Episodic Survey of the History of the Constellations


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E: Late Mesopotamian Constellations

7: Babylonian star calendars

Tabular Astrolabe B (VAT 9416 (KAV 218) dating to the 12th-century BCE). Astrolabe B is the main example of the "3 stars each" genre (a tabular/rectangular astrolabe). Astrolabe B is not exclusively nor primarily an astronomical document. Astrolabe B is a multifunctional text - serving as an astronomical treatise as well as a theological treatise. It is more strongly a theological treatise. The astronomical content of Astrolabe B is highly schematised. Astrolabe B was composed in the same political context as Enūma eliš and reflects the victory of Nebuchadnezzar I over Elam circa 1100 BCE. The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz, an expert on Mesopotamian "astrolabes," states (1998, Page 157): "Although Astrolabe B (KAV 218), the earliest known example of the "Astrolabes," is found on a Middle Assyrian tablet, it is probable that the first "Astrolabe" was composed no later than the Middle Assyrian Period and perhaps as early as the Old Babylonian Period." (See the detailed discussion: Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (1998, Pages 157-161.) Within his discussion Horowitz makes the point that the earliest surviving evidence for month-stars and for the division of the sky into 3 paths belonging to Anu, Enlil, and Ea is found in the Middle Babylonian Prayer to the Gods of the Night from Boghqazkoi (KUB 4 47) dated to the 13th-century BCE, and the Middle Assyrian star-catalogue from Nippur (HS 1897). A Middle Babylonian or older origin for the first Astrolabe is indicated by evidence provided by the Babylonian fragment VAS 24 120 and KAV 218. The tablet containing "Astrolabe B," VAT 9416 (KAV 218) dates to the 12th-century BCE. The Middle Babylonian Period falls within the years 1600–900 BCE.

 Late 19th-century drawing by the British assyriologist Theophilus Pinches of the obverse and reverse sides of the circular Babylonian star calendar fragment/"astrolabe" SM 162 from (from CT 33 11) in the British Museum. (Obverse fragment on left and reverse fragment on right.) The fragment was recovered from Nineveh. The fragment is on display in the British Museum, London. Multiple fragments of late 2nd-millennium circular star calendars are in the British Museum collection. (Two of the fragments of circular astrolabes in the British Museum can be joined.) Unfortunately it appears some of these fragments can no longer be located within the collection of cuneiform material. Extant circular exemplars include: CT 33 11 (= Sm. 162) and CT 33 12 (= K. 14943 +); extant list (tabular) exemplars: KAV 218 (= VAT 9461), LBAT 1499 (= 34713) and LBAT 1500 (= BM 34387). Also, BM 82923. This late 1st millennium BCE star catalogue preserves identification of Astrolabe month-stars. The stellar system that lies at the core of the Astrolabe: 36 stars rise in sequence, 3 stars per month (each star in a different stellar path in the sky), over an annual (ideal) 360-day year circuit. However, the empirical structure of the astrolabe was subject to divinatory beliefs. A fragment is signed by the scribe Nab-Zuqup-Kenu, who lived during the reigns of Sargon II (720-704 BCE) and Sennacherib (703-680 BCE).

The so-called astrolabes constitute a fundamental corpus of early Babylonian astronomical texts. The star calendar/"astrolabe" genre first appeared in tabular form and then later in circular form. According to the assyriologists Wayne Horowitz and David Brown, the Mesopotamian 'astrolabes' (only) purport to name the 36 stars that define the 12 months of the schematic (ideal) astronomical year by the method of identifying 1 star for each month in each of the 3 stellar paths. The use of the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter as month-stars in the astrolabes is problematic. It may indicate the astrolabes were intended to be used for a single year or that the gods associated with the planets (at least Inanna/Venus and Marduk/Jupiter) had important roles in New Year ceremonies. The empirical structure of the astrolabes was subject to divinatory beliefs.

These circular star calendars are popularly but erroneously called "astrolabes" or "planispheres" but correctly are calendars related to the tradition of the ideal astronomical year (of 360 days) and have the Babylonian title mul.meš.3.ta.àm (= "the stars, three of each"). (See CT 33, Plate 12.) Wayne Horowitz has succinctly explained (The Encyclopedia of Ancient History): "The term "Astrolabe," as it is used in the context of ancient Mesopotamian astronomy, is a misnomer, having no relation to the antique astronomical instrument of the same name." The star calendars ("astrolabes") were closely related to the tradition of the ideal astronomical year of 12 months x 30 days each. Their apparent purpose is to identify stars that rose each month in the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. As such they list 36 month-stars, one for each Path every month. The name "Astrolabe" originates with George Smith's description of Sm. 162 (as it was later registered at the British Museum) on pages 407-408 of his book, Assyrian Discoveries (1875).

By convention is it usual to call examples of Mesopotamian star calendars 'astrolabes.' (A true astrolabe is used to measure the angular height of a celestial object.) It is not correct to call examples of Mesopotamian star calendars 'planispheres.' The astrolabes are not actually planispheric. They are not a star chart representing a sphere or part of a sphere on a plane surface. Astrolabes are not planispheres, and planispheres are not astrolabes. The function of an 'astrolabe' is to 'depict' the entire sky over the course of a schematic (model) year. Examples of Mesopotamian astrolabes are Astrolabe B (tabular), Astrolabe Z (tabular), K 14943 + 81-7-27, 94 (= 1881,0727.94) (circular), and SM. 162 (circular). (The tabular astrolabes have multicolumn text.) The only 2 surviving planispheres known are K 8538, and a Neo-Babylonian tablet (from Sippar) showing the ziqpu (zenith) stars. Both of these planispheres are disk-shaped, both divide the circles of the sky into equal parts, and both make use of dots to represent stars. The astrolabes map out stars (and even planets) and constellations in various parts of the sky for the 12 months of the ideal (schematic) year. This is either done by: (1) use of a diagrammatic form (i.e., astrolabe), or (2) by listing. The star calendars are an example of simple mathematical astronomy. Their functions are to: (1) correlate the heliacal risings of chosen stars with calendar dates; and (2) set out a numerical system for estimating the changing length of day hours and night hours throughout the year. Johannes Koch made the point that the purpose of the circular astrolabe was: (1) an orientation guide, and (2) an aid to remembering which stars appear in particular parts of the sky.

The stars visible in the Babylonian night sky were originally divided into into 3 paths (ways) = the night sky was divided into 3 parts = northern, central, and southern regions. The stars of the path of Enlil in the northern region of the sky are, in modern terms, estimated to be within + 17 degrees of declination north. The stars of the path of Ea in the southern region of the sky are, in modern terms estimated to be within - 17 degrees of declination south. The stars of the path of Anu, located between the north and south paths, in the central region (but not strictly an equatorial band), are in modern terms, estimated to be within + 17 degrees of declination north and - 17 degrees of declination south. This system originated in the Old Babylonian period and continued until the Neo-Babylonian period.

Circular star calendar (astrolabe) fragments in the British Museum:

SM 162 is a copy of an older text. The text in the British Museum is a copy by Nabû-zuqup-kēnu. He was a scribe who flourished during the reigns of Sargon II (720-704 BCE) and Sennacherib (703-680 BCE). The information contained on SM 162 probably dates back to circa 1100 BCE.

Three circular star calendar fragments (apparently not all presently locatable) are briefly described in the Catalogue of the Cuneiform Tablets of the Kouyunjik Collection of the British Museum by Carl Bezold (5 Volumes; 1889-1899):

The description of Fragment Sm. 162 (in Volume IV. Page 1385) is: "Portion of the section of a sphere or astrolabe, 2 9/16 in. by 2 in.; 7/8 in. high. The flat side is inscribed with the names of the months, names and figures of certain stars and numbers of certain degrees." (See also CT 33 11.)

The description of Fragment Number 83-1-18, 608 (Page 1904) is: "Portion of a sphere or astrolabe, 2 3/8 in. by 1 5/16 in.; 5/8 in. high. The flat side appears to have been inscribed with the names and figures of certain stars." (See also CT 33 12.) (Astrolabe K = K 14943 (+) 83-1-18, 608 (CT 33 12).)

The description of Fragment Number 81-07-27, 94 (Page 1803) is: "Portion of a sphere or astrolabe, 3 3/4 in. by 2 1/8 in.; 1 in. high. The flat side appears to have been inscribed with the names of the months, and names and figures of certain stars."

Modern descriptions by the British Museum of the circular star calendar fragments in its possession are:

(1) BM registration number: SM 162; clay tablet, fragment, length: 6.35 centimetres, width: 5.71 centimetres, acquired by BM in 18??; excavated by George Smith; excavated/findspot - Kouyunjik (Niniveh); associated with library of Ashurbanipal; period/culture - Neo-Assyrian (circa 911-612 BCE); fragment of a circular clay tablet with a record of constellations (planisphere), 4 curved + 13 lines of inscription and diagram.

(2) BM registration number: 83-1-18, 608; clay tablet, fragment; length: 6.03 centimetres, width: 3.49 centimetres; acquired by BM in 1883; excavated by Hormuzd Rassam; excavated/findspot - Kouyunjik (Niniveh); associated with library of Ashurbanipal; period/culture - Neo-Assyrian (circa 911-612 BCE); part of a circular clay tablet listing constellations (planisphere), 4 lines of (cuneiform) inscription; language: Akkadian; part of same tablet as joined fragments K 14943 + 1881-07-27, 094 (= 1881,0727.94).

(3) BM registration number: 81-7-27, 94 (= 1881,0727.94); clay tablet, fragment [joined with K 14943, described below]; length: 8.89 centimetres, width: 5.39 centimetres; acquired by BM in 1881; excavated by Hormuzd Rassam; excavated/findspot - Kouyunjik (Niniveh); library of Ashurbanipal; period/culture - Neo-Assyrian (circa 911-612 BCE); fragment part of a (circular) clay tablet, part of a planisphere, 3 lines of (cuneiform) inscription; language: Akkadian. 

(4) BM registration number: K 14943; clay tablet, fragment, joined with fragment 1881-07-27, 094 (= 1881,0727.94); K 14943 length: 4.12 centimetres, K 14943 width 4.44 centimetres, acquired by BM in 1881; excavated by Leonard King;  excavated/findspot - Kouyunjik (Niniveh); library of Ashurbanipal; period/culture - Neo-Assyrian (circa 911-612 BCE); fragments part of a (circular) clay tablet, part of a planisphere, 5 lines of (cuneiform) inscription, language: Akkadian; curator's comments: part of same tablet as 1883,0118.608 (= 83-01-18, 608).

However, according to Wayne Horowitz (The Three Stars Each (2014)), to date only 3 fragments of circular astrolabes have been recovered from 2 surviving original examples, both dating to the Neo-Assyrian period.

"The division of the heavens into three 'paths' (KASGAL) is found already in second-millennium texts and acts as the principal way of categorizing stars in second millennium and early first-millennium texts such as MUL.APIN, the so-called 'Astrolabes', and omens from Enūma Anu Enlil , as well as literary texts. No text explicitly states that the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea together comprise the entire sky. As first recognized by Bezold, the stars in the path of Anu rise in a region extending about 15 degrees north and south of the east-west line, those in the path of Enlil rise above the horizon to the north of this, and those in the path of Ea to the south of it. The three paths were interpreted by Weidner, Schaumberger (who increased the boundaries of the path of Anu to about 17 degrees), and others as extending in declination bands stretching across the sky. By contrast, Pingree has argued that the three paths did not cover the whole sky but instead were conceived of only as arcs along the horizon over which stars and planets rise or set. Lambert and Horowitz, however, have argued from literary evidence than the three paths were indeed considered to cross the sky from east to west. ("Celestial Measurement in Babylonian Astronomy." by John Steele (Annals of Science, Volume 64, Number 3, 2007, Pages 293-325.) The accepted identification of the Three Ways is: Enlil (god of the earth) = North; Anu (god of the sky) = Central; and Ea (god of the water) = South. However, at time, some authors identify differently. In Mesopotamian Astrology (1995) Ulla Koch has: Ea = North; Anu = Central; and Enlil = South. In Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (1999) Wayne Horowitz has: Anu = North; Enlil = Central; and Ea = South.

A 1934 reconstruction of a Babylonian circular star calendar by the German Assyriologist Albert Schott. Fragments only of these clay discs were found in Ashurbanipal's library. The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz, an expert on astrolabes - he has been studying them for some 2 decades - states the astrolabe group of tablets never reached a canonical form. Competing versions circulated. "For the Astrolabes ... the group never reached a canonical form which could be passed down from generation to generation. Hence, the four sections of the earliest and most complete form of the Astrolabes, the so-called 12th-century Berlin Astrolabe, better known as Astrolabe B, never occur together on any earlier or later tablet belonging to the group, although each of the four sections survives separately into the first millennium." (Writing Science before the Greeks by Rita Watson and Wayne Horowitz (2011, Page 13).) (See also the (English-language) essay review, "What and How Can We learn from the Babylonian Astronomical Compendium MUL.APIN?" by Liz Brack-Bersen in Annals of Science, Volume 69, Issue ?, 2012, Pages 1-5.)

The last centuries of the 2nd-millennium BCE gave rise to the Astrolabe tradition. The so-called astrolabes constitute a fundamental corpus of early Babylonian astronomical texts. The earliest exemplar originates from the Middle Assyrian period reign of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BCE). It is thought to be a copy from an earlier - perhaps Old Babylonian period - source. The particulat text was still being copied in the Seleucid period (circa 3rd-century BCE). It has been speculated by the assyriologist David Brown that the foundation of the Astrolabe tradition may go back to the 3rd-millennium BCE.

The circular Astrolabe (example: CT 33, 10) is a late 2nd-milennium BCE astronomical text. The Enuma Anu Enlil is a late 2nd-millennium BCE omen series comprising approximately 70 tablets. In the commentary to tablet 50 of this omen series the traditional gods Anu, Enlil, and Ea make the constellations. The Enuma Elish is a 1st-millennium BCE literary text/composition. The organisation of the sky and arrangement of the stars (i.e., per the Astrolabes) is done by Marduk, instead of Anu, Enlil, and Ea. In the Enuma Elish, the god Marduk arranges the stars in the sky in the image of the Astrolabes. In Ee V 3-4 Marduk drew boundary lines in the sky; an apparent reference to the boundary lines drawn on the circular astrolabes to divide the star paths of Anu, Enlil, and Ea. (Also, the 12 divisions of the year are the months of the schematic year, and not a reference to any zodiac or any zodiacal constellations.)

Examples of early Babylonian star calendars (so-called "astrolabes" (actually a modern misnomer), properly the Three Stars Each (kakkabū 3ta.am)) exist in both original circular form and later tabular (list) form. The confusing term "astrolabes" was introduced 1900 by the pioneering assyriologist Theophilus Pinches (likely because some texts are circular and therefore have a superficial resemblance to the modern astrolabe). However, the so-called Babylonian astrolabes are only diagrams, not observational instruments. Only 2 fragmentary examples of circular star calendars are known. Both date to the Neo-Assyrian period. A larger number of tabular star calendars exist. The theory of the Three Stars Each is briefly explained in KAV 218 D 13-36 (Astrolabe B), and the creation epic Enuma Elish V 1-8. The Three Stars Each group of texts date from the Kassite period.

The Babylonian circular astrolabes are a primitive type of schematized planisphere. (Simply (at face value) a crude star map on a clay disc, without a grid.) The early Babylonian "astrolabes" only list the names of selected constellations (and planets) that were placed into schematic arrangements. Thus they are not correctly/truly a planisphere. However, whilst the circular astrolabes are not planispheric they do, however, map out particular (idealised) calendar stars. With the circular astrolabes the stars are shown in diagrammatic form within 3 concentric circles. The groups of stars used are defined by their locations with respect to the horizon.

The Babylonian circular star calendar was divided into 36 individual stellar sectors (with one sector for each of the 36 stars) comprising 3 concentric bands (rings) (marking the borders between the 3 stellar paths) each divided by 12 radial lines (demarking the 12 months of the year). The stars of Ea comprise the outer band (ring) = the southern part of the sky; the stars of Anu comprise the middle/central band (ring) = the central band of the sky; and the stars of Enlil comprise the inner band (ring) = the northern part of the sky. (There is no word for 'equator' in the astrolabe texts. The concept of a celestial equator was not recognised.) The 12 radial segments represent the 12 months of the unintercalated (i.e., "ideal") year. The names of each month of the year, from Nisan to Adar, appear in clockwise order/direction in the outer band segments. In surviving fragments of circular "astrolabes" the stars are either drawn as 6-pointed star figures (CT 33 11) or as circles (CT 33 12).

Wayne Horowitz (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (1998, Page 166) writes: "Terms for star-sectors, the areas surrounding stars and constellations, may be related to the spaces surrounding each star on the circular "Astrolabes." These terms include qaqqaru 'territory' and pirku 'sector.'"

The term concentric describes the "three ways" drawn on the circular astrolabes but they were not 3 concentric spheres (layers) in the sky but rather 3 parallel bands (of stars), with the central band occupying (but not identifying) the equatorial region. Ernst Weidner, and other, in the early 20th-century thought the circular astrolabes indicated 3 concentric spheres for the three paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil.

