Ancient Zodiacs, Star Names, and Constellations: Essays and Critiques


Critique of Clyde Hostetter's Ideas on Mesopotamian Bronze Age Astronomy by Gary D. Thompson

Copyright © 2010-2018 by Gary D. Thompson


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Critique of Clyde Hostetter's Ideas on Mesopotamian Bronze Age Astronomy

 

Nearly four centuries ago, the poet John Milton, writing about Truth, said: "Let her [truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"

 

Question: Why are elephants big, grey, and wrinkled? Answer: Because if they were small, white, and smooth, they would be aspirins!

 

Clyde Hostetter (undated).

 

Part 1: The Copper Bowl - Sumerian or Islamic?

Note (14 January 2016): Hostetter's claims to revolutionise our understanding of early Near Eastern astronomy comprises strong but misplaced self-confidence and fantastic grand claims. Clyde Hostetter is convinced he is exactly the right person to interpret the material he adduces. However, even a cursory analysis shows he is exactly not the right person to interpret the material - he is ignorant of the facts and the subject. Also, Hostetter believes (or would have us believe) he is combating scholarly dogma. Why Hostetter believes his ideas are plausible is puzzling. Hostetter needs to understand that if the basis for a claim is bad then the claim is unreliable. Based on the solid evidence we do have his ideas are not plausible. Hostetter's evidence and methods comprise nothing more than a demonstration of fallacious arguments. Hostetter's claims/theories are baseless. Also, they are fabulous and false. His book, popular articles, and internet postings are full of misrepresentations, tendentious distortions, unsupported generalities, and illogical arguments. His claims and arguments resemble a parody of responsible scholarship. Moreover, he has persisted with such for some 3 decades - always accusing his critics of lacking suitable knowledge and presenting erroneous arguments. He provides no example of skill in taking relatively small quantities of data from original sources of evidence and then using logic, context, and a critical assessment of validity - without distortion - to construct a larger scenario from that base. The paucity of his evidence is unable to support his rather grandiose assertions. Looking at how Hostetter uses 'evidence' and what sort of 'evidence' he uses, it is not difficult to quickly raise doubts about his claims. The classic example is that his claim of verifiable evidence for Sumerian planetary astronomy lies with his interpretation of the iconography on his copper bowl, but this iconography only proves its Qajar period dating - a difference of some 5-millennium! Clyde Hostetter is a cherry picker in crafting his particular pseudo-history. Hostetter has continually attempted to ensure that he is taken seriously - at least by the uninformed. He makes use (in a vague way) of his past academic position as a Professor at Calpoly. He attempts to write in an interesting style and in a way that lures less knowledgeable persons into accepting that his views are credible. Hostetter only really acknowledges his own ideas and arguments and ignores or dismisses expert knowledge. (Despite the rhetoric of evidence his ideas are not plausible. Expert advice should have been sought in the areas for which he was not competent.) He remains convinced he has made breakthrough discoveries that justify him continuously criticising what he sees as a "primitivist" interpretation of 3rd-millennium BCE Mesopotamian astronomy by experts, and attempts to introduce his own revisionist history of the development of early astronomy. There is little in the way of an interdisciplinary approach. The precaution of tentative answers are substituted with fictional scenarios. Confidence in his arguments is not enhanced by the lack of detailed explanation of the methods he is using. Hostetter criticises experts and attempts to write as an authority on subjects he has no academic training in. Interestingly, he also seems determined to take offence if criticised. Hostetter's beliefs exceed his evidence and expertise. Experts are better than others at telling the difference between gumdrops and the true fruit of reason. Hostetter has chosen to remain oblivious to specialist expert knowledge. Hostetter prefers his homemade story (no other persons support his claims) in preference to the historical realities revealed by expert research. As far as I am aware my critique is the only detailed critical investigation of Hostetter's claims. Hostetter simply choosing to do nothing more than engage in select irrelevant objections to my critique is a puerile exercise. (It is evident that Hostetter draws on the absence of (continual) informed responses to his claims. My view is that misinformation peddlers need to be held to account.) Part 1 of this essay was written over the course of several years, but mostly during an intense 6-month period of full-time research. A starting point was the decoration on the outside and inside of the copper bowl is obviously Arab-Islamic. Initially, I thought the copper bowl iconography may have been connected with a medieval Arab-Islamic magic bowl. This idea was written into what was a progressive investigative essay. It then became obvious to me that the copper bowl was certainly no earlier than the Safavid period (1502-1736). In late (September?) 2012 I was able to identify it as a Qajar period (1795-1925) copper bowl. This makes some earlier material comprising part of the exploratory nature of the essay redundant. However, until I have available time the essay will remain as written. The content reflects the progressive nature of my investigation. Hostetter attacks and denigrates the work of anybody who disagrees with him. I consider it important to include mention of most but not all tactics employed against me by Hostetter to avoid, deflect, or deter my criticisms. Hostetter (Hastro-L, 24-9-2015): "My main concern is not his criticism, but GT's putting it in a permanent web site." Apparently Hostetter believes he can persistently publish his claims in a permanent form and ignore engagement with critical responses - but additionally he believes that critics are not to publish their critical responses in a permanent form on the web. Unavoidably the more recent aspects of dealing with Hostetter's fantasies is in the form of postings to Hastro-L Over the years there would seem to be a small number/band of "alternative/independent researchers" whose purpose is to pursue their pet theories on-list. After a while some cease posting whilst others simply continue.

Professional historians of science have shown no interest in accepting Hostetter's claims. This, however, is irrelevant to justifying the length and detail of this critique. That Hostetter can keep presenting his evidenceless claims for some 30 years has encouraged some finalisation that hopefully will not be mistaken for monomaniacal sleuthing.

Note: The term "cherry picking" is a colloquialism usually used in informal speech but also used in writing. It denotes the act of selectively choosing from available information that which seems to confirm a particular position while ignoring significant information that does or may contradict that position. Because its use has the intent of obtaining an advantage in establishing a case by presenting an argument in the best possible light, and in doing so subverting the normal goal of accurate assessment, cherry picking always has a negative connotation. It is biased evidence ("evidence" hunting). There is no attempt to work critically with the best available body of (historical) evidence. The intention is to only seek "affirming" evidence. It manipulates the reader/listener through presentation of selective evidence, to convince them to accept the same view. Ignoring inconvenient evidence identifies the lack of impartiality. Another technique/strategy is "framing;" the attempt at influencing by the way information is presented.

Hostetter's unrelenting promotion of his key ideas outside of a scholarly framework of discussion and publication highlights the vexing presence of amateurs and dilettantes who pay little heed to experts and deem themselves to be the better judges of historical matters. (Hostetter does not hesitate to be offensive and denigrate those persons who have achieved expert knowledge.) Hostetter constantly displays a misplaced self-confidence about his opinions. His 'arguments' demonstrate a desire to dominate 'discussions' with word-smithing rather than rigorous evidence. That he should confidently expect a re-evaluation of the early history of astronomy based on his problematic and dismal standard of 'evidence' is astonishing. Mostly his gossamer case is made by accepting his speculative ideas as proven facts. His beliefs rather than evidence support his case. Hostetter's claimed basis for a major review of the early history of astronomy, like so many other speculative and unsubstantiated claims being made by various people, keep falling into total obscurity until he resurrects them in the guise of new ideas. However, he never moves past what is basically rhetoric on his part. Hostetter has continually absolved himself from the responsibility of needing to re-examine and re-evaluate his evidence and assumptions. His attempt at alternative history of early astronomy is a fanciful notion untroubled by issues of quality of evidence. What the copper bowl and other sources used by Hostetter really tells us is something quite different to his misinterpretations. Hostetter dismisses all competing interpretations (without discussion and assessment). Hostetter has not demonstrated he is willing to deal with evidence seriously. He has not demonstrated scholarly concern with the correct reading and interpretation of sources. Hostetter does continue to demonstrate his flair for cherry-picking evidence. Hostetter has shown a tendency to promote speculation over critical scholarship and analysis. He also attempts to fabricate facts. The frustrating issue with any correspondence with Hostetter is his constant refusal to look beyond his own personally held beliefs and objectively consider all the available evidence and its implications. It might be said that by ignoring the work of others and a full review of the evidence Hostetter is trying to succeed by giving half the story. However, what Hostetter gives is not soundly based. None of his writings on his history of astronomy claims fall within the category of serious works. They are exaggerated speculations that fall with the category of rubbish. He is (or has been) a source of unrelenting misinformation. His changes of dates for the astronomical interpretation of Inanna's Descent is done without acknowledgement that he has done so. His publications are evidence of the utmost intellectual naivety, lacking even the outward appearance of academic procedure. All of Hostetter's major claims are wrong. His book, articles, and presentation material are filled with numerous factual errors and outlandish assertions that it is hard to believe that Hostetter is serious. Dilettantes of his ilk should not be surprised that their views are not taken seriously by real scholars, mentioned by experts in the field, or even read by them.

It is only possible to evaluate Hostetter's historical claims if one possesses sufficient background information to be able to appraise the veracity of the evidence Hostetter uses to support his claims. Hostetter's imagination obviously remains untroubled and untrammelled by what a careful study of the historical and archaeological evidence establishes. Hostetter prefers his own homemade alternative history to what has been established by careful expert research. The concept of misrepresentation does not seem to occur. Hostetter has been constantly stubborn to criticism. However, it is evident that my criticisms have caused Hostetter to change somewhat from dogmatic assertions to one of expressing his opinions. Hostetter has redefined the content of his Inanna material from certainty to that of being his contributions that are based on his opinions of his findings. However, Hostetter no doubt hopes that the discussion of his major claims will not fall silent with his death - something that might reasonably have been assured. Hostetter's assertions may perhaps be continued by non-expert supporters.

Hostetter needs to demonstrate care with evidence. Also, Hostetter fails to ground his claims in historical reality. The conclusions of notable and qualified historians and assyriologists are simply rejected by Hostetter. Additionally, he berates them for not embracing his opinions. Hostetter attempts to create a new history of early Near Eastern astronomy for which there is absolutely no evidence. Hostetter has constantly willfully ignored countervailing data instead of rethinking his claims in the face of it. Also, contextual considerations are deliberately bypassed or left unexplored. Obviously for fear of having his preferred conclusions destroyed. He is overconfident as a judge of his own knowledge. Hostetter's claims demonstrate "self-perceived expertise." He has also created for himself the illusion of explanatory depth. He overestimates his knowledge of the issues. He claims a better understanding than he can demonstrate. Hostetter has an inability to perceive his own incompetence in the subject matters (the Dunning-Kruger effect explained in 1999). Hostetter's publications are full of misrepresentations, tendentious distortions, unsupported generalities, and illogical arguments.

The quicksand terrain of pseudohistory is a trap for the interested public who do not take the time to investigate the validity of astounding claims.

Pseudoscience (pseudohistory) is a belief or process which masquerades as science (history) in an attempt to claim a legitimacy which it would not otherwise be able to achieve on its own terms; it is also known as fringe science (fringe history) or alternative science (alternative history). It lacks the inclusion of critical thinking and its evidentiary base is not self correcting. It encompasses the rejection of science and scientific knowledge (that is, the rejection of objective standards). Pseudohistory also undermines a suitable understanding of the world. Some people see the issue of proponents of pseudohistorical and pseudoscientifc claims as one of freedom of speech and involving the requirement for respectful debate with these people (as though their claims had the value of equal scholarship). Apparently this is also to extend to the medical and health fields. For some 50 years we have seen the situation occur where amateurs - on a whole range of issues and claims - think nothing of readily challenging the ideas of experts as though their own nonexpert opinion has equal weight. There surely is a 'right' to understand the status of the person who is making radical claims (they after all want to convince others of their correctness) and there surely is a 'right' to rely on the views of experts - at least to appreciate the context of the issues.

The proponents and followers are not likely to be persuaded by balanced debates or engage in balanced debates becomes an issue. The fact is that a non-scientific public is able to embrace and act on erroneous beliefs. The issues are wider than simply a free speech issue or "open your mind" issue. The fair consideration of all ideas = all opinions are entitled to get equal circulation. The idea is a licence for the promotion of crank ideas. It would be difficult to evaluate every fringe history/alternative history claim that was proposed. The evidentiary burden is the responsibility of those making claims. Legitimacy of claims is not simply a point of view. Truth and falsehood is not just a matter of opinion. It seems to be implied that there are no consequences originating from pseudohistory and pseudoscience, but this overlooks that erroneous ideas can be acted upon by proponents. Part of the concern is the erosion of critical attempts to reliably establish history as is best able to be done with the available evidence. There seems to be an assumption that error-riddled claims will collapse of their own weight in the "light of cold truth." Some specific reasons people believe in pseudohistory are: (1) it matches their established beliefs, and (2) the uncanny ability of proponents to cast doubt on established knowledge. The latter point skews evidence-based discussion. The construction of debates regarding presentation of credible evidence rather than claims being asserted becomes important. Pseudoscience and pseudohistory distracts from legitimate science. Getting people to understand to understand legitimate science and legitimate history is difficult enough. Pleading rights of expression and dignity of discussion for enthusiastic purveyors of pseudoscientific and pseudohistorical beliefs is problematic. When evidence or believed evidence fails proponents of pseudo beliefs attempt other approaches.

A claim without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Evidence can function to provide proof that something is so. Also, evidence can function to provide proof that something is not so. The critique comprises 3 parts. The 1st part is a critiques of Hostetter's claims for the copper bowl in his possession i.e., it is a Sumerian bowl containing coded planetary astronomy and an eclipse predictor. The 2nd part is a critique of his claims for Inanna's Descent i.e., that it is a coded record of planetary movements, primarily Venus. The 3rd part of this essay is basically a record of exchanges posted to Hastro-L, with some comments. Nothing new is being introduced by Hostetter.

Introduction

This systematic critique focuses on Homer Clyde Hostetter's proof and logic for his 2 major persistent claims, and their overall implausibility. Hostetter has been far from convincing since his earliest publications - which have been the starting point inviting serious criticism. Hostetter's ideas are dubious because they are inconsistent with establish historical data AND they lack any credible supporting evidence. The essay is also - in some aspects - a chronicle of Hostetter's ongoing strategies to promote his ideas whilst avoiding any critical discussion. This essay also critiques in detail some 15 claims that have been made by Clyde Hostetter. (Included within scientific methodology is the critiquing of data/facts and methodologies used.) In all these claims Hostetter engages in pure speculation and then tries to present the unfounded and highly questionable speculation as facts. Hostetter, consistently over some 35 years, conjures answers from arguments that are not based on facts and evidence. His obvious obsession results is a lesson in pseudo-archaeology and pseudo-scholarship. My reason for critiquing in detail is because Hostetter persistently keeps on trying to re-establish a case even if based on evasiveness/repetition of claims. His reluctance to engage my criticisms does not even permit the status of a tiresome dialogue of the deaf to be achieved. Part 1 is a focus on Hostetter's 'copper bowl' claims. Hostetter claims that his (supposed/unverified) decipherment of the iconography on the copper bowl comprises a grand discovery in the early history of astronomy. Hostetter has a history of making fantastic pronouncements about the early history of astronomy. However it is evident there is zero evidence for his claims and a lack of sound analysis of the issues. No adequate methodological explanation is given or even attempted. We have only pseudo history-of-astronomy mysteries. It is evident that he wishes it to be the way he claims. *NOTE: Now established (July 2013) by 2 British Museum experts - 1 in Mesopotamian artifacts/art and 1 in Islamic artifacts/art - as not being Sumerian, Babylonian or Assyrian; but a late 19th-century or early 20th-century (i.e., Qajar period) bowl. The bowl conformed to all the mores of Islamic art, and none of those of Ancient Near Eastern art.* This is exactly what I have maintained from circa mid 2012. Hostetter's copper bowl and his claims for it have proved to be historically worthless. Part 2 is a focus on Hostetter's particular astronomical interpretation of the Sumerian myth of The Descent of Inanna to the Underworld. Part 3 is a catalogue of the numerous claims made by Hostetter (with some notes critiquing them). Some allowances need to be made for the progressive nature - and sometimes repetitive nature - of the content of the essay. I presently have little time to re-edit the progressive content. Hostetter has never provided a critical historical investigation of his claims. The present essay does. It is well past time that Hostetter's numerous claims are relegated to footnotes in the history of attempts to create historical sensations.

This essay began in 2010 following some 6 months of intensive investigation into Hostetter's claims for his copper bowl. Hostetter first contacted me on 22 May 2006 via e-mail with claims for his 112 year eclipse cycle that was 6 days short of 112 tropical years that he claimed to have discovered on a small copper bowl he purchased in Saudi Arabia in 1976. He also claimed a match with the sidereal cycles of the planet Venus. Shortly thereafter he contacted me again by e-mail regarding my essay critiquing Hartner's theory of the lion-bull combat as constellations and Hostetter mentioned his book, Star Trek to Hawai'i'. As a result of Hostetter's persistent Hastro-L postings on his claims I obtained a copy of his book and was not impressed. In late 2009 and early 2010 I finally had the time to do a detailed investigation of his copper bowl claims and begin to look also at his particular astronomical interpretation of The Descent of Inanna to the Underworld.

[Homer] Clyde Hostetter taught agricultural journalism at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, an old mission city) from 1958 to 1983 (retired 1983). According to Robert E. Kennedy Library Archives at Calpoly, Hostetter was Professor of Agricultural journalism. One of 3 archival photographs of Hostetter at Calpoly is dated circa 1940-1960 and identifies him as Professor of Agricultural Journalism. (I have never seen Hostetter make this specific identification.) One astronomy publication states that Hostetter was "... a Navy officer in WWII in the Pacific ...." The USC Naval ROTC Alumni League has few details but under 'Biographies - Class of 1945' notes that Homer Clyde Hostetter was "Commissioned Ensign USNR 20 Feb 1945." In the US Navy this is the lowest commissioned officer rank. WWII ended in mid August, 1945. Conflicting with this is a website that states for H. Clyde Hostetter: "Lieutenant (jg.) United States Navy, 1943-1945." Lieutenant (jg.) = Lieutenant Junior Grade. Lieutenant Junior Grade, or LTJG, is the second commissioned officer rank in the United States Navy, and is equivalent to the rank of First Lieutenant in other services. Promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade from Ensign usually occurs about 2 years after an officer has received their commission as an Ensign. Sailors may receive earlier or later promotions at the discretion of their commanding officers, based on their experience and display of leadership skills. Hostetter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1949 with a photo-journalism degree. (I have not seen evidence of any other qualification being held i.e., a post-graduate qualification.) While studying at the University of Missouri Clyde Hostetter was one of 2 university students to secure a city-council permit to operate the Campus Photo Service. This was needed as a source of income to supplement his "G.I. allowance cheque" which was insufficient to cover all his school expenses. He then joined the Topeka Daily Capital as a reporter-photographer. Both his brothers, Robert Hostetter and Philip Hostetter, have pursued different careers. Philip Hostetter (1917-2004) graduated from the University of Kansas Medical School in 1942. Clyde Hostetter was awarded the status of Professor Emeritus of Journalism for his academic services. Since circa 2009 he has fully retired and currently (2010-2012) resides with his wife Carolyne in Tempe, Arizona (retirement community of Friendship Village Tempe). Both are members of the Tempe First United Methodist Church. Hostetter became interested in archaeoastronomy in 1976 whilst working in Saudi Arabia for the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Commission on Joint Economic Cooperation.

In his short/small book (written and marketed for a popular (lay) readership) Star Trek to Hawa-i'i (1991) he sets out his belief that he has identified the symbols on what he claims is an ancient Middle Eastern copper bowl (purchased in an open-air suq (market) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1976) as having an astronomical significance. (Solecisms (faux pas) presented as knowledge of the ancient world.) Hostetter claims it to be a Sumerian astronomical bowl with purposeful markings forming a code. There is a sufficiently recognizable aesthetic signature for the bowl decoration to be recognized as Arab-Islamic art. Whether it is an Arab-Islamic copper bowl with random markings or astronomical/astrological copper bowl with purposeful markings is undetermined. (Hostetter has never explained why he was motivated to purchase a patina encrusted bowl.) The book's style is more an unfolding personal adventure story (written in a simple popular style) than an academic investigation. For the claims being made his arguments do not conform to the expectations of a scholarly treatment. No literature search or use of authorities is attempted. Hostetter is apparently unaware of (or not interested in) other (and quite academic)studies that are relevant to the issues.

Cover of Clyde Hostetter's self-published paperback book, Star Trek to Hawa-I'I: Mesopotamia to Polynesia (1991).

 

In his book  Star Trek to Hawa-i'i, Polynesian origins are traced to the Persian Gulf. According to Hostetter he has discovered some evidence (from his consulting assignments in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Pakistan) that the Batak tribes may have voyaged from the Persian Gulf as early as 2000 BCE. Their descendents then moved east to islands off the coast of New Guinea and were the ancestors of the Polynesians who settled the Pacific. According to Hostetter the origin of the Polynesians can be established through the similarity of the Batak design motifs with astronomical design patterns originating in the ancient Near East (during the Sumerian period).

Note: Whilst at CalPoly in the 1970s (at least) Hostetter was Director, Communications/Media Productions and offered services as a multi-media specialist. (Communications/Media Productions was apparently a commercial arm of CalPoly. See: The Writer’s Market by Aron Mathieu (1975, Page 743).) Hostetter has had short multimedia and other consulting assignments to the governments (and other parties) of Saudi Arabia (a year (1976-1977) of working for the Saudi-US Joint Economic Commission to help upgrade vocational education in the kingdom), Indonesia (working in Medan for a year as an advisor to the vocational teacher training school there), Guatemala (visiting Guatemala in June-July 1972 in role of multi-media specialist), Afghanistan (note: though claimed by a book promotion on a website I cannot find any record for Hostetter being in Afghanistan), and Pakistan (contract work (team development of a "Farmer-to-Farmer Training Program" for testing in Afghanistan) for the United States in Peshawar in the fall (= December?) of 1989).

Since circa 2004 Hostetter has been systematically contacting various people and organisations to promote his core ideas in a standardised way, essentially that complex astronomical observations were being made as early as the 3rd-millennium BCE (i.e., the Sumerians predicting eclipses). Hostetter frequently parasites his ideas by finding opportunities to post comments to e-mails and articles having themes unconnected with his claims. His persistent publicising has resulted in numerous persons uncritically citing his ideas. (The strategy of continual promotion likely has the basis that for many people opinions - specifically their opinions, however gained - are stronger than actual evidence (and indeed make evidence redundant).) However, there is no clear evidence of any 'groundbreaking' discovery or research. He offers no reliable evidence for his claims. His core method consists of numerous unwarranted assumptions that makes it useless. Indeed, Hostetter has speculatively rewritten historical facts to try and make his 'decode' appear sensible. Instead of seeking to validate his claims his position is closer to "disprove me." The case Hostetter puts is dubious at best. It does not meet the clear test of evidence and argument. Hostetter is not proposing a theory in any scientific sense. He picks and chooses ideas. His arguments are more speculation than interpretation of relevant facts. He attempts to make a case for his beliefs by a form of argument that strings together sequences of suppositions, speculations, and maybe's. Hostetter also persistently chooses to ignore material that goes against his ideas and persists in futile theorising. He continually refuses to accept any evidence that contradicts his assertions.

Hostetter has used photographs of the copper bowl, sky charts, names of prominent people (but who have never investigated his copper bowl claims), and claimed the copper bowls association with famous artifacts such as the Antikythera mechanism (an ancient Greek analogue computer), in order to create interest in his claims. Also, he obviously hopes that his weak material will look better alongside the stronger material that he associates his claims with.

Hostetter's response to this critique of his ideas has been intermittent but continual e-mail insults, threats, and harassment towards me. It was begun when the critique comprised only a few paragraphs. (This ceased for a short time only.) Note: Likely this will now permanently cease since British Museum experts have identified the copper bowl as a crude example of late Arab-Islamic copperware. Hostetter only invites belief in his claims, not critical assessment. He condemns critics but never answers them.

Earliest Promotion of Copper Bowl Claims

The mention in the CalPoly Report is earliest source I can presently find for the start of the myth-making fiasco of Hostetter's copper bowl claim-making. It shows that Hostetter - who in some 35 years of claim-making about ancient astronomy has never shown a realistic understanding of issues - had already established his pattern of claim-making and obviously influenced professional persons (astronomers interested in archaeoastronomy?) connected with organising the 1979 Smithsonian Seminar on The Astronomy of the Ancients. Also established at this time was the gullibility of persons, or lack of critical assessment by persons, who were introduced to Hostetter's copper bowl and his inexpert claim-making for it. Hostetter's history of claim-making for the copper bowl has been a history of sophistry.

 

CalPoly Report, January 4, 1979, Volume 30, Number 18, Page 1. Hostetter likes to passionately pursue fantastic ideas, and infer an association with other more legitimate ancient history investigations.

 

Hostetter's Promotion of his Claims Through Hastro-L

Hostetter has taken advantage of every opportunity to propagate his views to any possible audience of the like-minded. It has had every indication of a mission.

Hostetter joined Hastro-L in October 2009. He posted (Hastro-L, 30 October 2009): "I have just joined this group, and find it incredible that so much time and e-mails have been wasted during the past few days on what amounts to thoroughly-discredited folklore. [A reference to a Hastro-L discussion on issues connected with the claims of Immanuel Velikovsky.] I hope that future comments will discuss the history of astronomy, particularly the beginnings of the science through systematic and continuing observations of the movements of celestial bodies as early as the Third Millenium. Is anyone interested in this topic? If so, I have some comments to make...but not to those preoccupied with absurd claims without any credible evidence." This marked the beginning of Hostetter's constant use of Hastro-L to promote his particular claims. He was obviously confident he was above making absurd claims without any credible evidence. Hostetter soon began to establish his pattern of repetitive claims. Hostetter has never shown that he has sound evidence to demonstrate "the beginnings of the science through systematic and continuing observations of the movements of celestial bodies as early as the Third Millenium."

My reply (Hastro-L, 31 October 2009) included: "... I presume you are wanting to to discuss (1) your view that astronomy originated in Sumeria (sic) circa 3000 BCE, (2) 'evidence' for such through an astronomical interpretation of the story of Inanna's descent into the underworld (which I think you do well), and (3) some of the diffusionist ideas in your book Star Trek to Hawa-i'i (a copy of which I have but overall fail to find convincing). Regarding your last statement. Please keep in mind that a posting to the list is a posting to all Hastrolites. Hopefully interested Hastrolites will not view your views absurd and lacking credible evidence. ..."

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 31 October 2009): "... In your reading of Star Trek to Hawa-i'i I hope that you found the first of the book more credible than the last part, which was speculative. I feel the analysis of the bowl's markings was based on data, not speculation, and can be confirmed by anyone with access to basic astronomical data. Regarding the astronomical concordance of events in the Inanna Descent myth I believe the data also speak for themselves...IF one has a basic knowledge of both Sumerian cuneiform and the movements of the planets. My impression thus far is that Assyriologists don't pay much attention to the significance of planetary movements, even though they know that the Sumerians believed that the planets were manifestations of important gods. So who would referee a paper submitted to a journal of Assyriology? ..." In this post Hostetter ignores the question of an independent analysis of the markings on the copper bowl. Apparently his analysis is to be taken as a given. Instead the focus is on the astronomical interpretation/analysis of the markings. Apparently his conclusion that the markings are astronomical is a given. Also, Hostetter acknowledges that I have read his book - in later exchanges he will constantly remark that I have not read his book. Interestingly, Hostetter implies that he has an understanding of Sumerian cuneiform. This is nowhere demonstrated. Sumerian is a difficult language.

My reply (Hastro-L, 1 November 2009): "The Danish assyriologist Bendt Alster (now retired) did for a while. He did at one time believe astronomical observations could be discerned in Sumerian compositions that date as early as the middle of the 3rd-millennium BCE which refer to the movement of the heavenly bodies and the constellations. However, he later doubted the veracity of these ideas and did not proceed with his proposed book "The Eternal Cycle" giving an astronomical interpretation of Sumerian mythology. (He literally tore up the manuscript.) His manuscript argued that the cyclical return of the planets, (and the sun and moon) played an important role in Mesopotamian religion. See: Alster, Bendt. (1974). "On the Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth "Inanna and Enki."" (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Volume 64, I Halband, March, Pages 20-34). Alster, Bendt. (1974). "The Paradigmatic Character of Mesopotamian Heroes." (Revue d'Assyriologie et d'Archéologie Orientale, Volume LXVIII, Number 1, Pages 49-60). Alster, Bendt. (1976). "Early Patterns in Mesopotamian Literature." In: Eichler, Barry. (Editor). Kramer Anniversary Volume, Pages 13-24). Your 1979 article concerning an astronomical interpretation of the Sumerian story of Inanna's descent into the underworld published in Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy showed no familiarity with the above articles. For later articles see: Perera, Sylvia. (1981). Descent to the Goddess. (The author, a Jungian analyst, holds that the journey of Inanna through the seven gates of the Underworld represents various planetary positions of Venus.) Thompson, W. (1981). The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origin of Culture. (Written from the perspective of Jungian psychology. The author gives an astral interpretation of the myth of Inanna based on the movements of Venus (= Inanna) and Mercury (= Enki).) Cooley, Jeffrey. (2008). "Early Mesopotamian Astral Science and Divination in the Myth of Inana And Sukaletuda." (Journal of ancient Near Eastern Religions, Volume 8, Number 1, Pages 75-98). (The author holds the myth is related to the synodic activity of the planet Venus. The author seems unaware of the early articles of Bendt Alster and also your articles.) For a contrary view to the astronomical interpretation of Inanna/Venus see: "The Descent of Inanna as a Ritual Journey to Kutha?" by Giorgio Buccellati (Syro- Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issues 3, December, 1982, Pages 3-7). Also, see also a brief critique of your views in: "A Catalog of Near Eastern Venus Deities." by Wolfgang Heimpel (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issues 3, December, 1982, Pages 9-22)." Hostetter simply ignored all of this. The critique by Heimpel would have alerted him to the criticism that he had interpreted Inanna as travelling in the wrong direction to the meaning of the text of Inanna's Descent. The fact that Hostetter has Venus travelling in the wrong direction destroys in a single example the entire laboured fantasy that he presents.

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 3 November 2009): "I have come to believe that substantial amounts of early cuneiform records (before 2000 BC) are actually reports of the movements and relationships of the seven "planets" that moved around the sky and could be seen without optical help. Assyriologists without any background in basic astronomy have, I believe, overlooked this in their translations. Has anyone else familiar with early cuneiform records come to the same conclusion? I'm not refering (sic) to later Babylonian data which were used to successfully predict eclipes (sic)...the so-called Saros cycle...and to the Antikythera Mechanism of c. 1000 B.C. (sic [100 BCE]) Any comments?" Hostetter implies he is familiar with "early cuneiform records" "before 2000 BCE." However, he only focuses on Inanna's Descent and it is indicated he is only superficially familiar with it.

When queried by someone about "substantial amounts" Hostetter responded (Hastro-L, 3 November 2009): "The most conclusive is the myth of Inanna's descent to the nether world. Another is Inanna's "stealing the sacred mes, and her escape via canal. It you go to the Oxford Corpus of Sumerian literature and compare the actual Sumerian words with the word-by-word translations you will see a lot of imagination at work in the days when cuneiform was developing...but which shows little knowledge of the planetary movements and hkow (sic [how]) they generated myths of the motions." This is hardly "substantial amounts." Also, the date for texts of Inanna's Descent is circa 1600 BCE - not before 2000 BCE. Hostetter continually uses the term 'records' which - in the context - seems to indicate observations but what he is actually referring to is the content of myths/stories.

Excursus: Proto-cuneiform texts are basically administrative. Archaic cuneiform texts do not record administrative events in a narrative fashion. Rather, they are more like a modern spreadsheet than a modern writing system. The earliest narratives were visual. Two examples of visual story telling are the Uruk Vases and Cylinder Seals. The arrangement of visual information on cylinder seals in several registers - one above the other - has been proposed as the basic principle of all 3rd-millennium BCE Mesopotamian narratives. The multi-register representations enable the widening of temporal sequences. The reading direction of the temporal sequence of events always starts with the bottom register, reaching its end point at the top. The Uruk Vases provide good examples for such an arrangement. Read from the bottom to the top, the sequence of pictures (through a series of registers in low relief) tell a coherent complex, visual story (i.e., a series of events). One example is the “Presentation of offerings to Inanna.” It has been suggested that the sequence of pictures on the Uruk Vases also indicate a cosmological context. The narration of a structured story through stand-alone visual storytelling (i.e., independent of any verbal or written aid) is evident as early as the 4th-millennium BCE with the Warka vase. (Dated circa 3200-3000 BCE.) Written historical narratives are not attested before the Fara-Period (towards the end of the Early Dynastic Period), circa 2600–2500 BCE. The Fara period is when syllabic writing began. The few extant specimens of an early Mesopotamian literature are still not successfully understood. ("Considerations on Narration in Early Mesopotamia." by Gebhard Selz In: Studies in Sumerian Language and Literature: Festschrift für Joachim Kreche edited by L. Kogan, N. Koslova, S. Loesov, and S. Tishchenko (2014, Pages 438-454).) Another example of (historical) pictorial narrative is the so-called Stele of Vultures. It has pictorial narrative on one side with cuneiform text on the other. It is partially assembled from 7 fragments found in the 1880s in the Sumerian city of Girsu (in what is now southern Iraq). It is a limestone victory stele from the Early Dynastic III period (2600– 2350 BC) erected to celebrate a victory of King Eannatum of the city-state of Lagash over the city of Umma.

Hostetter posted (Hastro-L, 5 November 2009): "If you [GDT] are interested, I could send you a .pdf of the day-to-day movements of Venus, Mercury, Jupiter and the crescent Moon that relate to the myth and suggest some mistakes in interpretation made by Twentieth Century archaeologists and Assyriologists. Warning: It's 12 pages long and requires celestial software and an understanding of Julian Days to fully understand it. Let me know if you'd like to see the .pdf file." Here Hostetter begins to make his claim that Inanna's Descent records the day-to-day movements of Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, and the crescent Moon. Over the years Hostetter will repeat this claim.

GDT wrote (Hastro-L, 7 November 2009): "Assyriologists and other academics have been making astronomical interpretations of material contained in cuneiform texts for almost 100 years. Are you familiar with Werner Papke and his 'recent' astronomical interpretation of the Gilgamesh epic? The early Assyriologist Peter Jensen wasn't too shy in finding astronomical references in Mesopotamian myths (before he embarked on his version of Panbabylonism)." No reply was posted by Hostetter.

Some other early postings by Hostetter to Hastro-L

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 27 November 2009): "I "established" the dating by the fact that a horned female figure was inscribed four times on a bowl that concerned itself primarily with secret(?) knowledge of how lunar and Veneriian periods coincided. Horned deities weren't popular in the Second Millenium. Also the Saros eclipse cycle was discovered by the Babylonians in the first Millenium, apparently unaware of a more accurate 112-year cycle. (The Antikythera Mechanism was constructed around 1000 B.C. (sic [100 BCE]), and uses the Saros cycle for eclipse prediction.) And the 112-year cycle is much easier to use because it always applies to a full moon nearest 112 years. It seems to me, therefore, that the 112-year cycle was closely held information that wasn't passed along until my discovery of it in 1976 on the bowl. That's a guess, but it points to pre-Babylonian times. There are other less persuasive facts that relate. For instance, the bowl was hand-hammered out of nearly pure copper, not conventional bronze, and it was coated with tin after inscription., Tin was a metal more precious than good (sic) or silver in the Second Millenium and appropriate for a sacred vessel at that time. And there are records of Third Millenium Mesopotaium (sic) settlements on the Saudi Arabian side of the Persian Gulf. Green shards from those settlements could still be picked up on the beach when I was there. In addition, the corrosion/patina that I scrubbed off was very thick, in an area that gets less than two inches of rain a year and has vast areas of blowing sand that could further protect a vessel. (And dead cats, too. A totally dessicated dead cat lay for a year in a vacant lot next to where I lived in Riyadh. There was not enough moisture in the air for bacteria to initiate decay.) Bottom line: Any dating of the bowl is an educated or uneducated guess. What is your guess?" Of course the bowl contains a turbaned figure and the copper bowl contains enough iconography to ensure that the dating - free of bias, and involving expertise in Near Eastern iconography across periods of time - is not just guesswork. But Hostetter's tactic is to avoid any sense of legitimacy for an unfavourable dating. This was to become quite evident years later with the definitive establishment of a Qajar period dating. Hostetter's "What is your guess?" is a variation of of his "What do you believe?" These questions are a tactic by Hostetter to imply (1) the issue can't be settled, and (2) any contrary statement is merely another opinion having no greater validity that Hostetter's statements. Correctly, this type of question should be: What do you know?

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 27 November 2009) replying to a question a person had asked: "When I give some answers to your questions you will understand why I was brief in my initial comments. The artifact is a small copper bowl which I found in an open-air second-hand suq in Riyadh in 1976, with a thick patina. When I scrubbed it off with vinegar and salt -- I had NO idea that it was an artifact!! -- I discovered detailed markings that included four portraits of a female wearing a pair of horns. Among the markings, which were many and all with astronomical importance, were four circular sets of marks which counted up to two, three, and five cycles of Venus calculated in weeks. The most unexpected info that turned up was markings that showed there was a 112-year lunar eclipse cycle that matched Venus cycles exactly if you assumed a year's length to be 365 days and a synodic period of Venus to be 584 days There were many eclipse-related data on the bowl, all provided without the use of numbers or words. Also there is a circular set of 14 loops, each of which contains a pair of facing crescents with five radiating marks. You can work out the implications with Venus if the 14 loops represent 112 years and there was knowledge of the crescent phases of Venus. I describe it all in a non-fiction book published in 1991.: Star Trek to Hawa-i'i. It has been out of print for years, but copies turn up from time to time on e-bay. There are lots of photos of the markings, which have to be seen to be properly understood. Incidentally, the title comes from a linkage that I found during assignments that lasted a year each in Saudi Arabia and on the island of Sumatra among the Batak tribes there. And that's why it took a book to explain everything. (But only a very small book!) Hope you can locate a copy through e-bay or interlibrary loan."

Hostetter's 'Copper Bowl' Claims

Instead of avoiding drawing any conclusions until the copper bowl was professionally appraised and dated, Hostetter has instead chosen to proceed with conjuring his own favoured date despite the absence of any relevant data on his part.

Hostetter is a proponent of the origins of complex astronomy in Sumer circa 3000 BCE, and a diffusionist. He interprets details in the ornamentation on a presumably antique copper bowl in terms of celestial cycles. As example: "I have an artifact that probably dates to about 2000 B.C. which shows that the crescent phases of Venus were known at that time. (Hastro-L, 25 November, 2009)" Hostetter believes complex astronomical observations were being made as early as the 3rd-millennium BCE (i.e., the Sumerians predicting eclipses) and – aside from the copper bowl – offers little additional evidence. Some of the material forming the book Star Trek to Hawa-i'i was previously published in articles in the Griffith Observer.

Hostetter also claims the crescent phase of Venus was sighted/identified in Mesopotamia circa 3000 BCE. (He has offered the explanation that they didn't write about the phases of Venus because they considered it too sacred. This ignores the fact that they wrote about numerous other stellar occurrences that could be considered sacred.) Hostetter believes the copper bowl records paired crescents (before and after conjunction) of Venus. Not explained is why these images supposedly depict Venus and not the Moon.

World Archaeological Congress, e-Newsletter, No 22: June 2008, carried: "Clyde Hostetter, Professor Emeritus, California (USA) Polytechnic State University has a small copper bowl that he purchased in an open air suq (market) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1976. It had a heavy layer of patina that he cleaned off, not realizing that the bowl's inscriptions probably has the earliest non-cuneiform record of astronomical planetary movements and eclipse prediction. The bowl's provenance appears to be the Bronze Age. In 1991 he authored a book decoding the inscribed symbols and several of his articles on the subject have appeared in astronomical magazines." Wikipedia contributor discussion for the entry General Astronomy/Apparent Motions of the Planets includes: "[A]stronomy in Sumer (Iraq today) … was being developed as early as 2600 B.C.E. There is evidence on a copper bowl acquired by Prof. Clyde Hostetter in Riyadh in September 1976. It has non-verbal symbology about eclipses and also about the movements of the planet Venus, the manifestation of the sky-goddess Inanna, who was an important part of Sumerian religion. Some of the symbols etched in the bowl indicated that Venus could be seen (without optics) as a thin crescent just before and just after inferior conjunction -- when Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. Included in the symbology are a circle of loops suggesting that during the retrograde motion of Venus the planet came closer to the Earth."

Such claims have not been consistently made - the emphasis can change: "An inscribed copper bowl found by the author in Saudi Arabia -- about 500 miles from the site of Babylon -- appears to record several eclipse cycles in connection with inscribed portraits of Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess .... (Archaeoastronomy, Volumes 3-4, 1980, Pages 30.)" "The main speaker was Clyde Hostetter, professor emeritus of California Polytechnic Institute. After introducing the definitions of various years and months, he showed an interesting bowl he bought while in Saudi Arabia. After much study, Dr. (sic) Hostetter inferred that the inscriptions matched astronomical cycles. Of particular interest is an eclipse cycle of 112 years minus six days that predates the introduction of the Saros cycle by at least 1000 years. His book on this an (sic) other subjects is "Star Trek to Hawaii", and may be found in Mesa Public Library. (East Valley Astronomy Club, Newsletter, April, 2002, Page 2.)" Note: This is not the first time Hostetter has been incorrectly termed 'Dr.' He is referred to as 'Dr Clyde Hostetter' by Claude Haynes in his Editorial "From the Desk of the President" (The Observer, May, 2008, Page 1).

For Hostetter, the copper bowl's non-verbal symbology are effectively treated as graphemes i.e., graphic symbols communicating information (that is, used to represent speech) - in this particular case numerical information for calculating eclipses.

However, the answer to the copper bowl was likely identified on page 88 of Hostetter's book. He states 2 opinions by archaeologists (including one at the University of Chicago) concerning the bowl: (1) "Common ware manufactured for tourists and available all over the Middle East." and "No more than a few hundred years old." (Hand beaten copper bowls are regularly sold to tourists throughout the Middle East.) Interestingly, Hostetter has never taken his copper bowl to a museum dealing with West Asiatic artifacts for a definitive appraisal. He simply 'moves by' his lack of interest in doing so by simply offering a range of general opinions selected by him.

Never explained by Hostetter is why he decided the interpretation of the bowl's multiple patterns comprised - for the most part - a coherent integrated astronomical code relating to Venus. Nowhere in his publications and explanations over 30 years is there any hint at all that other interpretations were attempted, or even considered! This inference of his intuitive knowledge of an astronomical code being the solution is rather odd.

Hostetter's Method for Dating the Copper Bowl

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 27 November 2009): "I "established" the dating by the fact that a horned female figure was inscribed four times on a bowl that concerned itself primarily with secret(?) knowledge of how lunar and Veneriian periods coincided. Horned deities weren't popular in the Second Millenium. Also the Saros eclipse cycle was discovered by the Babylonians in the first Millenium, apparently unaware of a more accurate 112-year cycle. (The Antikythera Mechanism was constructed around 1000 B.C. [actually 100 BCE] and uses the Saros cycle for eclipse prediction.) And the 112-year cycle is much easier to use because it always applies to a full moon nearest 112 years. It seems to me, therefore, that the 112-yearcycle was closely held information that wasn't passed along until my discovery of it in 1976 on the bowl. That's a guess, but it points to pre-Babylonian times. There are other less persuasive facts that relate. For instance, the bowl was hand-hammered out of nearly pure copper, not conventional bronze, and it was coated with tin after inscription. Tin was a metal more precious than goog (sic [gold]) or silver in the Second Millenium (sic) and appropriate for a sacred vessel at that time. And there are records of Thirs Millenium (sic) Mesopotamian settlements on the Saudi Arabian side of the Persian Gulf. Green shards from those settlements could still be picked up on the beach when I was there. In addition, the corrosion/patina that I scrubbed off was very thick, in an area that gets less than two inches of rain a year and has vast areas of blowing sand that could further protect a vessel. (And dead cats, too. A totally dessicated dead cat lay for a year in a vacant lot next to where I lived in Riyadh. There was not enough moisture in the air for bacteria to initiate decay.) Bottom line: Any dating of the bowl is an educated or uneducated guess. ..."

Problems Associated with Unprovenanced Artifacts

The bowl was not found in a secure context. Provenance (also - more commonly - called provenience) is a key issue. How you find something is crucial to understanding it. Also important is recovering it in a way that enables useful information to be gleaned. To simply write it was purchased at a stall in an open-air market in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1976, is not provenance. Working with archaeological artefacts of unknown origin (i.e., without provenance and date) everything is possible and therefore nothing is possible. People are reduced to guessing, but cannot even test their guesses. However, Hostetter never tires of guesses without substance. The key problems associated with unprovenanced artifacts, such as Hostetter's copper bowl, are:

1) We don't know where the artifact was found.

2) We don't know how the artifact was found.

3) We don't know what other items (if any) the artifact was found with.

4) We don't know how it was situated when found i.e., on the surface of the ground or under the surface of the earth.

5) We don't know whether it is genuine or a fake.

With an unprovenanced/looted item usually nothing can be readily inferred unless the item carries information regarding persons, settings, and events. In the case of artwork the particular iconography can be assistive.

Once an uninscribed object has been removed from its archaeological context by looting it has lost most of its value in terms of the information it could have provided. It becomes a 'display' item - and also controversial item - devoid of the additional information its context would have provided. It also makes it harder to determine if the object is a fake. In the case of the copper bowl there is almost no possibility of identifying the workshop which produced it. On the other hand, a lot of information can be culled from inscribed objects. Hostetter's copper bowl is only a decorated object - but that is probably enough to confidently determine what exactly it is.

Old Bowls in Modern Stalls (Bazaar Archaeology)

Hostetter has been consistently telling 2 contradictory stories concerning how he came to acquire the copper bowl. Version 1 is he purchased it at an open air market (suq) in Riyadh (but gives no details regarding the particular market). Version 2 is he found it in the desert around Riyadh (but gives no details regarding where and what he was doing at the time i.e., how he came to 'find' it). Version 1 is termed 'bazaar archaeology' and indicates he may have bought a 'trinket.' Version 2 hints at archaeological recovery from the ground. Interestingly, regarding version 1, when he later discovered he had possession of what he thought was an item of interest he kept no specific details and made no follow-up. There is no mention of him returning to the market shop to seek details or to look for other similar items. Interestingly, regarding version 2, he made no attempt to return to the area and look further for other items. We have never been told whether this supposed desert area relating to the find was near a settlement or road, or was simply an isolated area. Also, with version 2, we are never told where took it from. Was it pilfered or purchased? Version 1 seems to be the more commonly related version. Nothing in Hostetter's description of the copper bowl when acquired by him suggests/verifies it was in an excavated condition. (Though with the 'patina story' he would obviously like to suggest this.) The most fascinating issue is why Hostetter would analyse the iconography on the assumption that it held an astronomical code. This has never been explained. We simply don't know what preconceived ideas he may have had or exactly what he was thinking at the time. It is difficult to believe that the particular analysis 'came out of nowhere.'

Hostetter believes that simply by casually shopping in a Riyadh bazaar he has acquired a unique antiquity. Loosely, we have a case of bazaar archaeology - a dealer-derived non-excavated copper bowl. (More accurately, a shopkeeper-derived non-excavated copper bowl.) The ‘open-air' market is never specifically identified but it is likely that it was Riyadh's souk/souq Al-Zal in the Ad Dirah neighbourhood, the old centre of the Saudi Arabian capital. This market originated in 1901. The souk/souq is one of the major tourist attractions in Riyadh. It comprises a series of shops accessed by covered streets throughout. So a further conclusion is it was purchased at a well-appointed bazaar (not found in the desert as he sometimes likes to state). From the start, we have no knowledge of the bazaar and shop where the purchase was made.

 

On left: The souk/souq Al-Zal in the Ad Dirah neighbourhood, the old centre of the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. This market originated in 1901. The souk/souq is one of the major tourist attractions in Riyadh. It comprises a series of shops accessed by covered streets throughout. On right: A Wadi (Valley) that is part of the Al Thumama Desert that is located approximately 30 minutes drive time from central Riyadh. It is a popular place for tourists to visit. There are 1000s of sites in Saudi Arabia holding archaeological remains. Other regions of the desert are completely comprised of sand dunes. It would be difficult to believe that Hostetter found the copper bowl in a sand dune.

 

Classic desert landscape. The 'Great Dune' - part of the Al Thumama Desert that is located approximately 30 minutes drive time from central Riyadh. It would be difficult to believe that Hostetter found the copper bowl in a sand dune.

 

Islamic tradition does not permit goods to be interred with their owners. However, art and treasure were often cached during the invasions that plagued Central Asia or in periods of internal strife. They were buried in a wall or in a chest to which their owners no doubt intended to return. Often, such caches were lost and only discovered much later, when householders made repairs or dug new wells. When rediscovered, many such metalwork items made their reappearance in stalls.

Initial Issues with Hostetter's Copper Bowl Claims

 Firsr set: (1) Non-excavated artifact. (2) Found outside of its expected homeland (if Sumerian). (3) Deviations in design style (construction) from the corpus of Sumerian bowls. (4) The bowl’s iconography is unparalleled in Sumerian art. (Absences of bowl style and (crude) iconography - no similar Sumerian bowl has been excavated.) (5) It has no cuneiform writing on it. (6) The crudeness of the iconography is rarely mentioned.

Second set: (1) Analysis of the copper bowl photographs (regardless of whether involving 1 minute or 1 day) does not suggest it is ancient. More accurately: Hostetter has not proved that it is ancient. (2) No verifiable evidence for Sumerian period antiquity has been presented. (It would be bewildering if anybody with a basic knowledge of Sumerian iconography could accept the copper bowl as Sumerian.) (3) Hostetter glosses over the obvious and important issue that the likelihood that the bowl is not ancient must be considered. (4) The corrosion analysis was unhelpful.

[Note: In late 2012 I identified the style of the copper bowl is Qajar period, without any attempt to replicate early Sumerian iconography. In July 2013 the disinterested British Museum examination by 2 expert employees has resolved the issue - they also concluded the style of the copper bowl is Qajar period, without any attempt to replicate early Sumerian iconography.]

Third set: (1) His claimed astronomical data derived from the copper bowl is effectively unconfirmed. Deciding whether his analysis is insightful as he claims or superficial cannot be done without an independent analysis of the copper bowl. (2) People have only seen photographs of the copper bowl.

Fourth set: (1) The suggestion (never explicitly made) that the very lack of iconographic parallels indicates the bowl's uniqueness and therefore its singular importance as an ancient object in no way absolves the design and iconography from consideration. (2) Considering the copper bowl's lack of archaeological history, the claims made by Hostetter trigger questions and doubts. (3) Hostetter's presentation of his 'Bazaar Model' proposes that we accept his uncritical methodology that incorporates unanchored claims and the rejection of archaeological-historical facts. This model does not endorse the effort to achieve historical accuracy. (4) We are not on solid ground/have a firm basis for accepting his information, conclusions, reconstructions, and ideas.

Fifth set: (1) It is evident that Hostetter is not a disinterested 'party' - basically, Hostetter is trying to market his version of the copper bowl. (2) Hostetter is keen to demonstrate he knows more than archaeologists, art historians, and assyriologist do regarding any of his claims. (3) Hostetter admits his interest is only that of a hobby. (He meets the definition of a dilettante.) (4) Hostetter carries out manipulations in order to get the 'evidence' to conform to his ideas. The classic example is his arguments that the goddess Inanna is depicted on the interior of the copper bowl.

It is not news that even smart people believe their speculative claims, even though easily falsifiable.

Conventional History of Mesopotamian Astronomy

Using any modern academic texts dealing with the history of 'astronomy' in Mesopotamia it is evident that it progressed over some 2000 years, from circa the Old Babylonian Period, through a number of phases beginning with the simple (descriptive/simple mathematical/positional) and ending with the scientific (predictive). Everything we know indicates the Sumerian and Akkadian Period (circa 3100-2100 BCE) was basically confined to a simple descriptive astronomy. During the 2nd-millennium BCE (Old Babylonian/Kassite/Early Assyrian period the level of astronomy might be termed 'simple predictive.' But scientific astronomy likely begins with the so-called 'Astrolabes.' It is not until the Late Assyrian Period dated circa 900-600 BCE that we see the introduction of the systematic observation (at least in Babylon and Uruk) of celestial phenomena and refinements in the development of non-mathematical astronomy. Then it is not until the Persian (Achaemenid) Period (539-331 BCE) that we see the development of what can be legitimately called mathematical astronomy and the calculation of periods and prediction of eclipses. According to John Britton (2002): "By late in the Neo-Assyrian period the first evidence of sensible, if primitive, period relations for the sun, moon and planets appears ...." Also according to John Britton (2002): "[T]he emergence [in Babylonia] of an increasingly precise understanding of the relationship between months, years and days ... appears to have begun in the 7th century [BCE] ...."

Astronomical records were only zealously compiled beginning with the reign of Nabonassar (Nebu-nasir) in 747 BCE. The so-called astronomical diaries were diligently written starting with this period. In his book Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, II (Pages 368-371), the polymath Franz Kugler made the suggestion that a possible reason why the Babylonians may have been motivated to begin keeping more accurate astronomical observations and records beginning 747 BCE was the spectacular conjunction of the moon and the planets in what was also the first regnal year of Nabonassar (Nebu-nasir). It was at this time (8th and 7th centuries BCE), that Babylonian astronomers developed a new empirical approach to astronomy (probably to assist their astral divination). The greater survival of astronomical and other records from 747 BCE onwards is considered likely due to the increased political stability of Mesopotamia and more systematic approach to record keeping.

UR III Period Records

The Ur III period (circa 2112(2113)-2004(2029) 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. This was due to a state organisation that was very bureaucratic. The Third Dynasty of Ur was a highly bureaucratized empire with a cohesive, literate elite. It was also a relatively short-lived empire. There is an abundance of surviving documentation. Large numbers of cuneiform records have been recovered. The many tens of thousands of tablets recovered (many from looters) have been long studied. The Ur III period 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. The assyriologist Gwendolyn Leick notes (Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City (2001, page 123)) that even the most mundane transaction such as the purchase of a sheep was recorded. 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.

Copper Bowl Description

The object is small, thin, copper hammered to a shallow circular shape, with everted rim, and without a short vertical or flared base/foot. (It is indicated as being formed by hand hammering of a single sheet/block of copper.) The copper bowl is 166 millimetres diameter (at top) and 57 millimetres high. It has a rounded profile i.e., a large mouth and a small plain base. It has a slightly everted rim. Both the exterior and interior of the copper bowl are engraved with a variety of abstract (geometric) motifs and figural roundels and multiple bands (and "lozenges' (= dents)). These are crudely done - the copper bowl is not finely engraved. (Because of the prevalence of geometric motifs it is perhaps not a figural bowl.) There is no epigraphic/calligraphic decoration. The exterior/outer surface is decorated with incised motifs and hammer strikes. It is basically decorated on the outside with a band of geometrical design (sine waves and dots). This single band with pattern is located high near the mouth/rim and numerous dents (undoubtedly made with hammer strikes) appear below the band. The everted rim is decorated with incised lines and points (dots). The interior/inner surface is decorated with incised motifs. There a 4 main patterns on the inside. There is a band with a pattern (lozenges and dots) located high near the mouth/rim and 3 main patterns located below the band. These 3 other patterns are: 4 identical heads placed within identically ornamented roundels (figural medallions); a band with a geometric pattern (lozenges and dots); a circle of 14 inward radiating loops (petals); and, at the base (the central field in interior), 5 concentric circles with 26 diagonal lines radiating through them.

The fact of the high purity of the copper likely relates to a high temperature smelting process being used to purify the copper. Two thin cracks in the bowl's rim were closed with lead (now gone).

Main Decorations

Outside surface: There are essentially 2 concentric bands of decoration. It is basically decorated on the outside with a band of geometrical design (52 sine waves and also dots). This single band with pattern is located high near the mouth/rim and below this band is a broad band comprising 3 rows of dent patterns (totalling 90, perhaps 91 dents), described by Hostetter as a spiral.

Inside surface: The interior/inner surface is decorated with incised motifs. There a 4 main patterns on the inside, basically comprising concentric bands of decoration. Located high near the mouth is a band with a pattern of 59 lozenges and also dots; located below this are 4 identical facing portraits placed within identically ornamented roundels; another band with a pattern of 30 lozenges and also dots; a circle of 14 inward radiating loops (petals); and, at the base, 5 concentric circles with 26 diagonal lines radiating through them.

Everted rim: The everted rim is decorated with 177 adjacent boxes, each the same size and each with a central inscribed dot.

Problems with Hostetter's Copper Bowl Claims

We are reliant on Hostetter for all information concerning the copper bowl. There is no independent confirmation of the iconography incised upon the copper bowl, as described by Hostetter! No other person in the some 40 years it has been in his possession has examined and published anything at all concerning the copper bowl! Only Hostetter's often repeated popular explanation of his 'discovery' exists. No critical record of his attempts at finding an astronomical data set within the copper bowl's iconography has ever appeared. The latter would contribute towards understanding whether a wishful interpretation of (random) iconography as intentional/planned data sets has occurred. Who could or would have used it and how it could or would have been used is left unexplained. You need to know all about the 'coded' astronomical information in order to use it. Why then bother with an awkwardly coded copper bowl to record particular information. A flat sheet of copper would have been a more effective and assistive way to record the claimed 'coded' astronomical information.

Hostetter simply counts most of the decorations on it (and also makes a few interpretations where difficulties exist) and then manipulates/operates the figures in particular ways. The issue then basically becomes: Are the majority of decorations merely haphazard or deliberate astronomical code? As with all artwork there is potential meaning. Hostetter claims it was a secret system to predict eclipses. Hostetter's arguments/assertions regarding the copper bowl appear to be frozen in time for circa 30 years. The content never really changes. He obviously reached an early conclusion and has apparently continued to selectively chase any type of evidence to support it. The claim that "The bowl's provenance appears to be the Bronze Age" is misleading. The key problem is the copper bowl is unprovenanced. Also, it has never been professionally assessed or dated. To claim that because initially an astronomer and also later a photographer have 'looked' at it constitutes independent assessments is ludicrous. In the approximately 30-year period he has had possession of the copper bowl Hostetter (quite amazingly for the extraordinary claims he confidently makes) has never taken it to a 'Western Asiatic Department' of a museum for an opinion. (In a posting to Hastro-L dated 3 February, 2010, Hostetter invited "Bronze Age scholars qualified to estimate the age and provenance of the copper bowl" to make arrangements with him to view the copper bowl at his residence in Tempe, Arizona. What this really means excepting placing the onus on others is hard to say.) Also, so far as I am aware, a photograph or photographs of it have never been placed on the internet by Hostetter, to aid identification.

For some peculiar reason Hostetter views the dating of the copper bowl (an object) as a chicken-and-egg situation i.e., what came first the data or the medium? But the data cannot be used to date its content to circa 2000 BCE or earlier. The data with its use of 7-day weeks and apparent use of Babylonian knowledge of period relations for the planets suggests a late 1st-millennium BCE date, at earliest.

Also, (Hastro-L, 18 December, 2009) Hostetter states: "It seems to me that establishing the validity of the data to estimate a time of manufacture instead of using a time of manufacture to establish the validity of the data is the more reasonable and productive approach." This ignores that fact that the validity of the data does not extinguish speculation regarding dating and that dating the copper bowl either support or contradict Hostetter's dating claims - which is very much the issue. Moreover, his point is somewhat confused. The time (= period) of manufacture does not establish the validity of the supposedly astronomical data. Importantly, what it does establish is whether or not Hostetter's Sumerian period dating for the bowl is valid. Also, if the dating of the copper bowl is modern period then the supposed astronomical information is somewhat of a curiosity. Something that a historian dealing with astronomy of the modern period may want to investigate.

A variation of this theme by Hostetter to isolate his copper bowl issue to the assessment of the data is interesting. Hostetter (Hastro-L, 24-8-2015) supported the false dichotomy: "The significance of who wrote on clay tablets in 2500 B.C. is not the name but the content." This was a response to the posting (Hastro-L, 24-8-2015): "... it strikes me that rather than history of science, it would sometimes be more accurate to refer to history of scientists, depending on whether we are interested in the development of the understanding of nature, or the people who do the understanding." It was quickly pointed out by a respondent (Hastro-L, 25-8-2015): "This is a false dichotomy. Without scientists, natural philosophers, or people investigating the world, call them what you will, there would be no science. A clay tablet or theory don't come into existence or get passed along without human intervention. Nor are they understood without human means."

Further, (Hastro-L, 18 December, 2009) Hostetter states: "If the bowl were manufactured after the Babylonians, when the Saros cycle was common knowledge, why would so much effort have been spent to conceal knowledge of another way to predict eclipses? And why would a relationship of Venus synodic periods (and four depictions of a horned female figure) to lunar eclipses prediction been so elaborately concealed?" As we don't know anything at all about the making of the copper bowl we can't really say there was any intention to conceal information. Also, this starts to show inconsistencies with his 'cult secrecy' concept. The relationship of the copper bowl with the 8-year cycle ('oktaeteris') also needs to be examined.

Hostetter proposes that the early Sumerian gods/goddesses were astral. This is far too simplistic. There are an enormous number of references to, and texts about (mainly literary sources - hymns, myths, epics), the goddess Inanna (Sumerian name) (Ishtar, Akkadian name). Note: The Sumerian goddess Inanna and the Akkadian goddess Ishtar are not uncommonly treated as one despite the history of the syncretism and fusion of Inanna with Ishtar being complex and problematic. Nowhere does Hostetter discuss the nature of the known cultic rituals of Inanna to identify whether any have an explicit astronomical content/basis. Inanna was basically a city goddess and her celestial symbol was Venus (as Evening Star). Though part of a group of 7 gods/goddesses who ruled the universe Inanna (in one text) is stated to have no specific task or domain. (It has been suggested that she was the goddess of 'infinite variety.') Inanna's most frequently mentioned personal traits have been identified as: sexual love, battle and slaughter, destruction, rival rulership, gathering, and jealous concupiscence. There is nothing astral in these character traits.

The astral characteristics attributed to Inanna are somewhat ambiguous. During the Ur III period Inanna was primarily associated with the moon, and during most of the yearly seasonal festivals the phases of the moon were celebrated in her honour. The Ur III period is dated 2112-2004 BCE - this is approximately the period Hostetter is consistently claiming for the copper bowl and its identification with Inanna as Venus. (Very much a standard reference for festivals/celebrations during the Ur III period is Der kultische Kalender der Ur III-Zeit by Walther Sallaberger (1993, 2 Volumes).)

Lastly, I am not aware of any Mesopotamian copper votive bowls being recovered that are associated with Inanna.

In the Babylonian period some omen texts indicate that Ištar could be considered distinct from the planet Venus (See: The Heavenly Writing by Francesca Rochberg (2004, Page 176 especially)).

Copper Bowl Issues

Hostetter believes the copper bowl was manufactured in Babylonia (i.e., Sumer) and was at some later time transferred to Bahrain (island), when it was still a Babylonian outpost. (Why it would be transferred from a cultic centre for Inanna in Babylonia to a location where Inanna was not a focal point (and there was no cultic centre for Inanna) is left unexplained. And this for a supposedly valuable cultic item.) But Hostetter's reasoning is "there are records of Third Millenium Mesopotamian settlements on the Saudi Arabian side of the Persian Gulf. Green shards from those settlements could still be picked up on the beach when I was there (Hastro-L, 27 November, 2009)."

Part of Hostetter's explanation for how he established the dating for the copper bowl is: "I "established" the dating by the fact that a horned female figure was inscribed four times on a bowl that concerned itself primarily with secret(?) knowledge of how lunar and Veneriian periods coincided. Horned deities weren't popular in the Second Millenium. Also the Saros eclipse cycle was discovered by the Babylonians in the first Millenium, apparently unaware of a more accurate 112-year cycle. (The Antikythera Mechanism was constructed around 1000 B.C., and uses the Saros cycle for eclipse prediction.) And the 112-year cycle is much easier to use because it always applies to a full moon nearest 112 years. It seems to me, therefore, that the 112-year cycle was closely held information that wasn't passed along until my discovery of it in 1976 on the bowl. That's a guess, but it points to pre-Babylonian times." The flaws here include (1) selecting only some features on the bowl which could have have been easily drawn at a late period, (2) horned deities were in fact popular in the 2nd-millennium BCE, and (3) the assumption that the 112 year cycle must necessarily be earlier than the introduction of the popular 19 year Saros cycle - presumably because it has no popular late use - and had become lost due to secrecy (and a use that was limited to the early cult of Inanna).

According to the eminent assyriologist Gebhard Selz (University of Vienna), the horned crown is a marker of a divine attribute that was first attested in the Early Dynastic II period (2800-2600 BCE).

It is worth noting that nothing is known about the origin or method of the discovery of the Saros cycle. Speculation ranges from Babylonian discovery (with dates ranging from circa 500 BCE to 200 BCE) to Greek discovery (with dates ranging from circa 400 BCE onwards), using Babylonian astronomical data. The historian of astronomy John Britton (1939-2010) believed that the Saros cycle was known before 525 BCE. (See: "Scientific Astronomy in Pre-Seleucid Babylon." by John Britton (Page 62). In: Die Rolle der Astronomie in Kulteren Mesopotamiens (1993) edited by Hannes Galter.)

Excursus: Hostetter seems unaware that the term Saros (from a Greek word) never meant eclipse period at all in antiquity. The Greek word 'Saros' apparently ultimately comes from the Babylonian sar(/sāru) which - aside from an agricultural meaning - meant also the number 3600. (The Babylonian sar has meaning as both a word and a number. As a word it had several geographic/agricultural meanings. As a number it meant 3600.) Berosso linked the Babylonian sar to a 3600-year interval. There is no evidence the Babylonians ever applied the term 'Saros' to the approximately 18-year eclipse cycle. (The Saros is a period/periodicity of approximately 223 synodic months (approximately 6585.3211 days, or 18 years, 11 days, 8 hours).) There is limited indication the Babylonians used the approximately 18-year (lunar) eclipse cycle. It was linked in 1691 to an eclipse period, by the English astronomer Edmund Halley, who extracted it (through his error-making) from the lexicon of the 10th-century Byzantine scholar and encyclopaedist named Suidas (of whom very little is known, the name more correctly identifies the title of his encyclopedia, Suda/Suidas) who in turn erroneously linked it to a (unnamed) 223-month Babylonian eclipse period mentioned by Pliny the Elder (Naturalis Historia, II.10.[56]). See the early explanations by the astronomer W. T. Lynn (1889) and again by the historian Otto Neugebauer (1937, 1938). More easily accessible is the explanation in, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity by Otto Neugebauer (1969, Page 142). The name Saros was given to the approximate 18-year period by Edmund Halley. The eclipse period didn't receive the name Saros (Saros cycle) until given it by Edmund Halley in 1691 (Philosophical Transactions, 1691, Pages 535-540). The usage of the term 'Saros' - coined by Halley; a corruption of a multi-meaning Babylonian word that includes denoting a period of 3600 (years) - to mean the (little used) 223-month Babylonian (lunar) eclipse cycle was perpetuated following Halley's erroneous application of it.  (The French astronomer and mathematician Guillaume Le Gentil pointed out in 1756 that Halley's usage was incorrect, but the name has continued to be used.) The 223-lunar-month eclipse cycle is not the same as a Saros cycle. There are only indications that the Babylonians, before the Seleucid period, used the crude 18-year cycle to predict the recurrence of lunar eclipses. It was not their key method - certainly not for the Seleucid period. (It was known to the Chaldeans as a period when lunar eclipses seem to repeat themselves, but the cycle is applicable to solar eclipses as well. The earliest known historical records of what we now term the Saros originated with the Chaldeans (late Babylonian astronomers) in the last 2 centuries BCE.) Whilst the so-called Saros cycle can be used to predict eclipses of the Sun as well as the Moon - unlike for the Moon - there exists no cycle for solar eclipses at a given geographical location. The earliest discovered historical record of what we call the saros is by the Chaldeans (ancient Babylonian astronomers) in the last several centuries BCE. It was later known to Hipparchus, Pliny the Elder and Ptolemy. The name 'Saros' (from the Greek: σάρος) was applied to the eclipse cycle by Edmond Halley in 1691, who took it from the Suida, a Byzantine lexicon dated circa 1000 BCE. The Suida says: "[The saros is] a measure and a number among Chaldeans. For 120 saroi make 2222 years according to the Chaldeans' reckoning, if indeed the saros makes 222 lunar months, which are 18 years and 6 months." No relation to (lunar) eclipses is implied. The information in the Suida in turn was derived directly or otherwise from the Chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea, which quoted Berossus. Halley assumed that Pliny the Elder was the source for Suidas. Halley was also using a corrupt manuscript of Naturalis Historia by the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder. Suidas wrote that one Saros contains 222 months [= 18 years and 6 months] whilst 120 Saroi corresponds to 2222 years. Pliny discussed the recurrence of (lunar) eclipses) after 223 months but the corrupt text text available to Halley had 222 months. Halley assumed that Suidas intended to write that 223 months were called one 'Saros.'

The copper bowl has a flat slightly everted (outward turned) and decorated rim. As far as I am aware there are no Sumerian period bowls with this particular everted rim feature. During the Sumerian period metals were used sparingly and Sumerian period metal bowls were too thin for inclusion of an everted rim feature. (The first bevel rimmed bowls (clay) are from Sumerian Period Uruk, but the first everted rim bowls (metal) are much later.)

Hostetter believes he has recovered knowledge of a 112-year lunar/Venus eclipse cycle from the 'copper bowl' iconography. Hostetter claims this 112 year lunar/Venus eclipse cycle has been placed in a hidden code within the iconographic patterns placed on the 'copper bowl.' The copper bowl iconography is the key for Hostetter proposing the Sumerians were predicting eclipses, using an eclipse series of 112 years, which was fixed to the movements of Venus. (112 365-day years are exactly the same as 70 synodic periods of Venus.)

In his unpublished essay (March, 2008) "Estimating a Provenance for the Cynthia Bowl." Hostetter writes: "... as early as the Second Millenium, when movements of the Sun, Moon and Venus were recorded daily on cuneiform tablets. Astronomer/priests of that period were charged with reviewing past movements of these celestial gods and using their records to predict contemporary events on Earth." No evidence is offered for the assertion "recorded daily" and there is no clarification that any recording of planetary movement, was, until the 1st-millennium BCE, crude.

According to Hostetter the bowl was hand-hammered out of nearly pure copper, not conventional bronze, and it was coated with tin after inscription. However, we don't have any examples of tinning of decorated copper items in Mesopotamia until well after the end of the Neo-Sumerian period.

One of Hostetter's key claims is that in the iconography of the copper bowl the celestial phenomena of eclipses is related to the movements of Venus. Hostetter believes the mathematics indicated on the bowl iconography indicate that the person responsible for its manufacture: (1) Knew that there were 29½ days between full moons, (2) Knew that there were usually 177 days (six lunar months) between eclipses, (3) Knew that there were 52 seven-day periods (weeks) in a year, (4) Knew that a synodic period of Venus was 584 days, (5) Knew that there was a 112-year eclipse cycle, (6) Knew the number of weeks in a synodic period of Venus, (7) Knew that Venus had a pair of crescent phases in each synodic period, (8) Knew that five synodic periods equaled eight years, and (9) Knew that 112 years equaled 14 eight year cycles. (The astronomical data is simply expressed in artistic form. It is not some form of practical tool in itself.) This seems like an exercise in Arabic astronomy/numerology.

Interestingly, in his article in the Griffith Observer (Volume 43, Number 7, 1979) Hostetter talks about the difficulty created by corrosion in determining part of the 'data set.' However, 'corrosion' does not appear in the index of his later book. It simply does not get further discussion. The corrosion is not highlighted in any of his published photographs.

I explained to Hostetter several times on Hastro-L in December, 2010, that my view is: It is not so much whether his arithmetic is flawed but whether (1) how he derives it from the patterns (= 'number sets') on the copper bowl is flawed, and (2) how he chooses to date it is flawed. I stated in several postings to Hastro-L in December, 2010, that I remain open to the 'number set' derived by Hostetter but not his dating. I think the flaws in the latter are quite easy to demonstrate. This still remains my view.

Note: Hostetter has never clarified how he determined the existence of a supposedly astronomical code within the iconography. Did he try multiple things until he got the desired result = an astronomical result?

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 18 December, 2009): "If the cycle was known before the Babylonians and their Saros cycle, its concealment suggests a political reason so critical that hundreds of hours were spent in design and manufacture of the bowl in order to limit access to the information." This is simply baseless speculation.

