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

The scanned articles are believed to be free of copyright restrictions. If, however, I am advised otherwise the article(s) will be immediately removed.

Text on this page © 2013-2018 by Gary D. Thompson


Return To Site Contents Page


King, Leonard. (1913). "A Neo-Babylonian Astronomical Treatise in the British Museum and its Bearing on the Age of Babylonian Astronomy." (Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, January - December, Volume 35, Pages 41-46). [Note: The broad astronomical content and significance of the Mul.Apin series had been identified by the English assyriologists Archibald Sayce and Robert Bosanquet in a journal article published in 1880. The first part of the Mul.Apin series to be published was BM 86378 in Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum: Part XXXIII (Plates 1-8) by Leonard King (1912). This tablet, which was probably copied circa 500 BCE, was an almost complete copy of tablet 1. This article by the English assyriologist Leonard King drew attention to the importance of this text for identifying the Babylonian constellations. In the next two years numerous articles and books appeared that utilised its star list information in the attempt to identify the Babylonian constellations and the stars that comprised such.]


Scan One (1): Journal page 41.

Scan Two (2): Journal page 42.

Scan Three (3): Plate III.

Scan Four (4): Journal page 43.

Scan Five (5): Journal page 44.

Scan Six (6): Journal page 45.

Scan Seven (7): Journal page 46.


Return to top of page.


The scanned articles are believed to be free of copyright restrictions. If, however, I am advised otherwise the article will be immediately removed.


Return To Site Contents Page


Martiny, Günter. (1940). "The Orientation of the Gimilsin Temple and the Palace Chapel." (In: Frankfort, Henri, Lloyd, Seton, and Jacobsen, Thorkild.The Gimilsin Temple and the Palace of the Rulers at Tell Asmar. [Note: The prominent German architect (and co-editor of the journal Architectura) Günter Martiny contributed the 6-page Chapter III. This short Chapter is the only English-language exposition of Günter Martiny's views that Babylonian and Assyrian temples were astronomically oriented. During the 1930s Günter Martiny had investigated Mesopotamian temple architecture and in a number of publications (including his doctoral dissertation) offered evidence (effectively criticised since) for an ongoing system of their astronomical alignment. Basically being oriented with reference to the constellations appropriate to their guardian or protector deities. The inclusion of this Chapter by Günter Martiny in a book issued by the prestigious Oriental Institute in Chicago demonstrates that the subject of the possible astronomical orientation of Mesopotamian temples was still current by at least circa 1940.]

--------------------------------------------------

From Page 7 of my website:

Martiny, Günter. (1932). Die Kultrichtung in Mesopotamien. [Note: Basically the publication of the authors doctoral thesis (for the Technical College of Berlin). (Dissertation zur Erlangung der Würde eines Doktor-Ingenieurs der Technischen Hochschule zu Berlin vorgelegt am 15. Februar 1932.) In his doctoral thesis/this monograph he claimed to have determined some of the stars used by the ancient Mesopotamians to orient their temples. (After gaining his PhD Martiny only rarely used the title "Doctor.") The author offers (flimsy) evidence that Neo-Babylonian temples were oriented with reference to the constellations appropriate to their tutelary deities. See the extensive (German-language) reviews by Anon in Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, 1934, Number 4, Columns 218-232; by Paul Neugebauer and Albert Schott in Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Verwandte Gebiete, Volume 42, 1934, Pages 198-217; and the entry in Astronomischer Jahresbericht, Volume 34, 1932, Page 12. (Martiny (Architectura, 1. Jahrgang, Heft 6, Page 236) mentions a review by Viktor Christian in Architectura, 1. Jahrgang, Heft 1 (Number 311 in the Bibliography)) but I cannot presently access this journal. Also, see the review/critique of Die Kultrichtung in Mesopotamien by Franz Weissbach in OLZ, Band 37, 1934, Columns 218-232. In his doctoral dissertation (published in 1932 as Die Kultrichtung in Mesopotamien) Martiny described in detail the methods upon which he believed they based the orientation of their temples. In his thesis Martiny tabulated the orientation of Assyrian temples for which the dates of foundation could be established (the oldest being circa 1800 BCE). Martiny maintained that Assyrian temples had been reconstructed (at least the foundations altered) during the period of their use; the orientations being varied according to the angle of the precession of the equinoxes. Günter Martiny believed that temple orientation to celestial phenomena began in Mesopotamia in the 3rd-millennium BCE and that by the 2nd-millennium BCE temples were oriented to specific stars, and the cult statue faced the direction of the rising star. According to Martiny the particular star would have heliacally risen on the Assyrian New Year. Günter Martiny believed he had found evidence that the orientation of a succession of Assyrian temples (of which the oldest date of foundation known is 1800 BCE) varies as a function of the angle of precession. (Martiny charted the changes of orientation of temples at Assur from 3000-500 BCE and believed he had identified a "steady" eastward movement in their orientations. His published chart indicates he examined the perceived "steady" eastward movement with changes in azimuths for β Andromedae.) According to Günter Martiny, Assyrian temples oriented to the southeast and Babylonian temples oriented to the northeast. In attempting to interpret Martiny's archaeological data Neugebauer and Schott initially proposed that Neo-Babylonian (i.e., Assyrian) temples were purposely directed towards the azimuth of the hour angle circle passing through the star alpha Virginis (Spica) and intersecting the horizon when the spring equinox is on the horizon. Both Paul Neugabauer (an astronomer) and Albert Schott (an Assyriologist) supported the temple-orientation theory of Günter Martiny.  (As a result of his review of Dr. Günter Martiny's work on the survey of Assyrian sanctuaries, Professor P. V. Neugebauer, (Observatory at the Rechen-Institut in Berlin-Dahlem), believed he had discovered that all Assyrian Temples, from 2930 BCE to 603 BCE, whose foundation dates were recorded, were oriented at dawn on 1st Nisan to the point of intersection with the horizon of a great circle of the sphere, passing through the stars Eta Ursae Majoris (η Ursae Majoris (Ursa Major)) (Eta Ursae Majoris has the traditional names Alkaid (or Elkeid) and Benetnash (Benetnasch)), and Spica.) Neugebauer later discarded this explanation when he could not find evidence that the star alpha Virginis (Spica) had importance in Mesopotamian astronomy. The competent German amateur astronomer and historian of early astronomy Robert Böker disagreed with the alpha Virginis (Spica) explanation given by Neugebauer and Schott. Böker suggested an alternative hypothesis based on the azimuth of the descent of the star alpha Crucis and showed that it had better agreement with the reputed dates and axis azimuths of the temples. (In his short pamphlet Berechnungen zur vorgriechischen Astronomie (1948) Robert Böker showed that in antiquity there was no competent way to determine the equinoctial point with sufficient accuracy or to fix the azimuth of the intersection.) However, Neugebauer's changed explanation held that a clearly recognisable line is formed by the stars alpha Cassiopeiae, eta Cephei, beta Ursae Minoris, alpha Draconis, eta Ursae Majoris, and eta Virginis, and this line formed the meridian used in the centuries before and after circa 3000 BCE, as the basis for the orientation of Neo-Babylonian (Assyrian) temples. (The astronomical orientation, but not precessional re-alignment, of Mesopotamian temples was considered by some 19th-century excavators and briefly considered in Stonehenge and Other British Stone Monuments Astronomically Considered by Norman Lockyer (1906, Chapter XXIX A Short History of Astronomy).) The thesis of Martiny is based on figures from Warka that were later seriously questioned. (Babylonian and Assyrian 'temple sites' included in his study were Uruk (Southern Iraq), Tell El-'Obēd (Tell el-'Ubaid) ) (Southern Iraq), Tepe Gawra (Northwest Iraq), and Assur (on the upper Tigris River in Iraq). One of the methodological issues with the figures produced by Martiny is that he charted the orientation of the Gimilsin Temple and the Palace Chapel according to True Magnetic North rather than True North and he made adjustments accordingly. Also, he gave no explanatory information regarding the data on the orientation of the other temples included in his orientation chart. Further, the "orientation chart," whilst showing the eastward movement of the Assur temples and β Andromedae, is somewhat vague. (There is no persuasive evidence that Mesopotamian temples, of any period, were systematically aligned to any directions.) Circa 1986 Asger Aaboe advised that Martiny's claims were purely hypothetical and that still