Examples of star calendars from the late 2nd-millennium BCE are known to us in both circular format and list format. It has been believed that the circular format is the earlier. However, this may not be correct. It appears unlikely that the circular star calendars originated as early as the Old Babylonian Period. More likely, they originated during the latter half of the 2nd-millennium BCE - and certainly no later than the Middle Babylonian Period, possibly originating circa 1150 BCE earliest. For the Babylonian origin, rather than the Assyrian origin of of the "Astrolabes," see the discussion in Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (Pages 158-159). Horowitz concludes the earliest surviving evidence for both the month-stars and the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea dates to the Middle Babylonian Period (1532-1000 BCE) and suggests the first "Astrolabe" was produced at this time.

The Three Stars Each texts purportedly each set out a calendrical system. For each of the 12 months of an unintercalated (i.e., "ideal") year an "astrolabe" lists 3 stars - allegedly one from each of the "three paths." However, it is easily identified that month-stars for each path are not always properly positioned in their allocated path. The Mesopotamians used 3 different calendar year schemes. Likely the earliest was the lunar year scheme comprising 12 lunar cycles. However, 12 lunar cycles comprise 354-355 days. This is 10 less days than the true solar year and required the intercalation of leap months every 3rd year. Using the solar calendar had problems that included the sun is too bright to readily observe excepting at sunrise and sunset. Use of a sidereal calendar (a true astronomical calendar) avoids the shortcomings of both the lunar and solar calendars. It it easy to monitor the movement of the stars at night, and the stars return to their original positions every 365 days. However, solar and sidereal calendars do not provide a direct means for determining the months. A solution with the use of a sidereal calendar is to correlate the sequence of months with a sequence of heliacal risings of selected stars (which of course occur at the same time annually). However, the use of a star calendar to determine the months of the year is not without some awkward issues. To solve the mismatch between the year of 365¼ days and the use of 12 lunar months - the former not dividing equally into the latter - an ideal/schematic calendar of 12 months comprising 30 days each was introduced. The system of intercalating a (leap year) month was introduced to keep the sidereal and lunar calendars synchronised. By the Neo-Assyrian period a more accurate approximation of the sidereal and solar years was known and was stated in Mul.Apin as a year comprising 12 month plus 10 additional days.

It is widely accepted that the Mesopotamian star calendars had the function of identifying "stars" that rose (ideally) each month in the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. Each month was marked by 3 calendar "stars" (one lying in each of the star Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil) with the year being marked by a total of 36 calendar "stars." One star in each of the 3 stellar paths rose during each of the 12 months of the year. Thus the scheme of 36 stars served to fix the 12 months of the yearly calendar astronomically in place. It was initially thought that each of the 36 stars comprised a scheme similar in purpose to the Egyptian scheme of decan stars - each of the 36 stars in the astrolabes marking one-third of an ideal month (of 30 days length). Put another way, the assignment of 3 stars for each month were first interpreted as based upon their order of heliacal risings, being specifically chosen so they rose heliacally at regular intervals of 10 days. The 3 stars assigned to each month in the astrolabe schemes are now interpreted as rising together to mark each month. (The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz writes (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, 1998): "It is not explicitly stated in the "Astrolabes" which day the month-stars were supposed to rise, but there is indirect evidence that the Ea-star for each month, at least, were meant to rise on the first of the month.") This sufficiently enabled the Mesopotamians to know when the lunar months were shifting out of correlation with the seasons. (There are, however, certain problems with this idea.) The numbering system on the star calendars, that has values assigned to each of the month-stars, relates to a system for calculating the length of day hours and night hours over the ideal 12-month calendar year. (The presence of some planets as month-stars suggests that the star calendars had been intended to predict heliacal risings for a single year.)

A number of surviving fragments of both the circular and tabular types preserve supplementary (and other) information to the listed month-stars. (Especially the tabular "astrolabes" Astrolabe B, BM 82923, and LBAT 1499.) Sm. 162 has similarities to HS 245. The reverse side of Sm. 162 (from CT 33 11) contains text (illustrated in one section by a geometrical figure) that seems to be related to HS 245 (formerly designated HS 229 but more commonly known as the "Hilprecht Text"). HS 245 contains a mathematical problem (most likely a student exercise) utilising a number of stars/constellations. A number of stars and constellations are listed (Moon and Stars, Bull, Arrow, Yoke, Scorpion, and Habasiranu) and their "positions" described in a way that suggests an illustrative mathematical problem.

Johannes Koch in his book Neue Untersuchungen zur Topographie des babylonischen Fixsternhimmels (1989) suggests that the circular astrolabe was used as a graphic aide-mémoire. According to Koch the circular astrolabe was not devised as an astronomical device/tool, but rather as an orientation guide and an aid to remembering which stars appeared in which parts of the sky. It was turned counterclockwise, the dividing line on the right side representing the eastern horizon. (The horizon at least, if not the actual sky, was divided into the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil.) The stars of Enlil would rise in the north, the stars of Anu would rise in the centre, and the stars of Ea would rise in the south.

Erica Reiner and David Pingree (Babylonian Planetary Omens, Part Two (1981)) state that the constellation names appearing in the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil assumed Tablets 50-51 closely follow the constellation names (and refer to the same groups of stars) listed in the early star texts - the Astrolabes and the Mul.Apin series. They identify that the order of the constellation names in Enūma Anu Enlil assumed Tablet 51 is derived from Astrolabe B, and the order of the constellation names in the commentaries on assumed Tablet 50 is also derived from Astrolabe B. The star list in Astrolabe B (VAT 9416 (KAV 218)) dates to circa 1180 BCE but is compiled from older sources.

The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz has, since 1998 (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography), clearly shown the close connection between Tablet V, lines 1-8, of the Babylonian creation epic Enuma Elish (comprised of 7 tablets) and the astrolabes. Both the Enuma Elish and the group of cuneiform astronomical texts commonly known as "the astrolabes" (called by the Babylonians "the stars, three of each") describe the same arrangement for the division of the sky. (The stellar system described in the Enuma Elish Tablet V, lines 1-8, matches the organisation of the sky in the astrolabes.) Tablet V of the Enuma Elish refers to the already existing system of assigning 3 constellations to each month (of the ideal year). The astrolabes comprise the earliest surviving group of cuneiform astronomical texts. The parallels between the Enuma Elish and the astrolabes (1) helps establish the late 2nd millennium BCE date for the composition of Enuma Elish (though some of the material is much older), and (2) demonstrates that the astrolabes are not only astronomical-calendrical works (presenting an astronomical-calendrical theory), but also have important religious and theological implications.

Astrolabe B (KAV 218) is the earliest and best preserved (it is almost completely preserved) version of an astrolabe. The tablet measures 18.8 cm in height and 11.4 cm in width. The assyriologist Ernst Weidner identified Astrolabe B (= KAV 218 = VAT 9416) as coming from the library of the 12th-century BCE Assyrian King Tilgath-Pileser I. Astrolabe B is a copy made by the scribe Marduk-bālassu-ērĕs. (The colophon does not give a provenance, but the Akkadian of the menology shows Middle Babylonian grammatical forms.) The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz identifies Astrolabe B (dating to circa mid 12th-century BCE) as being more than simply an astronomical aid for calendar keeping and serving as a sort of theoretical and practical astronomical handbook. Four sections of information are given on Astrolabe B. Wayne Horowitz (In: Calendars and Years, edited by John Steele (2007)) lists these as:

Section 1. A menology for the 12 months of the Babylonian year in which 10 months of the year are assigned month-stars.

Section 2. A star-catalogue listing 12 stars for each of the Paths of Anu, Ea, and Enlil, yielding a repertoire of .36 stars.

Section 3. A list-Astrolabe with its list of 36-month stars (1 star for each path per month) in which the repertoire of stars is slightly different from that given in Section 2.

Section 4. A list of 36 rising and setting stars in which the stars listed in Section 3 (incorrectly including the planet Venus (mul dili.bad) and "The Plough" constellation (mul apin)) rise in their path in their assigned month, and then set 6 months later. (KAV 218, Section D, states that all 36 stars with the two exceptions of the planet Venus (mul dili.bad) and "The Plough" constellation (mul apin), set 6 months after rising.)

The nature and widths of the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea still continues to create some uncertainty. Opinion still differs whether they were conceived as bands in the sky or arcs along the horizon, and whether they marked declinations of 15, 16 or 17 degrees (with the Path of Anu naturally comprising one of these figures x 2). Hunger/Pingree state (Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia, Page 61): "It is clear that the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea meant something different to the author of the second edition of "Astrolabe B" and the compiler of the first list in MUL.APIN."

Note: The standard authoritative publication on Babylonian "Astrolabes" is: The Three Stars Each: The Astrolabes and Related Texts by Wayne Horowitz (2014, Archiv für Orientforschung, Beiheft 33). This monumental study is unlikely to be superseded in the foreseeable future. 

Appendix 1: The Relationship of Omenology to the Ideal Scheme of Cosmic Order Established by Marduk

The assyriologist David Brown has discussed several times the general rule of celestial divination. Coherence with the ideal scheme of cosmic order established by Marduk (per the description in Enūma Elis, tablet 5 = the astrolabe system) boded well. Non-coherence boded ill.

Appendix 2: Problems Associated With the "Three Stars Each" as Star Calendars

Firstly, after a lengthy discussion of the issues Hunger/Pingree state (Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia, Page 63): "The "astrolabe" lists provide no information useful for identifying the constellations because we do not know the principles of their categorizations."

Heliacal risings are also a problematic issue. Reiner/Pingree in Babylonian Planetary Omens, Volume Two (1981, Page 3) discussing two issues to be understood in relation to 'Astrolabe B' state: "... the association of a constellation with a particular ideal month does not signify that that constellation had its heliacal rising in that ideal month, and that the three paths do not correspond to bands located between certain circles parallel to the equator. ... We presume that these associations with ideal months and with the three paths are influenced by mythological as much by astronomical considerations ...."

There are several significant problems associated with interpreting the "three stars each" lists as identifying ideal heliacal risings. (Only KAV 218 (Astrolabe B) specifically states the listed stars are connected with monthly heliacal risings in the three Paths.) Firstly, the associations of the stars with particular months and also the "three paths" seems to be in part purely religious/mythical. Secondly, some of the month-stars listed are actually planets (i.e., Venus, Mars, and Jupiter), with no annual cycles able to be preserved in the "three stars each" calendrical system. (Planets do not rise in the same position of the sky at annual intervals. Therefore they cannot be used as month-stars if the "three stars each" calendrical system is to be used for more than a single year.) Thirdly, two of the stars (in the northern Path of Enlil) are actually circumpolar (the Wagon and the Fox), and it problematic to see how these could have been used in the "three stars each" calendrical system. (Four more circumpolar stars (making a total of 6) were included in the Path of Enlil in the later Mul.Apin series. The 'fixed-star' catalogue of the Mul.Apin series contains 60 rising and setting stars, 6 circumpolar stars, and 5 planets.)

It is possible that "three stars each" texts listing planets as month-stars may not have been intended to predict heliacal risings for longer than a single year. Another possibility is that certain months were identified with the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter for religious or mythological reasons. ("Names of fixed stars and constellations may have varied and constellations whose names remained constant may have been composed of different stars in different periods. (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz, 1998)"

Summary of Views of Wayne Horowitz and David Brown on Astrolabes and Star Lists: Astrolabes were an Old Babylonian or early Middle Babylonian creation. The Babylonian circular star calendar was divided into 36 individual stellar sectors (with one sector for each of the 36 stars) comprising 3 concentric bands (rings) (marking the borders between the 3 stellar paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil) each divided by 12 radial lines (demarking the 12 months of the year). The astrolabe genre was a scheme in which 3 stars, 1 lying in each star path, were meant ideally to rise heliacally, in each of the 12 months of the 'ideal year.' (No days, only months are noted in the astrolabes.) Astrolabes were not a sidereal calendar, though a residue of certain traditional seasonal-stellar associations may have filtered in to them. It may be that star lists – including Mul.Apin – were never intended accurately to reflect reality. There may have been (overriding) divinatory reasons. There was precedence of divinatory thinking over astronomical reality. Even lists of simultaneously rising and setting stars likely include ideal propositions. Star data were produced 'artificially' only corresponding very broadly to reality. The best preserved text of Astrolabe B is Schroeder KAV 218 from Assur and dated to circa 1100 BCE. Its relationship to EAE omen series is very close. It shares the same ideal year attested in EAE 14, and omens in EAE 51. Horowitz has provided reasons to believe the content of the Pinches-type astrolabes and the Hilprecht text HS 245 derives from a common Old Babylonian tradition that leads ultimately to the compendium we know as Astrolabe B.

Appendix 3: Three Key "Astrolabes"

The term 'astrolabe' was introduced by Theophilus Pinches in 1900. Three key astrolabes are Astrolabe P, Astrolabe B, and Astrolabe Z. The other texts of interest are those dealing with the Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru.

Astrolabe P (for Pinches) is not a specific physical astrolabe (cuneiform tablet/text) but a modern composite reconstruction (compilation) by the British assyriologist Theophilus Pinches from other astrolabe (and star list) fragments in the British Museum. In 1900 Pinches combined information from 4 tablets (comprising circular and tabular astrolabes) and additionally 2 star lists to form the composites called 'Pinches Astrolabe.' It was studied by the German assyriologist Albert Schott (1901-1942/45). The construction by Pinches was in a tabular (list) format. This tabular format was able to be used by Schott to reconstruct a circular astrolabe with the stars arranged in 3 concentric rings.. Schott realised, correctly, that systematic scribal error with some entries indicated copying from a preceding circular format. Schott published his reconstruction of a circular astrolabe (the earliest astrolabe format) in Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, Band 88, 1934, Pages 302-337.

Astrolabe B (KAV 218) (tabular format) was studied and autographs published by the German assyriologist Otto Schroeder (1851-1937), in a monograph titled Keilschrifttexte aus Assur verschiedenen Inhalts: Autographiert, mit Inhaltsübersicht und Namenlisten, I. Heft (Wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft, 35, 1920). Wissenschaftliche Veröffentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft (WVDOG) is a series publication of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft. Astrolabe B is a clay tablet from Assur and dated to the Middle Assyrian period (circa 1400-1000 BCE). The text language is Akkadian. The Assur-version of Astrolabe B is the best preserved source for this genre. A partial (poorly preserved and fragmented) copy from Babylon (dated to Middle Babylonian period, circa 1532-1000 BCE) is in the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin (VAT 17081). Another copy of Astrolabe B (also poorly preserved) is the star list HS 1897 from Nippur.

Astrolabe Z (tabular format) in Brussels was studied and published by the German assyriologist Heinrich Zimmern (1862-1931), in Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, Band 32, 1918/1919.

The unifying principle behind all the of "Three Stars Each"/Astrolabe class of cuneiform texts is a star heliacally rising in each of the "three ways" during each of the 12 months of the unintercalated 'ideal' year, and that a total of 36 stars astronomically fixed the months of the yearly calendar (i.e., fixed the months astronomically in place). The format for presenting the lists of 36 month-stars was not standardised. The 36 month-star lists could appear in either circular or list format. In the tabular (list) "Astrolabes" (such as "Astrolabe B"), the texts are divided into 12 paragraphs, 3 lines each. Each line contains the name of a star, constellation or planet, the explanation of this name and a number. Each paragraph deals with one Babylonian month and each line with a specific Path of the sky (Path of Ea, Anu, or Enlil). Supposedly, the selected stars, constellations, and planets rose heliacally in exactly that month in that Path of the sky. The Path of Ea (south of -17 degrees declination; first line of each paragraph). The Path of Anu (between +17 degrees declination and -17 degrees declination; second line of each paragraph). The Path of Enlil (north of +17 degrees declination; last line of each paragraph).

(1) The Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru

There are two cuneiform texts containing lists of 12 stars of Elam, 12 stars of Akkad, and 12 stars of Amurru. (The Babylonian tablets are K 250 and K 8067. Both were published in Cuneiform Texts in the British Museum, Volume 26, See Plates 40-41 and 44.) The names Elam, Akkad, and Amurru reflect the political situation in Old Babylonian times. This enables the assumption that the lists are old and come from the Old Babylonian Period. (However, the assyriologist Wayne Horowitz cautions the lists of Elam-, Akkad-, and Amurru- stars may not be as old as the Old Babylonian period as suggested by Bartel van der Waerden.) The stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru are identical with the stars of Astrolabe B and in each text their order corresponds exactly with the order of the twelve months in Astrolabe B. This verifies that the stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru are month stars, corresponding to the twelve months of the year. Bartel van Waerden (Science Awakening II, Page 68) commented: "There is no astronomical principle to be found in the distribution of the stars over the three countries."

(2) Astrolabe Berlin (Astrolabe B)

Astrolabe Berlin (Astrolabe B) was discovered by the young German assyriologist  Ernst Weidner amongst the cuneiform tablets collected by the Berlin Museum. Weidner identified Astrolabe B as belonging to the library of king Tilgath-Pileser I. Astrolabe B (= VAT 9416, KAV 218) is a rectangular (list) Astrolabe and is a bilingual Sumerian/Akkadian text. The text of Astrolabe B was copied in Asshur in the late 2nd-millenium BCE and is the oldest of the Astrolabes known. (It is thought the tablet was likely copied in the reign of King Ninurta-apil-Ekur (1190-1178 BCE).) Astrolabe B, in contrast to the other Astrolabes known, states explicitly that the stars named rise in their month. According to the assyriologist Wayne Horowitz it appears the content of Astrolabe B is a compendium compiled from independent sources of information.

