (i.e., birth omens) and only superficially resemble later Greek horoscopes. Simply, Babylonian and Greek genethlialogical systems are distinctly different. The zodiacal sign rising above the eastern horizon at a particular time was not important in Babylonian horoscopes. It was, however, the most important feature of Greek horoscopes. In Greek astrology the determination of the degree of the zodiac that was rising above the eastern horizon was considered the primary important fact. Within Babylonian texts the place of influence is referred to as the entire zodiacal constellation or sign, not a specific part of it.

The Babylonian Dodekatemoria (the name given by Graeco-Roman astrologers) (the division of each zodiacal sign into 12 parts) is dated to circa 400 BCE. Each of these sub-sections is called by the name of one of the 12 signs. Modern assyriologists term the Dodekatemoria 'microzodiacs.'

Omen divination/astrology (all astrologies) are expressions of magical thinking. (For the ancient Mesopotamians, within their time, their astral sciences (including omen divination) can be classed as part of a scientific endeavour.) Within the classification of an expression of magical thinking astrologies have competitors with other forms of magical thinking, e.g. the tarot (which some practitioners claim is linked to astrology). The groundwork for this claim was apparently established by the early Greeks who were among the first to develop correspondences between astrology and the four elements and the four qualities (2 connected with temperature: hot and cold; 2 connected with humidity: dry and moist).

Constellations are a natural means of dividing the sky into (arbitrary) areas. There is no physical reason to divide the stars along the ecliptic into 12 constellations (or simply to divide the ecliptic into 12 equally divided parts). That it was done by the Babylonians is a cultural consequence of their need to associate a constellation with each month of a 12 (30-day) month ideal year.

The methods of horoscopic astrology were taken from mathematical astronomy. The mathematical tools necessary for casting horoscopes are just the methods of mathematical astronomy. Technical astrology proper originated in Hellenistic Egypt in the 2nd-century BCE. The mathematical tools were derived from the complex mathematical techniques developed by Babylonian mathematical astronomy by the end of the 5th-century BCE. The earliest Hellenistic astrological texts were developed in the same Alexandrian environment that produced the Corpus Hermeticum, a group of philosophical, magical, astrological, and alchemical writings. Theories of causal celestial influence invented in the classical period replaced belief in the active intervention of gods/goddesses. The main structure of astrological theory is Hellenistic and also grounded in belief in an earth-centred universe. Interestingly, Valens Vettius, and other astrologers in the 2nd-century CE, still continued to use arithmetic schemes that had been rendered obsolete by the development of astronomical theories of their own time.

The place of Mesopotamian divination, horoscopy, and astronomy in the history of science has been set out by the noted assyriologist Francesca Rochberg in her book, The Heavenly Writing (2004). Otto Neugebauer made the point that Mesopotamian society developed the whole theory of astral divination based on its own experiences. fears, and expectation.

Greek interest in the zodiacal band was due to their belief that this was the inhabited part of the sky (and something special) - everything (planets, moon, sun) moved within the zodiacal band. The rest of the sky was desolate because - except for the rotation of the heavens - nothing moved in it. Greek and Roman interest in astrological explanations were due to the lure of a coherent world-view being provided, that reconciled astronomy with myth and religion. Astrological interpretations provided a sense of divine control and immutable fate to human affairs and this helped to provide social stability.

Astrologers are particularly fond of pointing out that the famous German astronomer Johannes Kepler, a key figure in the 17th-century scientific revolution, was a practicing astrologer. A lengthy critical discussion of Kepler's astrology appears in the book, Astronomy at the Frontiers of Science edited by Jean-Pierre Lasota (2011) and is well worth reading. The author of Chapter 17, "Astronomy versus astrology" (Pages 285-308), Marek Abramowicz (Chalmers University of Technology Göteborg University, Astronomy-Astrophysics Department), sets out that Kepler tried to improve both astronomy and astrology according to his grand vision based on Pythagorean musical and geometrical harmonies. Page 292: "The astrologers of today who recall Kepler's interest and involvement in astrology as an argument in astrology's favour are abusing the facts.” Also (Page 305): "However, in astrology, he went nowhere, because the "astrological reality" he was trying to discover, existed only as an illusion of his mind - who chases Ghostlight wades through swamps." Back to Page 292 for the framework of these statements: "He was deeply dissatisfied with the foundations and practices of astrology of the time. In particular Kepler was well aware that astrology's main concepts, like "houses" and "Zodiac", are superficial and arbitrary. ... However, Kepler's conviction was based on his hope that eventually "more certain foundations of astrology" would replace the arbitrary and superficial principles that existed in his time. Astrology experienced no such progress. Still today it is just an art of divination, based on arbitrary, unprecise and groundless rules. ... In both astronomy and astrology, Kepler was guided by erroneous ideas, particular only to him, and based on the strange convolution of the Pythagorean harmonies with the adamant Protestant faith." On Page 298: "The astrological "predictions" are based on mythology - in Europe mostly on the Greek and Roman myths, but in different cultures on different ones."

