Survey of the History of Star Names and the Constellations: Essays and Critiques - Complete Index


All essays written by Gary D. Thompson

Copyright © 2001-2019 by Gary D. Thompson

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Part A:

Palaeolithic European Constellations:

One (1): Ice-age star maps? (Lascaux cave paintings, prehistoric amulet markings, cup marks, whorl markings, archaeoastronomy)

Palaeolithic Siberian-North American Constellations:

Two (2): Ice-age bear constellation? (North American bear constellation)

Chalcolithic / Early Bronze Age Levant Constellations:

Three (3): Lion iconography as constellation? (southern Levant sites, early Canaanite astral gods/goddesses, eight-pointed star at Teleilat el-Ghassul)

Early Mesopotamian Constellations:

Four (4): Sumerian constellations and star-names? (Sumerian astral knowledge, Sumerian usage in Akkadian language, goddess Inanna and planet Venus)

Five (5): Elamite lion-bull iconography as constellations? (lion-bull symplegma in Mesopotamia, lion-bull symplegma at Persepolis)

Late Mesopotamian Constellations:

Six (6): Kassite kudurru iconography as constellations? (kudurru god/goddess symbols)

Seven (7): Babylonian star calendars. (ideal schematic design of astrolabes, star lists on astrolabes, development of astrolabes, recent fantasy dating of astrolabes to 5500 BCE)

Eight (8): Babylonian Mul.Apin series. (Mul.Apin a compendium, Mul.Apin star lists, accuracy of text transmission, dating Mul.Apin)

Nine (9): Late Babylonian (Neo-Assyrian) planisphere. (planisphere K8538, recent fantasy interpretations of K8538, ziqpu planisphere)

Ten (10): Late Babylonian constellation depiction. (Seleucid era constellation depictions, date of bull constellation, Babylonian catasterisms, GU text BM78161)

Eleven (11): Babylonian world and universe. (Babylonian 'map of the world', levels of the Babylonian universe, Babylonian pole star(s)?, Babylonian astronomy)

Bronze Age European Constellations:

Twelve (12): The Nebra sky disk enigma. (Nebra disk interpretations, Bronze Age gold cones, early constellation patterns on the ground?)

Greek Constellations:

Thirteen (13): Eudoxus' Enoptron and Phaenomena, Aratus' Phaenomena, Classical Greek constellations. (Greek constellation set, Aratus' Phainomena, Hipparchus' critique of Aratus, Minoan constellations?, early star maps)

Fourteen (14): Sphaera Barbarica and Sphaera Graecanica. (the Zodiac of Cairo, the Planisphaerium Bianchini, the Sphaera Barbarica, Teucrus/Teucer)

Fifteen (15): Farnese celestial globe. (Farnese celestial globe, the Farnese Atlas image with the fig-leaf add-on, earliest depictions of Greek constellations?)

Roman Constellations:

Sixteen (16): Roman celestial globes. (early Greek and Roman celestial globes, the Kugel/Mainz/Premyslid celestial globes, the Berlin/Salzburg/Grand fragments, 'Planisphere of Geruvigus')

Seventeen (17): Mithraic uranography. (Mithraic uranography, David Ulansey on Mithraism, The Mithraic Ladder a Fiction?)

Early Egyptian Constellations:

Eighteen (18): The decan stars. (sources, the decan system, the decan lists, rising decans, transit decans, time-keeping corrections, Hellenised decans)

Nineteen (19): Northern and southern constellation groups. (northern and southern constellations groups, astronomical ceilings, the goddess Nut, identifying Egyptian constellations)

Late Egyptian Constellations:

Twenty (20): Denderah zodiac. (the Denderah zodiac, date of the temple of Hathor and round zodiac)

Pre-Islamic Arab Constellations:

Twenty-one (21): Arabic anwā' tradition. (pre-Islamic Arabian anwā' tradition, Arabian system of lunar mansions post-Islamic, pre- and post-Islamic Arabian constellations)

Iranian Constellations:

Twenty-two (22): Early constellations in Iran. (cosmological significance of ziggurats?, early Iranian constellations, earliest planetariums, astral bronze bowl, the celestial bow and arrow)

Indian Constellations:

Twenty-three (23): Early constellations in India. (astronomy of the Rig Veda, the 27/28 lunar stars/asterisms (the nakatras), transmission of Indian astronomy to China, astral gods/goddesses)

Chinese Constellations:

Twenty-four (24): Early constellations in China. (early scholarly studies, Neolithic Chinese constellations, the "standard' Chinese celestial system, the lunar lodges, gnomon use in Borneo)

Twenty-five (25): Early Chinese star maps. (the Dunhuang star chart, Aurel Stein, early Chinese star maps, later Chinese sky maps)

Modern Western Constellations:

Twenty-six (26): Hipparchus' star catalogue, Ptolemy's star catalogue. (Claudius Ptolemy, Ptolemy's star catalogue, Arabic translation of Ptolemy's Almagest, contents of ancient star catalogues)

Twenty-seven (27): The Carolingian period. (the transmission of Aratean constellation figures, Carolingian celestial maps, Aratus Latinus)

Twenty-eight (28): Post-Islam Arab-Islamic constellations. (the Qusayr 'Amra lodge, constellations painted inside Qusayr 'Amra lodge bath house, the (variable) demon star Algol)

Twenty-nine (29): Al-Sufi's star catalogue. (Al-Sufi, Book of the constellations of the Fixed Stars, Arabic astrolabes and astronomical globes, translation schools in Islamic middle ages (Syria, Persia), translation schools in Latin middle ages (Spain, Sicily))

Thirty (30): Gherardo of Cremona. (Gherardo of Cremona, literal translation of Ptolemy's Almagest, medieval adoption of Arabic star names, transmission of Greek and Arabic texts to Europe)

Thirty-one (31): The eclipse (Late Middle Ages) and restoration (Late Renaissance) of Aratea. (the influence of Michael Scotus and then Albert Durer on constellation iconography)

Thirty-two (32): The constellating of the southern sky. (Pieter Keyser, Frederick de Houtman, the sky globe of Petrus Plancius, the celestial atlas of Andreas Cellarius, the Southern Cross stars)

Amateur Mesopotamian Constellation Studies:

Thirty-three (33): Robert Brown's Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations. (biographical details, Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations unreliable)

Amateur Western Constellation Studies:

Thirty-four (34): Title page of Carl Swartz's book on the origin of the constellations. (biographical details, 'void zone' argument, Edward Maunder's support of the 'void zone' argument, Petter Swartz)

Thirty-five (35): Title page of Robert Brown's translation of Aratus' Phainomena. (Brown's misinterpretation of Phainomena, Brown's misunderstanding of Babylonian planispheres)

Thirty-six (36): Richard Allen's Star-Names: Their Lore and Meaning. (biographical details, Star-Names and Their Meanings unreliable, reliable modern sources for star names)

Pioneer Mesopotamian Constellation Studies:

Thirty-seven (37): Franz Kugler's Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel. (biographical details, Die Babylonische Mondrechnung, Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, types of astronomical texts)

Thirty-eight (38): Ernst Weidner's Handbuch der babylonischen Astronomie. (biographical details, Weidner's early Panbabylonism, Handbuch der babylonischen Astronomie unreliable)

Thirty-nine (39):Carl Bezold's Zenit- und Aequatorialgestirne am babylonischen Fixsternhimmel. (biographical details, use of Mul.Apin star lists, Werner Papke's erroneous early dating of Mul.Apin)

Pioneer Western Constellation Studies:

Forty (40): Guillaume Postel, Ludwig Ideler, and Philipp Buttmann. (biographical details of Guillaume Postel, Ludwig Ideler, and Philipp Buttmann, their studies of constellation names)

Forty-one (41): Title page of Georg Thiele's Antike Himmelsbilder. (biographical details, Antike Himmelsbilder still an important study, Thiele's view that Farnese globe based on Hipparchus' catalog)

Forty-two (42): Franz Boll's Sphaera and Aus der Offenbarung Johannis. (biographical details, studies of ancient astrology, Sphaera still an important study, Aus der Offenbarung Johannis speculative)

Forty-three (43): Wilhelm Gundel's Sterne und Sternbilder im Glauben des Altertums und der Neuzeit. (biographical details, studies of ancient astrology and astronomy, Hans Gundel)

Modern Constellation Studies:

Forty-four (44): Modern investigators of constellations and star names. (Hermann Hunger, Johannes Koch, David Pingree, Erica Reiner, Gerd Grasshoff, Andre le Boeuffle, Paul Kunitzsch, Roland Laffitte)

Part B:

Investigating the Origin of the Constellations:

One (1): Methodologies for Investigating Constellation Origins.