Part A (Section 1) of Astrolabe B associates each of the twelve months with a constellation, a god, mythological events (rites and rituals), and agricultural activities associated with the particular months. The 'mythological notes' in Part A comprise a bilingual menology for the 12 months of the Babylonian year. For each monthly section the Sumerian-language description is given first and this is followed by the Akkadian-language description. In 10 of the 12 months the first item noted in the Sumerian-language version of the menology is the month-star for that month. 

Part B (Section 2) of Astrolabe B is a list (star-catalogue) of 36 stars - comprised of 12 stars for each of the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. Part B usually notes the position of each star by referring to their locations relative to each other, and occasionally refers to the colour of the star, or to particular parts of the constellation. The division into Stars of Ea, Anu, and Enlil (zones approximately parallel to the celestial equator) has scientific characteristics.

Part C (Section 3) of Astrolabe B (lines 1-12) systematically lists three constellations in each of the three Paths, for each month (= 36 stars), according to the sequence of their presumed helical rising. The star list is slightly different to that of Part B (Section 2).

Part D (Section 4) (lines 13-36) states that the 3 constellations of each month rise in that month, and that three other constellations set (i.e., the constellations in the 7th month from it set in that same month). Part D (Section 4) of Astrolabe B also states that those constellations which it states set are specifically those constellations which rise six months later. This schematic 6 month difference is not astronomically possible. Also, the astronomical theory that non-circumpolar stars rise and set at half-year intervals is false. (Actually it is noted that 34 of the 36 stars set exactly 6 months after rising. Part D, states that all 36 stars with the two exceptions of the planet Venus (mul dili.bad) and "The Plough" constellation (mul apin), set 6 months after rising.)

The information in Parts A, B, C and D are unique to Astrolabe B. The information does not occur together in any of the other Astrolabes.

In Astrolabe B, Marduk's star is described as being in the central/middle path of Anu, between the old and new year; i.e., marking the passage between the old and new year. (On the Astrolabe tablet Marduk's star is written without marking stars in the outer path of Ea and the inner path of Enlil. The outer path of Ea is left blank and also the inner path of Enlil is left blank.)

(3) Astrolabe Pinches (Astrolabe P)

Astrolabe Pinches ("Pinches' Astrolabe" or Astrolabe P) is not a cuneiform text, but a modern composite reconstruction (compilation) made by the pioneering British assyriologist Theophilus Pinches from four different texts in the British Museum and published in 1900. Two of the star lists that were used by Pinches remain unknown. However, it is known that Pinches' transcription of the sources he used is accurate (and can be treated as if it were a cuneiform text). Also, it is known that BM 34713 (LBAT 1499 (= LBAT 1500)) was a major source for Pinches in constructing his composite Astrolabe. At least one text used was the circular Astrolabe fragment Sm 162. (Hunger/Pingree in Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia (1999) identify the tablets Sm 162, K 14943 + 81-7-27, 94, and 83-1-18, 608, as well as 2 additional star lists.) Astrolabe P remains important.

Astrolabe P does not always identify stars that rise in each of the months. Four of the month-star are actually planets, and 2 (Wagon and Fox) are circumpolar and so they never rise or set.

Appendix 4: Rumen Kolev's Claim for Dating the Astrolabes to 5500 BCE

Rumen Kolev (1960- ) (Bulgaria) Astrologer and astrology software developer, mathematician, and amateur astronomer. Born in Varna (Bulgaria) in 1960; became a naturalised American citizen in 1995. (States he has a BA in Economics (1992); and MD (Doctor of Medicine) (2000) from the Medical Academy of Bulgaria. (Apparently (2007) PhD student at Rousse University, Bulgaria (Department of Computer Systems and Technologies?).) (John Halloran's website has: "He holds a B.A. in Economics and the equivalent in Mathematics from the University of Washington in Seattle, USA. He has spent one year in the Ph.D. program in Economics at UCLA where he studied mathematical models for predictions in Macro Economics and chaos theory. He holds also a MD degree from the Bulgarian Medical Academy in Varna.") Self-declared expert on Babylonian astronomy and astrology. Trenchant critic of most professional assyriologists (both pioneering and modern). Avid supporter of the discredited Panbabylonism of Alfred Jeremias and Ernst Weidner. (Believes Alfred Jeremias was a pioneering assyriologist!) Kolev, who lacks any training or reputation as an assyriologist, chooses to reject modern assyriology (especially the scholarship of outstanding professional scholars such as Neugebauer, Sachs, Pingree, and Hunger) as some sort of conspiratorial fraud to hid their own, and also Franz Kugler's errors, and seeks to frame issues and discussion within the framework of Panbabylonian tenets propagated by Jeremias and Weidner during the period circa 1900 to 1925. Historic issues long over and irrelevant to modern assyriology are regarded as still currently valid. Kolev's Babylonian Astrosophy (Astrosophy meaning literally 'Star Wisdom') is indicated by his statements as involving belief in some form of mystical and causative Babylonian astrology. (His beliefs are set out in his book The Restoration of the Astral Teachings of the Golden Age (2010, 370 Pages).) It perhaps is taken from the use of the term 'Astrosophie' by Alfred Jeremias. Kolev has developed 2 astrological software programs 'Placidus,' and ' Porphyrius Magus;' and ostensibly 1 astronomy software program 'Babylonia.' Currently (2009) promotes his radical and eccentric ideas through his own journal. (Where he establishes matters to his own satisfaction only.) He rejects the conclusions of modern scholarship (the conclusions of almost all scholars in Assyriology since the end of WWII) as incompetence. He has succinctly stated his own radical chronological framework: "The first coordinate system going back to 5,500 BC [± 300 years] was an equatorial system consisting of 3 circles-paths each divided in 12 sections." (It needs to be noted that Kolev has also claimed it was an ecliptic system. The Mesopotamians did not have a concept of either the celestial equator or ecliptic.) He believes he has correctly dated all (or most of) the Babylonian 'astrolabes' to the middle of the 6th-millennium BCE. His work on heliacal risings and atmospheric extinction has the support of a number of professional and amateur astronomers. However, he is unreliable on issues regarding the history of Babylonian astral sciences.

In essence, with such claims as an ecliptic system established in Mesopotamia circa 5,500 BCE, Kolev is seeking to establish the view that Mesopotamian astrology (not simply a system of astral omens) developed much earlier than the results of modern scholarship establish. At the MELAMMU VI Symposium 2008, Kolev claimed that not only were the path-positions of the starts in Astrolabe B originating in 5,500 BCE, but the complete Astrolabe! Because of his prior assumptions about dates proposed by the Panbabylonist Alfred Jeremias, a caveat on his finding would be in order. The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz, an expert on Mesopotamian "astrolabes," states (1998, Page 157): "Although Astrolabe B (KAV 218), the earliest known example of the "Astrolabes," is found on a Middle Assyrian tablet, it is probable that the first "Astrolabe" was composed no later than the Middle Assyrian Period and perhaps as early as the Old Babylonian Period." (See the detailed discussion: Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (1998, Pages 157-161.) Within his discussion Horowitz makes the point that the earliest surviving evidence for month-stars and for the division of the sky into 3 paths belonging to Anu, Enlil, and Ea is found in the Middle Babylonian Prayer to the Gods of the Night from Boghqazkoi (KUB 4 47) dated to the 13th-century BCE, and the Middle Assyrian star-catalogue from Nippur (HS 1897). A Middle Babylonian or older origin for the first Astrolabe is indicated by evidence provided by the Babylonian fragment VAS 24 120 and KAV 218. The tablet containing "Astrolabe B," VAT 9416 (KAV 218) dates to the 12th-century BCE.

The core of Kolev's technique is simply to look for the common period when all the stars (or at least maximum numbers) are in their deemed path/way. He seems unable to appreciate that within the nature of the normal Mesopotamian scheme there was (normally) an inexact match between the months and the heliacal risings of their associated constellations. (Also, only a few astrolabe texts - but including the complete Astrolabe B - are used in this way by Kolev.)

Kolev also has a mystical belief at the core of his approach and beliefs. On October 31, 2010 at ACTastrology.com he posted: "Ultimately, the pre-diluvial Hermes should be no-one, but En Meduranki- the true prophet of God given the true knowledge of Astrology in a Revelation somewhere around 5,500 BC or earlier. More on this will be in my own research on the Babylonian Astrolabe soon to be published in the 'Proceedings of the Melammu VI symposium' [expected in the end of 2010 or early 2011 ….The main topic is the dating of the Babylonian Astrolabe, but one of the consequences of the research is exactly the conclusion: Hermes Trismegistus = En Meduranki. This should be the initial point for the next stage of the research to reconstruct the original teachings of EnMeduranki {since now we have a thread we can follow straight to the begin of mythological time}." Earlier, January 10, 2009, at ACTastrology.com, Kolev posted: "I started from both ends: from the Renaissance moving back in time and at the same time from the Babylonian moving forward in time, reading in Latin and Akkadian. Since couple of years I was lucky to close in on the center- the Greek-language Astrology. Doing the research on the original texts was an Enlightment ! The whole process of the Astrology stood before my eyes. I saw the bright Light of Enmeduranki- the pre-deluvial proto-Sumerian king (from around 5500 BC according to my research) moving through the latest 7500 years of Time. Enmeduranki- the pen-ultimate king-prophet before the Deluge from Old Sipar (sic) received his knowledge directly from the conference of the 'Gods' being lifted there by the Sun-god (Utu) and the god of the Wind (Adad). What I saw was a clear picture of a brilliant Light getting dimmer and dimmer as it approached my own time. [[[ Read my Post in HELLENISTIC ASTROLOGY titled 'HELIACAL APPEARANCES (Phaseis):GREECE/BABYLON' for a very concrete and detailed example of this process that I would call 'Corruption and Profanation of the Astrology-Revelation ' ]]] The Babylonians gave hints here and there, but they kept the secret tradition from the un-initiated with an immense instrumentarium of code-words. They rarely put explanations on their 'paper' of clay tablets. The Greeks though were more fond of talking. I found in their writings many traces of the original Revelation handed to Enmeduranki- the prophet of Astrology." Kolev has written elsewhere his belief that the tenets of Babylonian astrology was received by Enmeduranki all at once in an "Illumination."

Kolev's claims have already been uncritically picked up (in a distortive context) and - along with mention of Gavin White's speculative ideas of an early Mesopotamian constellation set - included in The Dawning (2011) by the Australian astrologer Terry MacKinnell (who appears quite uninformed of the critical issues).

Some initial issues: The key is whether the astrolabe texts (and the Mul.Apin series served a calendrical purpose (a system of month-stars established within the scheme of an ideal year) or a divinatory purpose (and was only loosely connected with observational reality). It is difficult to understand why this supposed early system of 36 month-stars did not diffuse to either Elam or Ebla at least. Also, Wayne Horowitz is cited for the claim by Kolev that the celestial system of three 'paths' are mentioned in the Old Babylonian Period. The claim is false. Wayne Horowitz specifically states no Old Babylonian material preserves evidence for either month-stars or the Paths of Anu, Enlil, and Ea. (See: Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (1998, Page 158).) Further, the Ur III period (2112-2004 BCE) (not to be confused with the earlier Uruk III period reaching up to circa 3000 BCE) is generally considered the best documented century in antiquity. It is also termed the Neo Sumerian period or the "Sumerian Renaissance." The tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets that have survived document an immense range of activities. This has resulted in nearly 100 years of intense scholarly work on the Ur III period. Within the context of the active intellectual endeavour recorded at this period no astronomy emerges. There is no compelling reason for assuming that the astronomical texts from the 2nd-millennium BCE relied upon astronomical texts from the 3rd-millennium BCE. There is no formal astronomy in Sumerian texts. Sumerian literary texts, however, contain astronomical references. The Sumerian term UDDU-IDEM (Akkadian bibbu) = wild sheep = stars/planets. In the religious text Nanna-Suen Hymn 1, the mention of cows is an allusion to the stars in the night sky. In the religious text, The Exaltation of Istar, the sun and moon are herdmen keeping the stars (as cattle) in their order.

Trying to understand Rumen Kolev's own explanations for how he reached the date of 5,500 BC [± 300 years] for some of the information on 1 or more of the 'astrolabes' (?) - or this date for all of the information on all of the 'astrolabes' (?) - has proved confusing (and continues to be so). (It appears Kolev expects people to buy his book in order to gain a detailed explanation.) Kolev claims that circa 5,500 BCE is the date when the Path positions of the 36 month-stars in the Astrolabes are correct. It seems he has primarily used the month-star list information in Astrolabe B and used one of his computer programs to precess backwards in time until a 'best match' was achieved between them and the "three ways" (for heliacal rising only (?)). How the set times are dealt with is unknown (i.e., not yet (March, 2010) explained by Kolev). Also, how the planets and circumpolar constellations are dealt with is unknown (i.e., not yet (March, 2010) explained by Kolev). This selective use of data is only one problem associated with Kolev's early dating claims for the 'astrolabes.' A binomial analysis is used for the data. His 2008 presentation "Astronomical Dating of the Babylonian Astrolabe." remains unpublished to date (but is currently being printed, June, 2011). The Proceedings of the Melammu VI Symposium 2008 (containing his presentation) is being printed (June, 2011). (The symposium was organised by the assyriologist Simo Parpola, who is sympathetic of the Panbabylonism of Winckler and Jeremias.) To presently access his claims in detail (March, 2010) Kolev imposes a requirement to purchase his publications. Even though his ideas (1) have not yet been clearly communicated, (2) have not been communicated in any detail, (3) have not been able to be suitably assessed, and (4) have not been acknowledged as accepted by any professional assyriologist; Kolev is confidently treating his claim for the early dating of the Astrolabe star lists as being established.

The unifying principle behind all the of "Three Stars Each"/Astrolabe class of cuneiform texts is a star heliacally rising in each of the "three ways" during each of the 12 months of the unintercalated 'ideal' year, and that a total of 36 stars astronomically fixed the months of the yearly calendar (i.e., fixed the months astronomically in place). The format for presenting the lists of 36 month-stars was not standardised. The 36 month-star lists could appear in either circular or list format. In the tabular (list) "Astrolabes" (such as "Astrolabe B"), the texts are divided into 12 paragraphs, 3 lines each. Each line contains the name of a star, constellation or planet, the explanation of this name and a number. Each paragraph deals with one Babylonian month and each line with a specific Path of the sky (Path of Ea, Anu, or Enlil). Supposedly, the selected stars, constellations, and planets rose heliacally in exactly that month in that Path of the sky. The Path of Ea (south of -17 degrees declination; first line of each paragraph). The Path of Anu (between +17 degrees declination and -17 degrees declination; second line of each paragraph). The Path of Enlil (north of +17 degrees declination; last line of each paragraph). However, Jeffrey Cooley, relying on BPO 3, Pages 15-16, writes (2013, Page 63): "... it seems as though the Path of Enlil began about 13 degrees north of east, Ea extended south beginning at about 11 degrees south of east, and Anu would have been the area between these two points."

"Since the various astrolabes do not all agree about which stars belong to a particular Path, it seems that the precise limits of each Path probably varied according to the particular celestial observer and the circumstances of his locality ... that is, which landmarks the individual would choose to define the limits of each Path." (See a suitable summary discussion in: Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East by Jeffrey Cooley (2013, Page 63, Note 4). See also: BPO 2, Page 17; and BPO 3, Pages 15-16.) Also, the fact that often the stars/constellations do not actually reside in their named star-paths - the paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil, suggests that the star-paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil were introduced later than the stars/constellations assigned to them.

Geoffrey Elton (1921-1994) (The Practice of History, 1967) counselled: "Those determined to put their faith in 'sophisticated' mathematical methods and to apply 'general laws' to the pitifully meagre and very uncertain detail that historical evidence often provides for the answering of interesting and important questions, are either to be pitied because they will be sinking in quicksand while believing themselves to be standing on solid earth, or to be combated because they darken counsel with their errors." It will be interesting if the constellation anunitu (formed by part of the stars comprising our Pisces), one of the rising stars of Astrolabe B (and in the Path of Enlil), is included and used. No Sumerian word is used for this constellation, the name appears in Akkadian only. (Another example of the absence of a Sumerian word as a name is the star/constellation tultu "the Worm," in the Path of Ea. Though this is likely to be a late additional/alternative name for an existing constellation.) The Mesopotamian month-star lists comprising 36 stars, and the system of the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil, are connected not only with the "Astrolabe" texts (they originate as the month-stars) but also with the Creation Epic (Enūma Elish), and the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil. Any attempt to date the contents of these documents to circa 5,500 BCE can be dismissed. Both the month-star lists and the texts were being developed at the same period. They date to the time of Assyrian independence and expansion, starting circa 1350 BCE. In this sense all are Assyrian Period documents and there is an interconnectedness between them. (For the Babylonian origin, rather than the Assyrian origin of the "Astrolabes," see the discussion in Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (Pages 158-159). Horowitz concludes the earliest surviving evidence for both the month-stars and the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea dates to the Middle Babylonian Period (1532-1000 BCE) and suggests the first "Astrolabe" was produced at this time.) Also, according to the investigations of Wayne Horowitz, the 10-star tradition (AO 6769) and the 30-star catalogue/list (BM 55502) were a development that preceded the 3 x 12 = 36 month-star lists. Kolev's ideas of the system of 36 month-stars, allocated into 3 defined Paths, dating to circa 5,500 BCE needs to take all of this into account.