Until the 17th-century CE astrology was a serious branch science in both the classical and medieval periods. The view that it was a type of magic is now not supported. (Interestingly, traditionally alchemy was sometimes known as "terrestrial astrology" because the 7 traditional metals were linked with the planets. The celestial efluvia from the stars and the planets caused the gestation of the metals in the womb of the earth, and alchemy was conceived as speeding up and nursing along the process. Alchemy was conceived as a type of midwifery.) The theoretical basis of Western astrology was the earth-centred "Ptolemaic Universe.' Once the so-called 'Ptolemaic Universe' was overthrown by the combination of the Copernican revolution circa 1500 CE - which discard earth-centred Medieval cosmology - and the work of Kepler circa 1600 CE - which established the elliptical nature of planetary orbits - astrology became a mere superstition.  

Astrology has been called the 'mad daughter' of the 'wise mother' (astronomy). At core, astrology is based on the belief that the universe was created in relation to the earth. Astrology claims to deal with the effects the celestial bodies cause. Modern astrologers believe the position of the planets relative to the signs of the tropical zodiac influence terrestrial events and human psychology/destiny. The system of 12 signs of 30 degrees each function as a 'map' for referencing the motions (positions) of the planets. The zodiac is a highly subjective construct involving constellation patterns that do not resemble the star-groupings they represent. The basic tool of the astrologer is the horoscope (an geometric map of the sky) and its interpretation. Astrology involves the symbolic interpretation of the sky. There is no theoretical framework for astrology - only statistics (and the statistical approach is subject to constant misuse by astrologers). The handbook of Western astrology is now almost 2000 years old (the 'four-part book' Tetrabiblos by Claudius Ptolemy, 2nd-century CE). In his book, Almagest the astronomer/astrologer Claudius Ptolemy wrote that it was ridiculous and absurd to remove the earth from the centre of the universe (Book 1, Chapter 7). No known force/interaction can explain - or has even been elucidated by astrologers - the 'astrological influence.' Rigid studies show that astrology fails to characterise human personality. The 'community' of astrologers does not have a lot in the way of a body of commonly agreed knowledge.

Many contemporary  highly educated people believe in 'messages' emanating from the signs of the zodiac through astrology. Interestingly, Carl Jung used horoscopes in his diagnoses of mental illness.

The Abstract of the article "Astrology" by Shawn Carlson (Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, Volume 44, Number 4, April, 1988, Pages 290-297) succinctly summarises: "As a divinatory practice, astrology is without equal in both its colorful history and modern day popularity. Astrology has grown, over thousands of years, into a huge and ornate superstructure that lacks a central design. Although astrology has been dimly veiled by its occult mystique for centuries, the light of modern day inquiry has shown its substance to be mostly illusionary and revealed its foundation to be the shakiest possible: that of self-justification and anecdotal evidence. Despite the many claims of its practitioners and followers, extensive investigation has revealed astrology to be a great teetering monument to human gullibility." Aby Warburg considered astrology to be a form of onomastic fetishism projected into the future.

There is nothing in astrological literature predicting the existence of the planets Uranus, Neptune, or Pluto (recently demoted from its status as a planet). Also, there is no indication in astrological literature of any awareness of their existence prior to their discovery by astronomers.

Research has shown that our physical characteristics are determined by the information in our genes. All the tissues in our bodies are manufactured according to this information. Our basic physical constitution is determined by our genes at the moment of conception - not by celestial bodies/forces at the moment of birth.

It is now quite apparent that astrology is a foundationless system - a pseudoscience. It relies on subjective verification. Astrology is a cultural phenomenon, not a science. Astrology has been left behind by modern astronomy and astrophysics. Astrology is focused on the apparent patterns formed by the visible stars and planets as seen from the earth and presumes a geocentric universe. The arrangement/pattern of stars and planets at one's birth are held by astrologers to be indicators of the person's future personality and career path. In other words the horoscope is a tool to enable divination/prophesy. (Some astrologers now only claim correlation.) According to David Pingree in his article "Astrology" (Dictionary of the History of Ideas) "... astrology is the study of the impact of celestial bodies ... upon the sublunar world [and it] ... presupposes a geocentric and finite universe." In his1978 article "Why astrology is pseudoscience," Paul Thagard set out why astrology is a pseudoscience. A summary of arguments includes: (1) astrology cannot be tested or falsified [at least as a belief system], (2) astrology has assertions rather than evidence [lacks factual claims], (3) astrology is not peer-reviewed for efficacy, (4) astrology does not seem to advance in technique or underlying theory, and (5) astrology has not discarded out-of-date (medieval) thinking for new ways.