Issues include: The information is presented without the use of numbers and words and to be accessible the 'code' has to be known. Also, the puzzle with Hostetter's statement: "I don't know of any other example of CONCEALING technical information as "art" with the intent of its being available only to those who knew the code. In the case of my bowl I had to use my SLR camera with extension tubes as a macroscope [microscope?] in order to verify that the synodic periods of Venus had been recorded as weeks on the bowl. How could the marks have been etched so precisely without optical help, unless the etchers were so young that they could focus that close? (Hastro-L, 28 November, 2009)" The term 'macroscope' relates to observations made by the unaided eye. Something that is macroscopic is large enough to be perceived or examined by the unaided eye. Hostetter seems actually to be stating he needed to produce magnified images as certain marking were too small to be seen by his (i.e., an adult) unaided eye. If a number of markings on the copper bowl are not clearly discernable to adult eyesight then its iconography and purpose need careful consideration. The nature of the 'code' for markings unable to be clearly discerned would be such to make practical function of the copper bowl defunct. In my opinion the more important document would be the 'code/explanation.' The existence of a 'code' or 'code document' is pure conjecture. (See the Qajar Period identification below for the copper bowl; a period when magnifying lenses were in common use.)

The 112 year lunar eclipse cycle exactly matching Venus cycles requires the assumption that a year's length is 365 days and a synodic period of Venus is 584 days. The 14 loops inside the copper bowl represent 112 years on the assumption that they relate to Venus and there was knowledge of the crescent phases of Venus. Claiming the 14 loops as a long-term depiction of the planetary movements of Venus determined by the 'cult of Inanna' circa 2000 BCE is an extraordinary claim! If the loops represent Ptolemaic epicycles then this dates the copper bowl as 'late.'

Firstly, the claimed eclipse cycle of 112 years is actually 112 (tropical) years minus six days.

Hostetter, without substantial reason(s), keeps insisting that the copper bowl probably dates to circa 2000 BCE. (He even dismisses the dating issue as having no primary importance! However, in his Web Letter to The Nation (January 7, 2009) Hostetter offers the date "probably ... around the first or second millennium BC." This illustrates the guesswork that is going on but disguises the fact that Hostetter prefers to use a pre-Babylonian date. The fact is that both provenance issues and dating issues are crucial and have key importance.) The fact is the copper bowl has no provenance at all and the date suggested by Hostetter (circa 2000 BCE) has no basis except that of being a 'trigger' to draw attention to the copper bowl. Apparently no other person since 1976 has independently examined and upheld, or made, the claim for a date of circa 2000 BCE. (Writing as late as 2008 Hostetter states: "Estimates of the Bowl’s creation date by those trained in the disciplines of archaeology, Assyriology and the history of astronomy have ranged from 2500 B.C. to 1900 A.D." However, we are not told who or how - or even if they seriously/formally studied the copper bowl! Without clarification it is difficult to know what actual reality the statement has.

Hostetter, in his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl, interprets 7 circles (large dots) within a small oval stamping located in the centre of the base (outside bottom) of the copper bowl. Extraordinarily he compares it with the iconography on a so-called Gnostic gem stone (necessarily dating to the Graeco-Roman period) depicting the 7 planets (which sun and moon) above a lion. This comparison results in a claim and a question. The claim made is this die-stamped feature on the copper bowl exhibits, within the layout of its features, the zodiac symbol for Leo! Hostetter seems either unaware that this claim necessarily excludes an early date for the copper bowl. The zodiac and zodiac symbols are a development of the latter half of the 1st-millennium BCE. Also, a base mark (stamped onto the base of metal bowls) is usually a makers mark or a workshop mark. Hostetter has apparently not adequately investigated this issue. The question asked by Hostetter is: Did someone link the zodiacal symbol for Leo with symbols for the 7 planets? Once again, the zodiac and zodiac symbols are a development of the latter half of the 1st-millennium BCE! As stated above, there is no evidence for the constellation Leo existing in the 3rd-millennium BCE. So far as I am aware there is no textual evidence for a Sumerian lion constellation at this early period (i.e., 3rd or 2nd millennium BCE). Any claim for such relies on cylinder seal iconography. It is not established that constellations/constellation symbols are being depicted on any early cylinder seals. The earliest solid reference to a lion constellation in Mesopotamia is Hilprecht's Nippur Text (HS 245 (= HS 229)) which is dated to the Cassite Period circa 1530-1160 BCE. The correct interpretation of the die-stamped feature could easily decide/settle the issue of dating.

Use of die-stamps goes back to the Greeks. A die-stamp places a fixed pattern ('exact imprint'), functioning as a benchmark or standard. Use of (bronze) die-stamps as a method of adding patterns to metal artifacts such as metal bowls, etc., dates at least to Greek workshops in the mid 1st-millennium BCE. In the Sasanian Period die-stamps, to mark the handles of 20 litre clay amphorae, were used to indicate dates or to indicate origin. Die-stamping the base of copper/copper-alloy bowls was an established Arab-Islamic practice. Unfortunately, what appears to be a maker’s mark on the base/bottom has not been suitably investigated.

The apparent absence of rigorous professional standards of evidence is astounding given the persistent claims that Hostetter makes for the copper bowl iconography. In the absence of any real evidence Hostetter remains an untiring promoter of his claims for the copper bowl. However, his suggested age for the copper bowl is not a reasonable guideline to the dating issue. Whilst Hostetter states that some form of metallurgical analysis has been carried out the exact scope and results of this metallurgical analysis are not offered - except one casual remark that the copper is almost pure - even when requested. Hostetter merely states (Hastro-L, 17 December, 2009): "... metal analysis ... was carried out by a University of Missouri analysis lab several years ago. (Nothing surprising in the analysis...just the usual traces of assorted elements, plus verification that the coating was indeed tin.)" (Hostetter (Hastro-L, 15 December, 2009) also offers: "There are no "markers" which can reliably identify the location of the ore sources or the era of mining or smelting.") This leaves the possibility, at least hypothetically, that the copper is a hot-rolled smelted commercial product. Establishing differences with commercially available copper sheet would constitute some sort of start at dating. Whilst the probability of a fake is perhaps unlikely there is apparently a lack of any similar item being identified (but see below) leaving the hoax/fake issue a remote possibility. (Faked Islamic metalwork is not unusual.)

The statement that a thick crust of patina had to be cleaned from the copper bowl (with vinegar and salt) is unhelpful. In usual circumstances patina (verdigris) is a manifestation of the age of an item. Patina can be a tool for establishing authenticity/age. We do not know whether the patina was olive green in colour, easily detached and showed no foundation of cuprite. (Cuprite is an oxide mineral composed of copper(I) oxide (cuprous oxide) with the formula Cu2O, and is one of the principal oxides of copper (a minor ore of copper).) These observations would indicate that the patina had been faked. Patina thickness does not have to have a strong correlation with age. Fake patina can also be painted (copper sulphate solution) onto copper items or otherwise artificially formed on a copper product surface. I am reliably informed that bronze/copper objects offered to Europeans in Arab bazaars often have had 'value added' by means of artificially aging them in a sewage pit for several months. One would perhaps expect the copper bowl was buried in some form of ceremonial deposition (Hostetter claims it would have been a ritual item). Acidic soils (sand included) are aggressive to copper items. It would appear the copper bowl has suffered little or no degradation.

Finally, the bowl is promoted by Hostetter as only conveying astronomical information - astronomy without astral omens is unknown in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest known astronomy of the Old Babylonian period is connected with astral omens.  There is no evidence of any established system of any astral omens or astronomy in the Sumerian sources. However, the eminent assyriologist Hermann Hunger ("The Cultic Calendars of the Ancient Near East." in The Journal of the American Oriental Society, October-December, 1996) states: "While there is no doubt that the sky was observed in Sumerian times for the purpose of omens and probably also in connection with cultic actions, this is not astronomy, which involves measuring and computing." If (correctly) dated to the medieval Arab-Islamic period the copper bowl information likely had an astrological context. There are good reasons for concluding it falls within the genre of a Persian (Iranian) divination bowl of the 2nd-millennium CE. Astrological divination was popular in 16th-century Persia and Turkey.

The Patina issue

Hostetter has assumed the patina was naturally formed and of considerable age. He has readily excluded that spurious patina (a patination treatment) has been applied to create the expectation of age. Fake patina could have been applied as a paste. Examination of the patina could have established if it was likely to be naturally formed.

There are several methods for producing convincing artificial patination. With any of these artificial corrosion products the resulting patination tends to be loosely adhering. The application of lacquers to copper/bronze metalwork is easy and sufficient. However, patinas can form naturally on most outdoor copper alloys. The ease of removal with vinegar suggests flaky patina which suggests artificial patina. False patinas are loosely attached, flaking away and exposing shiny metal underneath.

See the expert discussion: "Chapter 14. The Patination of Copper and its Alloys" In: Scientific Investigation of Copies, Fakes and Forgeries by Paul Craddock (2009, Pages 349-368).

Interestingly, Hostetter never discusses his decision to use to clean the patina with vinegar. We don't know where he sourced the technique. Vinegar will clean patina. Vinegar and vinegar and salt is also a method for creating patina.

Babylonian Astronomy

"Astronomy in Mesopotamia is divided historically into a primarily schematic astronomy in the late second and early first millennia B.C., and a scientific, mathematical astronomy in the Seleucid period. The common idea that astronomy in Mesopotamia evolved from an observational to a purely computational science is not supported by extant textual sources. It remains characteristic for Babylonian astronomy that, from the earliest examples, astronomical texts deal with numerical schemata." ("Stellar Distances in Early Babylonian Astronomy: A New Perspective on the Hilprecht Text (HS 229)." by Francesca Rochberg-Halton (Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Volume 42, Number 3, July 1983, Pages 209-217).) From the earliest extant astronomical material from the 2nd-millennium BCE the Babylonians were engaged with schematic computational schemes for predicting phenomena, without recourse to observation.

The assyriologist and astronomer Franz Kugler (Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel (1907)) pointed out that the lack of accurate calculation and observation in early records of eclipses and of the planets demonstrates the absence of a precise system of measuring location and time in the sky. Precise date and position details are not given for any early observations. The total eclipse observed in 763 BCE was only recorded by the simple statement: "In the month Sivan an eclipse of the Sun took place." Texts show that sophisticated mathematics existed in the Old Babylonian Period. Texts also show that Babylonian astronomy of comparable sophistication did not exist until the Seleucid Period.

"The scribes of the Old Babylonian period were very zealous copyists and went to great lengths to preserve the literature that came down to them from the past, especially the archives of the Third Dynasty at Ur [the Neo-Sumerian Empire, 22nd to 21st century BCE]. There were as well, however, many marvellous and original works put together by these Akkadian scribes themselves." ("Syro-Mesopotamia: The Old Babylonian Period" by Ronald Veenker. In: Mesopotamia and the Bible edited by Mark Chavalas and K. Younger Junior. (2002; Pages 149-167, Page 163). No Sumerian planetary astronomy is evident.

The Venus-tablet of Ammizaduqa

The oldest surviving texts on planetary astronomy is the so-called Venus tablets. The so-called Venus-tablet of Ammizaduqa takes its name from the 10th king of the first dynasty of Babylon. It is a record of what is believed to be actual astronomical observations of Venus (the appearances and disappearances of Venus for the reign of Ammisaduqa), as preserved in cuneiform on numerous clay tablets dating from the 1st-millennium BCE. It is believed that this astronomical record was first compiled during the reign of King Ammisaduqa (or Ammizaduga), the 4th ruler after King Hammurabi. Thus, the origins of this text should probably be dated to around the mid-17th century BCE. The so-called 'Venus tablet' comprises astronomical omens based on the observations of the planet Venus for 21 years during the reign Ammisaduqa (of the First Dynasty of Babylon). Because of the relatively short periodicity of the Venus data preserved (and also scribal error contained within it) no precise dating is able to be achieved. These particular Venus observations were made in order to provide empirical material for Venus omens for the king Ammisaduqa (reigned 17th-century BCE). According to Reiner and Pingree the most reliable observations of Venus in the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil tablet 63 are the first 20 ones contained in the first 10 omina and covering the first 8 years of Ammisaduqa's reign (one 8-year Venus period). It is an assumption that the so-called Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa actually contains observational data (as against calculated data) - this may or may not be correct.) Several passages in the Babylonian astronomical series Mul.Apin are evidence that already in the 2nd-millennium BCE Babylonian astronomers were well aware of the complexities of the motion of the planet Venus, its appearances and disappearances and its periods of invisibility. It is accepted that The Venus Tablet(s) contain 2 genuine sequences of observations of Venus - the first and last visibilities on the horizon before or after sunrise and sunset (the heliacal risings and settings of Venus) in the form of lunar dates. The Venus Tablet also contains 59 (49?) omens based on the first and last visibilities of Venus. The Venus tablet of Ammisaaduqa likely contains the earliest Babylonian collection of detailed observations of Venus. However, the formation of Babylonian astronomy was not primarily dependent upon observation but more upon the development of schematic models. Babylonian astronomy - at any stage - was not primarily observational. Babylonian astronomy was concerned with the description of celestial phenomena by numerical schemes. In early Babylonian astronomy observations played a minor role. In the development of late Babylonian astronomy observations still played a minor role. The absence of exactness in Babylonian astronomy existed until the last half of the 1st-millennium BCE. The last stage of Mesopotamian astronomy dated from the Persian period to the end of cuneiform writing. This late and final phase of Mesopotamian astronomy involves the production of precise mathematical tables describing lunar, solar, and planetary theory (i.e., motion). This genre of late mathematical astronomy represents a departure from traditional astronomical materials such as the so-called "Astrolabes" and Mul.Apin. The earlier traditional astronomy of the "Astrolabes" and Mul.Apin were concerned with the course of observable events in the sky and the endeavour to correlate astronomical activity with the passage of time (i.e., with the days of the ideal astronomical year consisting of 12 months of 30 days each). A typical observational event was the helical risings of stars (i.e., fixed stars, constellations, and planets). (Note: It is still debated whether the tablets record actual observations of the planet Venus. The tablet records rise times of Venus and its first and last visibility on the horizon before or after sunrise and sunset (the heliacal risings and settings of Venus) in the form of lunar dates, for a period of 21 years. The tablet contains 25 statements of the dates (month and day) of successive disappearances and reappearances of Venus (Ninsianna) together with the duration of invisibility at alternating inferior and superior conjunctions (= 50 statements, minus 1 that is incomplete because of substitution of a year formula, "Year of the golden throne"). These observations are recorded for a period of 21 years. (There is considerable redundancy in the particular text. All but 3 of these statements are duplicated and arranged differently in a separated section of the tablet.) Over 20 copies (mostly fragmentary) of this text are currently known. The oldest of these copies (W 1924,802) was found at Kish in 1924. It was copied from a tablet written at Babylon while Sargon II was King of Assyria between 720 and 704 BCE.

The so-called Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa is the (damaged) 63rd tablet of the astronomical omen series Enuma Anu Enlil. Tablet 63 of Enuma Anu Enlil is the last tablet of the section on Venus. The term Venus Tablet or The Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa refers to the main text (most complete (fully preserved) copy) designated Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63 or K 160 (old British Museum catalogue number). The various surviving fragmented copies of this particular record are known as The Venus Tablets. (There is no undamaged copy of the 63rd tablet. The text has been reconstructed from different fragments of various copies of tablet 63. These fragments of tablet 63 are known collectively as the Venus tablets.) The term Venus Tablets or The Venus Tablets of Ammisaduqa is a collective term referring to K 160 and its complementary tablets K 2321 and K 3032 (and now also K 3105). These fragments may be parts of the same (single) Neo-Babylonian copy. K 2321 and K 3032 which were published in 1899 by James Craig (Astrological-astronomical texts copied from the original tablets in the British Museum)). These 2 tablets are concerned with the same series of observations as K 160. Much of the astronomical data of the earlier years is now illegible. The Venus Tablets of Ammisaduqa were excavated in 1850 at Nineveh by Austen Layard. The Venus Tablet (K 160) was first published in 1870 by Henry Rawlinson and George Smith as Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63, in "Tablet of Movements of the Planet Venus and their Influences." (The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, Volume III). The Venus Tablets were part of the palace archives of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal, 7th-century BCE.

Why a supposedly sophisticated Sumerian planetary astronomy concerning Venus would become completely lost within a millennium is not explained by Hostetter. So much else was successfully passed down. If a sophisticated Mesopotamian planetary astronomy is to be dated to circa 4000-3000 BCE then it is odd that astronomical development then vanished from history for some 2 millennium and then began again in a very crude form.

Time Required for the Decoration of the Copper Bowl

There are incised geometric decoration/motifs on the copper bowl interior and exterior plus everted rim. Hostetter (Hastro-L, 18 December, 2009) claims the copper bowl decoration codes secret astronomical information and that: "... its concealment suggests a political reason so critical that hundreds of hours were spent in design and manufacture of the bowl in order to limit access to the information." This is simply baseless speculation.

One person only is assumed to be as associated with the physical production of the bowl. My estimate is 12-16 hours to actually decorate the copper bowl. (Because of the number of unknowns I am not expecting to be entirely correct. I do not know if the decoration is random or whether the bowl incorporates astronomical/astrological information from the medieval Arab-Islamic period.) Hostetter claims it to be a Sumerian astronomical bowl with purposeful markings forming a code. There is a sufficiently recognizable aesthetic signature for the bowl decoration to be recognized as Arab-Islamic art. Whether it is an Arab-Islamic copper bowl with random markings or astronomical/astrological copper bowl with purposeful markings is undetermined. Either way, use of design patterns cannot be excluded. Using 10 hours as a time period seems reasonable for initial discussion. It is reasonable to conclude that closer to 10 hours is required rather than "hundreds of hours;" especially if design patterns were used. It is reasonable to suppose the layout of key motifs i.e., the ‘petals/loops’ were marked using established design patterns. Also, speed and ease of marking the copper bowl needs to be taken into account. Copper is a relatively soft 'metal' and easy cut and easy to incise/engrave.

It is a crudely decorated copper bowl. No notable engraving skill is required or exhibited. There is no high quality decoration on the copper bowl. Also, the design is hardly elaborate - the motifs are not complex. Only part of the copper bowl is covered by etching/engraving. There are 6 basic pattern sets (2 types of bands (either with sine waves and circles or lozenges and circles); boxes with points; roundels enclosing portraits; loops (petals), intersecting circles and lines. The order in which the pattern sets were laid down is unknown.

Several techniques were obviously used for marking the decorations on the copper bowl. Some marks are 'punched/chiselled' and some patterns consist of line engraving (are 'drawn' using a sharp instrument). Use of graver/burin for incising/marking (punching/chiselling), seems obvious. Excluded is the use of a die-stamp for punch marking. (Also excluded is the use of a scraper.)

In his posting to Hastro-L (20 June, 2011) Hostetter stated: "[snip] I estimate that it took the following number of short strokes of a very small chisel and of some device with a sharp point to inscribe the bowl: The rim on which 177 adjacent boxes, each the same size and each with a central inscribed dot ...[snip]. Chiseling the boxes (which each shared one box-side with its neighbor) would have required 531 strokes for the boxes and 177 more strokes to add the dot in each box, a total of 708 strokes, plus another stroke on one box. [snip] Another circle of 30 diamond-shaped boxes centered on the inside bottom of the bowl …. [snip] There was a circle made with a punch in each of the diamonds; however, the punch produced a more and more imperfect circle as it was used successively in each of the 30 diamonds, producing shapes that suggested that the punch was struck correctly at an angle 90 degrees from the surface of the bowl's bottom but that its shape was worn down by each successive stroke. This suggests that the punch was made of a material that could not keep an edge. [snip] The chisel strokes required to produce this circle I estimate to be something more than 150. That would include the extra strokes required to delineate the 30th partial diamond plus 30 pairs of circles between each of the pairs of diamond, a total of 60 and a grand total of more than 200 strokes. There are two circles of marks next to the 30 diamonds. One is inside the circle of 30 diamonds and the other is outside. The marks in both the inner and the outer circle are evenly spaced. One circle has 167 marks. The other has 250 marks for a total of 417 marks for the inner and outer circles. There are two circles, each of 417 marks, on the inner rim of the bowl for a total of 834 marks. These two circles are borders for a circle of 59 diamonds with enclosed circles which have a small gap between diamonds 1 and 59. There are two small partial circles between each pair of the 59 diamonds, which required another 118 marks. That includes two complete circles between diamonds 1 and 59. [snip] On the outer rim of the bowl is a circle of 52 of what could be called "sine waves", each of which required about 15 marks to incise. This circle is bracketed by a double spiral of lines appear to be connected chisel marks or inscribed lines. The total number of individual chisel and etched marks for the "sine waves" and bracketing line spirals I would estimate at a minimum of 582 marks and a maximum of perhaps 800, depending upon how the two spiraling lines were made. None of the above data include four inscribed portraits ... [snip] a ... personage enclosed by a series of four segments of latitudinal markings; and four rectangular designs which include interior spiraled lines with marks on each spiral, and brackets on each side of each figure. I would estimate at least 75 chisel marks required to create each of the ... figures and the surrounding oval of markings, and about 40 marks for each of the rectangular designs with the enclosed spirals. This total of about 460 markings does not include a circle of eight inscribed circles which surrounds each ... figure and eight circles with three internal marks that form an asterisk in each circle. Also hammered into the exterior of the bowl are a spiral of 90 (perhaps 91) dents made by what appears to have been a diamond-shaped metal mallet. [snip] There are at least a thousand more markings not mentioned …. [snip]"

In the above posting Hostetter has clarified how many lines there are. This indicates how easy it is to make a multitude of choices for identifying purposeful sets within the likely random marks.

Factors that need to be taken into account are: (1) assumption of only 1 person decorating the bowl; (2) copper is a relatively soft 'metal' and easy to cut and easy to incise/engrave; (3) the quality of the decoration is crude; (4) the greater likelihood the decorations are simply random; (5) the possibility that design patterns were used.

I remain open-minded whether it is an Arab-Islamic copper bowl with purposeful astronomical/astrological markings. There is a sufficiently recognizable aesthetic signature for the bowl decoration to be recognized as Arab-Islamic art. From all the markings that are available it is easy to see how Hostetter can find a supposed secret astronomical code.

Allowing for some 4000 marks/strokes being mentioned above in addition to drawing/cutting actions. To use 10 hours as example for time required: 10 hours by 60 minutes = 600 minutes. Estimating for bowl placement/movement time, line incising time and burin/chisel marking time (and punch use) we get the following possibility: 30 minutes for bowl positioning/movement, 90 minutes for line incising. Left is 480 minutes for placing marks by 'chiselling'/hammering. Allowing 240 minutes for a 'chisel strike' every 10 seconds = 1440 '10 second' marks. Allowing 240 minutes for a 'chisel strike' every 5 seconds = 2880 '5 second' marks. This gives a total of 4320 chiselled marks in 8 hours. If 12 hours were allowed and the additional 2 hours limited to '15 second' marks then this gives a total of 4800 marks (in 10 hours).

It is reasonable to conclude that closer to 10 hours is required rather than "hundreds of hours;" especially if design patterns were used. It is reasonable to suppose the layout of key motifs i.e., the 'petals/loops' were marked using established design patterns.

As comment, a mould used for making clay bowls can be employed for making copies in metal.

The Roundel Figure in Hostetter's Copper Bowl

The nature of the type of portrait depicted inside Hostetter's copper bowl need to be elucidated. The portrait has the immediate impression of comprising a head and shoulder portrait. I am, however, advised that the depicted may not actually be a head and shoulders portrait but rather a foreshortened figure in a cross legged seated position (with the hands and feet touching). An indication for this is the figure curves round to match the shape of the surrounding roundel. The seated figure is likely meant to convey authority. The way the figure is 'drawn' matches Islamic Qajar period copper bowl iconography. 

Tin Coated Copper Bowls

Assyriologists generally accept that Sumerian AN.NA and Akkadian anaku/annaku mean tin. The earliest references to tin and bronze occur in cuneiform texts - which date to circa 2500 BCE - from Fara. In Mesopotamia tin was used primarily for alloying with copper to make bronze. Regarding whether the bowl could date to the 1st or 2nd millennium CE? At Tell Asmar (Diyala Plain, Iraq) uninscribed copper bowls were being dipped in tin (perhaps for decorative purpose) circa 3500 BCE. (It appears a tin coating is likely to rub off in use.) However, the copper bowl is unlikely to be earlier than the 4th-century BCE.

As stated above, according to Hostetter the bowl was hand-hammered out of nearly pure copper, not conventional bronze, and it was coated with tin after inscription. (Analysis of the tin would not yield many clues about the bowl's origin.) We don't have any examples of tinning of undecorated copper items in Mesopotamia until well after the end of the Neo-Sumerian period (2230-2000 BCE).

In the ancient world tine was far more costly than copper and a bowl coated with tin was almost certainly an object of far higher value than one in bronze.

I am advised that Hostetter's copper bowl is decorated with applied tin pellets. If this is correct then there is no Sumerian metalwork showing this technique, and no evidence that soldering tin pellets to a copper base was within their technical competence.

Small hemispherical tin-copper bowls date from the late Sasanian period and early Islamic period. Tin coated copper bowls were popular with villagers in Asia Minor during the Ottoman period (from the 16th-century CE to the early 20th-century. Tin coated copper bowls were produced in Iran circa 16th-century. During the earlier Islamic period of the Mamluk period (circa 1250 to 1520) tin coated copper items were abundant.) Perhaps the most likely date falls within circa 200 CE to 1200 CE. Early Arab-Islamic iconography can be surprising. During the early expansion of the Islamic religion Buddhist iconography found its way into Islamic iconography.

More specifically, though without complete, direct decorative parallel, Hostetter's copper bowl has affinities with Arab-Islamic divination bowls. Decorated Persian (Western Iran) hand-hammered bronze and tinned-copper divination bowls (approximately 15-18 cm diameter and approximately 7-8 cm high) were produced in the Middle East at least circa the 10th-century CE (more generally during the 8th to 13th centuries CE) and also during the mid 16th-century CE (the period of the Persian Empire of the Safavid Dynasty). (According to one source Persian divination/magic bowls date from the 12th-century CE.) Diviner's were popular amongst the general population of Persia. There was a long tradition in Iran of cups and bowls used for divination. Magic cups were used in Iraq and western Iran before the advent of Islam. Divination bowls were very common in eastern Turkey and in Iran than elsewhere in the Islamic world. Tin coated (hammered) copper bowls (with inscriptions) were traditional in the Middle East and Anatolia up to the 20th-century.

The most common Arab-Islamic metalwork forms are the bowl and the ewer. It was under the Seljulk rule (circa 11th-13th centuries CE) that the great period of Islamic metalworking occurred. The decoration/artwork on Hostetter's copper bowl is crudely executed. Whether the particular iconography has a known parallel in Arab-Islamic metalwork is not wholly relevant. Single form designs were not unusual. In the first half of the 12th-century CE astrological images of the moon, or astrological cycles, appeared in the iconography of the eastern Islamic world, flourished for several centuries, then waned in popularity. Ayyubid dynasty metalwork included both Christian images and astrological signs.

The crescent depiction inside the copper bowl are likely lunar crescents - not Venus crescents. Admittedly, the moon had only peripheral importance in Islamic iconography. The lunar crescent was a traditional pre-Islamic symbol of the city of Byzantium (Constantinople). The use of the lunar crescent in Islamic iconography appeared in the Umayyed period (661-750 CE) and became a common astrological theme in the next few centuries. Likely through it being the emblem of the Ottoman Empire which originated in the 13th-century CE. The Umayyed period is connected to the rise of Islamic art. (See the excellent resource: The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture edited by Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair (revised edition 2009, 3 Volumes). Both are professors of Islamic and Asian art at Boston College.) Horned headdresses in Iranian iconography date back to circa 2000 BCE i.e., Hasanlu Tepe in northwestern Iran. Also recovered from Hasanlu Tepe is a decorated breastplate, with one of the figures on it wearing a horned headdress. Figures with horned headdresses have also been found at Tell Hassuna. There does not seem to be anything unusual about a face being depicted at the bottom of an Islamic period divination bowl. Additionally, the depiction of a circle of loops is also not unusual for an Islamic period divination bowl. Twenty-six straight lines radiate out from the centre of the copper bowl's interior, through five concentric circles. Concentric circles in combination with radiating lines was a feature of both Persian art and Islamic art. (See: A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, Volume 1, by Phyllis Ackerman (1965; 3rd edition 2005).)

Unglazed pottery of the Sasanian dynastic period (224-651 BCE) included large jars, jugs, and various types of bowls decorated with variety of patterns including wavy lines. (The wavy-lined pattern is typical of the previous Parthian period.) The advent of Islam during the first half of the 7th century CE still saw Iranian potters continue their pre-Islamic traditions. Double wavy line patterns on on bowls were a common decorative theme of Islamic artwork. Classic wavy-lined, decorated, household wares were produced in the city of Zabîd (on the Red Sea Tihâma coast) after its foundation in the 9th-century CE. Wavy-lined decorated ceramic ware has also been recovered from the medieval city of Sharma in Yemen. These are identified as imitations of the wavy-lined basins produced at Zabîd during the same period. However, use of wavy line line patterns is very early. Mesolithic–Neolithic (8th to 4th millennia BCE) ceramics (pottery) recovered from sites in Central Sudan, are characterized by wavy line and dotted wavy line decoration.

The fact of the multiple depictions on the copper bowl of a face adorned with a (if you like horned) headdress does not exclude it from the Arab-Islamic period (or Arab-Islamic countries). The art of pre-Islamic Iran had a particularly strong impact on the development of early Islamic metalwork, in which traditional forms and techniques were carried on. In the strictest form of Islamic art only patterns and colours are permitted. This meant that Islamic art is traditionally limited to abstract geometrical forms. However, the Qur'an, the holy book of the Islamic religion, does not explicitly forbid the representation of human or animal forms. Early Islamic traditions were generally against the use of images by artists. Islamic art has typically focused, though not entirely, on the depiction of patterns rather than on figures. In the private world of early Islamic palaces (and similar) the representation of humans and animals continued unabated. Baghdad's intellectual centre known as the House of Wisdom engaged many Nestorian scholars and one early head was the Christian Arab Hunayn, who began the massive project of translating Greek texts into Arabic. Christian communities continued to exist within Arab-Islamic countries. See the conduct of the Ottomans. Christian communities were granted the status of millet communities - under a system dating back to the ancient Persians. Approximately half the population of the Ottoman Empire (which at its height encompassed the Middle East, the Balkans, North Africa, and parts of Europe) were Christians. Jews expelled from Spain generally migrated to the Ottoman Empire because of its religious tolerance.

 

Illustrations

 

Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (likely Persian, no date due to absence of professional assessment) on left (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)); silver-coated copper Egyptian divination bowl (19th-century CE) (from the Science Museum, London) in middle; and brass Middle Eastern divination bowl (19th-century CE) on right. Compare the evenly spaced placement of the 4 roundels in Hostetter's copper bowl on the left and the Middle Eastern divination bowl on the right (and also the sizing of such). Islamic art is layered with pattern and embellishment. In Arab-Islamic art decorative motifs are often repeated and juxtaposed next to one another to cover the entire surface of the object.

 

On left, tin-coated copper Iranian divination bowl (on a short, slightly splayed foot) dated to the period of the Persian Empire of the Safavid Dynasty circa mid 16th-century CE. It is a (short) footed bowl. Hostetter's copper bowl is without the addition of a short, slightly splayed (short) foot. On right, Persian brass magic bowl dated 17th-century CE. It has both interior and exterior decoration. Note that it is not a footed bowl. Hostetter's copper bowl is 16.6 cm diameter and 5.7 cm high. The Persian magic bowl on right is approximately 21.5 cm diameter and approximately 7 cm high.

 

Hostetter "The Bowl of Ishtar" (Griffith Observer, Volume 43, Number 7, July, 1979) makes reference to the discovery of (etched) carnelian beads with geometric patterns in the Royal Tombs of Ur. Red carnelian beads were obtained from Iran or Indian traders from the Indus Valley. Hostetter argues in his Griffith Observer article that the bleached carnelian beads found by Leonard Woolley at Ur were associated (by Woolley?) with the worship of Ishtar. Perhaps, more correctly, carnelian beads are associated with Inanna. (Carnelian beads were also associated with the goddess Ningil.) According to Woolley such beads are not found in any later setting. According to Hostetter these carnelian beads have geometric designs (patterns) artificially bleached (etched?) onto them, including a diamond pattern twice found on the 'copper bowl;' an upper diamond pattern and a lower diamond pattern in the bottom of the bowl. (See the volume of plates to Woolley's multi-volume publication on the Ur excavations for pictures of the lozenge and dot motif/iconography. Ur Excavations, Volume II, The Royal Cemetery. (A Report on the Pre-Dynastic and Sargonid Graves Excavated Between 1926 and 1931. 2 Volumes. Publication of the Joint Expedition of the British Museum and of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania to Mesopotamia. London. 1934. 4to, hard bound. Text Volume: xx, 604 pp. with fold out map; Plate Volume: xiii, 273 plates, some in color, some black and white photos and some line drawings, fold out map).) The pattern of lozenge and dot iconography is also found in Arab-Islamic artwork. But Hostetter has apparently never identified and followed all the clues that lead to the 'copper bowl' being an 'Arab-Islamic' divination/magic bowl. On left is interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) showing use of squares (with points facing downwards) and lozenges (= 'rhombus and dot'); and on right the base of a 9th- or 10th-century Islamic bronze ewer showing use of squares (with points facing downwards) and lozenges. (For the latter see: Metalwork in Medieval Islamic Art by Eva Baer (1983)) The use of squares and lozenges constitute one of the simplest geometric patterns in Islamic art and also one of the most regular geometric patterns to decorate Islamic bronzes since the earliest period of Islam. (The lozenge and dot is a simple decorative motif which appears in almost every culture and does not exclusively identify the Sumerians.) Hostetter's copper bowl is likely an Islamic divination bowl originating in Iran, and dating perhaps to the 2nd-millennium CE. An Arabic treatise on Christian calendaric matters (computus) was written as late as the 18th-century. Also visible on the interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl is an example of one of the sets of 4 circles around each of the 4 portrayed heads - with each of the circles containing 6 radiating lines. This particular design could be a type of 6-point star design, which was rather popular in Islamic art.

 

Examples of bleached carnelian beads recovered by Charles Woolley from his Ur excavations (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment). The example is taken from Plate 133, C. Leonard Woolley, Ur Excavations, Volume II: The Royal Cemetery (1934). The pattern of lozenge and dot iconography does not appear on a bowl. The volume of plates is also instructive for the absence of everted rims on metal bowls, a fact ignored by Hostetter. Hostetter makes no attempt to resolve what he sees as common use of particular symbols for purely decorative purposes (i.e., lozenge and dot pattern) with his claim for adoptive use by Inanna cult hierarchy to code astronomical information.   

 

On left is interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) an example of one of the sets of 4 circles around each of the 4 portrayed upper body/heads (likely a serenely seated figure) - with each of the circles containing 6 radiating lines; in middle is denarius coin of Augustus (in gold pendant) dating 1st century BCE showing crescent moon and star (Photo credit: Barbara McManus, British Museum); on right is a Byzantium coin (Byzantine Empire circa 324-1204 CE) showing crescent moon and star. The particular design inside Hostetter's copper bowl could be a type of 6-point star design, which was rather popular in Islamic art.

 

Late 18th- early 19th-century Qajar period copper bowl. 17.8 cm diameter. (Photo Credit: Christie's. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Note the use of narrow bands enclosing a pattern of continual vertical strokes, both on the exterior and the interior. This matches part of the pattern style on the interior of Hostetter's copper bowl.  

 

Example of Medieval Islamic art form of 6 radiating lines enclosed within a circle, included in building architecture in Oman (Sultanate of Oman). The use of 6 radiating lines enclosed within a circle is likely little more than an abstraction of floral and vegetal forms (leaves and petals), forming part of the immense traditional repetoire of Islamic motifs.

 

On left is interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) showing the some of the 'petals' ((floral) pattern of inward radial petals); on right is circle of 12 loops ((floral) pattern of outward radial petals) inside a divination bowl (rose bowl?) dated to the period of the Persian Empire of the Safavid Dynasty (mid 16th-century CE) (A bronze(?) bowl with low central cone inside at base.) How tight/'flattened' the loops are drawn depends on numbers and room available. (The loop motif is likely a form of stylized rose petal.) For Hostetter the 112-year eclipse period/cycle is suggested by the bowl's petal pattern. If they represent Ptolemaic epicycles then this dates the copper bowl as 'late.'

 

Arab-Islamic bronze bowl from Khorasan, 8th-10th century CE having a pattern of (12?) 'upward and downward' radial petals on the outside of the bowl. The bowl is 11.3 cm high and 21.1 cm diameter. Hostetter's copper bowl is 5.7 cm high and 16.6 cm diameter. (Picture from Encyclopaedia Iranica is reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

Islamic ceramic bowl (circa 8th- or 9th-century CE) with rose petals decorating the interior.

 

Interior of finely engraved Qajar copper bowl (15.5 centimetres (6¼ inches) diameter) dated circa mid 19th-century CE. The interior has figural medallions (5 of) and cartouches (5 of) with Persian verses. (Photo Credit: Christie's. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)  Note the decoration similarity with the interior of Hostter's copper bowl. At the centre there are 30 radiating diagonal lines  and 5 concentric circles for sub-divisions. Next there are 18 outward radial petals. Compare these stylized rose petal with those of the interior of Hostetter's copper bowl. The similarities are very close.

 

 19th-century Persian (Qajar Period) bronze bowl, 22 centimetres diameter. (Photo Credit: Online Collectibles Auctions. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) The bowl interior is engraved with geometric motifs and calligraphy. 8 petal type motifs are engraved on the inside base of the bowl. A small lead repair has been carried out has similarity to Hostetter's copper bowl which had 2 thin cracks in the bowl's rim closed with lead (now gone). In the centre picture note the use of squares (with points facing downwards), similar to the interior of Hostetter's copper bowl.

 

On left is interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) showing the figure he identifies as Inanna circa 2000 BCE; sketch of possible anthropomorphic depiction of Inanna on the Seal of the Scribe of Adda (circa 2300 BCE) in middle (one of the earliest 'known' portraits of Inanna); and sketch of likely depiction of Inanna on the Vase of Entemena (circa 2400 BCE) on right (one of the earliest 'known' portraits of Inanna). There are close similarities between the 'Adda' and 'Entemena' depictions i.e., flounced robe and horned crown over long flowing hair. (The image on the Vase of Entemena is also identified as depicting the Sumerian fertility goddess Nanše - an independent goddess in origin.) The image inside Hostetter's copper bowl bears little resemblance to the middle figure and no resemblance to the figure on the right. Inanna is nearly always, in early depictions, shown frontally (full front form) as a tall, athletic, slim goddess, and often (in later depictions) accompanied by a lion, and usually armed. (Inanna was never depicted by head and shoulders only. The front-facing head/figure set in a roundel is alien to Sumerian art.) Inanna was winged to indicate she was an astral (star) goddess and the weapons rising from behind her shoulders indicate her warrior status. Major Mesopotamian gods/goddesses were depicted wearing numerous horns. Lesser Mesopotamian gods/goddesses were depicted wearing few horns. The figure inside Hostetter's copper bowl only has a few apparent 'horns.' (Note: Regarding the date of circa 2400 for the earliest known portrait of Inanna. During the Uruk Period (4500-3100 BCE), and the Jemdet Nasr Period (3200-2900 BCE), the gods, as a rule, were not figured in person. There is no unequivocal anthropomorphic representations of Mesopotamian gods/goddesses prior to the Early Dynastic II period - Middle Chronology 2750/2700-2600 BCE; Short Chronology 2600-2500 BCE.)

 

Depiction of male figure on exterior of copper silver Qajar period pot. The style of etching a figure compares closely to the repetitive figure etched in Hostett's copper bowl. (Photo Credit: Rubylane. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

On left is likely depiction of Inanna on a fragment of votive plaque (Photographic credit: Julia M. Asher-Greve), from Nippur, Early Dynastic III Period (2047-1940 BCE); on right is likely depiction of Inanna - 87 mm tall gypsum statue from Sumerian Dynastic Period circa 2300-2000 BCE. The image inside Hostetter's copper bowl bears no resemblance to the image portrayed either by the votive plaque or by the statue. The face depicted in the 4 roundels inside Hostetter's copper bowl is not the goddess Inanna. If Inanna was being depicted she would be unmistakenly be identified by being depicted either full length or seated on a throne, wearing a multiply horned crown of divinity, dressed in the flounced garment of the gods, and carrying other relevant symbols of her status as a powerful goddess (i.e., ring staff or date bundle, or weapons protruding from her shoulders). 

 

On left one of the gods depicted on the Iranian Hasanlu golden bowl, dated to the 2nd-millennium BCE, is a moon god or local god wearing a horned headdress; on right horned headdress on a Persian sphinx, dated circa 500 BCE. Both examples suitably demonstrate the gulf between the headdress depiction in the copper bowl artwork and horned headdress depiction in early Iranian/Persian artwork.

 

On left is 1 of 4 identical heads (identified by Hostetter as Inanna) placed within identically ornamented roundels on interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)); in middle is an illustration of a modern turban with bands and badge; on right is an illustration of an Arab-Islamic turban. The analysis of the head repeated in 4 identically ornamented roundels is a key to the identification and dating of the copper bowl. The head and shoulders depiction (portrait) is more likely a medieval Islamic male. Whether the portrait is perhaps a clerical figure (or philosopher/mystic) or a scientific figure (scholar/intellectual) is speculative. (It may even be a legendary hero or Shi'ite martyr. See: Masse, H[?]. "L'imagerie populaire de l'Iran." in Arts asiatiques, Volume 7, 1960, Pages 163-173.) Firstly, the bands which Hostetter claims are horns on a figure of Inanna do not go to a point - which is a crucial detail for their interpretation as horns. The more likely interpretation is they simply indicate the wrappings - as depicted by the centre and right illustrations - of a 2nd-millennium CE turban. This necessarily indentifies the figure as male. (There is also an indication of what may be a badge on the forefront of the turban. On the far right is a portrait minature of Qajar ruler, Fath 'ali Shah, early 19th-century. In the centre of the turban is a jewel cluster held in place by strings of pearls.) Secondly, ornamented roundels are unknown in any form of Sumerian art - but are well-established within Arab-Islamic art. Indeed, ornamented roundels are a common feature of Arab-Islamic art. Variously shaped compartments were used to enclose figures. In Hostetter's copper bowl the head is repeated 4 times inside 4 roundels of quatrefoil design, each quartered by cusps. Hostetter believes the cusps join depictions of the crescent moon. The quatrefoil was a Byzantine motif and an Islamic motif. (I am unsure of its use in Christian art created within the Byzantine Empire.) Importantly, the quatrefoil also appeared as a nimbus with 4 arcs (in Christian motif the 4 arcs represented the 4 Evangelists). The quatrefoil was introduced into Latin Europe via Spain. One of the vehicles by which the quatrefoil was introduced into Latin Europe was the astrolabe. (See: The Ciphers of the Monks: A Forgotten Number-notation of the Middle Ages by David King (2001).) At each quarter of the quatrefoil are the cusps (pointed projections/elements). That the head is repeated in 4 roundels on the interior of the copper bowl is completely alien to the norms of Sumerian art - but completely normal to Arab-Islamic art. I am unsure of the use of roundels in non-Islamic Arab art. (Animal figures set in roundels were part of decorative panels of Sassanid Dynastic Period (224 CE - 651 CE) architecture.)

 

On left is a depiction (engraving?) of 1 style of Safavid period turban. On right is a Qajar period painted male portrait on pottery (porcelain) tile; 20 centimetres diameter, dated late 19th-century (between 1850-1899). Compare both with the head depicted in Hostetter's copper bowl (above). (Photo Credit (on right): Abglass/Aeandbpmglass. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

Qajar period bowl with astrological motifs. The roundels enclosing the females share design similarities with the roundels on Hostetter's copper bowl. 

 

Head and shoulder portrait depiction of female (and readily identifiable gender) - enclosed in roundel - on Sasanian Period (224 BCE - 642 CE) metalwork (i.e., bowls). This is - I believe - the earliest period for the depiction of this type of portrait (head and shoulder) art form being influential on later Islamic art forms. The Sasanian (Persian) Empire was one of the most remarkable empires of the first millennium CE. Originating from southern Iran's Persis region in the third century CE, the Sasanian Empire (superseding, circa 224 CE, the phil-hellene Parthian dynasty) eventually encompassed not only modern day Iran and Iraq, but also the greater part of Central Asia and the Near East, including at times, the regions corresponding to present-day Israel, Turkey, and Egypt. This geographically diverse empire brought together a diverse array ethnicities and religious practices (Arameans, Arabs, Armenians, Persians, Romans, Goths as well as a host of other peoples). It was destroyed by the Arabs.

 

Turbaned rider depicted on Fatimid Dynasty ceramic bowl from 11th-century CE (Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum). In different circumstances the depiction of the folds of the turban could be mistaken to indicate a horned headdress.

 

Quasi medieval Islamic figure on 20th-century Australian ceramic ware. Note (1) the simple line depiction, and (2) the portrait is comprised of head and shoulder depiction.

 

Quatrefoil design forming each of the 4 evenly-spaced roundels inside Hostetter's copper bowl. A quatrefoil is basically a 4-lobed geometric shape. A roundel is a circular design. In Arab-Islamic art the quatrefoil design/ornamentation of a roundel was common (especially to the Safavid Period in Iran - circa 2nd half 17th-century and early 18th-century). The quatrefoil motif was a dominant/distinctive feature of Arab-Islamic design. In Arab-Islamic art a quatrefoil commonly has (is composed of) 4 equal lobes separated by 4 cusps. (The lobes 'meet' at points called cusps.) Cusps (in this case) are outward pointing projections placed at the interstices (openings/spaces) between the lobes (arcs/crescents). (The term 'foil' also denotes the space/openings between lobes that are connected/marked by cusps.) Depending on your point of view the cusps can be said to either divide or connect the lobes. (It could also be described as a sectioned quatrefoil roundel.) The distinctive Arab-Islamic quatrefoil pattern was unknown in Sumerian art/decoration. It is perhaps possible that the 4 arcs/crescents basically making up each quatrefoil roundel are symbolic of the 4 phases of the moon throughout the month. Within Arab-Islamic art cusps are simply ornamental. 

 

   Brass Iranian divination bowl dated to the period of the Persian Empire of the Safavid Dynasty circa mid 16th-century CE. On the outside of this Islamic period divination bowl multiple human and animal figures appear within a series of horizontal, elongated panels quartered by cusps (= fourpartite structure). There is no reason to believe the four seasons or fours directions are being indicated.

 

On left is a stamp seal (described as quatrefoil/Maltese Cross) thought to be from North Syria/North Iraq/Iran and dated to the 5th-millennium BCE (Photo credit: Schoyen Collection); in middle is small (width 5 centimetres/2 inches) Mesopotamian jewelry item dated to circa 2nd-millennium BCE and described as a roundel because of its bronze circular core; on right is a hero-figure (head depiction only - not head and shoulder depiction) placed in a roundel which is dated to 14th-century BCE Iran (Middle Elamite Period). It was originally coated in gold and was a decorative element for attaching to another object. All examples suitably demonstrate the gulf between pre-Islamic roundels and post-Islamic quatrefoil roundels used in artwork.

 

Antique Arabic copper bowl. (Photo Credit: Postrex New York. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Compare (1) the roundel design on the exterior with the roundel design on the interior of Clyde Hostetter's copper bowl, and (2) the exterior decoration located near the everted rim comprising adjacent boxes, each the same size and each with a central inscribed dot, with the design on the everted rim of Clyde Hostetter's copper bowl. The latter is an exact match. Note also the style of the roundels.

 

On left is (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) is the figure Hostetter identifies as Inanna circa 2000 BCE. On right (Photo credit: Kramer & Velte Antiques; reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment) is a figure depicted on an early 19th-century Qajar copper bowl (from Iran). The Qajar copper bowl is on a short foot; 9½ inches (approx. 24 centimetres) diameter and 1¾ inches (approx. 4.5 centimetres) deep. The design of the figural medallions and the hand clasps show similarities. Note especially the depiction of the folded arms and the design of the 'enclosure' for the female figure.

 

Figural of seated man, interior of Abbasid pottery bowl (circa 9th-10th century CE). The depiction has strong affinities with the seated man depicted inside Hostetter's copper bowl. ((Photo credit: Christie's; reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment))

 

Qajar period depiction of standing person. (Photo credit: http://zarrinkafsch-bahman.org/14.hthl. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Note the resemblance of the upper body pose (folded arms and clasped hands) to the figure inside Hostetter's copper bowl.

 

Portrait of late 18th-century Qajar prince wearing an astrakhan hat. (Photo credit: Sotheby's. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Note the clean shaven face and representation of the face narrowing/tapering toward the chin. Compare with the figural roundel in Hostetter's copper bowl (see above). Note also the depiction of the eyebrows. At the end of the 19th-century a revived interest in Safavid art was a characteristic of the Qajar era. Possibly the figural roundel in Hostetter's copper bowl shows a person wearing a rimless astrakhan (= made of lamb skin/wool) type male hat (kolāh) with a badge, favoured by early members of the Qajar dynasty/nobility (invariably a black colour), which replaced the turban as the main headwear.

 

On left is interior section showing setting of 1 of 4 identically ornamented roundels on interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)). In centre is close-up of 1 of 4 identically ornamented roundels on interior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)). On right is an ornamented roundel on interior section of a Qajar period tinned copper bowl surrounded by 4 small star-like patterns i.e., circles with radiating lines. Photo Credit: Christie's. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Compare the roundel design and setting with those in Hostetter's 'copper bowl.' Christie's Lot Description: "A VERY FINE QAJAR TINNED-COPPER BOWL SIGNED HUSAYN, POSSIBLY MASHHAD, IRAN, DATED AH 1240/1824-5 AD With rounded profile, on plain base and with slightly everted lip, the engraved decoration with dense foliage overall, a band of calligraphic medallions in nasta'liq script below the rim, one medallion with signature and date, the central field in the interior with a large rosette, the cavetto with small cusped medallions with portraits of ladies interspersed with calligraphic medallions, the lip with a band of dotted roundels, in good condition 3¾in. (9.3cm.) diam." (Rosettes decorating the base of bowls is a feature of Arab-Islamic iconography.)

 

Interior of Qajar period tin-coated copper bowl dated to first part of 19th-century CE. (Photo Credit: Turkish Folk Art (turkishfolkart.com). Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Compare the roundel design and setting with those in Hostetter's 'copper bowl.' Turkish Folk Art lot description includes: It has a seal on the back side with the date 1248 in the Islamic calendar [= circa 1830 CE]. Size: 6.5 inches diameter at top; 2 inches deep. The 4 small cusped medallions have portraits of ladies. Note: The style of the 4 cusped medallions (placed on the cavetto) and the portraits in them are almost identical to the 4 cusped medallions appearing inside Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl. Other similarities between the 2 copper bowls involve the interior band incised below the rim. The central fields (interior base) differ.

 

On left is exterior section of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) showing the wavy lines (double wavy line) appearing below the rim (and bordered top and bottom) and circling the bowl; in middle is a photograph (Photographic credit: Professor David Hanlon) of a wavy line decoration circling an Islamic pottery cylinder, likely dating to the Umayyad period (661-750 CE) but the decoration thought to be influenced from the preceding Parthian period; on the right is a drawing of decorated bowl sherds from Parthian period Londo (circa 1st- or 2nd-century CE), in Baluchistan. Note the wavy lines placed between horizontal bands. On each of the sherds (more precisely, potsherds) the top of one of the wavy lines (sine waves) is prominently flattened. Hostetter asserts that on his copper bowl 1 wave (sine) cycle equals 1 week and the flattening on the top of a wave (sine) cycle on his copper bowl indicates slightly more than one week. It is possibly more likely to be a technique to solve a spacing issue arising out of poor design planning (i.e., the design was not carefully drawn).

 

Qajar period tinned bronze/copper plate from Iran; 24.5cm diameter. It is predominantly engraved with florals and rabbits. (Photo Credit: Arts of the Orient. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Note the double wavy line patterns - enclosed by double top and bottom border lines - circling the inside of the plate. This pattern is identical to the wavy lines (double wavy line) appearing below the rim (and bordered top and bottom) and circling Hostetter's copper bowl.  

 

Close-up of the wavy lines (double wavy line) pattern inside the Qajar period tinned bronze/copper plate from Iran. (Photo Credit: Arts of the Orient. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) The sine wave pattern - where it touches the borders - randomly varies between curved, blunt, and pointed. It is obvious that Hostetter has never made any comparison between the sine wave pattern on his copper bowl and those appearing on other copper bowls. Simply, we are not looking at the finest art work.

 

Above is exterior of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) showing the limited pattern placed on the external surface area of the copper bowl. The numerous dents placed on the external surface area are also visible. Note the slightly everted rim. Also, in the centre of the photograph, note the breaks in the top and bottom border lines enclosing the double wavy lines. Note also the exactness in the offset pattern of exterior dents with the Qajar bowl examples.

 

Abstract iconography on the upper outside of an Islamic (Persian) Safavid period tinned copper bowl identified as a Ceremony Bowl. The patterns share resemblances with the double wavy line patterns - enclosed by double top and bottom border lines - on the outside of Hostetter's copper bowl immediately above. It is a variation of the simpler sine wave pattern on Hostetter's copper bowl. Note also the similarities to the decoration style inside Hostetter's copper bowl. (Photo Credit: Taylors Trading. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

Tin on Copper Bowl (most of the tin has worn away off the outside) from Iran (no date given but likely late 1800s or early 1900s. (Photo credit: City Country Gallery. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Measurements: 6 5/16" (approx. 16 centimetres) diameter and 1 7/8" (approx. 5 centimetres) high. The copper bowl is undoubtedly Islamic. First 2 photographs show: Crude chisel etched line of design underneath the rim on the outside of the bowl. Note the match between the simpler but similar types of patterns. Straight lines forming triangles instead of curving lines forming 'sine waves.' The outside body of the bowl is decorated with hand hammered striations (parallel series of minute grooves). The base of the bowl has a dab of red paint (possibly an inventory code from a museum). 3rd photograph shows: Inside the bowl the bottom has a large decorative circle with Islamic writings. Running around the inside body of the bowl are equally dispersed diamond shapes with spandrels (ornamented triangular space) at the top and bottom of each diamond. Note the exterior and interior similarities to Hostetter's copper bowl. When I informed Hostetter of this particular copper bowl he made no attempt to respond or comment. The date of manufacture may possibly be after the 1874 German astronomy expedition to Iran (Isfahan) to observe the transit of Venus. Hostetter makes only unsubstantiated claims regarding the hammered striations on his copper bowl. "A total of 91 dents -- or perhaps 90 -- spiral around the Bowl. Their narrow vertical six-sided shape suggests that they were made with a cushioned lozenge-shaped hammer, struck lightly so that only the top and the bottom of the hammer's head made an impression. Comments: The four seasons between the solstices and the equinoxes are an average of about 91 days in length, although the lengths of the intervals vary slightly because of the Earth's eliptical (sic) orbit around the Sun. There seems to be no other reason for the dents to be there, except for the possibility of tithi use, a convention used as early as the Second Millenium (sic) to fit varying 29-day and 30-day lunar months into a standard interval of 30 units for easier mathematical calculation. (Clyde Hostetter, "Estimating a Provenance for the Cynthia Bowl." March 15, 2008, Page 8.)" Note: It is almost a duplicate of the Qajar bowl (shown 2nd below) that was for sale by RetroToRevolution. The interior pattern is also similar.

 

Exterior of a 19th-century Islamic Qajar copper bowl  with Arabic calligraphy. (Photo Credit: Estuary Auctions. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) The numerous dents placed on the external surface area are also visible. Note the slightly everted rim. The Arabic calligraphy appears as/in a band below the rim, circling the bowl. The copper bowl is 5.5 cm high and 16 cm diameter. The similarities that present a close match to Hostetter's so-called Cynthia Bowl are the (1) dimensions, (2) thickness, (3) everted rim, (4) exterior pattern of dents (hammer strikes), (5) the dent pattern is the same size, (6) the dent pattern forms a triple band, (7) the 3 rows of dent patterns form an offset geometrical pattern, (8) absence of a (short) 'foot;' (9) decorated on the outside with a single band/panel of patterns (Arabic calligraphy in the case of the Qajar bowl) located high near mouth, and (10) decorated on the inside with a single band/panel of patterns (Arabic calligraphy in the case of the Qajar bowl) located high near mouth. The Qajar (also spelled Kajar/Kadjar) were a Turkmen tribe that was part of Iran (Azerbaijan). Following a long period of warfare with Iranian tribes they united all of Iran and established the Qajar Dynasty/Period (usual dates given are 1795-1925). Interestingly, in the Medieval period many European artisans travelled from one court to another in the Near East. The online Encyclopaedia Iranica states: "The Qajar artistic style, like the Timurid style centuries before, had its origins outside the historical period from which it derives its name."

 

Qajar period, (so-called) hand spun, tin lined, copper bowl. It has a maker's mark on the base. (Photo Credits: RetroToRevolution. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) So-called 'hand spun' is a method used to manufacture bowls. A sheet of copper is forced to conform gradually to a revolving wood block by varying the position and pressure of the wood tool. The bowl is 5.75 inches in diameter (14.6 centimetres) and 1.5 inches (3.8 centimetres) in height. The photographs show: Crude chisel etched line of design underneath the rim on the outside of the bowl. Note the match between the simpler but similar types of patterns to Hostetter's copper bowl. Straight lines forming triangles instead of curving lines forming 'sine waves.' This pattern is repeated in 2 separate bands inside the bowl. The outside body of the bowl is decorated with hand hammered striations (parallel series of minute grooves). The base of the bowl has a maker's mark. The similarities that present a close match to Hostetter's so-called Cynthia Bowl are the (1) diameter, (2) thickness, (3) everted rim, (4) exterior pattern of dents (hammer strikes), (5) the dent pattern is the same size, (6) the dent pattern forms a triple band, (7) the 3 rows of dent patterns form an offset geometrical pattern, (8) absence of a (short) 'foot;' (9) decorated on the outside with a single band/panel of patterns; (10) the bowl is tinned (inside). Note: It is almost a duplicate of the Qajar bowl (shown 2nd above) that was for sale by City Country Gallery. The interior pattern is also similar.

 

Exterior of a Qajar period hand made copper Sufi bowl (with lid). (Photo Credits: Postrex New York. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) The numerous offset dents placed on the external surface area (4 rows on the bowl and 3 rows on the lid) demonstrate that this iconographic/decorative technique was not uncommon for copper bowls of this period.

 

Another example of a Qajar period copper bowl circa late 19th-century. On left is side view and on right is view of underside. The numerous offset dents placed on the external surface area (4 rows) basically makes for instant identification. (Photo Credits: Rob Michiels Auctions. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

Qajar Period celestial globe. Date 1836 CE (AH 1252). (Photo Credit: Christie's. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) The most influential scholar in Safavid Iran was Bahā' al-Din al-'Āmili (1547-1621), who wrote numerous works on astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. There is presently no suitable work on the introduction of Western astronomy in Iran. Both Safavid period and Qajar period astronomers were extremely adept at complicated astronomical calculations connected with planetary astronomy, and mathematical astrology. (See: World-maps for finding the distance and direction to Mecca by David King (1999).) According to the online Encyclopaedia Iranica: "The Qajar period is now increasingly recognised as a time of significant change in Persian society. Perhaps the most obvious influence was the impact of Western ideas and technology." During the Qajar period Iranians became closely acquainted with Western culture and their art was influenced by it. A large number of Westerners from a diverse range of backgrounds flocked into 19th-century Iran (and Greece and Turkey also). In 1874 there was a German astronomy expedition to Iran (Isfahan) to observe the transit of Venus. For example see: The English Amongst the Persians; During the Qajar Period 1787-1921 by Denis Wright (1977).

 

Qajar Period book (late 19th-century Iran) of astronomical tables. (Photo credit: Christie's. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

On left is (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) is the figure on the centre of the exterior bottom. On right (Photo credit: Kramer & Velte Antiques) is the deep mark on the outside bottom centre of an early 19th-century Qajar copper bowl (from Iran). It is perhaps likely that both marks can be considered manufacturer's/maker's stamps.

 

Above is the Mithraic cameo (a piece of jewelry, typically oval in shape, consisting of a portrait in profile carved in relief on a background of a different color) that Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 7-7-2013) stated (in rather clever wording): "… the tiny stamped oval on the outside bottom of the bowl [see photograph above left] seems to show the seven ancient planets and a Zodiacal symbol of a lion. Why would it have been stamped (not incised) on a bowl manufactured, according to British Museum analysis, more than 1000 years after Mithraism competed with Christianity...and lost.? (The symbol appears in Cumont's The Mysteries of Mithra, reprinted by Dover Publications in 1956. I have also read the original French-language publication. I have no easy explanation for why and when the oval symbol was added, and by whom, but there it is.)" (Illustration source: The Mysteries of Mithra by Franz Cumont (1907; Page 185. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Quite obviously, it bears no resemblance - description or otherwise - to Hostetter's claim for the stamp mark on his copper bowl.

 

Figure on the central area of the exterior bottom of an Islamic (Persian) Safavid period tinned copper bowl identified as a Ceremony Bowl. In all likelihood a manufacturer's/maker's stamp. It shares resemblances with the figures immediately above (excluding deemed figure 42). (Photo Credit: Taylors Trading. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

Photos shows inverted image of Islamic (Persian) copper bowl circa 1930s from Isfahan. (Photo credit: AncientPoint. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) The numerous dents placed on the external surface area are clearly visible. Note the slightly everted rim. Note the match between the simpler but similar types of patterns to Hostetter's copper bowl. Straight lines forming Xs/triangles instead of curving lines forming 'sine waves.' The pattern inside the bowl is not known. The outside body of the bowl is decorated with hand hammered striations (parallel series of minute grooves). The base of the bowl has a maker's mark. The similarities that present a close match to Hostetter's so-called Cynthia Bowl are the (1) dimensions, (2) thickness, (3) everted rim, (4) exterior pattern of dents (hammer strikes), (5) the dent pattern is the same size, (6) the dent pattern forms a triple band, (7) the 3 rows of dent patterns form an offset geometrical pattern, (8) absence of a (short) 'foot;' (9) decorated on the outside with a single band/panel of patterns located high near mouth. The date of circa 1930 for the bowl is post-Qajar period. The date of origin for Hostetter's copper bowl is now extended from circa 1795-1925 to circa 1795-1930.

 

Islamic copper bowl for collecting donations (charity) in mosque. (Photo credit: Moishale Gallery. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) Age: 1900-1940; diameter: 19.2 centimetres; height: 7.2 centimetres. Note design similarities to copper bowl immediately above.

 

On left is base of the interior of Clyde Hostetter's tin-coated copper bowl (from his 2008 PowerPoint presentation titled The Cynthia Bowl (reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment)) showing the decoration comprising of a set of 5 concentric circles (radial circles) with 26 radiating diagonal lines forming a subdivision. The 'alignment' of the lines with the petals is obviously random. A set of concentric circles with diagonal lines radiating through them, forming an apparent subdivision, was a feature of Islamic artwork. It is also a reminder of the exceptional concentric and radiating plan of the circular city of Ardašīr-khorra, in Sasanian Iran, which perhaps reflected an individual decision by Ardašīr I (?-242 CE) to demonstrate the cosmological and socio-political ideas of his emerging empire. Concentric circles in combination with radiating lines was a feature of both Persian art and Islamic art. (See: A Survey of Persian Art from Prehistoric Times to the Present, Volume 1, by Phyllis Ackerman (1965; 3rd edition 2005).) It can be easily argued that the circle(s) with radiating lines is simply sun-ray iconography. In the middle is a heavily damaged and restored (Islamic) Ottoman Period pottery bowl dated to circa 15th-century CE. Some 24 lines are discernable radiating from a circle in the centre of the interior of the bowl to a larger circle at the base of the interior wall of the bowl. The designs and their structure have affinities with with Hostetter's copper bowl: (1) similarity of dimensions (including thickness), (2) radiating lines and concentric circles marked on base of bowl interior, (3) 4 equally spaced elongated panels on the interior wall of the bowl, and (4) a 'narrow' band of decoration circling the interior of the bowl rim (and forming a 'border'). On right is an example of a ceramic lustre-vessel (hemispherical bowl) dating to circa late 12th-century-early 13th-century, from the city of Raqqa, North Syria. (Photographic credit: Ashmolean Museum.) Note the 'narrow' band of decoration circling the interior of the bowl rim (and forming a 'border'). The decoration motifs employed at Raqqa circa late 12th-century-early 13th-century were similar to those on Persian ceramic lustre-wares of the same period. From circa 800 CE-1300 CE lustre-painted pottery represented the highest achievements in ceramic art in the Middle East. Lustre-ware (Fatimid Syria, 12th-century CE) from Tell Minis, a village near Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, was often decorated with crescent moons. Imported Persian wares from circa 12th-century have been found at the site.

 

Medieval Arab-Islamic talismanic design appearing in an Egyptian book on magic. 27 diagonal lines radiating from a circular centre pass through an outer circle. The use of calligraphy only in Arab-Islamic magic bowls was a late development. "Large numbers of Islamic magic bowls were made, at least since the 12th century, and they continue, in variant forms, to be produced today (or at least until recently). In origin they were probably related in some fashion to pre-Islamic Aramaic bowls, though there are in fact great differences in design and function. The latter are of clay and have spiral inscriptions invoking demons, while the Islamic ones are of metal and noticeably lacking in any reliance upon jinns and demons." ("Islamic Magical Texts vs. Magical Artifacts." by Emilie Savage-Smith (Societas Magica Newsletter, Fall, 2003, Issue 11, Pages 1-6).) 

 

On left is Zodiac Bowl comprised of human and other figures from central or northern Iran, dated circa 12th- or 13th-century CE. Depiction of human faces/figures was not unusual in Arab-Islamic artwork. On right is Chihil Kilid (Forty Keys) Brass Divination Bowl (3 inches high and 7.5 inches diameter) from Western Iran - Safavid Dynasty, 1679 CE (Photographic credit: Brooklyn Museum). The divination bowl has inscriptions, zodiac signs, and four plaquettes (attached). The interior also has 'in-facing' and 'out-facing' loops ('petals'). Similar to many divination/magic/talismanic bowls it has a raised tapering central boss. A common misperception is that Islamic art does not include representational imagery. The Koran (the religious text of Islam) bans the worship of images for religious purposes - therefore there are no representational figural images in mosques or in any religious context. On everyday objects however, depictions of animals or figures often appear as decorative elements.

 

Circa early 19th-century Iranian medicinal magic (talismanic) copper bowl, diameter 15.2 centimetres and height 4.5 centimetres. Likely date of origin is between 1800 and 1846 CE. Arab-Islamic copper magic bowls were made at least as early as the 12th-century CE. It has a slightly everted rim. Both the exterior and interior of the copper bowl are engraved. (Also, it is a (short) footed bowl.) The measurements for Hostetter's copper bowl are 16.6 centimetres diameter and 5.7 centimetres high. See the discussions of Arab-Islamic talismanic bowls in Magic and Divination in the Early Islamic World edited by Emilie Savage-Smith (2004).

 

Early 20th-century small copper bowl manufactured in North America. Though without decoration and tin coating it has affinities (size, shape, and thickness) with Hostetter's copper bowl.

 

The Zij (Zīje)

Numerous practical astronomical handbooks (known as Zijs/Zījes) existed in the Arab-Islamic world. The Zij is an important genre in medieval Arabic astronomy. A Zij was a common kind of practical astronomical work in the Arab-Islamic world. A Zij is a handbook of astronomical tables, including tables for working out positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets, and auxiliary material and instructions for how to use the material. According to Paul Kunitzsch Zijs: "... usually consist of a theoretical introduction, and a collection of astronomical tables, for chronology, for the planets, sun and moon, etc. Mostly a star table is also included. The star tables in the zīj-works mostly are merely the result of computation or compilation, and not the result of independent star observations." The ancient prototype of the Zij is Ptolemy's Handy Tables (2nd-century CE). In the history of ancient astronomy the Handy Tables of Ptolemy have exercised an influence at least equal to that of his Mathematical Syntaxis (Almagest).

Arab-Islamic scholars were constantly producing practical astronomical handbooks. More than 200 Zij are known to have been written from the 9th-century onwards. Over half of these are still extant. Each Zij usually contained approximately 150 to 200 pages.

The source of the astronomical information for the copper bowl may have been the highly important astronomical document Kitab al-Zij al-Ilkhani (or the Zij-i Ilkhani as it is more commonly known), completed in 1270 CE by the leading 13th-century Muslim philosopher scientist Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. Al-Tusi, was a universal scholar, and perhaps the most prolific author of the Islamic world, and is also known for his renditions of early Arabic translations of Greek works on astronomy and mathematics, and various independent documents on aspects of theoretical and practical astronomy and mathematics. The Zij, provides the theory and tables to calculate the position of the sun, moon and five naked-eye planets, with the ability to predict eclipses, the lunar crescent and planetary visibility. The Zij can also be used to tell the length of twilight, the altitude of the sun at midday and the exact times of prayer, and was therefore an important Islamic handbook. The Kitab al-Zij al-Ilkhani was the result of many years of research by one of the leading astronomers and mathematicians of the 'Golden Age' of Arab-Islamic astronomy. It was one of more than 150 works written by al-Tusi.

For information of the type of information contained in Zijs/Zījes see A Survey of Islamic Astronomical Tables by Edward Kennedy (1956). If we accept that Hostetter's most elaborate astronomical interpretation is correct, the demonstration of this level of knowledge in Islamic times is ordinary and unremarkable.

Seven Days and Seven Day Week Issues 

As one example of the copper bowl problems: According to Hostetter's decoding the synodic periods of Venus have been recorded as 7-day weeks on the bowl. The exterior band of 52 'sine waves' is interpreted as 52 weeks. The 2 circles each containing 417 marks, in the upper interior, is interpreted as the number of weeks in 5 synodic periods of Venus. The 2 circles - 1 with 250 marks and the other with 167 marks - in the lower interior are interpreted as weeks and related to synodic periods of Venus. (But 7 is a rather strange number for the early period claimed and Hostetter attempts to 'normalise' this figure by stating that 7-day weeks are meant. Hostetter is simply assuming the method of counting by 7-day weeks was established by at least circa 2000 BCE - obvious as a 'common-sense' quartering of the period of visible lunar cycling.) The use of a 7-day week is apparently never identified as a critical issue for dating the bowl. It does not appear that any attempt has been made by Hostetter to submit a paper on his claims for the copper bowl to a professional refereed journal. This would have had the benefit of drawing professional comment. Hostetter appears to believe the cult of Inanna circa 2000 BCE, or earlier, developed a 7-day week for itself. (The 7-day week is a non-astronomical cycle (as is the Julian cycle of a leap-year every 4 years).)

The concept of the 7-day week is popularly believed to have originated in Mesopotamia/West Asia. It was also commonly believed by early assyriologists. However, there is no clear evidence that the Mesopotamians (Babylonians) used 7-day weeks. There is no 7-day cycle in any astronomical or other natural phenomena. Relating the 7-day week to four phases of the moon is not obvious. Hence the concept of a 7-day lunar week is different to the issue of a lunar month. (The 7-day week is not actually a particularly good system for dividing the lunar month as it simply does not divide evenly into the actual duration of such. For this reason very few ancient peoples used a 7-day scheme.) The lunar month can at least be tracked by observing the cycles of the moon. (The Babylonian months alternated between twenty-nine and thirty days.)

Of the 3 types/methods of day units in use in Babylonia the day unit usually used in calculations was the tithis (with 1 tithi equal to one-thirtieth of a synodic month). A few Babylonian astronomical texts do apparently function tacitly with thirtieth parts of the synodic month but the concept of a 'lunar day' is not explicit in any Babylonian text.

According to some early authorities the Babylonians had divided the year into 7-day weeks at least as early as the 15th-century BCE. However, the Sumerian epic of 'Atra-Hassis' ('Story of the Flood'), preserved in Akkadian from the Old Babylonian period, has the earliest reference to what could be a 7-day week: "After the storm had swept over the country for seven days and seven nights." More likely it is common number symbolism. Simply talking of 7 days and 7 nights does not make a 7-day week. In Mesopotamia the number 7 was the most commonly revered number. Gods came grouped in 7s, rituals had to be repeated 7 times, etc. In the Old Babylonian literary text (written in Akkadian), "The Epic of Atrahasis," the creation of humanity is at the hand of the womb-goddess Mami, also called Nintu, who mixed the blood of a sacrificed god with clay. She divided the clay into seven pairs of bricks - seven males and seven females. This helps to demonstrate the variety of ways 7 was used in number symbolism.

The Babylonian 'Creation Epic' ('Enuma Elish') dating to the Kassite Period (perhaps circa 1600 BCE) or (more likely) Early Assyrian Period (perhaps circa 1100 BCE) has a description of lunar divisions that includes: "Thou shalt shine with horns to determine six days / And on the seventh with half a crown." Stephen Langdon writing in 1923 (The Babylonian Epic of Creation) over-confidently/erroneously states: "The major texts are all based upon a week of seven days, but K 13774 has a version based upon the five-day week." It needs to be understood that this statement of Langdon's was made without sufficient evidence. The Babylonian Creation Epic is full of references to the number 7. As examples: In its original form the Creation Epic consisted of 7 tablets (i.e., 7 divisions with approximately 150 lines per tablet - 115 to 170 lines), the 7 winds (and one day was dedicated to each of the winds). However, the god Marduk is also described as stationing the 4 winds, but also arms himself with 7 destructive winds.