Aspects of early lunar and planetary astronomy are embedded in the Enūma Anu Enlil omen series, the content and finalisation of which is clearly dated to the late 2nd-millennium BCE. Astrolabe B is closely related to tablet 51 of the Enūma Anu Enlil omen series. (The ideal Astrolabe is reflected in the Enūma Anu Enlil tablets 50-51.) If the star-list content of the "Astrolabe texts" (which also appear in the Enūma Anu Enlil omen series) are to be dated to circa 5500 BCE then it is odd that astronomical development then remained static for another 4000 years. Also, the earliest Mesopotamian list of relations between months and gods/goddesses seems to be Astrolabe B. Dūzu, the 4th month of the Babylonian calendar, was named after the god Dumuzi ("Dumuzi of Uruk"). The text of Astrolabe B reflects this Old Babylonian tradition (mythology surrounding Dumuzi) referring to the month Dūzu as "the month in which the shepherd Dumuzi, was captured." 

The evidence is against the use - in the late 2nd-millennium BCE - of an 'inherited' use system of 36 month-stars (from 5500 BCE) that was not further developed for some 4000 years. (For an expert discussion by a professional assyriologist regarding the date of composition of Astrolabe B see The Three Stars Each by Wayne Horowitz (2014, Pages 30-33. He identifies the astrolabe genre as late 2nd-millennium texts - including astronomical content.) Circa 1400 BCE we had the development/composition of a list of 30 heliacally rising stars, 10 each in the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. (10 = completeness.) It appears these were the original lists from which both the Astrolabes and the Mul.Apin lists were derived. The Kassite period (Middle Babylonian period) texts VS 24 120 (from Babylon) and HS 1897 (from Nippur) (and BM 55502) provide antecedents to Sections 1 and 2 respectively of Astrolabe B. The 2 Middle Babylonian period 10 star catalogues HS 1897 and (the somewhat later text) BM 55502 parallel the star-catalogue of Astrolabe B (KA5 218). The evidence clearly shows the precedence, durability and influence of the 10-star tradition. The roughly contemporary text KUB 4 47 Prayer to the Gods of the Night, from Boghazköy, provides the earliest direct evidence for the division of the night sky into the three Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. (Not used, however, is the term harranu (= paths).)

The Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru. There are two cuneiform texts containing lists of 12 stars of Elam, 12 stars of Akkad, and 12 stars of Amurru. (Both were published in Cuneiform Texts in the British Museum, Volume 26, See Plates 40-41 and 44.) The names Elam, Akkad, and Amurru reflect the political situation in Old Babylonian times. The stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru are identical with the stars of Astrolabe B and in each text their order corresponds exactly with the order of the twelve months in Astrolabe B. This verifies that the stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru are month stars, corresponding to the twelve months of the year. Bartel van der Waerden (Science Awakening II, Page 68) commented: "There is no astronomical principle to be found in the distribution of the stars over the three countries." This is because the system comprises a regional division rather than an astronomical one.

Astrolabe Berlin (Astrolabe B) was discovered by the young German assyriologist  Ernst Weidner amongst the cuneiform tablets collected by the Berlin Museum. Weidner identified Astrolabe B as belonging to the library of king Tilgath-Pileser I. Astrolabe B (= VAT 9416, KAV 218) is a rectangular (list) Astrolabe and is a bilingual Sumerian/Akkadian text. The text of Astrolabe B was copied in Asshur/Ashur in the late 2nd-millennium BCE and is the oldest of the Astrolabes known. (It is thought the tablet was likely copied in the reign of King Ninurta-apil-Ekur (1190-1178 BCE).) Astrolabe B, in contrast to the other Astrolabes known, states explicitly that the stars named rise in their month. According to the assyriologist Wayne Horowitz it appears the content of Astrolabe B is a compendium compiled from independent sources of information. Astrolabe B is an assemblage of various data originating from as yet unidentified sources, different in both their origin and purpose. Regardless, the text in Astrolabe B describing the risings and settings of stars clearly indicates its schematised design. (See for example the discussion by Johann Schaumberger, Ergan. 3, (1935).) Also, what is definitely not demonstrated is the standardised use of Astrolabe "path stars" from supposedly the 6th-millennium to the 2nd-millennium. It is not demonstrated that there was a standard list of Astrolabe stars. Wayne Horowitz makes the point that there is no such thing as an authoritative, standard Mesopotamian star list.

Astrolabe B (VAT 9416, published as KAV 218) is an almost completely preserved tablet measuring 18.8 centimetres in height and 11.4 centimetres in width. Part A (Section 1) of Astrolabe B associates each of the twelve months with a constellation, a god, mythological events (rites and rituals), and agricultural activities associated with the particular months. The 'mythological notes' in Part A (Section 1) comprise a bilingual menology for the 12 months of the Babylonian year. (Menologies prescribe by month and day what actions are advisable or not. They are related to divinatory texts.) For each monthly section the Sumerian-language description is given first and this is followed by the Akkadian-language description. In 10 of the 12 months the first item noted in the Sumerian-language version of the menology is the month-star for that month. Part B (Section 2) of Astrolabe B is a list (star-catalogue) of 36 stars - comprised of 12 stars for each of the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. Part B usually notes the position of each star by referring to their locations relative to each other, and occasionally refers to the colour of the star, or to particular parts of the constellation. The division into Stars of Ea, Anu, and Enlil (zones approximately parallel to the celestial equator) has scientific characteristics. Part C (Section 3) of Astrolabe B (lines 1-12) comprises a list-Astrolabe that systematically lists three constellations in each of the three Paths, for each month (= 36 stars), according to the sequence of their presumed helical rising. The star list is slightly different to that of Part B (Section 2). Part D (Section 4) (lines 13-36) states that the 3 constellations of each month rise in that month, and that three other constellations set (i.e., the constellations in the 7th month from it set in that same month). Part D (Section 4) of Astrolabe B also states that those constellations which it states set are specifically those constellations which rise six months later (= a list of 'stars that rise as others set.' This schematic 6 month difference is not astronomically possible. Also, the astronomical theory that non-circumpolar stars rise and set at half-year intervals is false. (Actually it is noted that 34 of the 36 stars set exactly 6 months after rising. Part D, states that all 36 stars with the two exceptions of the planet Venus (mul dili.bad) and "The Plough" constellation (mul apin), set 6 months after rising.) The information in Parts A, B, C and D are unique to Astrolabe B. The information does not occur together in any of the other Astrolabes.

Horowitz, Wayne ("The Astrolabes: An Exercise in Transmission, Canonicity, and Para-Canonicity." In: Banks, Michaela et al. (Editors). (2013). Between Text and Text: The Hermeneutics of Intertextuality in Ancient Cultures and Their Afterlife in Medieval and Modern Times. (Pages 273-287)) writes: "[T]he individual elements of Astrolabe B (Sections I, II, III, and IV) each on their own, and sometimes in other combinations, find numerous parallels and duplicates, both before the twelfth century date of Astrolabe B, and later throughout the first millennium. For example Astrolabe B II is also known in a 30 star format, 10 stars for each path rather than 12, in two parallels that are separated in time by about a millennium, each in a different setting than in Astrolabe B. The earlier one is the Middle Babylonian Nippur tablet HS 1897, which is slightly older than Astrolabe B and is dedicated in full to the 30 star-catalogue. This would appear to be a precursor, in Assyriological jargon a "forerunner," to the 36 star-catalogue of Alb B Section II. Later is the Hellenistic period Astrolabe compendium, BM 55502, which gives the list of the 36 rising and setting stars best known from Alb B IV, but also a 30 star-catalogue that nearly duplicates that of HS 1897, and so differs from the star-catalogue Alb B Section II which gives 12 stars per path. This comes as somewhat of a surprise since one might expect the 36 star-version known from Astrolabe B II from ca. 1160 to have entered the canon and have been repeated in the first millennium, rather than the earlier 30 star-version found on HS 1897."

Tom Peters (Hastro-L, 12 November, 2009), struggling with a lack of clear explanation writes a succinct critique: "I gather that Mr. Kolev derives an age for the data of this list by playing around with precession until he gets a best match for actual rising and setting of these stars in some distant past. If this is correct, then this approach is problematic.

- You always get a best match, however poor it actually is.

- The result is completely dependent on your interpretation of the meaning of the data.

As has already been brought forward, how reliable are the identifications of the objects in the list with actual stars? And how sure can we be that it is actually the kind of list that we think it is? Also, any systematic deviation will lead to a (large) error in dating this way - for instance, for what latitude was it made?"

Problems associated with the "three stars each" as star calendars are apparently not dealt with by Rumen Kolev. Firstly, after a lengthy discussion of the issues Hunger/Pingree state (Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia, Page 63): "The "astrolabe" lists provide no information useful for identifying the constellations because we do not know the principles of their categorizations."

There are several significant problems associated with interpreting the "three stars each" lists as identifying ideal heliacal risings. (Only KAV 218 (Astrolabe B) specifically states the listed stars are connected with monthly heliacal risings in the three Paths.) Firstly, the associations of the stars with particular months and also the "three paths" seems to be in part purely religious/mythical. Secondly, some of the month-stars listed are actually planets (i.e., Venus, Mars, and Jupiter), with no annual cycles able to be preserved in the "three stars each" calendrical system. (Planets do not rise in the same position of the sky at annual intervals. Therefore they cannot be used as month-stars if the "three stars each" calendrical system is to be used for more than a single year.) Thirdly, two of the stars (in the northern Path of Enlil) are actually circumpolar (the Wagon and the Fox), and it problematic to see how these could have been used in the "three stars each" calendrical system. (Four more circumpolar stars (making a total of 6) were included in the Path of Enlil in the later Mul.Apin series. The 'fixed-star' catalogue of the Mul.Apin series contains 60 rising and setting stars, 6 circumpolar stars, and 5 planets.)

Heliacal risings are also a problematic issue. Reiner/Pingree in Babylonian Planetary Omens, Volume Two (1981, Page 3) discussing two issues to be understood in relation to 'Astrolabe B' state: "... the association of a constellation with a particular ideal month does not signify that that constellation had its heliacal rising in that ideal month, and that the three paths do not correspond to bands located between certain circles parallel to the equator. ... We presume that these associations with ideal months and with the three paths are influenced by mythological as much by astronomical considerations ...."

Regarding Habasirānu in the Path of Ea. There remains some uncertainty about how to transcribe the Sumerian name (logogram) of this star/constellation, as well as its exact identity. Various transcriptions such as Hasirānu / Habasirāttu are used. Thought by early assyriologists to be a star name but, perhaps correctly, by contemporary assyriologists to be a constellation (figure of a mouse (mouse-like creature) or rodent (?)) occupying most of the stars of Centaurus. (The name infers a mouse or rodent.) In Astrolabe B, Section C, Habasirānu is replaced by nu.muš.da ('Swarm') (and the Hyades - also in the Path of Ea - are replaced by gu-la (gula) (Aquarius)). The identification of nu.muš.da is uncertain, and also whether it is a name for a constellation or single star (but Hunger/Pingree (1999) identify the star η or κ Centauri).

Taken as "astronomical" texts it is possible that "three stars each" texts listing planets as month-stars may not have been intended to predict heliacal risings for longer than a single year. Another possibility is that certain months were identified with the planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter for religious or mythological reasons. ("Names of fixed stars and constellations may have varied and constellations whose names remained constant may have been composed of different stars in different periods. (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz, 1998.))"

Basic questions are: how astronomical were the astrolabes? What genre of literature are they connected with? Their purpose was not to regulate the calendar. It is certain that astrolabes were not intercalation devices. The Babylonian national epic Enuma Elish is the earliest written creation myth. It sets out that the chief god of the Babylonians (also the most powerful of the Babylonian gods), Marduk, created an ordered world out of the original state of chaos. He then created time by establishing/devising the first calendar. He establishes the year, divides the length into 12-months, and assigns three stars to each month. (3 stars – 1 in each star path – were meant to rise heliacally in each of the 12 months of the 'ideal year.') Simply, Marduk arranges the stars in the image of the astrolabes. The ideal year set out in the astrolabes matches the ideal year established by Marduk (360 days, comprising 12 months of 30 days each). The ‘ideal astrolabe’ was underpinned by the ‘ideal year’ created by the god Marduk. This artificial construction meant they did not fulfil the role of a sidereal calendar. David Brown makes the point: "They were based only very loosely on observational reality." The 'stars' listed were never intended to accurately reflect reality (i.e., what could be actually observed). Divinatory thinking/tradition was given precedence over strict astronomical reality. The order of the 'astrolabe constellations' and the dates of their ideal first appearances are also listed in Enūma Anu Enlil tablet 51, and in the commentaries on Enūma Anu Enlil tablet 50. Thus the genres are associated. In tablet 51 of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil the astrolabe stars are used to predict good or evil. Thus the astrolabe star lists had magical/divinatory purposes.

Essentially the "astrolabe" texts comprised a scheme in which 3 stars, one lying in each of the 3 star-paths, were meant/(supposed?) to rise heliacally in each of the 12 30-day months of the of the "ideal year." (The dates - per Astrolabe B - reflect their ideal first appearances. However, no days, only months, are noted on the Astrolabe texts.) The "ideal astrolabe" was thus underpinned by the "ideal year." It is likely that the "Astrolabe texts" as well as the Mul.Apin series, comprise an invented scheme and not an observation-based scheme. The assyriologist David Brown thinks it highly unlikely that the "astrolabe texts" served the astronomical purpose of enabling a calendar and marking seasonal events. He instead states (Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology (2000, Page 115)): "They were, instead, learned elaborations based only very loosely on observational reality with regard to the heavens, whose purpose was not to regulate the calendar, but to permit celestial diviners to interpret the occasion of a star's first appearance as good-boding if it corresponded with the scheme and ill-boding if it did not."

Kolev has also stated he has extended his "precess method" to the Mul.Apin series. The Mul.Apin series is usually considered to be "astronomical" (an "astronomical compendium") with the primary aim of regulating the luni-solar year. However, many of the stars/constellations listed appear to be out of order. David Brown (Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology (2000, Page 116)) suggests this "may be because the star lists were never intended accurately to reflect reality."  The star-lists reflect divinatory purposes. Tradition and divinatory purpose often determines content rather than a strict observance to observed fact. The dates given in Mul.Apin for heliacal risings of stars - though ultimately observation-based - were produced artificially. Both the "Astrolabe texts" and the Mul.Apin series are ultimately ideal schemes that do not accurately correspond to reality but serve the purpose of being useful for divinatory purposes.

The nature and widths of the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea still continues to create some uncertainty. (David Brown has proposed that the system of "Three Ways" was awkwardly imposed on an already established (earlier) system of 36 stars. This has clear implications for assumptions of an astronomically accurate scheme.) The 3 broad Paths (Ways) of the great gods Enlil, Anu, and Ea are roughly demarcated bands of varying declination. Opinion still differs whether they were conceived as bands in the sky or arcs along the horizon, and whether they marked declinations of 15, 16 or 17 degrees (with the Path of Anu naturally comprising one of these figures x 2). The Mesopotamian definition of the Paths is connected to the eastern horizon. Hunger/Pingree state (Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia, Page 61): "It is clear that the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea meant something different to the author of the second edition of "Astrolabe B" and the compiler of the first list in MUL.APIN." (Ernst Weidner, and others, in the early 20th-century thought the circular astrolabes indicated 3 concentric spheres for the three paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil.) An example of the lack of observational reality is the astrolabe texts place the Pleiades (located near the celestial equator) in the Path of Ea rather than in the Path of Anu (which the later Mul.Apin series does).

Interestingly, Weidner (1915) assumed the scheme of the '3 Ways' represented in Mul.Apin went back to very ancient times. For this scheme, Weidner opted for a date of circa 4500 BCE when the Vernal Equinox was near the stars comprising the feet of the constellation Gemini.

Just how rigidly the boundaries of the "3 Ways" were defined over time is an assumption based on late texts and is not established by any early texts or myths/literature with dates to the 6th-millennium through to the 3rd-millennium BCE. This has implications for the basis for Kolev's claims.

The recent doctoral thesis The Exact Transmission of Texts in the First Millennium B.C.E. by Russell Hobson (2009) includes examination of Enuma Anu Enlil tablet 63 (the 'Venus Tablet') and the Mul.Apin series. Of interest is the concluding statement (Page 494) regarding the lack of stabilisation in the transmission of astronomical/omen cuneiform texts. The latter is interesting. Hobson's examination demonstrates persistent error-making by the trained scribal elite in copying cuneiform astronomical/omen texts. And this error-making occurred over a relatively short period of time. For errors, misreadings, and uncertain signs connected with Mul.Apin see, "Mul.Apin - Catalog of Variants - R. Hobson 2012" (33 pages; http://www.aneapps.com/downloads/mul-apin.pdf). A tradition of oral transmission existed in Mesopotamia. (The numerous variants of popular myths is used as an argument for an oral tradition in Mesopotamia. A group of 'experts' and later, in the Neo-Assyrian period (circa 950-600 BCE), 'chief singers' is identified with oral tradition. It is accepted by a number of scholars that these persons would make slight changes. It appears that in Mesopotamia there was an early reliance/preference for scribes trained to accurately copy texts. According to The Cambridge History of the Bible (Volume 1, 1975, Page 40): "In Mesopotamia oral tradition played only a limited part in the transmission of literary texts after 2,700 B.C., the scribe using an oral source only when all else failed." It is quite evident that scribal tradition = variation and copyist errors. Even the text of the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil exhibits divergences and was not really fixed.