A cause for concern is present-day attempts to clothe astrology with the gown of science. A cause for concern is the many schools of astrology and bodies of astrologers are now claiming academic recognition. As example: The Sophia Project currently (2009) funds The Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture at the University of Wales, Lampeter, offering a MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology; and The Sophia Trust sponsors the MA in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination at the University of Kent. Judging by the yearly graduation speeches the courses are pro-astrology and serve to give academic credentials to astrologers. The steering committee for administering The Sophia Trust funds are comprised of  persons from the "astrological community." Two key lecturers are practising astrologers. Astrologers hope that their efforts could one day be incorporated into the normal sciences. It is not unusual for recipients who do not practice astrology to shorten their recognition of the award to an MA in Cultural Astronomy.

The various applications of astrology remain without any evidence-based research able to justify them. It is now being claimed that scientific empiricism is irrelevant to understanding and validating astrology. There is now a trend towards the denial of the relevance of a quantitative and empiricist-based scientific methodology to deal with astrology. Some proponents of this approach are Charles Harvey and Graham Douglas (B.Sc. Chemistry). As example, see the 2 articles by Graham Douglas reviewed by Patrick Curry in Culture and Cosmos, Volume 1, Number 2, 1997: "Numerical but not quantitative, this programme is concerned with form and formal causes rather than material. In that sense, it has ancient Aristotelian roots, as well as affinities with Goethe's scientific method (currently undergoing a sympathetic re-appraisal). The key names, however, are contemporary: broadly speaking, systems theory and its offshoots, including René Thom and catastrophe theory, and Ilya Prigogine and chaos theory. Another tributary is the work on Indo-European cosmology of Georges Dumézil and its recent updating by Emily Lyle; while the seminal structuralism of Ferdinand de Saussure, including its semantic applications by A.-J. Greimas and anthropological ones by Claude Lévi-Strauss, is central. (The last has some interesting similarities to the psychological structures posited by someone more commonly associated with astrology, Carl Jung.) Finally, there is the important work by Berlin and Kay – significantly revised since their pioneering book in 1969 - on cross-cultural colour terms. The overall intellectual context for this work is the search for a naturalised but non-reductive epistemology - at once social, psychological and cognitive - that was arguably set in motion by Gregory Bateson, and is now being pursued by Maturana and Varela, among others. A closely related programme is a new holistic, autopoetic or self-organising approach to the way the brain works (which rejects the computer model entirely). Drawing on these resources, what Douglas finds is tantalisingly extensive if sometimes imperfect correspondences between the symbolic language of astrology and other complex systems such as semiotic analyses of narrative and folk-tales, colour terms and symbolism, personality dimensions and scales, and Indo-European social structures and cosmologies. His results thus suggest two things. One is the possibility of a set of relative universals at work in astrological symbolism: an alarming prospect, perhaps, for historians! But it is one that should be faced up to and followed through, despite the formidable intellectual difficulties (which Douglas's own dense style reflects). Besides, "universals" hardly manifest themselves perfectly in a timeless vacuum. And an uncompromisingly "diachronic" intellectual programme, in which time and change is absolutely everything, is ultimately as unattractive (and unrealistic) as the overly abstract aridities of its "synchronic" counterpart. Where the weakness of the latter is Theory, the former tendency has a danger too: the descent into an anti-intellectual antiquarian empiricism, masquerading as history. The truth is almost certainly somewhere in the conceptual middle, and muddle, where these two dimensions and their respective approaches interact. This point relates to the other prospect he raises, which concerns research methodology. The dominant way of investigating astrology in modern times has been firmly quantitative and empiricist, based on just the Cartesian-Galilean-Newtonian assumptions about "the" scientific method that the above-mentioned work has increasingly thrown into question. To varying extents, this model and its negative results have even dominated, or at least influenced, social scientific and historical investigations, where its "residues of unresolved positivism" (to use the late Owen Barfield's term) are clearly inappropriate and unhelpful. Douglas's work, in contrast, constitutes an argument for an anthropologically and culturally sophisticated formalism, which evidently holds the promise of a more fruitful avenue for future scientific research. ..."