A Babylonian cylinder seal illustrated two gods fighting a 7-headed dragon. In Assyrian texts that have no connection with astronomy the first 7 days after birth was deemed a special period for mother and child. In the Old Babylonian period at Larsa there was a 7-day ritual.

A syllabary (UCBC 407, a partial duplicate of the large tablet K 6012 + K 10684) from the Neo-Babylonian Period seems to provide evidence of the practice of subdivision of half-month periods (usually comprising 15 days - not 14 days) into two 7-day periods. (See: Adolf Oppenheim, Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, Number 93, February, 1944.) However, Julius Lewy ("Neo-Babylonian Names of the Days of the Week." Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research, Number 95, October, 1944, Pages 34-36) makes the case the Oppenheim's argument is based on a misinterpretation of the tablets.

A Neo-Babylonian syllabary (bilingual list of Sumerian words and their Akkadian (Babylonian or Assyrian) equivalents). - some of them containing the names of the days of the month, from the first to the thirteenth - has entries only up to the 7th day, underneath which a line has been drawn. This document implies that the writer considered the first seven days of the month to be a unit. Why this one of the many syllabaries giving the names of the month ends with the 7th day is unexplained. However, this tablet may be an incomplete school exercise, or the unknown scribe may have left his work unfinished. At best it is weak evidence for the existence of a 7-day week.

The strongest apparent evidence for the existence of the week and the observance of the 7th day in Mesopotamia is a letter written during the 2nd-millennium BCE, in which the recipient is admonished to "complete the day of new moon, the 7th day, and the day of full moon, as you have been taught." Hildegard and Julius Lewy, however, have pointed out that the Akkadian expression translated "7th day" - literally "7th" - can only mean the "7th [part of the year]." Little is understood concerning the apparent instruction given in the Babylonian letter, to complete the "7th day" along with the days of the new moon and the full moon. Even if the translation "7th-day [of the month]" be accepted as correct, which is very doubtful, we still do not know what religious or civil duties the sender of the letter had in mind. A lone and ambiguous admonition "to complete . . . the 7th-day" does not of itself constitute proof for the existence of a 7-day week or of a 'sabbath day.'

Whilst the concept of 7 and 7 days was known in Mesopotamia it was not employed as a continuing weekly cycle to measure time (or even the interval between market days). In Mesopotamia the 7-day unit is a schematic device. It is not used as a weekly cycle. In its use as a schematic device a described action continues for 6 days with completion occurring on the 7th day. It was also used to identify lucky and unlucky days. (See: The Hebrew Conception of the World by Luis Stadelmann (1970).)

The lunar month formed the basis for time reckoning. There are claims that the 7-day week cycle makes its earliest appearance in Babylonian documents dating to the 7th-century BCE but in this claimed system the 7-day weeks apparently did not succeed one another continuously. Part of the problem is it does not mesh with the 29 day and 30 day month counts. (See, for example: "New Moons and Sabbaths" by William Hallo, In: Essential Papers on Israel and the Ancient Near East edited by Frederick Greenspahn (1991).) Note: The use of the very few 28 day months recorded in the Middle Assyrian Period were usually calendrical adjustments necessitated by results arising from the personal mistakes of observers (due to bad weather impeding observations of the first crescent moon). For a discussion of this issue see: "Month of 28 days in the Middle Assyrian period." by Yigal Bloch (N.A.B.U., Number 1, mars, 2014, especially Page 42.

All evidence indicates the cultic calendar of ancient Mesopotamia, and likewise the civil calendar, was tied to the phases of the moon, and not at all to a 7-day week. The evidence for a regularised lunar festival dates only to the end of the Sargonic period circa 2200 BCE and the beginning of the neo-Sumerian period circa 2100 BCE. Each of the 52 'sine waves' surrounding the outside lip of the copper bowl are claimed to be representative of 7-day weeks. (This ignores the that elsewhere on the copper bowl the 'coding' for 7-day weeks changes from 'sine waves' to short lines.) The use of 7-day weeks to measure the synodic period of Venus circa 2000 BCE seems much too early and is not supported by any cuneiform records. It is still contentious whether the Babylonians possessed/instituted a 7-day week.

Hostetter has never attempted to present a case of any substance for the existence of a 7-day week in ancient Mesopotamia. Further he never attempts to quote any authority to substantiate his assertion.

The symbolic number 7 has no association with calendars - that is, with a 7-day week in Babylonia. There is no evidence for a 7-day week in Babylonia, and no calendar system of a 7-day week x 52 weeks = a 364-day year. From the earliest Mesopotamian calendrical schemes are based on fundamental ideal periods, such as 30 days for the Moon, and 360 days for the Sun. The moon is frequently designated as d30 (which references the moon's approximately 30-day cycle). These idealisations (periods of round and ideal numbers) existed from the beginning of the 3rd-millennium BCE at least. It is worth noting that in the late 1st-millennium CE, in the calculation of Babylonian planet tables normal months of 30 days were assumed. (In Sumerian texts the Moon is referred to as 'the god' or by the moon god's Sumerian name, Nana. In Old Babylonian celestial omen texts, the Moon is consistently referred to as Suen (dEN.ZU), in later texts almost always written d30.

Origin of the Seven Day Week

Grouping days into a 7-day week is relatively late.

It has been frequently assumed that the four phases of the moon during the month led to a division of 4 weeks (seven and three-eighths days each). In reality the week and month belong to different systems of time reckoning. The 7-day week is not a natural (calendar) unit of time. The 7-day week does not agree well with either a solar or lunar year. Both the day and week (as a numerical series of 7 days) are time systems which are independent of the moon. The 7-day week is only a very rough approximation to the periodisation of the moon. The month and the week are incompatible - their beginnings only occasionally coincide. On page 127 of his article "Administrative Timekeeping in Ancient Mesopotamia." (Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Volume XXXI, Number 2, 1988, Pages 121-185), Robert Englund notes that the periods of 7 and 15 days in Mesopotamian administrative time divisions more likely represent successive divisions of the 30-day month by 2 required by household administration. Hence, there is no need to invoke moon phases or magic Babylonian numbers.

Note: The use of the expression "lunar month" to describe an arbitrary period of 28 days (a so-called "calendar month") is entirely misleading, given that the actual lunar cycle is about 29½ days.

The 7-day week is arbitrary though it does have some astronomical/astrological associations. One non-lunar theory is simply the 7-day week originated as a planetary week based on the 7 identified celestial bodies Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The Babylonians at least named the 7 days of the week after these 7 celestial bodies that they knew well. Also, the Babylonian sacred number 7 was probably related to the 7 "planets." Both the Harranians and the Mandaeans perpetuated a planetary week with Babylonian roots independently of Europe. (One non-lunar theory is simply the 7-day week originated as a planetary week based on the 7 identified celestial bodies Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Some persons still assert the Babylonians named the 7 days of the week after these 7 celestial bodies that they knew well.)

The 7-day week (at least the continual 7-day week) is perhaps likely to have a double or triple origin in Greek, Jewish, and Mesopotamian ideas. The Jews at least since the Babylonian Exile (beginning circa 597 BCE) have had a 7-day week. In the early 7th-century BCE some Assyrian records indicated that work was prohibited on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th days of the month.

The continuous weekly cycle of 7 days only became a standard unit for the measurement of time during the period of the Roman Empire. There was a gradual rise in the use of the 7-day week from the time of Julius Caesar. Circa the 2nd-century BCE the Jewish 7-day week and the Planetary 7-day week gained popularity. The 7-day week was only consolidated with the ecclesiastical division of the year into weeks, each with 7 named days. (The 7-day week only became official in the Roman empire (and the Western World) with its establishment by an edict of the Roman Emperor Constantine (for Christian religious purposes) in 321 CE. The increasing use and popularity of Constantine's 7-day week amongst Romans was perhaps due in part to its astrological significance.) Hostetter apparently ignores this issue, or seems unaware there is an issue. The 7-day week (at least the continual 7-day week) is perhaps likely to have a double or triple origin in Greek, Jewish, and Mesopotamian ideas. The Jews at least since the Babylonian Exile (beginning circa 597 BCE) have had a 7-day week. In the early 7th-century BCE some Assyrian records indicated that work was prohibited on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th days of the month. (See: Babylonian Menologies and the Semitic Calendars by Stephen Langdon (1935).) The early Christians adopted the Jewish continuous 7-day week.

The use of the 7-day week appears in the Western Mediterranean by (at least) the end of the 1st-century BCE; the Roman poet and writer of elegies Tibullus (circa 55 BCE-19 BCE) made reference to it (I.3.18: Saturni sacram me tenuisse diem.). There are 7-day week mentions by the Roman poets Horace (65 BCE- BCE) and Ovid (43 BCE-17 BCE). It is accepted that a now a lost work by Plutarch (46 CE-120 CE) discussed the 7-day week. There is an inscription comprising a public reference to a 7-day week - dated by Mommsen between 19 BCE and CE 14 comprising the remains of a Sabine calendar. The Sabine region comprised Picenum and Campania. A 7-day week Julian calendar has been identified on a stick calendar found at the Baths of Titus (constructed 79 CE-81 CE). Apart from the Roman astrologer Vettius Valens mentioning (circa 170 CE) the 7-day week, the Consul Dio Cassius, in the 2nd century CE, also mentioned the 7-day week

Planetary names for days of the week were a popular tradition of the common people. The (7-day) Planetary week is a Hellenistic invention. Dating in astrological texts depends on use of an astronomical tables and calendars, hence the rarity of the use of popular tradition/terminology in astrological texts. It does not mean that the usage of common terminology was unknown, but simply that it was not used by astrologers as it was not found in the astronomical tables they used. Planetary days are discussed in Greek Horoscopes edited by Otto Neugebauer and Henry van Hoesen (1959). See also: Astronomy, Weather and Calendars in the Ancient World by Daryn Lehoux (2007: Pages 170-171) on the paragegma at Dura Europus with planetary days indicated.

The 7-day cycle known as the (7-day) week became a rival to – and ultimate successor to – the Roman 8-day market cycle. Between the 1st-century and 3rd century CE the 8-day Roman nundinal cycle was gradually replaced with the 7-day week. (The nundinal cycle was an 8-day cycle marked with letters running from A to H. The (effectively) 8-day week of the Romans - due to an inclusive counting method - was named nundinum (= 9).) By the 4th-century CE the 7-day week had become an integral part of the Roman calendar. The 7-day week came into use in Rome during the early imperial period, after the adoption of the Julian calendar in 45 BCE. The 7-day week as we know it is a fusion of 2 conceptually different day cycles: (1) the Judaeo-Christian week (beginning on Sunday), and (2) the 7-day planetary week derived from Hellenistic astrology (beginning on a Sunday). The 7-day week originated within the Western Roman Empire - a reconciliation of the Christian 7-day week with the Roman calendar - and, with the consolidation of Christianity as the State religion, spread throughout the Western Roman Empire. It becomes a method for approximating the earliest possible date for the copper bowl, if it does indeed contain 'encoded' astronomical information.

Key calculations by Hostetter rely on the 7-day week. In his decoding he states: "Seven day weeks were used to measure synodic periods of the planet Venus." He considers (1) the circle of 417 adjacent marks to encode 5 synodic periods of Venus measured in weeks, (2) the circle of 250 adjacent marks to encode 3 synodic periods of Venus measured in weeks, and (3) the circle of 167 adjacent marks to encode 2 synodic periods measured in weeks. He also calculates 250 weeks + 167 weeks = 417 weeks x 7 days = 2919 days. A 'flow-on' calculation involves 5 synodic periods of Venus of 584 days x 14 'petal decorations' = 40880 days = 112 calendar years of 365 days. Three types of calendar systems were used in ancient Mesopotamia: cultic or civil (the calendar of monthly and yearly festivals, 365 days - solar, based on the tropical year), administrative (12 x 30-day months and a 360-day year), and schematic (360 days). Not all are early schemes. The administrative calendar can be dated to the 3rd-millennium BCE. It was decoupled both from the natural month and the cultic calendar. The schematic calendar may have arisen from the administrative calendar. Of the 3 types/methods of day units in use the day unit usually used in calculations was the tithis (with 1 tithi equal to one-thirtieth of a synodic month). It is perhaps worth pointing out that while a few Babylonian astronomical texts do seem to operate tacitly with thirtieth parts of the synodic month the concept of a 'lunar day' is not explicit in any Babylonian text. It was not until circa 300 BCE that Mesopotamia had an accurate, mathematically abstract calendar that was valid for centuries ahead.

Calendars in Antiquity: Empires, States and Societies by Sasha Stern (2012) sets out reasons for believing that the change from flexible to fixed calendars was the way the 7-day week and zodiac-based horoscope were introduced. The change to fixed calendars occurred within the span 500 BCE to 300 CE. Stern maintains this was totally and purposefully based upon the unique, fixed calendar of Egypt, adopted by the (Zoroastrian) Achaemenid regime and passed on to the Hellenistic kingdoms and Rome's Julian calendar.

The Hindu astronomical/astrological text, the Yavanajataka (Chapter 75) has a 7-day-week and with the common planetary rulers for these days. There is no conclusive evidence that India had a 7-day week from Vedic times. See the detailed discussion by the Indologist Pandurang Kane (1880-1972) in his, History of Dharmasastra, Volume 5, Part 1. (Published I think in the late 1950s or early 1960s.) The Yavanajataka was written in the 2nd-century. My understanding is that a number of Greco-Roman astrological works were introduced into India during the first few centuries CE prior to the appearance of the Yavanajataka. Rome began trading with India during the reign of Augustus, beginning late 1st-century BCE. Also, My understanding is the Yavanajataka was translated from Greek into Sanskrit prose by Yavanesvara (perhaps a Greek scholar living in India), under the patronage of Rudradaman I, who was the ruler of the (Western) Ksatrapas. The 7-day planetary week and other Greco-Roman ideas were likely introduced into India in the 1st-century CE, hence 2nd-century familiarity. The diffusion of Mesopotamian and Greek astronomy is not deemed an easy issue to understand. There is evidence that early Indian ideas also passed into Mesopotamia.

The Supposed Elamite Venus-Year

Completely overlooked by Hostteter is the early controversy over the existence in Elam of a very early Venus-year (circa 4000 BCE). (Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran.) A small number of German Panbabylonists believed a Venusian calendar was devised in Elam and Venus cycles used as the basis of the calendar. In his pamphlet, Das Venusjahr (1910) Ferdinand Bork held there was an ancient Elamite tradition of an 8-fold division of the year based on the synodic period of Venus. In the debate in Memnon over the existence of a Venusjahr Bork attempted to show (1) there was evidence that the synodical period of Venus 0f 584 days was known in Babylonia and Elam, (2) that there existed in ancient Elam a calendar year that was determined by the synodical period of the planet Venus, and (3) that this Venus-year was more ancient than the lunar [lunar-solar] year. It was held by Bork to be identical with the Mexican Venus-cycle. This was not supported by Friedrich Hrozny in his pamphlet, Das Venusjahr und der elamische kalender (1911). He rigorously criticised the theories of Georg  Hüsing (1869-1930), Ferdinand Bork (1871-circa1962), and Wolfgang Schultz (1881-1936). Hrozny contended that the facts adduced by Bork were insufficient to prove that the Elamites had a Venus-year. In his book, Der Palaeozodiakus, die prähistorische Urform unseres Tierkreises (1912) Friedrich Röck claimed that an 8-division zodiac was earliest (and was used, for example, in Java). Röck believed that ancient Java was colonised from Elam. (See: American Journal of Archaeology (1912, Page 259 and 1913, Page 272).) Bork (a colleague of Röck) held that the Elamites for, day-to-day- use, had a Venus calendar of 260 days, with a separate uneven 9th intercalary Venus month. Venus completes 5 synodic periods in 8 years and basically returns to the same point in the sky. Hence the ability to mark time by Venus.

Astronomical Cycles

Hostetter believes the 112-year eclipse cycle was unknown when he 'decoded' the copper bowl in 1976. "There is no evidence, including cuneiform, that there was knowledge of a 112-year lunar eclipse cycle prior to its discovery encoded non-numerically and nonverbally on the Cynthia Bowl in 1976. (Clyde Hostetter, "Estimating a Provenance for the Cynthia Bowl." March 15, 2008, Page 5.)" But Hostetter is wrong. In had in fact been developed some 1500 years earlier and used in Roman times. (When eclipses occur repeatedly, separated by certain time intervals, the time intervals are termed eclipse cycles.) The 112-year cycle is a variant of the 8-year cycle or 'octaeteris.' (In Christendom the 8-year cycle and its 112-year variant form were obsolete in by circa 5th-century BCE.)

Any discussion of lunar/Venus eclipse cycles is ultimately connected to the Greek octaeteris. The date of the introduction of the Greek octaeteris is as yet undetermined, but must be sometime before 432 BCE. According to Censorinus (Roman grammarian and miscellaneous writer, flourished during the 3rd century CE) its construction is to be credited to the Greek astronomer Cleostratus of Tenedos (flourished 6th-century BCE).

The established 8 and/or 16 year solar and lunar eclipse cycles hold the key to the calculation/establishment of a 112 year eclipse cycle. (After 112 years a practically identical eclipse will occur.) Also both the moon and Venus have a 8-year cycle. (The Mesopotamian Venus (goddess Inanna) was always closely related to the lunar and solar deities (the Utu/Shamash-Nanna/Sin-Inanna/Ishtar triad). Early Christianity introduced a version of 'calendrical' time-reckoning named 'computus' (Latin for computation) which focused on the problem of calculating the date of Easter (Paschal cycle). The Easter computus was the centrepiece of early medieval astronomy. (Computus was connected with the problem of the lunar calendar.) Note: Easter is traditionally the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

Some early Christian scholars (from the early 3rd-century CE) developed a 112 year Paschal cycle (i.e., Pope Demetrios of the Church of Alexandria, whose Pascal (Easter) computus began in 214 CE). (Third-century Christians began to calculate the date of Easter astronomically.) Another example was the 112 year Paschal cycle (based on 8-year cycles) developed by Hippolytus (in Rome), the cycle of 112 years applying from 222 to 333 CE. The 112-year cycle computus developed by Hippolytus (the earliest extant Paschal cycle) was an adaptation of the 112-year cycle developed by Demetrios. It was communicated to Rome by Demetrius in his Paschal letters. (At Alexandria, by the early 4th-century CE, the 8-year cycle was replaced with the Metonic cycle of 19 years with 7 embolisms.) The Paschal cycle of Demetrious was based on an octaeteris and in Roman usage expanded to a 16-year and a 112-year cycle. (This particular Computus was also used by the Copts and is preserved in Ethiopic.) The Christian polymath Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicia, based his Paschal cycle (and harmonisation of the lunar year with the Julian Calendar) on the old 8-year cycle ('oktaeteris') of Classical Greece. The ancient Greek term, oktaeteris/octaeteris means the period of 8-solar-years for Venus after which the next lunar phase occurs on the same day of the year. An octaeteris consists of about 2,920-days that equal 8-solar-years having 365-days each. (The 'octaeteris' is an old calendar cycle rather than an eclipse cycle, 8 years equals 99 lunation to within 1.5 days.) The problem the Computus was attempting to solve was that of getting all Christians to celebrate Easter on the same date.

The particular phase of Venus recurs at the same season of the year and month at intervals of 8 years (but the return is not absolutely exact). If the exact position of the calendar months in the solar year is not fixed, a phase of Venus may recur in the same month and on or near the same day of the month at intervals of 8, 56, 64, 112, and 120 years.

The Computus began with a calendrical purpose as a method of predicting the date of Easter but developed into a mathematical art in its own right – a means of calculating celestial cycles. The science of time-reckoning named Computus involved the reconciliation of solar and lunar cycles. The original expectation was that within the 112-year cycle the Passover (Easter) was supposed to return to the same day of the month. For various Computus cycles (including 8-, 11-, 19-, 76-, 84-, 95-, and 112-year cycles) and a comparison of the errors involved with them, see, Episodes in the "History of Easter Cycles in Ireland." by Kenneth Harrison, in Ireland in Medieval Europe (1982), edited by Dorothy Whitelock, et. al., (pages 307, 308, and 319).

The Paschal Canon of Hippolytus was constructed to extend indefinitely in both directions, forming a perpetual Canon. However, the Paschal (Easter) Canon of Hippolytus was based upon the mistaken belief that the mean motions of the sun and moon are exactly equal in 8 Julian years. Hippolytus found that by doubling the octaeteris period (a double octaetaride =16 years) the 14th day of the calculated Paschal moon receded 1 week-day every 16 years. Hence, in 7 times this 16-year period (= 112 years), the cycle would have made a complete revolution, and arrived at the point where the 14th day of the Paschal moon would fall upon the day of the week and month from where it had begun.

According to Stephen McClusky the: "... simple principles of epact, intercalation, and saltus lunae guided the cycles used to compute the date of Easter. ... Least adequate of these early Easter cycles ... was the 112 year Hippolytan cycle. This cycle has several problems. first, it is unnecessarily long; in its simplest form it repeats itself after only 56 years. Second, since it is based on the 8-year cycle (the octaeteris of Greek tradition), which errs by one and a half days in 8 years, it accumulates an error of 21 days over the whole 112-year cycle. ... the 112-year cycle, is related to seasonal eclipses, approximating four and a half revolutions of the lunar nodes. Thus when a seasonal eclipse occurs in the ascending node at the beginning of the cycle, another eclipse will occur in the descending node about the same date, [112 years later]." (See: Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe (2000, Pages 82-83).) "Compilation of the date of Easter never involved much in the way of advanced astronomy. It involved little more than knowledge of a few fairly simple astronomical and calendrical periods: one of the various periods (nineteen, eleven, or eight years) in which the new moon returns to the same date in the year and the twenty-eight year period of the return of Sunday to the same date in the Julian calendar coupled with one of the conventional dates of the vernal equinox in the Julian calendar." ("Astronomies and Rituals at the Dawn of the Middle Ages." by Stephen McCluskey. In: Astronomies and Cultures edited by Clive Ruggles and Nicolas Saunders (1993, Page 114).)

The 112 year cycle of Hippolytus = 112-year list of dates for Easter (likely consisting of seven 16-year cycles, rather than fourteen 8-year cycles) began in the year 222 CE. In 243 CE another 112-year cycle - referred to as the 'Pseudo-Cyprian - was produced (in Cyprus).

The old 8-year cycle of Classical Greece enabled the reconciliation of the Hellenic lunar year of 354 days and the solar year of 365¼ days (the moon and the sun met together at the same point in time). (8 by 14 = 112.) (The development of various (including 112-year cycle) Easter computus involved expanding the 8-year cycle ('octaeteris') in Roman usage to a 112-year cycle.) (See: The Easter Computus and the Origins of the Christian Era by Alden Mosshammer (2008).) It is not difficult to fit synodic periods of Venus into these types of schemes. The 8-year period of Venus contains a cycle of 5 synodic periods (i.e., 5 first appearances of Venus as the 'morning star'). Incorporated into a number of Paschal cycle schemes was a 14 year 'saltus.' (The 'saltus' is a technical device that is implemented in luni-solar cycles to bring the course of the moon in line with that of the sun.)

Late Babylonian cuneiform texts exist for 8-year cycles of 5 synodic periods of Venus, and one late Babylonian cuneiform text exists for sixteen 8-year cycles (16 x 8 = 128). However the late Babylonian cuneiform text ACT 1050 (from Babylon) (belonging to a class of texts for computing the risings and settings of planets, planetary ephemerides) enables a framework for 28 intervals of 8 years or 224 years in all. It was thought by Otto Neugebauer (1955) to concern Mercury but it is thought by Noel Swerdlow (1998) to concern the synodic periods of Venus. Dividing by 2 gives 112 year intervals (= cycles). In the goal-year texts of the Late Babylonian period (Seleucid period) the 8-year period was used to predict the appearances of Venus. Goal-year cuneiform texts (tablets), using simple periodicities, date to the beginning of the Seleucid period circa 3rd-century BCE. The earliest goal-year text dates to 256 BCE. There is no tangible evidence to indicate the Sumerians or early Babylonians had any knowledge and/or systems able to produce the complete set of information claimed to exist on the copper bowl. (Accurate period relations are not to be found in the early texts. For example, the Mul.Apin astronomical compendium does not give a single period for the sun, moon or planets, apart from the schematic year of 12 months of 30 days each.) The ancient Greeks used eclipse cycles for finding period relations (deemed the only method capable of producing the accurate extant lunar relations). The so-called 112 year cycle is obviously constructed out of (multiples of) the 8-year cycle and incorporates a variant calculation for synodic Venus data by using day counts. (112 = 2 x 56-year cycles; also 7 x 8 = 56 x 2 = 112.) It is likely grounded in (late) Babylonian period relations for the planets. (From the 4th- to the 1st-century BCE Ephemerides were prepared that predicted celestial phenomena up to several decades in advance.) In the arithmetical schemes, that are at the base of Seleucid mathematical astronomy, are built the fundamental periodicities of Sun, Moon, and planets. It has long been recognized that this is one of the main reasons for the spectacular successes of the seemingly simple devices, for it prevents an arbitrary accumulation of the unavoidable errors which arise from any approximation.

As late as the middle of the 3rd-century CE use of the octaeteris was normal for the Greeks, the Jews, and the Christian Church. (See: Chronology of the Ancient World by E. Bickerman (Revised edition, 1980, Page 30).) When the problems with the 112-year cycle were found to be unfixable, the Western Church reverted to the 84-year cycle.

The Greek octaeteris, in Roman usage, expanded to a 16-year cycle and to a 112-year cycle (7 x 16 [also, 8 x 14]). The reason for considering the 112-year cycle as consisting of 7 x 16-year cycles, rather than 14 x 8-year cycles is that any date in the Julian calendar moves back by 1-day of the week every 16 years. An Arabic treatise on Christian calendaric matters was written as late as the 18th-century (and discussed in 1942 by George Sobhy (= Georgy Sobhy Bey). (See: A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy by Otto Neugebauer (1975, Page 568).) A number of earlier avenues include: (1) diplomatic contact between the Aachen court and Baghdad (9th-century CE, and (2) the Copts. See: (1) Abu Shaker's "Chronography"; a treatise of the 13th century on chronological, calendrical, and astronomical matters, written by a Christian Arab, preserved in Ethiopic by Otto Neugebauer (1988), and (2) The Coptic Calendrical Computation and the System of Epacts known as "The Epact Computation" ...." by Georgy Sobhy Bey (Bulletin de la Société d'Archéologie Copte, Tome 2, 1942, Pages 169-199). A Copt is a native Egyptian descended from the ancient Egyptians. At the time of the Arab conquest of Egypt in 640 CE the indigenous population of Egypt was predominantly Christian. Also, circa 1400 CE, Abd Al-Hasan Esfahānī authored the Ketāb al-bolhān dealing with astrology, magic, divination, and demonology.

There is sufficient reason to believe the eclipse cycle of 112 years dates from the efforts of the Christian computus and was part of the Latin astronomical knowledge that passed into Arab-Islamic astronomy.

Some more numbers involve combining the 7-day week with the Julian cycle of a leap-year every 4 years to form the so-called solar cycle of 28 years, after which any given date recurs on the same day of the week.

Hostetter is addicted to his ideas, especially the so-called 112 year eclipse cycle. Clyde Hostetter wrote (Ancient Astronomy Group, 30-9-1995): "Of special interest to eclipse fans is a 112-year eclipse cycle that I discovered which matches sidereal cycles of Venus. It is significant because the three main celestial gods of Mesopotamia were the sun, the moon and Venus. The way that I discovered the cycle from markings on an ancient copper bowl that I found in the Saudi desert is described in the book's early chapters." In May 2008 Hostetter was a speaker at the East Valley Astronomy Club. Details are: Meeting Date: May 2008; Speaker: Clyde Hostetter, Association: Cal Poly; Topic: Eclipse Cycles and Periods.

On August 24, 2008 Hostetter posted to The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project (http://www.antikythera-mechanism.gr/node/451) under the heading of, Eclipse Cycle of 112 Years: "I have an artifact from the Middle East whose markings confirm the existence of a 112-year eclipse cycle. I believe that it may date to a time earlier than the discovery of the Saros cycle. I have been unable to locate any reference to such a cycle other than my own writings on the subject. The cycle is easily confirmed on the NASA eclipse site. The eclipse-cycle information is encoded using non-verbal and non-numeric symbols. Other information shows the length of a Venus synodic period, measured in day. Does anyone have information on such a measurement that uses weeks? I can provide a PowerPoint file via e-mail about the above data, plus more. Please send your request to me at .... Clyde Hostetter." Details included for academic information: Affiliation: Califonia (sic) Polytechnic State University (USA); Position: Professor Emeritus. No comments were received.

According to the Dutch astronomer and historian Robert van Gent (at his webpage, "A Catalogue of Eclipse Cycles"): "Though numerous eclipse cycles of varying lengths can be constructed by combining basic cycles such as the Saros and the Inex in different ways ..., there is no evidence that ancient astronomers were aware of any eclipse cycles longer than the Saros (18.0 years), the Metonic Cycle (19.0 years), the Exeligmos (54.1 years) and the Babylonian Period (441.3 years)." The astronomer Tom Peters (Hastro-L, 27 & 28 December, 2010) points out: "... 112 years is not a good eclipse cycle - 112 years is not even close to an integer number of synodic months." and "... there is no 112-year (lunar) eclipse cycle. 112 years are about 8 days longer than an integer number (1385) of synodic months, and about 5 days shorter than an integer number (1503) of draconic months. Hence no eclipses after 112 years." Of course it is now established by 2 British Museum experts that the copper bowl is Arabic, approximately 100-120 years old, and originating during the Qajar period. This makes discussion of any 112 year eclipse period redundant. In a personal communication (14 September 2002) Hostetter stated his 112 year eclipse cycle is actually accurate "112 years minus 6 or 7 days."

Note: In 1682, the English mathematician John Wallis (1616-1703) published a version of a Paschal table based on the 112-year cycle.

Delphi and the Copper Bowl

Hostetter's "Sky Signs of the Mother Goddess in the Ancient Middle East and Greece" was the title of his highly speculative presentation given in 1983 at the First International Conference on Ethnoastronomy. An abstract of his presentation appears in Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of the Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume VI, Numbers 1-4, January-December, 1983. He seeks to link the prehistoric worship of the Mother Goddess with the planet Venus, in both Mesopotamia and Greece. Invoked are a hypothetical 8-year cycle in early Mesopotamia and a hypothetical Venus-based religion at Delphi. (This is an example of mainstream academia uncritically tolerating/assisting Hostetter's views, and helping to give them a quasi legitimacy.)

From the abstract (Page 40): "There is evidence in both the mythology and the archaeology of protoliterate Mesopotamia and of ancient Greece that prehistoric worship of the Mother Goddess may have been linked in both areas to the planet Venus, and that key religious observances in both were centered around an eight-year cycle at the end of which the positions of the sun, moon and Venus are nearly replicated in the sky. The Mesopotamian mythology suggesting this relationship is a Sumerian myth, recorded in cuneiform in the Second Millennium but believed to date from the late Fourth Millennium, which describes a visit of the Sumerian fertility goddess Inanna to the land of the dead. The myth appears to be based on an eight-year cycle which began at the time of the Spring Equinox. The Greek myths and ancient festivals reflect a similar eight-year cycle (the Oktaeteris) used in Delphi to commemorate the victory of the Greek god Apollo over the monster Python at Delphi. Since female figures unearthed at Delphi confirm that the Mother Goddess was worshipped at Delphi before about 1500 BC, and since Apollo is the Greek Sun God, the commemorative ceremonies - still carried on through today's Olympic Games - may reflect a shift from an early religious calendar based based on the movements of Venus, the sun, and the moon to a later seasonal calendar, based on the movements of only the sun and the moon, that confirmed the defeat of the Venus-based religion at Delphi."

An account of his vacation trip to Delphi (Greece) and how it gave him new insights into the 'copper bowl' also appeared in his 1991 book.

An octaeteris cycle was established at both Olympia (with two festivals celebrated every 8 years) and Delphi (with 1 festival celebrated every 8 years). It has been suggested the 8-year festivals at Delphi had a direct connection with both the introduction of the calendar and with the institution of kingship.

The concept of the 'Mother Goddess' is a fiction. There is no evidence (excepting the controversial interpretation of myth) for the use of a 8-year cycle in early Mesopotamia and there is no evidence for a Venus-based religion at Delphi (and a Mother Goddess religion being overthrown by a Sun God religion). The belief that there was a female goddess figure (Great/Mother Goddess) in every ancient religion/civilisation which was the primary deity is highly controversial. The wide-spread existence of a Bronze Age Mother Goddess descended from Neolithic cults is now rejected by scholars. (For example: See the book review by the archaeologist Osbert Crawford in Antiquity, Volume 71, Issues 271-274, 1999.)

The leading proponent/pioneer of the (great/mother) goddess movement was the controversial Lithuanian archaeologist and author Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994), who spent 30 years studying patterns and symbols of cult objects. She also developed the field she referred to as "archeomythology" (embodying the fields of archaeology, comparative mythology, and folklore). According to Marija Gimbutas Europe's origins lay in a cooperative, peaceful, Neolithic Goddess culture.

The worship of Gaia, goddess of the earth, was quite ancient at Delphi. Delphi was originally established as an oracular shrine for Gaia, her daughter Themis, and Poseidon. It became the sanctuary of Apollo after he slew the Python there. The god Apollo entered Greek religion circa 1100/1000 BCE. The most famous aspect of Apollo was the giving of advice i.e., prophecies. Oracular shrines of Apollo existed in Greece, Western Italy, and Asia Minor. His oracular shrine at Delphi was the most famous. Contrary to popular belief Apollo was never truly established as a sun god. However, he did assimilate some of the aspects of a sun god.

According to legend Apollo instituted the Pythian games in commemoration of his slaying the Python. The establishment of the games are dated to circa the mid 6th-century BCE. The calendar-system of Delphi was still octaeteric circa 200 BCE. Regarding the Olympic Games: The Greeks did not use their Olympic Games to pay tribute to Venus. The Olympic Games were dedicated to Zeus.

Inanna Not a Fertility Goddess

Hostetter's description of Inanna as a Sumerian fertility goddess is incorrect in the context of Inanna's Descent (the text he is focused on discussing). Inanna's disappearance does not have any consequences for fertility. At least it is not mentioned in Inanna's Descent. Inanna was not a really a fertility goddess. Hostetter is mistaken/confused in simply describing Inanna as a goddess of fertility and assuming that this is applicable within Inanna's Descent. Instead, the impact on in Inanna's Descent fertility is linked to the fate of Dumuzi. Dumuzi was in charge of essential activities such as fertility. Though it is common to describe Inanna as the goddess of fertility, in Inanna's Descent she is not connected with fertility. Inanna was primarily the goddess of sexual love (love and sexual behaviour). (Interestingly, the very ancient Sumerian goddess Baba ('Lady abundance') was responsible for fertility of animals and people, associated with Venus, and equated with Inanna (who is called Baba in various texts).) Though it is common to describe Inanna as the goddess of fertility, in Inanna's Descent she is not connected with fertility. The Neo-Assyrian Myth of Ištar’s Descent and Resurrection by Pirjo Lapinkivi (2010, Page 69): "Inanna/Išhtar was not really a fertility goddess, but a goddess of love and sexuality, as well as warfare." The British assyriologist Stephanie Dalley writes (Myths from Mesopotamia (Revised edition 2008, Page 154)): "The Sumerian version, The Descent of Inanna, .... shows clearly that Dumuzi periodically died and rose, causing seasonal fertility ...."

Hostetter's Claimed 112-Year Eclipse Cycle

Hostetter's claimed decoded data does not correspond with any practical and easy application. There is no exact/accurate 112-year eclipse cycle. Hostetter also admits there is no exact 112-year eclipse cycle involving the lunar eclipses or Venus – everything is simply approximate. He also readily conjectures explanations to 'save' his conclusions and ensure nothing invalidates his speculative claim for the use of a 112-year eclipse cycle prior to the use of the Saros cycle. The exchange on Hastro-L summarised below makes these issues clear. 

The astronomer and mathematician Tom Peters (Hastro-L, 27 Dec, 2010) wrote: "Venus has a period of 8 years (13 sidereal orbits of Venus = 8 sidereal orbits of Earth - 1 day = 13-8=5 synodic periods), and more accurately 243 years (395 sidereal orbits of Venus = 243 sidereal orbits of Earth - 0.5 days = 395-243=152 synodic periods), which means that e.g. Venus transits recur after 8, 113.5, 121.5, and 243 years. I see no 112-year period. Similarly 112 years is not a good eclipse cycle - 112 years is not even close to an integer number of synodic months. … There is an eclipse cycle close to 112 years that is also close to 353 synodic periods of Mercury."

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 28, Dec, 2010) wrote: "I made no mention of Venus transits, since it is very unlikely that anyone would have noticed their occurrence. But Venus would have been seen among the stars as being close to the same location as 112 years earlier. The easiest way to confirm this is to check the location of Venus with a computer program which shows planetary locations at the time of lunar eclipses that follow a 112-year cycle. It should be remembered that the planet Venus was a very important goddess to be watched at night and not at the time of inferior conjunctions." Tom Peters (Hastro-L, 28 Dec, 2010) wrote: "Again, there is no 112-year (lunar) eclipse cycle. 112 years are about 8 days longer than an integer number (1385) of synodic months, and about 5 days shorter than an integer number (1503) of draconic months. Hence no eclipses after 112 years. Please provide evidence otherwise. I mentioned Venus transits because these demonstrate an accurate recurrence of alignment of Sun, Earth, and Venus. Again, 112 years is not a good Venusian cycle. Please provide evidence that after 112 year Venus recurs at the same sidereal coordinates, or at the same position w.r.t. [with respect to] the Sun."

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, Jan 2, 2011) responded: "Re the 112-year eclipse cycle: An example: Columbus wrote that he got out of a critical situation in the New World at the end of February, 1504, by telling the locals that he controlled the Moon. As a mariner he knew that a lunar eclipse was due around the end of February. The full moon rose nearly eclipsed and was totally eclipsed by about 7:30 p.m. He had about 80 minutes of totality to bargain with the locals about providing needed food. … Anyone on the Internet can find it in the NASA eclipse tables. It was March 9, 1392 .That 1392 eclipse was total for well over an hour, as was that which Columbus used to his advantage in 1504. … All of this can quickly be checked on a software program like CyberStar. CyberStar can be downloaded and used free for a month. In my opinion, anyone seriously interested in the history of astronomy should be able to check the stars as well as what someone wrote about them. Cyberstar provides that opportunity." Tom Peters (Hastro-L, Jan 2, 2011) replied: "Really, is that the best you can do? Let me fill in the blanks that you leave. The lunar eclipse fell on 29 Feb. 1504 (Julian calendar), so 9 days short of 112 years after 9 March 1392. That is sufficiently wrong to set even the pope to move a calendar reform. And apparently you didn't take the opportunity to use that [CyberStar software] to provide us the real dates." (The lunar eclipse prediction issues connected with Columbus believing he had reached islands close to India whilst actually being shipwrecked in Jamaica was raised and discussed separately. Due to 2 fortuitous errors Columbus encountered islands off the American continent at roughly the longitude he anticipated Asian would be.)

Hostetter (Hastro-L, Jan 2, 2011) wrote: "Ancient celestial observers must have known from experience that a lunar eclipse could occur only at the time of a full moon, so 112 years was an easy way to apply the cycle as the time nearest to 112 years when there was a full moon. And the same would apply to the position of Venus among the stars every 112 years. No written proof of this is required." Also, "We probably are having this discussion about the level of accuracy in astronomical observations. The astronomy/priests were concerned first about the religious implications of a lunar eclipse, not the numerical precision of a 112-year eclipse prediction system. They ran their calendar by the moon and its phases, knew the "danger" of full moons that might produce eclipses, and probably gradually discovered from their library of cuneiform records of celestial events that there was a way to use the 112-year cycle to reinforce beliefs in their religious powers of prediction. I believe that they made this discovery before someone came up with the Saros pattern worked also, since the Saros system involved counting off years and odd days and then multiplying by three to make things tidy." I cannot find any prior reference to Hostetter’s statement (Hastro-L, Jan 2, 2011): "It should be noted that, in the days before the Internet, Dr. Gingerich's volume of eclipse tables was the one which provided the verification of the 112-year eclipse cycle inscribed on my copper bowl. It was a very exciting day back in 1978 when my decoding of the bowl's inscriptions was validated." Correctly Hostetter means Theodor von Oppolzer's 1887 book, Canon of Eclipses, translated into English by Owen Gingerich, with a 1961 Preface by Donald Menzel and Owen Gingerich, and published by Dover in 1962.

Hostetter, Hastro-L, Jan 3, 2011: "Those astronomer/priests of pre-Saros days, I think, were like present humans ... always looking for something that is easy to remember. I believe that counting years and full Moons is easier than remembering the odd number of days in a Saros cycle." Tom Peters responded (Hastro-L, Jan 3, 2011): "… how do you know that a year has past and you have to raise count by one? A saros cycle is 223 lunations. No need (nor benefit) to count years and days." Also, "So you personally stumbled upon a very poor and rather long cycle. Whatever makes you think that anyone else would have used it in the past? And why wait 112 years when even the 8- and 19-year cycles are better and people can discover them in their lifetimes?" Hostetter responded: "The real significance of the 112-year cycle is that the bowl's markings also include a closely-corresponding cycle of the planet Venus; in fact, using three significant figures for the days in a year and the days in one synodic period of Venus, the two cycles match exactly at the end of 112 years." Tom Peters responded: "You mean 112*365 = 70*584, using values for the length of year and Venus' synodic period rounded to the day? This is of course 14 times the normal 8-year Venus cycle.  People would have found the 8-year cycle first and there is no benefit in waiting for a 112-year cycle. After 112 years it is already almost a month out of sync. This is the story as I read it: You found an artefact in which you recognise 112 symbols. You decided is must have some astronomical meaning. You found some very poor cycle of 112 years. It could have been 112 months or 112 times to drain that bowl filled with beer." The octaeterid-type cycle of 112 years simply = 14 x 8. The calendar engraved on the early papal chair (in the Vatican) was calculated ahead for 112 years according to the principles comprising the octaëteris (8-year cycle) scheme. However, because 99 actual lunations take just over 2923½ days – not 2922 days – the 112 year calendar system soon became inaccurate. (The octaëteris based Paschal Calendar was engraved on the pastoral chair of Hippolytus, bishop of Porto in the 3rd-century.)

Regarding the Saros cycle. Robert van Gent writes: "The Saros cycle is a successful eclipse series as its period of 223 synodic months not only closely approximates 242 draconic months but also because the number of anomalistic returns of the Sun (18.029) and the Moon (238.992) are nearly whole numbers. Successive eclipses in a Saros series are therefore very similar in character." Felix Verbelen also explains: "A Saros period of 6585.32 days equals 223 lunations or synodic revolutions, which is equal to 242 draconic revolutions. Therefore, after each Saros interval the Moon is again in the same node of its orbit. "The 'octaeteris' is an old calendar cycle rather than an eclipse cycle, 8 years equals 99 lunations to within 1.5 days. The Greek 'octaeteris', perhaps developed 6th-century BCE, connects Hostetter’s claim for lunar/Venus eclipse cycles/112 year eclipse cycles. Use of the 'octaeteris'-based 112-year eclipse cycle is post-Christian, developed by the early Christians Demetrios/Hippolytus for 'calendrical' time-reckoning named 'computus.' As late as the middle of the 3rd-century CE use of the 'octaeteris' was normal for the Greeks, the Jews, and the Christian Church. The so-called 112 year cycle is likely grounded in (late) Babylonian period relations for the planets.

Hostetter has obviously never availed himself of more accurate canons, such as those produced by Meeus and Mucke and by Liu and Fiala. Oppolzer's Canon gives times that are 91 minutes later to those given in Canon of Lunar Eclipses 1500 B.C. – A.D. 3000 (1992) by Bao-Lin Liu and Alan D. Fiala. (There is also a menu-driven DVD that is provided with software, to enable searches for eclipses, that is sold separately.) Oppolzer's 1887 Canon der Finsternisse is no longer considered reliable. The point was made on Hastro-L (17-11-2013): "Oppolzer's study is from 1885/1887. It is still valid in this respect that the list of eclipses and their dates is essentially correct. It is obsolete because solar and lunar ephemerides have been much improved since then, and in particular that we now distinguish dynamical/ephemeris time (ET, TDT) from solar time (UT). The latter is the rotation angle of the Earth and determines where an eclipse can be seen. Oppolzer computed in UT but since this is not a uniform time scale (UT deviates from ET over an erratic but overall quadratic course) one cannot make precise ephemerides in this timescale." While the numerical data is still quite accurate the eclipse maps themselves are not (and were not). (See: "The Accuracy of Oppolzer's Eclipse Maps." by W. F. Rigge (Popular Astronomy, Volume 34, 1926, Pages 78-84).)

Hostetter not using accurate canons is puzzling. Since his privately circulated revised and expanded article (Hostetter, Homer. (2010). "An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World"" (Privately circulated. Revised and expanded version of his earlier articles.)) he has added in the need to used arcus visionis values.

Islamic Numerology

Numerology is prohibited in Islam. However, significant Islamic numbers are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 17, 19, 40, 60, and 99.

The Horned Headdress

The horned crown - usually four-tiered - is the most general symbol of a god/goddess in Mesopotamian art. In some instances "lesser" gods/goddesses wear crowns with only one pair of horns, but the number of horns is not generally a symbol of "rank" or importance.

Depending on the tradition, Inanna was the daughter of Enlil, Nanna, or Enki. Her primary centre was the city of Uruk. The earliest Mesopotamian references to the name Inanna date to the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (circa 3200 BCE). It is generally accepted there are no representations of Mesopotamian gods/goddesses dating to the 4th-millennium BCE.

As reasons for his dating estimate for the copper bowl Hostetter offered (Hastro-L, 19 December, 2009): "The most obvious hint was the four portraits of a female wearing a pair of horns like those on cylinder-seal portraits of the goddess Inanna, particularly when the data on the bowl was about the movements of the planet Venus, the celestial manifestation of Inanna. That would suggest a period as early as Woolley's Death Pit seal-cylinders, c. 2000 or earlier." The interpretation of a female wearing a pair of horns is not supported. In depictions of Inanna wearing a pair of horns the horns are always extruding from the headdress and are not depicted as contained within the headdress. Also, a horned headdress could involve more than just a pair of horns. A horned headdress comprised of multiple horns is cone shaped. (This overlooks the fact that during the Ur III period Inanna was primarily associated with the moon, and during most of the yearly seasonal festivals the phases of the moon were celebrated in her honour. The heliacal settings of the planet Venus were marked by the festivals of the Sumerian goddess Nanaya and the Sumerian goddess Anunnitum.) Also, the depiction of the copper bowl figure is rather crudely done. The interpretation of a female face seems subjective - and can readily be interpreted as a male youth - and Hostetter offers no convincing arguments for his particular interpretation. The face is long, narrow and unlike early depictions of Inanna with a full, rounded face. Also, no attention/discussion is given to the design of the body tunic/garment that is depicted. (It appears it was not unusual for Inanna (at least later) to be depicted wearing a special tunic over a short kilt.) The Mesopotamian horned headdress was a usual (generic) marker of a god/goddess (an indicator of divinity) and so was also used for Inanna (but was not exclusive to Inanna). Other markers for Inanna included: bundle of reeds, star/rosette, and temple door posts (roof supports). (A pair of standards - usually called gate posts or door posts - appeared very early as a significant symbol of Inanna. The standards indicated both the presence of Inanna and the entrance to her temple.) Venus was the star of Inanna. (Inanna was the ruler of the morning and evening stars.) The fact that Venus was symbolised by an 8-pointed star may indicate knowledge of the 8-year Venus cycle. It might also be a reference to the 8-day period of invisibility of Venus before its appearance as the 'morning star.' Five synodic periods of Venus are almost equal to 8 sidereal years (5 times 1.6 years is 8 years). For a person remaining in the same location Venus is located at the same place with respect to the 'fixed' stars every 8 years. (Alternatively, an 8-pointed star may just have been the simplest way to clearly represent a star.)

The Akkadian moon-god Sin, who had an important temple at Harron in north Syria, had the symbol of the crescent moon.

In ancient Mesopotamia the horned headdress denoted a god/goddess. It seems the horned headdress first appeared in the iconography of Mesopotamian gods/goddesses during the Early Dynastic Period (circa 3000 BCE). Examples of the horned headdress for gods/goddesses in general include: The Sumerian goddess Lama at Ur, the Sumerian earth goddess Ninhursag, the Elamite goddess Narunde (first mentioned late 3rd-millennium BCE), the Syrian storm-god Hadad, Ninshubur who is the male/female messenger connected with Inanna, and the West Semitic god Nabu whose cult was introduced into Babylonian shortly after 2000 BCE, and who became the Babylonian god of wisdom and writing. Additionally, the tall, horned headdress of Ammon comes to mind. Also, a priestess of Inanna could wear a horned headdress. The main temple for Inanna was in Uruk but the horned headdress appears at Tell Hariri (Mari in Syria) and Tell Hassuna (northern Mesopotamia). The horn on the horned headdress is interpreted as the crescent moon. (See: Divine Headdresses of Mesopotamia in the Early Dynastic Period by Iris Furlong (1987).)

Major Mesopotamian gods/goddesses were depicted wearing numerous horns. Lesser Mesopotamian gods/goddesses were depicted wearing few horns. Even accepting that the figure inside Hostetter's copper bowl is wearing a horned headdress, it only has a few apparent horns depicted.

Late Inanna Centres

The early main cult-centre for Inanna was the E-anna (house of Heaven) at Uruk. Other important early temples were at Nippur, Lagash, Shuruppak, Zabalam, and Ur. Inanna/Ishtar is well documented in Old Babylonian Mari circa 1700 BCE. The goddess Inanna/Ishtar still flourished in the Babylonian culture at Mari (= Tell Hariri in present-day Syria, an old Sumerian and Amorite city on the west bank of the Euphrates River) from circa 600 BCE to circa 200 BCE. It is odd that this late period was not considered by Clyde Hostetter regarding the dating of the copper bowl. It encompasses the period for the existence of the 7-day week and the establishment of Babylonian period relations for the planets.

Visibility of the Venus Crescent

Hostetter claims that Bronze Age astronomers/priests (i.e., circa 2000 BCE) had knowledge of the crescents of Venus.

Hostetter has proposed (Hastro-L, 23 December, 2009) that in Sumer at least the ability to see Venus crescent would have been considered a gift from the goddess Inanna and therefore a screening device to qualify applicants for initiation into the cultic rituals of Inanna. This also supposes that the cult of the goddess Inanna was some sort of astronomical mystery-religion.

The horns of Venus issue within cuneiform records (which dates back to the early period of Assyriology) has been dealt with by Johann Schaumberger in his Erganzungsheft 3 (1935, See pages 290ff but especially page 302) of Franz Kugler's Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel (1907-1924). The cuneiform term "karnu" (or "karni") can mean "horn" or can mean "side." Thus the "horn of Venus" is properly interpreted to mean the "side of Venus." Schaumberger mentions the term "karnu" is also applied to Mars but the interpretation cannot be the "horns of Mars." Schaumberger (page 303, Der Bart der Venus) also explains the "Beard of Venus."

"The Crescent of Venus." by Anon (= Editor?), The English Mechanic and World of Science, Volume 77, 1903, Number 1984, Page 161 cites a letter from the pioneering assyriologist Johann Strassmaier to Knowledge: An Illustrated Magazine of Science, Literature and Art, stating that he did not know of any cuneiform inscriptions that mentioned the "phases of Venus."

See also: Offord, Joseph. (1915). "The Deity of the Crescent Venus in Ancient Western Asia." (The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, (New Series), Volume 47, Issue 2, April, Pages 197-203). A responding article is: Campbell, W. W. (1916). "Is the Crescent Form of Venus Visible to the Naked Eye?" (Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volume 28, Number 162, February, Pages 85-86).

If the ancient Mesopotamians were easily seeing the crescent Venus (and doing so for thousands of years) I would have thought they would have left some record about it. There is no reason to believe that supposed sightings of the Venus crescent were restricted to initiates/'members' of the cult of Inanna. The popular belief that the Mesopotamians identified the crescent Venus is seemingly inexterminable.

In relation to the issue of the naked-eye visibility of the Venus crescent see the modern article: "Can the Disk of Jupiter Be Glimpsed With the Naked Eye?" by Roland Dechesne (Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Bulletin, Volume 1, Number 2, April 1991, Pages 7-8).

Retrograde Motions of Venus

Hostetter also asserts: (1) The planet Venus performed a retrograde loop every 8 years in the constellation Leo during most of the 3rd millennium BCE, and (2) the planet Venus was identified with the lion. The lion was a symbol of Inanna as early as circa 3000 BCE.

The lion was indeed a symbol of Inanna as early as circa 3000 BCE. However, there is no evidence for the constellation Leo existing in the 3rd-millennium BCE. So far as I am aware there is no textual evidence for a Sumerian lion constellation at this early period (i.e., 3rd or 2nd millennium BCE). Any claim for such relies on cylinder seal iconography. It is not established that constellations/constellation symbols are being depicted on any early cylinder seals. The earliest solid reference to a lion constellation in Mesopotamia is Hilprecht's Nippur Text (HS 245 (= HS 229)) which is dated to the Cassite Period circa 1530-1160 BCE. The early Uruk tablets (from circa 3500 BCE) that are used to identify Inanna with Venus have only very concise information i.e. Inanna 'morning' and Inanna 'evening,' with expectation of reader knowledge.

The claim that the cult of Inanna circa 2000 BCE understood the "looping" retrograde motion of Venus sufficiently to depict such on the inside of the copper bowl as epicycloidal patterns require far more evidence than a statement about an unprovenanced artifact that more likely dates to the 1st-millennium CE.

"The earliest evidence that the phenomena of a planet were recognised as periodic is found in omens 22-33 of Tablet 63 of Enūma Anu Enlil, whose omens are based on the 'mean' intervals between the first and last visibilities of Venus." (See: VI "Legacies in Astronomy and Celestial Omens" by David Pingree (Page 126) In: The Legacy of Mesopotamia edited by Stephanie Dalley.) David Pingree also holds that the first serious attempts to devise mathematical models for predicting lunar and planetary phenomena began in the Achaemenid period (539-331 BCE). The Mesopotamians did not develop what can be termed a 'calendar era' until the late 4th-century BCE. Until then a system of regnal years were used, and it was very important to use the name of the correct king. It was only after the late 4th-century BCE that the system of dating changed and used a formulae such as "In the year 158 of the Seleucid era." The constancy of the measuring units employed in the copper bowl (a year of 365 days, days counted consecutively (as 'Julian days'?), and the 7-day week seem more 'modern' than 'ancient.'

Arab-Islamic Astronomical/Astrological Themes on Medieval Metalwork

"The repertoire from which Mesopotamian [Islamic] artists chose their subjects was wider than that in use in contemporary Persian workshops. In addition to astrological themes -  cycles of the planets and the zodiac - it contained genre scenes placed in rural or urban environments." (See: Metalwork in Medieval Islamic Art by Eva Baer (1983; Specifically: IV Stylistic Developments - Mesopotamia: late twelfth to late thirteenth century, Pages 293-295.)

Enough is known about the copper bowl to date it to the Arab-Islamic Period. If the copper bowl is very modern it may not be able to be dated stylistically.

Hostetter's Historical Knowledge

"A reliable measurement of time which seems to have been used by the Sumerians (2000bc) to establish the 360-degree circle is the diameter of the sun and/or moon. The 60-minute hour derives from the same source. If you measure the time it takes for the sun/moon to disappear from the horizon after its lower limb touches the horizon you have a pretty reliable standard for calibrating water clocks, etc. Clyde Hostetter (Posting to sci.archaeology, 21/12/1993)." In contrast, "The Babylonians knew, of course, that the perimeter of a hexagon is exactly equal to six times the radius of the circumscribed circle, in fact that was evidently the reason why they chose to divide the circle into 360 degrees and we are still burdened with that figure to this day) (A History of Pi by Petr Beckmann (1971) )." The actual division of the circle into 360 degrees is indicated as occurring during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BCE) during the Chaldean dynasty in Babylon.

Writing as late as 2008, Hostetter asserts the fiction: "Sumerian religious and political decisions were based on the concept that celestial events of the past could be used to predict Earth events in the future. For this reason voluminous daily cuneiform records were kept of the times of lunar and solar eclipses, the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon, the location and appearance of Venus and other planets, and even the strength of the wind. The records, kept over hundreds of years, have been valuable in establishing the reigns of various Mesopotamian rulers during the Third and Second Millenia. Among those records, overlooked by modern Assyrian scholars, undoubtedly there is proof of the 112-year lunar eclipse cycle." Also: "The Sumerians made daily recordings of most celestial events, as well as such sky phenomena as strong winds. These were considered significant omens that could be used to predict future events. Eclipses were of course major omens. Such records were kept for hundreds of years, and still are used as references to establish the time of ancient events. This is common knowledge. (Hastro-L, 15 December, 2009)" Nothing in these sentences is true/accurate. We have no records of any Sumerian omens or eclipses records, etc. Eclipse records were kept by the Babylonians from the 7th-century BCE through to the 1st-century BCE. Also, the myth being created here is the diligent effort of the amateur has been let down by the negligent/incompetent standard of professional scholarship. Some amateurs believe there is no need to defer to the knowledge and experience of experts.

Most of his arguments, beginning with establishing a likely provenance for the copper bowl, are little more than a series of assumptions (i.e., speculation upon speculation) ... a house of cards. His constant claim that the copper bowl dates to circa 2000 BCE is unsupported (and little more than 'wishful thinking'). In a posting to Hastro-L, December, 2009, Hostetter claims: "... hundreds of hours were spent in design and manufacture of the bowl in order to limit access to the information." Nothing regarding how or why this is necessarily the case is offered to support this claim. What the claim implies is the copper bowl was an immediate 'once-off' design with no development history. In the 'layout' of data on the copper bowl the largest data sets necessarily require the largest surface areas of the copper bowl for their placement. Once you know the data sets to be used the design of the copper bowl for their placement is hardly a time-consuming task. Also, the possibility of the existence and use of Arab-Islamic pattern books which supplied designs for direct copying needs to be considered. With use of a pattern or patterns I would casually estimate 1 hour to hammer the bowl, 1 hour to determine the data layout, and 12-16 hours to incise the data and iconography on the bowl. (It appears the hammer forging technique (which apparently was not used) can create a copper bowl in 5 minutes.) The most ancient method to manufacture copper bowls consisted in hammering a copper disc placed on a wooden block hollowed to fit the profile of the required object. This is not a time-consuming technique. Another technique was known as "raising": a copper disc, having the same diameter as the bowl to be obtained, was hammered to get the required shaped, using an anvil and a suitable hammer. Ancient craftsmen were masters of quenching, a technique necessary to keep metal ductile and fit for crafting (but not always required for working copper). Many ancient objects were manufactured through alternate cycles of hammering and cooking, with a final hammering to obtain the necessary hardness. An early discovery was metal hardens under prolonged hammering, but can be brought back to its initial ductility by heating (re-cooking process) with no change in shape.

If the copper bowl actually dates circa 1000 CE (which is not improbable) then it is unlikely to carry information from circa 2000 BCE - and Hostetter's estimate of the historic value of the information fades enormously. Hostetter announced on Hastro-L in early February 2010 that in the next few months the copper bowl is likely to be added to the collection of the archaeological museum in Bahrain (= Bahrain National Museum?). It will be interesting whether it is classed as an Islamic period divination / astrological / astronomical bowl.

This is not the first time that Hostetter has stated that the copper bowl is to be returned to Saudi Arabia. Earlier comments have that no museum anywhere was interested taking possession of the copper bowl. As example: Hostetter's 2008 comments e-mail posted to http://sharonwaxman.typepad.com/loot/2008/12/nyt-oped-thoughts-for-tom-campbell-at-the-met.html: "December 01, 2008, NYT Op-ed: Thoughts for Tom Campbell at the Met, Comments, Clyde Hostetter, What about antiquities obtained innocently in one country and transported to another country,.. but which the first country declines to accept when offered a return as a gift? I purchased a small copper bowl in an open-air suq in Riyadh while I was working there for the U.S.-Saudi Joint Economic Commission in 1976. After I decoded its markings the following year back in the United States I made an offer to return the bowl. The offer was forwarded through a friend still in Riyadh. I received a polite response which essentially said, "It sounds interesting and we'll think about it." Twice more in the past 30-plus years I again have tried to give the bowl back, once through the Saudi Embassy in Washington and, more recently, via e-mail to the national museum that has been established in Riyadh since I left. In both cases I have not received a reply. However, when I offered to donate the bowl to the Penn Museum in Philadelphia I was told that they could not accept the gift because of the United Nations guidelines on antiquities. So...what should I do with the artifact, about which I have published several articles through the decades and which sits beside my computer as I e-mail this? I will be 84 in July. Could some reputable institution or individual take the bowl off my hands while I'm still around to make the gift or sale? Clyde Hostetter, Professor Emeritus, California Polytechnic State University, 3055-190 North Red Mountain, Mesa, Arizona 85207.... Posted by: Clyde Hostetter | December 09, 2008 at 04:28 PM"

The Qajar Period

The Qajar dynasty in Persia (present-day Iran) spanned 130 years, beginning with Agha Mohammad Qajar in 1795 and ending with Ahmad Shah in 1925. The Qajars were a (nomadic) Turkmen tribe that held ancestral lands in present-day Azerbaijan, which then was part of Iran. Qajars first settled during the Mongol period in the vicinity of Armenia and were among the seven Qizilbash tribes that supported the Safavids. "After 50 years of civil war, following the Safavid downfall Agha Mohammad Shah (reigned 1785-1797), chief of the Quvanlu branch of the Qajar tribe and ruler in northern Persia , was able to unify all Persian territories and crown himself shah-an-shah (literally "King of Kings", i.e. Emperor) of Persia and founded the new Qajar dynasty, which lasted 7 generations until 1925.

"In 1779, following the death of Mohammad Karim Khan Zand, the Zand Dynasty ruler of southern Iran, Agha Mohammad Khan, a leader of the Qajar tribe, set out to reunify Iran. Agha Mohammad Khan defeated numerous rivals and brought all of Iran under his rule, establishing the Qajar dynasty. By 1794 he had eliminated all his rivals. In 1796 he was formally crowned as shah. Agha Mohammad was assassinated in 1797 and was succeeded by his nephew, Fath Ali Shah. ... Ahmad Shah, was born 21 January 1898 in Tabriz, who succeeded to the throne at age 11, proved to be ... incompetent and was unable to preserve the integrity of Iran or the fate of his dynasty. With a coup d'état in February 1921, Reza Khan (ruled as Reza Shah Pahlavi, 1925-41) became the preeminent political personality in Iran. Ahmad Shah was formally deposed by the Majles (national consultative assembly) in October 1925 while he was absent in Europe, and that assembly declared the rule of the Qajar dynasty to be terminated. ...

Qajar shahs and aristocrats deeply believed in Europe's superiority in civilization. As the leading patrons of schools and the educational system, they transferred such a belief to the people. The Qajar monarchs and aristocrats, therefore, focused their attention on European culture by visiting Europe, sending their sons and talented students there to study, opening European-style schools in Iran, hiring European teachers, importing new inventions, translating books, and even wearing European-style clothing, which became more fashionable after the time of Fath Ali Shah. With the permission of the ruler, Abbas Mirza, the crown prince, sent the first students to England, and then he reorganized the army based on the French military. ...

European culture, introduced to Iran during the Safavid period (1502–1736), became (increasingly) dominant in the Qajar epoch due to the direct political and economic control of England and Russia, as well as the royal courts’ belief in the superiority of Western civilization and its interest in European culture and technology. ... Major cultural changes started during the reign of Fath Ali Shah (1797–1834), the second shah of Qajar dynasty, ... who commissioned palaces and mosques and their related artwork, such as their tiling, stone reliefs, murals, and paintings." ("Cultural Improvements in Iran During the Qajar Period and the West - late 18th c. until 1906-07 Constitutional Movement." by Mahshid Modares, 2007 (Sourced at: Iran Chamber Society, Culture of Iran (Online)).)

The Qajar Court was organized on the ancient Perso-Turkish model inherited from the Safavid and Zand courts and had a royal astrologer (monajjem-bāšī).

Iranian art of the Qajar period has long been neglected and is little understood. The roots of traditional Qajar iconography lie in the preceding Safavid empire. During this time, there was also a great deal of European influence on Persian culture. I would imagine that in the Qajar period there were mass production workshops producing copper bowls. Certainly ceramics were part of a mass manufacturing process.

The German Transit of Venus Expedition of 1874 to Persia (Iran)

In 1874 a small team (4 members) of Germans travelled to Persia to record the transit of Venus. The expedition, one of a number to various locations, was funded by the German government. It was a purely photographic expedition and was comprised of 4 persons, including the Berlin-based astronomer Ernst Becker. The expedition members established themselves (accommodation) at the 'Garden Palace,' outside the city of Isfahan. The instruments were set up in the vicinity. (See: Duerbeck, Hilmar. (2004). "The German transit of Venus expeditions of 1874 and 1882: organization, methods, stations, results." (Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Volume 7, Number 1, Pages 8-17).)

Matches Between Hostetter's Copper Bowl and Qajar Period Copper Bowls

The distinctive 3 rows/bands of striation/dent patterns forming an offset geometrical pattern identify the bowl as Safavid/Qajar period. Over a period of more than 30 years Hostetter made no effort to use this particular pattern to identify the likely origin of the bowl. Had he bothered to do so it would easily have led - with several other patterns also considered - to the identification of the artifact as a Qajar period bowl!

Hostetter's copper bowl is 16.6 cm diameter (at top) and 5.7 cm high. The 19th-century Islamic Qajar copper bowl auctioned by Estuary Auctions (and illustrated above) is 16 cm diameter (at top) and 5.5 cm high. The similarities that present a close match to Hostetter's so-called Cynthia Bowl are: (1) the bowl dimensions, (2) the bowl thickness, (3) the everted rim (able to serve as a handle for lifting), (4) the exterior pattern of striations/dents (hammer strikes), (5) the size (and location) of the striation/dent pattern, (6) the dent pattern forms a triple band, (7) the 3 rows/bands of striation/dent patterns form an offset geometrical pattern (8) the absence of a (short) 'foot,' (9) the decoration on the outside with a single band/panel of patterns (Arabic calligraphy in the case of the Qajar bowl) located high near mouth (underneath rim), (10) the decoration on the inside with a single band/panel of patterns (Arabic calligraphy in the case of the Qajar bowl) located high near mouth (rim), and (11) the incised ornamentation (apart from hammer strike pattern (hand hammered striations)).

The copper bowl from Iran (no date given but likely late 1800s or early 1900s) auctioned by City Country Gallery from Iran is approximately 16 cm diameter (at rim) and approximately 5 cm high. The copper bowl is undoubtedly Islamic. The similarities that present a close match to Hostetter's so-called Cynthia Bowl are: (1) the bowl dimensions, (2) the bowl thickness, (3) the everted rim, (4) the exterior pattern of striations/dents (hammer strikes), (5) the size (and location) of the striation/dent pattern, (6) the striation/dent pattern forms a triple band, (7) the 3 rows/bands of striation/dent patterns form an offset geometrical pattern (8) the absence of a (short) 'foot,' (9) the decoration on the outside with a single band/panel of simple patterns (straight lines forming 'triangles' in the case of the City Country Gallery bowl, instead of curving lines forming 'sine waves' in the case of Hostetter's bowl, and ornamented spaces (use of dots instead of circles)) located high near mouth (underneath rim), (10) the decoration on the inside with a single band/panel of bordered patterns (with the narrow border(s) containing a series of closely placed vertical strokes) located high near mouth (rim), and (11) the incised ornamentation (apart from hammer strike pattern (hand hammered striations)).

Also, when compared to other Qajar copper bowls, 2 striking similarities are: (1) the depiction of upper body pose (folded arms and clasped hands) matches Qajar period depictions, (2) the depiction of turban matches 1 depicted style of Safavid/Qajar period turbans, (3) the placement, on the inside of the copper bowl, of 4 equally spaced roundels containing upper body of a (seated?) human figure, and (4) the use of narrow bands enclosing a pattern of continual, closely placed, vertical strokes matches part of the pattern style on the interior of Hostetter's copper bowl.

There is a possibility perhaps that the exterior iconography is somewhat standard and the interior iconography can be versatile. This would extinguish any likelihood of a connected astronomical code on the exterior and the interior iconography of the bowl.

Summary: Issues that Decisively Demonstrate Non-Sumerian Origin of the Copper Bowl

Part 1: Issues that decisively demonstrate against proposed Sumerian origin

Part 2: Issues that decisively demonstrate Seleucid period for earliest possible date

Part 3: Issue that decisively demonstrates Sasanian Period for earliest possible date

Part 4: Issues that decisively demonstrate post-Christian dating

Part 5: Issues that decisively demonstrate Arab-Islamic origin of copper bowl

Part 6: Issues that demonstrate probable identification as Qajar period bowl [Note: Posted late (September) 2012 prior to the British Museum assessment.]

Hostetter has never attempted to deal with any of the issues identified above. He simply 'side-steps' them. Obviously nobody likes to have their closely held beliefs challenged. Reasoned arguments, thorough analysis, and critical rigour are not part of Hostetter's toolbox. Hostetter has shunned critique and critical inquiry. Taking the Sumerian claims and the Qajar evidence as competing hypotheses the Qajar identification provides the best explanation of the relevant data. The Qajar identification matches the evidence without the occurrence of any difficulties.

Part 7: Identification by British Museum experts as Qajar period bowl.

NOTE 1: Hostetter - with the British Museum verdict - provides no evidence or argument that would cause a critical re-examination of the current history of astronomy in ancient Mesopotamia that is agreed to by experts - to make sure that these conclusions are really correct. Needless to say he has day over 3 decades (approximately 35 years) of opportunity to gather evidence to do this.

NOTE 2: The remaining issue is whether the bowl iconography carries astronomical information. To date there is no assessment of this other than Hostetter's. The bowl is crudely engraved. Hostetter has set out that when 'astronomically decoding' he has interpreted flaws in the layout of several patterns as conveying astronomical precision. Presently, the issue of astronomical content (i.e., the iconography having recognised astronomical usage) remains unsettled (lacking expert comment). The claims by Hostetter for astronomical content in the iconography would benefit from expert comment. Hostetter has stated (Hastro-L, 7-7-2013) he now believes the bowl should be examined by an expert in ancient astronomy. This demonstrates Hostetter's ability to misunderstand issues. What actually is needed is the opinion of an expert on astronomical designs in Arab-Islamic artwork. A leading authority on astronomical designs in Arab-Islamic artwork is Leonard Harrow (MA (Edin), MPhil (Lond)) editor at Melisende, a United Kingdom book publisher. Hostetter has shown no interest in identifying such people and seeking their assistance. Hostetter has persistently claimed to carry out investigations into Bronze Age astronomy. There is no evidence that he has done any detailed and objective investigations at all. These statements by Hostetter have every indication of pretence. Also, after some 40 years of promoting his claims he has never indicated that he has made any attempt to formally study aspects of assyriology and archaeology. It appears he does not have sufficient interest in assyriology, archaeology, art history, and ancient history.

NOTE 3: The history of Hostetter's claims for the bowl as an example of Sumerian astronomy deriving from the cult of Inanna is shown to be without merit. However, Hostetter is now (July 2013) proposing significance for what he interprets as a Mithraic symbol - a 'Mithraic mystery.' Hostetter is now implying it is an obvious contradiction to the British Museum assessment of the bowl being Qajar period item. With this form of argument Hostetter is implying that 'the jury is still out.' Here Hostetter seeks to unnecessarily continue his argument by implying some sort of mystery. It is another example of Hostetter contributing nothing constructive. But is a Mithraic symbol actually used for the bowl maker's stamp mark as Hostetter claims? Similar stamp marks appear on other Qajar period copper bowls. Hostetter has obviously not investigated the stamp mark symbols used by Arab-Islamic artisans. But this really has the appearance of Hostetter selecting an apparent issue to keep attention to the bowl - and perhaps create doubt concerning the reliability of the British Museum assessment. However, once again, as it is Hostetter who is making the claims then it is Hostetter who needs to establish merit for them. To date he has not produced any consolidating evidence for his claim. But he does continue to indulge in speculation. It is long overdue in the history of his claim-making that he actually make some inquiries from experts. (For his part, Hostetter's opinion is that the matter should be taken to 'an expert in ancient astronomy.' The symbol (i.e., Mithraic gem) that appears in Cumont's, The Mysteries of Mithra (see above) is described as: "Mithraic Cameo (Red Jasper) ... Reverse: A lion with a bee in his mouth; above, seven stars surrounded by magic Greek inscriptions." It bears no resemblance - description or otherwise - to Hostetter's claim for the stamp mark on his bowl.