In N.A.B.U. (Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires) 2010, Number 2, Juin, Pages 53-56, and 2010, Number 3, Pages 59-67, Johannes Koch, the late German expert on Babylonian astronomy, in a 2-part article, analyses and rejects Kolev's claims regarding an early date for the astrolabe scheme ("Stammte Astrolab B aus dem 6 Jahrtausend vor Chr. ?"). (Current issues of N.A.B.U. are not readily available electronically. Access is by subscription (27 Euros per year). It amounts to about 120 pages, issued in 4 fascicles. The intention is to publish short notes (4 pages maximum) relatively quickly to current scholarly discussions, or simply for information, without review. Most of N.A.B.U. is very technical Assyriology. Address for subscriptions is: Dominique Charpin (one of the 3 editors), SEPOA, 14, Rue des Sources, 92160 Antony, France.) Kolev's reply to the 1st part of Koch's critique appeared in N.A.B.U. 2010.3, Pages 67-69 ("The Real Age of the Babylonian Astrolabe"). Kolev stated his reply to the 2nd part of the critique by Johannes Koch ("Nochmals: Stammte Astrolab B aus fruhsumerischer Zeit ?"; N.A.B.U. 2010.3) would appear in N.A.B.U. 2010.4. However, with the death of Johannes Koch the editors of N.A.B.U. have stopped accepting further papers on the subject. Undaunted, Kolev, at his website page on the issue (2013), writes: "Kolev, R.: "The Three Celestial Paths in Babylonian Astronomy" (in English) (submitted on May 6th 2011 to N.A.B.U. for publication and as of January 2013 not yet published) (The answer of Kolev to the second article of Koch)."

Kolev uncritically accepts that astronomical ideas of 5500 BCE have/would come down unaltered. There is no evidence to give the claim credibility. We know nothing of Mesopotamian astronomical ideas dating to circa 5500 BCE. Only a particular statistical analysis by Rumen Kolev exists for the date he claims. Earlier claims by Panababylonists based on archaeological evidence were clearly based on misdating. That Kolev claims to have established a date that he has previously promoted - the date claimed by the Panbabylonist Alfred Jeremias - signals caution. But Kolev aims to set aside the results of modern assyriology. According to Kolev modern assyrologists are unreliable. Exclaiming his mathematical analysis to be a conclusive argument simply lacks rigorous reasoning. It is an odd result and one that is at odds with the historical evidence. The claim excludes the necessary use of all the related archaeological evidence and what it indicates. This evidence is scattered across time and place and text genres. The genres involved comprise astronomical, literary (religious), and omen texts. One searches in vain for any conference presentation or published paper by an assyriologist that is supportive of Kolev's claims. As far as I am aware even Simo Parpola has not done this. Kolev's statistical argument is not evidence until it is demonstrated to be relevant and objective. The limitation of the statistical analysis is the certainty of its validity. What other ways exist for an analysis of the data? Presently, the validity of Kolev's approach is questionable and the conclusion he has reached is not unassailable.

In a series of 3 ranting postings to Hastro-L, 13-17 June 2011, titled: KOCH JOHANNES & THE ASTROLABE (THE 5500 BC SAGA of NABU) [Part 1, 2, and 3], Kolev restarted his campaign against Johannes Koch (who was then ill and died a few weeks later) and the editor of N.A.B.U. One Hastro-L member posted (15 June, 2011): "Kolev's Parts I and II contain nothing except his usual delusive statements about and attack on Koch without clearly explaining why and where he disagrees with Koch." Kolev is unable to accept that, with the death of Johannes Koch in mid June, 2011, and the standard of unacceptable conduct exhibited by himself [Kolev], the editor of N.A.B.U. declines to print Kolev's further response to Koch's critique. Kolev sees this as part of an 'establishment' conspiracy to to suppress the truth of his 'revolutionary findings.' This same Hastro-L member who [posted on 15 June also posted (17 June, 2011): "You seem to have ignored the fact that, in the absence of an irrefutable proof, modern elucidation of a set of ancient data does not necessarily equate with its original/contemporary interpretation. In your case, you have fitted a set of old Babylonian observations to a modern mathematical model that apparently holds for the 6th millennium BC and, with no solid proof, expect everyone to accept your preferred model. Please explain why you so vehemently attack Koch's arguments and accuse him of "inventing" a model to deceive the readers of his articles? Do you have access to a contemporary Babylonian source that backs your dates and rejects those concluded by Koch? If another model finds an equally good match dating to ca. 25,000 years earlier than your dates, can we insist that the prehistoric inhabitants of Babylonia had devised the Astrolabe in question? Considering little else and putting your arguments and those of Koch on the balance of probabilities, ca. 1500 BC is a far more likely date than 5500 BC for the data set in question."

Kolev's focus on Koch ignores the article - independently supporting Koch and refuting Kolev - by M[?]. Nickiforov and J[?]. Tabov "Problems of dating of the Babylonian "Astrolabes." (1991?) in which they write: "The calculations show, that there is no historical epoch or turn of the heavenly sphere on a longitude, for which the hypothesis that the order of the constellations in the "astrolabe" follows the order of their declinations is correct. Conclusions: 1. The verifications based on the content of the "astrolabes", the order of the constellations by longitude and the order of the constellations by declination show that the traditional view on the "astrolabes" [as astronomical documents] causes many contradictions. 2. It is possible that the Babylonian "astrolabes" actually do not represent real observations of the star sky. They could be related to some ritual or could be religious or astrological texts. 3. If the "astrolabes" mirror real astronomical observations, probably some basic parts of the Babylonian astronomical texts are deciphered incorrectly, and at least the identification of the constellations, stars and planets for all texts are incorrect. 4. Even if we assume, that the "astrolabes" reflect real astronomical observations, it is difficult to say if the available information could be used for astronomical dating of these observations. Most probably, the "astrolabes" are [to be] dated by some archaeological data or by other reasons." The authors make the point that the Astrolabes texts are at odds with astronomical reality. This raises the question of the relationship between reality and practice; and why their originators were seemingly unbothered by their contradictions with reality.

If the astrolabe genre was earlier than the 2nd millennium BCE it does not mean the earlier texts would be the same as those we have from the 2nd millennium BCE. The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz, an expert on astrolabes - he has been studying them for some 2 decades - states the astrolabe group of tablets never reached a canonical form. Competing versions circulated. "For the Astrolabes ... the group never reached a canonical form which could be passed down from generation to generation. Hence, the four sections of the earliest and most complete form of the Astrolabes, the so-called 12th-century Berlin Astrolabe, better known as Astrolabe B, never occur together on any earlier or later tablet belonging to the group, although each of the four sections survives separately into the first millennium." (Writing Science before the Greeks by Rita Watson and Wayne Horowitz (2011, Page 13).)

There is no way in which an orator can identify whether the story being recited is identical to one that was recited thousands of years prior. Modern anthropological work has shown that and oral tradition is not frozen in time. (At least a written record is frozen in time.) The concept that the so-called astrolabe text dates from thousands of years prior to being written down has the problem that there is no evidence of it existing before the first written record discovered. Also there is no plausible mechanism of transmission during the preceding millennia. Everything indicates that Kolev's analysis and results are flawed.

To summarise the views of the British assyriologist David Brown who writes of the "divinatory genre of astrolabe texts": The astrolabe texts, like all cuneiform texts, need to be placed in their cultural, social, and intellectual contexts. Divinatory purposes underpin all 3. The wide array of cuneiform texts on astral sciences ultimately had a divinatory purpose and divinatory lore and purpose shaped the content of the astrolabes - not accurate observational astronomy. The ideal (but not standardised) astrolabe is reflected in Enūma Anu Enlil tablets 50-51. Furthermore astral practices and beliefs of the 2nd-millennium BCE shaped later astral practices and beliefs (those of the 1st-millennium BCE). This is an important point. (Note: There is no reason to believe the 'Astronomical Diaries' were compiled for astrological reasons; rather they were compiled for astronomical reasons.) The assyriologist Alasdair Livingstone, dealing with problems posed by the claim by Werner Papke for a high standard of astronomical knowledge being achieved shortly after the invention of writing, pointed out that it must be envisaged: (1) this astronomical knowledge did not subsequently develop and was ultimately forgotten, and (2) this astronomical knowledge had no appreciable effect on the rest of Babylonian "science." These same points apply to Kolev's claim.

Kolev, being mathematically focused also does not deal with the 10-star tradition and 30-star catalogue. Two Middle Babylonian Period astronomical tablets (HS 1897 and BM 55502 (82-7-4, 76) contain close examples of a star/constellation catalogue in KAV 218 (= Astrolabe B). However, though related to the 36-star tradition of the Astrolabes they also contain a 30-star tradition (i.e., 10 stars each in the paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea). The Middle Babylonian tablet HS 1897, from Nippur, sets out the earlier 30-star catalogue. (In Babylonian number symbolism 10 was a number of finality or completeness.) When complete the star lists/catalogues of both HS 1897 (late 2nd-millennium (early middle period)) and, what is taken to be the reverse of, BM 55502 (late middle period) list only 30 stars (i.e., 3 x 10; 10 stars in each of the 3 paths of the sky - Enlil, Anu, and Ea. (What is taken to be the obverse of BM 55502 lists 36 rising and setting stars matching Astrolabe B, Section 4 (and parallels).) The use of 30 stars of Enlil, Anu, and Ea would appear to show a 2nd-millennium BCE tradition of listing stars in groups of 10 in each of the paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea. These would be important - not monthly - stars for each of the 3 stellar paths. They may have been used to help define the limits of the 3 stellar paths. The Prayer to the Gods of the Night is the earliest surviving evidence of a 10-star tradition. The 10-star version of the Prayer to the Gods of the Night (preserved on tablet AO 6769) matches the Sumerian version of the bilingual menology in Astrolabe B, Section 1. In 10 of the 12 months the first item noted in the Sumerian-language version of the menology is the month-star for that month. BM 55502 demonstrates a knowledge of both 30-star and 36-star traditions existing alongside each other for nearly 1000 years. This scheme was later replaced by a scheme of 12 stars for each of the three paths of the sky (3 x 12 = 36). (One star for each country/path and each month. The paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil perhaps derive from the stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru. The Astrolabe stars are correlated with the lists of Elam-, Akkad-, and Amurru-stars.) However, the 30-star tradition scheme existed alongside the later 36-star scheme for circa the millennium between HS 1897 and BM 55502. The late mention of the 30-star tradition in the 1st-century BCE writings of the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus is likely a garbled form of the 30-star tradition in Babylonia. For the complexity of the astrolabe genre see: Horowitz, Wayne. (2013). "The Astrolabes: An Exercise in Transmission, Canonicity, and Para-Canonicity." In: Banks, Michaela et al. (Editors). Between Text and Text: The Hermeneutics of Intertextuality in Ancient Cultures and Their Afterlife in Medieval and Modern Times. (Pages 273-287).

The Kassite period text VS 24 120: 8-9 is identified by Wayne Horowitz (2014, Page 65) as a forerunner to the menology of Astrolabe B. Also, "It is likely that the 36-star catalogue of Alb B II [Astrolabe B Section II] and the 30-star catalogue first known from HS 1897 have a common ancestor; a star catalogue of the type HS 1897 without the short astrological comments." (The Three Stars Each by Wayne Horowitz (2014, Page 102).)

In his journal The Babylonian Sky Observer (Volume 3, September, 2008) Kolev claims that modern mainstream assyriology is falsifying history. He writes: "[T]he aim of the modern Minimalistic mainstream assyriology seems to be to deny any antiquity to the birth of the Sky Knowledge in Mesopotamia and to push its beginning [forward] somewhere around 1600 BC and even 1200 BC. This is without doubt the most important task of the minimalists. … Who are these people? Who are the minimalists? They are the vast majority (but not all) of the leading modern scholars who research Mesopotamia - assyriologists, historians, astronomers .... just any well established scholar with interest in the field. Most of them seem to be brainwashed people who really believe in what they say. I, however, do not exclude the possibility that some are conscious or semi-conscious perpetrators. Their ultimate aim is to keep under veil the ancient Knowledge of Mesopotamia. They reach this trough many different ways of manipulation, indoctrination, censorship and outright suppression of research. Some methods may be very rude including sacking of 'dangerous' scholars and their gradual elimination from the academic life." No evidence is offered for any of these uninformed claims. The ferocity of these absurd attacks have increased in his lengthy article "The Destruction of the pan-Babylonism or pan-Babylonian Fantasies becoming reality." in Volume 5 of The Babylonian Sky Observer (Published 2010). The Babylonian Sky Observer, which is produced and edited by Rumen Kolev, is the vehicle for his views. None of his articles on the Astrolabe have, to date, been published in a professional refereed journal. Unacknowledged (unknown?) to Kolev is the early dates of the Panbabylonists were tied to a flawed chronology.

The absurdity of Kolev's position is his own decision. The knowledge gained by sophisticated modern assyriology is rejected as deliberately distorting/obscuring the knowledge established by the German Panbabylonists Alfred Jeremias and Ernst Weidner - and Kolev seeks to vindicate their original dating for Babylonian astronomy. Ignored is the fact that Ernst Weidner (an assyriologist) started his own assyriology journal circa the 1930s and continued to edit and publish it until his death in 1976 - yet, except for (inappropriately) dating some star-lists to the 3rd-millennium BCE, never attempted to defend his earlier positions, nor those of Alfred Jeremias. 

Rumen Kolev also supports the flawed system of astrological 'primary directions' developed by the 17th-century Italian monk Placidus de Titus.

At his website Kolev has posted (June, 2011) his 5-page: *THE CRITIQUE of GARY THOMPSON CONCERNING THE 5,500 BC DATING of THE ASTROLABE*. (Kolev apparently thinks they were my sole comments when in fact they were only my initial comments.) Kolev 'cherry picks' material to reply to and ensure he keeps the focus purely on his claims for accuracy with mathematical/statistical analysis. Needless to say he avoids/misunderstands arguments concerning the interrelatedness of multiple 2nd-millennium BCE documents. Completely ignore are the concepts of omen astronomy controlling/distorting the literal observational accuracy of the Astrolabes and Mul.Apin. Both Wayne Horowitz and David Brown have made the point that the star/constellation data in in the Astrolabes and Mul.Apin were never intended to accurately reflect reality. There is no convincing reason to consider the Astrolabes and the Mul.Apin series to be primarily astronomical documents. Ignored by Kolev is the relationship between the Astrolabes and the Enūma Elish and the Enūma Anu Enlil. The Astrolabes are connected to the creation epic Enūma Elish and all are connected with the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil, very much a late 2nd-millennium BCE text. This is a 'sticking point' for Kolev's dating arguments. Combined with the fact that he refuses to acknowledge he is dealing with omen astronomical (astral omenology) documents his arguments are unpersuasive, except to himself. Nothing recovered to date from Sumerian period texts matches the Old Babylonian omen texts. Interestingly, Kolev also denies statements that he has made. On March 25 (last edited November 26), 2009 at ACT Astrology (actastrology.com) he posted "The first coordinate system going back to 5,500 BC was an equatorial system consisting of 3 circles-paths each divided in 12 sections." I have mentioned this statement above, adding his accuracy criteria that he had mentioned elsewhere: [± 300 years]. However, in his supposed "*THE CRITIQUE of GARY THOMPSON ...." he writes (very first statement): "Gary Thompson quotes me as having said: "The first coordinate system going back to 5,500 BC [± 300 years] was an equatorial system consisting of 3 circles-paths each divided in 12 sections." This is not true." It very much is true that I have reliably quoted Kolev.

Kolev commits what David Fischer termed the fallacy of the overwhelming exception which occurs when the historian/person excludes evidence that is vital to constructing the whole picture. This leaves to one side the issue of the fallacy of statistical sampling which occurs in generalisations resting upon an insufficient body of data. There is sufficient completeness of archaeological/philological evidence from Mesopotamia to conclude there is an association between Astrolabes and  2nd-millennium BCE omen astronomy and creation epic astronomy. Kolev's acknowledgement of associated evidence playing a role is given in his response that a correlation date of 25,000 BCE would not be realistic as it would not fit with other (historical) evidence.

Regardless of any claimed statistically significant outcome independent archaeological/philological confirmation is necessary. Tests of significance can be very misleading, especially where small data sets are involved. Quoting p values as an indicator that error is unlikely is a fallacy. Depending, the opportunities for error (so-called false positives) could be 30-40 percent or higher. A statement of p value and confidence intervals is one issue. Because of opportunities for error in statistical/experimental procedures, techniques such as the Bonferroni procedure and the Benjamin-Hochberg procedure, have been developed. Two questions that go with claims for statistical significance: Why is it considered statistically significant? What is the chance of getting statistically significant results? The significance test and its result should perhaps be regarded as a prima facie test only with the results being open to question if further supportive evidence is not to be found.