Also: "Abstract This thesis is concerned with what astrology is. It rejects the view that astrology should be considered as an empirical science solely concerned with making predictions about the future. Instead, it argues that astrology cannot be a science and should be seen as a form of divination; that the astrological process requires the involvement of a non-human agency; and that the aim of the astrological enquiry is not primarily to obtain information about the future but to obtain guidance from this alternative realm. The thesis argues that all the existing theories of astrology must assume the involvement of a non-human agency explicitly or implicitly, if they are to account for current astrological practice. This, however, is all that needs to be assumed. Further, it argues that if astrology is viewed in this manner any of the theoretical problems it is thought to have are solved. It is argued that one of the many advantages of moving astrology from the realm of science to that of divination is that it will allow scholars, and others interested, to study astrology for what it is and not for what some have erroneously claimed it to be." (The Responsive Cosmos: An Enquiry Into The Theoretical Foundation Of Astrology by James Brockbank. (PhD in Theology and Religious Studies, University of Kent, 2011. The author is an astrologer.))

I am unsure who said: "Trash is trash, but the study of trash can be scholarship." The German historian of medieval science Julius Ruska (1867-1949) wrote in 1934 ("Die Alchemie des Avicenna") that in the modern period "astrology has poured like a tide of mud over the world."

Many critiques of astrology are weak and uninformed. A suitably modern discussion of astrology and its claims is: "The Case For and Against Astrology." by Geoffrey Dean. In: A Critical Analysis of Paranormal Claims edited by Bryan Farha (2007) (Pages 115-130). See also: "The Mathematics of Astrology: Does House Division Make Sense?" by Kevin Guan (2001; 34 Pages). See also the important collection of empirical studies of astrology, Tests of Astrology: A critical review of hundreds of studies edited by Geoffrey Dean and Arthur Mather et al. (2016).

Early uses for stars, asterisms, and constellations

The statement that astronomy is one of the oldest sciences disregards the fact that the early descriptive approach to the night sky, along with the establishment of some constellations and astral myths, is not 'scientific astronomy' as we understand it today. These earliest types of simple astronomical practices - without the use of mathematical tools - are more accurately designated as 'cultural astronomy' (or 'ethnoastronomy'). However, the use of stars and constellations for various purposes, the progress towards constellation sets covering the entire visible sky, and the development of astronomical mythology (and symbols) is quite fascinating and absorbing.  

Constellations serve as a mnemonic aid for identifying stars and their positions (including relative positions) in the night sky. Establishing artificial grouping relationships among the more prominent of the approximately 3500 visible stars made it easy for early people to both remember them and to locate them quickly in a segment of the night sky. Early uses for stars include: (1) Determining new year, (2) festival regulation, (3) direction finding (nautical navigation and land navigation), (4) weather indicators, (5) seasonal indicators, (6) time-keeping (time of night and time of year, and (7) identifying sky positions.

Change of url

In 2015 iiNet took over Westnet. The result for me was that iiNet, without notification in February 2016, changed my url to: http://members.iinet.net.au/~gary-david-thompson@westnet.com.au/page11-7.html  This effectively resulted in my website losing its high ranking and seemingly disappearing from the internet. Google search engine at least has solved the problem to a large extent. Simply putting, members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/index1.html (or other specific (relevant) page variant replacing index1) into Google or any other browser will work.

Unauthorised use of material, theft of copyright for material, and misleading use of material from this website

An increasing number of people are using both my copyright text and photos from my website and claiming the copyright is theirs. (Some are even claiming the material is copyright free.) Since February 2010 I have implemented the practice of water marking (unobtrusively as possible) a number of photographs and illustrations. Some restrictions may later be placed on accessibility to text. (Paval Mat at myty.info demonstrates how to use material and give suitable credit. Rizky Ikhsani at his excellent website Rochelimit's Symbology of Astronomy demonstrates the same.) 

All text at this website is copyright © 2001-2013 to Gary D. Thompson. The copyright for a considerable number of illustrations used is also mine. Open access is not granted by me for use of material I hold the copyright for. (One copyright illustration has been published in conference proceedings in Italy without acknowledgment.) Several photographs are used with the written permission of the respective copyright holders. Open access is not granted for use of these. As the copyright holder I expect persons will request specific permission to copy, distribute and display the material, or to make commercial use of the material. I expect that any reproduction of clearly stated copyright materials from my website will at least carry appropriate identifying statements. Reproduction of parts of the bibliography or articles by others, without acknowledgement, can be interesting. I appreciate the courtesy of those persons who have either genuinely requested or made proper acknowledgement of their use of materials. Greg Rigby made an inquiry in 2008 for permission to use some material verbatim in his book. For some reason he was reluctant to give any proper acknowledgement that it was sourced from one of my website essays and it Greg Rigby also intended to apply his own copyright to the material taken. (There is the obvious practice of people giving loose acknowledgement for (unrequested) verbatim use of my material and then placing their own copyright on my material they have used.) I am now (2009) subject to Facebook spam requesting I be a friend of Greg Rigby on Facebook. Greg Rigby's eventual 2009 book, The God Secret, ignored my advice regarding suitable referencing and quotation (and withholding of consent unless this was done), and he proceeded with an uniformed and misleading discussion. Most of the book is speculative nonsense.