NOTE 4: Incredibly, Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 21-Sep-2015) complained: "He [Gary Thompson] has dismissed the evidence that I have provided about the copper bowl that I found in Saudi Arabia years ago." It is difficult to know whether Hostetter means date and astronomy or just astronomy. Persistently, Hostetter, holds onto his copper bowl claims. Persistently, Hostetter avoids dealing with the reasons I have offered, and the conclusion of British Museum experts. His limited research and lack of objectivity could not be more obvious. In the latter half of 2012 I identified the artifact as a Qajar period copper bowl, specifically identifying the distinctive Qajar period iconography decorating the copper bowl. In July 2013 two experts at the British Museum identified the artifact as a Qajar period copper bowl. Hostetter is no maven on the relevant issues ancient history. Hostetter is without adequate evidence to pursue his claims. Part of his strategy to promote his claims to simply not to find evidence but rather to adopt a deductive approach and ignore/dismiss relevant evidence which runs counter to his preconceived claims. He continues to resist even absolute proof against his claims (definitive debunking). He clearly demonstrates that he seeks to perpetuate his spurious claims regardless of evidence and without scholarly protocols of discussion.

Maker's Stamps

The copper bowls, etc. were largely being produced in a factory system. Persian artisans were largely factory workers. The factory system was a method of manufacturing first developed in England at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 1750s and later spread abroad. Workshop and factory systems of production were introduced into Persia in the late 1800s. (See: Islam: Art and Architecture by Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius (2000).) The Qajar monarchs introduced modernisation and European influence. The production of pottery and bowls was mostly carried out in Isfahan. We are dealing with traditional Arab-Islamic art with Qajar period stylistic differences. Also, during the Qajar period the art work of bowls, etc. declined to almost the level of crudeness. (See: The Book of Iran: The History of Iranian Art by Habibollah Āyatollahi (English translation 2003). It was common for patterns to be used. There was an established practice from at least the 17th-century in Persia for patterns to be developed by the royal court and passed to workshops and factories for incorporation in manufactured items. The Qajar monarchs exercised absolute control. (This would explain the origin of any complex astronomical data.) However, the possibility is that the 'maker's stamp' is perhaps not identifying the maker so much but instead identifying the country of origin (Persia = Iran since 1935).

Mark Wilson wrote (Hastro-L, 7-7-2013): " … You [Clyde Hostetter] observe a formal similarity between an image on the tiny die stamp on a 19th/20th century Persian bowl and an ancient Mithraic gem of at least 1000 years earlier. Even though mere formal similarity is not a legitimate method to equate symbolic systems, this is not my problem. It is simply that I find it hard to observe the similarity you claim. The gem has an image of Mithras on its reverse, so we know the lion on the obverse is Mithraic. This means that we know the indefinite splodge in its mouth is a bee, as what makes an image of a lion Mithraic is the presence of the bee. On your stamp I see no bee. Instead, you need us to accept  that Mithraic images of the lion/bee combination can be replaced by the astrological symbol for Leo. I don't know if this is true, and a quick web  search seems to suggest the opposite. But even given this might be so, I still can't see the Leo symbol on the stamp. The right hand curl of the Zodiac symbol is invariably up, whereas - assuming the dots are in the top of the field - on your stamp it is down. You might reply that the seven dots suggest a Mithraic lion, but there are other Mithraic lion/bee images with only one star. And anyway, I count only six on the bowl stamp, and I think it would take special pleading to claim that the seventh star is part of the squiggle beneath the other six. So your first challenge is to produce evidence that the Mithraic lion/bee image can be replaced with a Leo Zodiac symbol, irrespective of the number of dots above it. As this stamp is tiny and not incised it is obviously not meant to contribute to the pattern. Also it being a stamped image suggests a die which was used to mark other objects, not just this bowl. Is it not therefore likely that this is some kind of hallmark or maker's mark? A quick web search shows Islamic metalwork often did bear maker's stamp marks, and maker's marks are often monograms. Indeed, some maker's marks are even astronomical - like Subaru, which is the Plieades (sic). Have you considered the possibility that the dots above the squiggles might be stylised diacritics above Persian letters, like those above the letter "shin"? So there would appear to be two possibilities here: First, the bowl has a makers monogram stamped on it at its time of manufacture. A not unexpected occurrence. Second, a late Islamic bowl is one of several impressed with a tiny stamp of an otherwise unattested cursive variant of a symbol. The symbol was used in a religious cult which died out 1000 years earlier. This is then offered as evidence of a link to ancient astronomy. A very great mystery. One of these possibilities is far more likely than the other. …"

Mark Wilson (Hastro-L, 7-7-2013) replying to Hostetter: "Now to reply to your post, the thing which stands out is your puzzlement of the stamp on the bowl. If you accept the museum's attribution that the bowl is very late Islamic (and believe me - it was a categorical description - the bowl conformed to all the mores of Islamic art, and none of those of Ancient Near Eastern), and you have bothered to check my quick Google showing that Islamic metalwork often had stamped maker's marks, then your puzzlement must lie in the image on the stamp. This is six dots above an indeterminate squiggle. The squiggle to my mind looks absolutely nothing like the astrological sign for Leo. However, lets (sic) pretend for the sake of argument that an extra cleaning of the bowl reveals a tiny legend in Persian script saying "This is the astrological sign for Leo". How is this then connected to Mithraism? In Mithraism there seems to be a fairly well attested imagery of a lion with a bee in its mouth, but you don't have that. Even being extremely charitable!, you have an astrological symbol for Leo, which seems to have no special connection to Mithraism. Can you even be sure this symbol was in use for Leo when Mithraism was active? Lions were present in Persia until the 1930's, perhaps it alludes to that? Or perhaps the maker was born in August? Or perhaps he was called Leo? All, I think, more likely than the squiggle being evidence of a lost branch of the Saudi Mithraists. In my highly inexpert opinion, I really think the connection to Mithraism is a spurious atavism of your belief the bowl is a vehicle for ancient astronomical knowledge. The stars that form the logo for Subaru cars represent the Pleiades. We know this securely because "Subaru" means "The Pleiades". The Greeks had 7 goddesses who were the Pleiades. Does this mean there is a connection between Subaru cars and the Ancient Greeks? Hopefully, you see this as an invalid assumption, if not faintly ridiculous. But unless I am missing something, this is the level of argument you are currently offering."

See: Islamic Art by Barbara Bend (1991) for a discussion of astronomy/astrology in Qajar period art.

Mithras and the Qajar Period

Finding evidence of Mithraism in Iran is not difficult. Mithraism was an Iranian religion. The Qajar monarchs exercised absolute control. Even the die stamps used likely functioned to identify Iran as the country of origin. The lion was prominent in the art and culture of Persia. Lions appear on the Qajar royal emblem. At the Taq-e Boston/Taq-i-Bustan complex (comprising rock art reliefs), sculptures from the Sassanid period (226-650 CE) – which include a depiction of Mithras - and the Qajar period (1795-1925 CE), appear together. Mithraism had an influence on the development of the Persian tradition of Ta'ziyeh (still a current art form – theatrical genre).

Summary Remarks

In summary: (1) there has not been any rigorous professional assessment of the copper bowl and its 'art work,' (2) the provenance of the copper bowl is not established and now will likely remain unknown, (3) the date of the copper bowl is not yet established and no rigorous effort has been made to date it (but suitable metallurgical analysis would likely assist), (4) if the identification of the use of a week of 7 days is made in the iconography then this most likely aids the process of dating the artifact, (5) the use of 4 equally-spaced quatrefoil roundels provide a key for its identification, and (6) the copper bowl likely falls within the category of a medieval Arab-Islamic divination/astrological bowl. Islamic societies were deeply interested in astronomy. Their art was also structured to have meaning. NOTE: This paragraph is now defunct and will be revised. In late 2012 I identified the copper bowl as Qajar period (i.e., a 19th-century CE item). British Museum experts (July 2013) have identified the copper bowl is late Arab-Islamic (i.e., Qajar period).

The whole edifice is built on the questionable origin and interpretation of a copper bowl. Interestingly, I have never seen, or seen  Hostetter (since the first publication of his claims for the copper bowl in 1979) identify, any professional astronomer, assyriologist, West Asiatic art expert, or historian who supports his claims regarding the antiquity and origin of the copper bowl. Also, the only view that is not an opinion is his own. (Hostetter considers any negative comment/criticism as "an opinion.") When I informed Hostetter of the particular copper bowl auctioned by City Country Gallery from Iran he made no attempt to respond or comment. The date of manufacture may possibly be after the 1874 German astronomy expedition to Iran (Isfahan) to observe the transit of Venus.

Hostetter's claims regarding his 'copper bowl' are an exercise in popular speculative history. He has attempted to create support for his exaggerated claims with attenuated chains of inference.

Seemingly oblivious to the detailed refutation above set out above, or unable to comprehend and deal with it, Clyde Hostetter wrote on 20-12-2012: "FYI, a recent issue of the authoritative Arabic magazine, Majalla, describes new archaeological discoveries in the Middle East during the past two years that reveal a very sophisticated culture on the Arabian Peninsula in the Third and even Fourth Millennia. What is your source for "I have demonstrated that your claims for a Sumerian period astronomical copper bowl are misplaced and that the bowl best fits the late 19th-century Qajar period – likely manufactured after the German transit-of-Venus expedition to Iran (Isfahan) in 1874"?" Hostetter seems blind to the fact that he cannot offer any "source" for his copper bowl claims. Also, that he has merely built an idea on (erroneous) assumptions built on (erroneous) assumptions.

Recent Hastro-L postings demonstrate that Hostetter retains all his original claims. Clyde Hostetter wrote ( 02.04.2013) in response to a general post on the Antikythera Mechanism: "The Hewlett-Packard scientist who devised the way to read the ancient Greek instructions on the Antikythera Mechanism did the same for me and my little copper bowl. (He is a friend.) I can give more details off-group for anyone interested." Here we have an example of how Hostetter favours generating the idea that introducing irrelevant material his claims have substance. Clyde Hostetter wrote off-list (02.04.2013): "If you plan to watch the TV program, Nova, that discusses the Antikythera Mechanism  you will learn the identity of "the photographer" that you brushed off in my dossier. You may wish to make an editorial change that explains who "the photographer" is. FYI, he is a senior scientist at Hewlett-Packard." [Hostetter is oblivious to the fact he has previously identified the person.] GDT (02.04.2013) wrote: "Another example of how you write confusing posts to keep your pseudo-historical ideas alive. By association you imply you have a notable item. Your previous clearly made claim is he merely took photographs which were no better than your own. What you have not done - and should do - is simply have an expert on Qajar period copper bowls inform you that your copper bowl exhibits iconography that is standard for this (recent) period." Clyde Hostetter replied (02.04.2013): "Sorry. I only accept suggestions from people who have credibility as current researchers in the early years (c.3000B.C.) of cuneiform." (Hostetter is obviously oblivious to the fact he has no credibility as an authority on early Mesopotamian astronomy!) Clyde Hostetter then posted (05.04.2013) "Do members of the group who saw the Nova TV program on the Antikythera Mechanism agree that this is a solid foundation for the history of astronomy, since its features have been authenticated by highly reliable scientists?" [Hostetter is oblivious to the fact that far more serious documentary's have been produced and are readily available from You Tube.] An insight into the mindset of Clyde Hostetter is given in his Hastro-L posting (11-03-2013) which is headed with a quote from a recent posting by another person on Hastro-L: "the terrifying conclusion is - that a gifted multidisciplinary amateur may come up with a penetrating insight, only to find that there is no one competent to recognize its validity, the qualified specialists being too confined within their own narrow disciplines and restraints, to see the wood for the trees." Hostetter is obviously convinced he has better insight regarding the copper bowl than archaeologists, art historians, and assyriologists do. Hostetter also implies that he has judged himself to be a gifted multidisciplinary amateur. However, only in very rare cases do people from outside a discipline acquire enough data/knowledge to postulate a reasonable hypothesis. Even those within a discipline may get their thinking coloured by what they want to see. It therefore becomes necessary to argue cogently. Part of the problem is indicated to be that Hostetter considers himself to be the 'keeper' of Babylonian knowledge of planetary astronomy prior to circa 2000 BCE. However, Hostetter persistently chooses to ignore/evade criticisms of his claims and so-called evidence. If he truly is a gifted multidisciplinary amateur may come up with a penetrating insight then it should be easy for him to rebut criticisms with irrefutable arguments. So far he has, and it bears repeating, chosen to ignore/evade criticisms of his claims and so-called evidence. Instead he chooses to cast himself in the role of the misunderstood/ignored genius. [The neglected genius.] Interestingly, Hostetter does not take his own advice regarding "... only accept[ing] suggestions from people who have credibility as current researchers in the early years (c.3000B.C.) of cuneiform." If Hostetter wants to criticise people for being - in his opinion - unqualified to access his claims then he invites the same approach to his ability to competently deal with the issues. Basically he is an agricultural journalist with a single undergraduate qualification in journalism. His lack of expertise shows in his arguments. Hostetter's lack of academic familiarity with the relevant subject matters is evident by the fact he can not offer convincing evidence. Hostetter's 'evidence' only superficially appears to support his claims. Hostetter is arguing against scientific consensus (= the most well supported position by the evidence). The majority of experts with specialised knowledge have reached the same general conclusions. Scientific consensus is not reached by persons who are not qualified specialists.

Update (June 2013): Either Hostetter has either continued to totally convince himself of the correctness of his claims (self-delusion) or has decided to simply maintain his original viewpoints regardless of evidence to the contrary. Hostetter has progressively become more generally fanciful and – apparently totally convinced of his correctness - arrogant with his claims. During June 2013 Hostetter has begun to make further generalized distortive/fictional claims that simply have 'empty' implications. Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L; 26-6-2013) in an e-mail where the discussion was the Antikythera Computer: "Not mentioned is the way in which the obscure engraved instructions were revealed by a technique developed by a Hewlett-Packard senior scientist [= photo-illumination method of enhancing surface detail]. He used the same technique on the copper bowl that I found in Saudi Arabia. We talked well into the night about the implications." Here we have an excellent example of how Hostetter favours generating the idea that introducing irrelevant material his claims have substance. Clearly implied by Hostetter is the work validated the patterns on the bowl do contain encoded astronomical information of the type maintained by Hostetter. However, Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L; 26/6/2013): "Incidentally, my Hewlett-Packard friend told me that my [earlier] photos were better than those he made with the device which was used to clarify the words inscribed on the Antikythera Mechanism." The Hewlett-Packard Labs inventor of RTI that is not named by Hostetter is Tom Malzbender. The fact that the RTI technique cannot be used to date objects - or confirm coded astronomical information - and that Tom Malzbender has never claimed any knowledge of ancient astronomy combine to identify the mischievous/misleading nature of the Hostetter's claim: "We talked well into the night about the implications."

Note: The so-called photo-illumination method of enhancing surface detail is correctly termed reflectance transformation imaging (RTI) (also known as polynomial texture mapping, PTM) and is a photographic method that enhances the surface shape to reveal information about an object that cannot be seen even with the most careful direct visual observation. The RTI method reveals subtle surface details/marks. There are 2 main RTI techniques. The original method for capturing RTI data (invented 2000) involved capturing a sequence of images using different lighting positions and this required the use of specialized light arrays. However, in 2006 the highlight method for capturing RTI data (sometimes termed HRTI) was invented.

Apart from an exercise in once again getting attention for his copper bowl and claims, there is no purpose to Hostetter's June 2013 e-mails to Hastro-L. Also, Hostetter is simply continuing his desperate efforts to link his copper bowl claims to a noted discovery of substance. His technique is to 'piggyback' his claims onto any remark that affords the opportunity. The legitimate items are used by Hostetter as ploys/props to make his ideas seem convincing. However, it is apparent there is nothing of substance being offered – merely misleading implications being made. Also, the RTI technique cannot date objects or confirm coded astronomical information. The point needs to be made again that no person excepting Hostetter is making - or has made - claims for his copper bowl. This has been the reality for over 30 years.

For decades Hostetter has ensured that the virtue of an open scholarly dialogue of his claims - as a healthy pursuit - has been obstructed by his refusal to deal with critics in a constructive manner. Apparently he intends to follow the adage: "If it can't be disproven it must be true."

Hostetter's Establishment of a 'Bowl Return Story'

 

 

Source: "Letters," Archaeology, Volume 42, Number 3, May/June, 1989, Page 10. This is the earliest version of "I want to gift the copper bowl" that I have identified. The basic content of the letter was repeated for 30 years with some details being changed. (And the copper bowl still remains with Hostetter!) Hostetter attempts to suggest importance for the copper bowl are of his own making. It is clear that only Hostetter has declared the copper bowl to have "archaeological significance." His suggestion that he may be an "international criminal" is pure theatrics. It is an irrelevant remark. Nowhere is it suggested that any country or authority or person has suggested this. Hostetter only is claiming - based on his own interpretation of the bowl's markings - that he has a copper bowl that has "archaeological significance." Hostetter has not been tried and convicted in any court of law for an offence in connection with his possession of the copper bowl. The copper bowl was obviously taken out of the country legally. It is indicated that it was acquired legally. Hostetter is obviously constructing a story to infer he has a valuable antiquity. Nobody else is claiming Hostetter has a valuable antiquity. Hostetter has not been able to cite/name any expert who believes the copper bowl has "archaeological significance." The real intention of the story would seem to be to created publicity for his copper bowl claims, and also to perpetuate certain claims he is intent on making. (The issue of Hostetter creating the perception that the copper bowl necessarily has a significant monetary value is difficult to investigate. However, I understand that he has had at least one interested purchaser who believes/believed the claims being made by Hostetter and that at one time 6-figure sale price was being negotiated.) Describing the copper bowl a "golden goose" shows that Hostetter has completely deluded himself regarding what he actually possesses (which is a Qajar period poorly made copper bowl of very low monetary value). In his version of events in the letter Hostetter legally purchased the copper bowl in an open-air suq (market) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1976. Hostetter fails to give any details regarding taking the copper bowl purchase out of Saudi Arabia. However, there is no suggestion that it was done illegally, in contravention of any laws on tourist purchases in markets that aimed to sell objects/items to tourists. That Hostetter is asking certain questions 13 years after purchasing the copper bowl indicates no activity on his own part to answer them. Also, "government educational advisor" is a descriptor that later becomes "Multimedia consultant, Government of Saudi Arabia, 1976-1977." Multimedia consultants design and develop multimedia applications, systems and products that entertain, educate, persuade or inform the user.

 

Appendix 1: Google profiles: Clyde Hostetter [2011]

Introduction: Born on Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation [born 1925/circa 1925], U.S. Navy officer in WWII [Commissioned Ensign USNR 20 Feb 1945], newspaper reporter, news magazine associate editor in D.C., PR director of Kansas Industrial Development Commission, PR director of United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, PR consultant to Howard Hughes enterprises, Professor at California Polytechnic State University, on-site communications advisor to governments of Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Photojournalism degree from University of Missouri, cruise lecturer for Royal Caribbean and Holland America. Author of Star Trek to Hawa-i'i. Special interest in Bronze Age astronomy. [He was born July 17, 1925 in Mayetta, Kansas, part of the Potawatomi Indian Reservation (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation). His father was Harvey Hostetter and his mother was Mae Charlesworth. Circa 1948 Clyde Hostetter was a writer/photographer for what was then the Topeka Daily Capital.]

Occupation: Writer.

Employment: Food for Thought (self-owned).

Places I've lived: Arizona, Kansas.

[Though Hostetter has continually claims to study Bronze Age astronomy he only promotes his own narrow claims for such. No other matters are dealt with - especially ignored are scholars who discuss the astral nature of Inanna.]

Appendix 2: Other Biographical Information

1:

Hostetter worked on the Topeka Daily Capital [newspaper]. He joined the Capital as a cub reporter after getting a B.J. [Bachelor of Journalism] from the MU [University of Missouri] School of Journalism. (See also: University of Missouri - Savitar Yearbook (Columbia, MO) - Class of 1948; Page 50 for photograph and text.)

According to Robert E. Kennedy Library Archives at Calpoly, Hostetter was Professor of Agricultural journalism. One of 3 archival photographs of Hostetter at Calpoly is dated circa 1940-1960 and identifies him as Professor of Agricultural Journalism. (I have never seen Hostetter make this specific identification.) 1948: "Clyde Hostetter of Holton, Kan. has joined the staff of the Topeka (Kan.). He was graduated last June from the University School of Journalism." (Editor and Publisher, Volume 81, 1948, Page 40.) 1952: "Clyde Hostetter, associate editor of Pathfinder and former publicity director of the Kansas Industrial Development Commission." (To the Stars, Volumes 7-9, Page 78, Kansas Industrial Development Commission, 1952.) 1971: "Clyde Hostetter, Dept. of Audio Visual, Calpoly." (The National Faculty Directory, Volume 1, 1971, published by Gale Research Company.)

 

Clyde Hostetter at CalPoly circa 1958-1960. Hostetter is 2nd from left holding the placard. The back of the photograph has circa 1940-1960. Hostetter did not join CalPoly until 1958. This likely dates the photograph to circa 1958-1960. (Photo credit: Cal Poly, Robert E. Kennedy Library Archive. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

"Later I moved away from academia [lecturing] and into production of multimedia education materials for the nation's agricultural teachers. During the next ten years, with annual grants of $100,000, I headed a Vocational Education Production team ...." ("Cal Poly Memories, by Clyde Hostetter (Journalism)", Cal Poly Retired Faculty and Staff Newsletter, January 2015 Edition.)

2:

From: http://prabook.com/web/person-view.html?profileId=357898 (accessed 22 August 2017):

H. Clyde Hostetter, American writer. Lieutenant (jg. [junior grade]) United States Navy [Navy rank was not originally Lieutenant (jg. [junior grade])], 1943-1945. Member Society Professional Journalists, American Association Retired Persons, Kappa Alpha Museum.

Hostetter, H. Clyde was born on July 17, 1925 in Mayetta, Kansas, United States. Son of Harvey Edgar and Mae Edna (Charlesworth) Hostetter.

Bachelor of Journalism, University Missouri, 1948.

Public relations director United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa, 1950-1952. Associate editor Town Journal Magazine, Washington, 1952-1955. Public relations associate Carl Byoir & Associates, Culver City, California, 1955-1956.

Professor California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 1956-1985. Multimedia consultant Government of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 1976-1977, Govt of Indonesia, Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia, 1985-1986, Government of Afghanistan, Peshawar, Pakistan, 1990. Writer Food for Thought, San Luis Obispo, since 1985.

President Instructional Materials Section, American Vocational Association, Washington, 1974-1975.

Books: Star trek to Hawa-ii: Mesopotamia to Polynesia (1991) [Self published.]

Lieutenant (jg.) United States Navy, 1943-1945. Member Society Professional Journalists, American Association Retired Persons, Kappa Alpha Museum.

Interests: Archeology, astronomy, anthropology, photography.

Married Carolyne Southerland, July 20, 1952. 1 child, Cynthia.

Appendix 3: Extracts from Hostetter's Web Letter to The Nation (On-Line)

"One September afternoon in 1976 while showing my just-arrived wife around Riyadh I noticed a small corroded metal bowl among the used camel saddles of an open-air suq. I bought it, after some bargaining, for less than $10. During the bargaining the shopkeeper used a piece of sandpaper to clear off enough of the corrosion that I could see that some markings had been incised on the bowl's copper surface. I took it home and used salt and vinegar to clean off all of the "corrosion," which the pros call "patina."

After we left Saudi Arabia in 1977 I concentrated on researching the meaning of the elaborate markings on the lip and interior of the bowl. I have written about my decoding of the marks for various publications since that time. The markings showed knowledge of lunar eclipse cycles, the length of a Venus synodic period, the retrograde motion of Venus, and, improbably, that there was a hitherto-unknown 112-year lunar (and solar) eclipse cycle, plus much more, including four incised portraits of a female who wore a horned hat. ...

So the little bowl sits beside me as I keystroke this letter. It may be the earliest known "document" that shows precise astronomical knowledge hitherto not even suspected in an era that probably is around the first or second millennium BC, yet there seems to be no interest by archaeologists, who know very little about astronomy, or by astronomers, who know very little about archaeology... or museums, which want to avoid any suggestion that they are interested in "stolen" artifacts." (The Nation (On-Line), Web Letters, January 27, 2009.)

In the above letter Hostetter seems to be explaining lack of academic interest in his bowl and the claims he makes for it. The introduction of "stolen artifacts" is simply a theatrical device. No agency or person has accused Hostetter of possessing a "stolen artifact." He owns a legitimately purchased copper bowl whose archaeological/historical value is practically nil - any attempt to claim otherwise is simply a figment of his imagination. The above can be contrasted with Hostetter's posting to Science Forums (http://www.science-bbs.com/) March 18, 1998: "This will alert everyone to a new small Web site that shows the cover of my book on pre-Polynesian astronomy, Star Trek to Hawa-i'i. I will be happy to sell copies, but a major intent is to make e-mail contact with others interested in the beginnings of astronomy in Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C.E. Also, I would appreciate any of you with Web pages including a link to the page. The address: < http://www.***.com/ ~rmenapac/stth/home.htm> Some of the book's material has been covered in my articles in past issues of the Griffith Observer. It is based on research in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Pakistan while I was on assignments there. Of special interest to eclipse fans is a 112-year eclipse cycle that I discovered which matches sidereal cycles of Venus. It is significant because the three main celestial gods of Mesopotamia were the sun, the moon and Venus. The way that I discovered the cycle from markings on an ancient copper bowl that I found in the Saudi desert is described in the book's early chapters. Clyde Hostetter, Professor Emeritus, Cal Poly." Here Hostetter is now claiming he found the copper bowl in the Saudi desert. No detail of purchasing it in an open air market in Riyadh.

Appendix 4: 'Copper Bowl,' 'Inanna,' and Other Publications by Clyde Hostetter

Hostetter's claimed 'copper bowl' discoveries have only been reported in the popular press and popular journals rather than in professional, peer-reviewed journals. Hostetter's publishing history regarding the 'Cynthia bowl' and 'Inanna's descent': Basically, Hostetter's published article on his 'copper bowl' claims appeared in the Griffith Observer (which is not refereed/peer-reviewed) which states it prints popular articles on astronomy, and its editor has an open-minded policy of including articles that express viewpoints that might exclude the article being published elsewhere. (This is the same as Victor Mair's approach with his ongoing Sino-Platonic Papers. The result is the publication of some very flawed ideas.) One of Hostetter's 2 published articles on his ‘Inanna's descent’ claims also appeared in the Griffith Observer. The other appeared in the journal Archaeoastronomy. At the time, the article was published at the editor's discretion (it was not refereed/peer-reviewed). Hostetter has published 12 articles - none in a refereed/peer-reviewed publication. It has only been possible for Hostetter's lengthy material to be published by self-publishing. There is every indication that Star Trek to Hawai'i (1991) was self-published by Hostetter. The Diamond Press, 48 Los Palos Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 was Hostetter's home address at the time his 1991 book was published. Estate information for the address describes it as a 6 room condo home; built 1976, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 parking spaces, 1,293 sqft., sold in 1998 for $179,000. All that is really required is a printing company to do the production work (typeset, print, and bind). His privately circulated manuscript article (2010). was never published or made public, but may have been incorporated into his self-published Kindle pamphlet, Is Inanna Dead? (2014, 53 pages). Regarding Sky and Telescope: An example of its ability to publish erroneous articles is demonstrated by the publication of "Astronomy and the Fall of Babylon." by Vahe Gurzadyan (Sky and Telescope, July 2000). In his original Letter to the Editor the historian of early astronomy, John Britton, wrote: "The recent article ... is full of factual errors, flawed in its methodology, and all but certainly wrong in its principal conclusions. It is surprising and indeed disappointing that you published such a poorly researched report ...." (Vahe Gurzadyan first presented his ideas in the paper "Astronomical records dating the fall of Babylon." ay the Oxford VI Conference on Wednesday 23 May 1999.) Gurzadyan's material was also critiqued by Peter Huber (See his August 2000 paper: "Astronomy and Ancient Chronology.").

In the approximate 35 years (1976 to 2012/2013) from copper bowl purchase to my 2012 identification/British Museum 2013 identification of the copper bowl as Qajar period (circa late 18th-century CE, Hostetter persisted with his claims without any scientific paper being published (none ever has been published). For approximately 35 years Hostetter has effectively avoided professional scrutiny and the need for rigour. How exactly the early history of astronomy is to advance in these circumstances is puzzling. Hostetter has exercised complete control over the copper bowl and his analysis of its iconography. The ability for independent analysis of the iconography has been under his control,. This is a form of protracted protectionism. What has not been under his control is the sufficiency of his photographs of its decoration to enable the period (and approximate dating) of the copper bowl to be identified.

"Third millennium Near Eastern Astronomy?" (1979). (Nominal title taken from Abstract header - actual title not established. Presentation given (in his absence by slides and tape recorder) in 1979 at the Conference on Archaeoastronomy in the Americas.)

"A Planetary Visit to Hades." (1979). (Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume II, Number 4, Fall, Pages 7-10).

"The Bowl of Ishtar" (1979). (Griffith Observer, Volume 43, Number 7, July, Pages 14-20).

"On the Track of the Cat." (circa 1980?). (McDonald Observatory News, Pages 4-5). (A discussion of the origins of the Bedouin constellation "Al-Asad" described by the astronomer Al Biruni circa 1000 CE. The author kindly sent me a copy of the article but did not include publication details.)

"A 56-Year Eclipse Prediction System." (1980). (Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume III, Number 2, April-June, Pages 29-30). (See: Bunton, George. and Ciotti, Joseph. (1976). "Stonehenge A Fifty-Six Year Eclipse Cycle?" (Griffith Observer, April).)

"Inanna Visits the Land of the Dead: An Astronomical Interpretation." (1982). (Griffith Observer, Volume 46, Number 2, February, Pages 9-15).

"The Eclipse That Failed." (1983). (Griffith Observer, Volume 47, Number 3, March, Pages 11-20).

"Star Gazing Into the Past." (1983). (American Way, September, Volume 16, Number 9, Pages 124-127).

"The Days of the Scorpion." (1988). (Griffith Observer, Volume 52, Number 3, March, Pages 6-10, 16-19).

"Venus' Crescent." (1988). (Sky and Telescope, Volume 75, Page 461). (Hostetter wishes to place the ultimate Batak origins in Mesopotamia, suggesting that Oceanic peoples migrated east from there around 1500 BCE or earlier. According to Hostetter the Bataks of Sumatra are descendants of ancient Sumerians!)

"The Naked-Eye Crescent of Venus." (1990). (Sky and Telescope, Volume 79, January, Pages 74-76).

Star Trek to Hawa-i'i: Mesopotamia to Polynesia. (1991). (Hostetter still unfailingly recommends this book without indicating the need for any revision. The book was reviewed in The Griffith Observer, Volumes 57-58, 1993, Page11. "Star Trek to Hawa-i'i, by Clyde Hostetter (The Diamond Press 48 Los Palos Drive, San Luis Obispo, California 93401 $10.95 paperback) Readers of the Griffith Observer will remember Clyde Hostetter's articles on an ancient Middle Eastern bowl, the Venus incarnation of the Mesopotamian goddess lnanna, and the calendar of Sumatra's Batak people. He weaves these themes together and explores the mysteries of Polynesian migration. He traces the ancestors of the Polynesians ... [to the Middle East and Persian Gulf]." Incredibly, the 'reviewer' accepts the fantasy of "an ancient Middle Eastern bowl.")

"Seeking the Crescent of Venus." (2005). (Sky and Telescope, Volume 110, Number 6, December, Pages 66-67).

"Seeking the Crescent of Venus." (2005). (Australian Sky and Telescope, Volume 1, Number 12, December, Pages ?-?).

Appendix 5: Arab-Islamic Magic/Divination Bowls

Siegel und Charaktere in der Muhammedanischen Zauberei by H. A. Winkler (1932). (187 Pages.)

"Arabic Magic Medicinal Bowls." by H. Henry Spoer (Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 55, Number 3, June, 1935, Pages 237-256).

"Arabic Magic Bowls." by Tawfik Canaan (Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society, Volume XVI, 1936, Pages 79-127).

"Arabic Magic Bowls II: An Astrological Bowl." by H. Henry Spoer (Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 58, Number 2, June, 1938, Pages 366-383).

Magic and Divination in the Early Islamic World edited by Emilie Savage-Smith (2004).

Appendix 6: Arab-Islamic Metalwork

Safavid Metalwork: A Study in Continuity by Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani [also Melikian-Shirvani] (Iranian Studies, Volume 7, Number 3-4, Summer-Autumn, 1974, Pages 543-585).

Persian Metal Technology, 700-1300 AD by J. W. Allen (1979).

Islamic Metalwork: The Nuhad Es-Said Collection by James Allan (1982). (Discusses examples of astrological bowls.)

Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, 8th-18th Centuries by Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani (1982). (Discusses magic/divination bowls.)

Metalwork in Medieval Islamic Art by Eva Baer (1983). (Detailed discussions of astronomical and astrological decorative themes on metalwork.)

Ayyubid Metalwork with Christian Images by Eva Baer (1989).

Following the Stars: Images of the Zodiac in Islamic Art by Stefano Carboni (1997). (48 pages. Published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

"Islamic magical texts vs. magical artefacts." by Emilie Savage-Smith. (Societas Magica Newsletter, Fall 2003).

Traditional Crafts in Qajar Iran (1800-1925) by Willem Floor (2003).

Appendix 7: Arab-Islamic Artwork

Islamic Art by Barbara Bend (1991). (Discusses astronomy/astrology in Qajar period art).

Islam: Art and Architecture by Markus Hattstein and Peter Delius (2000).

The Book of Iran: The History of Iranian Art by Habibollah Āyatollahi (English translation 2003).

Appendix 8: Roman Usage of 112-Year Eclipse Cycle

"The Coptic Calendrical Computation and the System of Epacts known as "The Epact Computation" ...." by Georgy Sobhy Bey. (Bulletin de la Société d'Archéologie Copte, Tome 2, 1942, Pages 169-199). (Prof. Dr. Georgy Sobhy Bey was a medical doctor and Coptic specialist. He was a pioneer in Coptic studies in the early 20th-century.)

"Notes surle comput de cent-douce ans." by Marcel Richard. (Revue des Études Byzantines, Volume 24, 1966, Pages 257-277). (Marcel Richard (1907-1976) was a French Catholic priest and a Greek paleographer.)

"Le comput pascal par octaétéris." by Marcel Richard. (Le Muséon, Tome 87, 1974, Pages 307-339).

The Easter Computus and the Origin of the Christian Era by Alden Mosshammer (2008). (The author is Professor of History (Emeritus), University of California, San Diego. Abstract: Eusebius attributes to Dionysius of Alexandria (249–65) both the earliest known assertion of a rule that Easter can be observed only after the equinox and the use of an eight-year cycle (octaeteris) for Paschal calculations. The Coptic tradition, however, remembers Demetrius of Alexandria (189–232) as ‘the inventor of the epacts’ and Ethiopic texts attribute to him a Paschal computus beginning in AD 214. The earliest extant Paschal cycle is a 112-year period attributed to Hippolytus, beginning with the full moon of 13 April in AD 222. The cycle of Hippolytus is based on the octaëteris and probably represents the adaptation of the cycle of Demetrius to the Roman calendar. Another 112-year cycle is extant, composed in 243, but beginning with the full moon of 1 April in the year 242. Its authorship and provenance are unknown.)

"Paschal lunar calendars up to Bede." by Leofranc Holford-Strevens. (Peritia, Volume 20, 2008, Pages 165-208). (Abstract: Once Christians had found it necessary to calculate the date of Easter for themselves, they constructed Easter tables based on cycles of 112, 84, or 19 years in accordance with notions of limits between which the lunar and solar dates of the festival could fall. This paper considers, and seeks to reconstruct, the lunar calendars underlying the cycles proposed by computists from Hippolytus to Bede, from which in principle the lunar age of any date in any year could be determined. It also reviews the attempts made at such reconstruction by medieval scribes.)

Appendix 9: Claim That Opponents Will Only Accept Written Evidence

Proponents of imaginative claims for ancient astronomy (Hostetter among them) assert that opponents will only accept written evidence as proof for historical claims. This is not true. As examples:

(1) An archaeological contribution to understanding Aegean religion: "The Archaeological Correlates of Religion: Case Studies in the Aegean." by James Wright. In: Politeia: Society and State in the Aegean Bronze Age edited by Robert Laffineur and Wolf-Dietrich Nieme. (1995, Pages 341-348).

(2) An archaeological contribution to understanding Native American ritual: "Bear's Journey and the Study of Ritual in Archaeology." by Megan Howey and John O'Shea. (American Antiquity, Volume 71, Number 2, April, 2006, Pages 261-282).

(3) An archaeological contribution to understanding Norse cosmology: "Can archaeologists study prehistoric cosmology?" by Richard Bradley. In: Old Norse religion in long term perspectives edited by Anders Andrén et. al. (2006, Pages 16-20).

Appendix 9: Miscellaneous References

A Survey of Islamic Astronomical Tables by Edward Kennedy (1956).

"Tin in the Ancient Near East: Old Questions and New Finds." by Robert Maddin, Tamara Wheeler, and James Muhly. (Expedition, Winter, 1977, Pages 35-47). (Expedition is published by Penn University Museum.)

"Tin-Rich Surfaces on Bronze - Some Experimental and Archaeological Considerations." by N. D. Meeks. (Archaeometry, Volume 28, Number 2, 1986, Pages 133-162). (At the time of the article its author was employed at the British Museum Research Laboratory.)

Abu Shaker's "Chronography"; a treatise of the 13th century on chronological, calendrical, and astronomical matters, written by a Christian Arab, preserved in Ethiopic by Otto Neugebauer (1988).

"The Iconography of Early Islamic Lusterware from Mesopotamia: New Considerations." by Ulrike Al-Khamis. (Muqarnas, Volume 7, 1990, Pages 109-118).

"The Goddess Nanše: An Attempt to Identify Her Representation." by K. R. Maxwell-Hyslop. (Iraq, Volume 54, 1992, Pages 79-82).

"The Sumerian goddess Inanna (3200-2200 BC)." by Paul Collins. (Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, Volume 5, Pages 103-118).

Ancient Mesopotamian Materials and Industries: The Archaeological Evidence by Peter Moorey (1999).

The Ciphers of the Monks: A Forgotten Number-notation of the Middle Ages by David King (2001). (See: Appendix J. The Quatrefoil on Medieval Astrolabe Retes.)

"The Gaze of Goddesses: On Divinity, Gender, and Frontality in the Late Early Dynastic, Akkadian, and Neo-Sumerian Periods." by Julia M. Asher-Greve. (NIN: Journal of Gender Studies in Antiquity, Volume 4, Number 1, 2003, Pages 1-59).

Appendix 10: A Calendrical Interpretation of the Disk of the Trundholm Sun Chariot

The style of iconography and method of interpretation made by Klavs Randsborg has similarities to Hostetter's copper bowl saga. Differences include (1) Klavs Randsborg is an expert on prehistory, and (2) the provenance and dating of the Trundholm Sun Chariot is reliably established.

"Ancient bronze disks, decorations and calendars." by Amelia Carolina Sparavigna (no date, but 2012 (5 pages)). (Published online at https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1203/1203.2512.pdf) The author is with the Department of Applied Science and Technology Politecnico di Torino, Italy. Abstract: "Recently, it was published that some ancient bronze disks could had been calendars, that is, that their decorations had this function. Here I am discussing an example, the disk of the Trundholm Sun Chariot, proposing a new interpretation of it, giving a calendar of 360 days. Some geometric diagrams concerning the decoration layout are also proposed." Interestingly, Amelia Sparavigna concedes that the decoration on the disk of the Trundholm Sun Chariot could be simply decoration. This remark similarly applies to Hostetter's copper bowl.

Page 1: "Some ancient bronze disks, found in burial places in Denmark are covered by amazing decorations. These decorations are composed from several concentric circles and spirals, and bands with zigzag lines. As told in Ref. [1,2], some disks can represent the Sun, which was the supreme power of the Bronze Age cosmology in Denmark. It seems that the religion was based on the daily journey of the Sun and on the progression of the year. It is therefore quite logical to discuss these disks as symbols of time progression and therefore as calendars. This is what is proposed in Ref.2, for some of these items, such as the Trundholn Sun Chariot, a bronze disk and a bronze statue of a horse placed on a device with spoked wheels, and the disk of Egtved [3]."

The Trundholm Sun Chariot (also known in Danish as Solvognen) is an Early Bronze Age burial object recovered in Denmark. The Sun Chariot was found in September 1902, with no accompanying objects, when the former peat bog Trundholm Mose in West Zealand County on the northwest coast of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) in Denmark, in a region known as Odsherredin, was ploughed for the first time. It is now in the collection of the National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. A model of a horse-drawn vehicle with spoked wheels in Northern Europe during the Early Bronze Age (the sculpture is dated by the Nationalmuseet to circa 1800-1600 BCE, though other dates such as circa 1400 BCE have been suggested) was unexpected. (Unfortunately the artifact was found before pollen-dating was developed, which would have enabled a more certain dating.) They were common in the Late Bronze Age (1100 BCE to 550 BCE). A possible Danubian origin or influence has been suggested but the National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet ) believes it is of Nordic origin. The stylish spiral ornamentation decorating the golden sun disc is an identifier for its Nordic origin. The disk consists of 2 bronze disks each having a diameter of approximately 25 centimetres (9.8 inches), flanged by an outer bronze ring, with a thin sheet of gold applied to one face. The disks were then decorated with punches and gravers with zones of motifs of concentric circles, with bands of zig-zag decoration between borders. The gold side has an extra outer zone which may represent rays, and also a zone with concentric circles linked by looping bands that instead of flowing in one direction, progress like the steps of the dance, twice forward and once back. The main features of the horse are also highly decorated. It is gilded on one side only, the right-hand side (when looking in the direction of the horse). The two sides of the disk are considered as representations of the sun, on a chariot pulled by a horse across the heavens from East to West during the day, showing its bright (gilded) side. During the night, it returns from West to East, showing its "dark side" to the Earth. The Sun Chariot illustrates the idea that the sun was drawn on its eternal journey by a divine horse. A sun image and the horse have been placed on wheels to symbolize the motion of the sun.

Pages 1-2: "Let us consider the gilded side of the disk: it has the outer zone, which may represent the solar rays (Fig.2). There is an annulus (the region lying between two large concentric circles) decorated with small multiple concentric circles, linked by a looping band, which creates a “yin and yang” figure (see Fig.3 on the left). The image on the right of the same figure is reproducing the dark side of the sun. In Ref.2 the author is proposing that this side is a calendar. The author, Klaus Randsborg is considering the following calculation. Starting from the centre of the disk, we add the number of spirals in each annulus of the disk, multiplied by the order of the annulus where they are, that is (1×1 + 2×8 + 3×20 + 4×25). This results in a total of 177, a number very close to the number of days in six synodic months. In the Reference 2, the author is also proposing a calendar for the Egtved disk and other objects, supposing that the symbol of “spiral”, that is of multiple concentric circles or of a true spiral, is representing the day. The annulus where the symbol is places provides the multiplication factor. Here I propose another interpretation for the decoration in Fig.3, right panel, that is, of the side corresponding to the night. In the inner part of the disk (see the Figure 4), there are the days of a “week”, having therefore 8 days. For the moment, let us not consider the central large circle with many concentric circumferences. It could be a symbol for the cosmos as an ordered and harmonic system, as the cosmos was for the ancient Greeks. In the outer two annuli, there are the weeks of the year, which are 45. Then if we multiply the days in a week by the number of weeks, we obtain 360 days. That is: (8 days) × (45 weeks) = 360 days of the year. As in the ancient Egypt, the year has 360 days: the Egypt divided the year into 12 months of 30 days each, plus five extra days. Let us note that the weeks (see Fig.4) are grouped in two annuli: if we consider the winter solstice as the beginning of the year, the two groups of weeks could have the meaning that during the year there are two seasons, that of a “young sun” followed by the season of a “mature and then old” sun."

 

(Illustration source: "Ancient bronze disks, decorations and calendars." by Amelia Carolina Sparavigna (2012, Page 4. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.)

 

Regarding Reference 2: "Klavs Randsborg, SPIRALS! Calendars in the Bronze Age in Denmark, 2010, Adoranten. Vol. 2009, [Pages 60-70], http://www.ssfpa.se/pdf/2009/Randsborg.pdf" [A working url (October 2016) is: http://www.rockartscandinavia.com/images/articles/randsbarga9.pdf] Klavs Randsborg is Professor of World Archaeology at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research covers the Scandinavian, European and Mediterranean Neolithic, the Bronze and Iron Ages, Classical and Near Eastern Antiquity, the Roman Period, the Migration Period, the Viking Age and the Early Middle Ages as well as African archaeology and Global topics. He is a member of the permanent council of UNESCO.

Note: See also: "Number π from the decoration of the Langstrup plate." by by Amelia Carolina Sparavigna (no date, but 2012 (4 pages)). (Published online at https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1203/1203.4103.pdf) The Langstrup belt disk is a Bronze age artifact found in Denmark.

Appendix 11: The Commercial Value of the Copper Bowl

It has been brought to my attention (perhaps nearly a decade ago i.e., circa 2008) that there is the issue of how Hostetter regarded the commercial value of the 'copper bowl.' It appears that at one time (at least prior to 2010) part of his constant publicity strategy was to create a perceived commercial value for the 'copper bowl.' It also appears that at one time Hostetter had contact with a person (a resident of the USA) who expressed interest in purchasing the 'copper bowl.' It appears that Hostetter - at one time - was seriously negotiating a 6 figure sum of money ($200,000 ?) with the prospective purchaser. The person interested in acquiring the 'copper bowl' was a private citizen who could afford to pay a high purchase price. The interest had been created by Hostetter's ongoing claims for the historical value of the 'copper bowl.' However, the prospect of the sale succeeding failed for some reason.

 

[I am indebted to several persons for their expert assistance with the contents of this first section of the critique, including the wide-ranging artwork and metalwork expertise of Mark Wilson.]

 

Part 2: Inanna's Descent - Astronomical or Geographical?

Introduction

Bendt Alster wrote: That life is conditioned by death is a pattern that possibly is a paradigm (model) for all Mesopotamian myths.

On Hastro-L (31 March, 2012) Clyde Hostetter wrote: "… the myth, Inana's Descent to the Nether World, may be a somewhat garbled report of celestial events during one synodic period of Venus. [This is at odds with his more frequent claims that Inanna's Descent is an accurate record of astronomical events.] The actual events can be confirmed with software like CyberSky. This relates to certain aspects of the bowl." Of course, CyberSky can do no such thing! Hostetter is merely claiming to make matches between what he sees created on CyberSky and his conviction that the interpretation of The Descent of Inanna is correctly an astronomical one. Most of the elements contained in later accounts of the journey to the otherworld can be found in the Gilgamesh epic. Since first publishing his astronomical interpretation of The Descent of Inanna in1979 Hostetter has not made any other astronomical interpretation of a Sumerian literary composition. His astronomical interpretation of this particular composition - the content of which he has changed over the years - seems to be a "one off." Hostetter, in his highly speculative and erroneous book, Star Trek to Hawa-ii (1991), comprised of earlier published articles, sets out the descent of Inanna through the 7 gates of the underworld correlates to the 7 conjunctions Venus makes with the Moon as the planet descends in the Eastern sky and then rises again in the Western sky. Earlier, the Danish assyriologist Bendt Alster (died 2012) worked on a book (which he later abandoned) giving an astronomical interpretation of Sumerian mythology (based on the cyclical return of the planets, and the sun and moon). See the brief discussion in: Confronto con Mircea Eliade: Archetipi mitici e identita storicà by Luciano Arcella, Paola Pisis, and Roberto Scagno (1998, Page 229).

The myth embodies an explanation for the periodic invisibility of Venus. Astronomical elements deemed to comprise The Descent of Inanna are: (1) The transition of Venus from morning star (in the east) to evening star (in the west) (or, from the western evening sky to the eastern morning sky), (2) the 7-month descent of Venus in the eastern sky, (3) the disappearance of Venus from view (its invisibility), (4) the 7 conjunctions Venus makes with the waning moon (the 7 gates), and (5) the changes in brightness of Venus (diameter appears to change).

Hostetter claims too much for his interpretation of The Descent of Inanna. He has linked his over-interpretation to his baseless claims for the 'Copper Bowl.' He uses both to argue for a sophisticated Sumerian planetary astronomy in the 3rd millennium BCE. The issue is to establish what astronomical content, if any, can reasonably be identified in The Descent of Innana.

It is reasonably indicated that a number of Sumerian myths likely have astronomical content. There are strong cosmic and astral features in Mesopotamian religion. The temple has an astral archetype. Cylinder A of Gudea states the temple Eninnu is built in accordance with an astral archetype. The sun, moon, and planets are worshipped as representatives of particular high-ranking gods/goddesses who are the rulers of cosmic harmony. Also, what happens on earth is reflected in the ‘celestial writing’ of the stars. It is a common interpretation of the myths of Inanna (i.e., Inanna's Descent, Inanna and Enki, and Innana and Šukaletuda) that they relate to the celestial movements of the planet Venus. That certain astronomical phenomena regarding Venus is incorporated in the story of The Descent of Inanna is not disputed. It seems certain that some content of The Descent of Inanna derives from the movement of the planet Venus. (Simply the myth of Inanna as the disappearing and reappearing Venus star created because Venus disappears and reappears.) The questions are: (1) Is Inanna's descent astronomical (an allegory describing the movements of the planet Venus) or geographical (the ritual journey of a cult statue)? (2) Is the content of Inanna's descent primarily astronomical (involving the movements of the planet Venus) or primarily about fertility (a seasonal myth)? (3) Is the content of Inanna's descent an uneven combination of astronomical and seasonal/fertility and other matters (such as combining 2 or more pre-exiting myths)?

Likely only Inanna's descent to and ascent from the underworld needs be focused upon. Dina Katz writes ("How Dumuzi Became Inanna's Victim: On the Formation of "Inanna's Descent." Acta Sum, Volume 18, Pages 93-103.): "Thematically, ID [The Descent of Inanna] consists of four parts. The first part, ll. 1-284, deals with Inanna's descent to and ascent from the Netherworld and the second part, ll. 285-367, deals with the Anunna's demand and the search for a substitute. The third part, ll. 368-ca. 400 is the Dumuzi myth and the last part ll. 401-414 concludes the story with a cosmological outcome, and thus provides the literary framework of the myth. This division suggests that ID:1-284 was originally an independent Inanna myth." Dina Katz (The Image of the Nether World in the Sumerian Sources (2003)) discusses there is a possibility that ID is a combination of 2 independent and pre-existing myths.

Most support for Hostetter's particular interpretation seems to come from astrologers. Most also seem to think the Hostetter's interpretation is 'recent' when actually it is over 30 years old. This has to do with how Hostetter promotes/markets his ideas. Hostetter is not, of course, proposing a new interpretation if Inanna's Descent but simply marketing his 35 year old interpretation as though it were a relatively recent one.

Hostetter needs to keep the astronomical interpretation of Inanna in order to find support for his 'copper bowl' ideas. To date I have focused more time on his claims for the copper bowl. Hostetter's unwavering focus on his own particular ideas of the astronomical interpretation of 'The Descent of Inanna' is such that he has consistently failed to mention any other astronomical theory concerning Inanna and the movements of Venus. Dina Katz writes ("How Dumuzi Became Inanna's Victim: On the Formation of "Inanna's Descent." Acta Sum, Volume 18, Pages 93-103.): "In an article concerning the myth "Inanna and Enki" [Bendt] Alster points to a fixed pattern in the plots of myths that evolve around Inanna.13 According to this pattern, Inanna leaves heaven for a journey from which she returns (or is rescued) thanks to Enki's magic powers. The first part of ID, ending with l. 284, conforms the pattern indicated by [Bendt] Alster. This conformity supports the suggestion that ID:1-284 was originally a separate myth although it was not preserved independently. Inanna's astral image as the star Venus provides a possible mythological background for this myth. The star Venus disappears twice in a cycle of 584 days and it may have been concieved (sic) as going to the Netherworld."

At least 10 persons having 'reasonable credentials' have proposed a connection between Inanna and the movements of Venus. The earliest proposal I can presently identify was made by the classicist and assyriologist Henry Saggs in 1968 (The Greatness that was Babylon). This is a decade before Hostetter published his speculations. However, a contributor to, Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide (General Editor, Sarah Johnston, Volume 1: Mediterranean Region-Religion, 2004, Pages 581-582) states that the epic of Inanna's descent into the underworld is not primarily an astral allegory relating to the goddess Inanna as Venus. Perhaps in these comments we have recognition that in Sumerian mythology the planet Venus is also linked with disaster on earth through ability to bring earthquakes and flood, and to rain fire and split mountains. Also to be kept in mind is Inanna's descent to the underworld results in a lack of fertility in the upper world.

Lengthy statue processions were part of Mesopotamian cultic rituals. See: Buccellati, Giorgio. (1982). "The Descent of Inanna as a Ritual Journey to Kutha?" (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issue 3, December, Pages 3-7). Buccellati proposes that the Inanna of the story was not only divine person but was, in addition, a statue on a ritual journey from southern to northern Babylonia (Kutha). A celestial interpretation does not preclude an earthly representation of the celestial journey of Inanna.

To all appearances Hostetter seeks to exercise maximum control over the argument and direct where attention is given. His argument for the correctness of his astronomical interpretation of The Descent of Inanna is now closely linked use of the Skyglobe planetarium software. Exactly why a Personal Computer software program that can simulate the sky is a suitable tool for identifying a trip by Inanna to the underworld is never explained. An astronomical explanation = use of astronomical software is not really a given. Skyglobe cannot inform us about cultural context. Hostetter, however, deems how he makes a match between statements in The Descent of Inanna and astronomical data disclosed by Skyglobe for circa 2500 BCE to be the definitive case. He simply appears to assume this preferred technique of his is sufficient in itself. Other, more tangible sources of historical evidence/knowledge and philology are discounted or ignored, or only emphasised when convenient. This disconnect is somewhat puzzling. See, however, The time frame for the galla demons as meteors and related issues below for weaknesses and 'sleight-of-hand' with this approach. Also, whilst promoting the Planetarium software approach (using Skyglobe) Hostetter maximises (and defends) his identified matches by stating that there has been some literary license in the texts in describing astronomical events and not all can be literally matched to how events actually occur in the sky. Hostetter needs the computer-based claim so his assertions have the appearance of being scientific. However, the 'software comparison method' only has value as a concluding piece of evidence - dependent on the correctness of the philological issues.

Also, Hostetter chooses to be reliant on the use of the English-language translations at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature Project (ETCSL) (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford). Hostetter acknowledges that the 'Oxford Corpus' has used substantial literary license to translate basic crude Sumerian statements into rather elegant English. Indeed, the emphasis in the ETCSL translation is on providing coherent, readable English prose.

Storyline summary of Inanna's descent to the underworld

Inannas descent to the Netherworld is a Sumerian composition, which is a part of the Inanna-Dumuzi cycle.

The story describes the unsuccessful attempt of Inanna to add the underworld to her zone of influence, to become the queen of all the regions of the universe. Basically, Inanna goes down into the land of the dead, the 'land of no return,' ruled over by her sister, the goddess Ereshkigal, is killed and then restored to life, and is given conditional permission to leave. The key story details comprise Inanna's descent to the land of the dead where she is gradually divested of her royal apparel (comprising the 7 me (the visible symbols of her power), in order to divest her of her power) as she enters through 7 gates. (As she passes through each gate it is locked behind her.) When reaching the throne room of her sister Eresihkiga, Queen of the Underworld, she is naked and powerless and has judgment passed on her for trespassing the land of the dead, by the 7 Annuna and Inanna is killed by the Anunnaki's eyes of death, and hung on a hook on a wall. However, Inanna has anticipated problems and has made preparations by instructing her consort Ninshubur what to do. When Inanna she does not return after 3 days her faithful consort Ninshubur manages to have Eridu send 2 (asexual) creatures to where Inanna is; who revive her by sprinkling the "food of life" and the "water of life" on her corpse. Inanna is allowed to leave the land of the dead by agreeing to the condition that she must provide a substitute to replace her. To ensure a substitute a number of demons accompany her during her ascent back to the land of the living. Inanna finds her husband Dumuzi who is not (conspicuously) mourning her loss and does not humble himself before her, and hands him over to the demons to be carried off to the underworld.

"A highly revealing myth relating to death and the Nether World is "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World," which is now available almost in its entirety. To judge from this poem, the Nether World is a place to which one descends and from which one ascends-presumably through an opening or a gate situated in Erech, although this is nowhere explicitly stated. In the Nether World there is a palace described as a "lapis-lazuli mountain," whose locked and bolted gates are guarded by gatekeepers under the supervision of Neti, their chief. The Nether World is governed by divine regulations and rules, among which one of the most important seems to be that its denizens must be stark naked. Another rule, one that proved fatal to Dumuzi, was that no one once in the Nether World, not even a deity, could reascend to the world above, unless a substitute had been found to take its place. Thus, for example, it was to make sure that Inanna, who had been revived through the clever efforts of Enki, would provide a suitable scapegoat to take her place, that the seven galle stuck by her side, until she turned over Dumuzi to them as her surrogate." ("Death and Nether World According to the Sumerian Literary Texts." by Samuel Kramer (Iraq, Volume 22, Ur in Retrospect. In Memory of Sir C. Leonard Woolley, Spring - Autumn, 1960, Pages 59-68).)

The story of Inanna's descent to the underworld offers scope for various interpretations.

Mesopotamian descensus myths and descensus material

"The Descent of Inanna/Ištar" forms part of Mesopotamian visions of the heavens and netherworld, and Mesopotamian stories of journeys to these places. Other examples are: the "Epic of Gilgameš," "Etana," "Adapa," and "An Assyrian Prince's Vision of the Underworld." (See: Mesopotamian Witchcraft by Tzvi Abusch (2002), specifically, Chapter 13. "Ascent to the Stars in Mesopotamian Ritual: Social Metaphor and Religious Experience" (Pages 271-286).)

The most important of the few Mesopotamian myths about gods/goddesses descending to the netherworld are: (1) Inanna's descent; (2) Ishtar's descent; (3) Ningishzida's descent; (4) Enlil and Ninlil; and (5) Nergal and Ereshkigal. An important Sumerian text ("Enlil and Ninlil") tells of the descent of Enlil and Ninlil, pregnant with Nanna/Sin, into the underworld. There, three "substitutions" are given to allow the ascent of Nanna/Sin. The story shows some similarities to the text known as "The Descent of Inanna." Ningishzida (sum: dnin-ǧiš-zid-da) is a Mesopotamian deity of the underworld. Ningishzida, in Mesopotamian religion, Sumerian deity, city god of Gishbanda, near Ur in the southern orchard region. Although Ningishzida was a power of the netherworld, where he held the office of throne bearer, he seems to have originally been a tree god, for his name apparently means "Lord Productive Tree."

Enkidu's descent

"The Epic of Gilgamesh …. ends with Gilgamesh's return to Uruk at the close of the eleventh tablet, but the full "Series of Gilgamesh" consists of twelve tablets. The final tablet is a direct translation of portions of one of the Sumerian poems about Bilgamesh, known in ancient times by its first line, "In those days, in those distant days," and now often called "Bilgamesh and the Netherworld." Attached to the epic as a kind of appendix, the twelfth tablet came to be read as providing important information about the underworld ... In the twelfth tablet, Enkidu descends into the underworld to retrieve some wooden implements, apparently a ball and mallet, which Gilgamesh has dropped into a fissure in the ground. Enkidu, here portrayed as Gilgamesh's servant, offers to bring them back. Gilgamesh gives Enkidu detailed instructions about how to behave so as not to arouse the notice and the anger of the beings of the underworld; rashly, Enkidu disobeys all his instructions, drawing attention to himself with his beautiful clothing, perfume, and active behavior not befitting a dead person. Realizing that he is an intruder, the underworld forces seize him. Weeping, Gilgamesh approaches a series of gods to ask for their aid; turned down by two gods, he is pitied by Enki, god of fresh water and of wisdom. Enki conjures Enkidu in the form of a phantom, so that Gilgamesh can see his friend and learn about life in the underworld. … Sin-leqe-unninni, or another editor in the late second millennium, included a translation of this tale as an appendix to Gilgamesh, though it is clearly not a continuation of the epic. Enkidu is alive as the episode begins and is Gilgamesh's servant rather than the wild man and intimate friend shown in the epic. Moreover, Sin-leqe-unninni created the standard version of the epic by expanding the Old Babylonian version, not by direct translation from the still older Sumerian poems. The tablet's readers were surely aware of all these differences, but it was not uncommon for ancient texts to conclude with some miscellaneous matter at the close of the main story. The tale of Enkidu's underworld descent had a particular utility, moreover, greater even than the association of Gilgamesh with well digging early in the epic, for the story gave important clues as to how to behave and thrive in the underworld. At least for some readers, the twelfth tablet had a usefulness that overshadowed literary interest." (The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh by David Damrosch. (2006).) Note that, as in the story of Inanna's Descent, it is the god Enki who intervenes.

Some basic issues

Inanna descends into the underworld as an act of her own free will. It is not an inevitable event (planetary cycle) over which she lacks control. The goal of Inanna was to seize control over the underworld.

The Sumerian Inanna descent myth narrates shifts in 3 different realms as Inanna transitions from one realm to the next: (1) transition from heaven ("From the great heaven Inanna set her mind on the great below.") (see lines 1-72) to the underworld (see lines 72/73-272) to the earth (Inanna ascends to the earth accompanied by galla demons) (see lines 273-328).

Inanna

Inanna/Išhtar is a very complex mythological figure. Inanna/Išhtar is the most complex of all Mesopotamian deities. Within Mesopotamian mythology there are simultaneous conflicting traditions regarding Inanna/Ishtar. However, some are quite late (such as): (1) Inanna/Ishtar as female and benevolent as morning Venus star; male and malevolent as evening Venus-star; and (2) Inanna/Ishtar female as evening Venus-star; male as morning Venus-star.

There are different traditions regarding the genealogy of Inanna/Išhtar. The goddess is variously identified as the daughter of the god Anu, the daughter of the god Nanna/Sin, the daughter of Enki/Ea. Inanna/Išhtar does not have a permanent spouse. Inanna is associated with a number of consorts. The goddess is paired with the god Dumuzi/Tammuz and also the god Zababa. In the Assyrian Empire, Inanna/Išhtar (as Muliltu) was identified as the spouse of Aššur.

The god Nergal is sometimes designated the brother of Inanna and sometimes her son.

The main city of Inanna/Išhtar was Uruk. Because the goddess was one of the foremost gods/goddesses in the Mesopotamian pantheon through the 3rd-millennium to the 1st-millennium she had temples in all other important Mesopotamian cities: Adab, Akkade, Babylon, Badtibira, Girsu, Isin, Kazallu, Kiš, Larsa, Nippur, Sippar, Šuruppak, Umma, and Ur. Inanna/Išhtar was a significant national Assyrian deity, especially in the 1st-millennium BCE.

Like her characteristics, the iconography of Inanna/Ištar is varied. In early iconography she is represented by a reed bundle/gatepost. As the goddess of sexual love, Inana/Ištar is often depicted fully nude. At times the goddess is depicted wearing the horned cap, a secure indication of divine status. In her warrior aspect, Inana/Ištar is depicted in a flounced robe with weapons coming out of her shoulder, and often with a weapon in her hand. As the goddess of war her attribute animal is the lion and she is often depicted with one foot on the back of the lion or fully standing on it. In her astral aspect, Inanna/Ištar is symbolized by the eight-pointed star. The colour red and carnelian; and the cooler blue and lapis lazuli were also used to symbolise the goddess.

 

Source: Polcaro, Andrea. (2010). "The Tuleilat al-Ghassul Star Painting: A Hypothesis Regarding a Solar Calendar from the Fourth Millennium B.C." In: Feliu, L. et. al. (Editors). Time and History in the Ancient Near East. Proceedings of the 56th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale at Barcelona 26–30 July 2010. (Pages 273-284).

 

Some literary/mythological narratives are interpreted as dwelling on the astral aspect of Inanna/Išhtar, albeit indirectly.

According to Bendt Alster (1974, "On the Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth "Inanna and Enki.""), the movements of Inanna in the myth of Inanna and Enki, in which the goddess travels first to Enki's city Eridu from Uruk and then travels back again, suggests the cycle of Venus. Alster also thought the same journey was also carried out terrestrially in festivals.

According to Homer Hostetter (1979, "A Planetary Visit to Hades.") the Sumerian myth, Inanna's Descent to the Nether World, is an allegorical account of celestial events that probably occurred beginning in April, 2502 BCE (beginning with inferior conjunction shortly before the spring equinox.) and concluded approximately 584 days later at the end of one Venus synodic period.

Jeffrey Cooley suggests (2008, "Early Mesopotamian Astral Science and Divination in the Myth of Inana And Šukaletuda.") an astral interpretation of the myth of Inana and Šu-kale-tuda. The story sets out the clumsy gardener boy Šu-kale-tuda rapes Inanna whilst she is asleep under a tree. Enraged at what has happened, Inanna/Išhtar goes in search for the hiding boy. Cooley suggests the course Inanna takes in searching for her violator mimics that of the astral course of the planet Venus.

According to the British anthropologist and assyriologist Gwendolyn Leick (A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology (1998)) it was the Isin tradition which emphasized Inanna's astral character and in their genealogy called Inanna the daughter of the moon-god Nanna and the twin-sister of the sun god Utu.

Ninana/Inanna

Before Inanna was associated with the planet Venus she was called (depending on the opinion of expert cuneiform philologists) Ninana and was the "mistress of the date clusters." Dates were a staple crop in the city of Uruk (the earliest city in Mesopotamia).

Astral associations of Inanna/ Ištar

Inanna was associated with (1) the planet Venus, and (2) the constellation Anunītu (the eastern fish of the later zodiacal constellation Pisces), and (3) Ištar was associated with the 7 stars of the circumpolar Margidda (Wagon) constellation (= Ursa Maior/'Big Dipper'). (One source also associates Ištar with the constellation Anunītu. The association of Inanna/Ištar with Anunītu appears to be very late.) Venus has also been identified with 'The Bow.' The eminent assyriologist Francesca Rochberg believes that Mesopotamian religion was not astral in nature. Rather, an astronomical body (i.e., sun, moon, planet, star, constellation) might represent a specific god/goddess, but astronomical bodies themselves did not have a god/goddess-like status. (See: Rochberg, Francesca. (2009). "The Stars Their Likenesses." In: Porter, Barbara. (Editor). What Is a God? (Pages 41-91).) However, the astronomical aspect of Inanna is somewhat ambiguous. During the Ur III period the heliacal settings of the planet Venus were marked by the festivals of Nanaya and Anunnitum (Sauren).

The German assyriologist Wolfgang Heimpel wrote that when and how the link between the planet Venus and Inanna was made cannot now be ascertained; it is prehistorical (i.e., prior to written records).

Apart from these astronomical examples the identity of Inanna takes other forms of imagery such as torch (as Venus in the night sky she 'flared as a living torch'), dragon, snake, lion, bird (hawk), and rainbow.

The later Semitic goddess Ištar

The Semitic name Ištar originally belonged to an independent goddess that was later merged and identified with the Sumerian Inanna. (See: "Ištar." by Tzvi Abusch (Nin. Journal of Gender Studies in Antiquity, Volume 1, 2000, Pages 23-27).)

The realm of the dead (underworld)

The furthest realm in the direction downward was 'the netherworld.' The underworld was the lowest region of the Mesopotamian universe. There were various ideas of the land of the dead in literary texts. In the only known text where cosmic regions were placed relative to one another within an overall scheme the location of the netherworld was specified as being below the Apsu. As such it was the lowest of all regions. In literary texts the netherworld was depicted as a land that was dark and distant, inhabited by ghosts, demons, or gods who ruled over the dead or who brought death.

In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology there was a cosmic realm called Apsu comprising watery depths beneath the earth. The Apsu was located directly beneath the earth's surface. The Apsu was the creation, abode, and kingdom of the god Enki. The assyriologist Wayne Horowitz writes (Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (1998, Page 342)) that the Apsu and the underworld were, in some texts, confused with each other.

Other claims for astronomical/seasonal interpretation of Inanna's descent into the underworld

Aspects of the "biography" of Inanna /Ishtar reflects the displayed characteristics of Venus. Note: The astronomical interpretation of Mesopotamian mythology goes back to the German Star Myth school at the end of the 19th-century and the German Panbabylonian school at the beginning of the 20th-century. Some 14 references given below as non-Assyriological books/articles.

Not recognising the work of others - which Hostetter is incapable of doing - is to be condemned.

Saggs, Henry. (1968). The Greatness that was Babylon. [Note: Proposed a connection between Inanna and the movements of Venus.]

de Santillana, Giorgio. and von Dechend, Hertha. (1969). Hamlet's Mill. [Note: No developed discussion but equates Inanna with Venus. Denies that the term 'morning star' always applies to Venus.]

Alster, Bendt. (1972). Dumuzi's Dream.

Alster, Bendt. (1973). "An aspect of Enmerker and the Lord Aratta." (Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale, Tome 67, Pages 41-62, 101-110). [Note: Pages numbers to be confirmed.]

Alster, Bendt. (1974). "On the Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth "Inanna and Enki."" (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie, Volume 64, I Halband, March, Pages 20-34). [Note: A discussion of the astronomical pattern underlying the major Sumerian Inanna myths. An astral context and content of Sumerian literary compositions had been suggested by Bendt Alster in the 1970s. According to Bendt Alster the disappearing and returning Venus star seems to constitute the basic pattern for all Inanna myths. The Danish author, a leading Assyriologist (died 2012), gives an astronomical interpretation of the subject matter. He seems to have been influenced by Hamlet's Mill, by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend (1969). The author later doubted some of his ideas and did not proceed with his proposed book The Eternal Cycle giving an astronomical interpretation of Sumerian mythology. (He literally tore up the manuscript.) The issue is slightly confusing in that in a 1976 article Bendt Alster stated that The Eternal Cycle was in press. The term 'in press' can mean a number of things. Basically it means that the manuscript has been accepted for publication. The term 'forthcoming' has now replaced 'in press.' His manuscript argued that the cyclical return of the planets, (and the sun and moon) played an important role in Mesopotamian religion. One source gives: Alster, Bendt. (1975). "On the Interpretation of the Myth 'Inanna and Enki.'" (Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, Band 4, Pages 20-34). The suggestion that Inanna's Descent is probably about the phases of Venus has been made by others. (See the article by Bendt Alster in Proceedings of the XLV Recontre Assyriologue Internationale edited by Tzvi Abusch et. al. (2001, Page 143). (Another interesting article by Bendt Alster appeared in Scribes, Sages, and Seers edited by Leo Perdue (2008). See also the (English-language) book review by William Hallo (Journal of Near Eastern Studies Volume 37, Number 3, July, 1978, Pages 269-273) of (1) The Instructions of Suruppak: A Sumerian Proverb Collection by Bendt Alster (1974); and (2) Studies in Sumerian Proverbs by Bendt Alster (1975, reprinted 1990).]

Jacobsen, Thorkild. (1976). The Treasures of Darkness . [Note: Held the view that Inanna's Descent was primarily a nature allegory intended to "explain" the annual death and revival of vegetation in a seasonal cycle.]

Alster, Bendt. (1976). "Early Patterns in Mesopotamian Literature." In: Eichler, Barry. (Editor). Kramer Anniversary Volume, Pages 13-24). [Note: The Danish author, a leading Assyriologist, gives an astronomical interpretation of the subject matter. Bendt Alster believed (at least at time of publication) astronomical observations could be discerned in Sumerian compositions that date as early as the middle of the 3rd-millennium BCE which refer to the movement of the heavenly bodies and the constellations.]

Wilcke, Claus. (1976). "Inanna/Ištar." In: Reallexikon der Assyriologie, Band 5, Pages 74-87). [Note: Wilcke notes: "Inanna (in Inanna's Descent) descends in late winter when stores are lowest." See also, for a nature Winter-Spring, interpretation, Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness (1976, Pages 62-63).]

Huber, Peter. (1977). "Early Cuneiform Evidence for the Planet Venus." In: Goldsmith, Donald. (Editor). Scientists Confront Velikovsky. (Pages 117-144). [Note: Proceedings of the 1974 AAAS conference "Velikovsky's Challenge to Science." Huber proposed that Inanna's death in the underworld as the 60-day invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction. Also, the sprinkling of her corpse with the water of life 60 times refers to 60 days (of invisibility). Obviously Huber held this astral interpretation of 60 days prior to 1974, perhaps a decade before Hostetter proposed the same.]