As previously remarked, tests of significance can be very misleading. A statistical analysis of misleading data produces misleading conclusions. The reliability of the data used is a problem. The Astrolabe data is viewed as a literally accurate star calendar. however, there is no expert consensus that this is the case. The possibility of a false discovery with the data set is ignored. The statement of p value and confidence intervals is one issue. The p value is neither as reliable nor as objective as most people assume. Though p values are called confidence values they are not measures of accuracy. In spite of what Kolev claims for statistics, a high p value for significance does not rule out error. When British statistician Ronald Fisher introduced the p value in the 1920s, he did not mean it to be a definitive test. He intended it simply as an informal way to judge whether evidence was significant and worthy of a second look. Kolev needs to report effect sizes and confidence intervals as these convey what a p value does not: the magnitude and relative importance of an 'effect.' The p value cannot be construed as a statement about the underlying reality. Kolev's conclusion requires a lot more evidence than simply a p value. It is an exploratory study which should be treated with skepticism unless other tangible supporting evidence is found. The plausibility of the outcome is an important factor in an assessment. The more implausible the hypothesis - sophisticated astronomy in Mesopotamia circa 5500 BCE - the greater the chance that a finding is a false alarm, no matter what the p value is. Also, the reminder, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. An analysis not using a p value would be more convincing. It is actually possible to 'fish' for significant p values (known as p-hacking (= data dredging or significance chasing)).

For his conclusions to be regarded as reliable, Kolev needs to include examples from earlier researches (by anybody) that demonstrates the methodological success of his approach. Otherwise, we can rest assured that statistics can prove anything.

Kolev's claim that: "If the Astrolabe was not an astronomical text, then its model would be a random model." lacks any demonstration or explanation on Kolev's part. Why would randomness be the most probable alternative?

For an example of a rant by Kolev on ACTastrology.com (October 9, 2009) see: http://actastrology.com/viewtopic.php?f=35&t=181

See Kolov's restated critique of parts of my rebuttal at: http://www.babylonianastrology.com/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=31&Itemid=33. No document interrelatedness discussion is entered into.

UPDATE NOTE (July 11, 2013; from Page 3): Kolev, Rumen. (2013). The Babylonian Astrolabe: The Calendar of Creation. [Note: It is surprising to see this published as State Archives of Assyria Studies 22, Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project – NATCP. Though it claims to be the first full critical edition of all currently known astrolabe texts it is written from the perspective of the Panbabylonism of Alfred Jeremias. Kolev particularly supports the Panbabylonian ideas of Alfred Jeremias. Alfred Jeremias) thought that Mesopotamian/Sumerian astrology originated in the supposed zodiacal age of Gemini (circa 5,000-6,000 BCE) and is the foundation of all the religions and cultures throughout the world. Kolev claims that with his book (The Babylonian Astrolabe: the Calendar of Creation (2013)) he has reestablished the veracity of all the claims of the Panbabylonists! Of course Kolev has done no such thing, excepting in his own imagination. Kolev has avoided the peer review process of his ideas in professional publications. Part of the critical issue is (1) the existing divergence of views on the width of the "three ways each," (2) contradictions in astrolabe texts for stars and their associated months, and (3) astrological considerations rather than astronomical considerations regarding placement of stars and planets in the paths of the "three ways each." (See a suitable summary discussion in: Poetic Astronomy in the Ancient Near East by Jeffrey Cooley (2013, Pages 58-63).) Kolev's book will be redundant with the publication of The Three Stars Each: The Astrolabes and Related Texts by Wayne Horowitz (in press 2013). Publisher's description of Kolev's book: "The Babylonian Astrolabe, or "Three Stars Each (Month)," as it was called in antiquity, is an enigmatic document that has been the subject of much controversy and debate ever since its discovery in the 1870s. It comes in two versions, a circular star map divided in three concentric "paths" and 12 month sectors, and a multicolumn text specifying the times of the heliacal risings of the stars and associating them with the main divinities of the Mesopotamian pantheon and the main events of the Mesopotamian cultic year. Both texts were of fundamental importance to Mesopotamian astral sciences, religion, and royal ideology, all of which were ultimately based on the 360-day "perfect year" of the astrolabes. This is the first full critical edition of all currently known astrolabe texts and a ground-breaking study of their astronomical content, showing that the text as it has come down to us consists of three redactional layers dating from different time periods, the earliest of which is to be dated to prehistoric times (ca. 5000 BCE). The appendixes to the book include 255 first-hand observations of heliacal phases of stars and planets and an appendix explaining in detail the heliacal phases." Rumen Kolev is a Bulgarian astrologer, astrology software developer, mathematician, and amateur astronomer. Kolev's practical astronomy work specialises in heliacal rising phenomena and he has been mistaken on Hastro-L as an (amateur) astronomer (and not wearing any other 'caps') for his excellent work on the heliacal risings of stars and planets. However, it is all simply all 'grist for the mill' for his astrological software. Simo Parpola is a somewhat uncritical Panbabylonist who has mentored the astrologer Rumen Kolev who is also a Panbabylonist (with a particular misplaced venom against Franz Kugler). The 3-part critique of Kolev's claims by the late Johannes Koch in NABU will likely be brushed aside by Kolev. Kolev will also likely produce a book on Panbabylonism. A number of years ago he had an arrangement with a publisher to do this, but lacked the core publications. Both Parpola and Kolev probably did not know that Wayne Horowitz had (finally) completed his book on the astrolabes (likely to be the definitive study); or if they did it was a race to get into print first. Luckily, Wayne Horowitz's book (The Three Stars Each: The Astrolabes and Related Texts) is 'in press' 2013 and will likely appear 2015 latest.]

I am not aware of any publication by Rumen Kolev regarding his Astrolabe dating claims appearing in a professional, peer-reviewed journal. As Kolev dates his original discovery to July 2005 it appears this is unlikely to happen. (I am aware that Kolev claims (http://alabe.com/placidus.html) that the Mesopotamian module for his Placidus 7 astrology software program (released 2012) "... brings to life the astrology practiced in Mesopotamia from 5500 BC to 70 AD.") Peer Review is a process that academic/scientific journals use to ensure the articles they publish represent the best scholarship currently available. The peer review process for journal publication is essentially a quality control mechanism. An article submitted for publication is submitted to experts in the field who then carefully evaluate the quality of the submitted manuscript. The reviewers check the manuscript for accuracy and assess the validity of the research methodology and procedures. (Reviewers would ideally critique how the data analysis was done and how results were reported and interpreted.) If appropriate, they suggest revisions. If they find the article lacking in scholarly validity and rigor, they reject it. Because a peer-reviewed journal will not publish articles that fail to meet the standards established for a given discipline, peer-reviewed articles that are accepted for publication exemplify the best research practices in a field. Peer-reviewed articles provide a trusted form of scientific communication.

Finally, one reliable investigator has written (Hastro-L, 27-7-2013): "I am reading your book (which is now part of history;-) and I have tried to calculate the same graphs and distributions (page 35-64) as you did in your book (except I am using Schaefer's heliacal rise theory). And I agree that your date of around 5600 BCE makes sure that most star paths (EN.LIL/ANU/EA) (using Pingree's azimuthal model) map the astrolabes (like the Berlin one). Using the same method: the MUL.APIN would be from around 900 BCE. This is indeed very interesting! What would be interesting to know: Why the Babylonians kept presenting this 'old'/historic data (star's heliacal rise azimuth of around 5500 BCE) while over time these would have changed (and they even knew that, like in the MUL.APIN [~900 BCE])? So a kind of history of astronomy in Babylonian times..." Kolov has not responded to this issue.

Summary of Views of Wayne Horowitz and David Brown on Astrolabes and Star Lists: Astrolabes were an Old Babylonian or early Middle Babylonian creation. The Babylonian circular star calendar was divided into 36 individual stellar sectors (with one sector for each of the 36 stars) comprising 3 concentric bands (rings) (marking the borders between the 3 stellar paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil) each divided by 12 radial lines (demarking the 12 months of the year). The astrolabe genre was a scheme in which 3 stars, 1 lying in each star path, were meant ideally to rise heliacally, in each of the 12 months of the 'ideal year.' (No days, only months are noted in the astrolabes.) Astrolabes were not a sidereal calendar, though a residue of certain traditional seasonal-stellar associations may have filtered in to them. It may be that star lists – including Mul.Apin – were never intended accurately to reflect reality. There may have been (overriding) divinatory reasons. There was precedence of divinatory (astral omenology) thinking over astronomical reality. Even lists of simultaneously rising and setting stars likely include ideal propositions. Star data were produced 'artificially' only corresponding very broadly to reality. Babylonian omen astronomy included parameters that could not actually occur astronomically. The best preserved text of Astrolabe B is Schroeder KAV 218 from Assur and dated to circa 1100 BCE. Its relationship to EAE omen series is very close. It shares the same ideal year attested in EAE 14, and omens in EAE 51. Horowitz has provided reasons to believe the content of the Pinches-type astrolabes and the Hilprecht text HS 245 derives from a common Old Babylonian tradition that leads ultimately to the compendium we know as Astrolabe B. The astrological omina underpinning the purpose of the astrolabes and exhaustively collected in the Enuma Anu Enlil are controlled by rules, codes, and categorisations, and the use of ideal periods (year, month, day) for practical astrological purposes. Summary of Views of Wayne Horowitz on Affinities Between Texts: There are affinities between the Astrolabes, the Enuma Elish, and the Enūma Anu Enlil omen series. The Enuma Elish relates the origin of the 36 star astrolabe genre. In Tablet 5 lines 1-8 of the Enuma Elish (dated by some to the early Kassite era circa 1800-1600 BCE but likely circa 1200 BCE), the newly established principal god Marduk decides to establish a system of 36 stellar sectors (3 stars for each of the 12 months of the year i.e., 1 per sector) by bringing into existence 3 stellar paths (the path of Enlil, the path of Anu, the path of Ea) divided by 12 radii. No Sumerian writing offers a definitive creation account of the type found in the Babylonian Enuma Elish.

The evidence indicates that in Mesopotamia, aside from calendrical matters, astral omens preceded scientific astronomy. The earliest collections of celestial omens in Mesopotamia emerge in the Old Babylonia period, and reflected a purely Akkadian genre. Their main focus is indicated a lunar eclipses. The idea of signs in the heavens was, however, already established at least at Lagash in the late 3rd-millennium BCE (Cylinders of Gudea). (Lagash (modern Telloh) was one of the oldest and most important cities in ancient Sumer, located midway between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southeastern Iraq.) Also, the believed divine origin (and hence revealed character of its knowledge) of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil made the text fundamentally unalterable. However, the evidence indicates that text standardisation (literary stabilisation) involving deemed official scientific texts (involving the disciplines of divination, medicine, and magic) took place only in the Kassite period (1595-1155 BCE). Regardless, texts continued to appear that were produced by a different stream of tradition (para-canonicity). Additionally, there is the problem that texts may well have been corrupted, edited, and added onto.

Kolev's claim that the Panbabylonists were correct in their early dating for Babylonian astronomy is unfounded and unsupported by his own radical claims. With his controversial astrolabe dating claim Kolev only manages to introduce more controversial and flawed evidence. Nowhere does Kolev show that the original evidence and arguments of the Panbabylonists have veracity. Working against the high antiquity of scientific astronomy in Babylonia is the fact that in the Old Babylonian omen literature the Babylonians used to predict eclipses by the risings, settings, and colours of the planets, and by liver- and oil-divination, and astronomical omens such as halos, and fog. (See: Antike Beobachtungen farbiger Sterne by Franz Boll (1916, Page 24); "Babylonian Celestial Divination." by Erica Reiner. In: Ancient Astronomy and Celestial Divination edited by Noel Swerdlow. (1999, Pages 21-37; Page 23); Observations and Predictions of Eclipse Times by Early Astronomers by John Steele (2000); and "Eclipse Prediction in Mesopotamia." by John Steele (Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Volume 54, Number 5, February, 2000, Pages 421-454; See Page 426).) Not until the Assyrian period were attempts made to predict eclipses using sound astronomical knowledge. Circa the early 7th-century BCE lunar eclipses could be predicted only shortly before their occurrence. There is no evidence that the Babylonians possessed a physical theory of eclipses.

The (English-language) book review by John Steele, "Review of R. K. Kolev, The Babylonian Astrolabe: The Calendar of Creation," is in preparation to appear in the journal Archiv für Orientforschung.

Appendix 5: The Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru

Two texts (K 250 and K 8067) give 12 Stars of Elam, 12 of Akkad, and 12 of Amurru. (These are actually constellations.) The cuneiform texts are published in CT XXVI (Plates 40-41 and 44). Due to damage to the surviving texts we presently know 27 of the 36 stars of  Elam, Akkad, and Amurru. These 27 stars also occur in the "Astrolabes" and likewise are listed in order of their heliacal-risings. This establishes that the Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru are month-stars.

The term "Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru" may indicate different local traditions. Wayne Horowitz (MCG) states that the names of 27 of the 36 Elam-, Akkad-, and Amurru-stars are presently known. All of these 27 occur in the 'Astrolabes.' Horowitz also states that while these stars are month-stars their exact function (for example, omen function for the 3 countries Elam, Akkad, and Amurru - 1 star for each country and each month) is not certain. (At this period the different parts of the moon were also associated with Elam, Akkad, and Amurru. Akkad was the old designation of Babylonia.) The Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil perhaps derive from the earlier month-star system of the politically-based stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru. However, how the correspondence was determined is unknown. In 1949 Bartel van der Waerden suggested that the paths of Ea, Anu, and Ellil derive ultimately from the "Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru." The assyriologist Ulla Koch-Westenholz (Mesopotamian Astrology (1995, Pages 49-50)) in part of her translation of the directions for observing and interpreting an eclipse given in tablet 4 of the Astrological Commentary  Šumma Sin ina tāmartišu gives the statement "The Path of the stars of Enlil is for Akkad, the Path of the stars of Anu is for Elam, the Path of the stars of Ea is for Amurru." More recently, Wayne Horowitz states that no principle for the relationship between the Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru and the 'Astrolabes' and the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil is presently discernable. However, in his Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (Page 175) he writes: "A missing link between the "Astrolabe" lists and the [earlier] lists of Akkad, Elam, and Amurru-stars may be found in the astrological fragment 81-7-27, 81 - a learned commentary (mukallimtu) to the series Enuma Anu Enlil."

There were 3 major ethno-political forces during the late 3rd-millennium BCE (Neo-Sumerian Period) and early 2nd-millennium BCE (the Old Babylonian Period); Sumer and Akkad, Elam, and Subartu and Amurru. (Amurru, the land of the Amorites, was Syria.) The lists of Elam-, Akkad-, and Amurru- stars may not be as old as the Old Babylonian period as suggested by Bartel van der Waerden. In terms of the "Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru," Elam was the land to the east and was connected to the left, Amurru was the land to the west and was connected with the right, and Akkad, the home country, was located in-between (i.e., central). The god Anu was associated with Elam, the god Ea was associated with Amurru, and the god Enlil was associated with Akkad. In the 'Astrolabes' Anu was the god for the central part of the sky, Ea was the god for the southern part of the sky, and Enlil was the god for the northern part of the sky.

The earliest evidence for the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil dates to the 2nd-millennium BCE. The final section of a Hittite version of the Old Babylonian Prayer to the Gods of the Night (on VAT 7445, dated circa 1300/1200 BCE) enumerates 17 stars belonging to Ea and also refers to the stars of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. Not used, however, is the term harranu (= paths). Wayne Horowitz states (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography): "The earliest surviving evidence for harranu itself dates to the late second millennium; the Middle Babylonian "forerunner" to the "Astrolabes" HS 1897 from Jena and the slightly later Middle Assyrian Astrolabe KAV 218 (Astrolabe B)."

The table below is based on OAC by John Rogers, and SA2 by Bartel van der Waerden. The conjectural components are derived from OAC by John Rogers (1998).

Month Number Month Name Stars of Elam Stars of Akkad Stars of Amurru
I Nisannu Conjectural: DILI.PAT [= Venus] MUL.APIN [= Plough] I-IKU [= Field]
II Ajjaru Conjectural: MUL.MUL [Star of Stars = Pleiades] Is-li-e [Bull's Jaw = Hyades & Aldebaran (α Tauri)] [A-nu-ni-tum] Anunitum [= Lady of  Heaven] SHU.GI [= Old Man or Charioteer]
III Simānu Conjectural: URA (= UR.GU.LA) [= Lion, or Great Dog] SIBA.ZI.AN.NA (= Shitaddalu) [= Shepherd of Heaven] MUSH (= Shiru) [= Serpent]
IV Dūzu Conjectural: MASH.TAB.BA [= Twins] UD.AL.TAR (= SHUL.PA.E) [= Jupiter] KAK.SI.DI (= GAG.SI.SA) [= Arrow]
V Äbu Conjectural: BAN (= Pan) [= Bow] MAR.GID.DA [= Wagon] MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL [= Great Twins]
VI Ulūlu Conjectural: UGA-(mushen [= Raven]) SHU.PA (= Shudun) [= Yoke?] BIR (= Kalitum) [= Kidney]
VII Tašritu Conjectural: EN.TE.NA.MASH.LUM [= Wild Boar] [zi-ba-ni-tum] Zibanitum (= ZIB.BA.AN.NA) [= Scales of Heaven] NIN.MAH [= Exalted Lady]
VIII Arahsamnu GIR.TAB [= Scorpion] UR.IDIM [= Mad Dog] LUGAL (= Sharru) [= King]
IX Kislīmu Conjectural: UD.KA.DUH.A [= Panther-Griffin] UZA (= UZ) [= Goat] [sal-bat-a-nu] Salbatanu [= Mars]
X Tebētu GU.LA [= Great One] [A mushen] A-mushen (= Nashru) [= Eagle] AL.LUL (= Alluuttum) [= Crab]
XI Šabatu N[U.MUSH.DA] [= Swarm] DA.MU (= SHAH) [= [Pig of] God Damu SHIM.MAH [= Great Swallow]
XII Addaru Conjectural: KUA [= Fish] [ni-bi-rum] Nibirum (= dingir.Marduk) [= Jupiter] KA5.A [= Fox]

Appendix 6: The Rising Stars of Astrolabe B (Section B)

Based on the table in Science Awakening II: The Birth of Astronomy by Bartel van der Waerden (which owed to Ernst Weidner's article "Fixsterne" in Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie (Volume 3)); and the table in Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz. The word/determinative 'mul' (= 'star') in front of the names in the original text has, except for mul.mul where it is part of the name, been omitted. The predicates 'of Ea,' 'of Anu;' and 'of Enlil' which appear after the single names in the original text have been set at the top of the columns. The star and constellation identifications are mostly taken from Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia by Hunger/Pingree.