Two (2): The Constellation Detectives.

Three (3): Carl Gottlieb Swartz (Svartz/Schwartz).

Four (4): Biographies of Modern Historians of Ancient Occidental Astral Sciences.

General History of the Constellations:

Five (5): An Outline Sketch of the Origin and History of Constellations and Star-Names.

Six (6): The Origin of the Greek Constellations: A Synopsis.

Seven (7): Chronological Development of Mesopotamian Star-Lists in the Second Millennium BCE.

Eight (8): The Entry of Arabic Star Names into Europe.

Babylonian Astronomy:

Nine (9): A Chronological History of Babylonian Astronomy.

Ten (10): The Influence of Religion and Astronomy on the Development of Astrology.

Eleven (11): The Origin of the Zodiac.

Twelve (12): The Myth of Babylonian Knowledge of Precession.

Greek Astronomy:

Thirteen (13): Early Greek Astronomers and Astronomy.

The Panbabylonism Fantasy:

Fourteen (14): The Development, Heyday, and Demise of Panbabylonism.

Fifteen (15): Critics and Criticisms of Hamlet's Mill.

Critiques of Popular Theories:

Some comments: Some comments on issues relating to particular critiques.

Sixteen (16): Critique of Willy Hartner's Astronomical Interpretation of Lion-Bull Combat Iconography.

Seventeen (17): Critique of Alexander Gurshtein's Theory of Constellation Development.

Eighteen (18): Critique of John McHugh's Astronomical Interpretation of Noah's Flood.

Nineteen (19): Matthew's Star an Historical Fiction.

Twenty (20): Critique of Clyde Hostetter's Ideas on Mesopotamian Bronze Age Astronomy.

Twenty-One (21): Some Critical Comments on "Origins of the Ancient Constellations" by John Rogers.

Twenty-Two (22): David Ulansey and the Origin(s) of Mithraism. (To be posted shortly.)

Star Names and Constellations in the First Millennium BCE:

Twenty-Three (23): Mesopotamian Star Lists and Star Names in the First Millennium BCE.

Twenty-Four (24): Greek Constellations and Constellation Myths in the First Millennium BCE.

Twenty-Five (25): The Influence of Babylonian Uranography on the Origin of the Greek Constellations.


Twenty-Six (26): Notes on the Origin of the Seven Day Week.

Twenty-Seven (27): A Brief History of the "Phantom Time" Delusion and its Main Advocates.

Twenty-Eight (28): The Great Year and Its Confusion With the Precessional Year.

Pioneering Astral Mythologists and Archaeoastronomers:

Twenty-Nine (29): Some Forgotten Early Astral Mythologists and Archaeoastronomers.

The Catholic Church and Astronomy in the Middle Ages

Thirty (30): The Roman Catholic Church and Astronomy in the Middle Ages: Some Notes on Facts and Fallacies.

Book Reviews:

Thirty-One (31): Mesopotamian Astrology: The Mother of Modern Astronomy by Swapan Kumar Adhikari (2009).


Thirty-Two (32): A Brief History of Observations of the Zodiacal Light.

Thirty-Three (33): Babylonian Pole Star(s)?

Thirty-Four (34): Essay Review of the Ideas Behind The Babylonian Astrolabe: The Calendar of Creation by Rumen Kolev (2013).

Part C:

The Recovery of Babylonian Astronomy:

One (1): Introduction.

Two (2): Acquisition of Cuneiform Tablets by the British Museum.

Three (3): The Jesuits and Science in the 19th-Century, the "Jesuitengezetz."

Four (4): The Strassmaier Era - Johann Strassmaier.

Five (5): Joseph Epping.

Six (6): Joseph Hontheim, and Franz Kugler; Franz Kugler and Panbabylonism.

Seven (7): Johann Schaumberger, and Albert Schott.

Eight (8): Peter Jensen, Robert Brown Junior, Carl Bezold, Ernst Weidner, Arthur Ungnad, Antonie Pannekoek, and Felix Gössmann, etc.

Nine (9): The Pinches Era - Otto Neugebauer and Abraham Sachs (and Theophilus Pinches), and Bartel van der Waerden.

Ten (10): The Modern Era - David Pingree and Erica Reiner, David Pingree and Hermann Hunger.

Eleven (11): Johannes Koch, Ulla Koch-Westenholz, Wayne Horowitz, Gerd Graßhoff, and David Brown, etc.

Twelve (12): Conclusion.

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