Hostetter, Homer. (1979). "A Planetary Visit to Hades." (Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume II, Number 4, Fall, Pages 7-10). [Note: An astronomical interpretation of the Sumerian story of Inanna's descent into the underworld. (The author was unaware of Alster Bendt's 1974 article.) The Sumerian myth, Inanna's Descent to the Nether World, is an allegorical account of celestial events that probably occurred beginning in April, 2502 B.C. and concluded approximately 584 days later at the end of one Venus synodic period. Alternative years would be at eight-year intervals for perhaps 24 years before or after that date. The author does not identify that the Descent of Inanna was first written down circa 2000 BCE. Hostetter is a proponent of the origins of complex astronomy in Sumeria circa 3000 BCE, and a diffusionist. The myth of Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld has been understood to describe the movement of the goddess in her astral form, the planet Venus, as it sets below the horizon in the west. Examples are: (1) Wilcke, Claus. (1976). "Inanna/Ištar." In: Reallexikon der Assyriologie, Band 5, Pages 74-87; and (2) Cooley, Jeffrey. (2008). "Early Mesopotamian Astral Science and Divination in the Myth of Inana And Šukaletuda." (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, Volume 8, Number 1, Pages 75-98). In his entry "Inanna/Ištar," Wilcke notes: "Inanna (in Inanna's Descent) descends in late winter when stores are lowest." In the later version as soon as Inanna/Ištar has disappeared from the earth, the life process on the surface for the world of humans and animals stops. The Sumerians combined multiple (independent?) aspects of Inanna's character in epics concerning her. It has been noted that some mythological narratives dwell on the astral aspect of Inanna/Ištar, albeit indirectly. A contributor to, Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide (General Editor, Sarah Johnston, Volume 1: Mediterranean Region-Religion, 2004, Pages 581-582) states that the epic of Inanna's descent into the underworld is not primarily an astral allegory relating to the goddess Inanna as Venus. In the myth Inanna and Šu-kale-tuda, the gardener Šu-kale-tuda violates the goddess whilst she is asleep under a tree. Furious with what has happened, Inanna/Ištar searches for Šu-kale-tuda. The course Inanna takes in searching for her violator has been suggested by a number of commentators to mimic that of the astral course of the planet Venus. Likewise, the movements of Inanna in the myth of Inanna and Enki, in which the goddess travels first to Enki's city Eridu from Uruk and travels back again, recalls the cycle of Venus. Commentators (including Bendt Alster) hold that probably the same journey was enacted terrestrially in festivals. In a personal communication (14 September 2002) Hostetter stated he had never seen articles by Bendt Alster.]

Perera, Sylvia. (1981). Descent to the Goddess. [Note: The author, a Jungian analyst, holds that the journey of Inanna through the seven gates of the Underworld represents various planetary positions of Venus. She writes (Page 61): "The gates are perhaps more accurately related to the seven planetary positions with which the planet Inanna-Ishtar moved into conjunction on her descent and return, the Sumerians kept accurate astronomical observations of planets ...." [Note: There is no evident the Sumerians kept accurate observations of planets.]

Thompson, William. (1981). The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origin of Culture. [Note: Deals at some length with the descent of Inanna. Written from the perspective of Jungian psychology. The author gives an astral interpretation of the myth of Inanna based on the movements of Venus (= Inanna) and Mercury (= Enki), at the time of the winter solstice.]

Hostetter, Homer. (1982). "Inanna Visits the Land of the Dead: An Astronomical Interpretation." (Griffith Observer, February, Pages 9-15). [Note: The author's astronomical interpretation holds that the myth describes a 584-day synodic period of Venus that began with inferior conjunction shortly before the spring equinox. One of 3 articles in the Griffith Observer that would later form the material for his book Star Trek to Hawa-i'i (1991). The other 2 articles were "The Bowl of Ishtar." (July, 1979); and "The Eclipse That Failed." (March, 1983). For a contrary view see: "The Descent of Inanna as a Ritual Journey to Kutha?" by Giorgio Buccellati (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issues 3, December, 1982, Pages 3-7). See also a brief critique of Hostetter's article in: "A Catalog of Near Eastern Venus Deities." by Wolfgang Heimpel (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issues 3, December, 1982, Pages 9-22).]

Heimpel, Wolfgang. (1982). "A Catalog of Near Eastern Venus Deities." (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issues 3, December, 1982, Pages 9-22). [Note: Holds that the Sumerians identified Inanna with the planet Venus.]

Alster, Bendt. (1983). "The Mythology of Mourning." (Acta Sumerologica, Volume 5, Pages 1-16).

Bruschweiler, Françoise. (1987). Inanna: la déesse triomphante et vaincue dans la cosmologie sumérienne: recherche lexicographique.

Szarzynska, Krystyna. (1987). "The Sumerian Goddess INANA-KUR." (Orientalia Varsoviensia, Volume 1).

Alster, Bendt. (1990). "Sumerian Literary Dialogues and Debates and their Place in Ancient Near Eastern Literature." In: Kech, E[?]. et al. (Editors). Living Waters - Scandinavian Orientalistic Studies Presented to F. Lekkegaard. (Pages 1-16).

Leick, Gwendolyn. (1991). A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology. [Note: See page 163 regarding Inanna/Venus.]

Szarzynska, Krystyna. (1993). "Offerings for the Goddess Inana in Archaic Uruk." (Revue d'Assyriologie et d'Archéologie Orientale, Volume 87, Number 1, Pages 7-28). [Note: Argues that Uruk cuneiform tablets circa 3000 BCE show the Sumerians identified the goddess Inanna as morning Venus-star and evening Venus-star.]

Volk, Konrad. (1995). Inanna und Šukaletuda: Zur historisch-politischen Deutung eines sumerischen Literaturwerkes. [Note: See Pages 21-29. In his astronomical interpretation of this Sumerian myth Volk assumes that all of the events take place while Inanna/Venus is visible.]

Horowitz, Wayne. (1998). Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography. [Note: The author identifies (Pages 353) that in The Descent of Inanna the goddess Inanna by her statements to Neti at the 1st gate is intending to rise in the east as the morning star Venus.]

Kane, Matthew. (1999). Heavens Unearthed in Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales. [Note: See the (English-language) book review by Gail De Vos in The Journal of American Folklore, Volume 114, Number 451, Winter, 2001, Pages 112-114. The author suggests Anthony Aveni's explanation that the 7 gates are the 7 planets (i.e., the sun, the moon, and the 5 visible planets). Building on the ideas of Anthony Aveni Kane suggests the following possibilities: (1) The cycle of the sun through the year: Inanna's descent into the underworld imitates the descent of the fertile earth toward the winter solstice and its revival in the spring. (2) The cycle of the moon through the month: Inanna is the moon that stays out longer and longer in the night sky as the winter solstice approaches. There are usually 7 full moons or 7 new moons between the summer solstice and the winter solstice, thus accounting for the 7 gates of the nether world. (3) The cycle of the phases of the moon through the month: Inanna, as the moon, begins at the horizon as the half moon at mid-night, and each night the moon/Inanna rises higher in the night sky (which means lower in the underworld) until on the 7th night the moon/Inanna is the full moon at the height of the midnight sky. Each night she grows brighter (gains luminescence) because at each gate of the underworld Inanna has another accouterment taken away, leaving her 'brilliant flesh' as the full moon. The deadly stare of the eyes of the 7 judges is the shadow of the earth during the lunar eclipse, which also passes through the 7 levels to reach Inanna and kill her just as the lunar eclipse kills the full moon. The stake on which Inanna hangs is also the long dark shadow of the earth. The 3 days are the 3 days that the full moon stays at the top of the night sky (bottom of the underworld) before it begins to return to the horizon and the earth. The full moon is the food and the thin crescent moon is the cup. At each gate Inanna reappoints herself with her 'gear' just as the moon grows a little darker each day till it arrives again as a half moon at the horizon. Inanna then proceeds into the daytime sky with the galla demons. Dumuzi then takes the part of the moon. It was traditional to mourn the death of Dumuzi (or Tammuz) each spring in the Middle East.]

Kurtik, G[?]. (1999). "The identification of Inanna with the planet Venus: A criterion for the time determination of the recognition of constellations in ancient Mesopotamia." (Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions, Volume 17, Issue 6, Pages 501-513).  [Note: Abstract: "The author of the paper believes that the identification of Inanna with Venus as the morning or evening star chronologically preceded the time when the first constellations began to be recognized in Ancient Mesopotamia. If this is correct, the date of identification can be used as a reference point for the determination of the earliest probable limit for the epoch when in Mesopotamia the process of constellation recognition have been started. The earliest known images with the symbol of Inanna date from the period of archaic Uruk. They can be divided into two groups: (1) the images on seals and ceramics where there are no astral attributes; (2) the pictographic texts where the picture of a star and the signs of a sunrise or a sunset are placed alongside the symbol of Inanna. The pictographic texts, however, admit also a non-astral interpretation, if the picture of a star is a determinative of a deity. The astral nature of Inanna for the Uruk period therefore cannot be considered as finally proved. The identification of Inanna with Venus is reliably certified on seals of the Early Dynastic Period where there are at once three astral symbols - the crescent, the solar disk and the star of Inanna."]

Szarzynska, Kristina. (2000). "The Cult of the Goddess Inanna in Archaic Uruk." (Nin – Journal of Gender Studies in Antiquity, Volume 1, Pages 63-74). [Note: Thematic Issue on the Goddess Inanna/Ishtar, published by Styx Publications, The Netherlands, for the Women's Association of Ancient Near Eastern Studies (WANES).]

Alster, Bendt. (2001). "[Article title not yet fully identified, perhaps "Variation in Sumerian Myths as a Reflection of Literary Creativity."]." (Proceedings of the XLV Recontre Assyriologique Internationale: Historiography in the Cuneiform World, Part 1). [Note: Contains a discussion of his recognition of the movements/phases (brightness changes) in "Inana and Ebih." "Inanna's Descent," and "Inanna and Šukalletuda;" also the hymns "Inanna Nin-egala," and "Inanna and Iddindagan."]

Aveni, Anthony. (2002). Conversing with the Planets. [Note: Revised edition; see pages 54-58. Summary of Aveni's interpretation: In all there are 7 moving objects moving independently against the background of 'fixed' stars. The sun, the moon, and the 5 visible planets – each on its own spherical shell among the stars. These are the origin of the 7 gates that need to be passed through to reach the underworld. As Venus descends lower in the sky each night, it appears dimmer/paler. Two aspects of Inanna's Descent can be tied together by astronomy and meteorology. In lower northern latitudes during February, Venus can disappear from the sky for an average of 3-4 days. This could have been used by farmers to signal the flood season and the beginning/start in March of water in the irrigation canals. Water does not make its way down from the northern mountains until March. So the 3 days of Venus's death (invisibility) in February is a harbinger/signal of the coming flood waters. Inanna being held in the underworld expresses possible deprivation through famine and starvation.]

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The various astronomical ideas for interpreting the Descent of Inanna given by Matt Kane in Heavens Unearthed (2009, Pages 198-200):

"As in "There Was a Man Lived in the Moon," Inanna's exploits include the donning and removal of clothing and the importance of food. Anthony Avemi has an intriguing explanation of of this myth based on the vagaries of the planet Venus, over which Inanna presides. The seven gates of hell are the seven wandering objects in the sky - the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets. If one watches Venus descend each night lower and lower in the sky, it appears paler and paler as it loses its original luster.

As for the three days hanging in hell - in February in Sumeria, the disappearance of Venus and its reappearance again could take as little as three days. It is also appropriate that the water god Enki should come to her rescue, because in the Tigris and Euphrates region water does not make its way down the mountains until March. So the three days of Venus's darkness in February is a harbinger of life-giving waters.

There are other interpretations that can be added to Aveni's insightful critique. The other heavenly cycles that also influence this myth are the cycle of the sun through the year and the cycle of the moon through the month. Since Inanna is the goddess of love and fertility, her descent into Hades imitates the descent of the fertile earth toward the winter solstice and its resuscitation in the spring. More specifically she is the moon that stays out longer and longer in the night sky as the winter solstice approaches. There are usually either seven full moons or seven new moons between the summer solstice and the winter solstice, thus accounting for the seven gates of hell. Both she and her husband, Dumuzi, are like the seeds that must fall into the ground and die so that they may be born again. The water and food of life are the spring sunshine and the spring waters that bring to life the dry soil.

And finally, the third cycle of the skies  that relates to the Man in the Moon is the cycle of the phases of the moon through the month. Inanna's name itself is similar to the name of Nanna, the moon god. Inanna, as the moon, begins at the horizon as the half moon at midnight, and each night she rises higher in the night sky (which means lower in the underworld) until on the seventh night she is the full moon at the height of the midnight sky. Each night she grows brighter because at each gate of hell she has another accouterment taken away, leaving her brilliant flesh as the full moon. The deadly stare of the evil eyes of her seven dark judges is the shadow of the earth during the lunar eclipse, which also passes through the levels to reach its victim and kill her just as the lunar eclipse kills the full moon. The stake on which she hangs is also the long dark shadow of the earth.

The three days are the three days that the full moon stays at the top of the night sky (bottom of the underworld) before it begins its return to the horizon and the earth. The full moon is the food and the thin crescent of the moon is the cup. At each gate Inanna reappoints herself with her gear, just as the moon grows a little darker each day till it arrives again as a half moon at the horizon.

Inanna then proceeds into the daytime sky with her dark specters, whom she freed from hell, until she becomes the new moon and then eclipses Dumuzi, who has taken the role of the sun king. He is then kidnapped  to take her part as the moon. It was traditional to mourn the death of Dumuzi or Tammuz each spring in the Middle East.

Are these all the sky cycles possible in this myth? not necessarily. It can also illustrate the sun going into the underworld each night or the ages of the universe going through their cycles. There is no competition between these possible explanations but rather a harmony of all all the cycles or - a music of the spheres."

===

Katz, Dina. (2003). The Image of the Nether World in the Sumerian Sources. [Note: The book is a revision of her 1993 doctoral dissertation. Identifies traces of Inanna as the movements of Venus within the story. According to Katz The Descent of Inanna partly serves to explain the circuit of Venus, with which Inanna is associated. Page 95: "The phrase kur-e11-dè in Inanna's list of me indicates that hers was a periodic descent and therefore, must be related to her astral aspect as the planet Venus." Pages 96: "It is more likely that the myth explains the course of Venus as it is best seen from Earth. When Inanna identifies herself to the gatekeeper in line 81 saying that she goes to the east, it coincides with the appearance of Venus as the morning-star in the east, after a short invisibility following her setting in the west, and can be explained with that astronomical background. Until she rises in the east, Inanna must move eastward unseen ...." Page 96: "Shining as the evening-star in the sky, Venus appears to move horizontally (gen), westward ...." Page 274: "We can attribute to Inanna a descent to the netherworld in her astral image as the planet Venus. Venus disappears twice during a cycle of 19 months and thus, it can explain the first part of ID ...."]

Soltysiak, Arkadiusz. (2003). "Betrayed lovers of Ishtar: A possible trace of the 8-Year Venus cycle in Gilgames VI: i-iii." (In: Calendars, Symbols and Orientations: Legacies of Astronomy in Culture, Proceedings of the 9th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC), 2001, Uppsala Astronomical Observatory Report Number 59, Pages 101-106). [Note: The author discusses the possibility that the list of lovers of the goddess Ištar are related to the constellations of the heliacal settings of Venus in the 8-year cycle. See the (English-language) book review by I[?]. Pustylnik in Astronomical and Astrophysical Transactions, Volume 21, Numbers 1-3, 2002, Pages 155-158.]

George, Andrew. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1. [Note: See footnote page 501: "In mythology when Inanna arrives at the gates of the Netherworld she explains her presence there by stating that she is on her way to the place of the sunrise (Inanna's Descent 81). This does not mean she has travelled east to reach the Netherworld, but relates to her celestial journey. As Venus, she has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and needs to make her way on this occasion, if not on all other, through the Netherworld to the east in time for her first appearance as a morning star. The period in the cycle of Venus between the planet's last observed setting and its first observed rising was the time of the goddess's captivity in the land of the dead."]

Cooley, Jeffrey. (2008). "Early Mesopotamian Astral Science and Divination in the Myth of Inana And Šukaletuda." (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, Volume 8, Number 1, Pages 75-98). [Note: The author holds the myth is related to the synodic activity of the planet Venus. Unfortunately the author seems unaware of the early articles of Bendt Alster, and also (importantly) the 1982 article by Homer Hostetter, which deal with Inanna as the planet Venus. Abstract: "The Sumerian tale of Inana and Shukaletuda recounts how the goddess Inana is raped by a homely gardener upon whom she seeks and ultimately finds revenge. Though this general plot has long been understood, certain elements of the story have remained largely unexplored. Previous scholarship has often suggested that within Inana and Shukaletuda, the goddess Inana is often described in her astral manifestation (e.g. S. Kramer 1961, 117; K. Volk 1995, 177-179 and 182-183; B. Alster 1999, 687; J. Cooper 2001, 142-144). Nevertheless, to date there has been no systematic treatment of this assumption and this study seeks to fill this gap. It is my thesis that certain events of the story (i.e. Inana's movements) can be related to a series of observable celestial phenomena, specifically the synodic activity of the planet Venus. This also explains the heretofore enigmatic climax of the story, in which Inana crosses the entire sky in order to finally locate her attacker, as a celestial miracle required by the planet Venus' peculiar celestial limitations. Furthermore, since in ancient Iraq the observation of astronomical phenomena was often done for the purpose of celestial divination, I suggest that certain events within the story may be illuminated if situated within that undertaking."]

Cooley, Jeffrey. (2008). "Inana And Šukaletuda: A Sumerian Astral Myth." (KASKAL Rivista di storio, ambienti e culture del Vicino Oriente Antico, Volume 5, Pages 161-172). [Note: The author readily admits his thesis is fraught with speculations and assumptions, and the specifics are quite tenuous.]

Ponchia, Simonetta. (2009). "Some Reflections on Metaphor, Ambiguity and Literary Tradition." In: Luukko, Mikko. et al. (Editors). Of god(s), trees, and scholars: Neo-Assyrian and other related studies in honour of Simo Parpola. (Pages 399-408). [Note: Volume 106 of Studia Orientalia. Page 407: "Inana and Shukaletuda: The composition is about many things, including, as [Konrad] Volk also recognises, the movements of the planet Venus. Inana leaves her sanctuaries and returns to them because Venus disappears and reappears. [...]. The same path is mentioned in Inana and Ebih, and that text, too, is probably about the phases of Venus, as is surely Inana's Descent. ... See also the myth Inanna raubt den 'grossen HimmeI', where the goddess seems to be connected, and somehow held responsible, for the shortening of daylight ...."]

Jakubiak, Krzysztof. and Sołtysiak, Arkadiusz. (2009). "Mesopotamian influences on Persian sky-watching and calendars. Part II. Ishtar and Anahita." (Archaeologia Baltica, Volume 10, Number 1, Pages 45-51). [Note: Conference papers. The publication is based on the presentations of the international SEAC 2007 and OXFORD VIII conference "Astronomy and cosmology in folk traditions and cultural heritage." The SEAC (La Société Européenne pour l'Astronomie dans la Culture) and ISAAC (The International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture) conference was held on 22-31 July, 2007 and organized in Klaipėda by Klaipėda University in collaboration with the Molėtai District Museum. Abstract: "There are a small number of similarities between Ishtar and Anahit, the Persian and Babylonian Venus-goddesses. These similarities may result from cultural diffusion between Persia and Mesopotamia, which was mainly eastwards. We present a comparison of the attributes belonging to both Ishtar and Anahita. This is mainly based on the Mesopotamian sources, since the Persian ones are very meagre (sic). The relationships and influences between the two goddesses are visible in the symbolism of the planet Venus and the constellation Leo, and are associated with autumnal equinox festivals." Page 45: "Inanna/Ishtar was the most important female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. Her name is documented first in the archaic tablets found in Uruk/Warka, which date back to ca. 3200 BCE. At that time she was already connected with the planet Venus and therefore called dINANA-UD/húd (Inanna of the evening) and dINANA-sig (Inanna of the morning). The name dINANA-KUR (Inanna of the Netherworld) is also attested, though less frequently (Szarzyńska 1997, p.116, 177). The three names seem to reflect the three phases of Venus visibility."]

Selz, Gebhard. (2014). "The Tablet with ‚Heavenly Writing’, or how to become a star." In: Panaino, Antonio. (Editor). Non licet stare caelestibus. Studies on Astronomy and Its History offered to Salvo De Meis. (Pages 51-68). [Note: Gebhard Gelb points out that Inanna during her invisibility as the goddess Venus was called dinana-KUR "Venus (of) the underworld"; therein we may see an incentive for later attested mythological tales such as 'Inana-k's Descent to the Netherworld.'

However, the musicologist, Ernest McClain believes - and shows - the descent of Inanna to the underworld is subject to a simple musical interpretation (See his book: The Myth of Invariance (1978, Page 151)).

Part of Hostetter's response to the studies of the above mentioned scholars is dismissive. Part of personal e-mail from Hostetter dated Saturday, 7th April 2015: "... I have the impression that few, if any, critics have followed these daily celestial movements in the Third Millennium in Sumer. They also need to observe the movements of Mercury in the Western sky as she passes along the Western horizon, looking for help, then disappears and meets Venus and Jupiter in the Eastern sky. (There are no  cuneiform reports that I know of which report those solo Mercury movements in the West, perhaps because the Inanna cuneiform translators were looking only for tablets that  mentioned Venus, and ignoring Mercury tablets.) You have spent hours and hours listing all the comments of others with opinions not those of mine. ... I've saved you a year or two providing these instructions. It took me that long to establish the date of the beginning of Inanna's Descent to the Nether World. Let me know how it goes. Then you may want to back away from all those quotes from others who haven't done their homework. ..." It is also instructive regarding Hostetter's method of simply attempting to find a 'best fit' for his astronomical interpretation. It is also demonstrative of Hostetter's 'blinkered attitude' towards others who make similar interpretations - he is completely indifferent towards all of them; they have nothing to contribute even though he obviously does not bother to understand their arguments.

 

 

 

Hsotetter's 1979 article "A Planetary Visit to Hades." in Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume II, Number 4, Fall, 1979, Pages 7-10. (Copyright © 1979, John B. Carlson, Director, The Center for Archaeoastronomy. Reproduced as 'fair use' for the purposes of education, criticism and comment.) The beginnings of over elaboration are apparent. Hostetter's only other published article on Inanna's Descent was "Inanna Visits the Land of the Dead: An Astronomical Interpretation." in Griffith Observer, February, 1982, Pages 9-15). This particular article was one of 3 articles in the Griffith Observer that would later form the material for his book Star Trek to Hawa-i'i (1991). The other 2 articles were "The Bowl of Ishtar." (July, 1979); and "The Eclipse That Failed." (March, 1983). The suggestion that Inanna's Descent is probably about the phases of Venus has been made by others. (See the article by Bendt Alster in Proceedings of the XLV Recontre Assyriologue Internationale edited by Tzvi Abusch et. al. (2001, Page 143). (Another interesting article by Bendt Alster appeared in Scribes, Sages, and Seers edited by Leo Perdue (2008). Venus is visible only when it rises in the east before sunrise or sets in the west after sunset.

 

The Wikipedia article on Inanna

Wikipedia entry, Inanna (17-06-2013) "Another recent interpretation, by Clyde Hostetter, Star Trek to Hawa-i'i (San Luis Obispo, California: Diamond Press, 1991), p. 53) indicates that the myth is an allegorical report of related movements of the planets Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter; and those of the waxing crescent Moon in the Second Millennium, beginning with the Spring Equinox and concluding with a meteor shower near the end of one synodic period of Venus." That Hostetter's speculation is not recent, but actually dates back to at least 1979 (and is almost 35 years old), is either unknown or ignored. That the inexpert speculation of Hostetter (who is not an assyriologist or cuneiform philologist) is exclusively mentioned, whilst other the more informed discussions of numerous academics on the possible astral identity of Inanna are generalised or ignored, indicates the general uninformed nature of this entry.

Texts and dates for the descent stories of Inanna and Istar (1)

Sometime around 3500 BC the first cities appeared along the banks of the lower Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Inanna perhaps first appears in late 4th-millennium Uruk (Erech) in the precinct of the temple complex Eanna. Perhaps even at this early date as the patron goddess of that city.

The oldest of the approximately 4000 mostly fragmentary clay tablets recovered from the district of Eanna (likely the central district) in ancient Uruk are estimated to have originated circa 3200/3100 BCE. Level IV tablets (earliest circa 3200/3100 BCE) from the Eanna precinct (district) of Uruk contain pictographic signs among which occurs a symbol which is identified in later texts as INANNA or MUS ('radiant') and is perhaps a description of Inanna. However, it is not considered convincing that there are any representations of gods/goddesses dating to the 4th-millennium BCE.

Inanna's Descent to the Underworld is a long narrative poem that is generally described as a complex myth. The composition is preserved as copies dating to the late 3rd-millennium BCE. The ultimate origins of the composition remains hypothetical. The earliest texts on Inanna's Descent to the Underworld date from the Ur III period circa 2200 BCE (or later). There are no early 3rd-millennium exemplars. (A text is a written version of a narrative/oral presentation and there are variant texts (hence the term exemplars).) The fact that the text was copied in Sumerian means that the story was considered an important part of Sumerian literature, and needed to be preserved. However, the story was incompletely preserved; i.e., it is indicated that it was not fully completed.

The German epigraphist Adam Falkenstein, one of the pioneers of Sumerology, dates the creation of the composition in written form to the 21st-century BCE. It is generally thought the oral tradition is much older than the written texts. The original date of the composition (in oral form) is not known. Inanna's Descent is thought to be part of an oral tradition that most likely dates back to about 3000 BCE. Aspects of mythology connected with Inanna date back to the composition of stories later forming the Epic of Gilgamesh – the earliest of the Sumerian literary texts. (The earliest dating of the Gilgamesh exemplars is considered to be circa 2700 BCE.)

Most historians agree the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic was first written as a series of 5 independent poems, 4 of which were used as source material for during the Ur III period circa 2150/1800 BCE to create a combined and cohesive story. (This first combined epic is known as the "Old Babylonian" version.) Several of the earliest written forms of the poems are thought to date as early as 2700 BCE. (Only a few small fragments of these earlier poems remain.) Later, a longer 12-tablet version (Epic of Gilgamesh) was written between 1300-1100 BCE. (The later "Standard Babylonian" version.) Only about two-thirds of the later Akkadian version survives. Some of the best copies of the "Standard Babylonian" version were discovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BCE Assyrian king Ashurbanipal. Apart from the middle Babylonian editor we have no idea who composed the original Sumerian poems or the Old Babylonian epic. It was evidently written in poetic form and designed to be sung as court entertainment.

The general chronological horizon for standard Sumerian literary compositions of the Old Babylonian period assumes a 350 year period from circa 2000 BCE to circa 1650 BCE. Some older suggestions (prior to modern dates being established) have proposed that the Ur exemplars have originated during the reign of Rīm-Sin I, the last independent ruler of Larsa. Rim-Sin I, the last king of the Larsa Dynasty. Rīm-Sin I ruled the ancient Near East city-state of Larsa from 1758 BCE to 1699 BCE (short chronology) or 1822 BCE to 1763 BCE (middle chronology).

The text of Inanna's Descent has variants. The Descent of Inanna does not exist in a single complete copy. The Oxford translation draws on multiple sources to produce a mostly coherent narrative. There is no complete, definitive, and provienced master text of Inanna’s Descent. At ETCSL Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld is identified as a composite text. Inanna's Descent is a reconstructed single text from multiple incomplete copies that likely comprise variants. It is considered questionable to assume that all extent tablets (fragments) derive from one pristine original text. The Sumerian text of Inanna's Descent is basically reconstructed from 13 tablets that were excavated from one site at Nippur. In all, approximately 32 cuneiform tablets and fragments containing parts of the text/story relating to The Descent of Inanna have been recovered. The provenance of the fragments are Nippur and Ur.

What we have in the Oxford translation (relied on by Hostetter) is the Nippur version. The Ur versions of Inanna's Descent has not been closely studied until recently. There are a greater number of fragments recovered from Ur than from Nippur.

Variations may exist in plots. It has long been proposed that Inanna's Descent may likely have existed in several versions. It is not possible to judge the line size of Inanna's Descent. There is no demonstrative reason to assume there is narrative and episode uniformity/consistency among the extant fragmentary exemplars from Nippur and Ur. It has been proposed that the Ur version has several different story elements that were modified during the course of transmission (i.e., copying). The section (episode) describing the galla demons accompanying Inanna varies among the Nippur exemplars.

See: Ferrara, A[?]. J[?]. (2006). "The Size and Versions of Inanna's Descent." In: Guinan, M[?] et al. (Editors). If a Man Builds a Joyful House. (Pages 127-138). The author discusses variation in Sumerian myths as perhaps a reflection of literary creativity.

Hostetter claims a definitive analysis without a definitive text (and without consideration of the Ur version). The interpretation of the contents of Inanna's Descent has some uncertainty.

Texts and dates for the descent stories of Inanna and Istar (2)

The first reconstruction of the myth (Sumerian 'opening phrase/title': AN.GAL.TA KI.GAL.SE) was published by the Sumerian cuneiform philologist Samuel Kramer in 1937. The discovery of 5 more texts enabled an improved publication by him in 1942. (Samuel Kramer was Professor of Assyriology at the University of Pennsylvania and Curator of the tablet collection of the University Museum.)

"The poem is extant in two versions. The earlier, longer Sumerian version featuring Inanna has been assembled from a collection of fragments. Most of these fragments of text were found at Nippur and date from the eighteenth century BCE. In order to complete the gaps in the story cuneiform tablets fragments from Ur were used. The later, shorter Akkadian version featuring Ishtar has been recovered from the library of  the palace in Niniveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, and dates from the eighth or seventh century BCE. (Greek Myths and Mesopotamia by Charles Penglase (1994, Page 21)"

The Descent of Inanna was slowly pieced together over a period of 50+ years. Approximately 32 cuneiform tablets and fragments containing parts of the text/story relating to The Descent of Inanna have been recovered. They were first discovered and began to be excavated in the late 19th-century, then further discovered, deciphered, translated, and published several times in the 20th-century. (See: "The Discovery and Decipherment of 'The Descent of Inanna'" by Kramer in Inanna by Wolkstein / Kramer, Pages 127-135.) According to Samuel Kramer, "Inanna's Descent" was available in 14 tablets and fragments for his reconstruction and decipherment of the poem over a 6-year period (beginning in the late 1930s). Texts for the Sumerian story of The Descent of Inanna to the Netherworld are dated circa 1900–1600 BCE. (Very few literary texts from the 3rd-millennium BCE are known to exist.) The primary text is the Sumerian The Descent of Inanna, or the Akkadian parallel, Ishtar's Descent to the Underworld. A late (Akkadian) version (dated circa 1100 BCE) named The Descent of Ishtar also exists. The dependence of the latter Akkadian myth on the earlier Sumerian myth is undeniable. It is also an example of textual compression. A summary of The Descent of Inanna myth is given in the Encyclopedia of Religion (1987) edited by Mircea Eliade (See: "Dying and Rising Gods," Volume 4, Pages 525-6): "Inanna, the queen of heaven, sought to extend her power over the underworld, ruled by her sister, Ereshkigal. As in the Akkadian text, Inanna descends through seven gates, at each removing an article of clothing or royal regalia until, after passing through the seventh gate, she is naked and powerless. She is killed and her corpse hung on a hook. Through a strategem (sic) planned before her descent, she is revived, but she may not return above unless she can find a substitute to take her place. She re-ascends, accompanied by a force of demons who will return her to the land of the dead if she fails. After allowing two possible candidates to escape, she comes to Erech, where Dumuzi, the shepherd king who is her consort, appears to be rejoicing over her fate. She sets the demons on him, and after he escapes several times, he is captured, killed, and carried off to the underworld to replace Inanna." There are variant versions of The Descent of Inanna. The so-called Ur version is considered to be a variant version. It has a completely different and independent concluding section and perhaps demonstrate there was a desire for narrative variety.

As it is a story about an effort to restore agricultural life to the earth (situated above the netherworld) it is usually thought to be a fertility legend. (The wedding/sacred marriage myth is placed in the same category.) Inanna is the earliest goddess for whom there are written records.

Inanna material basically dates to the 2nd-millennium BCE. Hostetter continues to erroneously infer we have astronomical records from the 3rd-millennium BCE. We have no knowledge of accurate Mesopotamian astronomical observations of the appearance of the sky during any part of the 3rd-millennium BCE.

Like most of us Hostetter does not read cuneiform and chooses to be reliant on the use of the English-language translations at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature Project (ETCSL) (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford). Hostetter acknowledges that the 'Oxford Corpus' has used substantial literary license to translate basic crude Sumerian statements into rather elegant English. No use is made of later material i.e., The Neo-Assyrian Myth of Ištar's Descent and Resurrection by Pirjo Lapinkivi. (2010) (State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts, Volume VI.) (From the publisher's blurb: "An edition of the myth commonly known as "Ištar's Descent" was first published in 1901. Since then, no complete critical edition of the text has been published. Unlike other SAACT volumes, SAACT 6 amounts to a full critical edition of the myth. In addition to the cuneiform text with transliteration and translation, there is a full critical apparatus and a scored transliteration of all known sources, and all textual variants from the known sources are included in the glossary. The title, "Ištar's Descent and Resurrection", is a reminder that Ištar's descent to the netherworld was not a one-way trip, but that she also re-ascended to heaven. Beyond the critical edition, there is also extensive commentary that ties in the Sumerian version of the myth, "Inanna's Descent", as well as later parallels from Gnostic texts such as The Exegesis of the Soul and The Hymn of the Pearl. There are also grammatical notes for students and the publication is rounded off with the usual sign list that accompanies SAACT volumes.")

Dina Katz writes (The Image of the Nether World in the Sumerian Sources (2003, Page 258): "[T]he theme of the Akkadian myth is not the journey but its universal consequences. A study of the passages appropriated from ID by IsD with those changed, omitted, or added confirms this conclusion."

A question Hostetter has yet to answer is: What astronomical events 'Venus-wise' match what mythic statements? What specific clear examples of 3rd-millennium BCE textual evidence of a Venus phenomenon, accompanied by a transliteration of the original text, existing translations, Hostetter's version, and Hostetter's argument for a relationship of the text to an astronomical event, with clear reasoning both from the text and the astronomy. To date Hostetter's response to this repeated request is simply to name the translators and their cuneiform sources. Instead, Hostetter's almost singular form of argument is to assert (example: writing March 31, 2010): "Modern technology can replicate cyclical astronomical events as Sumerian observers would have seen them on any given day or minute in ancient history. Such events during the years 2502-01 B.C. have been discussed in this paper as they might coincide with the generally accepted text of the Sumerian myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World.", The scholars who interpreted and assembled the cuneiform tablets and fragments which tell the story had few extraneous resources. There was no picture on the jigsaw puzzle box available during the past 100 years that the text was translated, discussed and modified. Today there is such a picture. It easily viewed by anyone with a computer and inexpensive celestial software which shows the exact night-by-night positions of the celestial gods and goddesses of Sumer over the past 5000 years. The choice then becomes which celestial time period to view on the computer screen. My choice began with a significant event, the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C., bracketed by another dramatic later event in August 2501 B.C., the annual Perseid meteor shower. It is unlikely because of the varying synodic periods of all of the myth's astronomical participants that the events of 2502-01 B.C. could ever be exactly duplicated in the night sky. A example of this uniqueness is the swallowing up of Venus by the crescent Moon as Inanna passed through the Seventh Gate, a key event that preceded her death. Literal word-by-word translations of the myth available in the Oxford Corpus demonstrate the limited cuneiform vocabulary and grammar available either in 2502-2501 B.C. or when copies were made much later. As in most of today's religions, oral memories of past events may have been passed along orally for generations, evolving into written "gospel truth" based on natural events. The Inanna Descent myth may represent such an evolution."

Exactly why the vernal equinox of 2502 BCE is known to be a significant event to the Sumerians is not explained by Hostetter.

Translations of Inanna's Descent

The problem with Hostetter's use of The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature is that it avoids discussion of whether these still comprise the authoritative translations and whether the texts are susceptible to more than one interpretation. (Funding for the ETCSL project ended in the summer of 2006 and no further work has been done to the site or its contents.) Increasing knowledge of Sumerian highlights the problem of possibly antiquated constitutio textus. Exemplars highlight the problem of multiple traditions.

Our knowledge of Sumerian grammar is still quite unsatisfactory. The lexical and grammatical difficulties make every translation hazardous or at least provisional. For many Sumerian words and expressions the meaning is still uncertain or only vaguely known.

Texts for the Sumerian story of The Descent of Inanna to the Netherworld are dated circa 1900–1600 BCE. The Old Babylonian Sumerian literary corpus was a dynamic, changing corpus. Inherited Sumerian texts were reworked. Also, in the 1st-millenniun BCE the Sumerian Inanna myth has been reworked with Ishtar. New literary tablets/fragments tend to produce new variants and new versions of known literary compositions. "The main contribution of the Oxford web site is to provide an entire overview over the known Sumerian literature at a single place, accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike. The absence of discussion to justify choices of translation and interpretation may give the impression that the translations are reasonably certain and uncontroversial. The opposite is true. Sumerian is relatively badly known, both lexically and grammatically, so that any translation is bound to be controversial." ("Mesopotamian Canons." by Niek Veldhuis. In: Homer, the Bible, and Beyond: Literary and Religious Canons in the Ancient World edited by Margalit Finkelberg and Guy Stroumsa (2003). (Pages 7-28; Footnote 10, Pages 12-13).)

For his translation of the Nippur material Kramer employed museum photographs and did not work from the actual cuneiform texts. Also, Kramer did not provide transliterations or autographs of the actual cuneiform texts.

Wolkstein and Kramer's book is essentially a translation of the inscriptions of the Inanna myth found on ancient Sumerian tablets that were unearthed from amongst the ruins of Nippur, one of the most ancient cities of Babylonia and the cultural and spiritual centre for Sumer, which nowadays corresponds to the region of Southern Iraq. The tablets are estimated to date from around 1750 B.C. and were excavated by the University of Pennsylvania between 1889 and 1900. The Sumerologist Samuel Kramer was a key figure in piecing together and translating the texts found on the fragmentary tablets, whilst Diane Wolkstein, a Jungian folklorist and storyteller, undertook the study of the language, culture and history of ancient Sumer to present her interpretation of Inanna's myth based on the translated texts.

A modern translation of Inanna's Descent was being undertaken (but apparently left uncompleted) by A. J. Ferrara, Independent Scholar, Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Is not at University of New Mexico.) In 1970 A. J. Ferrara completed his PhD dissertation on the Sumerian myth "Nanna-Suen's Journey to Nippur" (Published 1973), making use of all unpublished texts in the tablet collection of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, at The John Hopkins University (Baltimore). (Der Mythos "Inanna und Enki" unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der List der m e. by Gertrud Farber-Flügge (1973). A critical discussion of the problems. (See the (English-language) book review by A. J. Ferrara in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Volume 37, Number 4, October, Pages 350-354.)) Ferarra worked as a lawyer before retiring to resume Sumerian studies.

The Underworld

"Ereškigal was the queen of the Underworld, defined as the domain of the dead, demons and evil spirits. Access to her realm was restricted to such denizens, and as the myth of Inanna’s Descent demonstrates ..., the celestial gods were also in danger of losing their life should they venture there. However there are some intermediaries who are allowed to cross these boundaries and in this case it is Namtar, Ereškigal's minister, who goes 'up' to the gods to receive his mistress's share of a banquet organized by the gods of heaven. (Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature by Gwendolyn Leick ( 1994, Page 249).)

The intent of the story of The Descent of Inanna

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 13/Jul/2012): "I have detailed info on a Sumerian cuneiform document that contains a report of daily celestial events over a period of more than 500 days (in my opinion)." Also, Hostetter (Hastro-L, 16/Apr/2012): "I submit the concept that at least one of the "myths" in the Oxford "Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature" (ETCSL) -- Inanna's Descent to the Nether World - is a detailed report of celestial movements over a period of more than 500 days. I welcome comments by those who have reviewed the text...or [rather oddly, because it excludes evidence-based 'dismissal'] believe that the concept should be dismissed because it previously hasn't been accepted."

Inanna descends to the underworld on a whim. This is seemingly at odds with a report on celestial movements. The issue is never discussed by Hostetter. Why the story has to be a celestial report of planetary movements per Hostetter's interpretations is also never discussed or explained.

The interpretation of The Descent of Inanna poem remains somewhat speculative. It also needs to be kept in mind that there are different versions of the same myths. Why this is is subject to speculation. It is quite clear there are multiple mythological themes incorporated into Inanna's Descent. The story is usually seen as demonstrating the idea of a 'journey for power' ('journey to acquire power'). Inanna has an ambition to extend her power (sovereignty) over heaven and earth to the 3rd realm, the underworld. The underworld is ruled by Inanna's elder sister, Ereshkigal. Inanna tried to remove her sister Ereshkigal (queen of the underworld) from the throne of the underworld and place herself on it. This is not given an astronomical interpretation by Hostetter.

According to the Jungian mythologist Diane Wolkstein in her feminist interpretation of Inanna-related stories: "The story [The Descent of Inanna] itself can be understood as a five–part cycle: In "The Huluppu–Tree," Inanna appears to us as a young woman in search of her womanhood. In “Inanna and the God of Wisdom,” she achieves her queenship. In "The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi," she delights in the shepherd Dumuzi and chooses him to be her lover, her husband, and the King of Sumer. In the most dramatic section, "The Descent of Inanna," the queen dares to descend to the underworld. She is allowed to return from the Great Below only on the condition that she choose a substitute. Finally, in the last section of the cycle, the "Seven Hymns to Inanna," Inanna is greeted and revered by her people."

Gwendolyn Leick (A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology (1991, Page 91)) writes that the Sumerian version incorporates 2 story lines): "[F]irst the account on Inanna's futile attempt to extend he dominion even into the domain of the underworld, and second, the story of her husband Dumuzi who is fated to die or at best spend half his life below the earth."

It is possible The Descent of Inanna embodies a cosmological function. The descent of Inanna into the underworld perhaps mimics the passage of Venus (as the evening star) under the horizon and Venus (as the morning star) arising again after a journey through darkness in the underworld. However, a contributor to, Religions of the Ancient World: A Guide (General Editor, Sarah Johnston, Volume 1: Mediterranean Region-Religion, 2004, Page 581) writes: "Neither is it primarily an astral allegory relating to the goddess Inanna as Venus. It is true that Inanna says, "I am Inanna on my way to the place where the sun rises," that is, she is Venus on her way to her celestial appearance. Yet, this is merely a detail in the larger context." The larger context is evident in the details contained in the story. As example: Apart from her items of dress for the descent Inanna carried 'the yardstick [measuring rod] of one nindan (length)' (approximately 1 yard, approximately 0.9 metres) and 'the pure (measuring) cord of the iku.' (approximately 1 acre, approximately 0.4 hectares). The "rod and reel/line" are frequently described as measuring or survey instruments that are likely symbols of kingship because they are given by a god to a king to use in constructing a temple. Both the rod and the reel are building instruments. Building is a peacetime activity and both instruments symbolise peace, one aspect of Inanna's powers (through absence of war). See: Figurative Language in the Ancient Near East by M. Mindlin, M. Geller, and J. Wansbrough (1987, Pages 4). Her rod and reel, like her necklace, are made of lapis lazuli, a sky-blue stone. These are the badges and instruments of power of ancient kings and queens back to the earliest period of civilization in Sumer (like the mace and globe of modern-day royalty). The moon-god Nanna-Sin, is depicted holding these instruments of power, used not only to lay out the dimensions of his temple(s) and cities, but also to measure the hearts of men, to lay down the law and execute justice. Inanna wields them also. Which is why the gate-keeper of the under world saves them for last. This is also why Ereshkigal feels threatened by the gate-keeper's catalogue of Inanna's powers and regalia and powers over life and death, and insists the Inanna be divested of every one of them.

On one stele the moon-god Nanna, the father of Inanna, is depicted presenting the rod and line to the Sumerian king Ur-Nammu (3rd dynasty of Ur, circa 2050-1950 BCE).

For a nature, Winter-Spring, interpretation see Thorkild Jacobsen, The Treasures of Darkness (1976, Pages 62-63). The earliest references to Inanna pair her with the consort Dumuzi, a pastoral god. Inanna is essentially a fertility goddess. According to Thorkild Jacobsen Inanna's Descent depicts the declining supplies of meat in the store houses, and the need for their replenishment each spring by the sacrifice of flocks to the shepherd god Dumuzi.

Inanna was connected with fertility - the goddess has a role as part of a seasonal myth. "View Ereshkigal as a mirror image of Inanna herself. Whereas Inanna represents fertility, Ereshkigal promotes the opposite force. Both are aspects of Nature and natural cycles. Inanna, however, is the friendlier (and more flirtatious) side of Nature, while Ereshkigal offers the dark side. In other words, these two women are really different halves of the same concept -- one that operates by day, and the other that tends to the night. They are more than sisters -- they are both components of Nature's dualities." (Reading Guide: The Descent of Inanna (12th edition) by Stephen Hagin (Kennesaw State University). (However, the traditional scholarly concept of seasonal fertility in the Near East has been doubted by such scholars as Cyrus Gordon.) Ereshkigal, with a deadly look, changes Inanna to a rotting piece of meat. The god Enki revives Inanna by sending down the water and food of life. Inanna is only able to secure her freedom by delivering her consort Dumuzi (a vegetation (grain) god, and also a shepherd god) to the underworld. Inanna hands Dumuzi over to the galla demons as a substitute for herself. Dumuzi is able to spend 6 months of each year in the land of the living but must spend the other 6 months as a hostage of Ereshkigal in the underworld. Inanna's Descent is underpinned by the cycles of agricultural death and rebirth. Inanna's Descent is not about transcending death but rather incorporating it within the life-cycle of the natural world.

Inanna’s Descent perhaps incorporates reworking episodes of the Dumuzi literature. Claus Wilcke considers that Inanna's Descent is constructed from 3 originally independent myths that have been linked together to make Inanna's quest for power the reason for Dumuzi's death. (See: Claus Wilcke, "Politische Opposition nach Sumerischen Quellen: Der Konflickt Zwischen Königtum und Ratsversamlung. Literaturwerke als Politische Tendenzschriften." In: La Voix de L'Opposition En Mesopotamie (Colloque organisé par l'Institut des Hautes Etudes de Belgique 19 et 20 mars 1973) (See pages 59ff).

Hostetter's mistake regarding Inanna's direction of travel

When Inanna identifies herself to Neti (the gatekeeper of the underworld) in line 81 of Inanna's Descent, saying that she goes to the east (she is on her way to the place of sunrise), it means in astral terms that Venus has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and will make her way through the netherworld to the east for her first appearance as a morning star. (When challenged by the gatekeeper Inanna responds that she is on her way to the east.) Until she rises in the east, Inanna moves eastward unseen. In his 1982 article Heimpel writes: "As I shall demonstrate, the tale has Inanna moving from the western evening sky to the eastern morning sky, and not vice versa, as Kramer's translation seems to have been understood by Hostetter." In his 1979 article, Hostetter writes: "… Venus as Morning Star [in eastern sky], its disappearance, and its reappearance [in western sky] as Evening Star." Inanna has not travelled east to reach the netherworld and then to reappear in the west. In astral terms it relates to Venus's celestial journey from the western horizon to the eastern horizon.

It is not indicated that Hostetter does any better with his 2010 paper. He writes: "Then, miraculously, Inanna arose. On March 3, 2502 B.C., she reappeared in the Western sky ... [after 60 days absence from the sky]." Note: Either Hostetter is confused on his dates or he is changing his dates. In another of his parasitic postings to Hastro-L (18-11-2015): "Here are two dates to think about and decide whether they are significant in archaeoastronomy: April 12, 2502 BC and March 3, 2501 BC. If you can check those dates on suitable software you will be observing what may be the earliest significant recorded History of Astronomy, written on cuneiform about happened (sic) between these two dates. If this interests anyone I'll be glad to explain."

In his 2001 RAI article, the assyriologist Bendt Alster recognised the text has Inanna/Venus moving as the evening star in the western sky to becoming the morning star in the eastern sky. He adds: "But it could easily mean that she was already the morning star, Inanna, who is in the direction of sunrise, or that she is Inanna going to the place from which the sun rises, that is, Venus as morning star about to disappear before superior conjunction." (See: Proceedings of the XLV Recontre Assyriologue Internationale edited by Tzvi Abusch et. al. (2001, Page 144).)

To reinforce the point: George, Andrew. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1. (Footnote page 501: "In mythology when Inanna arrives at the gates of the Netherworld she explains her presence there by stating that she is on her way to the place of the sunrise (Inanna's Descent 81). This does not mean she has travelled east to reach the Netherworld, but relates to her celestial journey. As Venus, she has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and needs to make her way on this occasion, if not on all other, through the Netherworld to the east in time for her first appearance as a morning star."

"One may observe the western entrance to the underworld in Inanna's Descent. Inanna, also known as Istar and Venus, surprises the gatekeeper of the 'land of no return.' Inanna claimed to be traveling to the 'place of sunrise' (in the east) where she would rise as the morning star, Venus, but instead has come to the 'land of no return' (in the west), to a path from which no traveler returns. The sites and their geography in the myth derive from observation of a natural phenomenon." (A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17-19 by Kelley Bautch (2003, Pages 135-136).

The greater detail appears in Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (1998, Pages 354-355). "When she arrives at the gates, she is challenged by Bidu, the gatekeeper of the underworld, to explain her presence. She answers that she is travelling eastward to the 'Place of Sunrise', presumably to rise as the morning star Venus, since she identifies herself as the 'Lady of the Heaven' .... Inanna's need to excuse her presence at the gate suggests that Inanna has not followed her normal course eastward to the 'Place of Sunrise' and that she is lying to Bidu when she tells him she has traveled eastward to the gate. Thus it cannot be certain that Inanna has traveled eastward to the underworld."

Inanna, like other gods/goddesses are associated with the potency of the place of the rising sun. At the gates of the underworld she states: me.e dga.ša.an.na  ki.dutu.è.a.aš (I am the Lady of Heaven (going) towards the 'Place of Sunrise'). ETCSL has, simply: "I am Inanna going to the east." The term ki.dutu.è.a.aš refers to the east as a direction or locality and incorporates an element of time, 'sunrise' - the moment when the sun god rises above the horizon into view. The term ki.duta.é.a is found also in descriptions of certain temples, incorporating the potency of the place of the rising sun in their imagery. (See: Geller, M. (2000). "The landscape of the 'netherworld'." in: Milano, L. et al. (Editors). Landscapes: Territories, frontiers and horizons in the Ancient Near East. Part III: Landscape in ideology, religion, literature and art. (Pages 41-49).)

It is not indicated that Hostetter knows he is contradicting the sense of Inanna's Descent regarding direction of travel. If he does know  he is ignoring it without any attempt at explanation. The issue is not discussed at all by Hostetter.

The issue of Inanna's time in the underworld

It is apparent that Hostetter realises there are difficulties with his conjectural astronomical interpretation of Inanna's Descent. The 584-day Synodic period of Venus (an inferior planet) contains 2 periods of visibility (in the east and in the west) and 2 periods of invisibility (at superior conjunction and at inferior conjunction). At superior conjunction, between heliacal set in the east and heliacal rise in the west, Venus has a 60-day period of invisibility. (Venus when behind the sun is invisible for 50/60 days. Venus when in front of the sun is invisible for 6/8 days.) Hostetter wants to promote the idea of Inanna's descent events/ascent events as having visibility in the sky (i.e., being played out in the sky) and her death in the underworld as the 60-day invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction. There are numerous problems. As example: (1) Inanna is alive for part of her time spent in the underworld; including descent to the underworld (i.e., passage through gates and further journey), interaction with her sister in the underworld, death in the underworld (which is not instantaneous for her upon entering the underworld) and revival from death in the underworld, further interaction involving her sister in the underworld, ascent from the underworld (journey to gates and passage through gates).

The time frame for events in The Descent of Inanna

The time duration of the story is not specifically given. Hostetter would set it over 584 days. Hostetter writes (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)): "The writer has selected for comparison with the Corpus text of Inanna's Descent a 584-day synodic period of the planet Venus that begins ten days before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C. (Julian Date 808024) when Venus was close to maximum brilliance, and ended 584 days later (JD 808608) on November 6, 2501 B.C., following the annual Perseid meteor shower in August, 2501 B.C." So basically Hostetter times the astronomical start of the poem with the Vernal Equinox of 2502 BCE (1st day of Spring) (March), and the astronomical date of Inanna's ascent from the underworld as August 2501 BCE (timed to the Perseid Meteor Shower). The Mesopotamian (new) year began with the month Nisannu (= March/April, determined by the Vernal (Spring) Equinox). This date is a modification to his original proposed dates in his early articles.

Note: Hostetter also favours a shorter period of some 480 days. Personal e-mail from Hostetter (7th April 2015): "... It became clear that you haven't followed the day-to-day movements of Venus using CyberSky, with a beginning date a month or two before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C. in the Western sky until somewhat more than 480 days later with the reappearance of Venus in the Western sky. These nightly movements would have been carefully watched by Sumer observers who then recorded by them in early cuneiform. If you check every day of that period on CyberSky  you will discover that there is a close meeting of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter in the East a short time before the Seventh Gate. Then Mercury reverses direction and proceeds to the Western horizon as Venus passes through the Seventh Gate and disappears at the time of a New Moon. When Venus and the Moon disappear,  Mercury moves back to the Western sky. She then meets the resurrected Venus  60 days later at the time of another New Moon. A meteor shower of  two sizes of meteorites attacks Venus in the Western sky, but she escapes and reappears in the Western sky from which she disappeared 480 days earlier. ..."

The narrative structure of The Descent of Inanna implies the 7 gates were passed through in quick succession - in less than a day - for both descent (entry) and ascent (departure).

Hostetter writes, somewhat ambiguously (Hastro-L, 5-3-2013): "A Sumerian myth about the death of the sky goddess Inanna/Venus has been interpreted that she was revived in one day after being killed in the Nether World. Venus vanishes from the eastern sky for 60 days (based on an arcus visionus (sic) of about 6 degrees) and then reappears in the western sky. I think a cuneiform mark was supposed to mean "60" but instead was translated as "1". It's part of my conception that the "myth", Inanna's Descent to the Nether World, is really a very accurate report of planetary movements."

Hostetter is at times somewhat obscure regarding how he interprets the number 60. He introduces the claim that some translators give the number as 1, not 60, and, that it is possible to translate the particular sign as 1, not 60. The issue not, as Hostetter claims, "The difference between "1" and "60" is significant." The issue is Hostetter is (apparently) claiming that in The Descent of Inanna it can be determined, when 'correctly' read, that Inanna was dead for 60 days in the underworld. However, we remain unsure regarding exactly what his evidence for this is within The Descent of Inanna. He does not give the relevant transliteration and reference for it, and also the translation and reference for it. It appears that Hostetter intends to have Inanna dead for 60 days, in order to meet the (approximate) 60 day disappearance of Venus from the sky. This is in contrast with Andrew George (See: George, Andrew. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1). Andrew writes (footnote page 501): " ... The period in the cycle of Venus between the planet's last observed setting and its first observed rising was the time of the goddess's captivity in the land of the dead." This is yet another clear demonstration that Hostetter is incapable of sustaining the claims he makes. It also shows his method involves filtering and shaping evidence. If Hostetter - as he claims – does use ETCSL (and I doubt that he does so strictly) then he would know The Descent of Inanna clearly infers Inanna's death for 3 days and nights. The duration of sprinkling the food and water of life 60 times is unknown. Hostetter does not link to the ETCSL rendering of The Descent of Inanna to provide grounds for his claim that Inanna was dead for 60 days in the underworld.

For the purpose of trying to establish accuracy with Hostetter's ideas the myth clearly sets out that the time Inanna spent in the Underworld she was subject to the sequence: (1)alive-(2)dead-(3)alive. (1)alive: Her initial journey/time (no time given in the ETCSL) in the Underworld from entry to travelling to the presence of her sister and her death imposed by the 7 judges (Annuna). (2)dead: Until after a delay of (at least) 3 days and nights (ETCSL does not convey the sense of this time being from Inanna's death) when 2 androgynous demi-gods created by the god Enki journey to the Underworld to Inanna's lifeless body and sprinkled the food and water of life 60 times on her lifeless body to revive her. A number of commentators have concluded that The Descent of Inanna infers Inanna's death for 3 days and nights. (The sense given in ETCSL is that Inanna revived immediately her body received the food and water of life. There is no sense that it was sprinkled for 60 days. As a comedian once replied to his audience: "That would be ridiculous." It would simply not be the food and water of life. Hostetter's statement: "... revived in one day after being killed ..." creates a sense that is not in the story. Nothing in the ETCSL suggests the food and water of life was sprinkled 60 times over 1 day.) (3)alive: Her journey/time ascending to the world of the living. Her journey/time ascending unhindered to the world of the living began immediately when she was revived. Hostetter appears to have Inanna dead for 60 days, in order to meet the 60 day disappearance of Venus from the sky. This is in contrast with Andrew George. See: George, Andrew. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1. Andrew George writes (footnote page 501): "In mythology when Inanna arrives at the gates of the Netherworld she explains her presence there by stating that she is on her way to the place of the sunrise (Inanna's Descent 81). This does not mean she has travelled east to reach the Netherworld, but relates to her celestial journey. As Venus, she has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and needs to make her way on this occasion, if not on all other, through the Netherworld to the east in time for her first appearance as a morning star. The period in the cycle of Venus between the planet's last observed setting and its first observed rising was the time of the goddess's captivity in the land of the dead."

Themes ignored by Hostetter from consideration of a possible astral context are (1) the presumed death of Inanna for 3 days and nights, and (2) Inanna being 'reborn' in the Underworld. Why they are not given attention in an astral myth as claimed by Hostetter deserves explanation.

Generally speaking, in Inanna's Descent, Inanna's disappearance from the sky for 3 days is taken to mean Venus' inferior conjunction with the Sun.

The number 60

Note: To an observer on earth the planet Venus exhibits erratic movements (it disappears behind the sun from 3 to 90 days at a time and then reappears on the other horizon). In February in Sumer the disappearance and reappearance of Venus could take only 3 days.

The use of the number 60 may be nothing more than simply a convenient large number. The use of the number 60 - a standard large number within the sexagesimal system - may simply have meant "a large number of times." (The sexagesimal system has its origins in the proto-cuneiform system used to count discrete items in alternate multiples of 10 and 6. For the Sumerians, the number 60 meant completeness/wholeness.) The question is whether its use in The Descent of Inanna is intended to be a precise measurement of time i.e., days of invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction. The story of Inanna's descent does not mention 60 days. The story quite clearly mentions 60 sprinklings of the water of life and 60 sprinklings of the food of life. Hostetter repeatedly states that Inanna's Descent is "a very accurate report of planetary movements." The use of 60 cannot convey an exact measure of the period of invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction. The number of days of invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction is on average 60 days. There is no exact 60 day period of invisibility - it is latitude dependent. At Ptolemy's latitude the period of invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction is quite long, ranging from 55 to 69 days. At other latitudes it can be up to 60 days. If I remember correctly the average period of invisibility at superior conjunction is 69½ days at Babylon (closer to 70 days than 60 days). Nothing here supports Hostetter's claim that Inanna's Descent is "a very accurate report of planetary movements." Also, Inanna's Descent really mentions 60 sprinklings of the water of life and 60 sprinklings of the food of life. In the ETCSL the resurrection applications to resurrect Inanna's corpse are described: "One of them sprinkled on it the life-giving plant and the other the life-giving water." Simply, one creature sprinkles the water of life 60 times; one creature sprinkles the food of life 60 times. (See lines 273-281 of the myth in ETCSL.) Using Hostetter's speculative method we have the figure of 120. Also, the number 60 is the number of days and nights in a schematic month.

The way he chooses to pursue his claims is rather interesting. Any trivial reason becomes an 'excuse' to post his ideas. Hostetter raised the claim on an irrelevant thread on Hastro-L that "The difference between "1" and "60" is significant." in translating Inanna's Descent. The issue not "The difference between "1" and "60" is significant." The issue is Hostetter is (apparently) claiming that in The Descent of Inanna it can be determined, when 'correctly' read, that Inanna was dead for 60 days in the underworld. My posting (Hastro-L, 12-3-2016) to Hostetter: "Regarding your [Hastro-L] post of 12-03-2013. As I thought, the issue you raise is over whether the food and water of life was sprinkled "1" or "60." In my posting I used "60" which is the usual modern interpretation. You are oblivious to this and unnecessarily pursue your redundant "1" should be "60" theme. Once again, the sense given in ETCSL, and more modern sources (translating "sprinkled 60 times"), is that Inanna revived when her body received the food and water of life. There is no sense that it was sprinkled for 60 days (and then revival occurred). Your statement that attempts to rectify what you believe is a mistake: "... revived in one day after being killed ..." creates a sense that is not in the story. Where in ETCSL (or elsewhere) is sprinkling the food and water of life (whether "1" or "60") connected to days. So we can know you have 'nailed' the argument please give the relevant transliteration and reference for it, and also the translation and reference for it. The Descent of Inanna infers Inanna's death for 3 days and nights." As usual, Hostetter never acknowledges any need on his part to meet the reasonable requests of critics i.e., "So we can know exactly what your evidence for this is within The Descent of Inanna please give the relevant transliteration and reference for it, and also the translation and reference for it."

Even Samuel Kramer (who, according to Hostetter, knew the difference between 1 and 60, supported 60 sprinklings of the water of life and 60 sprinklings of the food of life. Kramer never supported 60 days for this. Hostetter seems to believe otherwise. (See: ""Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" Continued." by Samuel Kramer (Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Volume 94, Number 4, August 25, 1959, Pages 361-363).)

Inanna's time in the underworld: 3 days or 60 days?

The American astronomer Anthony Aveni has proposed, Conversing with the Planets (2000, revised edition), has proposed the following astronomical explanation of Inanna's Descent: In all there are 7 moving objects moving independently against the background of 'fixed' stars. The sun, the moon, and the 5 visible planets – each on its own spherical shell among the stars. These are the origin of the 7 gates that need to be passed through to reach the underworld. As Venus descends lower in the sky each night, it appears dimmer/paler. Two aspects of Inanna's Descent can be tied together by astronomy and meteorology. In lower northern latitudes during February, Venus can disappear from the sky for an average of 3-4 days. This could have been used by farmers to signal the flood season and the beginning/start in March of water in the irrigation canals. Water does not make its way down from the northern mountains until March. So the 3 days of Venus's death (invisibility) in February is a harbinger/signal of the coming flood waters. Inanna being held in the underworld expresses possible deprivation through famine and starvation.

Note: The use of the phrase "three days and three nights" in the Descent of Inanna is also interpreted as the time it took to travel from the earth to the underworld.

The time frame for the galla demons as meteors and related issues

Inanna is surrounded by galla demons both during and after her ascent (involving securing Dumuzi as a surrogate for her place in the underworld) from the underworld. Hostetter attempts to match this with his proposal that the Perseid Meteor Shower occurred at this time and represented the galla demons. Both are speculative. Also the brief occurrence of the relatively recent meteor shower mismatches the storyline. The earliest record of Perseid activity comes from the Chinese annals, where it is said that in 36 AD. The duration extends over the period of 11 days. According to Hostetter, Inanna's escape from the underworld takes a far longer time.

Demons were a popular inclusion in Sumerian mythological compositions. How Hostetter chooses to astronomically interpret the galla demons illustrates how his techniques attempts to force a match/fit. Within The Descent of Inanna: (1) A crowd of hostile and inhuman demons (galla(gallo)/galli) accompanied (restraining her on all sides) the rising goddess Inanna. (2) The specific purpose of the demons who escort Inanna is to aid her search in finding a replacement/substitute for her in the underworld.

In one statement for his claims Hostetter states: "Inanna's troubles were not over, however. As she rose higher in the sky later in the month a swarm of Nether World demons disguised as meteorites (sic) began to come after her from beyond the Eastern horizon. At midnight in mid-August, when Inanna could be seen at midnight 40 degrees above the horizon in the northwest, they were spraying out like flaming fenceposts at 60 degrees above the Eastern horizon in the northeast." Also, Hostetter, Hastro-L, 17/5/2012: "For anyone who might be interested, a possible challenge for students might be to determine if there was a extensive meteor shower or showers in the Western sky on March 3, 2501 B.C, when there was a New Moon and the planet Venus had just appeared above the horizon." March is presently not really a meteor shower period There is a minor meteor shower in March that is not inspiring, the Gamma Normids. The duration extends over the period of March 11-21. It peaks on March 16, when 3-5 meteors can be seen every hour. Though Hostetter usually nominates the Perseids in August this is a reference to an unknown and unnamed meteor shower.

Hostetter writes (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)): "Demons who follow Inanna after her resurrection are described as being like large and small reeds used in fences built to confine domestic animals. Does this unusual simile refer to a meteor shower?" What is being meant depends on which translation source is used. Hostetter does not seem interested in comparing translations. Hostetter also writes (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)): "Five months later in August [2501 BCE], The Perseid Meteor Shower, a horde of Nether World demons disguised as meteors, erupts in the Eastern sky in an unsuccessful attempt to return Inanna to the Nether World." Hostetter's 'throw away' remark: "None of the rays reached Inanna. She returned safely to her celestial kingdom." is simply  and not warranted by the text. Oxford ETCSL has (lines 290-294): "So when Inana left the underworld, the one in front of her, though not a minister, held a sceptre in his hand; the one behind her, though not an escort, carried a mace at his hip, while the small demons, like a reed enclosure, and the big demons, like the reeds of a fence, restrained her on all sides." (Several armed galla demons (i.e., armed with spears) surround Inana on all sides and escort Inana back to earth to find a substitute. 'Galla' was also a term for the earthly city officials responsible for the release of corpses to their families. (See: Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations by Gregory Shushan (2009; Page 77).) Nothing in the Oxford ETCSL translation supports Hostetter's imaginative interpretations "spraying out like flaming fenceposts" and "[n]one of the rays reached Inanna." Exactly how meteors streaking across the sky are capable of returning Inanna to the underworld is left unexplained by Hostetter. If there was a meteor shower connection and they were "spraying out like flaming fenceposts" then it would be reasonable to expect the inclusion of the use of a term such as kabkabu (kabâbu, "flame, flash"). Also, nothing in The Descent of Inanna regarding when she left the underworld suggests a time frame limited to 1 'night' in particular, or at all. Nothing suggests the ascent from the underworld was made in the time period of just 1 night. Overlooked/ignored by Hostetter is the galla demons accompany Inanna not just back through the 7 gates of the underworld but back to the city of Uruk. It is clear in all translations the demons are galla demons. In some translation sources it is clear the term 'reeds' is being used to described their attempted actions to fence in/restrict Inanna. In Inanna by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Kramer (1983, Page 68) they "clung to her side" as she "ascended from the underworld." The galla demons accompanied and surrounded Inanna for the entire time of her ascent from the underworld, and for a time on earth. They were not simply 'line figures' such as reeds/fenceposts/meteor flashes. To make the point once again, the galla demon walking in front of Inanna is described as carrying a scepter/staff and the galla demon walking behind Inanna is described as carrying a mace/club; the others surrounding her were "as numerous as reeds in a thicket" (See: The Treasures of Darkness by Thorkild Jacobsen (1976, Page 59). Hostetter is demonstrating selectivity to suit his purpose. He does not use the complete description of the galla demons. It is apparent, or should be, that the galla demons are not being described as being like reeds but rather their actions in surrounding Inanna are being likened to a reed fence. The galla demons escort Inanna to execute the Anunna's demand that Inanna provide a substitute for herself. Once again, Hostetter's 'throw away' remark: "None of the rays reached Inanna. She returned safely to her celestial kingdom." is simply not warranted by the context of the text. Hostetter is imposing an imagined celestial setting as though this astral interpretation was supported or required by the text. What the text clearly sets out is that Inanna is returning from the underworld to her terrestrial environment. The movements of Venus may have influenced the parts of the story structure. Further, the Perseids, if they did exist at this period, lack any association with galla demons in Mesopotamian sources of any kind (both before and after the composition of The Descent of Inanna). Later in The Descent of Inanna, Dumuzi is handed over to the galla demons. The galla demons take Dumuzi away to his fate of having to reside for 6 months each year in the underworld. Hostetter does not place a meteor shower interpretation on this. Hostetter does not proceed to make a case for an astral Dumuzi being handed over to meteor flashes per a meteor shower.

Samuel Kramer's translation in his Sumerian Mythology (1944, 1961, Page 95) has: "Inanna ascends from the nether world, The small demons like . . . reeds, The large demons like tablet styluses, Walked at her side. Who walked in front of her, being without . . ., held a staff in the hand, Who walked at her side, being without . . ., carried a weapon on the loin. They who preceded her, They who preceded Inanna, (Were beings who) know not food, who know not water, Who eat not sprinkled flour, Who drink not libated wine, Who take away the wife from the loins of man, Who take away the child from the breast of the nursing mother."

There is no source that states galla demons - whose job it was to hunt down the marked souls of the living and drag them down to the nether world - were associated with meteors. Within the cuneiform text: (1) The use of terms for denoting meteor, such as, kakkabu (star) occurring with either sarāru (to flash = shooting stars) or maqātu (to fall = falling stars), are not used. (Or, kakkabu "star": kabkabu (kabâbu, "flame, flash").) (2) The text makes reference to the galla demons. The descriptive terms used for the demons are discussed by Bendt Alster in his book Dumuzi's Dream (1972, Page 95). Bendt Alster gives: "The little demons, like the reeds of the shepherd's reed hut, the big demons, like the reeds of the dubban, ...." (3) Almost all cuneiform texts which speak of meteors are those dealing with celestial omens. (4) There is only 1 text in which demons are compared to stars i.e., meteors. (CAD Volume S 106a.) Note: Compared to stars, not identified with stars. (5) There is no evidence that meteorites were held in awe or fear; they were regarded as messages from the gods/goddesses. Note: Meteoritic iron was retrieved and used (but likely not associated with meteors). (6) In the omen series Enuma Anu Enlil the number 7 is connected with meteors (specifically, meteor shower). (7) A text stating meteors were believed – in Greece and Mesopotamia – to be disease bearing demons descending to earth, fails to give any reference for Mesopotamia. See: (1) Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, Volume 8 K, 1971, Page 441, and (2) "Meteors and Meteorites in the Ancient Near East." by Judith Bjorkman (Meteorics, Volume 8, Number 2, 1973, Pages 91-130). The article was also published separately as 42-page pamphlet (with the journal pagination); Issue 12 of Publication by Center for Meteorite Studies, Arizona State University.

Hostetter is the only person to make an identification with meteors in Inanna’s Descent. The only ancient Mesopotamian story that incorporates a mention of meteors, as far as I am aware, is the Gilgamesh Epic. For a brief competent discussion (transliterations, translations, and comments) of the mention of meteors in the Gilgamesh Epic see The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic by Andrew George, Volume 1, 2002, Pages 173 & 175, and 553 & 555 and Volume 2, 2003, Page 802. George identifies that a meteor is meant for the first dream by Gilgamesh, but not the second dream.

On his National Radio Astronomy Observatory blog page (posted June 11, 2012), titled "Ages of the Taurid and Perseid Meteor Showers," Jeff Magnum writes (in answer to the question, "[Would] … the Taurids and Perseids: would they have been visible to an observer on Earth in around 4000 BCE? …."): "The Perseids are an annual meteor shower associated with comet Swift-Tuttle. Again, from meteorshowersonline.com. The earliest record of Perseid activity comes from the Chinese annals, where it is said that in 36 AD "more than 100 meteors flew thither in the morning." Numerous references appear in Chinese, Japanese and Korean records throughout the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th centuries, but only sporadic references are found between the 12th and 19th centuries, inclusive. Nevertheless, August has long had a reputation for an abundance of meteors. The Perseids have been referred to as the "tears of St. Lawrence", since meteors seemed to be in abundance during the festival of that saint in Italy on August 10th; however, credit for the discovery of the shower's annual appearance is given to Adolphe Quételet (Brussels, Belgium), who, in 1835, reported that there was a shower occurring in August that emanated from the constellation Perseus. So, there is evidence for the existence of the Perseids to about 0 BCE. Now, as both of these meteor showers [Taurid and Perseid] are associated with periodic comets which have been observed for many centuries, one might suggest that these meteor showers have been visible for centuries. In theory, this seems plausible, but there are no observations to support this fact. So, to borrow from MythBusters, it seems plausible that the Taurid and Perseid meteor showers could have been observed in 4000 BCE."

A discussion of the history of Perseid observations, including their shift in the calendar, appears in: Beech, Martin. "The Makings of Meteor Astronomy: Part XIV." (WGN, the Journal of the International Meteor Organization, Pages. 157-160). (See: http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1997JIMO...25..157B) Martin Beech identifies the association of the Perseid meteors with the tears of St. Lawrence is a modern myth originating with an article by Edward Herrick (American Journal of Science, Volume 38, 1839, Page 325). Martin Beech also writes: "Hasegawa [2] suggests that the Perseids may have been observed as long ago as 36 AD, but Hughes [3] has questioned this, and it would appear that the earliest bonafide observation of the Perseid shower dates to 830 AD [811 CE?]." However, it is generally accepted that the earliest firm identification of a Perseid meteor shower is found in Chinese records dated 36 CE.