Month Number Month Name Path of Ea Path of Anu Path of Enlil
I Nisannu iku [Field (= Pegasus rectangle)] dil-bat (dili-bat) [= Venus (Planet)] gis apin [Plough]
II Ajjaru [Ayyaru] mul-mul [Stars (= Pleiades)] gir-tab [Scorpion (= Scorpius)] annunītu [a-nu-ni-tum (= north eastern part of Pisces)]
III Simānu gud-an-na (gud4-an-na) [Jaw of the Bull (= α Tauri and the Hyades (= is-lē)] zi-ba-ni-tum [Scales (= Libra)] mus [Snake (= Hydra)]
IV Dūzu [Du'uzu] sipa-zi-an-na  (siba-zi-an-na) [True Shepherd of Anu (= Orion)] u4-ka-du-a [Panther] mar-gid-da [Wagon (= Circumpolar) (= Ursa Maior)]
V Äbu kak.si.di [Arrow (Sirius) (But see Hunger/Pingree, (1999) for different identification.)] su-gi [Old Man (= Perseus)] [Likely restored as šu-pa? (sul-pa-e? / shul-pa-e?) (= Boötes (Arcturus?) [= Star] or (= Jupiter?) (= Planet)]
VI Ulūlu ban [Bow] sim-mah [Swallow] uza [She-goat (= Lyra)]
VII Tašritu nun-ki [(Star of the) City of Eridu (= Parts of Puppis and Vela)] ur-gu-la (ur-a) [Lion (= Leo)] ur-idem [Wolf (= α Trianguli)]
VIII Arahsamnu [Arahsamna] ninmah (nin-mah) [Great Lady (= Star of the goddess Ninmah.)] mas-tab-ba [Twins (= Gemini)] a-mushen (a-musen) (nasru?) [Eagle. The word 'mushen' means bird, and a-mushen (or more precisely a2-mushen) means Eagle.]
IX Kislīmu uridim [Mad Dog (= Lupus)] mas-tab-ba-gal-gal-la [Great Twins (= α and β Geminorum)] entena-mas-guz [Pig (Boar) (= Head and first coil of Draco (?))]
X Tebētu sal-bat-a-nu [Mars (= Planet)] al-lu-ut-tum [Crab (= Cancer)] u4-al-tar (ud-al-tar) [Jupiter (= Planet)]
XI Šabatu en-te-na-bar-hum (en-te-na-bar-sig) [= Habasirānu (Neither term has yet been translated but thought to be a star name or, perhaps correctly, a constellation (figure of a mouse (mouse-like creature) or rodent (?)) occupying most of the stars of Centaurus.)] uga (ugga) [Raven (Crow) (= Corvus and Crater)] ka5-a [Fox (= Circumpolar) (= 80-86 Ursae Maioris (?))]
XII Addaru [Adaru] nūnu [Fish (= Piscis Austrinus)] nēberu [= Star of the god Marduk [= Mercury? (Planet). Nēberu preceded by both the determinatives 'dingir' and 'mul' is being referred to as both a god and a star. Nēberu and the stations of Ea and Enlil are identified with the last month of the old year, Addaru/Adar.] šudun-im-ux-lu [Southern Yoke (also called several other names in later star lists, including 'Yoke of Ea.' Uncertain identification and whether a name for a constellation or single star.)]

Note: Regarding en-te-na-bar-hum/sig (Habasirānu). There remains some uncertainty about how to transcribe the Sumerian name of this star/constellation, as well as its exact identity. Various transcriptions such as Hasirānu / Habasirāttu are used. Thought by early assyriologists to be a star name but, perhaps correctly, by contemporary assyriologists to be a constellation (figure of a mouse (mouse-like creature) or rodent (?)) occupying most of the stars of Centaurus. (The name infers a mouse or rodent.) In Astrolabe B, Section C, Habasirānu is replaced by nu.muš.da ('Swarm') (and the Hyades are replaced by gu-la (gula) (Aquarius)). The identification of nu.muš.da is uncertain, and also whether it is a name for a constellation or single star (but Hunger/Pingree (1999) identify the star η or κ Centauri).

Appendix 7: Pinches Astrolabe

A composite list combining information from 4 'astrolabe' tablets.

Month Number Month Name Path of Ea Path of Anu Path of Enlil
I Nisan Field Venus Plough
II Ayar Stars Old Man Anunītu
III Sivan True Shepherd of Anu Lion Crab
IV Duzu Arrow Twins Jupiter
V Abu Bow Great Twins Wagon
VI Elul Kidney Raven ŠU.PA
VII Tesrit Ninmah Scales Habasirānu
VIII Arahsamna Mad Dog Scorpion King
IX Kislev Mars Panther She-goat
X Tebet GU.LA Crab Eagle
XI Sebat Numušda Swallow Pig
XII Adar Fish Fox Marduk

Appendix 8: The Assumed Tablet 51 of Enūma Anu Enlil

The star list (and their Paths) of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil, after Reiner/Pingree Babylonian Planetary Omens 2 (1981).

Month Number Month Name Path of Ea Path of Anu Path of Enlil
I Nisan Field Venus Plough
II Ayar Stars Scorpion Anunītu
III Sivan Jaw of the Bull Scales Snake
IV Duzu True Shepherd of Anu Panther Wagon
V Abu Arrow Old Man [ŠU.PA?]
VI Elul Bow Swallow She-goat
VII Tesrit NUN.KI [Lion] Wolf
VIII Arahsamna Ninmah [Twins] Eagle
IX Kislev Mad Dog Great Twins Pig
X Tebet Mars Crab Jupiter
XI Sebat Habasirānu Raven Fox
XII Adar Fish Nēberu Southern Yoke

Appendix 9: The Identification of Stars and Constellations

After a lengthy discussion of the issues Hunger/Pingree state (Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia, Page 63): "The "astrolabe" lists provide no information useful for identifying the constellations because we do not know the principles of their categorizations."

The primary effort in successfully identifying the constellations and star names listed in BM 86378 (Mul.Apin tablet 1) was carried out by first by Franz Kugler and then by Carl Bezold and August Kopff. The type of information contained in the constellation/star lists in Mul.Apin tablet 1 (BM 86378), an autograph copy of which was first published by the British Assyriologist Leonard King in 1912, provided a unique opportunity for the identification of Babylonian constellations. The Kopff-Bezold results (Zenit- und Aequatorialgestirne am babylonischen Fixsternhimmel (1913)) largely agree with the identifications made by Franz Kugler in his Supplement 1 (1913) to his Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel. Further work by later scholars largely confirmed their results.

The two tablets comprising the Mul.Apin series are essentially a series of structured lists grouped into 18 sections. Tablet 1 basically contains eight sections (including five star lists):

(1) A list of 33 stars in the Path of Anu, 23 stars in the Path of Enlil, and 15 stars in the Path of Ea.

(2) A sequential list of (heliacal rising) dates in the ideal calendar (i.e., based on a year comprised of 12 months of 30 days each) on which 36 fixed stars and constellations rose heliacally.

(3) A list of simultaneously rising and setting constellations.

(4) Time intervals between the heliacal rising dates of some selected stars.

(5) The visibility of the fixed stars in the East and the West.

(6) A list of 14 ziqpu-stars (i.e., stars which culminate overhead).

(7) The relation between the culmination of zipqu-stars and their heliacal rising.

(8) A list of stars and planets in the path of the moon. (The beginning of the second tablet continues the listing of (8) in tablet 1.)

The data contained in the Mul.Apin series is not quantifiable (i.e., precisely defined) and appropriate assumptions are required to be made (i.e., of the stars forming each constellation and which of these stars were listed to rise heliacally).

Kugler in his Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, Erg. 1, used lists (2) (3) and (6) and computed for 500 BCE at Babylon. Kopff used the same lists and computed for 600 BCE at Nineveh. I am presently unsure what lists Weidner used and what date and location he computed for. Later researchers used different lists. The German assyriologist Johann Schaumberger in his Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, Erg. 3, used lists (1) and (2). The Dutch mathematician Bartel van der Waerden in his Anfänge der astronomie (1966) used lists (2) and (4). List (4) is compiled from list (2) and its data is most subject to inaccuracy. Many significant differences exist between the identifications made by these four scholars. Erica Reiner and David Pingree, Babylonian Planetary Omens: Part Two (1981), using lists (3) and (6) in conjunction with a planetarium projector, concluded that the data best fit the date 1000 BCE and the location of Nineveh (circa 36° north). List (3) is independent of the schematic dates of risings in list (2).Also, the simultaneously setting constellations of list (3) are clearly determined by observation. List (3) was also the foundation for the constellation identifications (and the date and place of the observations) made by Herman Hunger and David Pingree in their Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia (1999).

Appendix 10: Earliest Babylonian Constellation/Star Records

The first formal compendium of constellation/star lists only appear circa the mid 12th-century BCE. These are the Three Stars Each (kakkabū 3ta.am) texts (i.e., star calendars). These constellation/star lists also appear in the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil which was consolidated sometime in the last quarter of the 2nd-millennium BCE. The second formal compendium of constellation/star lists appears circa 1100 BCE. This second (expanded) and more accurate compendium, basically derived from the Three Stars Each texts/lists, appears in the two-tablet Mul.Apin series. Both schemes are based on a tripartite division of the sky: the northern path of the god Enlil, the middle path of the god Anu, and the southern path of the god Ea. In the Three Stars Each scheme the 12 stars in each path are also individually placed into 12 sectors dividing the 3 paths. Two Middle Babylonian Period astronomical tablets (HS 1897 and BM 55502 (82-7-4, 76) contain close examples of a star/constellation catalogue in KAV 218 (= Astrolabe B). However, though related to the 36-star tradition of the Astrolabes they also contain a 30-star tradition (i.e., 10 stars each in the paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea). The Middle Babylonian tablet HS 1897, from Nippur, sets out the earlier 30-star catalogue. (In Babylonian number symbolism 10 was a number of finality or completeness.)

However, the earliest records of Babylonian constellations/stars date to the Old Babylonian Period. One astronomical (observational) text survives (the so-called Venus text (Tablet 63 of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil)), one astral omen text survives (related to the crescent moon becoming visible at the beginning of the new year - but no constellation/star names are recorded), and one prayer text (in two slightly variant versions) also survives (Prayer to the Gods of the Night).

The one astronomical text survives as a corrupted 7th-century copy, from the library of King Ashurbanipal (Tablet 63 of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil), of observations of the planet Venus (and also 59 associated astral omens) most probably made during the 21 year reign of King Ammisaduqa. No constellation/star names are recorded. (The recorded observations of Venus comprised the first and last appearances of Venus in the morning or evening sky, on the occasion of each conjunction with the sun, for 21 years.)

The one known astrological text was published by the Russian assyriologist Woldemar (Vladimir) Shilejko in 1927 (in the Russian journal Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR). The text contains predictions based on the state of the sky on the day when the crescent moon just becomes visible, at the beginning of the new year. (A summary of the paper was also later published in German.) No constellation/star names are recorded. The text of the Shilejko omen tablet contains 9 omens concerning the appearance of the sky, some omens concerning lunar phenomena, and some omens concerning atmospheric phenomena. Since then a number of other omen texts dating to the Old Babylonian period have become known (4 Old Babylonian tablets containing lunar eclipse omens have been identified in the British Museum): 5 or 6 tablets deal with lunar eclipse omens, 1 tablet deals with solar eclipse omens, and 1 tablet deals with planetary omens. (See: Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology by David Brown (2000).) Bibliotheca Mesopotamica 29 by Oliver Rouault (2011) discusses a (new?) fragment of a divinatory report dated to the Old Babylonian period.

Star names and constellations are mentioned in the Prayer to the Gods of the Night (also called Prayer for a Haruspicy at Night). (The relevant texts include AO 6769, K 2315, and K 3507.) This prayer was used in the course of a divination ceremony carried out at night. The great gods who ordinarily control the affairs of the world during the day are regarded asleep and resting during the night. These gods are therefore represented by several of the constellations of fixed stars. These constellations/stars are asked to witness the ritual and to guarantee that a true answer will be divined. One of two known texts of Prayer to the Gods of the Night dating from the Old Babylonian Period (preserved on AO 6769) refers to the names of 10 stars/constellations. The other (slightly variant) version was published by the Russian assyriologist Woldemar (Vladimir) Shilejko and lists only 9 stars/constellations. The earliest version of these is dated circa 1700 BCE. (A 3rd Old Babylonian version was identified in 1996 by Wayne Horowitz and Nathan Wasserman.) Two later versions are known: Hittite (circa 1300/1200 BCE) and Assyrian (circa 700 BCE from the library of king Assurbanipal (the latter actually exist as several fragmentary copies)). The breaks in the fragmentary texts involve the star-list. (A few constellations in this later version vary from those listed in the earliest version i.e., Ferry (= nēberu = Jupiter).) The Hittite version (on tablet VAT 7445 (published in KUB, Volume 4, Number 47) recovered from Boghazköy, the captial of the Hittite empire), embeds in a Hittite ritual a transcription by a Hittite scribe of an Old Babylonian Period text and enumerates 17 stars/constellations (belonging to the path of Ea). The Prayer to the Gods of the Night is the earliest surviving evidence of a 10-star tradition (i.e., 10 stars are assigned to the 12 months of the year). The use of 30 stars of Enlil, Anu, and Ea would appear to show a 2nd-millennium BCE tradition of listing stars in groups of 10 (i.e., 3 x 10; 10 stars each in the paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea). That is a division into 30 individual sectors comprising 3 concentric bands (rings) each divided by 10 radial lines. These would be important - not monthly - stars.) Both BM 55502 and HS 1897 preserve catalogues listing 30 stars - 10 stars each for the three paths of the sky. This scheme was later replaced by a scheme of 12 stars for each of the three paths of the sky (3 x 12 = 36). (One star for each country/path and each month. The paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil perhaps derive from the stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru.) However, the 30-star tradition scheme existed alongside the later 36-star scheme for circa the millennium between HS 1897 (late 2nd-millennium (early middle period)) and BM 55502 (late middle period). The 1st-millennium BCE tradition of Tikpi-, Māšu-, and Lumāšu-stars was based on the number 7. In K 250 and K 2067 (correctly K 8067?) (CT XXVI, Pages 40-41, 45) certain stars are arranged in groups of 7 Tikpi, 7 Lumāšu, and 7 Māšu.

The Tikpi-stars: (a) (1) mul su-gi (Perseus), (2) mul gu4-an-[na] / mul gu-an-na (Taurus), (3) mul sipa-zi-an-na / mul sitaddalu (Orion), (4) mul ur-gu-[la] / mul urgu[lu] (Leo), (5) mul mus / mul siru (Hydra (+ β Cancer) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has Hydra), (6) mul gir-tab / mul zuqaqipu (Scorpius), and  (7) mul lu-lim (Andromeda + Cassiopeia) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has Cassiopeia). (b) (1) mul gumlu (Auriga) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has mul gam = Auriga), (2) mul sarru (Regulus) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has mul lugal = α Leonis), (3) mul a-zu(?)-in (not yet identified) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has mul u5-ri-in = (?)), (4) mul ka-mus.niku.a (Andromeda-fog (?) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has mul ka-mus-ni-ku-e = α Cassiopeia), (5) mul gisli (Taurus) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has mul is li-e = Hyades), (6) mul siru (Hydra + β Cancri), and (7) mul us.si (Antares) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has mul NE-gun = α Scorpii). The Babylonians had 7 Tikpi-stars (i.e., red coloured stars) assigned to the planet Mars.

The Māšu-stars: (1) mul tu'amu rabuti / mul mas-tab-ba-gal-gal (α + β Gemini), (2) mul tu'amu sihruti / mul mas-tab-ba-tur-tur (λ + ζ Gemini (or τ + ν Gemini)), (3) mul tu'amu sa ina mihrit sitaddali izzazu / mul mas-tab-ba vis-à-vis the mul sipa-zi-an-na (? α + γ Orionis (ε + γ Geminorum)) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") has Orion + ε + γ Geminorum), (4) mul nin.sar and mul ur(?).ra.gal (mul ir-ra-gal) (? not yet identified / η + θ Lyrae ?), (5) mul pa and mul lu.gal (? not yet identified) (mul hanis mul sullat (α + β Centauri), (6) mul sar.ur and mul sar.gaz (λ + ν Scorpii), and (7) mul zibanitu / zi-ba-an-na (variation mul ku-an-na / mul ku-ki-sikil-la (The Scales (Libra / α + β Librae)). The 7 Māšu-stars were pairs of stars i.e., 'twin stars.'