today nothing is known about if and how the ancient Mesopotamians used astronomy to orient their temples. (See: Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie oriental, Tomes 80-81, 1986, Page 39.) The topic of temple orientation has never gained popularity in Assyriology. Martiny's ideas on temple orientation are briefly noted by the assyriologist William Hallo in his book Origins: The Ancient Near Eastern Background of Some Modern Western Institutions (1996, Page 84). As it is extremely difficult to obtain any biographical information on Günter Martiny I have chosen to go into some detail here. (Only recently, November, 2010, after years of systematic searching, have I located a source that provides core biographical details.) Günter Martiny (1903-1980) was a German architect (and building archaeologist or excavation architect) who specialized in ancient and medieval building archaeology. (I have seen 1908 offered as his year of birth.) (In one publication he is referred to as Architekt [i.e., Architect] Dr. Günther Martiny. His name appears mispelled as Günther instead of Günter in a few publications.) Gunter Martiny's early work involved the investigation of the construction and alignment of Mesopotamian temples. At some time (likely the mid 1930s) he changed his attention to Islamic/Byzantine architecture. He was a member of the German Archaeological Institute [Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts] (at least during the 1930s). He was, it appears, also connected with the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. There is reason to believe that in 1929 he was practicing as an architect (whose designs were highly regarded) in Dresden, Germany. When he began (sharing) editing/publishing the journal Architectura (with Leo Adler) he was residing in Berlin. (He was residing in Berlin at least by circa 1933. He may have also (briefly) resided in Munich.) I have also seen him referred to as an engineer but this is incorrect. (In several publications briefly mentioning him the terms Diplomingenieurs, Architekten Dipl.-Ing and Architekten Dr.-Ing., Berlin, are used (the latter obviously identifying this qualification was obtained in Berlin). At that period of time the German Diplom-Ingenieur (Dipl.-Ing.) was the equivalent of a M.S. degree. It is an engineering degree in the sense that technical studies were undertaken. In more modern terms he had a Diplom-Ingenieur der Architektur [Architekten] which is a Master of Architecture (Degree).) His Dr.-Ing. is obviously his PhD qualification. (His Dipl, Ing., was awarded 1927, Dresden; his Dr.ing [PhD] was awarded 1932, Berlin.) Amongst other things he was an architectural historian. He was interested in the (sacred) architecture of ancient Mesopotamia (at least during his younger days). For his doctoral dissertation he went to Mesopotamia as a member of the German expedition to Warka [= ancient Uruk] to specifically study the architecture of the ancient temples and buildings, and investigate the astronomical orientations of the temples. At least those temples for which foundation dates could be established. This particular German expedition was conducted from 1929 until 1934. (This expedition included the assyriologist Albert Schott (Privatdozenten für Assyriologie an der Universität Bonn).) (The German Research Foundation (Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft getragen) at one time also supported excavations at Warka. However, I am presently unsure of the years.) For the period 1928/1929 Martiny obtained a full scholarship (travel grant) from the German Archaeological Institute (DAI). Since 1859 the DAI allocated an annual grant for the promotion of young academics in archaeology and its neighboring sciences. In general, the focus was classical antiquity and the Mediterranean region, but also included the Middle East. (Other recipients for that period were Christoph Albrecht, Walter Hahland, Hans Bach Klum, Harald Koethe, William Kraiker, and Emil Kunze. (The duration of the scholarship is usually one year but can be extended in justified exceptions for a further one year.) The purpose was to assist scholars/students under 30 years to gain an impression of the countries and cultures, but especially get experience of the archaeological and historical sites and artifacts. During the time he was a member of this expedition he also spent time at Assur with the Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft. Along with Leo Adler he was an editor/publisher of the journal Architectura: Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Aesthetik der Baukunst. This journal first began publication in 1933. Leo Adler, a prominent German voice in architectural discussion between 1918 and 1926, could be described as an architectural theorist. Martiny was an admirer of Wilhelm Dörpfeld (1853-1940), the German archaeologist who was a specialist in ancient Greek architecture. He organised and contributed to the publication Wilhelm Dörpfeld: Festschrift zum 80 (1933). (It was William Dörpfeld who took the first steps to answer the questions of whether Odysseus' Ithaca can be found and whether it even actually existed. His excavations on Ithaca were largely financed by a wealthy Dutch gentleman, Adrian Goekoop. In his 2004 paper "Mapping Homer’s Odyssey" Armin Wolf states: "Nevertheless, in 1925, even the distinguished archaeologist Wilhelm Dörpfeld, drew a map of Homer's world in which Ulysses reached not only Tunisia (Lotos-Eaters, Cyclops) and Italy (Thrinakia), but also the southernmost point of Africa where he located the port Telepylus in the land of the Laestrygonians and -like Eumaios- "Aiaia," the island of Circe.") From the majority of his publications Günter Martiny can be considered a specialist in Mesopotamian temple architecture. It appears that Martiny was, at least prior to World War II, a significant shareholder in the specialist glassworks manufacturer, S[amuel]. Reich & Company, Zawiercie, Poland. In 1936 his small but detailed book (176 pages) Die Piyale Pasha Moschee was published. It is considered to be an exhaustive study of the construction and decoration of this 6-domed mosque. He also published another small book, titled Istanbul, in the same year. In 1936 his article "Die Piyale Pas͟ha Moschee." was published in Ars Islamica, Volume 3, Number 2, Pages 131-171. A large portion of the journal