Both precession and orbital characteristics affects the date of meteor shower peak activity. Hornblower (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/archive/index.php/t-107733.html, 17 September, 2010) writes: "Without allowing for orbital shifts, I estimate that a peak of the Perseids would have occurred on -3099 JUN 27 at 05 hr UT in the Julian calendar, if that shower actually existed back then. The astronomical year -3099 is the same as the historical year 3100 BC, due to historians not employing a year 0 (zero). Also, our Roman system of months was not used prior to the first millenium BC. Finally, keep in mind that reports of Perseid observations have only been made during the AD era."

Hostetter writes (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)): "The writer has selected for comparison with the Corpus text of Inanna's Descent a 584-day synodic period of the planet Venus that begins ten days before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C. (Julian Date 808024) when Venus was close to maximum brilliance, and ended 584 days later (JD 808608) on November 6, 2501 B.C., following the annual Perseid meteor shower in August, 2501 B.C." Hostetter has never made a case for the Perseid meteor shower existing circa 2500 BCE. Hostetter writes (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)): "Perseid Meteor Shower: This is a major meteor shower appearing to come from the area of the constellation Perseus annually in August. It has been seen in that area and during that month for at least 2000 years. It is the debris trail of the Swift-Tuttle comet." Without any historical enquiry he simply matches modern knowledge of the Perseid meteor shower with Skyglobe planetarium software data given when projected back to circa 2500 BCE. No mention is made that the Skyglobe planetarium software does not, of course (and cannot), verify the Perseid shower circa 2500 BCE. The Perseids are created from the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which is the largest object known to make repeated passes near Earth. Its nucleus is about 9.7 kilometers (6 miles) across. Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit has been traced back nearly 2,000 years by both Gary Kronk and Brian Marsden and is thought to be the same comet that was observed by the Chinese in 188 CE and possibly by even as early as 69 BCE (by the Chinese). Earlier dates are simply speculative. Why this speculative explanation - there is no indisputable supporting evidence for it - as a first choice working hypothesis for interpreting aspects of Inanna's Descent remains to be suitably explained by Hostetter. He is apparently trying to keep everything astronomical.

The periodic comet Swift–Tuttle (formally designated 109P/Swift–Tuttle) is the parent body of the Perseid meteor shower. The meteorites originated when comet Swift-Tuttle passed so close to the sun that its ice head melted and left a stream of pea-sized particles. The Perseid shower is active from July 25 until about August 20. The peak is reached around August 12, and the dependably high rates are typically one meteor per minute close to maximum. Hostetter does not explain how this matches the small number of galla demons.

Dina Katz writes ("How Dumuzi Became Inanna's Victim: On the Formation of "Inanna's Descent." Acta Sum, Volume 18, Pages 93-103.): "The second part of ID (ll. 285-367) consists of two episodes which thematically subdivide this part into two literary units 9: ll. 285-306 and ll. 307-367. The first, ll. 285-306, is a closed literary unit of 22 lines. The beginning and the end of this unit are defined by l. 285/306 dInanna kur-ta e11-da-ni, "As Inanna was rising from the Netherworld", a temporal clause which serves as a literary and chronological framework for the events narrated in it. This unit describes the intervention of the Anunna in Inanna's release from the Netherworld, in which they stipulate that Inanna must bring a substitute for herself. Following this the unit describes the galla who were assigned to fulfil the Anunna's demand. With regard to its materials, this unit combines an element of the first part of the myth with an element taken from its third part. Namely, it links the Anunna, who brought the story of Inanna's descent to its climax (Inanna's death), with the galla who will play a central role in the following story, (the capture of Dumuzi and his death). The Anunna's demand constitutes the condition for Inanna's ascent and it links up with the former story about her descent. The Anunna's dispatch of the galla serves to fulfill the condition and it is linked with the pursuit, capture and death of Dumuzi, which also form the theme of independent traditions. With regard to the plot, this literary unit unites the Anunna and the galla on a functional level, and thereby conjoins the story of Inanna's descent and death with the story of Dumuzi's death in a causal relation."

Interestingly, Ninshubur is also threatened by the galla demons but is saved by Inanna. This threat to Ninshubur occurs after Inanna's return to the land of the living. It is ignored by Hostetter.

The number of galla demons

Samuel Kramer identifies the number of galla demons as being 7. Hostetter is supposedly familiar with Kramer's writings regarding Inanna. "Thus, for example, it was to make sure that Inanna, who had been revived through the clever efforts of Enki, would provide a suitable scapegoat to take her place, that the seven galle stuck by her side, until she turned over Dumuzi to them as her surrogate." ("Death and Nether World According to the Sumerian Literary Texts." by Samuel Kramer (Iraq, Volume 22, Ur in Retrospect. In Memory of Sir C. Leonard Woolley, Spring - Autumn, 1960, Pages 59-68).) See also, Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary by Jeremy Black and Anthony Green (1992, Pages 85-86). In his book, Death Gods (2009, Page 68), Ernest Abel writes: "Galla (aka Gallu). In ancient Mesopotamian mythology mythology, the collective name for the seven demons who dragged humans to the Underworld after their deaths. The Galla escorted Inanna when she returned from the Underworld and they took her husband Dumuzi back in her place." The existence of only 7 galla demons is hardly supportive of the meteor shower interpretation. It would be allegory at its grandest.

Exactly how many demons are indicated to have accompanied Inanna during her ascent from the underworld is not clear. The issue is discussed by the assyriologist Wayne Horowitz in his book, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (1998, Pages 215-216). Relying on William Sladek (PhD dissertation, 1974), he writes: "Thus the chain igi.7 bar.7 bar.ta 7 may be translated 'they are seven (demons) at the front, they are seven (demons) at the back, they are seven (demons) at the side'. The final phrase bar.ta.igi 7 is not attested elsewhere, but may be a compound of bar.ta and igi meaning 'front-side'."

The number 7 in Mesopotamian literary texts

The use of the number 7 presents many different interpretive directions. According to the German-born American (he came to the USA in 1934) Semitic philologist and assyriologist Julius Lewy (1895-1963) the numeral 7 expressed the notion of the universe.

The ideas that numbers have magical significance is very old and likely originated in Mesopotamia. The number 7 is used over and over again in Mesopotamian literature. It does not fit into the 60 base system. The number 7 is a prime number with no factors. It is a common magical and religious number in early Mesopotamia. The idea of 7 is woven into all kinds of different myths and religious concepts, such as 7 levels of heaven and 7 levels (gates) of hell. There is no compelling reason to believe that the use of the number 7 in The Descent of Inanna has any literal astronomical naturalism. The special number 7 can be seen at all levels of Sumerian mythology. There is no compelling reason to believe the 7 gates are established from astronomical data involving Venus – and that astronomical data involving Venus shapes the story. Mythology is connected with symbolism. The use of 7 in literary/mythological texts is 'magical'/'mystical' rather than a descriptive astronomical endeavour. It is most likely that the use of 7 derives from magical/mystical thought. Arguing from the number of items disrobed by Inanna is hardly convincing. It matches the requirement for the use of the number 7.

The number 7 in Sumerian has a double meaning and can also mean many and not just 7. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaanites, and Israelites regarded the number 7 as the symbol of totality and perfection. It may not have meant precisely 7 but many. Sometimes '7' or '8' is used to indicate an indefinite number.

The Descent of Inanna includes the scenario that during her descent Inanna is accompanied by her faithful servant Ninshubar, and Neti who confronts Inanna at each of the 7 stops (gates), and during her ascent Inanna is accompanied by demon guardians. Neti (the chief gatekeeper of the Kur (= nether world) opens each of the 7 gates and at each gates also takes an item of clothing (= power; each of the 7 items comprising an element of the 7 Me (representations of civilisation and cultural identity ("sacred laws of heaven and earth"); actually there were more than 7 Me) used as protection) from Inanna. In The Descent of Inanna the 7 Me were: Crown, Hairstyle, Necklace, Robe, Eye Shadow, Breastplate, and Bracelet Wand. Each was a physical sign of her sovereignty and also a source of her beauty. (There were 7 principal cities (7 temples) where Inanna was worshipped.) The question of possible interaction between astronomy and mythology in the ancient Near East is not the issue. The issue is the claim for specific accuracy of an astronomical content (Hostetter has claimed The Descent of Inanna is a daily astronomical record of movements of Venus during one specifically dated Venus synodic period. Hastro-L 13 July, 2012: "I have detailed info on a Sumerian cuneiform document that contains a report of daily celestial events over a period of more than 500 days (in my opinion)."). (Note: Hostetter sometimes changes the date to circa 2500 BCE.) At best, perhaps, astronomical data involving Venus was correlated with the 7 gates – the mythical 7 gates being established for non astronomical reasons. The later astronomical texts do not contain data that mirrors the supposed astronomy in The Descent of Inanna. The Ur III period (2112-2004 BCE) - also termed the Neo Sumerian period or the "Sumerian Renaissance" - is generally considered to be the best documented century in antiquity. Due to a state organisation that was very bureaucratic there are tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets that have survived from the Ur III period and these 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. For the possibility that 2 lunar eclipses described in EAE 20 and 21 date to the Ur III period, and incorporate observational material, see particularly the discussion: "On the Astronomical Records and Babylonian Chronology." by V. G. Gurzadyan (Akkadica, Volume 119-120, 2000, Pages 175-184). For a simple example of an astronomical reference in Sumerian mythology see: Brown, David and Zólyomi, Gábor. (2001 (sometimes erroneously given as 2000)). ""Daylight converts to night-time": An astrological-astronomical reference in Sumerian literary context." (Iraq, Volume 63, Pages 149-154).

As an example of the difference between the literary use of 7 and actual fact: Mesopotamian texts describe some cities as having 7 walls. In reality no ancient Mesopotamian city had 7 walls; the maximum was 3 walls.

Number symbolism associated with Ishtar

The goddess Ishtar, the Akkadian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, was usually associated with the number 15, and sometimes the number 8.

The number 7 as cosmology?

Is, or is part of, The Descent of Inanna an allegory of the journey of Venus from morning Star (appearance of Venus in the morning sky, rising before the sun in the east) to evening star (appearance of Venus in the evening sky, setting of the sun in the west)? Do each of the 7 gates represent a conjunction with a heavenly body - moon or moon and planets? (= The 7 gates are thought to symbolize the 7 conjunctions Venus makes with the waning moon. During this time, Venus goes into a gibbous phase and to a terrestrial observer appears to shrink in diameter.)

That we are dealing with number myths – not reality – should be evident from the sequence pattern: Inanna takes the 7 mes with her to the netherworld. (“The 7 divine decrees (mes) )she fastened at the side.”) After entering into the throne room of Ereshkigal in the netherworld through 7 gates, Inanna faced the judgment of the 7 Anunnaki who surround her.

Attempts to explain the use of the number 7 in The Descent of Inanna can lead to confusion. Bernadette Flynn writes (VSMM 2000 edited by Hal Thwaites (2000) page 52): "Inanna was worshipped from around 3,500BC in Sumer as the mighty queen of heaven where she represented the triple goddess who could connect the heaven, earth and underworld. Her seven-stage journey structurally reflects the seven tiered ziggurat temples from Mesopotamia: "a temple of the seven spheres of the world". The image of the built ziggurats in the landscape, Inanna's Seven "Me" or divine elements and the associated mythological stories echo the cosmology of the time, based on the sun, moon and five visible planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. This ordering of the universe into seven stages of descent and/or ascent has formed a universal cosmology across numerous different cultural groups."

The matching of 7 me (as ornaments and clothing) with 7 gates clearly demonstrates number symbolism. As Inanna leaves the Underworld she gathers up her ornaments and clothing - her old me and power.

The earliest examples of Mesopotamian ziggurats are considered to date from the end of the 3rd-millennium BCE. Inanna's temple Eanna ("House of Heaven") in Uruk, built circa 3000 BCE, was a ziggurat (generally described as Eanna temple and ziggurat). (Uruk also had a ziggurat dedicated to the god Anu.) A ziggurat is basically a pyramidal structure, a staged temple tower built in receding tiers. A ziggurat is commonly described described as mimicing the 7 levels of the universe described in literary/incantation texts. Most Mesopotamian ziggurats were usually 3-tiered constructions. The Eanna temple and ziggurat - though a massive early construction - was not 7-tiered. Also, consistent evidence for a 7-tiered concept of the universe in pre-Hellenistic Mesopotamian has been considered tenuous. What is indicated by the evidence is the structure of The Descent of Inanna does not encompass the number 7 from observed astronomical events. The structure of this story conforms to the use of the number 7 that has been derived from magical/mystical thought. Also, early Mesopotamian 'wisdom,' was likely embodied in Mesopotamian religion (much of which revolved around the identification of the gods and goddesses with heavenly bodies).

The beliefs of the Roman cult of Mithras included a 7-step (or 8-step) ladder (7 of the steps each a heavenly gate). The Mithraic scholar John Hinnells believes the Mithraic 'ladder of 7 gates' (for the migration of souls) as described by the Roman writer Celsus apud Origen (circa.185-254 CE, a Greek-speaking Christian theologian and Biblical scholar, and hostile opponent of Mithraism) may go back to Babylonian planetary doctrines in early Media (an area in ancient Iran inhabited by the Medes who spoke a northwestern Iranian language referred to as the Median language). According to Celsus, in the Persian Mysteries of Mithras there is a ladder with 7 gates which are related to the 7 planetary spheres in ancient cosmology.

In Gnosticism, in the Mandaean system, and in Zoroastrianism, the number 7 appears in their cosmological schemes and designates the 7 planets (the sun, moon, and 5 visible planets).

Within the context of Mesopotamian number magic it has been noted that all derivatives or multiples of 7 carry with them the idea of wholeness. The number 7 (commonly associated with cosmic perfection) a most important magical number and is closely associated with other number '7s' principally: 70, 71, 72, and 73. 70 = 10 x 7; 72 can be divided by: 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 12, 18, 24, and 36; 77, and 7 x 7 are self explanatory, as well as 700, 7000, 70,000, 700,000. The number 72 has a relationship to the number 70. There are many example where the number 72 interchangeable with the number 70. The number 72 (years) also figures in the cycle of Venus. Venus goes around the Sun 8 times whilst the Earth goes around the Sun 5 times. It takes the Earth two days longer to complete this interesting cycle. Due to this ratio, Venus appears to draw a pentagram around the Sun every 8 years. Venus takes 72 years of 365.25 days each, less 18 days to complete 9 pentagrams around the Sun. (Note: It is a fiction that it is possible to draw a pentagram by marking on the ground the position in the sky each time Venus appears as a morning star during an 8-year cycle.)

The number 7 may symbolise the literary/mythical vertical (levels)/horizontal (chambers) structure of the cosmos. More likely, perhaps, the 7 gates guarding the underworld were the 7 planets. Interestingly, the number 7 occurs with the Great Bear asterism - the Wagon in Mesopotamia. There are sufficient Babylonian texts to show that the 7 stars of the Wagon (Ursa Major) were identified with Ishtar as the planet Venus.

The undressing of Inanna in 7 stages

Inanna being undressed in 7 stages is perhaps a literary device to build interest and suspense in the story. In Mesopotamia the number 7 has use as a topological number. (See: "Inanna's Descent and Undressing the Dead as a Divine Law." by Dina Katz (ZA, Band 85, 1995, Pages 221-233).)

Interestingly, there is a text in which the 7th gal5-la2 demon orders Dumuzi to remove his clothing and accoutrements as a final preliminary to his capture. (See the short article bt Jeremiah Peterson in N.A.B.U., 2012, Number 3, septembre, Pages 56-57.)

The Sumerian moon god Nanna(Nana)/Suen

Why a conjunction of Venus with the moon is a gate to the underworld is not explained by Hostetter (or any other supporter of this idea). The Descent of Inanna does not identify the moon as a player in events. In The Descent of Inanna, the god Nanna appears as the father of Inanna who rejects aiding/rescuing his daughter from the underworld, a passive - not active - role. The moon is introduced into the astronomical interpretation of The Descent of Inanna by Hostetter. (Other persons also do this.) In their use to interpret Venus-moon conjunctions as gates to the underworld (in The Descent of Inanna), the moon is not recognised as a god/goddess.

Nanna/Suen was the Sumerian god of the moon, chief god of Ur, Harran and Neirab, consort of the Sumerian goddess Ningal, and father of Inanna. Ur was the centre of moon god worship. Nanna may have originally been only the god of the full moon, but later also the god of the lunar crescents, and the new moon. Suen, later contracted to Sin (by the Akkadians and the Semites), designated the crescent moon. The symbol of Nanna/Suen was the (recumbent) crescent moon.

No attempt is made to explain why the Venus-moon conjunctions are not to be interpreted as an astronomical interaction between Inanna and her father Nanna. Inanna is treated as Venus but the moon is treated as Neti only, not as Nanna/Suen the moon god. There is no basis in Sumerian literature/mythology for treating the (waxing) crescent moon as Neti (or a crescent-shaped boat). In Sumerian mythology the planet Venus was the astral manifestation of the multi-faceted goddess Inanna. In Sumerian mythology the moon god was Nanna/Suen. In the Sumerian pantheon, Nanna/Suen is the son of Enlil (lord of the sky) the son of An (heaven). According to Mark Hall (1985, University of Pennsylvania PhD thesis) A Study of the Sumerian Moon-god, Nanna/Suen: "The examination of all the evidence led to the conclusion that the moon-god derived his essential characteristics from the cyclical phases of the moon. The moon's ever-renewing cycle was interpreted by the Sumerians as a sign of the moon-god's inherent power to regenerate himself each month. It was believed that he could bestow this power upon all living creatures. Hence, the moon-god was a fertility god. His cult was designed to transfer the moon's generative power to the sphere of man, thus insuring the continued procreation of crops, animals, and the generations of mankind." According to Mark Hall, Nanna/Suen was also at times called Asimbabbar. (Ashgirbabbar: "New Moon," an alias of Nanna.) He believes that these 3 names represented 3 separate moon gods whose characteristics were syncretized into one god during the Sargonic and Ur III periods. Significant characteristics specific to the syncretized god Nanna/Suen include: (1) his association with the moon as well as the moons phases and moonlight; (2) as the one who established the months and days (lunar calendar); (3) as the one who went to the land of the dead (underworld) at the end of each month to decide their fates and returned again on the third day (the new moon); (4) as the one who could renew life (vegetation and creatures); (5) as overseer of the herds and flocks (although a couple other gods did this also); and (6) as the chief son of Enlil and (grandson) of An (the two highest gods worshipped in Sumer); Nanna/Suen is often symbolized by the crescent moon or the calf/bull whose horns form the crescent shape. Nanna/Suen is also described in ways common to most of the Sumerian gods such as lord, prince, god, father, and heroic warrior.

Also, nothing astronomical is made of the '7 Anunnaki' in the underworld. Neither are players in the astronomical theme used to interpret the myth.

Neti and the lunar crescent

Neti features prominently in The Descent of Inanna as the name of the doorkeeper of the Underworld.

Hostetter writes (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)): "Crescent Moon (Neti) …. Unique among the sky gods was Neti. He guarded the gates of the Sumerian Hell. Strangely, he was the thin crescent phase of the waxing Moon, yet not the Moon." I have yet to see any reference to Neti as a sky-god or the crescent moon (or to his symbol being the crescent moon. Hostetter offers no cuneiform basis or other reference for his assertion. It merely suits his speculative astronomical interpretation of The Descent of Inanna. Neti is one of the 7 guardians of the 7 gates of the underworld, at best a minor chthonic (underworld) god. In a number of texts Neti is one of the 7 guardians of the 7 gates of the underworld. In the text Nergal and Ereškigal, the gates (/gatekeepers) are named: Neti/Nedu, (En)kishar, Endashurimma, (E)nuralla, Endukuga/Nerubanda, Endushuba/Eundukuga, and Ennugigi. According to the British assyriologist Stephanie Dalley in her publication "Nergal and Erešhkigal" Neti/Nedu was the guardian of the first gate of the underworld. However, according to some sources Neti is the Sumerian guardian of the gates of the underworld (and scribe).

Hostetter has introduced themes of Neti patrolling the 7 gates to the underworld along an underworld canal, in a celestial (crescent-shaped) boat. In an article in The Griffith Observer (Volume 46, 1982, Page 33), Hostetter writes: "An underworld watchman named Neti patrolled the water and the seven gates of the canal along the way to the Land of the Dead. Each month Neti made a voyage from west to east across the sky in his crescent-shaped boat, the moon …." Hostetter offers no cuneiform basis or other reference for his assertion. Celestial (crescent-shaped) magur boats in Mesopotamian mythology served the mundane purpose of providing a means of transportation for the gods/goddesses. As example: The god Enki (the planet Saturn) rides the cosmic waters in the "Great Boat of Heaven" (the Magur-boat). (Also, Hostetter in his 1982 article in The Griffith Observer, asserts that Inanna visits the underworld every eight years.)

Texts do mention a River Hubur (the river of fertility) in the underworld. It is identified by name only in Akkadian texts. It was believed the underworld River Hubur was crossed by deceased persons on their journey to the underworld. Some texts place it at the entrance to the underworld and some texts place it further down the road (at the end of the road) to the underworld. Inanna does not cross the River Hubur. In cuneiform texts the underworld is described as a dry region. The source of any water for the river remains unexplained in extant texts. Wayne Horowitz points out there are 2 conflicting traditions concerning the nature of the river, and that the underworld river may be a stagnant stream. One text, "Damu in the Underworld", states that the river of the underworld does not carry water. Also, in "Damu and the Underworld" the river is stated to flow at the sides of the underworld. That is, it flows around (circles) the underworld. (Damu, a Sumerian god, is documented since the period of the Third Dynasty of Ur, and is identified with Dumuzi.)

Another text sets out that Dumuzi/Tammuz travelled upstream by boat in the underworld.

The nature of the 7 gates of the underworld

In The Descent of Inanna, Inanna presumably travels to gates of the underworld, in the west. "One entrance to the underworld was in the far west, where the sun (and other celestial deities) left the world by the gate of sunset. (See: The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1 (2003, Pages 500-501) edited by A. R. George.)" However, Gregory Shushan (Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations (2009) by Gregory Shushan) writes the entrance to the netherworld was located in the place of sunrise (i.e., to the east).

The nature of the 7 gates to the underworld as described in The Descent of Inanna has apparently not been examined by Hostetter; perhaps not thought to be relevant to his astronomical interpretation. The nature of the gates, as described in The Descent of Inanna, is discussed/explained in some detail by Wayne Horowitz in Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (1998, Pages 358-359). Horowitz writes (Page 358): "The best-known feature of the underworld is its gates. These gates lead from the approaches to the underworld into the interior of the region. In a number of texts, the underworld is reached through a series of seven gates. The clearest explanation of the configuration of the configuration of these gates is found in Inanna's Descent, when Ereškigal instructs Bidu [Neti], the gatekeeper of the underworld, on how to admit Inanna to her realm. ... Let the bolts of the gate of the underworld, the seven of them, be set down. Let the doors of the underworld palace be opened individually. In this passage, all seven gates are located in é.gal.ganzer [the palace ganzer] demonstrating that these gates belong to a single gate complex [a gatehouse with 7 gates] rather than seven separate gate complexes in seven concentric walls, or seven gates spread out along the circumference of the underworld." ... The underworld gates (like the gates of heaven) were identical in structure to city gates on the earth's surface. See also the same determination in Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations by Gregory Shushan (2009; Page 76) where he writes that the 7 gates (doors) were located at the gate [i.e., single gate complex] of the palace Ganza.

Note: In the myth of Nergal and Ereškigal, and the Etana myth there are 7 gates to heaven.  

Also, there is a suitable non-astral explanation of the removal on Inanna's garments and adornments. The stripping of Inanna is simply 'death takes everything away from us.' (See: Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations by Gregory Shushan (2009; Page 88).)

The location of the chthonic River Hubur is not given precisely; it is simply stated to be at the gates of the underworld. We have here another reason supporting the 7 gates being part of 1 door to the underworld.

There is no obvious astronomical interpretation supported - the 7 gates of the underworld as Venus-moon conjunctions, separated by lengthy distances/periods of time - or the claim that we have precise astronomical information in The Descent of Inanna. The 7 gates/doors are all at the one 'physical/geographic' location comprising part of a single gate complex.

Note: The process by which Inanna passes through each of the 7 gates is perhaps the process of death.

Early Sumerian religion was not astral/planetary

There were no planetary gods/goddesses in the earliest Sumerian pantheon. The formal scheme involved An (sky), Enlil (storm), Ninhursaga (fertility), Enki (underground water), Nanna (moon), Utu (Sun), Ereshkigal (underworld), Ezen (grain), etc. It was only much later that the 5 planets were named after gods/goddesses, whose origin had nothing to do with the planets (3 were borrowed from local solar gods): Nergal (Mars), Marduk (Jupiter), and Ninurta (Saturn). Inanna was a rival to the Sumerian earth goddess Ninhursaga who eventually became dominant and associated with Venus. According to the sumerologist Thorkild Jacobsen (The Encyclopedia of Religion edited by Mircea Eliade (1987, Volume 9, Page 451)), "At Uruk - in antiquity as today a center of date culture - there was [Dumuzi-]Amaushumgalana, the power for animal growth and new life of the date palm, and his consort Inanna, earlier Ninana ("mistress of the date clusters")."

Morris Jastrow's numerous publications on Babylonian religion indicate that the association of gods/goddesses with planets was basically arbitrary and also a late development. According to Morris Jastrow (Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia (1911): "The Conception of a god of heaven [i.e., Anu] fits in, moreover, with the comparatively advanced period when the seats of the gods were placed in the skies, and the gods identified with the stars. Such an astral theology, however, is not a part of the earlier religious beliefs of the Babylonians ...." This is supported by more recent scholarship. William Fulco (The Encyclopedia of Religion edited by Mircea Eliade (1987, Volume 7, Page 82, see also Page 145)) writes: "Comparative Semitic evidence suggests that the Akkadian Venus deity was originally masculine but became completely feminized when identified with the female Sumerian deity Inanna. Because of the eventual syncretism of the Sumerian and Akkadian pantheons, the traditions concerning Inanna-Ishtar are extremely complicated. By one such tradition she is the daughter of the sky god An, by another the daughter of the moon god Nanna-Sin (and thereby sister of the sun god Utu-Shamash), and by still another, the daughter of Enlil or Ashur"

By circa the mid-3rd millennium BCE the Sumerian pantheon (later adopted by the Babylonians) was structured with 2 superior triads over the body of lesser gods dominated by those with planetary associations (due to their importance in omenology). These are listed as follows with their sacred (harmonic?) number (often used as the name of the god/goddess) when known in parentheses: 1: An (60), Enlil (50), Enki (40); 2: Nanna (30), Utu (20), Inanna (15); and 3: Ninurta (50), Marduk (10 - changed to 50 by the Babylonians), Neral (12, later 14), Nabu (?), Adad (10), etc. To the Babylonians, the 2 superior triads were: (1) Anu, Enlil, and Ea; and (2) Sin, Shamash, and Ishtar. An/Anu was the overall head of the pantheon with Enlil (and later Marduk, the patron god of Babylon, when it attained political domination of Mesopotamia) being the next most powerful. To the Assyrians, Ashur, patron deity of Ashur, was the overall head of the pantheon (otherwise it closely resembled the pantheon of Babylon).

The location of the 7 gates of the underworld

Wolfgang Heimpel writes: "... in the abundant cuneiform literature dealing with the stars and planets, neither the gates of the palace of the underworld, nor Ninshubar are mentioned. We have to conclude that the gates were believed to be located beneath the horizon at all times, and that Ninshubur was not Mercury." (See: Heimpel, Wolfgang. (1982). "A Catalog of Near Eastern Venus Deities." (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issue 3, December, 1982, Pages 9-22).)

The 'radiance' of Inanna

It appears intuitive to Hostetter that as Inanna passes through each gate and is progressively undressed of garments and adornments it must mean that the planet Venus's radiance/brilliance (= magnitude) progressively becomes dimmer. Vice-versa, when Inanna leaves the underworld (passing through the 7 gates again in the opposite direction), progressively regaining her garments and adornments it must mean that the planet Venus's radiance/brilliance (= magnitude) progressively becomes brighter. As usual, Hostetter does not discuss why his assumption is necessarily correct. (See this very clearly set out in his original article: Hostetter, Homer. (1979). "A Planetary Visit to Hades." (Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume II, Number 4, Fall, Pages 7-10).)

Since his privately circulated revised and expanded article (Hostetter, Homer. (2010). "An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World"" (Privately circulated. Revised and expanded version of his earlier articles.)) he has added in the need to used arcus visionis values regarding brightness and visibility.

However, other persons have proposed astronomical explanations involving Venus's radiance/brilliance (= magnitude) becoming brighter as Inanna passes through each gate and is progressively undressed of garments and adornments. Vice-versa, when Inanna leaves the underworld, progressively regaining her garments and adornments the planet Venus's radiance/brilliance (= magnitude) progressively becomes dimmer. Matthew Kane (Heavens Unearthed in Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Tales (1999)) sets out a possible astronomical explanation: The cycle of the phases of the moon through the month: Inanna, as the moon, begins at the horizon as the half moon at mid-night, and each night the moon/Inanna rises higher in the night sky (which means lower in the underworld) until on the 7th night the moon/Inanna is the full moon at the height of the midnight sky. Each night she grows brighter because at each gate of the underworld Inanna has another accouterment taken away, leaving her 'brilliant flesh' as the full moon. The deadly stare of the eyes of the 7 judges is the shadow of the earth during the lunar eclipse, which also passes through the 7 levels to reach Inanna and kill her just as the lunar eclipse kills the full moon. The stake on which Inanna hangs is also the long dark shadow of the earth. The 3 days are the 3 days that the full moon stays at the top of the night sky (bottom of the underworld) before it begins to return to the horizon and the earth. The full moon is the food and the thin crescent moon is the cup. At each gate Inanna reappoints herself with her 'gear' just as the moon grows a little darker each day till it arrives again as a half moon at the horizon. Inanna then proceeds into the daytime sky with the galla demons. Dumuzi then takes the part of the moon. It was traditional to mourn the death of Dumuzi (or Tammuz) each spring in the Middle East.

Hostetter's unsubstantiated identification of Ninšubur with the planet Mercury

A number of translations appear for the name Ninšubur (i.e., Ninshubur/Ninsubura). Ninšubur is a Sumerian god/goddess; the name meaning 'Lady/Lord of the East.' The gender of Ninšubur varies. In the service of a male god (i.e., An) Ninšubur is male; in the service of a goddess (i.e., prominently Inanna in Inanna's Descent) Ninšubur is female. In Old Sumerian times Ninšubur was the tutelary deity of Uruinimgina of Lagash. (See: A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Mythology by Gwendolyn Leick (1991, Page 134).)

In Inanna's Descent, Ninšubur is designated as sukkal-zi-e-an-na "the faithful messenger/courier/vizier of the Eanna" (= the Eanna temple where Inanna had residence). In his privately circulated 2010 article (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)) Hostetter identifies Ninšubur with the planet Mercury ("Mercury .... The Sumerians called that planet Ninshubur...."). However, there is no acknowledgment by Hostetter that there is no cuneiform example of Ninšubur being connected with the planet Mercury. Hostetter simply introduces his claim for a connection, without any discussion or attempt at justification! It has been proposed that Ninšubur, in Inanna's Descent, = Lady Evening, a reference to Inanna's role as the evening star.

The Wikipedia entry for Ninshubur has: "Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky." No reference is given for this statement. William Thompson (The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light (1996)) writes: "Since Enki is described as the tricky and fast god, I would imagine that he is associated with the planet Mercury." Lack of suitable cuneiform referencing is evident for both the Wikipedia article and William Thompson's assumption. Hostetter is no better. As example: The following movements of Ninšubur are identified with the movements of Mercury. Ninšubur's time in Ur is identified as Mercury in the eastern sky, and her time in Nippur is identified as Mercury in the western sky. No cuneiform referencing of any kind is given to establish Ninšubur as the planet Mercury. I know of no such identification being made in any cuneiform mythological/literary texts dealing with the stars and planets. 

In the Sumerian period the planet Mercury was identified as Enki. The god Enki (dingir EN.KI(G) was a Sumerian patron god of the city of Eridu, and a god of water, and identified with Mercury (Sumerian name for Mercury: Mul UDU.IDEM.GU4.UD). In late Babylonian astral divination Mercury was associated with the god Nabu (the Babylonian god of wisdom and writing). It is possible that some popular writers are confusing Ninšubur with Nabu.

The Babylonian name for Mercury was GU4.UD (= jumping planet). Babylonian records of Mercury only date to the 1st-millennium BCE. (At this period - the 1st-millennium BCE - the god Marduk was associated with Mercury, as well as Jupiter.) The identification by H. Lewy and J. Lewy that the god Nabû was - by the Babylonians - traditionally held to represent the planet Mercury still has support. Girra and Nuska represented together the two aspects of the planet Mercury as morning and evening star, before Mercury was identified with Nabu alone. (See: H. Lewy and J. Lewy, "The God Nusku." Orientalia, New Series, Volume 17, 1948, Pages147-149.) Nabû-Nusku = Mercury. Early explanatory texts regarded Mercury, which appears as morning and evening stars, as two distinct planets, one of which was personified by Nusku. (See: Leaving No Stones Unturned edited by Donald Hansen and ‎Erica Ehrenberg (2002, Page 58).

The Sumerian god Enki was the same as the Babylonian god Ea. See for example: Morris Jastrow Junior, Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens (1905, Volume 1, Page. 62). The name Ea was written with the ideogram EN.KI. The Babylonian term "Star of the god Ea" means Mercury. See: Morris Jastrow Junior, Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens (1905, Volume 2, Page 667, Note 2).

Mercury's synodic period (115.9 days) is punctuated by periods of invisibility around inferior and superior conjunction, averaging five and thirty-five days. Hostetter's claims need to relate this to Enki as the planet Mercury.

On the beginning of the 4th day Ninšubur begins seeking help for Inanna, inciting a general clamour/commotion in the heavens as she does so (i.e., the temple lamentations of Ninšubur). However, for Hostetter, the clamour is ignored as having astronomical significance.

Hostetter's unsubstantiated identification of Enki with the planet Jupiter

In his privately circulated 2010 article (An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World" (2010)) Hostetter identifies the god Enki with the planet Jupiter ("... the planet Jupiter whose Sumerian name was Enki."). This is undoubtedly due to the need to make astronomical matches at least for the key named 'actors' in Inanna's Descent. Several times Hostetter interprets a Jupiter as Enki's celestial palace and a Venus-Jupiter conjunction as Inanna visiting Enki's palace. Since Ninshubur was at Enki's palace when Inanna visited it after escaping from the underworld it should really be - according to Hostetter's method of interpretation - a triple Mercury-Venus-Jupiter conjunction. Jupiter has been associated with Enki's half-brother Enlil. As usual, Hostetter gives no reference for his statement that the Sumerian name for Jupiter was Enki.

Enki 'eclipse myth'

Hostetter ignores discussing the Enki 'eclipse myth' involving an eclipse of the moon. He may not be aware of it. Due to his use of Enki I would have thought Hostetter would be keen to discuss this astronomical issue.

Venus in Mesopotamian astronomical texts

The so-called Venus tablet dating from the Old Babylonian period reflects conformance to a schematic system, not literal astronomical realism. The data is deemed confusing and erroneous and is deemed to have become corrupted through the copying/transmission process. The Venus tablet of King Ammisaduqa (Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63) refers to the record of 'astronomical' observations of the planet Venus. Some 20 exemplars have been found. The tablet (found in the 7th-century BCE library of King Assurbanipal at Nineveh) comprises a 21-year Babylonian record of the first and last visibility of Venus in the east and west (the appearances and disappearances of Venus).

Astronomical records were only zealously compiled beginning with the reign of Nabonassar (Nebu-nasir) in 747 BCE. (This period also saw the beginning of more accurate astronomical observations.) It appears the so-called astronomical diaries (and other astronomical records) were diligently written starting with this period. (The Babylonians termed the observations for the Diaries "regular watchings." Documents similar to astronomical diaries may have been written as early as the 12th-century BCE in the reign of Merodach-baladan I. See: Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles by Albert Grayson (2000, Page 13).) In his book Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, II (Pages 366-371), the polymath Franz Kugler made the suggestion that a possible reason why the Babylonians may have been motivated to begin keeping more accurate astronomical observations and records beginning 747 BCE was the spectacular conjunction of the moon and the planets in what was also the first regnal year of Nabonassar (Nebu-nasir). The evidence supports the conclusion that detailed records of a range of topics - not just astronomical phenomena - were diligently kept from the reign of Nabonassar (Nabu-nasir/Nebu-nasir) 747-734 BCE. The Babylonian Chronicle Series begins its narration with the reign of Nabonassar (Nabu-nasir/Nebu-nasir). The "Astronomical Diaries" and the Babylonian Chronicle Series are typologically similar. (See the modern discussion: "The Scientific Revolution of 700 BC." by David Brown. In: Learned Antiquity edited by Alasdair MacDonald et. al. (2003, Pages 1-12).) The British assyriologist David Brown has proposed (2003) "that around 700 BC, ... prediction became an all-important skill to the astronomers who practised astrological divination in the service of the Assyrian kings." ("The Scientific Revolution of 700 BC." In Alasdair MacDonald, Michael Twomey, and Gerrit Reinink, (Editors). Learned Antiquity: Scholarship and Society in the Near-East, the Greco-Roman world, and the Early Medieval West. Pages 1–12.) The primary purpose of the astronomical phenomena systematically recorded in the (astronomical) Diaries appears to have been to enable prediction of certain astronomical events.

Venus and astronomy in the 3rd-millennium BCE

There are no cuneiform texts from the 3rd-millennium BCE containing records of astronomical observations.

In his 1976 essay "Early Patterns in Mesopotamian Literature," In: Kramer Anniversary Volume edited by Barry Eichler, (Pages 13-24), the Danish assyriologist Bendt Alster gave an astronomical interpretation of the subject matter. Bendt Alster believed (at least at time of publication) that astronomical observations could be discerned in Sumerian compositions that date as early as the middle of the 3rd-millennium BCE, and these refer to the movement of the heavenly bodies and also the constellations.

Inanna's name is documented first in the archaic tablets found in Uruk/Warka, which date back to circa 3500 BCE. At that time Inanna was already connected with the planet Venus and was called dINANA-UD/húd (Inanna 'evening) and dINANA-sig (Inanna 'morning'). The name dINANA-KUR (Inanna of the Netherworld) is also attested, but less frequently. The early Uruk tablets that are used to identify Inanna with Venus have only very concise information, with expectation of reader knowledge. The three names would seem to reflect the three phases of the visibility of Venus.

The lion was a symbol of Inanna as early as circa 3000 BCE. However, there is no evidence for the constellation Leo existing in the 3rd-millennium BCE. So far as I am aware there is no textual evidence for a Sumerian lion constellation at this early period (i.e., 3rd or 2nd millennium BCE). Any claim for such relies on cylinder seal iconography. It is not established that constellations/constellation symbols are being depicted on any early cylinder seals. The earliest solid reference to a lion constellation in Mesopotamia is Hilprecht's Nippur Text (HS 245 (= HS 229)) which is dated to the Cassite Period circa 1530-1160 BCE.

The claim that the cult of Inanna circa 2000 BCE understood the "looping" retrograde motion of Venus sufficiently to depict such on the inside of the copper bowl as epicycloidal patterns require far more evidence than a statement about an unprovenanced artifact (i.e., Hostetter's copper bowl) that more likely dates to the 2nd-millennium CE. [Note: Now identified by British Museum experts as quite modern.]

The astral characteristics attributed to Inanna are somewhat ambiguous. During the Ur III period Inanna was primarily associated with the moon, and during most of the yearly seasonal festivals the phases of the moon were celebrated in her honour. The Ur III period is dated 2112-2004 BCE - this is approximately the period Hostetter is consistently claiming for the copper bowl and its identification with Inanna as Venus. (Very much a standard reference for festivals/celebrations during the Ur III period is Der kultische Kalender der Ur III-Zeit by Walther Sallaberger (1993, 2 Volumes).)

Inanna's Descent (and other fabula involving Inanna) may express aspects of the movements of the planet Venus (but not in the way imagined by Hostetter).

It is known that the Babylonian astronomers of the 2nd-millennium BCE had an understanding of the basic rules of the motion of Venus and the other planets.

"The earliest evidence that the phenomena of a planet were recognised as periodic is found in omens 22-33 of Tablet 63 of Enūma Anu Enlil, whose omens are based on the 'mean' intervals between the first and last visibilities of Venus." (See: VI "Legacies in Astronomy and Celestial Omens" by David Pingree (Page 126) In: The Legacy of Mesopotamia edited by Stephanie Dalley.) David Pingree also holds that the first serious attempts to devise mathematical models for predicting lunar and planetary phenomena began in the Achaemenid period (539-331 BCE). The Mesopotamians did not develop what can be termed a 'calendar era' until the late 4th-century BCE. Until then a system of regnal years were used, and it was very important to use the name of the correct king. It was only after the late 4th-century BCE that the system of dating changed and used a formulae such as "In the year 158 of the Seleucid era." The constancy of the measuring units employed in Hostetter’s copper bowl (as decoded by Hostetter) (a year of 365 days, days counted consecutively (as 'Julian days'?), and the 7-day week seem more 'modern' than 'ancient.'

Jeffrey Cooley, in his article, "Early Mesopotamian Astral Science and Divination in the Myth of Inana And Šukaletuda." (Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions, Volume 8, Number 1, 2008, Pages 75-98), holds the myth is related to the synodic activity of the planet Venus. Abstract: "The Sumerian tale of Inana and Shukaletuda recounts how the goddess Inana is raped by a homely gardener upon whom she seeks and ultimately finds revenge. Though this general plot has long been understood, certain elements of the story have remained largely unexplored. Previous scholarship has often suggested that within Inana and Shukaletuda, the goddess Inana is often described in her astral manifestation (e.g. S. Kramer 1961, 117; K. Volk 1995, 177-179 and 182-183; B. Alster 1999, 687; J. Cooper 2001, 142-144). Nevertheless, to date there has been no systematic treatment of this assumption and this study seeks to fill this gap. It is my thesis that certain events of the story (i.e. Inana's movements) can be related to a series of observable celestial phenomena, specifically the synodic activity of the planet Venus. This also explains the heretofore enigmatic climax of the story, in which Inana crosses the entire sky in order to finally locate her attacker, as a celestial miracle required by the planet Venus' peculiar celestial limitations. Furthermore, since in ancient Iraq the observation of astronomical phenomena was often done for the purpose of celestial divination, I suggest that certain events within the story may be illuminated if situated within that undertaking." Gebhard Selz holds that circa 3000 BCE there may have been knowledge of the 1.6 year synodic period of Venus. Bendt Alster (Proceedings of the XLV Recontre Assyriologue Internationale edited by Tzvi Abusch et. al. (2001, Page 144) writes regarding the rape of Inanna by a mortal: "Could the theme be used here to account for retrograde motion of the planet or, rather, could Inanna's rest and rape refer to the morning stationary point when retrogression ceases?"

"The two-tablet series known by its incipit as Mul.Apin 'the Plough Star' (this is not Ursa Maior, incidentally) outlines many similar schemes, but also includes star lists and omens. It is known from texts dating no earlier than the Neo-Assyrian period, but contains much material that is undoubtedly older. It has long been thought of as an early astronomical text, but again contains nothing that would have permitted the scribes to know in advance when an astronomical phenomenon would occur to even a moderate degree of accuracy. Its schemes are still no more then (sic) elaborations based on fundamental ideal periods, such as 30 days for the Moon, and 360 days for the Sun, idealisations that were common currency from the beginning of the third millennium at least (Brown 2000a: 106). The symbol of an eight-pointed star is known from pre-historic times, and its association with the goddess Inanna and thus Venus is assured from the mid-third millennium onwards (Black and Green 1992: 169–70). It can hardly be coincidence that the shortest period in years after which Venus repeats one of its characteristic phenomena is approximately eight. I would add, then, the eight-year synodic period of Venus to the list of ideal periods known throughout the third millennium BC. A related ideal pattern of Venus's behaviour is attested in the second section of the sixty-third tablet of Enūma Anu Ellil, the first part of which records phenomena dating to the reign of an Old Babylonian king (Brown 2000: 249 §9). Attuned as we are to seeking antecedents to modern thinking, we tend to regard the awareness on the part of the Mesopotamian scholars of the periodicity of the heavens, their assignment to those periods of round and ideal numbers, and the numerical elaboration therefrom, as in someway antecedent to our own exact science of astronomy. We confuse, though, the potential of such ideal periods to make accurate predictions with their intention, which, I argue, was instead to make the date and or time of an observation interpretable (Brown 2001). The ideal periods served the same purpose as the broad categories into which the visible phenomena of the heavens were divided – the constellations of the ecliptic, the four colours, the four cardinal directions, above and below, brightness and faintness, and so forth. Both reduced what would otherwise have been an infinite number of variables in any observation to a manageable few, all of which could be encoded with a particular value, and thereby made the heavens interpretable: 'If Nergal [meaning Mars] stands in [the constellation] Scorpius; a strong enemy will carry off the land [an ill-boding prognostication for the land, expressed as an enemy attack, since Nergal is associated with "the enemy"]' (Hunger 1992: no. 502: 11). ("Mesopotamian Astral Science." by David Brown, In: The Babylonian World edited by Gwendolyn Leick (2007), Pages 460-472.)"

Dina Katz writes ("How Dumuzi Became Inanna's Victim: On the Formation of "Inanna's Descent." Acta Sum, Volume 18, Pages 93-103.): "According to the end of ID [The Descent of Inanna] Inanna visited the Netherworld only once, and then Dumuzi and Geštinanna took turns there of half a year each. Yet, according to the list of Inanna's me's she descended to and ascended from the Netherworld22, and therefore it seems that she made regular visits to the Netherworld. A descent to the Netherworld can be attributed to Inanna in her astral image as the star Venus, which disappears twice during a cycle of 19 months. Venus's cycle could explain the first part of ID according to which she descended to the Netherworld and came out of it with Enki's help. However, since Venus does not have a yearly cycle, it does not correspond with the yearly cycle of Dumuzi, which forms the conclusion of the third part of ID. Therefore, it cannot explain his role as Inanna's substitute as stated in the second part of this myth. It seems that, whereas the biographies of both gods share a common motive, a descent to the Netherworld, each of them underwent a different mythological reality. The close relationship between Inanna and Dumuzi in Sumerian Mythology created the possibility of combining the two different mythological events that share a similar motif into one myth. The separation of the first part of ID from its third disengages a myth about Inanna's visits to the Netherworld23 from the myth of Dumuzi's death and descent to the Netherworld and thus eliminate the above mentioned contradictions. The composition of the second part and the concluding literary framework integrated the two mythological events in a causal relation, and created a new myth which explains the death of Dumuzi and his seasonal revival."

For the Sumerian god Dumuzi as a constellation, at least by the Old Babylonian period. see: Foxvog, Daniel. (1993). "Astral Dumuzi." In: Cohen, Mark. et al. (Editors). The Tablet and the Scroll: Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William W. Hallo. (Pages 103-108).

Inanna/Venus as gatekeeper to the underworld?

On "an ancient Mesopotamian tablet (No 65) from the city of Uruk [level IV], Venus is depicted as a star. The [simple] inscription suggests that Inanna follows the setting sun into the underworld." (Conversing with the Planets by Anthony Aveni (1992, Page 75.) "A tablet ... (dated ca. 2350 B.C.) refers to the Underworld Gatekeeper as the star near the rising sun, a likely reference to [the festival] occasions on which offerings were presented to Inanna in her specific guise as Venus." (Conversing with the Planets by Anthony Aveni (1992, Page 115.) The information is ultimately from Archaische Texte aus Uruk by the assyriologist/epigraphist Adam Falkenstein (1936). This small book comprising 75 pages is based on his excavations at Uruk. A number of tablets depicting Inanna/Venus were excavated from different levels (and dates). The helical rising or setting of Venus as the star of Inanna is depicted, that is, when Venus as the star of Inanna was first or last visible before or after the conjunction with the Sun. However, the overall exact meaning is open to interpretation.

Inanna's descent as a geographical journey

The British assyriologist Stephanie Dalley writes (Myths from Mesopotamia (Revised edition 2008, Page 154)): "The Sumerian version, The Descent of Inanna, .... shows clearly that Dumuzi periodically died and rose, causing seasonal fertility .... This version contains no ritual or incantation . However, like the Akkadian story, it seems to represent the goddess as a cult statue, and it has been suggested that the goddess's statue makes a ritual journey from Uruk, her home town to Kutha, seat of Underworld deities." Note: Though Kutha does not appear in the Sumerian text, it is found in the Akkadian version.

In Inanna's Descent, Inanna is is described in term of materials (precious metals, wood and stone) used in the manufacture of god/goddess statues. The use of garments for cult statues is well known. The disrobing of Inanna can be seen in the light of this.

It appears Mesopotamian cult images were carved from the wood of special trees (cedar wood) and overlaid with hammered-out sheets of silver or gold. ETCSL (The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature Project, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford) English-language translation: t.1.4.1. Inana's descent to the nether world: Lines 41-47: "When you have entered the E-kur, the house of Enlil, lament before Enlil: "Father Enlil, don't let anyone kill your daughter in the underworld. Don't let your precious metal be alloyed there with the dirt of the underworld. Don't let your precious lapis lazuli be split there with the mason's stone. Don't let your boxwood be chopped up there with the carpenter's wood. Don't let young lady Inana be killed in the underworld."" Lines 48-56: "If Enlil does not help you in this matter, go to Urim. In the E-mud-kura at Urim, when you have entered the E-kiš-nu-ĝal, the house of Nanna, lament before Nanna: "Father Nanna, don't let anyone kill your daughter in the underworld. Don't let your precious metal be alloyed there with the dirt of the underworld. Don't let your precious lapis lazuli be split there with the mason's stone. Don't let your boxwood be chopped up there with the carpenter's wood. Don't let young lady Inana be killed in the underworld."" Lines 57-64: "And if Nanna does not help you in this matter, go to Eridug. In Eridug, when you have entered the house of Enki, lament before Enki: "Father Enki, don't let anyone kill your daughter in the underworld. Don't let your precious metal be alloyed there with the dirt of the underworld. Don't let your precious lapis lazuli be split there with the mason's stone. Don't let your boxwood be chopped up there with the carpenter's wood. Don't let young lady Inana be killed in the underworld.""

Samuel Kramer's translation in his Sumerian Mythology (1944, 1961, Page 94) has: "Let not thy good metal be ground up into the dust of the nether world, Let not thy good lapis lazuli be broken up into the stone of the stone-worker, Let not thy boxwood be cut up into the wood of the wood-worker, ..."

Originally, The Descent of Inanna may have been chanted or enacted in a liturgical context in at least her main temple in Uruk. "Scholars suggest recitation of the poem may have been part of the celebration of the taklimtu, an annual ritual performed in late June or early July to mourn the death of Dumuzi. The latter Akkadian version, The Descent of Istar, seems to end with ritual instructions for the taklimtu, an annual ritual known from Assyrian texts, which took place in the month of Dumuzi (Tammuz = June/July) and featured the bathing, anointing, and lying-in-state of a statue of Dumuzi in Nineveh, Arbela, Assur and Kalah. Other scholars place the Sumerian performance of the poem in the context of the festival marking the annual journey of the cult statue of the goddess from its temple in Uruk to Kutha, a city that was home to the shrines of the gods of the Underworld (Greek Myths and Mesopotamia by Charles Penglase (1994, Page 21)." The cult statue was an important feature of Mesopotamian religion. The statues were made and repaired in special workshops. The gods/goddesses were physically brought into their cult statues through rituals. Gods/goddesses were believed to inhabit their cult statues after the latter had been animated by the proper rituals. The cult statues were regarded as identical to the gods/goddess themselves. A cult statue or celestial body is a materialised form that a god/goddess takes, a 'manifestation.' 'God/goddess napping' was a military endeavour. In Mesopotamian warfare there was a practice of taking away the gods of a conquered people and depositing them in the temple of the victorious deity. This demonstrated the power of the conquering god and removed the god/goddess from the conquered territory so that he/she would not be able to aid in overthrowing the conqueror's authority. Very few Mesopotamian cult figures have been preserved.

Statue processions were part of Mesopotamian life. Inanna's temple at Nippur is believed to be at least as old as the Ekur of Ninurta and date to the 3rd-millennium BCE. Gwendolyn Leick writes (Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City (2001, page 157)) that "... Nippur was a major destination for 'journeys of gods'. This was a tradition, particularly during the Ur III period, of transporting the statues of deities from their home temples to other gods' temples on a visit. One long Sumerian poem describes how the moon-god Nanna-Suen travelled to Nippur to seek Enlil's blessing."

For an interpretation of The Descent of Inanna as a literal geographical journey (procession/cultic 'divine journey') of the cult statue of Inanna, from the Mesopotamian city of Uruk (her main cult centre) to the Mesopotamian city of Kutha/Kutû (the city of the netherworld god Nergal and the seat of the netherworld gods/goddesses), see the article "The Descent of Inanna as a Ritual Journey to Kutha?" by Giorgio Buccellati (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issues 3, December, 1982, Pages 3-7). The Akkadian version of the myth of The Descent of Inanna explicitly refers to the netherworld as Kutû. It is likely the city functioned in a symbolic way as the netherworld. After reaching Kutha/Kutû the cult statue of Inanna is brought back to Uruk. (For a slightly different interpretation of The Descent of Inanna as a literal geographical journey see also: Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld by William Sladek (Published in 1974, John Hopkins University (Baltimore).) Sladek's interpretation of a northeastward journey to the Zagros mountains (where ganzir, the entrance to the netherworld is situated), with Inanna having abandoned the civilised cities, would also parallel the journey of the god Dumuzi to the Zagros mountains where he replaces his sister Geshtinanna in the netherworld. (See the discussion in: Greek Myths and Mesopotamia by Charles Penglase (1997) which focuses on journey myths.) See also: Abdul-Hadi A. Fouadi, Enki's Journey to Nippur: The Journeys of the Gods. (Unpublished PhD thesis, 1969).

Deena Ragavan (a post-doctoral scholar at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, February 28, 2012, http://oi.uchicago.edu/research/symposia/2012.html), Conference Organizer: Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, & Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World (March 2-3, 2012): "Of particular importance is the connection between mythological and literary texts and ritual practice. The possibility that some myths represent ritual activities, which would have had to take place within the geographic reality of Mesopotamia, has been the subject of much discussion. Compositions concerned with death and the netherworld have been especially susceptible to such interpretations (e.g., Katz 2007; Kramer 1991; Cavigneaux and al-Rawi 2000: 4-9). Texts describing divine journeys have often been considered to reflect cultic practice, perhaps in the form of ritual processions of the statues of the gods (Ferrara 1978: 354; Buccellati 1982; Van Buren 1952: 301-04). The myth of Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld has been understood to describe the movement of the goddess in her astral form, the planet Venus, as it sets below the horizon in the west (e.g., Wilcke 1976: 83ff.; see also Cooley 2008). Steinkeller (forthcoming) argues there is evidence that the festival of the Heavenly Boat (Sallaberger 1993: 216-19), celebrated as part of the cult of Inanna at Uruk in the late third millennium BCE, marked this mythic passage with a sequence of ritual offerings. This sequence seems to correlate to the stops on her journey through the netherworld and the ritual may have required the use of an actual boat, perhaps to transport the cult image. The possibility that the movement of the gods through the cosmos, as represented in myth, is matched by ritual movement in a cultic context, is often touched on, but needs to be explored in greater depth." The Abstract of her conference presentation "Entering Other Worlds: Gates, Rituals, and Cosmic Journeys in Sumerian Sources": "The doors and gateways of Sumerian temples and cities were visually distinctive, monumental structures, marking and enabling the passage between one space and another. Their appearance in the mythological tradition and their occurrence in cult practice suggest that movement through the gate may symbolize the transition from one part of the cosmos to another. This paper addresses the function and meaning of gates in the Sumerian tradition, in particular, the literary and administrative texts from the late third and early second millennium BCE. There is substantial evidence in Mesopotamian cosmological tradition for the idea of cosmic gates, situated in the east and west, through which the celestial gods, particularly the sun god, would pass to enter and exit the visible sky. Several Sumerian literary sources which describe the journeys of the gods through the cosmos, most notably Inana's Descent to the Netherworld, feature gates as the key starting or stopping points as part of the divine itinerary. Both archaeological remains and textual evidence indicate that the gates of Sumerian cities, sacred precincts, and temples were often massive, imposing constructions, while administrative records of sacrificial offerings and other cult practices reveal that gates could function as the locus of ritual activity. Through close examination of these various sources, this paper questions the extent to which these mythological journeys may correlate with ritual movement, similarly punctuated by stops at the actual gates that permitted access through city, precinct, and temple walls. Furthermore, the significance of this ritual usage for the cosmological symbolism of these structures, and the spaces which they connect, is considered."

Some two thousand years after the establishment of Inanna at Uruk the Babylonians constructed a gate, the famous Ishtar Gate to the city (dated circa 575CE), for Ishtar, as Inanna was then known.

Interestingly, Bendt Alster (Proceedings of the XLV Recontre Assyriologue Internationale edited by Tzvi Abusch et. al. (2001, Page 143) writes: "I would add that her movement from south to north, from Elam to Subartu, probably represents her following the sun northward on the eastern horizon, as Venus would in her appearance as the morning star during the first half of the year."

Summary: Issues that Decisively Demonstrate Problems with Hostetter's Astronomical Interpretation of Inanna's Descent

An imaginative rather than careful reading of The Descent of Inanna is indicated. With Hostetter's claims to have found astral connections the question becomes: What is truly found and what is truly invented? The evidence is either [1] internal to The Descent of Inanna or [2] external to The Descent of Inanna.

(1) The use of the number 7 (example: 7 gates) has a magical/topographical significance that is not derived from any literal astronomical realism. [2]

(2) The 7 gates of the underworld are part of a single gate complex (gatehouse) at 1 location (not separated along the road to the underworld that is enclosed by 7 walls). [1]

(3) The Sumerian moon god is Nanna/Suen (god of the full moon, crescent moon, and new moon). [2]

(4) Neti is not a god of the lunar crescent and no text supports Neti travelling monthly across the sky. [1] [2]

(5) The narrative structure of The Descent of Inanna implies the 7 gates were passed through in quick succession - in less than a day - for both descent (entry) and ascent (departure). [1]

(6) It is an assumption that Inanna's progress through each of the 7 gates is related to the brilliance (= changing magnitude) of the planet Venus. [1] [2]

(7) Properly the 'odd match' of 7 Venus-moon conjunctions are meetings of Inanna/Venus and her father Nanna/Suen (and are without mention in The Descent of Inanna). [2]

(8) There is no example of Ninsuburu (sukkal-zi-e-an-na = "the faithful/true courier/messenger of the Eanna," of the Eanna temple where Inanna had residence) being connected/identified with the planet Mercury. [1] [2]

(9) There is no example of the god Enki being connected/identified with the planet Jupiter [1] [2]

(10) There is no evidence that Neti patrols the 7 gates to the underworld in a crescent-shaped magur (god) boat along the underworld canal/river. [1] [2]

(11) There is no evidence that the chthonic river (River Hubur) runs through the underworld along the path of the 7 gates. [2]

(12) The Descent of Inanna contains a repetitive description of Inanna as a cult statue. [1]

(13) There is no evidence that Inanna was dead for 60 days in the underworld (= the 60 day disappearance of Venus from the sky). [1]

(14) The commonly used 60-day figure for the invisibility of Venus at superior conjunction is a mean figure, not an exact representation of an empirical measure. [2]

(15) There is no evidence to support the claim that the galla demons escorting Inanna from the underworld are meteors. [1] [2]

(16) There were only 7 galla demons in the underworld. The existence of only 7 galla demons is hardly supportive of the meteor shower interpretation. [1] [2]

(17) Though the earliest texts of the Descent of Inanna were first written down circa 2000 BCE, Hostetter asserts that his interpretation of astral events in the story can be fixed to precise dates in the 3rd-millennium BCE. [2]

(18) There is no evidence for the Perseid meteor shower existing circa 2500 BCE. [2]

(19) Overall, cuneiform sources are contradictory whether the visit of Inanna/Ishtar to the underworld is a single event or occurs repeatedly. [2]

(20) There is no clear evidence that The Descent of Inanna contains any astronomical framework other than the course of Venus setting in the west, moving eastward through the underworld, and rising in the east. [1] [2]

(21) Inanna's direction of travel though the underworld was west to east; not east to west. [1] [2]

(22) The Descent of Inanna describes that Inanna actually transitions from (1) the realm of heaven to (2) the realm of the underworld to (3) the realm of the earth. [1]

(23) There is evidence for a geographical journey (annually) of an Inanna cult statue to a number of cities (Uruk to Kutha/Kutû and return), with city gates the locus of ritual activity. [1] [2]

(24) The Mesopotamian city of Kutha/Kutû was the city of the netherworld and home to the shrines of the gods/goddesses of the Underworld. [2]

(25) Inanna descends to the realm of the underworld as an act of her own free will - it is not an inevitable event over which she lacks control. [1]

(26) Inanna being undressed in 7 stages is perhaps a literary device to build interest and suspense in the story. [2]

(27) After leaving the underworld Inanna visits Enki's palace where Ninshubur is waiting; but inconsistently, Hostetter does not have a (rare) triple Mercury-Venus-Jupiter conjunction [2]

Instead of dealing with these problems for his ideas, Hostetter has continued to repeat his basic beliefs, almost as a mantra. We deserve better history.

Panbabylonism and Hostetter's Views of Ancient Mesopotamian Astronomy

Hostetter is a proponent of the origins of complex astronomy in Sumer circa 3000 BCE, and a diffusionist.  Like the Panbabylonists of the early 20th-century, Hostetter promotes claimed evidence and arguments for an early Mesopotamian (i.e., Sumerian) technical astronomy. His claims are consolidated in his book, Star Trek to Hawa-i'i (1991). The book basically sets out his claims (1) the Sumerians (i.e., Inanna cult) 3rd-millennium BCE had developed a technical planetary astronomy, (2) the astronomical interpretation of the Sumerian myth of 'The Descent of Inanna to the Underworld,' and (3) the origin of the Polynesians can be traced to Mesopotamia. Though he is a constant proponent of his ideas his arguments suffer from the same types of weaknesses as those of the earlier Panbabylonists (excessive speculation and inability to provided any direct supporting statements contained in texts); plus Hostetter cannot read cuneiform.

Summary

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 7/Sep/2012): "Sometimes new and precise evidence confirms data in mislabeled ancient documents. Example: The cuneiform "myth" of Inanna's Descent to the Nether World." Also, Hostetter (Hastro-L, 8/Sep/2012): "The references are the astronomical data available on the Internet and The ETCSL (The Oxford Electronic Corpus of Sumerian Literature). Hope those can be considered reliable sources."

The issue is not so much reliability of sources but reliability of interpretation of those sources. Inanna's Descent cannot be reduced to a single astronomical meaning. To achieve his claims Hostetter reads and interprets selectively. The multifaceted nature/content of Inanna's Descent escapes him.

Hostetter's numerous claims comprise an exercise in dubious argumentation. He has transformed a reasonable idea into a detailed speculative concept and ignores any evidence that contradicts his assertions. He consistently fails to produce cogent evidence. Hostetter seems to believe that if he persists in emphatically promoting his ideas they will eventually be accepted by an audience of some type. The most important issue is not the perpetuation of the claims but rather the judged accuracy of such. Despite Hostetter's repetitious assertions the weaknesses in his speculations remain, and are unaddressed. I have little doubt that other issues will be identified when I take further time to examine Hostetter's claims.

Hostetter maintains that he has done insightful, original, multi-disciplinary research that is not yet able to be understood by experts who are necessarily limited by their focus on a narrow range of evidentiary material. Hostetter also maintains that his original research is above any critique using secondary material and authorities. In this he overlooks his own use/misuse of secondary material and authorities. Also, he fails to recognise his statements are unrestrained speculation, not educated guesswork. His claims do not qualify as erudite speculations.

Appendix 1: Some Useful References

Buccellati, Giorgio. (1982). "The Descent of Inanna as a Ritual Journey to Kutha?" (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issue 3, December, Pages 3-7).

Collins, Paul. (1994). "The Sumerian Goddess Inanna (3400-2200 BC)." (Papers from the Institute of Archaeology, Volume 5, Pages 103-118).

Fouadi, Abdul-Hadi. (1969, Unpublished PhD thesis). Enki's Journey to Nippur: The Journeys of the Gods.

George, Andrew. (1985). "Observations on a Passage of 'Inanna's Descent'." (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Volume 37, Number 1, Spring, Pages 109-113).

Hall, Mark. (1985, University of Pennsylvania PhD thesis). A Study of the Sumerian Moon-god, Nanna/Suen.

Heimpel, Wolfgang. (1982). "A Catalog of Near Eastern Venus Deities." (Syro-Mesopotamian Studies, Volume 4, Issue 3, December, 1982, Pages 9-22).

Horowitz, Wayne. (1998). Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography.

Katz, Dina. (2003). The Image of the Nether World in the Sumerian Sources.

Mettinger, Tryggve. (2001). The Riddle of Resurrection: "Dying and Rising Gods" in the Ancient Near East.

Reinhold, Gotthard. (2008). (Editor). Die Zahl Sieben im Alten Orient / The Number Seven in the Ancient Near East. Studien zur Zahlensymbolik in der Bibel und ihrer altorientalischen Umwelt / Studies on the Numerical Symbolism in the Bible and Its Ancient Near Eastern Environment.

Penglase, Charles. (1997). Greek Myths and Mesopotamia.

Pongratz-Leisten, Beate. (2006). "Prozession (sstraße), A. In den schriftlichen Quellen." In: Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie, Band II, 1./2. Lieferung Prinz, Prinzessin-Qattara.

Ragavan, Deena. (2012). "Entering Other Worlds: Gates, Rituals, and Cosmic Journeys in Sumerian Sources." (Conference paper: Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, & Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World (March 2-3, 2012), Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago).

Shipp, R. Mark. (2002). Of Dead Kings and dirges: Myth and Meaning in Isaiah 14: 46-21. [Note: See the chapter: "Ascent, Descent, and Other Mythological Motives." See also the chapter sections: "Venus and Venus Deities in the Ancient Near East." Page 68ff; and "The Course of the Heavenly Bodies." Page 89ff.]

Sladek, William. (1974, John Hopkins University (Baltimore) PhD thesis). Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld.

Stieglitz, Robert. (1982). "Numerical structuralism and cosmogony in the ancient Near East." (Journal of Social and Biological Structures, Volume 5, Issue 3, July, Pages 255-266).

Appendix 2: Hostetter's Original Articles on Inanna's Descent

Hostetter, Homer. (1979). "A Planetary Visit to Hades." (Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume II, Number 4, Fall, Pages 7-10).

Hostetter, Homer. (1982). "Inanna Visits the Land of the Dead: An Astronomical Interpretation." (Griffith Observer, February, Pages 9-15).

Appendix 3: Hostetter's Revised Article on Inanna's Descent

Hostetter, Homer. (2010). "An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World."" (Privately circulated. Revised and expanded version of his earlier articles.)

 

Part 3: Catalogue of Claims Made by Hostetter (with some additional notes)

Hostetter has demonstrated that he is a prolific crank. There is no reason to assume he is an autodidact on the subjects he discusses. There is no attempt by Hostetter at academic engagement with the topics. Missing are clarity of analysis and rigorous integrity and fairness in treatment of opposing views. He interprets without caution. Also, he frequently misunderstands the material he is dealing with. Many of his claims are made using false and distorted information - misinformation. Whenever he contests established ideas we are not dealing with equal merit ideas/arguments from him. We will increase our chances of actually knowing less about the history of early astronomy by too readily accepting Hostetter's speculative ideas. The following is a catalogue of Hostetter's forays into conjectural history. None are plausible. However, Hostetter has persisted in lambasting the scholarly community for some 35 years with some 15 spurious claims. He demonstrates unshakable confidence in his beliefs. He believes he is seeing 'truths' that orthodox scholars have missed. Nearly all of his statements are primarily speculation. Hostetter's use of so-called supporting references frequently reveals the reference sources do not actually contain material that gives clear support to Hostetter's claims. They simply seem to be used as part of Hostetter's attempted propaganda efforts.

Claim One by Hostetter (1979)

World Archaeological Congress, e-Newsletter, No 22: June 2008, carried: "Clyde Hostetter, Professor Emeritus, California (USA) Polytechnic State University has a small copper bowl that he purchased in an open air suq (market) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1976. It had a heavy layer of patina that he cleaned off, not realizing that the bowl's inscriptions probably has the earliest non-cuneiform record of astronomical planetary movements and eclipse prediction. The bowl's provenance appears to be the Bronze Age. In 1991 he authored a book decoding the inscribed symbols and several of his articles on the subject have appeared in astronomical magazines." Wikipedia contributor discussion for the entry General Astronomy/Apparent Motions of the Planets includes: "[A]stronomy in Sumer (Iraq today) … was being developed as early as 2600 B.C.E. There is evidence on a copper bowl acquired by Prof. Clyde Hostetter in Riyadh in September 1976. It has non-verbal symbology about eclipses and also about the movements of the planet Venus, the manifestation of the sky-goddess Inanna, who was an important part of Sumerian religion. Some of the symbols etched in the bowl indicated that Venus could be seen (without optics) as a thin crescent just before and just after inferior conjunction -- when Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun. Included in the symbology are a circle of loops suggesting that during the retrograde motion of Venus the planet came closer to the Earth." (This is an example of mainstream academia uncritically tolerating/assisting Hostetter's views, and helping to give them a quasi legitimacy.)

The non-verbal symbology are effectively treated as graphemes i.e., graphic symbols communicating information (that is, used to represent speech) - in this particular case numerical information for calculating eclipses.

Note: See discussion above.

Claim Two by Hostetter (1979)

Clyde Hostetter believes that substantial amounts of early cuneiform records (before 2000 BC) are actually reports of the movements and relationships of the seven "planets" (= including the Sun and the Moon) that moved around the sky and could be seen without optical help. In making this claim he also claims to be familiar with early cuneiform records. For Hostetter the most conclusive evidence is the myth of Inanna's descent to the underworld. However, he claims another source for identifying planetary movements underlying the myth of Inanna is Inanna's "stealing the sacred mes" (mes = documents/tablets which were blueprints/laws of civilisation), and her escape via a canal (Hastro-L, 3 November, 2009). (The mes includes: wisdom, ritual, priesthood, political power, security (war), crafts, animal husbandry, agriculture, sexual behaviour, family, and decision-making.)

Hostetter believes the celestial movements of Venus and Mercury closely matched the myth of Inanna's Descent into the Underworld in the middle of the 3rd-millennium BCE. He also identifies that the problem seems to be that Assyriologists (or some Assyriologists) don't know astronomy (and "concentrating on the earth beneath their feet and declining to see the celestial story being told above") and astronomers don't know cuneiform. However, some lay persons (such as himself) are willing to jump the academic boundaries. The Wikipedia summary, without citation, (April, 2010) gives: "Another recent interpretation by Clyde Hostetter indicates that the myth is an allegorical report of related movements of the planets Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter; and those of the waxing crescent Moon in the Second Millenium, beginning with the Spring Equinox and concluding with a meteor shower near the end of one synodic period of Venus."

An early astro-mythological article by Clyde Hostetter, was "A Planetary Visit to Hades." (Archaeoastronomy: The Bulletin of The Center for Archaeoastronomy, 1979, Volume II, Number 4, Fall, Pages 7-10). In it he gives an astronomical interpretation of the Sumerian story of Inanna's descent into the underworld. (The author was unaware of Alster Bendt's 1974 article.) For Hostetter the Sumerian myth, Inanna's Descent to the Nether World, is an allegorical account of celestial events that probably occurred beginning in April, 2502 BCE and concluded approximately 584 days later at the end of one Venus synodic period. Alternative years would be at eight-year intervals for perhaps 24 years before or after that date.

Note: Cal Poly Report [California Polytechnic State University], Volume 33, Number 18, Thursday, February 11, 1982, Page 3, Who, What, When, Where. In this short news article Hostetter is claiming that Inanna's Descent is not just astronomically descriptive but that it is astronomically predictive, i.e., a scientific astronomical tool.

Note: See discussion above.

Claim Three by Hostetter (1979)

Hostetter also makes the following claims/evidence to support his claims the Sumerians were making complex astronomical observations early as the 3rd-millennium BCE (i.e., the Sumerians predicting eclipses): (Science News, Volume 116, Number 1, July 7, 1979, Page 7) to support such: (1) A stone cylinder seal dated to the 3rd-millennium BCE with symbols suggesting that a 1-day difference had been observed in lengths of the spring and the summer at a time when the vernal equinox occurred in Taurus and the summer solstice occurred in Leo; (2) A vase of carved steatite (i.e., soapstone) dated between 3000 and 2800 BCE that has iconography recording a unique conjunction of the Sun, Venus, and the star Aldebaran that occurred in the year 2971 BCE. As far as I can determine Hostetter does not actually possess either item and neither is identified by him in any legitimate way (i.e., existing in one or more museums and having an identifiable provenance).