During 2005 the following was noticed: In his May 29, 2004, article "The Lion with the Crocodile Tail and LEO", posted at his Website and Bulletin Board, Robert Bauval's listing of Alex Gurshtein's English-language articles exactly reproduces, minus my annotations, my list of references. The effect is to (1) suggest Bauval's familiarity with the references, and (2) suggest they all support Bauval's particular "Leo antiquity" ideas. Such is not the case. What I find particularly interesting is that Bauval makes no reference to my website article effectively critiquing Gurshtein's speculative arguments. Bauval's determination to continue with his disproven ideas, by continuing to selectively use dubious material, is a demonstration of the hollowness of his approach. Interestingly, Bauval has also placed his own copyright notice on the material he has used.

During 2007 the following was noticed: Parts of my web site (i.e., a number of articles from Section 11) are being mirrored at the Saturnian Cosmology web site. (The Saturnists are adherents of an odd form of solar system catastrophism that is based on the unfounded speculations of Immanuel Velikovsky.) They have not sought my permission to mirror any of my articles and their use of my material is unauthorised by me. Some of the material they are mirroring is outdated though they seem intent on ensuring they are reproducing my updated material at their mirror site. The description of the Denderah zodiac posted at Archaic Gifts on e-Bay exactly duplicates considerable sections of my description of the Denderah zodiac. The essay "Astronomy at Mesopotamian Region (3000BC-1400AC)" by Hamid Al-Naimiy (no date) that is posted on the web faithfully duplicates the exact wording of considerable parts of my rough draft essay "A Chronological History of Babylonian Astronomy" which has been posted at my web site since 2005. In June 2013 I noticed the essay "Astronomy at Mesopotamian Region (3000BC-1400AC)" by Hamid Al-Naimiy had been presented at a professional conference and published in: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Solar Physics and Solar Eclipses (SPSE 2006), edited by Renzo Ramelli et al. (2007; Pages 143-151). With only minor formatting changes it faithfully duplicates the exact wording of considerable parts of my rough draft essay "A Chronological History of Babylonian Astronomy" which has been posted at my web site (Page 9k) since 2005. No reference is made to my webpage site.

In a different vein: During 2007 I have also noticed that some web sites, including Wikipedia, are referencing old pages/page numbers that I have reorganised and expanded and I am currently referencing differently i.e., I have changed the page numbers. A disadvantage of the web is that discarded web pages continue to have existence.

During 2008 I noticed that planetarios.com was reproducing at least two of my essays without permission. In each case they have replaced my essay title and introductory paragraph with their own. My essay "The decan stars" appears under the heading "Egyptian Constellations - Body Cylinder" and my essay "Denderah zodiac" appears under the heading "Astronomical Ceiling of Hathor Temple at Dendera." (During September 2009 I noticed that they have placed more of their own material in amongst my articles. They are now mixing my 2 separate essays as one essay. My copyright notice is not reproduced and my name is modified to Gary Thompson. Their webpage design for the articles also closely mimics mine.) I have also noticed another web site has placed its own copyright on an illustration of K 8538 taken (and reduced in size) from my web site (Page 11-9), that I scanned from the original publication. My understanding is the copyright for the drawing of K 8538 is still very much held by the British Museum. At Astrologer's Community a person calling himself Oonah posted, on 13 July, 2007, considerable parts of my essay "The Origin of the Zodiac," and references extracted from my other pages, without acknowledgment that it was not his own research or material. Phil Norfleet, who has a somewhat mystical web page on Giorgio de Santillana (Platonism, Paganism and Early Christianity), is utilising, without credit or authorisation, the portrait of de Santillana I have posted at my website with the written permission of the copyright holder (and identifies the material at his website as Copyright/All Rights Reserved). Inspiration for other material relating to Giorgio de Santillana (immigration to USA) and Dorothy Tilton/de Santillana (their marriage) also appears to originate from my website and my research.