Asia and the Americas, Volume 37, Issues 1-6, 1937, is given to an article by Günter Martiny on the Piyale Pasha Mosque in Istanbul, with plans, diagrams and architectural details. During the 1940s he focused on Byzantine architecture. (For a time in the 1950s he lived in Istanbul. However, he worked in Turkey earlier than this date. He was in Istanbul in 1940.) His later work involved the investigation of medieval Ottoman mosque architecture. His involvement in this latter work would place him within the job category of an excavation architect. (Circa 1937 he worked as an archaeologist and architect on the excavation of Justinian's palace (built circa mid-5th-century CE) in Istanbul.) In 1948 (or earlier?) he wrote the 30 page (?) article Die Ausgrabungen im byzantinischen Kaiserpalast, Istanbul. In the late 1930's he appears to have resided (for a time) in England. From 1935 through 4 seasons to the summer of 1938 he was part of a British (or rather international, as a Turkish archaeologist was also included) archaeological 'dig,' led by Professor J. H. Baxter of St Andrews University (as Director of Excavations). (One source indicates that at some time, possibly in the 1930s, Martiny was also involved at a 'dig' at Tell Asmar, the mound being the site of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Eshnunnu (located in the Diyala Plain of Iraq). Also, another source located him in Istanbul in 1936, which would be the St Andrews University 'dig.'.) On this Istanbul 'dig' Baxter was Director of Excavations and Martiny was Field Director. The first part of the report of these 4 seasons of archaeological excavations (1935-1938) was published in 1947 as The Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors (108 pages). The 2 young British scholars on this excavation were Robert Stevenson and Gérard Brett. Some details of an archaeological expedition involving Baxter and Martiny are contained in Sir David Russell: A Biography by Lorn Macintyre (1994). This is likely the Istanbul expedition. (In the book Günter Martiny is described as an archaeologist and architect. It is also mentioned that at one excavation of a building in 1948(?) the work of describing the excavation of the building was Günter Martiny's.) David Russell was a Fife paper manufacturer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and benefactor. He had a deep interest in history, archaeology, etc. and was a founding member of the National Trust for Scotland. David Russell (partly?) financed an archaeological 'dig' at Arasta Sokak, North Nicosia, Cyprus. On this 'dig' Günter Martiny sent a damning report on Baxter to David Russell headed "Professor Baxter is incapable of directing the excavation in the Arasta-Sokak." Apparently Baxter never found it easy to work with others and at one excavation at least there were clashes with members of the 'dig.' At this period of time Istanbul (Constantinople) was a magnet for archaeologists and art historians. Up to this period very little field-work had been carried out in Istanbul. (A source has indicated that in the early(?), mid(?) or late 1930s(?) Günter Martiny appears to have come under the scrutiny of the German SS. By early 1935 the 'racial content' of his lectures were under the scrutiny of the 'Racial Expert' at the Ministry of the Interior(/SS). (See: Prähistoire und Nationalsozialismus (2002) by Achim Leube and Morten Hegewisch.) Another source indicates he was concealing certain information from them (marriage details(?). This is indicated as part reason for his emigration.) In 1935 Martiny emigrated from Germany (in the sense that he permanently resided elsewhere for nearly half a decade. However, he seems to have remained employed by/connected with the German Archaeological Institute [Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts]. (He was a member of the German Archaeological Institute at least up until World War II.) His residence for approximately 5 years was likely divided between Turkey and the United Kingdom. (For 4 years he was involved in archaeological excavation work in Turkey, and then for 2-3 years he lived in London.) From 1938 to circa 1940 he was in London. In late 1939 he returned to Germany. From 1939 to circa 1947 he served as a soldier in the German army and became a prisoner-of-war. In 1946 he lectured at the Theological Seminary in Rimini, Italy. From 1949 to 1953 he was secretary of the YMCA in Nürnberg (Nuremberg), Bavaria. He then worked there as an Architekt and remained in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) for the rest of his life. (Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 100, 1950, gives his address as Frauentorgraben 19, Nürnberg. This is in downtown Nürnberg where (at least presently) the Museum complex is located. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volumes 102-103, 1952, gives his address as Bleichstrasse 16, Nürnberg. Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft. Volume 92, 1966, indicates that Martiny may have returned to Istanbul in 1966 at least.) It appears that from 1953 onwards he began working in his own (self-employed) business in Nürnberg (Nuremberg) as an Architect. Interestingly, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 93, 1966, mentions "Herr Dr. Günter Martiny, 31, Bedford Way, London, W.C. l." Likely his last published article on Babylonian temples was "Das stabhaltende Tonmannchen in den ziegelkapseln babylonischer Tempel (Jahrbuch für kleinasiatische Forschung [Heidelberg], Volume 3, 1959, Pages 235-243). The last article by Günter Martiny that I can identify is "Wiederaufbau des Bergsfrieds Schloßberg bei Osternohe." in Mitteilungen der Altnürnberger Landschaft (abbreviation: MittAltnürnbergerLandschaft), Band 17, 1968, Page 68. The planned publication of Assur- und Sin-Samai-Tempel in Assur by Walter Andrae, Günter Martiny, and Ernest Heinrich (identified as in preparation in 1941) was never finalised by these authors. However, in 1955 A. Haller and W. Andrae published "Die Heiligtümer des Gottes Assur- und Sin-Samai-Tempel in Assur." (Wissenschaftliche Veroffentlichung der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft (WVDOG), Band 67). Also see his article: "Astronomisches zum Babylonischen Turm, 11 bis." (Mitteilungen der Deutschen Orient Gesellschaft (MDOG), Number 71, 1932). Life dates for Günter Martiny: 1903-1980.]