Note: Hostetter no longer continues to promote the Cylinder Seal and Steatite Vase Claims. But see claim fifteen.

Regarding the claims (1) a stone cylinder seal dated to the 3rd-millennium BCE has symbols suggesting that a 1-day difference had been observed in lengths of the spring and the summer at a time when the vernal equinox occurred in Taurus and the summer solstice occurred in Leo; and (2) a vase of carved steatite dated between 3000 and 2800 BCE has iconography recording a unique conjunction of the Sun, Venus, and the star Aldebaran that occurred in the year 2971 BCE. The former claim can be easily disputed and confidently dismissed. With eclipses the return of the Moon to the Sun can be timed quite accurately. However, the return of the Sun to the equinox point could not be timed with accuracy by ancient astronomers. This means it would be difficult to make the distinction between the sidereal year and the tropical year. Most ancient astronomical texts do not distinguish a sidereal year and a tropical year. In the absence of any supporting evidence the latter claim seems to be a case for wishful thinking - not evidence - being reflected. (This is also another case where Hostetter has now lost all knowledge of the argument and the 'evidence' he associated with it. A somewhat astounding situation for a such a landmark claim.)

Hostetter also likes to make claims (that mirror those of Willy Hartner) such as: "... it seems to me that cylinder seals from the Third Millenium (sic) that roll out an infinite number of series involving a bull, an ibex, a lion and a human-like figure indicate a belief in there being three huge animal constellations, plus one who could be Enki who "lived with the animals" and came down from the sky to wrestle with Gilgamesh. (Hastro-L, 25 November, 2009)" Also, more recently (Hastro-L, 11-3-2013), Sumerian cylinder seals relate to "the early days of astronomy." My comment was: "If we already know enough about the "early days of astronomy" then surely the subjective interpretation of Sumerian cylinder seals is not crucial."

There is a possibility that Hostetter discussed both items in an article in the Griffith Observer, Volumes 51-52, 1987. There is also a possibility that both items may belong to those recovered from the royal cemetery of Ur by the archaeologist Charles Woolley in 1927. The oldest of the royal graves there has been dated to circa 2800 BCE. A steatite vase fragment with stellar symbols was recovered from Ur. Also recovered from Ur is a steatite vase in the shape of a bull that has been interpreted as representing the Bull of Heaven.

Note: My understanding is that beginning the 3rd-millennium BCE the cylinder seals replaced stamp seals introduced in the 5th-millennium BCE. Also, the proto-cuneiform period began circa 3100 BCE. What is your dating for: "Some early Sumerian signature seals, before cuneiform, roll off a series of figures in the clay: A lion, a goat, a bull, and a male figure." Regarding the origin and date of the constellation of the bull (Taurus). Dates in the 3rd millennium BCE are commonly given for the existence of constellation Taurus. However, this is based on an interpretation of the bull in early literary epics and iconography. The name of the "Bull of Heaven" (mul gu4.an.na) in the Sumerian epic Gilgamesh and the Bull of Heaven has the same name as the bull constellation Taurus. Bulls appear on cylinder seal iconography (Sumerian and Akkadian Period 3200-2000 BCE), and Babylonian boundary-stone (kudurru) iconography (Cassite Period 1530-1160 BCE). However, it not established that constellations or constellation symbols are being depicted. It is established that - at least in the case of kudurru - god/goddess symbols are depicted. 'Prayer to the gods of the night' texts (Old Babylonian Period 1830-1530 BCE) list a bison, not a bull. It is unlikely that bison = bull. (Bison lived in the hilly flanks of the Mesopotamian low-land.) The Star-List from Boghazköy (VAT 7445) lists 2 asterisms forming part of the later constellation Taurus. 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. It is possible that the Boghazköy prayer/haruspicy ritual and star-list was earlier than the "astrolabe texts." Two constellations/asterisms listed include (1) MUL.MUL ["The Stars" = The Pleiades.] and (2) is le-e [The Jaws of the Bull.]. It could be argued that Taurus is indicated as existing through these asterism names, however, the assurance is not certain. The constellation GU4.AN.NA (the Bull) first appears in entirety in Astrolabe B (at the end of the Kassite Period circa 1100 BCE), and the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil (consolidated circa 1100 BCE). Also, the star lists forming the Mul.Apin series (dated on statistical grounds by Brad Schaefer to circa late 2nd millennium BCE).

Claim Four by Hostetter (1980)

The so-called 'Aubrey circle' of 56 chalk-filled holes that ring Stonehenge was constructed in the 3rd-millennium BCE and symbolise a 56 year eclipse cycle that closely matches the tropical years, and that the 112 years of lunar observations (Cecil Newham's suggestion of 112 annual observations of the winter solstitial moons) were made in connection with a 112-year eclipse cycle related to the 56-year cycle. Ignored by Hostetter is any detail concerning the archaeology of the holes. Aubrey Burl (A Brief history of Stonehenge, 2006, Pages 158 & 160) writes: "Newell also pointed out that it was possible to draw an exact circle through the holes, something impossible once the obstructive sarsen ring was standing. Despite this symmetry, there was little that was geometrical about the pits. Lying on the circumference of a ring with an average radius of 141ft 6in (43m) they were anything from 30 to 70in  (0.8 to 1.8m) wide, sub-circular or misshapen, and from 24 to 45in (0.6 to 1.1m) deep. Nor were they evenly spaced, varying by as much as a foot (30cm) between their centres. They lay neatly on a circle some 19ft (5.8m) inside the bank, but of haphazard shapes and depths as though dug by unsupervised work-gangs. Whatever the reason for the pits, it had not been obligatory to make them identical. Many objections can be made to some slipshod theories about the Aubrey Holes. Their ragged spacing and the latitude allowed in their width and depth warns that their diggers were not concerned with geometrical precision. ... Against the eclipse prediction theory is the fact that there are several other henges with 'Aubrey Holes', some of which held posts, most of them with cremations like those at Stonehenge, a few also with Grooved Ware pottery, but not one with the critical eclipse number of 56 ...."

Note: It was the astronomer Gerald Hawkins who first proposed that the 56 Aubrey Holes were astronomically significant because 56 could be a multiple of the 18.61 year lunar cycle (approximately 19 + 19 + 18), which would yield an eclipse calendar. However, Douglas Heggie (Megalithic Science, 1981, Pages 203-206) has pointed out the problems with the theory. See also: "Stonehenge: A New Theory." by Benjamin Ray (History of Religions, Volume 26, Number 3, February, 1987, Pages 225-278). Aubrey Burl (A Brief history of Stonehenge, 2006, Page 159) makes the point that critics have pointed out that, astronomically, 47 would have been a more workable number than 56 for eclipse predictions.

The first person to associate astronomy with Stonehenge appears to have been the Reverend Edward Duke. The American astronomer Gerald Hawkins' theory (first published 1966) on the use of the 56 Aubrey Holes to predict lunar events was workable but imprecise. The British Fred Hoyle reviewed Hawkins' work, and produced his own theories on lunar predictions using Stonehenge. Hoyle's method is much more accurate than Hawkins' because the actual day of the eclipse was predicted, as well as the eclipse season. Although modern astronomers could use Stonehenge to predict eclipses, there is no archeological evidence that the prehistoric builders/users had any idea about such things. Simply, you can make Stonehenge align on anything you like and make it do astronomically whatever you want it to by using a variety of techniques. What cannot proved, however, is that this would be an intentional part of the design of Stonehenge.

The site's construction began with circular earthworks, dug circa 3100 BCE., containing 56 holes known as the 'Aubrey Holes.' (The Aubrey Holes average about 1.1m diameter and 0.9m depth. They are similar to pits in the centre of Stonehenge known to have held bluestones.) Circa 800 years later the first ring of bluestones were added inside the circle. These bluestones were removed 200 years later to make room for the erection of five sarsen stone trilithons. The bluestones were then put back into place, along with a second circle outside the trilithons. The construction was concluded with the addition of a ring of sarsen stones around the existing monument.

The 56 Aubrey Holes contain cremated human remains. These human remains in the Aubrey Holes show that Stonehenge was a burial site and the evidence of burials and cremations at/inside Stonehenge date back to 3000 BCE.  All human remains had originally been buried in or near the Aubrey Holes or the ditch beyond them. The ditch is part of an earthwork enclosure that consists of a ditch and an interior bank (the height of which was calculated as being about 1.8m). However, Stonehenge may also have been a healing site. The Aubrey Holes contain chalk and it has been identified recently that at least several of the Aubrey Holes contain a layer of crushed chalk on their base, suggesting that they had once held bluestones.

Interestingly, it is unclear where the 'centre' of Stonehenge lies. Since circa 1995, the standard interpretation has been that, when first dug, the Aubrey Holes held tall oak posts that had no astronomical function. The true purpose of the Aubrey Holes may never be known. The 56 year cycle is not a particularly significant cycle in eclipses of the moon and the 56 year period is an unreliable method of predicting eclipses. A sustained (long-term) 56 year eclipse cycle does not exist.

 

Source: "Astronomy and Stonehenge." by Clive Ruggles (Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 92, 1997, Pages 203-229, Page 203).

 

Claim Five by Hostetter (1983)

Hostetter's "Sky Signs of the Mother Goddess in the Ancient Middle East and Greece" was the title of his highly speculative presentation given in 1983 at the First International Conference on Ethnoastronomy. An abstract of his presentation appears in Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of the Center for Archaeoastronomy, Volume VI, Numbers 1-4, January-December, 1983. He seeks to link the prehistoric worship of the Mother Goddess with the planet Venus, in both Mesopotamia and Greece. Invoked are a hypothetical 8-year cycle in early Mesopotamia and a hypothetical Venus-based religion at Delphi. (This is an example of mainstream academia uncritically tolerating/assisting Hostetter's views, and helping to give them a quasi legitimacy.)

From the abstract (Page 40): "There is evidence in both the mythology and the archaeology of protoliterate Mesopotamia and of ancient Greece that prehistoric worship of the Mother Goddess may have been linked in both areas to the planet Venus, and that key religious observances in both were centered around an eight-year cycle at the end of which the positions of the sun, moon and Venus are nearly replicated in the sky. The Mesopotamian mythology suggesting this relationship is a Sumerian myth, recorded in cuneiform in the Second Millennium but believed to date from the late Fourth Millennium, which describes a visit of the Sumerian fertility goddess Inanna to the land of the dead. The myth appears to be based on an eight-year cycle which began at the time of the Spring Equinox. The Greek myths and ancient festivals reflect a similar eight-year cycle (the Oktaeteris) used in Delphi to commemorate the victory of the Greek god Apollo over the monster Python at Delphi. Since female figures unearthed at Delphi confirm that the Mother Goddess was worshipped at Delphi before about 1500 BC, and since Apollo is the Greek Sun God, the commemorative ceremonies - still carried on through today's Olympic Games - may reflect a shift from an early religious calendar based based on the movements of Venus, the sun, and the moon to a later seasonal calendar, based on the movements of only the sun and the moon, that confirmed the defeat of the Venus-based religion at Delphi."

Note: An octaeteris cycle was established at both Olympia (with two festivals celebrated every 8 years) and Delphi (with 1 festival celebrated every 8 years). It has been suggested the 8-year festivals at Delphi had a direct connection with both the introduction of the calendar and with the institution of kingship.

The concept of the 'Mother Goddess' is a fiction. There is no evidence (excepting the controversial interpretation of myth) for the use of a 8-year cycle in early Mesopotamia and there is no evidence for a Venus-based religion at Delphi (and a Mother Goddess religion being overthrown by a Sun God religion). The belief that there was a female goddess figure (Great/Mother Goddess) in every ancient religion/civilisation which was the primary deity is highly controversial. The wide-spread existence of a Bronze Age Mother Goddess descended from Neolithic cults is now rejected by scholars. (For example: See the book review by the archaeologist Osbert Crawford in Antiquity, Volume 71, Issues 271-274, 1999.) See also the critical (English-language) book review of Marija Gimbutas's last book, The Living Goddesses (1999), by Lauren Talalay (then at University of Michigan), in Bryn Mawr Classical Review October 5, 1999. An extract: "Unfortunately, The Living Goddesses is a single-minded, essentializing, and largely unrigorous sweep through the mythology and folklore of prehistoric, historic, and modern Europe and the Mediterranean. As in much of Gimbutas's earlier work, the book raises intriguing questions but provides answers that are often unsatisfying and oversimplified, creating dichotomies that are more imagined than real. The weight of examples rather than carefully constructed arguments serves to buoy assertions. Like her other Goddess books, this one also has the feel of a museum display -- the "text as label" is more descriptive than analytic."

The leading proponent/pioneer of the (great/mother) goddess movement was the controversial Lithuanian archaeologist and author Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994), who spent 30 years studying patterns and symbols of cult objects. She also developed the field she referred to as "archeomythology" (embodying the fields of archaeology, comparative mythology, and folklore). According to Marija Gimbutas Europe's origins lay in a cooperative, peaceful, neolithic Goddess culture. The archaeologist Marija Gimbutas was born in Lithuania and died in the USA. She was a respected scholar in Indo-European studies of the Bronze and Neolithic periods. Her trained was at Tubingen and Harvard universities. She conducted archaeological work at sites such as Sitagroi, Anza and Achilleion and was a prolific writer, publishing numerous books and articles. Her academic work included a melding of language, myth, ethnography and archaeology. Gimbutas taught and conducted research at the University of California at Los Angeles. And she was a fellow of the Peabody Museum at Harvard. Her theories have remained being considered speculative and controversial by fellow scholars involved in the same areas of study. According to Marija Gimbutas Europe's origins lay in a cooperative, peaceful, Neolithic Goddess culture. With the publication in 1969 of Andrew Fleming's watershed (= transition) article "The Myth of the Mother Goddess." – and for other reasons – the theory lapsed into disfavour with archaeologists, with the notable exception of Marija Gimbutas. The belief that there was a female goddess figure (Great/Mother Goddess) in every ancient religion/civilisation which was the primary deity is highly controversial. The wide-spread existence of a Bronze Age Mother Goddess descended from Neolithic cults is now rejected by scholars. (For example: See the book review by the archaeologist Osbert Crawford in Antiquity, Volume 71, Issues 271-274, 1999.)

For early reviews/critiques of Gimbutas's work and the Mother Goddess theory see: Tringham, R. and Conkey, M. (1999). "Rethinking Figurines: A Critical View from Archaeology of Gimbutas, the 'Goddess' and Popular Culture." In: Goodison, L. and Morris, C. (Editors). Ancient Goddesses. (Pages 22-45); Eller, Cynthia. (2000). The Myth of Matriachal Prehistory.; Fleming, Andrew. (1969). "The Myth of the Mother-Goddess." (World Archaeology, Volume 1, Number 2, Pages 247-261); Hayden, B. (1986). " Old Europe: Sacred Matriarchy or Complementary Opposition?" In: Bonnano, A. (Editor). Archaeology and Fertility Cult in the Ancient Mediterranean. (Pages17-30). Steinfels, Peter. (1990). "Idyllic Theory of Goddess Creates Storm." (New York Times, February 13); Leslie, Jacques. (1989). "The Goddess Theory." (Los Angeles Times Magazine, June 11); Matthews, Jay. (1990). "Did Goddess Worship Mark Ancient Age of Peace?" (The Washington Post, January 7); Goode, Stephen. (1994). "Sophia and Feminist Theology" (Insight (Magazine), July 25, Page 14); Davis, Philip. (1998, 2008). Goddess Unmasked.; Hutton, Ronald. (1991). The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles. (Pages 37-42); Malone, Caroline., Bonanno, Anthony., Gouder, Tancred., Stoddart, Simon., and Trump, David. (1993). "The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta" (Scientific American, December, Pages 110-117); Mallory, J. (1991). In Search of the Indo-Europeans. (Note: Discussion/critique of Gimbutas' "Kurgan Invasion" hypothesis.); and Milisauskas, Sarunas. (1978). European Prehistory. (Page 183).

The worship of Gaia, goddess of the earth, was quite ancient at Delphi. Delphi was originally established as an oracular shrine for Gaia, her daughter Themis, and Poseidon. It became the sanctuary of Apollo after he slew the Python there. The god Apollo entered Greek religion circa 1100/1000 BCE. The most famous aspect of Apollo was the giving of advice i.e., prophecies. Oracular shrines of Apollo existed in Greece, Western Italy, and Asia Minor. His oracular shrine at Delphi was the most famous. Contrary to popular belief Apollo was never truly established as a sun god. However, he did assimilate some of the aspects of a sun god.

According to legend Apollo instituted the Pythian games in commemoration of his slaying the Python. The establishment of the games are dated to circa the mid 6th-century BCE. The calendar-system of Delphi was still octaeteric circa 200 BCE. Regarding the Olympic Games: The Greeks did not use their Olympic Games to pay tribute to Venus. The Olympic Games were dedicated to Zeus.

Claim Six by Hostetter (1988)

The crescent phase of Venus was sighted/identified in Mesopotamia circa 3000 BCE.

Note: Discussed above.

Claim Seven by Hostetter (1988?)

Hostetter also asserts: (1) The planet Venus performed a retrograde loop every 8 years in the constellation Leo during most of the 3rd millennium BCE, and (2) the planet Venus was identified with the lion. The lion was a symbol of Inanna as early as circa 3000 BCE.

Note: Discussed above.

Claim Eight by Hostetter (1988)

Circa the 1980s Hostetter was a long-term resident in Indonesia (1 year). He believes that circa 200 CE to 1200 CE the Batak culture of Indonesia were the people who populated Polynesia. He also believes that the Batak tribes may have voyaged from the Persian Gulf as early as 2000 BCE. This conclusion is reached because Hostetter believes some Batak rituals are surprisingly close to those of Sumer. He is persuaded that Batak ancestors had migrated due east by long-distance boat in the very distant past from India via the Maldive Islands. Further evidence for Hostetter is the oldest Batak tribes are on the equator like the Maldives and are on a group of small islands just off the west coast of Sumatra. (Later, he set out the claims out in his 1991 book  Star Trek to Hawa-i'i, that Polynesian origins are traced to the Persian Gulf. According to Hostetter he discovered evidence (from his consulting assignments in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Pakistan) that the Batak tribes may have voyaged from the Persian Gulf as early as 2000 BCE. Their descendents then moved east to islands off the coast of New Guinea and were the ancestors of the Polynesians who settled the Pacific.)

Book promotion: "Polynesian origins in the Middle East and Persian Gulf are revealed in this fascinating odyssey by world traveler Clyde Hostetter. New discoveries in the Saudi Arabian desert and the jungles of equatorial Sumatra provide startling evidence that more than 4000 years ago the ancestors of today's Polynesians began to follow the stars from Mesopotamia to Sumatra and then on to Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island. The trek begins with the discovery of a group of secret eclipse-prediction symbols on an ancient chalice found in Saudi Arabia in 1976. It leads to the Delphic Oracle in Greece, cannibal tribesman in the Sumatran highlands, Oahu beaches and the mujahideen of Afghanistan. Along the way Hostetter offers new insights into ancient rituals at Delphi, a fertility goddess's pilgrimage to hell and the sunlassoing feat of Maui, the Polynesian folk hero. Author Clyde Hostetter is a professor emeritus of California Polytechnic University and a world traveler who has served as a multimedia consultant to the governments of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Guatamala, and Afghanistan. His publications include a number of articles in popular and professional journals on the subject of middle eastern archaeoastronomy."

E-mail: http://www.emp.pdx.edu/htliono/feedbac2.html: "Mon, 09 Oct 95 09:58:57 Clyde Hostetter (chostett@well.com) Subject: Batak Origins Selamat Pagi-- I worked in Medan for a year as an advisor to the vocational teacher training school there. I discovered some evidence that the Batak tribes may have voyaged from the Persian Gulf as early as 2000 B.C. Then their descendents moved east to islands off the coast of New Guinea and were the ancestors of the Polynesians who settled the Pacific. I have written about this in a book, Star Trek to Hawa-i'i. I have a small Web page which shows a picture of the book's cover and describes the book briefly. I would appreciate it if you would include the address of my page in your page. The address is (http://www.webmediagrp.com/~rmenapac/stth/home.html) If you know anyone in Indonesia who would like to exchange ideas on this I would like to hear from them. I have two e-mail addresses: chostett@well.com and chostett@oboe.aix.calpoly.edu Terima kasih dan majuajua. Clyde Hostetter, Professor Emeritus, California Polytechnic State University P.S: Your page is beautiful and very complete!"

In one of his articles in the Griffith Observer Hostetter asserts: "[T]he Batak word for "honored mother of many children" is Ina-n-na. It is the name they sometimes give to the planet Venus when it shines after dusk ...."

Hostetter, whilst still a cruise ship lecturer, posted to Science Forums (www.science-bbs-com) 18 July, 1998: "I appreciate getting Ken Miller's number at the Bishop Planetarium in response to my posting re those 1800 cruise ship passengers. Alas, I really don't expect all 1800 to visit the planetarium, but hope that at least some will want to get better acquainted with the skies of Polynesia and the techniques that the pioneer Polynesian voyagers used to get them to Hawai'i. Or perhaps some of them will go home and ask planetarium programmers to demonstrate how applied astronomy helped settle nearly half the earth. That might help push the science back to earlier times than all those Greek and Roman pictures that too many planetarium programs use to describe the *beginnings* of astronomy. There was plenty of action before Zodiacal days, and the Polynesians and their ancestors were part of it." In Hostetter's imagination the issue of Polynesian nautical astronomy is an ignored subject by European historians of science. This appears to be a contrived position to fit his ideas and claims.

Note: This type of claim reminds me of such books as The Aryan Maori by Edward Tregear (1885, reprinted 1984) and Maori Symbolism by Ettie Rout (1926, reprinted 2003). According to Rout the Māori originated in Assyria. In the late 1800s and early 1900s especially, various 'crank' theories were proposed that had the Māori originating in South America, North America, India (the ethnologist Edward Tregear), Greece, Egypt and Israel (suggested by Christian missionaries), and Mesopotamia, among other places. Reuel Anson Lochore (1903-1991), a New Zealand government translator who completed his PhD studies in Germany, in his Hocken Lecture, 1973, (published 1974 (28 pages), Culture-Historical Aspects of the Malayo- Polynesian Settlement in Ancient South-East Asia) argued that the Māori originally lived as shepherds in Uru in the mountainous east of northern Mesopotamia. See "Maori/Polynesian Origins and the "New Learning"" by Kerry Howe (The Journal of the Polynesian Society, Volume 108, Number 3, 1999, Pages 305-326), for an informed discussion of 'crank' ideas on the settling of Oceania - including claims for settlers from Mesopotamia. Kerry Howe also included the discussion in his later book, The Quest for Origins (2003), 6 Alternative Ideas (Pages 121-138) and 7 'New Learning: or old learning' (Pages 139-158). Just published is To the Ends of the Earth by Maxwell Hill, Noel Hilliam, and Gary Cook (2012). The authors claim there is evidence that Greek voyagers settled in New Zealand circa 2000 years ago. Actually, this is an old claim made by the New Zealand academic (and diffusionist) Barry Fell (1917-1994), a biologist/zoologist who also claimed the New Zealand Māori were ancient explorers from Libya.

Recent genetic research reveals that the migratory story of the Polynesians may be more ancient and complicated than previously thought. A recently published study in The American Journal of Human Genetics maintains that Polynesians began migrating thousands of years earlier than was thought, not from Taiwan, but from mainland Southeast Asia. The study looked at mitochondrial DNA (which gives information about maternal ancestry). The researchers compared DNA samples from more than 4,700 people in Southeast Asia and Polynesia. Based on this sampling size they determined that Polynesians arrived in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea at least 6,000 to 8,000 years ago, via Indonesia, and presumably left mainland Southeast Asia circa 10,000 years ago. (See: "Ancient Voyaging and Polynesian Origins." The American Society of Human Genetics Volume 88, Issue 2, 11 February 2011, Pages 239–247. Abstract: "The "Polynesian motif" defines a lineage of human mtDNA that is restricted to Austronesian-speaking populations and is almost fixed in Polynesians. It is widely thought to support a rapid dispersal of maternal lineages from Taiwan ~4000 years ago (4 ka), but the chronological resolution of existing control-region data is poor, and an East Indonesian origin has also been proposed. By analyzing 157 complete mtDNA genomes, we show that the motif itself most likely originated >6 ka in the vicinity of the Bismarck Archipelago, and its immediate ancestor is >8 ka old and virtually restricted to Near Oceania. This indicates that Polynesian maternal lineages from Island Southeast Asia gained a foothold in Near Oceania much earlier than dispersal from either Taiwan or Indonesia 3–4 ka would predict. However, we find evidence in minor lineages for more recent two-way maternal gene flow between Island Southeast Asia and Near Oceania, likely reflecting movements along a "voyaging corridor" between them, as previously proposed on archaeological grounds. Small-scale mid-Holocene movements from Island Southeast Asia likely transmitted Austronesian languages to the long-established Southeast Asian colonies in the Bismarcks carrying the Polynesian motif, perhaps also providing the impetus for the expansion into Polynesia.")

Also, see the discussions in Oceanic Migration by Charles Pearce and Frances Pearce (2010), regarding genetic evidence for a Spice Island Polynesian Homeland and genetic evidence for a Lapita Homeland in the Wallacea region. The Spice Islands are in the West Pacific. The Spice Island archipelago and the island of Sulawesi lie in the Wallacea region. Wallacea is a biogeographical designation for a group of mainly Indonesian islands separated by deep water straits from the Asian and Australian continental shelves. Wallacea includes Sulawesi, the largest island in the group, as well as Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Halmahera, Buru, Seram, and many smaller islands. The islands of Wallacea lie between Sundaland (the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, and Bali) to the west, and Near Oceania including Australia and New Guinea to the south and east.

 

The biogeographical area of Wallacea.

 

See also: "Notes on the Discovery and Settlement of Polynesia." This report, published in April 21, 2011, in Mālamalama / The Light of Knowledge: The Magazine of the University of Hawai'i, is based on the study "High-precision radiocarbon dating shows recent and rapid initial human colonization of East Polynesia." by Janet Wilmshurst, Terry Hunt, Carl Lipoc, and Atholl Anderson, published in the February 1, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It updates the 1999 article that follows it. See the url: http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/ike/moolelo/discovery_and_settlement.html

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 14-July-2016): "Years ago a group of academics at Cal Poly, including Georgia Lee, met from time to time to discuss ancient evidence of very early civilizations' use of astronomy. This included the way in which Polynesian voyagers had followed the stars and currents to to settle the Pacific, including Easter Island. Some may remember the Hokalea, a voyaging canoe built by Hawaiians in modern times that demonstrated how their ancestors had settled the Pacific. My wife and I were in Hawaii when Polynesians from all over the Pacific gathered to welcome the return of the canoe. Polynesians from New Zealand gave us seats in their group during the ceremonies. It was any exciting day." There are some very loose statements being made here. Postulating vague ideas about stellar navigation without any clear indication of how it was achieved is unsatisfactory. Hostetter includes the Polynesian voyages "to settle the Pacific" within the scope of "very early civilizations' use of astronomy." However, it is indicated that a lot of the Polynesian exploratory and settlement voyaging was done in the 2nd-millennium CE (not BCE). This includes Easter Island and New Zealand. Hostetter has made no attempt to provide a context that takes into account the latest research work.

My reply (Hastro-L, 14-July-2016): "Is it really historically accurate to include the Polynesian voyages "to settle the Pacific" within the scope of "very early civilizations' [unnamed] use of astronomy"? It is indicated that a lot of the exploratory and settlement voyaging was done in the 2nd-millennium CE (not BCE). This includes Easter Island and New Zealand. There is no attempt to provide a context that takes into account the latest research work. As example, see: "Notes on the Discovery and Settlement of Polynesia." This report, published in April 21, 2011, in Mālamalama / The Light of Knowledge: The Magazine of the University of Hawai'i, is based on the study "High-precision radiocarbon dating shows recent and rapid initial human colonization of East Polynesia." by Janet Wilmshurst, Terry Hunt, Carl Lipoc, and Atholl Anderson, published in the February 1, 2011, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). It updates the 1999 article that follows it. See the url: http://pvs.kcc.hawaii.edu/ike/moolelo/discovery_and_settlement.html" The earliest Pacific Ocean voyagers were not Polynesian. People from Asia populated what is now term Polynesia. It is generally believed these early voyagers used purposeful navigation. Intentional sea voyaging of exploration and trade ("go and return voyages") and migration ("go and no return voyages") utilised an accumulated knowledge of seafaring. Just how much of this involved stellar navigation techniques remains uncertain. The distinctively Polynesian culture developed from the earlier Lapita culture. Interestingly, Andrew Sharp (Ancient Voyagers in Polynesia (1963)) argued that navigation implies that the location of one's objective is already known. In the case of early Polynesians, they would have never known where the next island was. See the discussion: ""Remembering Navigation": An Analysis of Polynesian Navigation and Seafaring as Collective Memory." in CJA AnthroJournal: The Collegiate Journal of Anthropology, Volume 1, Monday, October 3, 2011. URL: http://anthrojournal.com/issue/october-2011/article/remembering-navigation-an-analysis-of-polynesian-navigation-and-seafaring-as-collective-memory

Also important: "Chapter 12. The Hawaiian and other Polynesian seafarers developed methods based on observations of constellations and currents, so that they could sail intentionally from Tahiti to Hawaii and back." Con[trary] by Clair Brennan. In: Popular Controversies in World History, Volume Two: The Ancient World to the Early Middle Ages. edited by Steven Danver. (2011; Pages 267-279).

Claim Nine by Hostetter (1993)

Examples of Hostetter working the discussion forums are his similar postings to to sci.archaeology and sci.astro for 1993 and 1995. Clyde Hostetter in an apparently parasitic posting to sci.astro (10 December 1993) wrote: "I, too became interested in the Sumerians when I was working as a media advisor to the Saudi government in Riyadh 16 years ago. I'm not a professional archaeologist but I learned a great deal about the Sumerians while researching the symbols on an ancient corroded copper bowl that I found in the desert around Riyadh. And I learned a lot about ancient Mesopotamian astronomy, too, after the symbols turned out to be a system for predicting eclipses. Then eight years later on a similar assignment in Indonesia on the island of Sumatra I discovered some close correlations between ancient Mesopotamian astronomy and rituals and those of the Batak tribes of Sumatra ... which then turned out to match some of the artifacts of the Lapita culture off New Guinea. (The Lapitans were the forerunners of the Polynesians who explored and settled the Pacific.) This combination of ancient astronomy and prehistoric long-distance voyage through celestial navigation prompted a book that I wrote in 1991 - - Star Trek to Hawa-i'i - which suggests that the Polynesians may have roots in the Middle East."

Note: See discussion above. In this posting we have an early example of Hostetter establishing 2 versions of how he came into the possession of the copper bowl. Version 1 is he purchased it at an outdoor market in Riyadh. Usually stated as he purchased it in an open air suq (market) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 1976. Version 2 is he found it in the desert around Riyadh. The differing versions are incompatible. Hostetter never attempted to obtain a secure dating for the copper bowl, based on its iconography. Why he decided to promote it as Sumerian will likely never be known. Why he did not obtain an opinion about the origin of the copper bowl whilst he was in Riyadh will likely never be known.

Claim Ten by Hostetter (1993)

Clyde Hostetter in an apparently parasitic posting to sci.archaeology (20 December 1993) wrote: "A reliable measure of time which seems to have been used by the Sumerians (2000bc) to establish the 360-degree circle is the diameter of the sun and/or moon. The 60 minute hour derives from the same source. If you measure the time it takes for the sun/moon to disappear from the horizon after its lower limb touches the horizon you have a pretty reliable standard for calibrating water clocks, etc.

Note: Otto Neugebauer, who was one of the world's leading experts in ancient mathematics and astronomy, states in his book The Exact Sciences in Antiquity (1951; 2nd edition 1969): "A second Egyptian contribution to astronomy is the division of the day into 24 hours, though these hours were originally not of even length but were dependent upon the seasons. ... Thus our present division of the day into 24 hours of 60 minutes each is the result of a Hellenistic (Greek) modification of an Egyptian practice combined with Babylonian numerical procedures." The Babylonians/Mesopotamians used base 60 numbers in their business, astronomy, and mathematics (and they also used base 10 numbers). Likely connected to this usage was the division of the circumference of a circle into 360 parts by Babylonian astronomers. Geometric circles and the apparent movement of stars on the celestial sphere go naturally together and time is a common feature of astronomy. Otto Neugebauer (The Exact Sciences in Antiquity) also stated: "The division of the circumference of the circle into 360 parts originated in Babylonian astronomy of the last centuries BC. The [base 60] number system as such is many centuries older and has nothing to do with astronomical concepts." (It's also likely that the Babylonians were interested in 360 because that was their estimate for the number of days in an ideal year. We have retained from the Babylonians not only hours and minutes divided into 60, but also their later division of a circle into 360 parts or degrees. Another possibility is the use of sexagesimal numbers in late Babylonian mathematics. A hexagon composed of 6 equilateral triangles can be inscribed within a circle. If the angles at the corners of 6 equilateral triangles are placed together they form the angle formed by a complete circle. Then, if each of the angles of the triangles could be described by 60 degrees, following the sexagesimal system, the circle would have 360 degrees. For this reason there are 6 times 60 degrees of arc in the complete circle.

Claim Eleven by Hostetter (2008?)

Another discovery claimed by Clyde Hostetter is the Persian god Mithras is a male transformation of the Arabian goddess Alitta.

Barbara Carter (22 January, 2008) posting on Mythical Ireland website: "This is from Clyde Hostetter: "Apparently I had stumbled onto the origin of the Zodiacal symbol for Leo. The symbol seemed to be closely connected with the horned goddess ... But how did the symbol come to be used in connection with worship of a male Persian god, Mithras, whose origins could be traced back to well before the time of Christ." [...] "I found a clue in the works of Herodutus, an important Greek historian who visited the Middle East late in the Fifth Century B.C. and reported on religious customs of the area. The Persians, he wrote, much earlier had begun to worship an Arabian fertility goddess whom the Arabs called Alitta and the Persians called Mitra." ... "Alitta, ... was a garbled translation of Al-Lat, one of the three goddesses ... Al-Lat was a direct descendent of the Sumerian fertility goddess Inanna and her Semitic successor Ishtar, ... Herodutus was correctly reporting on the worship of a Middle Eastern goddess, symbolized by a lion. At some earlier time she had been transformed into a male Persian god who would be worshipped by Roman Legions all over the Empire as Mithras. When or how the transformation had occurred was unclear.""

Note: See discussion above.

Claim Twelve by Hostetter (2009)

This relates to the Antikythera Mechanism (a gears astronomical 'computer' found in the waters off Greece). On Hastro-L in late 2009 Hostetter twice claimed circa 1000 BCE for the date of the Antikythera Mechanism. (Hostetter has been interested in implying a very early date for the Antikythera Mechanism for several years.) Hostetter (personal communication, April 2010) claims that it was simply a 'typo.' However, after admitting a correction for the first claim of 1000 BCE, on Hastro-L a week later he stated "there is some indication that the data was compiled much earlier," and at the end of November he again apparently made a 'typo' when he again claimed a date of 1000 BCE. In a personal communication (April, 2010) he states: "[the copper bowl is proof] ... like the Antikythera Mechanism is accepted proof, that important things were happening in astronomy 1000 or more years than previously accepted." This is either ambiguity due to poor sentence structure or another reiteration of an early date for the Antikythera Mechanism/its data. Hostetter has been intent on linking his copper bowl with the Antikythera Mechanism. However there is no legitimate connection between the two. This has not prevented Hostetter from making vague and pointless statement about both items. Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 26-6-2013) commenting on the Antikythera Mechanism: "Not mentioned is the way in which the obscure engraved instructions [on the Antikythera Mechanism] were revealed by a technique developed by a Hewlett-Packard senior scientist. He used the same technique on the copper bowl that I found in Saudi Arabia. We talked well into the night about the implications." Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 28-6-2013): "This may suggest that very early [Sumerian] observations eventually could have been incorporated into the Antikythera Mechanism." This is another case where Hoster's enthusiasm for speculation exceeds the fact that there is a complete absence of evidence.

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 3 February 2016) posted: "Did anyone see the story about the story in the Times and in National Geographic about "Signs of Modern Astronomy Seen in Ancient Babylon." i.e. early primitive calculus used tracking movements of Jupiter as early as 300 A.D.? (sic) Maybe it's time to take B.C. Sumerian astronomy more seriously." (The email is a reference to the recent (2016) discovery that Late Babylonian planetary theory for Jupiter (circa 300 BCE to 100 CE), of which there were 5 or 6 variant systems, included the use of an ancient form of geometric calculus.) This approach by Hostetter - linking established late period artifacts with his imaginative early period claims - is similar to his strategy of attempting to link the Antikythera Mechanism with his copper bowl claims. Apart from this the email makes little sense.

Note: See discussion above.

Claim Thirteen by Hostetter (2009)

In 1965 the exceptional historian of ancient science, Willy Hartner, published a paper setting out his belief that by 4000 BCE the Sumerians had originated (for agricultural purposes) a quartet of huge ecliptic constellations (i.e., a simple proto-zodiac), comprising the Bull, the Lion, the Scorpion, and the Ibex marking the 4 tropical points of the sky. Many people have also adopted his belief without making further critical analysis. Clyde Hostetter is one of these people. His view expressed on Hastro-L is (late 2009, early 2010): (1) " ... it seems to me that cylinder seals from the Third Millenium that roll out an infinite number of series involving a bull, an ibex, a lion and a human-like figure indicate a belief in there being three huge animal constellations, plus one who could be Enki who "lived with the animals" and came down from the sky to wrestle with Gilgamesh. Al-Biruni describes one celestial beast that occupied one-fourth of the sky and whose name in Arabic suggests that it is a lion." and (2) " ... on page 35 of Porada's book, "The Art of Ancient Iran", she mistakenly pictures an apparent lion-bull conflict on a cylinder seal that she dates to about 3000 B.C. The seal shows what Porada describes as a bull dominating a lion and then a lion dominating a bull. However, what is pictured is a bull dominating a lion and a lion dominating an ibex or goat. This could represent a sequence of huge constellations that occupied three-fourths of the sky. (The other portion might be that of Enki, who "lived with the wild animals" before coming down from the sky, as described in the Gilgamesh epic.) It is interesting to compare this with today's Zodiac in which Taurus is only part of a bull a portion of a goat has been lost as well, and the huge leonine constellation of Al-Biruni has been split into two pieces, Leo and Leo Minor."

Note: Some pre-Islamic Arabian constellations have the same Babylonian source as the Greek zodiacal signs, but were independently inherited from Mesopotamia well before the translation of Greek scientific texts into Arabic. By Islamic times, some of these borrowed constellations had been relocated to different parts of the sky. While the classical constellation Aquarius is in its (modern) place on the ecliptic, a pre-Islamic Arabian constellation Aquarius called 'the bucket' also appears in Islamic astronomy, just to the north in Pegasus. Other zodiac signs have remained in the same place as their Greek counterparts.

Some of the Arabian versions of zodiacal constellations were (or became) far larger than the Greek counterparts, also inherited from Mesopotamia. An example is the "huge Arabic lion," a precursor of Leo. The early Arab constellation of the lion was much larger than the Aratean Leo. It sprawls across 7 classical constellations. The hind legs are in Boötes (north of the ecliptic), Virgo and Corvus (south of the ecliptic), and the forelegs are in Gemini. The lion's nose and mouth are in Cancer, while its eyes, forehead, heart and hackles are in Leo.

 In his book Kitāb al-tafhīm (= The Elements of Instruction in the Art of Astrology) the Islamic Persian astrologer and philosopher Al-Biruni (973-1048 CE) discusses some of the early Arabic constellations. He states that one of the most important was ‘Al-Asad,’ the Arabic Lion, an enormous lion constellation extending over one-quarter of the sky. He states (Section 163): "[T]heir Lion is fashioned out of some five [7?] constellations, only the eyes, forehead, neck and shoulders and the tail-tuft belong to Leo, while they make the foreleg out of the heads of Gemini, the other [leg] out of Canis minor, the nose out of Cancer and the hind legs of the two simaks [Arcturus and Spica]. In Section 164 Al-Biruni states: "With regard to the Mansions of the Moon, the Arabic lion extends from the 7th to the 14th mansions. The 7th is the foreleg; the 8th the nose; the 9th, the eyes, the 10th, the forehead, the 11th, the mane (even though it is located in the hindquarters of Leo), the 12th, the tip of the tail, the 13th, Al-Biruni says are dogs barking after the lion, the 14th, the hind legs of the lion."

All 12 constellations that later formed part of the zodiac were established in Mesopotamia by the late 2nd-millennium BCE, and appear in the Mul.Apin series (dating to circa 1300 BCE according to the astronomer Bradley Schaefer). Some of these may have been adapted in the Arabian peninsula before the 12-constellation zodiac (of 30 degree divisions along the ecliptic) was developed in the 1st-millennium BCE. As traditional Arabian astronomy includes a large lion, it can be assumed that the transmission to Arab folk astronomy occurred sometime later than 1300 BCE. Pre-Islamic folk astronomy in the Arabian Peninsula borrowed 2nd-millennium BCE stellar groupings from Mesopotamia prior to the Mesopotamian reworking circa 5th-century BCE to create an evenly spaced 12-constellation zodiac. During the late 2nd-millennium BCE the astronomical knowledge summarised in the Mul.Apin series had spread to the Middle East, Greece, Iran and India.

Roland Laffitte states the Arabic 'Super lion' is related to the pre-Islamic anwa' tradition and has likely been shaped by an oral heritage originating from Babylon through Aramaic traditions.

Paul Kunitzsch (Kunitzsch, Paul. (1986). "Remarks on Possible Relations Between Ancient Arabia and the Neighbouring Civilizations, as Found in Some Old Star Names." In: Pre-Islamic Arabia (Studies in the History of Arabia, Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Studies in the History of Arabia ... April, 1979, Volume II, Pages 201-205)) has explained that out of a list of just over 300 individual indigenous Arabic star names only about 15 names plus a number of constellation names belonging to the zodiac may have been borrowed from elsewhere (likely Babylonia). The system of 28 lunar mansions was borrowed from India. The zodiacal constellations came from Babylonia, before or being completed with Greek influence. The introduction of the 12 zodiacal constellations (but not the Babylonian 'system' of use) did not likely occur as a single transmission. The indigenous Arabs of pre-Islamic Arabia gave 6 of the zodiacal constellations new names and 4 of the adopted zodiacal constellations were relocated in the sky, and some were made larger. Paul Kunitzsch explains that when adopting the system of 28 lunar mansions, the indigenous Arabs transferred the names of their anwa' system of corresponding pairs of stars to the lunar mansions, according to their localization in the sky. The translations of scientific works of the Indians into Arabic reportedly occurred in the 2nd half of the 8th-century CE, under the, Abbasid caliph al-Mansur. It can be assumed that the Arabs obtained their knowledge of the lunar mansions earlier than this time.

Footnote to Claim 11: Paradoxically, Clyde Hostetter wrote: (1) (Hastro-L, 21-2-13): "I acquired an Arabic-English dictionary during the year that I was tutored in Arabic in Riyadh, and became aware of the flawed translations of Al Biruni's description of Al Asad (which is NOT a "lion"). I invite any discussion based on knowledge of Arabic." and (2) (Hastro-L, 23-2-13): "Al Asad means "beast" in a generic way. The constellation that Al Biriuni described is a beast. It had a mane located in what is now called Leo Minor. My article, "On the Track of the Cat", used another generic term in the title. …" In response (Hastro-L, 23-2-13) I made the following 10 statements and commentary. (1) 'Asad' is a male name. (2) The primary meaning/usage of 'asad/assad' is 'lion.' (3) There is not another word that can substitute for 'lion.' (At least I have never seen one used.) (4) The word 'asad' can denote 'beast.' (5) 'Al wahash/wahhish' means beast. (6) The word 'asad' can have the metaphorical meaning 'courageous,' 'strong,' 'brave.' (7) In Burton's, The Arabian Nights the lion is the 'king' of the beasts. (8) Within the 'cat' family only adult male lions have visible manes. (9) Al-Biruni mentions the mane of 'asad.' (Quotes use of the term 'al asad.') (10) Scholars such as Paul Kunitzsch and Emilie Savage-Smith who are professionally involved in understanding Arab-Islamic astronomy have Al-Biruni's 'asad' as a lion (constellation). I also made the point: "If there is some important point to be made by you then why in over 3 decades is there only 1 popular article buried in the McDonald Observatory News? Did you put your ideas to Paul Kunitzsch or Emilie Savage-Smith for comment?" When requested to identify his Arabic-English dictionary Hostetter did not do so.

Continuation of Claim Thirteen: In a parasitic posting (Hastro-L, 25-May-2016) Clyde Hostetter wrote: "Gilgamesh "lived with the animals" and he came from the sky. The "animals" were four early constellations before they were divided into the Zodiac. Any reaction to that?" Hostetter cites no no reference(s) or evidence. My reply (Hastro-L, 25-May-2016): "(1) Enkidu. (2) Your contradiction of Edith Porada's scholarship in The Art of Ancient Iran (1965, Page 35)." There is an attempt by Hostetter to join 2 separate claims together. In the Gilgamesh epic the mighty wild man Enkidu comes from heaven and lives with wild animals. Hostetter has become muddled and substituted Gilgamesh for Enkidu. (Gilgamesh does not come from heaven and only in the later part of the Gilgamesh epic does he live with wild animals.) The assertion of 4 animal constellations is simply Hostetter's intractable reimaging of a cylinder seal scene discussed by Edith Porada. Hostetter acknowledged his mistake but persisted with his other claim. Hostetter posted (Hastro-L, 26-May-2016): "[snip] Meant to point out what seems to be a man-like constellation among the four early animal constellations. [snip]" My reply (Hastro-L, 26-May-2016): "This statement does not make any sense. Cite the reference(s) or evidence for your statement." Hostetter replied (Hastro-L, 26-May-2016): "Evidence is my celestial globe. No citation needed." My reply (Hastro-L, 26-May-2016): "You give no legitimate reason for your claim excepting to express your belief in what appears to be a "magic machine." You do not provide any legitimate means for further assessment of it. It remains vacuous. Once again it also does not make any sense. Your claim appears to be connected only with some personally held intractable belief." I have not seen Hostetter introduce any discussion of the pitfalls of using modern computer software in identifying and analysing ancient astronomical records, especially claimed astronomical records existing in stories. The value of Delta T for dates earlier than circa 2000 BCE is only one problem.

Claim Fourteen by Hostetter (2014)

Posting by Hostetter to Hastro-L (3 November 2014): "Thirty years ago in one of the two major museums in Greece I saw a vessel that represented the four phases of the Moon allegorically. At that time this apparently hadn't yet been realized. I've sometimes wondered if anybody ever did. Does anyone know if there was ever a recognition?"

No information is provided regarding what exactly the iconography looked like. Why the phases of the moon would be represented allegorically is not explained. Nothing indicates that Hostetter pursued the supposed identification further. Scenes located in the sky are not uncommon in late Archaic (540-480 BCE) and Classical (480-323 BCE) Greek art, primarily in krater (large vase) painting, and are most indicated by the presence of stars as locational devices. However, these scenes are most usually only mythological in nature. They do not directly depict constellations or reflect the physical realities of the sky.

Claim Fifteen by Hostetter (2015)

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 7-3-2015): "Here is a glimpse outside the "box" of the 12-constellation Zodiac which is being discussed. Dr. Edith Porada was author of a book first published in 1962 whose title is The Art of Ancient Iran--Pre-Islamic Cultures. On page 35 of the Crown Publishers edition there is the reproduction of a cylinder seal's imprint that has two figures, a Bull and a Lion, each of which alternately dominates the other as the seal is rolled. Between the Lion and Bull as the cylinder rolls is a triangle with a wide base at the top. There are six vertical lines spaced evenly across the top of each triangle. On each of the other sides of each triangle there are three vertical marks. A vertical mark in the triangle bisects it from top to bottom and extends beyond the bottom tip. When the dominant Bull is to the left of the dominant Lion there two chevrons on the vertical mark that bisects the triangle. When the dominant Lion is to the left of the dominant Bull there are three chevrons on the vertical mark. Dr. Porada dated the cylinder seal to about 3000 B.C. in her book. ... An interpretation of the diagram might suggest that in 3000 B.C. there were two major celestial gods of the sky: A huge Lion and a huge Bull. The two differing triangles each could represent six (lunar) months of 177 days) plus either two or three days (the chevrons) for a total year count of either 365 or 366 days. The three external vertical marks on the outside of each triangle, plus the shared verticle (sic) line in the middle of the design might relate to the solstice and equinox periods...but this is a stretch. Whatever the meaning of the cylinder-seal marks, if Dr. Porada's dating of 3000 B.C. is correct, someone a very long time ago created a diagram featuring a Bull and a Lion that repeated a cycle of some sort as the cylinder was rolled on damp clay. Was this the beginning of the Zodiac, with the opposing Taurus and Leo??? Any other interpretations?" Also, Clyde Hostetter wrote (Hastro-L, 18-4-2015): "If you have access to The Art of Ancient Iran by Edith Porada, first published in English in 1965, please check the lower image on page 35. I believe it represents a two-season year. The first triangle has six vertical marks and encloses two chevrons. The second has six vertical marks plus three enclosed chevrons. If the six vertical marks on each triangle represent six 30-day months and the chevrons represent two days and three days the total is 365 days. The triangles separate, alternately, a bull dominating a lion and a lion dominating a bull. The total number of months and days total 365. I noticed this about 20 years ago and mentioned it in a small paper which was presented in my absence by a (sic) there was no reaction...perhaps because I have no academic credentials in archeoastronomy."

Comment: A major scene showing an opposing bull and lion is not unusual. The iconography appears on 1st millennium BCE cylinder seals. The inclusion of a variation of lines is also not unusual. Hostetter seems to be suggesting that the beginnings of the zodiac began in Iran rather than Mesopotamia. Hostetter, once again, does not indicate that he has spent more than '5 minutes' on developing his interpretation. It is not indicated that he has made any effort to identify other similar iconography on cylinder seals from the ancient Near East, and what dates are established for them. A cylinder seal scene from Hasanlu in northwest Iran - dated circa 1100-800 BCE - has an opposing bull and lion and a number of triangular lines. A revised edition of Porada's book appeared in 1969. Interestingly, with this type of 'evidence' Willy Hartner argued for a 4-constellation zodiac circa 4000 BCE, comprising Lion-Bull-Scorpion-Ibex. Hostetter's proposal is a non-fit. As for the remark: "there was no reaction...perhaps because I have no academic credentials in archeoastronomy" implies the speculation is sound but there is expert bias against it simply because Hostetter is an 'outsider.' Also, 20 years ago there weren't any formal academic credentials in archaeoastronomy.

Hostetter has continued to repeat many of his basic beliefs, almost as a mantra. He relies heavily on establishing the perception of evidence by mere repeated assertion. His numerous claims remain unsubstantiated by credible evidence. They are far-fetched claims employing shoddy evidence and argumentation. They have no objective historical value. His claims belong in the historical dustbin.

Sorting out some possible confusion regarding claims made by Hostetter. It appears that the same cylinder seal is meant. However, the claims for it are slightly different. This is also another case where Hostetter has now lost all knowledge of the original argument and the 'evidence' he associated with it.

Claim 3 Claim 15
Hostetter makes the following claims/evidence to support his claims the Sumerians were making complex astronomical observations early as the 3rd-millennium BCE (i.e., the Sumerians predicting eclipses): (Science News, Volume 116, Number 1, July 7, 1979, Page 7) to support such: A stone cylinder seal dated to the 3rd-millennium BCE with symbols suggesting that a 1-day difference had been observed in lengths of the spring and the summer at a time when the vernal equinox occurred in Taurus and the summer solstice occurred in Leo. As far as I can determine Hostetter does not actually possess the item and it is not identified by him in any legitimate way (i.e., existing in one or more museums and having an identifiable provenance). Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 7-3-2015): "... Dr. Edith Porada was author of a book first published in 1962 whose title is The Art of Ancient Iran--Pre-Islamic Cultures. On page 35 of the Crown Publishers edition there is the reproduction of a cylinder seal's imprint that has two figures, a Bull and a Lion, each of which alternately dominates the other as the seal is rolled. Between the Lion and Bull as the cylinder rolls is a triangle with a wide base at the top. There are six vertical lines spaced evenly across the top of each triangle. On each of the other sides of each triangle there are three vertical marks. A vertical mark in the triangle bisects it from top to bottom and extends beyond the bottom tip. When the dominant Bull is to the left of the dominant Lion there two chevrons on the vertical mark that bisects the triangle. When the dominant Lion is to the left of the dominant Bull there are three chevrons on the vertical mark. Dr. Porada dated the cylinder seal to about 3000 B.C. in her book. ... An interpretation of the diagram might suggest that in 3000 B.C. there were two major celestial gods of the sky: A huge Lion and a huge Bull. The two differing triangles each could represent six (lunar) months of 177 days) plus either two or three days (the chevrons) for a total year count of either 365 or 366 days. The three external vertical marks on the outside of each triangle, plus the shared verticle (sic) line in the middle of the design might relate to the solstice and equinox periods...but this is a stretch. Whatever the meaning of the cylinder-seal marks, if Dr. Porada's dating of 3000 B.C. is correct, someone a very long time ago created a diagram featuring a Bull and a Lion that repeated a cycle of some sort as the cylinder was rolled on damp clay. Was this the beginning of the Zodiac, with the opposing Taurus and Leo??? Any other interpretations?" Also, Clyde Hostetter wrote (Hastro-L, 18-4-2015): "If you have access to The Art of Ancient Iran by Edith Porada, first published in English in 1965, please check the lower image on page 35. I believe it represents a two-season year. The first triangle has six vertical marks and encloses two chevrons. The second has six vertical marks plus three enclosed chevrons. If the six vertical marks on each triangle represent six 30-day months and the chevrons represent two days and three days the total is 365 days. The triangles separate, alternately, a bull dominating a lion and a lion dominating a bull. The total number of months and days total 365."

Update to claim fifteen: The rubber duck refloats.

When my original delayed post (sent 25-May-2016) finally appeared on Hastro-L on 28-May-2016: "(1) Enkidu. (2) Your contradiction of Edith Porada's scholarship in The Art of Ancient Iran (1965, Page 35)." in response to Hostetter’s Hastro-L posting on 25-May-2016: "Gilgamesh "lived with the animals" and he came from the sky. The "animals" were four early constellations before they were divided into the Zodiac. Any reaction to that?" there was another exchange of interesting correspondence with Hostetter. (For whatever reason, Hostetter ignored my same repost which appeared 25-May-2016.

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 28-May-2015): "Recent reports from Down Under suggest the need for my better understanding of page 35 of Edith Porada's book, The Art of Ancient Iran. In my opinion, an illustration on page 35 greatly misinterpreted by Dr. Porado. I believe that the reproduced seal, made long before a written language or numbers, is an (sic) report of the days in a year, accurate to within half a day. Since pictures are not permitted by HASTRO, I will describe the seal. Those with access to Dr. Porada's book will find the drawing on the lower right corner of page 35. Two early celestial figures that preceded the Zodiac are a Lion and a Bull. On my celestial globe they are on opposite sides, so that each dominates the night sky for six months The drawing in Dr. Porado's book shows what appears to be a cylinder seal lion on which a lion dominates a bull and then a bull dominates a lion. Between these alternating dominations on the cylinder seal are two inverted triangles which at first glance appear to be identical, but are not. Each inverted triangle has a row of six short vertical marks on the top and both sides. Each also has a straight line within the triangle. It bisects each symbol from the bottom tip of the triangle to the top of the triangle. Significantly, there are chevrons that differ in number on the vertical lines of the two inverted triangles. One triangle has two chevrons. The other inverted triangle has three chevrons on the vertical line. Why the difference? If the set of six vertical lines on each triangle represent six lunar months, each 30 days long, the total days in a year total 360 days, which observers would realize is not actually a full year. (The Muslim calendar is 360 days; a lunar calendar. Dates dates of Ramadan and the Haj on a 365-day calendar change every year. Calendars that I used when working in Saudi Arabia showed both systems.) The two inverted triangles, with two chevrons on one and three chevrons on the other counting as "extra" days, add up to 365...two sets of six lunar months plus five chevron "extras", with a lion constellation dominating six months and a bull constellattion (sic) dominating the other six months. Any comments? I can individually email the drawing to those interested."

I replied (Hastro-L, 29-May-2016): "Okay .... As I identified previously you are contradicting Edith Porada in her book, The Art of Ancient Iran, Page 35. As background to Edith Porada (1912-1994): She was an art historian and archaeologist, and recognised by peers as a leading expert on cylinder seals. All this has its advantages. You are engaged in a page-in-a-book interpretation - or rather speculation. If not, then which part of this isn't speculation? I would categorise your approach as a '5-minute interpretation.' It is indicated this is a peripheral argument to your now defunct copper bowl and Inanna's Descent arguments. Apparently you are able to identify from European constellations on a modern celestial globe west Asian constellations existing in antiquity. A 'magic machine.' 'In my opinion,' 'I believe,' 'each dominates the night sky for six months,' 'shows what appears, ''If,' 'Observers would realize,' are terms identifying speculation. What follow-up investigation did you do regarding the particular cylinder seal, and similar cylinder seals? If none, then why not? Did you seek the assistance of any museum having a curator or similar who has expert knowledge of cylinder seals? If not, then why not? Since you chose to head your post "Down under confusion" I will let your words do the talking regarding the date of the cylinder seal: CH (Hastro-L, 28-May-2016): "I believe that the reproduced seal, made long before a written language or numbers ...." CH (Hastro-L, 7-March-2015): "Dr. Porada dated the cylinder seal to about 3000 B.C. in her book." This is interesting because the early proto-cuneiform period is dated as beginning circa 3100 BCE latest. As a conclusion: (1) You have previously acknowledged that Porada gave a date. (2) The date is not "long before a written language" but shortly after it. Also, the earliest documents were economic documents and the information was arranged like a spreadsheet. They were working with numbers. Robert van Gent has already posted (28-May-2016) a correction of your 360/365 day confusion regarding the Muslim calendar: "The Muslim year usually has 354 days (= 12 X 29.5), sometimes 355 days." I will let your words do the talking regarding the date of the triangles and chevrons: CH (Hastro-L, 28-May-2016): "If the set of six vertical lines on each triangle represent six lunar months, each 30 days long, the total days in a year total 360 days, which observers would realize is not actually a full year. ... The two inverted triangles, with two chevrons on one and three chevrons on the other counting as "extra" days, add up to 365...two sets of six lunar months plus five chevron "extras ...." CH (Hastro-L, 7-March-2015): "The two differing triangles each could represent six (lunar) months of 177 days) plus either two or three days (the chevrons) for a total year count of either 365 or 366 days." To makes sense of (28-May-2016): "... a lion constellation dominating six months and a bull constellattion (sic) dominating the other six months." we need to go to your earlier posting (7-March-2016): "An interpretation of the diagram might suggest that in 3000 B.C. there were two major celestial gods of the sky: A huge Lion and a huge Bull." This is back to speculation. There is no evidence for this statement. Cylinder seals and kudurru do not provide evidence for constellations. Prayer to the Gods of the Night texts (Old Babylonian Period circa 1830-1530 BCE) would only provide evidence of a Bull constellation if Bison = Bull, but this is unlikely. Hilprecht's Nippur Text HS 245 (= HS 229) (Cassite Period circa 1530-1160 BCE) identifies a Bull asterism/perhaps constellation and a Lion constellation. This is the first mention of a Lion constellation. The constellation GU4.AN.NA (the Bull) first appears in entirety in Astrolabe B (at the end of the Kassite Period circa 1100 BCE), and the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil (consolidated circa 1100 BCE). On cylinder seals a major scene showing an opposing bull and lion is not unusual. The iconography appears on 1st-millennium BCE cylinder seals. The inclusion of a variation of lines is also not unusual. You also seem to be suggesting that the beginnings of the zodiac began in Iran rather than Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamian texts do not support this. It is not indicated that you have made any effort to identify other similar iconography on cylinder seals from the ancient Near East, and what dates are established for them. A cylinder seal scene from Hasanlu in northwest Iran - dated circa 1100-800 BCE - has an opposing bull and lion and a number of triangular lines. Interestingly, with this type of 'evidence' Willy Hartner argued for a 4-constellation 'zodiac' circa 4000 BCE, comprising Lion-Bull-Scorpion-Ibex. The sheer variety of animal combatants/contestants depicted in iconography makes an astronomical interpretation difficult. There is also a complete lack of any type of supportive evidence for an astronomical interpretation i.e., from written sources such as mythological themes. In the wild it is perhaps more usual for a group of female lions to attack a large prey - a single male lion depiction is likely about status and power. Regarding your: "Any comments?" per the cylinder seal. Simply, sounds like complex nonsense and does not sound like a functional calendar. I have never seen any reference to calendrical systems being depicted on cylinder seals. As far as I know there is no evidence for calendar systems on cylinder seal iconography. You have confined your 'analysis' to one cylinder seal only. A single example can be made to mean anything. A collection of cylinder seals with the same or similar iconography perhaps enables a firmer footing for analysis. CH (Hastro-L, 7-March, 2015): "I noticed this about 20 years ago and mentioned it in a small paper which was presented in my absence by a (sic) there was no reaction...." You apparently have done nothing to progress this 'discovery.' Why haven't you e-mailed the appropriate curator at say the British Museum?" One again Hostetter may be obscure or confused regarding his claimed presentation about 20 years ago. In claim three: "(Science News, Volume 116, Number 1, July 7, 1979, Page 7) to support such: (1) A stone cylinder seal dated to the 3rd-millennium BCE with symbols suggesting that a 1-day difference had been observed in lengths of the spring and the summer at a time when the vernal equinox occurred in Taurus and the summer solstice occurred in Leo ...." This may be a reference to him publishing something about the "Porada cylinder seal." It is a publication, not a presentation. It also comprises a variant interpretation.

Clyde Hostetter also posted (Hastro-L, 29-May-2016): "Recently from the Southern Hemisphere an error of mine was claimed, with a reference to page 35 of a book, The Art of Ancient Iran, by Dr.Edith (sic) Porada, who is now deceased. Most of our group are probably puzzled about this, since the book is probably out of print. My guess is that the criticism refers to Dr.Porada's (sic) interpretation of a picture of a cylinder seal, dated to some time before 2500 B.C., that depicts a continuing contest between a bull and a lion. Dr. Porada's book has no indication that she was aware of the biennial appearance of two ancient sky constellations that later evolved into Taurus and Leo In today’s Zodiac. Those constellations alternately dominate the night sky, each for six months. The cylinder seal, when rolled, includes continuing inverted triangles between the two figures. The triangles vary slightly in their design, but the variation is critical. Pictures are banned by policy on this site, but I would glad to send them to individuals. The bottom line is that a pair of inverted triangles have non-verbal data that uses lunar months and "wild cards" of two and of three days to come up with a year length of 365 days. The year is divided into two segments, one that is one days (sic) longer and the other that is two days longer. Together they demonstrate befor (sic) 2500 B.C., without numbers or words, that a year is 365 days long."

I responded (Hastro-L, 29-May-2016): "Your posting below really has no added purpose but it does contain an interesting sentence: "My guess is that the criticism refers to Dr.Porada's (sic) interpretation of a picture of a cylinder seal ...." This contains a misleading change in emphasis. My post of 25-May-2016 sets out correctly: "Your contradiction of Edith Porada's scholarship in The Art of Ancient Iran."

Clyde Hostetter posted (Hastro-L, 29-May-2016): "How can I respond to the criticism below? [My short posting of 29-May-2016.] My point was to show a flaw in Dr. Porada's interpretation of the picture of the bull-lion conflict and to provide an alternate interpretation that involved ancient astronomical concepts. (Incidentally, I notice an error in my text. The "wild card" numbers should be two and three, not one and two, since there are two chevrons in one of the inverted triangles and three in the other. Probably the result of late-night typing.) Dr. Porada never claimed to be an authority in ancient astronomy, nor was she. [Here Hostetter has seen an opportunity to introduce one of his favourite themes - the claim that the person knew nothing about astronomy.] She earned her international recognition for her outstanding leadership in the Middle Eastern archaeologies of the third and fourth millennia B.C. [Here Hostetter changes what Porada was recognised for and deletes acknowledgment of her expertise with cylinder seal iconography.] I am impressed by the illiterate scholarship of ancient times that, without words or numbers, could determine the correct length of a year. We should give full credit to the designers of the inverted triangles. They solved their problem without either numbers or words. Moral for Down Under: Don't limit what you learn by relying only on what someone else has already published." Here the so-called alternative interpretation by Hostetter is now asserted to be the correct one and Porada's expertise is dismissed. Hostetter has previously stated his view that a gifted multi-disciplinary amateur may be able to achieve penetrating insight. No need to question who he is referring to! Yet Hostetter has admitted that his "astronomy stuff is just a hobby." Also, Hostetter displays his readiness to engage in word-smithing.

Clyde Hostetter also posted (Hastro-L, 29-May-2016): "This discussion [my detailed reply of 29-May 2016] has little value for the group. The inverted triangles and their data speak for themselves."

I responded (Hastro-L, 29-May-2016): "During the course of this short exchange you have promoted your claims from speculation to confirmed fact - without recourse to evidence!"

Hostetter demonstrates that rational evidence-based scholarly discussion does not count for much. He is very keen also to continue arguing for the non-verbal transmission of astronomical data. Also, he has better judgment of the interpretation of some cylinder seals than Edith Prada. And, Hostetter writes in a way that enlists Porada as a potential supporter of his ideas. Hostetter sets out (implies) that if it were not for Edith Porada's ignorance of some basic astronomical matters in antiquity she would be agreeing with him! This is simply hubris. During the course of this short exchange Hostetter has promoted his claims from speculation to confirmed fact - without recourse to evidence! What is not realised is there was never a canonical set of constellations established in the history of Mesopotamian astronomy. Aspects of claim fifteen may be linked with claim three. It is difficult to ascertain at times whether Hostetter is obscure or confused, hence the possibility of duplication because an entirely different word set is used with a change in emphasis. His lack of clearly published claims (he publishes what can be termed "versions") makes disentangling his versions of what seem to be different claims but are indicated as one claim only quite difficult. What is clear is that Hostetter is intent on transferring his idea of non-verbal astronomical data from the copper bowl argument to elsewhere. This theme obviously guides the assertions made.

Mark Wilson posted (Hastro-L, 29-May-2016): "The inverted triangles on the seal are the well known "hairy triangles", signs from the Proto-Elamite script system. When these are drawn on PE tablets, the lines are drawn at an angle on the top of the triangle, and sometimes down the left hand side also. They vary greatly and randomly in number from example to example, which show us that the quantity of them was not meaningful. There is also a "hairy square" sign with similar properties. If one was to speculate what these signs represent, it may be that they show pennants or flags with frilled edges. As they are drawn on the seal, they are in a formalised "monumental" style. The way these signs work in the script is as marks of authority. They occur as the headers of tablets, and can have one of several different signs inside - not just the strokes shown on the seal. These internal signs are hypothesised to be clan designations, an interpretation consistent with the frame being flags of some sort. Such marks defining a particular authority are exactly what we would expect to find on cylinder seals, which were functional devices used within an administrative system to mark tablets and bullae. Putative celestial designs do appear to have been common themes for the glyptic on cylinder seals, but while the lion and bull on the seal may well represent cosmic figures, we can be absolutely sure the triangles have nothing to do with counting lunar months and days. You have chosen to interpret months of 30 days (as opposed to 29.5 or 27.3) for the strokes on top, and days for the internal strokes, while ignoring the lines that make up the triangle. To an outside observer, it looks as though what you have done is started with 365 days in mind, and tried to get an interpretation of the marks to fit. While such wild speculation may be a starting point of an investigation, it is embarrassing to see it presented naked for consideration with nothing else to hide its shame, and no appreciation of what is already known or even thought to be known in the field."

Hostetter's reply to Mark Wilson (Hastro-L, 31-May-2016): "Mark -- Thank you for taking the time to respond in a thoughtful way. You quote good sources that have theories different from mine. I knew nothing of them when I looked at the inverted triangles and asked why they were between the lion and bull figures as they were rolled on clay. Then I noticed that the chevrons differed in the two designs, and wondered why. etc. I didn't get into fractions of numbers because during that period there was no number system, let alone fractions of numbers. I wasn't trying to make the symbols fit into 365 days. That evolved when I wondered why the two symbols' designs differed. So...that's what inspires horse races. My opinion comes after attention has turned to early astronomical history and how in those days people like ourselves were asking questions about cycles of celestial events. Perhaps the two differing inverted triangles had celestial information that could not be communicated in the absence of numbers and letters." The ambiguity of the last sentence is typical of Hostetter suggesting he is affirming his beliefs. Also, Hostetter implies that his starting point with the lion and bull figures is necessarily correct and so his assumptions regarding the "hairy triangles" are necessarily correct. Experts are just people with other ideas to his own.

My quick reply to Hostetter's posting (Hastro-L, 31-May-2016): "As early as the end of the fourth mlllennium B. C. proto-Sumerian and proto-Elamite scribes had well-developed systems of numbers and measures. They included precursors of our own decimal system." ("Numbers and Measures in the Earliest Written Records." by Jöran Friberg (Scientific American, February 1984, Volume 250, Number [Issue] 2, Pages 110-118). Note that I have chosen a 30 year old reference. This type of information has been around for decades for anybody bothered to access it."

Regarding cosmic figures. Guardians of the celestial gateways in the Mashu mountain are depicted as hybrid creatures like scorpion-men or bull-men. They are cosmic figures. They are not connected with constellations. A scorpion-man does not = a scorpion constellation, and a bull-man does not = a bull constellation, and a lion-man does not = a lion constellation. As example: Scorpion-people opening and closing the gates of the sun does not prove that the scorpions were a single figure constellation. There is only 1 scorpion constellation. There were at least 2 scorpion-people guarding/opening and closing the gates of the sun god. The Babylonian scorpion constellation is a natural scorpion. (But this does not mean that it can be readily accepted that the depiction of a natural scorpion on Kassite period kudurru can be taken as a constellation. Varieties of scorpion symbols were prolific during the Kassite period, and later.) The scorpion-people - as the term implies - were composite beings = scorpion and human compositional elements. The scorpion-people were powerful servants of the sun god Utu (Samas). Also, what are we to make of scorpion-bird-people and scorpion-fish-people depicted on Kassite stamp/cylinder seals? In the Gilgamesh epic the scorpion man and scorpion woman guarded the cosmic mountain. In a Neo-Assyrian seal scene they are also guardians of the so-called Assyrian Tree of Life. Scorpion-people were created by Tiamat as one of her weapons against Marduk. In the later Babylonian world map the scorpion-person is placed by Marduk to the area on 'top of the restless sea.'

Encyclopaedia Iranica Online. Entry: Elam iii. Proto-Elamite: "The heading of a Proto-Elamite tablet generally specifies the purpose and authorizing person or institution; the best known such ideographic designation is the so-called “hairy triangle,” which seems to represent a leading institution or possibly kin group in Elam. Qualifying ideograms were inscribed within this sign, apparently to designate subordinate institutions or groups (Dittmann, 1986a, pp. 332-66; Lamberg-Karlovsky, [1986?] p. 210; Damerow and Englund, 1989, p. 16). Following these introductory sign combinations are the individual entries, in horizontal registers without regard to formal arrangement into columns."

 

"As early as the end of the fourth mlllennium B. C. proto-Sumerian and proto-Elamite scribes had well-developed systems of numbers and measures. They included precursors of our own decimal system." ("Numbers and Measures in the Earliest Written Records." by by Jöran Friberg (Scientific American, February 1984, Volume 250, Number 2, Pages 110-118).

 

"An accounting document sealed with images of animals in human poses: These Proto-Elamite tablets are accounting documents. Three different numerical systems are used on the tablet: a decimal system, a sexagesimal system and a mixed system known as SE. The various operations are listed on the front side of the tablet, recapitulated, with totals, on the back at the top. New figures appear: crescent-shaped notches and dots circled with a constellation of tiny points, some of which represent fractions. A pictographical sign resembling a fringed triangle, known as the "hairy triangle," often appears, but its meaning remains unclear. A single seal was used on the document, a cylinder-seal that was rolled twice across the width of the tablet, covering most of the back of the tablet. The scene shows a bull symmetrically restraining two seated felines, alternating with a lion dominating two rearing bulls, each topped with a "hairy triangle." The animals stand on their hindlegs as if they were bipeds, a technique characteristic of the Proto-Elamite period in which animals were often depicted in a human pose. The choice of bulls and lions was deliberate, for these animals appear to personify cosmic forces, decisive in the balance of power in the world. In the scene, there is no durable winner or loser, but alternating, opposing forces that appear equal." (http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/proto-elamite-tablet-seal-mark)

 

Succinct explanation of the "hairy triangle" cylinder seal/tablet motif by Robert Englund. Source: Englund, [student] notes on Mesopotamian religion, M104 S2016. The "hairy triangles" are likely clan signs (= flags/standards/pendants) used to mark documents via cylinder seals. (Note: This is still a controversial claim.) At this early period cultures were organised into (family) clans.