The Lumāšu-stars (= Jupiter stars) (CT XXVI) (K250 and VAT 9418): (1) mul su-gi (Perseus), (2) mul u4-ka-du-a / mul nimru (Cygnus + Cepheus, (3) mul sipa-zi-an-na / mul sitaddulu (Orion), (4) mul kak-si-sa / mul sukudu (Sirius + Procyon) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") simply has Sirius), (5) Habasiranu (Centaurus) (Ernst Weidner (RLA "Fixsterne") has mul en-te-na-bar-sig = Centurus?), (6) mul nasru (Eagle (Aquila)), and (7) mul pa.bil.sag (Sagittarius). In Akkadian the term Lumāšu referred to (1) one of several stars whose heliacal risings fell at or near the solstices and equinoxes, and thereby served to divide the year, and (2) the zodiacal constellations, or a zodiacal constellation. Franz Boll believed the 7 lumāšu-stars were selected on the principal of the resemblance of their colour to that of Jupiter (planet of Marduk). The lumāšu-stars listed in late sources lie along the Milky Way.

Appendix 11: Apparent Scheme of Babylonian Star Lists to Mul.Apin/Possible Development of the Astrolabes (Three Stars Each)

(1) The Prayer to the Gods of the Night is the earliest surviving evidence of a star-list (and this star-list indicates a 10-star tradition). The Prayer dates to the Old Babylonian period and was perhaps extant circa 1800 BCE. The 10-star version of the Prayer to the Gods of the Night (preserved on tablet AO 6769) matches the Sumerian version of the bilingual menology in Astrolabe B, Section 1. In 10 of the 12 months the first item noted in the Sumerian-language version of the menology is the month-star for that month. The Prayer to the Gods of the Night listing 10 stars/constellations anticipates the 10-star astrolabe tradition. This 10-star list refers to Ištar, Sîn, Šamaš, and Adad bringing judgement. This reflects the 4 divisions of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil.

(2) Development of 30-star tradition astrolabe. Circa 1400 BCE development/composition of a list of 30 heliacally rising stars, 10 each in the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. Note: The original list from which both the Astrolabes and the Mul.Apin lists were derived. The Kassite period texts VS 24 120 (from Babylon) and HS 1897 (from Nippur) provide antecedents to Sections 1 and 2 respectively of Astrolabe B. The roughly contemporary text KUB 4 47 Prayer to the Gods of the Night, from Boghazoköy, provides the earliest direct evidence for the division of the night sky into the three Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. (Not used, however, is the term harranu (= paths).) No known precursors of any kind are presently known for Sections 3-4 of Astrolabe B. (BM 55502 (obverse unpublished) is also an "Astrolabe" text from Babylon and is dated to the Late Babylonian Period. The reverse of the tablet (published) contained a star catalogue listing 30 stars. Like the earlier "Astrolabes" the text is divided into three groups of ten stars from the Paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil.) When complete the star lists/catalogues of both HS 1897 (late 2nd-millennium (early middle period)) and, what is taken to be the reverse of, BM 55502 (late middle period) list only 30 stars (i.e., 3 x 10; 10 stars in each of the 3 paths of the sky - Enlil, Anu, and Ea. The use of 30 stars of Enlil, Anu, and Ea would appear to show a 2nd-millennium BCE tradition of listing stars in groups of 10 in each of the paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea. These would be important - not monthly - stars for each of the 3 stellar paths. They may have been used to help define the limits of the 3 stellar paths. Often the stars/constellations do not actually reside in their named star-paths - the paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil. This suggests that the star-paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil were introduced later than the stars/constellations assigned to them.

(3) Development of the Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru. 12 stars of Elam, 12 stars of Akkad, and 12 stars of Amurru. (These are actually constellations.) The Babylonian cuneiform tablets are K 250 and K 8067. Circa 1200 BCE tabular lists of the 12 stars of Elam, the 12 stars of Akkad, and the 12 stars of Amurru. Note: The names Elam, Akkad, and Amurru reflect the political situation in the Old Babylonian Period. (Note: It was suggested by Bartel van der Waerden (Science Awakening II) that these star lists preceded, and formed the basis for, the Three Stars Each texts. However, Wayne Horowitz (In: Calendars and Years, edited by John Steele (2007)) writes: "It was suggested at one time that the lists of 36 Elam, Akkad, and Amurru-stars found in The Great Star List were forerunners to the Astrolabe lists, but this idea must now be abandoned given the discovery of the 30 star precursor in HS 1897.") It is thought likely that the stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru formed part of the divinatory background to the astrolabes.

(4) Development of 36-star tradition astrolabe. What is taken to be the obverse of BM 55502 lists 36 rising and setting stars matching Astrolabe B, Section 4 (and parallels). BM 55502 demonstrates a knowledge of both 30-star and 36-star traditions existing alongside each other for nearly 1000 years. This scheme was later replaced by a scheme of 12 stars for each of the three paths of the sky (3 x 12 = 36). (One star for each country/path and each month. The paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil perhaps derive from the stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru.) However, the 30-star tradition scheme existed alongside the later 36-star scheme for circa the millennium between HS 1897 and BM 55502. Circa 1150 BCE circular planispheres (astrolabes) of the "three stars each" star calendars (12 stars of Ea, 12 stars of Anu, and 12 stars of Enlil). The astrolabes may have developed from the early star lists - 10-star tradition and expanded tradition, such as the 17-star list from Boghazköy (VAT 7445). Note: The omen fragment 81-7-27 provides a link between the lists of Akkad, Elam, and Amurru stars and the (later) Astrolabe lists. Sections 3-4 of Astrolabe B preserve the earliest surviving lists of 12-month stars for each of the three traditional stellar paths of Mesopotamian astronomy, giving a total of 36 stars.

(5) The Assumed Tablet 51 of the Omen Series Enūma Anu Enlil. The consolidation of the Omen Series Enūma Anu Enlil was achieved circa 1100 BCE. (The text was never actually 'fixed.') The star list (and their Paths) of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil, after Reiner/Pingree Babylonian Planetary Omens 2 (1981).

(6) Circa 1000 BCE the tabular form of the "three stars each" star calendars ("Astrolabes"). (The circular astrolabes preceded the list astrolabes.)

(7) Circa 1000 BCE the list of 71 stars of the "3 ways" - path of Ea, path of Anu, path of Enlil - of the Mul.Apin series. Note: The Mul.Apin list and the "Astrolabes" have 24 constellations in common. The Mul.Apin series does not completely abandon the earlier tradition of 36 stars that serves as the basis for the "three stars each" star calendars ("Astrolabes").

Appendix 12: Star Names and Constellations Mentioned in The Prayer to the Gods of the Night (AO 6769 and Erm. 15642)

AO 6769 preserves one of two of the earliest examples of the Prayer to the Gods of the Night. The prayer is addressed to the nocturnal stars and constellations. Though preserved on a Middle Babylonian copy (from Uruk-Warka) the text is dated to the Old Babylonian Period circa 1700 BCE. Most of the 10 stars / planets / constellations listed are on or near the ecliptic. The Prayer to the Gods of the Night is the earliest surviving evidence of a 10-star tradition (i.e., 10 stars are assigned to the 12 months of the year). (See also: "Another Old Babylonian Prayer to the Gods of the Night" by Wayne Horowitz and Nathan Wasserman (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Volume 48, 1996, Pages 57-60), for a discussion of a 3rd version of the prayer on a tablet that is probably from Sippar.) Of the 3 copies of likely early versions of the text of the prayer one or more of the tablets are likely Middle Babylonian copies of Old Babylonian originals.

Another prayer/haruspicy also identifies as a "god of the night": the goddess Ninsiana, as the planet Venus in the planet's male manifestation. Also identified in a text as "gods of the night" are mulNe-bi-ru (usually a name of Jupiter), Orion, Ursa Major, the Kidney Star, the Boar Star, Dilgan, Musirkesda, and also Sulpae. (Some commentators believe that Nebiru originally meant a constellation in or near Libra.)

10-Star Text/Version (AO 6769):

1.    the god Girra (Fire God) [Note: = Mercury? / Mars?. The astral identity of the Old Babylonian constellation Girra is uncertain (= Sirius?). Girra the Fire God is both a son of Anu and also a constellation in Girra and Elamatum.  In Babylonian uranography Sirius is also identified with the constellation of the Arrow.]

2.    the god Erra [Note: The astral identity of the Old Babylonian constellation Erra is uncertain (= Mars?). Erra is a god of the nether world.]

3.    the Bow [Note = A constellation or the star Sirius?]

4.    the Yoke [Note: Approximately our Boötes (or Arcturus?).]

5.    the True Shepherd of Anu [Note: = Orion.]

6.    the Dragon [Note: The mythical snake-dragon was the sacred animal (symbol) of Marduk. The Dragon is one of two 'serpent' constellations listed. mušhuššum (Akkadian loan-word of Sumerian MUŠ.HUŠ). An unidentified constellation (= the large circumpolar constellation Draco?). mušhuššum (mušhuššum-dragon) was a 'furious snake' or 'aweful snake': "The Snake"/"The Serpent" (= 'Snake-Dragon' or 'Serpent-Dragon' (Horned-Serpent) of the god Marduk). The god Marduk was associated with snakes.]

7.    the Wagon [Note: = Ursa Major (specifically 'Big Dipper' asterism).]

8.    the She-Goat (= Goat Star) (= Lyra (or Vega?)

9.    the Bison [Note: = Capricorn (or Ophiuchus / Serpens?). The stars comprising this constellation have not yet been reliably identified.]

10.  the Horned-Serpent [Note: The sacred animal of Marduk. The symbolism of Babylonian snakes is different to that of dragons. bašmum was a mythical poisonous snake, a horned viper (a kind of serpent-dragon or snake-dragon) possessing several tongues and jaws. Provisionally identified as a constellation north of Libra but also provisionally identified with Hydra. Hydra is a very long constellation - the largest in the sky - located in the region of the celestial equator.]

9-Star Text/Version (Erm. 15642):

ERM. 15642 preserves one of two of the earliest examples of the Prayer to the Gods of the Night. (The cuneiform tablet ERM. 15642 is in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum (Russia).) In this variant version published by the Russian assyriologist Woldemar (Vladimir) Shilejko, and also dated to the Old Babylonian Period circa 1700 BCE, the following 9 constellations are listed:

1. the god Girra

2. the god Erra

3. the Elamite Bow [Note: The Elamite Bow is not attested in later astronomical texts. (But the Bow does appear in Mul.Apin with the descriptor: The Bow, the Elamite dIstar, the daughter of dEnlil)]

4. the Stars [Note: = Pleiades. Conceived of as the 'mane' of the constellation Taurus.]

5. the True Shepherd of Anu

6. the Dragon

7. the Wagon

8. the She-Goat

9. the Bison

In this version both the Yoke and the Horned-Serpent (Hydra) are omitted and the Pleiades (the Stars) included.

A translation of the Prayer to the Gods of the Night (by F. J. Stephens) in Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament edited by J. B. Pritchard (1950) lists the stars/constellations: (1) Gibil, (2) Irra, (3) Bow (star), (4) Yoke (star), (5) Pleiades, (6) Orion, (7) the Dragon, (8) Ursa Major, (9) Goat (star), and (10) the Bison. I am uncertain of the source text for the list until I can sight my copy of the book.

Appendix 13: The Star-List from Boghazköy (VAT 7445)

The tablet VAT 7445 (published in KUB, Volume 4, Number 47) recovered from Boghazköy (the capital of the Hittite empire) in the early 19th-century, preserves a Hittite prayer/haruspicy ritual (based on the Old Babylonian Period Prayer to the Gods of the Night) that enumerates 17 stars/constellations (belonging to the path of Ea). VAT 7445 is dated to circa 1300/1200 BCE.

1.    a-ha-ti [= "Outside" (= Star/Constellation of the Outside) but W. G. Lambert proposes "Sister (of)." Franz Kugler had "Star of the Side" and identified part of Herculis.]

2.    Ga-ga [A god.]

3.    dDUMU.ZI [A god = Tammuz.]

4.    dNin-ki-zi-da [Sumerian serpent god.]

5.    E-pa-e

6.    MUL.MUL ["The Stars" = The Pleiades.]

7.    is le-e [The Jaws of the Bull.]

8.    Ši-pa-zi-a-na [The True Shepherd of Anu.]

9.    Ka4-ak-si-si

10.  GIŠ.BAN [The Bow.]

11.  GÍR.TAB [The Scorpion.]

12.  Á.MUŠEN [The Eagle.]

13.  KU6 [The Fish.]

14.  Ša-am-ma-ah

15.  Ka4-ad-du-uh-hu

16.  MÁŠ

17.  MAR.TU [The god Amurru identified with the constellation Perseus.]

Appendix 14: The 10-Star Tradition and 30-Star Catalogue

When complete the star lists/catalogues of both HS 1897 (late 2nd-millennium (early middle period)) and, what is taken to be the reverse of, BM 55502 (late middle period) list only 30 stars (i.e., 3 x 10; 10 stars in each of the 3 paths of the sky - Enlil, Anu, and Ea. (What is taken to be the obverse of BM 55502 lists 36 rising and setting stars matching Astrolabe B, Section 4 (and parallels).) The use of 30 stars of Enlil, Anu, and Ea would appear to show a 2nd-millennium BCE tradition of listing stars in groups of 10 in each of the paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea. These would be important - not monthly - stars for each of the 3 stellar paths. They may have been used to help define the limits of the 3 stellar paths.

The Prayer to the Gods of the Night is the earliest surviving evidence of a 10-star tradition. The 10-star version of the Prayer to the Gods of the Night (preserved on tablet AO 6769) matches the Sumerian version of the bilingual menology in Astrolabe B, Section 1. In 10 of the 12 months the first item noted in the Sumerian-language version of the menology is the month-star for that month.

BM 55502 demonstrates a knowledge of both 30-star and 36-star traditions existing alongside each other for nearly 1000 years.

This scheme was later replaced by a scheme of 12 stars for each of the three paths of the sky (3 x 12 = 36). (One star for each country/path and each month. The paths of Ea, Anu, and Enlil perhaps derive from the stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru.) However, the 30-star tradition scheme existed alongside the later 36-star scheme for circa the millennium between HS 1897 and BM 55502.

The late mention of the 30-star tradition in the 1st-century BCE writings of the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus is likely a garbled form of the 30-star tradition in Babylonia.

Appendix 15: Star Names and Constellations Mentioned in Hilprecht's Nippur Text (HS 229 now HS 245)

Based on the discussion of tablet HS 245 in Science Awakening II: The Birth of Astronomy by Bartel van der Waerden. This tablet (setting out an illustrative example for a school mathematical problem-solving text) dates to the Kassite Period (1530-1160 BCE) and the tablet is specifically dated between 1300-1000 BCE. Though purporting to measure distances in the sky The Hilprecht Text preserves preserves part of a mathematical exercise text concerning astronomical distances rather than a serious attempt to investigate distances between stars.

1.    MUL.MUL [mul.mul] (the Pleiades)

2.    SIBA.AN.NA [sipa.an.na] (Orion)

3.    KAK.TAG.GA [kak.tag.ga] (Sirius?)

4.    star SHU.PA [šu.pa] (Boötes (Arcturus))

5.    star BAN [pan] (the "bow" consisting of δ Canis Maioris and neighbouring stars)

6.    star GIR.TAB [gír.tab] (Scorpio)

7.    AN.TA.GUB (the "Outermost")

Appendix 16: Language Used to Record Star-Names in Mesopotamian Texts

According to Wayne Horowitz it was common practice in 1st-millennium BCE astronomical texts to write star-names with Sumerograms. Akkadian syllabic writings of star-names are rare in the 1st-millennium BCE.

As examples: (1) The reverse of Sm. 162 preserves a geometric drawing followed by 13 lines of text divided into 2 sections. The reverse of Sm. 162 preserves 5 star-names, some in syllabic Akkadian. In Sm. 162 4 of the 7 star-names are written in syllabic Akkadian. (2) In the Prayer to the Gods of the Night (K 3507; 1st-millennium BCE), 7 of the 8 preserved star-names are written with Sumerograms. (3) The Akkadian portion of the bilingual hemerology on the Middle-Assyrian Astrolabe tablet KAV 218 (Astrolabe B) preserves 6 of 7 star-names with syllabic Akkadian script. (4) Only 6 star-names are written in syllabic Akkadian in all of the 2-tablet series Mul.Apin.

Appendix 17: Egyptian Decan System Unrelated to Babylonian system of the "Three Stars Each"

The system of Egyptian decans did not originate in the Babylonian astral system. There were two systems of decanal stars. The first (and original) system (Old Kingdom period, circa 2800 BCE) used heliacal risings. The second (and later) system used meridian transits (New Kingdom period, circa 1500 BCE). The original system of Egyptian decan stars independently established during the Old Kingdom period were a set of 36 rising stars/asterisms along a single linear star path likely south of the ecliptic. The Babylonian Enuma Elish/Astrolabe/Mul.Apin system of 3 x 12 stars dates to the late 2nd-millennium BCE. The later Babylonian system comprised what may be termed an 'equatorial' system of 3 bands with 12 stars in each band. It is indicated that in the developing Babylonian uranography constellations came and went before the scheme eventually became fixed.

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Copyright © 2001-2016 by Gary D. Thompson


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