In January 2009 it came to my attention that the Australian eBay member/seller "pablitoxxx" loosely credits me for descriptive information he posted on K 8538; a replica of which he was auctioning (and which was sold in November, 2008). My web page (Page 11-9) is not cited and "pablitoxxx" fails to disclose that he has mixed his own uninformed and sensational statements (supporting a likely Sumerian origin for K 8538) with the information he has used from my website page on K 8538, without my cooperation, knowledge, or consent. It can be erroneously inferred that I support a Sumerian origin for K 8538 when in actual fact half of my web page on K 8538 argues against this claim. "pablitoxxx" is Paul White and as late as August 2009 he continues to make and auction copies of K 8538 (or simply sells them for $40 each) in a sensationalist context, using E-Bay (and mondovista.com), and misusing material from my web site (even to the point of suggesting that I actively provided him with information). In May, 2011, I noted the website is now viewzone.com, and is still making unauthorised use of my website material with their own statements added to infer I support a Sumerian origin for K 8538. (The internet is not called the 'web of a billion lies' for nothing!) It seems the intent is solely to raise interest in the item and thus influence bidding price. I neither endorse or recommend his replicas. On the Contents page of his journal The Babylonian Sky Observer, Volume 4, November, 2008, Rumen Kolev states: "All photos and articles are by me, Rumen Kolev, unless otherwise stated." Underneath appears: "Front Cover Outside: Kugler Franz Xaver and the Title Page of his famous book." Apart from the name being correctly Franz Xaver Kugler the portrait photograph of Kugler used originates from my web site, Page 11-37, and this could have been easily acknowledged. The large photograph of Gudea Cylinder A appearing at www.scribd.com (in relation to Zeccharia Sitchin's Sumerian astronomy nonsense), uploaded in 2008 and stated to be copyright free, originates from my web site, Page 1. I simply enlarged a small photograph which the Louvre Museum holds the copyright for. In March, 2009 I noticed that the description of the Denderah zodiac posted at the Museum Store Company (advertising an: Egyptian mirror, zodiac of Denderah) duplicates considerable sections of my description of the Denderah zodiac, Page 11-20.

At the end of April, 2009 I discovered that my biographical entry on Abraham Sachs (Page 9i) appears, with very minor alterations only, at the Cyber Witchcraft.com website (http://www.cyberwitchcraft.com/abraham-sachs.html) of the "Rev. Ken Biles," along with his claim for copyright of the material! ("All Content and Images Copyright© 2008-2011 CyberWytch LLC") He also falsely claims copyright for the small photograph of Abraham Sachs (which actually originates from A Scientific Humanist: Studies in Memory of Abraham Sachs (1988), and was likely taken from a Japanese web site) but the copyright for the text is mine. On his web site the "Rev. Ken Biles" even criticises copyists! At the end of May, 2009 I also noticed at MySpace.com Blogs that Boo Williams/House Music Lover posted, on 11 May, 2007, my complete essay "The Origin of the Zodiac" with my name and copyright notice removed, and without acknowledgment that it was not his own research or material. Further down his blog (though little seems to be penned by him) he acknowledges that the posted article " Halloween - Harmless Fun or Pagan Rituals" is authored by Ruth Gordon. (Following my complaint to MySpace.com the removal of my essay from Boo Williams' (so-called) music blog was achieved within 48 hours.) In late 2009 I also discovered my complete essay "The Origin of the Zodiac" with my name and copyright notice removed has appeared on Yahoo! Canada  "Answers" since circa 2006. 

My scan of Carl Bezold's portrait appears (slightly shortened) at the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative.

In January 2010 I noticed that the blog CosmicDiary.org (page dated November 30, 2009) by Italian astronomer Nando Patat is using the photograph of Giorgio de Santillana without permission or credit and J. P. Pellet at users.skynet.be is using the photographs of Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend (from Page 9j) without permission or credit. In May, 2010 I noticed that Wikiwak has lifted my entire essay "An Outline Sketch of the Origin and History of Constellations and Star-Names" and reproduced it elsewhere on the web, apparently to respond to a star name query regarding α Crucis. In July 2010 I noticed that 2 illustrations (and information in the captions) and some text in a recent astrological article (2009) by the Italian astrologer Lucia Bellizia (as originally presented at the Astrological Congress in Perugia that year) matched 2 illustrations (and the information in their captions or in part) and some text posted on several pages (11-14 Sphaera Barbarica and Sphaera Graecanica, 11-18 The decan stars) of my website. No acknowledgment was made. In July 2010 I noticed that at community.adlandpro.com.forums under PHILOXENIA-THE ZODIAC a person named Danielle, in 2007, ambiguously posted my entire essay on "The Origin of the Zodiac" with my name and copyright notice removed. The context of the posting implies it was her own work.