Scan One (1): Book page 92.

Scan Two (2): Book page 93.

Scan Three (3): Book page 94.

Scan Four (4): Book page 95.

Scan Five (5): Book page 96.


Return to top of page.


The scanned articles are believed to be free of copyright restrictions. If, however, I am advised otherwise the article will be immediately removed.


Return To Site Contents Page


Hogg, Helen. (1950). "Out of Old Books - The Constellations." (Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Volume 44, October, Pages 196-201). [Note: Helen Hogg (1905-1993) was an accomplished astronomer. She was the first student of Shapley's to study global star clusters and she soon became an expert in the field. In the early 1930s she moved from the USA to permanent residence in Canada with her first husband Frank Hogg, a Canadian astronomer. Frank Hogg died in 1951 and decades later in 1985 she remarried. Her early astronomical work involved her travelling to Arizona and Texas for observations. She held a teaching position at the University of Toronto from 1941. In 1957 she became full professor at the University of Toronto, a position which she held until 1976. Helen Hogg wrote numerous popular articles on astronomy. Her articles appeared in The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in a section called "Out of Old Books" and in a newspaper column "With the Stars" in the the Toronto Star, from 1951 to 1981.]


Scan One (1): Journal page 196.

Scan Two (2): Journal page 197.

Scan Three (3): Journal page 198.

Scan Four (4): Journal page 199.

Scan Five (5): Journal page 200.

Scan Six (6): Journal page 201.


Return to top of page.


This web page was last updated on: Saturday, June 1, 2013, 8.30 pm.


This web page was created using Arachnophilia 4.0 and FrontPage 2003.


You can reach me here by email (but first delete the obvious attempt in the email address to foil the spammers): garyREMOVE.thompson10@bigpond.com


Return To Site Contents Page