In August 2010 I noticed that the texts describing "Grotte de Lascaux, Hall of Bulls" and "Amulet made of sea urchin" in their "A list of supposedly astronomical representations" forming part of Pásztor, Emília and Priskin, Anna. (2010). "Celestial symbols revisited. Palaeolithic sky lore: fiction or fact?" (Congrčs de l’IFRAO, septembre 2010 – Symposium : Signes, symboles, mythes et idéologie. (Pré-Actes) / IFRAO Congress, September 2010 – Symposium: Signs, symbols, myth, ideology. Pleistocene art: the archaeological material and its anthropological meanings. (Pre-Acts)) exactly matches text posted at the time on Page 11-1. They mention the references I list for the information I give, without mentioning my webpage. In October 2010 I noticed the Wikipedia/commons.wikimedia.org/de.wikipedia.org has posted my scan of Franz Boll's portrait (without my knowledge, but citing my previous url; and dating it as circa 1910) claiming it is in the public domain because its copyright has expired. The source for my scan is the (undated) portrait of Franz Boll in Franz Boll: Kleine Schriften edited by Viktor Stegeman (1950). To my knowledge there is no other source for this portrait. A copyright notice for 1950 appears in the book. For a book published in Germany the copyright expires 70 years after the book was first published. I am the owner of the copy of Boll's portrait. The copyright is still owned by the book's publisher. Wikipedia/commons.wikimedia.org/de.wikipedia.org has misappropriated my image.

On February 16, 2011, I noticed that the Chinese website tanxiang1358.8008cn.net/t340-topic (an ancient history forum/blog) has reproduced entire sections my website text dealing with Babylonian constellations (some 2 separate pages or sections) without permission and with my name and copyright removed. On September 14 I noticed on Astrologers' Community at astrologyweekly.com that somebody calling themselves oonah posted (without credit) on 13/7/2007 a large section of material on the history of the zodiac taken from my website, along with references also taken from my website, and infers that it is his/her own research material. A few weeks earlier I noticed that the blog Kemetic History of Africa * Blue Lotus * has - on Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - reproduced my page on the Early Egyptian Constellations with my name (but not my website) and a question mark added in after the word Copyright.

In April 2012 I noticed that during 2010 at least one correspondent on the astrological discussion group/site Skyscript.co.uk reproduced material from my website as though it was his own. I also noticed that the rather strange Christian website TruthSeekerTimes.ca had - without my permission - edited my website page on The Origin of the Zodiac into a PDF file and placed it on their database. Whilst they retain my name and copyright they do not acknowledge my website as the source. I also noticed, October 2012, another site, incorporating the term 'elearning' has also reproduced my website page on "The Origin of the Zodiac." - dating to 2001 - as a document. During early November, 2012 I found that Page 9i is reproduced at http://archive.is/uX1v. At least it is the currently up-to-date version. In November 2012 the Saturnian Cosmology web site begun mirroring essay(s) from my web site; as example: "The Myth of Babylonian Knowledge of Precession." They have not sought permission to do so.

In January 2013 I came across the blog (by Crazy Ape ? at http://arinndembo.tumblr.com/) with the article "Fire in the Sky." It obviously borrows from my Page 11-9. (The illustration of K 8538 is taken (and reduced in size) from my web site.) However, in reusing material, the author seems confused on a number of issues - and quite unfamiliar with the material and arguments - and the article can be deemed unreliable. In April, 2013, I noticed that on December 30, 2006 at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/creation_evolution_debate/message/126078 'swimmingkang' posted, without credit, my Page 9i biography of Abraham Sachs.

In mid May 2013 I noticed that Mark, Moderator, of the astrology website Skyscript.co.uk, in his posting of Sunday, December 9, 2012, almost duplicates several sentences on the Sphaera Barbarica from Page 11-14. In early September 2013 I noticed that my essay on "The Origin of the Zodiac." had been reproduced by Danielle (Dany) on the PHILOXENIA forum website 11/17/2007 (17 November 2007), with my name and copyright notice removed, and infers that it is her own research material.

On July 22, 2014 I noticed that the website Covenant of Babylon (http://covenantofbabylon.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/mesopotamian-star-lists-and-star-names/, dated April 28, 2013) effectively reproduces my website page 9r "Mesopotamian Star Lists and Star Names in the First Millennium BCE" - slightly rearranged - with my name and copyright removed, and with preceding wording and post article wording 'by etluzini'  that can easily infer that it is the work of the website owner who calls himself etluzini (High Priest of the Covenant of Babylon). In early August 2014 I noticed that the website Nedim Çakan reproduces material from my Page 11-9 without acknowledgment.

Amazingly, some commercial sites are taking my web pages and charging a fee for others to access the material! Since circa 2014 Scribd - without my consent - has posted my material at its site and charges a subscription fee for access to it.

In mid December 2015 I came across the unauthorised use of Page 9n, with removal of my authorship and copyright, by Aallwinarts.com, Products/Antiques & Collectibles, Banglore, India; at: http://aallwinarts.com/Products/Antiques_&_Collectibles/IMAGES/fz%20banglore/pt/critique_of_clyde_hostetter.htm. What version they have I am a little unsure. Google now refers certain photographs included in my essay to their website.

On 4-March-2016 I came across the Blogspot "How to live like an Omani princess" (http://howtolivelikeanomaniprincess.blogspot.com.au/2015/03/omani-copper-why-hell-cant-i-find-made.html) and found 5 photographs of copper bowls obviously taken from my website page 9n. Four are photographs of Qajar period bowls but "Omani princess" has misidentified them as Omani copper work. Interestingly, the page carries the message: "Please be kind ... And please ask before taking any images off a post." On 9-March-2016 I noticed that a genealogy site for Carl Gottlieb Swartz (http://www.kbarosenius.se/Rank/p1846d49a.html) directly uses text from Page 11-34 without attribution. On 22-April-2016 I noticed that Gary Caton (http://www.dreamastrologer.com/images/Transit%20of%20Venus.pdf) reproduces some material regarding Frank Edge and his ideas from Page 11-1 of my website without attribution. I also noticed during August 2016 that the British writer Nicholas Mann in his imaginative book, Avebury Cosmos (2011) gives a fictional interpretation of one of my website essays that he mentions.

In January 2017 I noticed that a short Microsoft Powerpoint presentation titled "Ancient Astronomy" by anonymous (posted at https://artayim.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/ancient-astronomy1.pptx) uncritically combines material and illustrations from my website with material from other authors without anonymous apparently realising that s/he has created a mistaken perspective. People may even believe that I have no issues with the articles by John Rogers. The reader/audience has no immediate way of knowing that there are numerous problems with the now outdated 1998 2-part article "Origins of the Ancient Constellations" by John Rogers. My essay, "Some Critical Comments on "Origins of the Ancient Constellations" by John Rogers" was only placed on my website in 2010. My critique essay is posted at: http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/page9o.html

In mid January 2018 I noticed an unjustified rant - that includes extensive (mis)use of my material on the recovery of Babylonian astronomy - appears at: https://gayfundamentals.wordpress.com/15d-more-of-an-impression-of-how-theyre-actually-doing-it/ Apart from my name and the general title I use, no suitable identification of my material is given. Also, the extensive information taken from my website is 'jumbled' around.

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If you have any serious queries, comments, corrections, suggestions, or additional information you can easily reach me by email (see below).


"The history of the nomenclature for the stars and constellations is complex, involving Babylonian, Greek, Arabic, and medieval Latin translations. In many details, this history is imperfectly known. Devising constellations and naming stars are not, of course, scientific activities. But every culture in which a scientific astronomy developed did devote some effort to organizing the heaven into constellations. Perhaps this was a psychological requisite for scientific astronomy. And, of course, the zodiacal constellations provided a system of reference marks vital for the early investigations of the motions of the Moon and planets. (The History and Practice of Astronomy, by James Evans (1998, Page 39).)

"[T]he stars .... move extremely slowly in comparison with the sun and moon, as the old expression 'fixed stars' implies. They rise night after night at almost exactly the same position on the horizon. ... Looked at over a sufficiently long period of time, a slight motion of the stars does become apparent. The principal reason for this is not the movement of the stars themselves, but a motion of the earth called 'precession'. ... The declinations of the stars may also change as a result of their real motions in space relative to each other. This is normally a smaller effect than precession, but it is still important. Fortunately, the combined effect of these two motions can be calculated even for dates several millennia ago." (Megalithic Science, by Douglas Heggie (1981, Page 105).)

"The identification of ancient star-names with the modern names for fixed stars, planets, and constellations is problematic. The apparent positions of stars in the heavens have changed since antiquity, and many ancient constellations are no longer recognized. Furthermore, names of fixed-stars and constellations may have varied during ancient times, and constellations whose names remained constant, may have been composed of different stars in different periods or as viewed from different cities. Thus it is often best not to attempt precise identifications of ancient star-names with modern names." (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, by Wayne Horowitz (1998, Pages 153-154).)

"There is a long tradition of attempts to identify - with inadequate evidence - unknown constellations in other astronomical systems. These attempts are frequently reported at meetings, and occasionally appear in print. Interpreters typically begin with the premise that constellations we know have counterparts in other systems. In some cases this is so. Certain asterisms - the Pleiades, Orion's belt, the Big dipper (Plough), and a few others - are almost always singled out by everybody. After that, the picture is very muddy. Those who have studied constellations with discipline and a desire to discern genuine fact have understood that "tentative identities" based on loosely defined configurational relationships have very little value." (Posting: "Dr Krupp replies to Etz and Bauval," by Ed. Krupp, In the Hall of Ma'at, July 25, 2002.)

"Finally, we can test the extent to which some Babylonian constellations taken over by the Greeks retained their original shapes by comparing the data in the GU text with those in Ptolemy's star catalogue (Almagest VII-VIII)." (Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia, by Hermann Hunger and David Pingree (1999, Page 97).)


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