 

A fringed triangle known as a "hairy triangle" is a symbol thought to have been part of an Elamite administrative system. See also: The Elamite Cylinder Seal Corpus, c. 3500-1000 BC by Karen Roach (PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 2008; issue date: 2009). Abstract: "The ancient region of Elam (southwestern Iran) has produced a significant assemblage of cylinder seals across a considerable chronological span. Unlike the glyptic material from the related and neighbouring region Mesopotamia, the Elamite cylinder seals have not previously been studied in detailed reference to one another, nor has there been an established paradigm of stylistic development articulated. This study addresses this lacuna by compiling all the published cylinder seals from Elam (as defined here, thus incorporating the historical provinces of Khuzistan, Luristan and Fars), from their earliest appearance (c.3500 BC), throughout the era of their typological dominance (over stamp seals, thus this study departs c.1000 BC). This compilation is presented in the Elamite Cylinder Seal Catalogue (Volume II), and is annotated and described through the annunciation of eighteen chronologically defined developmental styles (with another two non-chronological type classifications and four miscellaneous groups). Through the further analysis of this data, including the newly formulated and articulated styles, several facets and problems of Elamite glyptic material have been addressed (and thus the reliance upon assumed similarity in type and function with the Mesopotamian glyptic material is abandoned). These problems particularly pertain to the function of cylinder seals in Elam and the type and form of the Elamite-Mesopotamian glyptic interaction. In regards to function, a standard administrative function can be discerned, though of varying types and forms across the region and the period of study. Other, non-standard, symbolic glyptic functions can also be demonstrated in the Corpus, including the apparent proliferation of a form known as the ‘votive’ seal, perhaps a specifically Elamite form. The analysis of the style type (whether 'Elamite', 'Mesopotamian Related' or 'Shared Elamite-Mesopotamian'), in association with their relative geographical and chronological distribution, has also enabled the discussion of the nature of Elamite-Mesopotamian glyptic interaction, and thereby the constitution of Elamite civilisation (especially in regards to Mesopotamian cultural impact and influence, and thus the testing of several previously presented paradigms [Amiet 1979a; 1979b; Miroschedji 2003])."

Robert Englund and Peter Damerow (1996) have identified there were 5 major proto-Elamite numerical systems: 3 for counting discrete objects, another for capacity measurements, and another for area measurements. None of the proto-Elamite numerical notation systems have numerical signs involving a triangle. Proto-elamite script is attested in over 1500 texts. Most of these are from Susa and date from the Susa III period circa 3000 BCE.

Nothing changes ....

Hostetter wrote (Hastro-L, 1-June-2016): "I quote your quote: "Numbers and Measures in the earliest WRITTEN Records". How does that relate to a time when there were no WRITTEN records?"

My lengthy reply to Hostetter (Hastro-L, 1-June-2016): "Once again we encounter your direct avoidance of dealing with matters raised. You also attempt to turn matters around and shift attention in the discussion to [a] non-issue with a selective misuse of words. The theme of a time when there were no written records is unrelated to anything discussed. You have ignored the central focus of the discussion which [is] a particular cylinder seal, and its dating. You are confounding what should be a simple discussion. Also, you brush aside all difficulties with the critical material introduced into the discussion.

Let's legitimately stay with the core issues of the discussion - not with a concocted apparent logical puzzle. The topic of pre-written records (whatever interest it has for you) has not been relevant to the discussion. It appears to be a carry-over from your defunct copper bowl claims.

The cylinder seal you have focused on for proof is dated after the appearance of the earliest written records. Using your own words, Porada dates the particular cylinder seal to circa 3000 BCE. (You wrote, Hastro-L, 7-March-2015: "Dr. Porada dated the cylinder seal to about 3000 B.C. in her book.") Clay bullae and numerical tablets are dated from circa 3400 BCE (numerical tablets closer to circa 3200 BCE). You have written, Hastro-L, 28-May-2016: "I believe that the reproduced seal, made long before a written language or numbers ...." You wrote also, Hastro-L, 31-May-2016: "I didn't get into fractions of numbers because during that period there was no number system, let alone fractions of numbers." I do not know how you have reached this conclusion if the evidence is taken into consideration. Clearly "that period" was the Elamite proto-cuneiform period when there was writing and numbers. [The proto-Elamite numerals can be read. Also, there were multiple proto Elamite numerical notation systems.] The date given by Porada to the particular cylinder seal is not "long before a written language" as you claim but shortly after it. Hence your selective misuse of compared wording. To pose the question "How does that relate to a time when there were no WRITTEN records?" ignores (except in your mind) that it has not been a discussion about pre-written records. The content of the discussion has been about a particular cylinder seal dated by an expert to the Elamite proto-cuneiform period. I think you need to update your knowledge.

You are effectively claiming that cylinder seals (or at least early cylinder seals) are unwritten documents. However, the seal image was to be "read" and understood - you claim that you can do this and that it is self-evident. Also, according to you it is self-evident that the cylinder seal has numbers - you use the triangles and strokes as numbers (= a numerical sign system/numerical notation). You use the cylinder seal in question as a written record. Cylinder seals could also tell stories i.e., display a pictorial narrative. The arrangement of visual information on cylinder seals in several registers - one above the other - has been proposed as the basic principle of all 3rd-millennium BCE Mesopotamian narratives. Cylinder seals were in use as administrative devices circa 3400 BCE. That means they could be read and understood. This also is relevant for economic documents being understood. Cuneiform is believed to have begun with numerical signs. Clay bullae and numerical tablets are dated from circa 3400 BCE. According to recent references the proto-cuneiform period began circa 3200 BCE. See: The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture (2011).

The cylinder seal is given an approximate data (sic [date]) by Porada. She was an acknowledged expert at determining dates for cylinder seals. In your words Porada dates it to circa 3000 BCE. According to the experts who study this professionally, full-time - not just as a hobby - there was a proto-Elamite numerical system in place at this period. Simply, they had a number system at this period and used it. According to the experts there are also proto-arithmetical precursors. See the detailed discussion (approx. 80 pages): The Proto-Elamite Texts from Tepe Yahya by Peter Damerow and Robert Englund (1989, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Bulletin 39). Note that it has been accessible for over 25 years. It also discusses the early use of fractions. Also see: The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture (2011) for a discussion of proto-cuneiform numerical sign systems.

Regarding your unwarranted dismissal of Edith Porada as an authority on cylinder seals. I don't know what particular knowledge you have to dismiss Edith Porada. You wrote, Hastro-l, 29-May-2016: "Dr. Porada never claimed to be an authority in ancient astronomy, nor was she. [Here you have seen an opportunity to introduce one of your favourite themes - the claim that the person knew nothing about astronomy.] She earned her international recognition for her outstanding leadership in the Middle Eastern archaeologies of the third and fourth millennia B.C." As much as anything she earned it through her knowledge of cylinder seals. (My copies of a number of her books are probably stored in the garage.) The issue here is cylinder seals and the cultural context that goes with them. Edith Porada produced useful historical knowledge. She also published some 6 books on cylinder seals.

"One of the world's leading authorities on ancient cylinder seals ...." (Edith Porada, 81, Dies; Columbia Art Historian; The New York Times, Obituaries, March 26, 1994.) "The field which she made her own was the study of Ancient Near Eastern seals, particularly the distinctive cylinder seals used from 3500 BC for over 3,000 years." (Obituary: Professor Edith Porada by Dominique Collon in Independent, Monday 4 April 1994.) "In her classic "Mesopotamian Art in Cylinder Seals" (1947) and [the important 2-volume] "Corpus of Ancient Near Eastern Seals in North American Collections" (1948), she created a framework for scholars to determine date, style and origin of cylinder seals. Her "Corpus" is still the standard reference work on seals. ... She had been honorary curator of Seals and Tablets at the Pierpont Morgan Library since 1956. During her tenure there, she made its collection available to both scholars and the public and the Morgan Library became the primary center for cylinder seal research in the United States." (Columbia University Record, April 8, 1994, Volume 19, Number 23; "Obituaries: Edith Porada, 81".)

I would conclude that you made no attempt to contact her and made no attempt to utilize public access to the cylinder seals. Why not? Why do you pass up all these opportunities?

The "hairy triangle/fringed triangle" motif appears [...] on different types of artifacts i.e., economic tablets without the lion and the bull, which means an astral/calendar interpretation is very difficult to support. (Triangles, circles, squares, and rhombi are simple shapes and their use appears in many cultures.) See the 2008 PhD thesis: The Elamite Cylinder Seal Corpus, c. 3500 - 1000 BC by Karen Roach (2 volumes, 5 parts). Volume 2 provides a photograph and sketch catalogue of some 3500 Elamite cylinder seals, many are proto-Elamite. Her catalogue number 1039 (proto-Elamite) shows a single "hairy triangle/fringed triangle" motif appearing between 2 beasts adopting upright human poses. If you interpret [this] as a 1 year calendar then it puts doubt on your 2-constellation sky-division claim. Catalogue numbers 1329 and 1330 are interesting for depictions of multiple triangles with numerous short horizontal lines on each of their upright sides.

Regarding your comment, Hastro-L, 31-May-2106: "... sources that have theories different from mine." Basically a theory is an attempt to provide a plausible/well-substantiated explanation for particular facts/evidence. A theory is not a "guess" (= "hunch") without [/that has no] credible supporting evidence. I think you are comparing your hunches with theories." Note: Also worth consulting are: "The Proto-Elamite Script." by Robert Englund, in: The World's Writing Systems edited by P. Daniels and W. Bright (1996) (Pages 160-164). "The state of decipherment of Proto-Elamite." by Robert Englund, in: First Writing: Script Invention as History and Process edited by Stephen Houston (2004) (Pages 100-149). Numerical Notation: A Comparative History by Stephen Chrisomalis (2010).

Hostetter replied (Hastro-L, 2-June-2016): "There is no point in continuing this dialogue. The two inverted triangles determined the length of a 365-day year without of the use of numbers or words. Period." Here we have a clear demonstration of Hostetter's approach to ancient astronomy. Simple conviction that his guesses are correct, resulting in dogmatism. Hostetter 'constructs' an argument where his fantasies rule over evidence. His beliefs rather than evidence supports his case. It is another clear example where Hostetter remains in denial with legitimate criticisms.

If Hostetter wants to put a lot of weight with speculation (extrapolation from what he believes is credibly established or what he believes is likely to have been known) then it's hard to identify a stopping point. If Hostetter wants to put a lot of weight with evidence then at present we don't seem to have a starting point with this artifact. Speculation does not qualify as evidence. The lack of evidence does not mean the claim is not true. The lack of evidence being presented for the claim means there is no basis for any meaningful discussion of the claim. Speculation needs to be identified as speculation. This does not mean that it equals dismissal. It also does not mean that all sorts of speculative theories are credible and have legitimacy. That would be mistaking what is logically possible for what is historically possible and reasonable given what sources we have to work with. Also, a disturbing trend would be accepting speculation without the requisite of evidence.

Regarding Hostetter's use of 'opinion.' One of Hostetter's strategies is to offer his opinion (guess) and ask for others. This implies that even experts are only offering opinions (guesses) and that Hostetter is on 'equal ground' with the value of his guesses. This, however, distorts the reality of the matter. It is a meritless tactic to establish a false framework of 2 equally valid opinions. A theory is a credible explanation of a set of data/evidence. Speculation, conjecture, and opinions are all guesses. Their level of verification is yet to be undertaken. A guess is an explanation of a set of data that yet to be formulated as a testable hypothesis (proposed explanation) and has not yet been tested or subjected to rigorous assessment. Both hypothesis and theory are explanations. A theory (working explanation which appears successful) is a hypothesis with 'more meat on its bones.' We can have a greater level of confidence with a theory than with a hypothesis. A theory can likely account for new data/evidence without needing adjustment. The level of confidence expected from speculation, conjecture, and opinions can vary and may be very low. An expert explanation is grounded in a sophisticated knowledge of data/evidence. Hostetter does not demonstrate any sophisticated knowledge of data/evidence.

 

Part 4: Where to from here?

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 8-7-2013) setting out his beliefs following the assessment of his copper bowl by British Museum experts: "I'm not fussed up about this, but believe there is no need to pursue further the matter of the age of the bowl with the group. I'm very glad to send PowerPoint evidence to anyone interested. Re the Inanna Descent document, it's too complex for short e-mail commenting. Maybe I'll put together the necessary pages of explanation and e-mail it to anyone interested. I'm too old to jump through the hoops of format and footnotes required for publication in a (sic) academic journal. This astronomy stuff is just a hobby, ...." This is lame response from someone claiming unique insight into a major discovery for the early history of astronomy. It is clear that Hostetter prefers to insist on his own groundless claims. Several other things stand out: (1) Substantive debate on the "evidence" is not encouraged or entered into by Hostetter. (2) The evaluation of other explanations is not encouraged by Hostetter.

It is evident that Hostetter still maintains his points of view (1) regardless of the evidence, and (2) without need to openly discuss with his critics. It obviously has become a fantasy belief for him. It is evident that Hostetter will simply seek opportunities to privately circulate material setting out his beliefs. Below is material I wrote in 2010 regarding Hostetter (1) using Hastro-L to privately circulate material regarding his interpretation of 'The Descent of Inanna,' (2) attempting to ensure that his ideas appear to be recent, and (3) attempting to ensure his early abandoned ideas are not discussed. It still has relevance and demonstrates how he pursues attention to his ideas.

As example: Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 31-8-2013), replying to a topic headed "What you can do with epicycles" wrote: "Amen to that. He [Ptolemy] was confused by ovals, since God made only perfect circles, so he fudged some data to make circles out of ovals. There is also a possibility that some of Ptolemy's "original" concept about epicycles might have come from the same source that provided some of the other data that he used. I'll be glad to send visual .jpg details about that off-site to anyone interested." Apparently Hostetter is promoting the idea that the geometric models of epicycles and eccentric circles originated from Babylonian astronomy; not among the Greeks from the time of Apollonius of Perga (circa 230 BCE) - with its roots in the Pythagorean school and models of Eudoxus of Knidus (4th-century BCE). Hostetter obviously wants to go back to his Babylonian claims for his copper bowl (so-called Cynthia Bowl) and relate the bowl's interior petal pattern (loop motif) to Ptolemaic epicycles. If this meritless idea were correct it would actually simply date the copper bowl as 'late.' (The loop motif is likely a form of stylized rose petal.) See also: Sen, S[?]. (1974). "Epicycle Eccentric Planetary Theories in Ancient and Medieval Indian Astronomy." (Indian Journal of History of Science, Volume 9, Number 1, Pages 107-121); and Jones, Alexander. (1991). "The Adaption of Babylonian Methods in Greek Numerical Astronomy." (Isis, Volume 82, Number 3, September, Pages 440-453). Additionally, Hostetter apparently believes that Ptolemy was a monotheist with Medievalist views on 'God.' There is every indication he still intends to pass his version of speculative history as substantive. Hostetter continues to pursue his claim for discovering a 112-year eclipse cycle. If Hostetter's persistent claims, published in various places, were a synthesis of historical facts and scientific speculation then they may have some merit. However, there is nothing convincing in his assertions and lack of credible supportive evidence.

Hostetter's Recent Privately Circulating Paper of His Interpretation of 'The Descent of Inanna.'

Hostetter is currently (May, 2010) privately circulating an apparently revised (?) analysis (or expanded analysis) of his astronomical interpretation of 'The Descent of Inanna.' It apparently attempts to meet criticisms made on this webpage. However, it appears Hostetter's tactic is to circulate it as a recently completed 'original' analysis and it appears it make no acknowledge of his previous publications and statements on the issues. Hostetter has informed me (private communication, April, 2010) that he expects that my webpage critique will be changed to reflect the viewpoint he expresses in this (or any) unpublished article. He apparently feels it is unfair to him if I do not, and wishes it to be viewed by other as being unfair to him. (The tactic/artifice is expressed on Hastro-L (30 April, 2010) as: "I have completed a detailed analysis of the concept that the Sumerian myth, Inanna's Descent to the Nether World, is actually a detailed record of various celestial events during one synodic period of Venus. I will be glad to send a .pdf copy to anyone for suggestions and comments. ... You may wish to compare it with comments made at http://members.westnet.com.au.Gary-David-Thompson/pages9n.html.") The inference is that if my comments do not match his recent, privately circulated (unpublished) paper (that has only gone out to a "handful of people") then I am unreliable. (The fact that I am basically dealing with the chronological introduction of his ideas is ignored. To my knowledge Hostetter has not actually retracted any previously made statements.) Not clarified by Hostetter is whether this means all his other published essays on his astronomical interpretation of Inanna's descent are now to be 'discarded.' However, I am not persuaded by this attempt at control (and that I must be made to read any of his unpublished material). I am not some 'working partner' for his ideas and claims to convey at his dictate. I have no intention of making a 'running commentary' on every privately expressed/unpublished viewpoint or unpublished 'change of mind' he expresses. What he overlooks is: (1) I am only interested in critiquing his publicly expressed ideas - which has the continuing capacity to reach a wide uncritical audience and remain influential; and (2) I am not a chronicler or defacto publisher/partner for his 'modified' ideas that remain unpublished and only circulate privately to a very small audience. When Hostetter suitably publishes his 'completed' (= apparently revised (?) analysis or simply expanded analysis ?) of his astronomical interpretation of 'The Descent of Inanna' I will deal with it. It appears the same old style of speculation is at the heart of it. The only 'expanded analysis' (= completed analysis) appears to be in the nature of such things as the inclusion/repeating of the list of cuneiform sources used at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature Project (ETCSL) (Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford). Hostetter misses the point of my remarks that there is no informed use of the primary source material. By listing 'Cuneiform Sources' under 'Electronic Sources Used' Hostetter seems to imply he has made first-hand use of actual cuneiform source material. He is, of course, using the English-language translation and only mirroring the list of cuneiform material posted at the Oxford ETCSL site. Lastly, Hostetter needs to keep the astronomical interpretation of Inanna in order to find support for his 'copper bowl' ideas. To date I have focused more time on his claims for the copper bowl. Hostetter's unwavering focus on his own particular ideas of the astronomical interpretation of 'The Descent of Inanna' is such that he has consistently failed to mention any other astronomical theory concerning Inanna and the movements of Venus. At least 10 persons having 'reasonable credentials' have proposed a connection between Inanna and the movements of Venus. The earliest proposal I can presently identify was made by the classicist and assyriologist Henry Saggs in 1968. This is a decade before Hostetter proposed similar ideas. In Sumerian mythology the planet Venus is also linked with disaster on earth through ability to bring earthquakes and flood, and to rain fire and split mountains. No comment or astronomical interpretation is offered.

Understandably Hostetter is keen to advance his own views. However, Hostetter seems intent on perpetuating error and confusion. He appears quite reluctant to concede that explanations counter to his own are wholly plausible. On 12th May, 2010 Hostetter posted to Hastro-L: "... I offered to send any member of this group an analysis of a myth based on accurate astronomical observations of the appearance of the sky during 584 successive days in the middle of the Third Millennium. ... a handful responded to my offer to compare written cuneiform copies of a myth, Inanna's Descent to the Nether World, with very reliable astronomical data from the Third Millennium. Might it not be useful to compare known Third Millennium literature with known Third Millenium (sic) skies to see whether there might a relationship between the two? .... (Even if you have no access to, or interest in gaining access to, very early reliable data on what the skies looked like 4500 years ago this might be a good way in learn what people saw in the skies in those days.)"

We have no knowledge of accurate Mesopotamian astronomical observations of the appearance of the sky during any part of the 3rd-millennium. Hostetter can only be referring to his use of astronomical software to recreate 3rd-millennium Mesopotamian skies. The assertion of comparing written cuneiform copies of the myth of Inanna's descent with reliable astronomical data from the 3rd-millennium is a careless and misleading statement (as well as ambiguous). Hostetter does not read cuneiform and is reliant on using English-language translations. (Interestingly, in deflecting questions on Hastro-L, Hostetter stated he only deals with people who can read cuneiform. This audacious claim is made without further explanation. If it were true then he would be on another list and not dealing with people who don't read cuneiform. Hostetter seems unaware that transliterations and transcriptions are the basic tools for use in cuneiform discussions. Hostetter does not read/understand transliterations and transcriptions. If he did then he would have realised 35 years ago that he has Venus moving in the "wrong" direction i.e., against what the Inanna's Descent text actually statesw.) Texts for the Sumerian story of The Descent of Inanna to the Netherworld are dated circa 1900–1600 BCE. A late (Akkadian) version (dated circa 1100 BCE) named The Descent of Ishtar also exists. As it is a story about an effort to restore agricultural life to the earth (situated above the netherworld) it is usually thought to be a fertility legend. (The wedding/sacred marriage myth is placed in the same category.) Approximately 32 cuneiform tablets containing parts of the text/story relating to The Descent of Inanna have been recovered. Inanna is the earliest goddess for whom there are written records. Inanna material basically dates to the 2nd-millennium BCE. Hostetter continues to erroneously infer we have astronomical records from the 3rd-millennium BCE. It is difficult to believe that Hostetter, a journalist, cannot write clearly if he chooses to do so. It is constantly indicated that he chooses not to write clearly. Question: Overall, is the 'crank category' looming large here?

Hostetter's use of planetarium software

Hostetter’s original 1979 article had no specific dates for the correlation of Inanna’s descent with astronomical data. This is understandable as no suitable computer software existed back then. It would not be until some 15 years later that easily accessible and easy to use planetarium software programs were developed. CyberSky (Version 1) was first released June 13, 1995. Skyglobe was first released (in a DOS version; Skyglobe Vesrion 1) circa 1995, and worked well under Windows 98 (WIN 98).

Once suitable planetarium software programs started to become available circa the mid 1990s Hostetter started using these. It is indicated that Hostetter's method of investigation consisted of simply attempting to find a 'best fit' for his astronomical interpretation. What key elements in the Inanna story could be correlated with astronomical phenomena, or vice versa. Writing on March 31, 2010, Hostetter states: "The choice then becomes which celestial time period to view on the computer screen. My choice began with a significant event, the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C., bracketed by another dramatic later event in August 2501 B.C., the annual Perseid meteor shower."

Writing on March 31, 2010, Hostetter states: "It is unlikely because of the varying synodic periods of all of the myth's astronomical participants that the events of 2502-01 B.C. could ever be exactly duplicated in the night sky. A example of this uniqueness is the swallowing up of Venus by the crescent Moon as Inanna passed through the Seventh Gate, a key event that preceded her death." It is indicated that circa 2000-2002 Hostetter was introduced to astronomical programs such as CyberSky and Skyglobe. In a personal communication to back at this period, Hostetter acknowledged his introduction to Skyglobe came from downloading the program through Page 8 of my website. At some time back then is appears that Hostetter settled on CyberSky as his preference for correlating Inanna story episodes with astronomical phenomena. This program may also have been downloaded through Page 8 of my website.

Hostetter, Homer. (2010). "An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World."" (Privately circulated. Revised and expanded version of his earlier articles.) It is in this publication that Hostetter consolidates on the time period beginning shortly (in April) before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 BCE and ending with a massive meteor shower in March 2501 BCE, and abandons his earlier dating attempts. It is not indicated that Hostetter does any better with his 2010 paper.

Nowhere, as far as I know, has Hostetter introduced any critical discussion of the parameters and limitations of planetarium software use for ancient astronomy. Apparently he is either unaware or considers such software programs infallible.

 

Source: Cal Poly Report [California Polytechnic State University], Volume 33, Number 18, Thursday, February 11, 1982, Page 3, Who, What, When, Where. An example that Hostetter was very early using a date of approximately 3000 BCE for his interpretation of Inanna's Descent. In his original 1979 article he indicates 4th-millennium BCE but rather quickly changed to an estimate of 3000 BCE. Hostetter has never discussed the history of how he reached his date estimates. After using computer planetarium software he came up with another date and then later settled on circa 2502-2501 BCE. It is worth noting that the earliest Egyptian pyramid building began circa 2700 BCE. This now voids the "long before the Pyramids were built: claim. In this snippet Hostetter is claiming that Inanna's Descent is not just astronomically descriptive but that it is astronomically predictive, i.e., a scientific astronomical tool.

 

Hostetter's continuing preoccupation with planetarium software

Aside from the strategy of attempting to make critics look uninformed or look like dunces (Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 10-3-2013): "Look it up at ETCSL. If you don't know how to find it on the Web, ask somebody."), Hostetter attempts to make any criticism dependant on his use of a planetarium software program linked with his interpretation of Inanna's Descent. Hostetter seeks to draw other people into his 'planetarium method.' Hostetter's penchant for deflecting criticisms, bobbing and weaving, and ducking difficult issues is a distinguishing feature of exchanges. Restricting discussion to his 'planetarium method' is also a tool for limiting opportunity for criticisms. The concluding part of recent exchanges on Hastro-L with Clyde Hostetter, during December, 2013:

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 2-12-2013) wrote: "To repeat: Check out the skies and the retrograde motion of Mercury. It's more rewarding and you will, I hope, learn something on your own rather than expect others to "publish" for your benefit." [And] "… Do something on your own instead of relying on reports of the efforts of others. It's really more interesting to do something on your own. You will see what I mean if you take the viewpoint of a skilled heavens-watcher of the Third Millennium who follows the retrograde appearances - and disappearances - of Mercury. … P.S.: I see no point in discussion of something that you haven't checked. Please refrain from further messages until you have viewed what I have suggested."

Gary Thompson (Hastro-L, 2-12-2013) replied: "You are publishing for your benefit- not mine. I benefit nothing. I spent considerable time checking out your copper bowl claims and accurately identified you actually had a 100-120 year old Qajar period Arabic copper bowl. I have also looked at detail into your claims for the Descent of Inanna. Regarding your PS. There are no clever debating points here. Consider answering the some two dozen problems regarding the Descent of Inanna I have already pointed out to you. Once again, the issues are wider than what you would like to limit them to. Also, that way we won’t have to intrude into what is obviously secret knowledge. I look forward to further 'discussions.' PS. "... take the viewpoint of a skilled heavens-watcher of the Third Millennium who follows the retrograde appearances - and disappearances - of Mercury." Is this claimed person purely hypothetical, or the inevitable conclusion of your particular interpretation of the Descent of Inanna, or established through the studies of others?"

In response to a person's request that he simply publish his material for his claims, Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 2-12-2013) wrote: "Illustrations that show the initial locations, appearances and interrelated movements of selected planets, stars, the Sun and the Moon at measured intervals during periods that range from a day or two to as much as a Venerian synodic period are the only effective way to convey what happens. (I spent some years of my life before and after retirement in production on site of multimedia educational materials in English, Spanish, Indonesian and Arabic. I know from experience that "a picture is worth a thousand words".) Then add the arcus visionus (sic) of each celestial body to the equation. Words only can't really convey what is happening over a given period of time. For example, describe in words how two planets, the Sun and a specific star change relationships and appear and disappear-during a period beginning two months before and three weeks after the Vermal Eqiunox (sic) of 2502 B.C. Two charts, drawn using CyberSky data, show it all and can be understood in minutes when arcus visionus (sic) values are applied. The above relates to early lines in the Inanna Descent "myth" that begin with visits of Inanna to various cities, her various adornments in preparation for her journey, the death of the Great Bull of Heaven, Inanna's disappearance, her entrance into the Nether World (the Western sky), a brief meeting with her personal attendant to whom she gives urgent instructions, and her brief first of EIGHT encounters with the guardian of the gates to the Nether World." Incredibly, Hostetter does not see the problem be has created here. On the one hand he is claiming the Sumerians could sensibly record planetary phenomena with simple lines of poetic text yet, on the other hand, he cannot explain with words only what it is that that Inanna's Descent is astronomically conveying - he requires the use of charts. For Hostetter the planetarium software has become a 'magic machine.'

Victor Reijs (Hastro-L, 3-12-2013) offered to Clyde Hostetter: "I am also willing to put any picture and text on a web page, the page will be under your responsibility …."

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 3-12-2013) replied: "… All of the ETCSL text will need to be reproduced and the charts matched to the text, together with a third column that explains the relationship and, in one case, the lack of reference in the ETCSL text. An explanation will need to be made of the disappearance of the star Aldebaran, which is the star at the head of the constellation Leo, which what is left of a huge Leo constellation that was described by Al Biruni around 1000 A.D. (The disappearance of Aldebaran is the death of the Great Bull of Heaven that Inanna cites when asked why she is going to the Nether World. This occurs about five days before the Vernal Equinox, when Venus/Inanna disappears from the Western sky and, after inferior conjunction reappears in the Eastern sky. And that is just the beginning. I'll be back touch in a day or two after figuring out when I will need to put in a couple of weeks of figuring out how elaborate an explanation needs to accompany the charts and the ETCSL story of Inanna's descent. …"

Comments: Hostetter continues to promote his claim that use of planetarium software will vindicate his claim that Inanna's Descent is actually an accurate astronomical diary. However see: Hostetter, Homer. (2010). "An Astronomical Interpretation of the Sumerian Myth, "Inanna's Descent to the Nether World."" (A privately circulated revised and expanded version of his earlier articles.)

Hostetter's remarkable statement: "Do something on your own instead of relying on reports of the efforts of others." completely avoids recognising that I spent hundreds of hours investigating his copper bowl claims and achieving in a few years what he could not achieve in nearly 35 years - the correct identification of his copper bowl as Qajar period (late 19th-century or early 20th-century). Incredibly, Hostetter has never acknowledged that I have done this.

Hostetter's rather incredible statement: "Words only can't really convey what is happening over a given period of time." invites the question: Then what is the point of a Sumerian words only description of events?; and the comment: But Hostetter claims this is exactly what the text of Inanna's Descent is doing (i.e., verbally explaining certain planetary movements).

A current technique by Hostetter to avoid dealing with critics is to demand what other people should be doing. Hostetter does not accept that it is his responsibility/task to make the case for his claims in an intelligible and coherent manner. Instead, Hostetter's response is to accuse others of wanting a 'free ride' and to require others to do 'homework' regarding his claims. Hostetter's attitude is there is no need for him to deal with criticisms - only the need to believe as he believes. He claims to have already done the work that supports his case, but others, without seeing it, are required by Hostetter to repeat it. Hostetter cannot prove his case by assertion of claim and silence with evidence. All of this is folly - and/or an avoidance tactic.

Hostetter dismisses criticisms with the assertion that critics need to use a planetarium program in conjunction with his explanations in order to realise the veracity of his claims. However, this approach does not negate other criticisms. Hostetter's 'planetarium promotion' is little more than a distraction/'last ditch defense.' The inference that Hostetter attempts to make is that a critic who does not use planetarium software to follow his interpretation cannot claim to understand his case (never mind all the conclusively fatal arguments able to be brought against his ideas before examining the planetarium claims). Hostetter fails to realise (or fails to admit) that the range of criticisms arising out of his overall claims remain a credible problem to his planetarium approach unless credible (satisfactory) answers are given. The onus is with him to do this. The difficulties arising from his claims for the planetarium approach - not the least how he 'force-fits' his interpretation - are additional to other criticisms. Simply, the use of planetarium software does not in any way provide answers to or overcome the multiple flaws in his basic argument. If Hostetter believes the contrary to be the case then he needs to explain why he believes this. 

There are a number of reasons why Hostetter's planetarium methodology is flawed. These are discussed throughout section of this article. Additionally, in his 2010 article, Hostetter writes: "At this point the astronomical interpretation begins to differ from the ETCSL literary version." For Hostetter, the planetarium program dictates how the myth is to be interpreted - and, for Hostetter, at times the myth needs to be 'corrected.' The planetarium program has become the "magic machine." Obviously, based on what the planetarium software shows, Hostetter proceeds to introduce (astronomical) details that are not in the story of Inanna's Descent! (But he calls them by character names as he notes their 'movements/actions.') It is likely here that Hostetter bases his claim that Inanna's Descent is an accurate daily diary of astronomical events. In shaping the story to his astronomical needs Hostetter is involved in some interesting issues. (1) According to Hostetter, Ninshubur takes action prior to the death of Inanna in the underworld. According to Hostetter the action is taken whilst Inanna is still proceeding through the gates. The action is to prevent the death of Inanna. Whilst Inanna is proceeding through the gates, Ninshubur leaves Inanna to take the action, then returns to Inanna There is no wait of 3 days before Ninshubur acts. (2) Inconsistently, Hostetter does not have a triple conjunction of Mercury-Venus-Jupiter for post underworld events. On leaving the underworld Inanna visits Enki's palace, where Ninshubur is also waiting, but there is no rare triple conjunction (and no explanation). (3) Determined to have Inanna reside for exactly 60 days in the underworld, Hostetter (2010) writes: "Each day for 60 days they applied sacred water and food to the goddess's dead body." Simply, the content of the myth does not match events in the sky per Hostetter's form of explanation.

Note: Within the myth: When Inanna has killed by the Anunnaki, 3 days and 3 nights pass without Inanna's return before Ninshubur takes action and finally convinces Enki to bring about the return of the goddess. The myth does not speak of the elapse of 3 days and nights between death and resurrection but between the death and the beginning of pre-planned action by Ninshubur being taken.

Also, a key reason for dismissing Hostetter's planetarium methodology and associated claims is Hostetter's mistake regarding Inanna's direction of travel. Part of the content of Inanna's Descent, in astral terms, relates to Venus's unseen celestial journey from the western horizon to the eastern horizon, through the netherworld. However, according to Hostetter's astronomical interpretation Inanna/Venus travels from the horizon of the eastern sky (disappearance of Venus a morning star) and reappears on the horizon of the western sky (appearance of Venus as evening star). In his 1982 article Heimpel writes: "As I shall demonstrate, the tale has Inanna moving from the western evening sky to the eastern morning sky, and not vice versa, as Kramer's translation seems to have been understood by Hostetter." In his 1979 article, Hostetter writes: "… Venus as Morning Star [in eastern sky], its disappearance, and its reappearance [in western sky] as Evening Star." Andrew George The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1. (2003, Footnote page 501: "In mythology when Inanna arrives at the gates of the Netherworld she explains her presence there by stating that she is on her way to the place of the sunrise (Inanna's Descent 81). This does not mean she has travelled east to reach the Netherworld, but relates to her celestial journey. As Venus, she has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and needs to make her way on this occasion, if not on all other, through the Netherworld to the east in time for her first appearance as a morning star." It is not indicated that Hostetter knows he is contradicting the sense of Inanna's Descent regarding direction of travel. If he does know  he is ignoring it without any attempt at explanation. An explanation is required. Presently his planetarium use is pointless and without merit. His continuation with (repetitive) superficially clever arguments seems inevitable.

And there for the present the matter rests ….

Circa mid 2010 Hostetter began using Hastro-L to advertise his material directly to interested persons. This took the form of changes to his 1979 article. Since 2010 Hostetter has continue to use Hastro-L as a platform to advertise his material, without pursuing open discussion of its claims.

Hostetter's 2010 unpublished article is somewhat an embellished repeat of his published 1979 article. In late 2013 e-mail exchanges Hostetter insists that critics must use planetarium software and compare his interpretation of Inanna's Descent with what the planetarium software shows. However, a point-by-point discussion is pointless and needless. There are multiple problems. (1) Hostetter's interpretation deviates from the story content of Inanna's Descent. (2) Hostetter introduces hypothetical astronomical detail (i.e., a meteor shower) and associations (i.e., Ninshubur = Mercury) that have no basis in established astronomical fact or confirmation in cuneiform records. Hostetter 'force fits' the content of Inanna's Descent with what the planetarium software shows.

Currently, Hostetter is now claiming to have additional evidence - that he does not readily intend to pass to anybody. I would describe this as evasive. Obviously using planetarium software, Hostetter is now claiming to introduce supportive arcus visionis data that was never identified prior to his 2010 privately circulated article, and certainly never published. Hostetter has completely ignored any explanation for why it has not been published. In spite of his claim for apparently important supportive material Hostetter currently only claims to hold his astronomical interpretation as an opinion. Over 35 years of claim-making Hostetter has never identified any other person who supports his particular astronomical interpretation of Inanna’s Descent. It is obvious that the analysis Hostetter currently claims to have made is not even totally convincing either to him or anybody else if they have seen it. However, in spite of his continual promotion of his astronomical interpretation, and lack of conviction with it, Hostetter now takes the view that others must follow his dictates and work out for themselves what his claims are about. I am interested in what Hostetter is doing with planetarium software – not what I am doing with planetarium software. Over the past years Hostetter has not felt restricted to Hastro-L but has continually sent me off-list e-mails (and offered to send me attachments). Hostetter has offered on multiple occasions to e-mail attachments to Hastro-L members off-list but now claims to be restricted to Hastro-L postings (and Hastro-L does not allow attachments). It seems Hostetter's argument comprises: I have the information and you don't (and won't). I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland.

Once again, whilst promoting the Planetarium software approach (using Skyglobe/Cybersky) Hostetter maximises (and defends) his identified matches by stating that there has been some literary license in the texts in describing astronomical events and not all can be literally matched to how events actually occur in the sky! Simply a claim and no more than a 'lazy' argument that hardly comprises a 'factual standard.' The arcus visionis issue seems unrelated to this. Nowhere is there a published examination of these matters. Once again, Hostetter offers little evidence for his claims, and what he does offer is seldom credible. Hostetter is unrestrained by lack of information or criticisms. Hostetter persists in playing deaf to any criticisms. Literally all are ignored. Vehement reiteration takes the place of informed argument. Hostetter readily seeks inventive solutions for perceived difficulties. It is obviously overtasking Hostetter to expect he will deal directly with the numerous facts that contradict and dispel his claims.

The history of Hostetter's approach to ancient astronomy and historical accuracy highlights the ways that information can be used and arguments constructed to promote and defend opinions and goals. Evidence becomes filtered, shaped, and even denied in order to 'prove' beliefs and assertions. Hostetter states he has made a preferential selection of the celestial time period to be 'examined.' Perceived difficulties are discounted as problems with limited cuneiform vocabulary and oral and written transmission errors. Hostetter's 35 year campaign to perpetuate his beliefs – literally without conceding the need for any change – provides a particularly striking example of the methodologies that will be adopted by individuals to obtain recognition and 'credibility' for their views. Hostetter's numerous claims have proven to be highly questionable regarding legitimacy and truth. Hostetter has not been able to demonstrate expertise in the subjects he believes he has brilliant insights into. What he has demonstrated is his ability to continue with a wasteland of false theories.

On 11-3-2013 the following quote was posted on Hastro-L: "the terrifying conclusion is - that a gifted multidisciplinary amateur may come up with a penetrating insight, only to find that there is no one competent to recognize its validity, the qualified specialists being too confined within their own narrow disciplines and restraints, to see the wood for the trees." Hostetter undoubtedly sees this as applying to himself. The fact remains that use of Hostetter's claims do not lead to any meaningful generalisations about the early history of astronomy.

 

Part 5: Hostetter's final trumpet blast?

By persisting in popping back up everywhere, Hostetter is intent on demonstrating he is an 'unsinkable rubber duck.' Also persisting is his disregard for the most elementary standards of scholarship.

Hostetter wrote (Hastro-L (as he has focused on Hastro-L as the platform for his views), 5-3-2014): "I have posted as a Kindle publication a short summary of a cuneiform report that has been mislabeled (in my opinion) as a myth on the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature that is kept at Oxford. The main intent is to make the report available indefinitely as a Kindle "book". I had to stipulate a purchase price, since all Kindle books are required to have one. The title is "Inanna Dead?". The report may be a summary of the earliest recorded daily report (more than a year) of the movements of Venus, Mercury, the waning crescent Moon and Jupiter, beginning in 2502 B.C." In a later parasitic posting to Hastro-L (15-3-2014), Hostetter simply claimed to be making a correct interpretation of an astronomical record: "… I have just published a Kindle "book" describing a cuneiform record of planetary movements occurring in the years 2502 B.C." (At 53 pages all up it can hardly be claimed by Hostetter to be a book!)

The book's dedication demonstrates that Hostetter likes to believe he is aware of 'facts' ignored by most other persons: "Dedicated to Dr. Samuel Noah Kramer who knew that 1 could sometimes be 60" Hostetter ignores any real research. The few ancient mathematical texts from Mesopotamia that we have date to the latest Sumerian period, the so-called Third Dynastery of Ur (circa 2000 BCE). These texts are simple multiplication tables using the already fully developed sexagesimal number system. Sexagesimal (base 60) is a numeral system with 60 as its base. It originated with either the Sumerian or the Eblaite civilizations in the 3rd-millennium BCE and was passed down to the ancient Babylonians. There was an original compelling reason to use base 60. The most important feature of this system is the fact that the powers of 60, such as 60 itself, or 3600 or 1/60th, and 1 are all simply denoted by "1". This notation make multiplication or division simple because the probability of needing infinite fractions is smaller in a system having a base with more divisors. The Mesopotamian sexagesimal number system is indicated as originating from the influence of the monetary system of that time. The value 60 of the base appears to be the outcome of the arrangement of the monetary units. The decisive simplification of mathematical notation is likely due to the established writing practice of business scribes.

Otto Neugebauer, on page 28 of an essay titled "Exact Science in Antiquity," written in 1941 for a University of Pennsylvania bicentennial conference and reprinted in a collection of his essays (Otto Neugebauer, Astronomy and History: Selected Essays (1983), page 28), writes: "The very few old texts of mathematical character which we have from Mesopotamia belong to the latest Sumerian period, the so-called Third Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2000 BC). These texts are simple multiplication tables using the already fully developed famous sexagesimal number system. The most important feature of this system is the fact that the powers of sixty, such as 60 itself, or 3600 or 1/60th, and 1 are all denoted simply by "1". This notation makes multiplication or division as simple as in our method of calculation (or even simpler, because the probability of needing infinite fractions is smaller in a system having a base with more divisors). The introduction of this notation is doubtless not a conscious one but is the result of the influence of the monetary system, which was used for the notation of fractions in the same manner as in Roman times. In the beginning the different units were written with number signs of different size, but later this careful notation was omitted and thus the "place value" notation originated. This process is closely related to the economic development of this period, from which we have thousands and thousands of texts which carefully record the delivery of sheep, cattle, grain, etc, for the administrative offices. Hence the first and real decisive simplification in mathematical notations is merely due to the writing practice of generations of business scribes." In another essay ("History and Ancient Astronomy: Problems and Methods") in Astronomy and History: Selected Essays, page 52, Neugebauer writes "We are able to trace Mesopotamian number writing far back into the earliest stages of civilization, thanks to the enormous amount of economic documents preserved from all periods. It can be shown [how a] notation ... developed naturally in the monetary system and which tended toward a place-value notation. The value 60 of the base appears to be the outcome of the arrangement of the monetary units."

(There were also various Chinese sexagenary cycles of years, months, and days. See also the English-language article: "Masse und Gewichte." [Mass and Weights] in Reallexikon der Assyriologie.)

 

The 53-page pamphlet Inanna Dead? carries the unjustified subtitle New Revelations from the Middle East, verified by NASA data. Interestingly, instead of simply "by Clyde hostetter" we have "Reported by Clyde Hostetter." It is obviously being inferred from the use of the wording that Hostetter is reporting on independent data newly presented by NASA. NASA is not in the business of conducting history investigations into claims such as Hostetter's. Perhaps instead of "reported" the term "interpreted" should have been used. There is nothing new in Hostetter's claims that are now over 30 years old. The inclusion of the term Revelations is simply empty dramatics. Of course the NASA data do not verify Hostetter's claims. This again is simply empty dramatics. Hostetter force-fits his claims onto what he sees produced by planetarium software. The fact that it is 'An Exclusive kindle Book Issue' is evidence that no publisher has accepted it for publication, and it is self-published by Hostetter. Interestingly, the image of the plaque of the so-called 'Queen of the Night' used on the cover has been convincingly determined to be most likely a forgery by Pauline Albenda. For the results of her careful and comprehensive study and analysis, see: "The 'Queen of the Night' Plaque - A Revisit." in Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 125, Number 2, 2005, Pages 171-190. As example: No owls are known in examples of ancient Near Eastern art.   

 

"About the Author" appearing in the Kindle publication. The absence of any real biographical detail is telling. Exactly what the claim "studied the skies" means is not explained. We do not know whether daytime hours or night-time hours are meant and what, if anything, was accomplished. Mayan (sic) pyramids means at least 2. Access to Maya pyramids is controlled and night-time ascent and descent is fraught with risk. It is difficult to believe night-time access was permitted. (For Mayan read Maya and for volcanos read volcanoes.) Similar issues exist for being on the slopes of volcanoes at night-time. We don't know if the volcanoes were active or dormant. Why Hostetter would want to study the sky from the slope of a volcano is not explained. His claim that his book Star Trek to Hawa-i'i deals with astronomical traditions is distortive. The book merely is an attempt to set out his beliefs and selectively call up some limited 'evidence.'

 

Book Description: Publication Date: February 15, 2014 (Approximately 53 pages). "A nude Mesopotamian goddess enters the land of the dead, expecting to be killed, but confident that she will be resurrected. The wisest god in the ancient land of Sumer comes to her rescue after she has been executed and hung on a hook in the palace of her sister, the Queen of Hell. A myth? The astronomer-priests of Sumeer (sic) saw it happen more than 4000 years ago and wrote a detailed report with a sharpened reed on a tablet of damp clay. It apparently (sic) the earliest report ever written by skilled observers of celestial events. And it has a happy ending back in the land of Sumer. If you have a computer you can see for yourself using NASA-based data that has recreated day by day views of the skies of Mesapotamia (sic) when Inanna was deciding to risk her life on a visit to the land of the dead. One software package, CyberSky will give you a free 30-day look at desert skies thounsands (sic) of years before the Wise Men began their journet (sic) to Bethleham (sic)."

 

A paragraph of speculative fiction from Inanna Dead? At the Amazon webpage advertising the booklet/pamphlet, Mary Anderson wrote the customer review: "Well-written and thoroughly-researched story of how Sumerians 4,500 years ago understood what they saw in the night sky! Good job!" And, gave it 5 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately Mary Anderson fails to give any details about herself. For all we know she is a friend of Hostetter's giving support. Her Amazon reviewer ranking (14-4-2015) is #6,611,784.

 

My predictions for the 53-page content of Inanna Dead?: Hostetter, as usual, will have focused on his specific theory and ignored the rest. The contents will be speculative. All of the evidence will not be presented (as Hostetter has never attempted impartial inquiry). It will not comprise a detailed argument how he arrived at his conclusions. It will be based on Inanna/Venus travelling from East to West (opposite to the direction of travel stated in the myth). It will ignore the detailed case I have made against his speculations. It will especially ignore the demise of his claims to have possession of a Sumerian copper bowl containing coded astronomical information (and certainly not explain the fiasco of his false interpretation). In the end, Hostetter, as usual, is intent on conforming the facts to fit his theory.

That Hostetter fails to acknowledge the numerous articles published by the late leading Danish Sumerologist Bendt Alster (1946-2012), between 1972 and 2001, setting out an astronomical interpretation of aspects of Sumerian mythology, is testimony to Hostetter's ability only to focus on himself. (Bendt Alster ranks among the most significant Sumerologists of the last 50 years. Bendt Alster studied Assyriology at the University of Copenhagen from 1965 to 1972 and received his PhD in 1975. He spent one year in Rome at the Biblical Institute (1968-69), and another (1970-71) at Harvard University studying with Thorkild Jacobsen. Bendt Alster was visiting scholar at the University Museum, Philadelphia, in 1973, 1988-89, 1992 and again in 1993-94, as well as visiting scholar at the British Expedition to Iraq, Baghdad in 1990, and visiting scholar at the Babylonian Collection, Yale University, 1992. Bendt Alster was external lecturer at the University of Copenhagen from 1978 until 2005.)

Hostetter's earlier book Star Trek to Hawa-i'i (1991) has recently influenced the American astrologer Barbara Carter. (Carter has been a professional astrologer since 1975 and states her 2nd love is astronomy.) Hostetter's ideas are referenced in her essay, "Appendix I: The Astronomy of the Nights of Venus." In: The Mythology of Venus. Ancient Calendars and Archaeoastronomy edited by Helen Benigni (2013) (Pages 77-82). Hostetter's ideas form part of the basis for an elaborate astrological chart. Judging from the Forward by Morgan Llywelyn the small book of 146 pages is a mystical Earth/Mother Goddess book. Interestingly, Helen Benigni graduated with a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1989. She is a professor at Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia, where she teaches comparative mythology, composition, and literature. Her other works include The Myth of the Year: Returning to the Origin of the Druid Calendar (2003) and The Goddess and the Bull: A Study in Minoan-Mycenaean Mythology (2007). It appears she is a feminist, pro Goddess advocate.

Hostetter holds on

Clyde Hostetter wrote (Hastro-L, 19-6-2014): "An article in Volume 17 [Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage (2014)] will be of interest to those wishing to extend the history of astronomy to examination of records made before numbers and the written word. The article: Ancient Astronomical Culture in Ukraine. It documents evidence that, while mammoths were still plentiful before 12,000 BCE, celestial observers were recording phases of the Moon while living in houses built with mammoth bones in what is now Ukraine. The ten pages of the paper, including color photos and B&W charts, document that celestial observations were being made and recorded before there were numbers and words. This is fascinating reading for scholars interested in the EARLY history of astronomy. There are email addresses for the two authors. Perhaps they still can be reached in the middle of the mess that is now Ukraine. A personal note: This could relate to the celestial information recorded on the bowl, using no numbers or words, that I found in Saudi Arabia years ago with information for predicting lunar eclipses. It could have evolved from the same tradition of recording celestial data that was being used in Ukraine 10,000 or more years earlier."

Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 30-7-2014): "… I am attaching a file that discusses a small copper bow (sic) that I found in Saudi Arabia more than 30 years ago. I would appreciate any opinion about the bowl's markings and my interpretations. …" Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L, 31-7-2014): "… I'm confident that eventually some respectable authorites (sic) will accept the idea that data can be transmitted without a written language and an accepted number system. My concern now is to see that the bowl can be saved after my passing. …" Hostetter's posting to Hastro-L (31-7-2014) is an admission that no authorities support him. It also shows how Hostetter ignores past expert advice and still attempts to shift the 'goal posts' regarding what he is actually claiming. Left unstated in these e-mails is the Sumerian/Inanna bowl claims. This dating is passed over without explicit mention. (He now continues to promote his claim - without any mention of dating - that the copper bowl encodes astronomical data.) Hostetter repeatedly posits (recent example, Hastro-L, 18-4-2015) that it is because he has "no academic credentials in archeoastronomy" that his ideas are ignored. Actually its because he ignores detailed contrary evidence, and deflects incisive questions.

This renewal of claims by Hostetter for his copper bowl shows Hostetter's claims are poorly constructed and their continuation, whilst all criticisms are either ignored or distorted by him, suggests the continuation of his claims can be considered intellectually dishonest and deliberately misleading. Hostetter is very much about concocting arguments that would appear to save his cherished but false ideas. His defences over the past several years are a marvel of obfuscation.

In 2015, Hostetter no longer directly promotes his usual core claims. They are evidently promoted obliquely. Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L 20-1-2015): "As long as we're discussing definitions, does "HIstory (sic) of Astronomy" include the information obtained by looking at ancient skies, recreated mathematically? Or is it confined to written records?" Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L 22-1-2015): "... Construct a circular pattern with 18 epicycles. How does this relate to a 112-year period of Venus and lunar cycles." Clyde Hostetter (Hastro-L 22-1-2015): "If you haven’t heard about this before, my email is ...."; and another irrelevant "reply" (Hastro-L, 21-4-2015): "Thank you for the reminder that a great deal of information about the history of astronomy dates back well before printed information...and is difficult to footnote."

Personal e-mail from Hostetter on 4-7-2015, with subject heading: Inanna's Descent: "Hello, Gary-- Today I had a free hour and reviewed my updated dossier that you send out to the world on request. The file is enormous! It became clear that you haven’t followed the day-to-day movements of Venus using CyberSky, with a beginning date a month or two before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C. in the Western sky until somewhat more than 480 days later with the reappearance of Venus in the Western sky. These nightly movements would have been carefully watched by Sumer observers who then recorded by them in early cuneiform. If you check every day of that period on CyberSky  you will discover that there is a close meeting of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter in the East a short time before the Seventh Gate. Then Mercury reverses direction and proceeds to the Western horizon as Venus passes through the Seventh Gate and disappears at the time of a New Moon. When Venus and the Moon disappear, Mercury moves back to the Western sky. She then meets the resurrected Venus 60 days later at the time of another New Moon. A meteor shower of  two sizes of meteorites attacks Venus in the Western sky, but she escapes and reappears in the Western sky from which she disappeared 480 days earlier. I have the impression that few, if any, critics have followed these daily celestial movements in the Third Millennium in Sumer. They also need to observe the movements of Mercury in the Western sky as she passes along the Western horizon, looking for help, then disappears and meets Venus and Jupiter in the Eastern sky. (There are no cuneiform reports that I know of which report those solo Mercury movements in the West, perhaps because the Inanna cuneiform translators were looking only for tablets that  mentioned Venus, and ignoring Mercury tablets.) You have spent hours and hours listing all the comments of others with opinions not those of mine. You can get a free 60-day trial of CyberSky, which is not difficult to use. You could mention my name if you buy directly from its creator. (He will remember me. I was an early user of CyberSky.) Sales also can be made through a commercial firm. I can't remember its name off-hand, but look for "CyberSky. Start  your celestial journey a few months before the 2502 B.C. Equinox, when Venus is risingr (sic) in the West, then pauses and moves toward the Western horizon, disappearing on the day of the Spring Equinox. I've saved you a year or two providing these instructions. It took me that long to establish the date of the beginning of Inanna's Descent to the Nether World. Let me know how it goes. Then you may want to back away from all those quotes from others who haven’t done their homework. Please calm down on trying to prove that The Bowl is of recent manufacture. It's a lost cause. It's the data on the bowl that is significant, not just its age. Clyde H. ..." What is evident is the simple resort to repetition of his basic ideas, the dismissal of critics, the dismissal of the establishment of the recent age of the copper bowl, and the conviction that only his ideas are correct. There is a continued refusal to acknowledge the research results of others. There is no acceptance by Hostetter that the copper bowl is conclusively established to be of recent (Qajar period) origin. For Hostetter the issue of its date is no longer of importance. Unaddressed by Hostetter is what remains of his original claims regarding Inanna being depicted inside the copper bowl. Almost completely overlooked is the fact that no other person besides Hostetter has examined (= been permitted to examine) the bowl iconography and been able to verify Hostetter's claims. Hostetter has never published his claims for the copper bowl in a professional peer-reviewed journal. Neither has anybody claiming to support Hostetter's claims published anywhere at all. It should not be overlooked that Hostetter has not been able to cite any person as supporting his copper bowl claims. Hostetter remains a one-man band. 

Clyde Hostetter, Hastro-L, 12-7-2015 (Response to an e-mail unconnected with Hostetter): "Why don't you just shut up! It may give you personal satisfaction to throw rocks at people. I have no idea what your mental and/or your physical problem is, but you certainly are a discredit to your fellow Australians, with whom I've worked in various places around the world. Why do some people delight in making victims of those with whom they have differences? You are the first person with whom I have contact that has been so psychotic in his relationships...and that covers the past 89 years. Get a life! There still is time. Clyde Hostetter" It is apparent that Hostetter in intolerant of any criticism of persons promoting daft ideas regarding the early history of astronomy. He especially does not like any detailed analysis of how he continually recycles and propagates his claims.

Hostetter seems to have abandoned his very small book. Posting to Hastro-L (12-10-2015) by Clyde Hostetter: "A new topic: I notice in the official info guidelines for this group that "archeoastronomy" is a topic that can be addressed. Here is my contribution: Is anyone interested in evidence that observations of planetary movements were being made and recorded, probably nightly, early in the Third Millennium? I believe I have evidence that this was being done in one specific time period, beginning shortly before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C. and ending with a massive meteor shower in 2501 B.C. The data are on cuneiform tablets found and published by archaeologists beginning early in the Twentieth Century. I would be glad to provide details by e-mail to anyone interested in this aspect of HASTRO's stated goals. I can also attach several supporting charts to my e-mailed response. The charts were created with CyberSky software and can be replicated by similar programs that can produce celestial images for the Third Millennium." This is a renewed attempt by Hostetter to continue his oblique promotion of his ideas. Nowhere is Hostetter willing to admit that his ideas are some 35 years old. Contrary to Hostetter's claims, the data are not on the cuneiform tablets. The prime example is his claim for a meteor shower. The so-called data comprise Hostetter's particular interpretation. Also, Hostetter now only seeks to send his material to people who express interest. No intent for open discussion is indicated. Needless to say, there is nothing new here. Hostetter is apparently susceptible to the bandwagon fallacy. The bandwagon fallacy explicitly states that popular belief does not constitute proof. Hostetter seems determined that his key ideas will live on through belief rather than knowledge. Posting by Hostetter to Hastro-L (28-10-2015) after realising he has not properly planned: "Several have asked for info about my belief that cuneiform descriptions about Inanna's Descent to the Nether World are actual celestial observations from the Third Millennium. I have now realized that providing the evidence is difficult, since it often involves paths and times of movement of celestial bodies that begin just before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C. and end in March, 2501 BB.C.. (sic) I have 18 charts, downloaded using CyberSky software, that show all those details, but they can't be e-mailed. So..I (sic) will will (sic) send a copy of the 18 charts, on paper, by snail-mail to anyone who is interested. That includes non-U.S. persons. A big problem: In order to compare the charts with Oxford's ETCSL story of Inanna's Descent to the Nether World you will need to download the "myth" from Oxford. However, I will be glad to respond to any questions. Please e-mail me your postal address if you have a continuing interest. I will be sending the charts by surface mail to foreign countries." It is only with this posting that Hostetter makes it clear that rather than offering data he is offering his interpretation of a myth. There a week later another post to Hastro-L (18-11-2015): "Here are two dates to think about and decide whether they are significant in archaeoastronomy: April 12, 2502 BC and March 3, 2501 BC . (sic) If you can check those dates on suitable software you will be observing what may be the earliest significant recorded History of Astronomy, written on cuneiform about happened between these two dates. If this interests anyone I'll be glad to explain." It is clear from one reply that the person believed that Hostetter was now offering further and different information. No clarification appeared on-list that it was the same old obscure 'advertisement.'

A nebulous muddled parasitic posting to Hastrol-L (Sunday, 12-12-2015) by Hostetter: "I see that you [Gary Thompson] have a web site with discussion of cuneiform sources, stating that there are no comprehensive accounts of the movements of planets. I again recommend using software that shows their movements. [This is rather badly/ambiguously written.] A good starting point would be three days before the Vernal Equinox of 2502 B.C. and continuing until March 2501 B.C. You can observe movements of the Sun, the Moon (crescent and new), and the planets Venus, Mercury and Jupiter. You then will understand why the "myth", Inanna's Descent to the Nether World, is a failed attempt by translators during the 20th Century to fit together fragments of a detailed report that begins with the disappearance above the western horizon of the heart of the Great Bull of Heaven. It then follows the movements of the Moon and various planets until a major meteor storm during the first week of March 2501 B.C. Please let me know if this guide needs further explanation." My response (Hastro-L, 12-12-2015): "Hi Clyde, Basically another rerun mantra from you; but this time attributing to me statements that I don't make. (I state the opposite to what you claim.) Hopefully I will have completed my book, Mishandling the Past: Imaginative Reconstructions of Bronze Age Astronomy, by mid 2017. Keep an eye out for it. I am presently busy completing my book (hopefully 2016), The Recovery of Babylonian Astronomy: The Co-operative Efforts of Strassmaier, Epping, Kugler, and Schaumberger." Reply by Hostetter (Hastro-L, 13-12-2015): "Hi Gary-- What more can I say? The data are there. Clyde"

Some comments on evidence

Many of Hostetter's claims are extraordinary. The 'copper bowl' claim was/is extraordinary. Some of Hostetter's claims are appealing. The 'Inanna's descent' claim is appealing. Above all, his claims are interesting/intriguing to many. The important issue is: Is there any credible evidence to support such claims? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This phrase made popular by the American astronomer Carl Sagan may have been based on a quote by the English philosopher David Hume, The statement is self explanatory; if someone makes an extraordinary claim there needs to be extraordinary evidence to back it up. It is integrated into the scientific method, and a model for critical thinking, rational thought and skepticism everywhere. If a previously held belief is to be overturned, and replaced with the new claim, then we need to be convinced that: (1) the new claim provides us with an understanding of why our previously held belief was false, and why this new claim needs to supersede it; and (2) there is enough evidence consistent with the claim in order to establish that it is reasonable. What was extraordinary about the 'copper bowl' claim was it tried to 'build a house from a stone,' and the 'stone' (copper bowl) could easily be shown to be no evidence at all. Hostetter's explanations require little effort to accept, beyond the suspension of one's disbelief. Deconstructing Hostetter's claims has been time consuming but not difficult. The essence of Hostetter's response is simply, I don't want to believe his claims, and, I am an uninformed rejectionist. However, avoided by Hostetter is the fact I am not simply saying there is no evidence to support his claims, I am explaining how the evidence he supplies is woefully insufficient to support his claims. But evidence is irrelevant to Hostetter's emotionally held beliefs. His faith in his claims is maintained regardless of the evidence. Countervailing data is ignored. He steadfastly maintains the illusion of discovery and contribution. Hostetter continues to believe that all the problems lie with his critics - not himself. (However, he continues to show he is unwilling to engage critics in meaningful discussion. He is continually resistant to scrutiny and inconsistencies.) Hostetter's publications and claims comprise a striking example of where dilettantism can get lost.

Hostetter and pseudohistory

It is important we attempt to reconstruct history accurately. Comparing Hostetter's claims with the criteria set out by Douglas Allchin (2004) for distinguishing pseudohistory we have: (1) Monumental single-handed discoveries, (2) Rhetoric of truth versus ignorance, (3) Absence of any error, (4) Unproblematic interpretation of evidence, (5) General oversimplification or idealisation, (6) Author with a narrow agenda, (7) No alternative ideas, and (8) Uncritical acceptance of new concept. Note: It is interesting that Hostetter will not even concede error in detail. This in spite of the fact that his methodology is fantastically uncritical.

Hostetter persistently attempts to make his claims appear to be plausible. The nature of these attempts are desperate efforts to keep his original belief system. In doing so he has been facile; he oversimplifies the nature of evidence and interpretation. One of Hostetter's techniques in the absence of any direct evidence is he resorts to attempts to associate his claims to more firmly established and accepted historical matters. Hostetter then claims or implies that his speculative association are factual. The mixing of speculative arguments with factual material embeds the unacceptable within the acceptable.

An issue with the anything is published syndrome is the need to cautiously interpret archaeological evidence is absent. With the copper bowl claims we have a combination of archaeology, art, and history (to deal with). Hostetter has never published his claims in a refereed journal. His 1991 book uses a conversational travelogue style. His tactic involves a populist approach and he casts himself as 'taking on' the narrow-minded historical establishment. This is not only a tactic but a marketing technique for his ideas. However, it is obvious that Hostetter craves academic recognition and respectability.

His history of using his title 'Professor' masks the fact that he has no professional historical training.

Hostetter holds on: February 2016

Hostetter made another another batch of opportunistic postings to Hastro-L in February 2016. They are interesting for showing that Hostetter is involved in nothing more than keeping his claims for the astronomical interpretation of Inanna's Descent in the "limelight."

Hostetter in a parasitic posting (Hastro-L, 19-2-2016) wrote: "Astronomical ignorance might also include ignorance of Third Millennium astronomical reports recorded in cuneiform."

On an exchange regarding evidence for stone age warfare on the Wiltshire plains in south England, Hostetter in a parasitic posting (Hastro-L, 27-2-2016) wrote: "...and all the data on cuneiform, beginning in the Third Millennium." [Note: Hostetter fails to understand that the earliest cuneiform tablets are economic records arranged like a modern computer spreadsheet. There is no flowing text. The earliest cuneiform tablets record economic activity. They record complex reckoning systems combining numbers and images (whose meanings are not always self-evident) - and remain difficult to interpret in detail.]

GDT (Hastro-L, 27-2-2016): "I fail to see any connection between an Ice Age corpse with an arrow in its back and your cryptic "... and all the data on cuneiform [tablets], beginning in the Third Millennium." However, your repetition enables the identification of the particular astronomical interpretation you make of the story of the Descent of Inanna (the earliest copies of which date to the 2nd-millennium BCE, not the 3rd-millennium BCE). As most of the data on cuneiform tablets is economic you are advocating a time-wasting exercise rather than a beneficial strategy. You continue to completely ignore the publications by the expert Sumerologist Bendt Alster (1946-2012) who investigated Sumerian stories for possible metaphorical astronomical content (including the movements of Venus). In one of his articles he even identified what he believed was some very particular astronomical coding. It has been remarked that he was one of the most significant Sumerologists of the past half century. (In all there are some 16 persons you ignore who have been contributing ideas on the possible astronomical interpretation of Inanna.) I have pointed out 26 specific problems with your particular astronomical interpretation of the Descent of Inanna. You have never dealt with any of them. Your previous 35-year promotion of your so-called Sumerian period "Inanna copper bowl" was independently identified by me in September 2012 as a Qajar period (1795-1925) copper bowl. This was also the identification made in July 2013 by the Curator of Islamic Art at the British Museum and Assistant Keeper, Islamic Collections (Iran, Central Asia and India), British Museum."

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 27-2-2016): "Cuneiform was being used  before 2700 B.C., having been developed since about 3000 B.C. Everyone who is a reliable source knows that. Electronic recreations of the sky from well before 3000 B.C. to today, measured minute by minute, show locations and movements. appearances and disappearances, of all the planets, Moon and Sun. You can use CyberSky as a free trial for two months to try it out. It is clear that the Oxford scholars who collected and sorted out Sumerian "literature" didn’t consider the possibility that any of the "literature" might be reports of planetary movements made by Sumerian observers and recorded on cuneiform. Instead of quoting non-astronomers, see for yourself by using the CyberSky software or similar electronic sources. I will be glad to help you and others use the software if you are interested in consulting documents created more than 3000 years ago. Just don’t ignore the facts."

My comments (Hastro-L, 1-3-2016: "Taking you advice not to ignore facts.... There are a number of interesting issues arising from your response. To simply focus on several: (1) You introduce the date 2700 BCE and state cuneiform use precedes this date, but without explaining why you introduced the 2700 BCE date. (But perhaps the earliest dating for the Gilgamesh epic, one of the earliest forms of poems and having a connection with Inanna.) (2) You do not state how you know it is clear that ETCSL scholars establishing the material on the website did not consider that the Sumerian "literature" (your use of quotation marks) might be reports of planetary movements. The phrasing used by you is problematic. There are 2 groups involved with the ETCSL project. One group are the project members and the other group are the contributors of the material posted. Why the ETCSL project members for some reason have been involved in oversight for apparently not considering that the Sumerian literature posted might be reports of planetary movements is an absurd conclusion. Such an expectation of this kind is clearly not part of their task and it should not be implied that it is. As project team members their role is to assemble the translations of others, not to carry out an analysis of the type you expect. They are project members because they were willing to give their time and organisational expertise to ensure the project was realised. Not all were paid for their efforts. Also, John Baines, the project director for the last several years the project was funded, is an Egyptologist. (3) You obviously believe that all Sumerian period cuneiform texts - whether economic or not - should be studied for astronomical interpretations (i.e., planetary movements). The ridiculousness of the expectation should be obvious, but apparently is not. Firstly, reading proto-cuneiform presents great difficulties. The lack of explicit linguistic information makes it so difficult to understand. The later cuneiform script that developed out of it is easier to understand. With so-called mature cuneiform script one sign can have multiple meanings. Secondly, the ETCSL has nearly 400 literary compositions posted on its website. I would have thought that with any sensible strategy they would comprise an obvious first choice for this type of "wish list" activity. Thirdly, exactly what is the benchmark for ensuring astronomers engaged in such a "wish list" activity are not like blind persons chasing a black cat in a dark room, that isn't there? (4) You have not realised some contradictions you have created. You assure that non-astronomers and amateur astronomers, simply using planetarium software and the unrevised English language translations (at least since 2006) at ETCSL in addition to your guidance if needed, somehow have a better chance than non-astronomer sumerologists/assyriologists of deciding the astronomical content of Sumerian period texts. But you imply that people don't really need knowledge of astronomy or first-hand knowledge of texts. All they need is to use planetarium software and the existing English language translations of texts at ETCSL, and perhaps seek your advice. You do not explain why your "2 party" division will make a difference to correctly understanding the texts. But here it also becomes muddled because you have suddenly changed from meaning all Sumerian texts back to your particular astronomical interpretation of Inanna's Descent. (5) But, hypothetically, what if there are professional astronomers who undertake this "wish list" task and who disagree with each other? What then? Apparently sumerologists can't offer reliable assistance. (6) The fact is that you do not really know who has contributed material to the ETCSL. Listed in the acknowledgements for contributing material are the sumerologists Bendt Alster and Miguel Civil. Both have looked for evidence of Sumerian astronomy prior to the establishment of ETCSL in 1997. Bendt Alster specifically looked for planetary movements; especially Venus. Also, he examined a multiple number of texts for planetary astronomy - he did not simply focus on a single text. The texts both these sumerologists worked from form part of ETCSL. The paradox is that you want an astronomical analysis of all Sumerian texts for astronomy yet are prepared to ignore the work already done by sumerologists, apparently because they are non-astronomers (= haven't apparently used planetarium software in order to understand the texts). You assure that laypersons/astronomers (or any person) using planetarium software in conjunction with the English language translation of Inanna's Descent at ETCSL will not be able to ignore the facts that will be demonstrated to them. Have you communicated this to the project members at ETCSL? (7) The literature posted at ETCSL is linguistically annotated. I presume you have communicated your further concerns to the project members, making use of the annotations and, once again, your planetarium software." Left out of my reply: (1) Hostetter goes into his routine of implying that I must be ignorant of the period when cuneiform use was introduced, and (2) Hostetter then goes into his routine of implying that I am not familiar with planetarium software, and offers a brief explanation. [It is demonstrative of Hostetter's 'blinkered attitude' towards others who make similar interpretations - he is completely indifferent towards all of them; they have nothing to contribute even though he obviously does not bother to read and understand their arguments. He does not understand the dual standard he is applying - he requires others to follow his dictates and terms for 'discussion' but rejects all thought of understanding others who have made astronomical interpretations of Inanna's Descent.]

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 1-3-2016): "Nothing in the long statement indicates that there has been an actual use of CyberSky to test its accuracy. After that has been done this discussion can continue." Once again Hostetter simplistically dissolves everything into use of Cybersky. The accuracy of Cybersky is not the issue. The interpretation of Inanna's Descent is the issue. There are important issues to be established prior to the use of planetarium software. This involves understanding the veracity of the translation being used and also its feasible interpretation. Hostetter has spent nearly a decade with planetarium software looking for best fits that also involve making the details of Inanna's Descent fit what is presented by planetarium software. As example: he has changed his dates at least 3 times now, with each new date change being presented with the same assurance of the previous one. The claims of "accuracy" are to be based on matching (and force fitting) selected statements in Inanna’s Descent to depictions of sky phenomena enabled by planetarium software. Hostetter's "proof" really does not extend beyond this point. It is the "proof" that makes a particular line in the poem an astronomical statement by arbitrary association. With this type of "proof" Hostetter is accepting what he should be proving. The exercise in "matchmaking" is deprived of any evidence. It also ignores other difficulties. The basis for Hostetter to use planetarium software must be legitimate. There are important issues to be discussed that do not admit the use of planetarium software. An important one is Inanna's direction of travel. It is indicated as conclusive that Hostetter is mistaken regarding Inanna's direction of travel. Inanna's direction of travel though the underworld was west to east; not east to west. There is no clear evidence that The Descent of Inanna contains any astronomical framework other than the course of Venus setting in the west, moving eastward through the underworld, and rising in the east.

My comments (Hastro-L, 2-3-2016): "You persist in attempts to make any discussion dependant on your planetarium scenario. [For Hostetter the CyberSky planetarium software has become a 'magic machine.'] But, then what is the point of a claimed Sumerian words only description of astronomical events? Your initial astronomical interpretation precedes planetarium software. There are important issues to be discussed that do not admit the use of planetarium software. An important one is Inanna's direction of travel. The issue that makes using your planetarium software no more than an exercise in curiousity is your mistake regarding Inanna's direction of travel through the underworld. (Your understanding of the translation of Inanna's Descent, regarding Inanna's direction of travel, is not supported by the assyriologists Wolfgang Heimple [sic = Heimpel], Bendt Alster, Andrew George, or Wayner [sic = Wayne] Horowitz, to mention a few.) If you want to rewrite the early history of Near Eastern astronomy then you need to solidly establish the veracity of some of your basic assumptions. Presently it is indicated that you have been making arbitrary associations. You have spent nearly a decade with planetarium software looking for best fits that also involve making the details of Inanna's Descent fit what is presented by planetarium software. You have changed your dates at least 3 times now, with each new date change being presented with the same assurance of the previous one. The claims of "accuracy" are to be based on matching (and evidently force fitting) selected statements in Inanna's Descent to depictions of sky phenomena enabled by planetarium software. Your "proof" really does not extend beyond this point. It is the "proof" that makes a particular line in the poem an astronomical statement by arbitrary association. With this type of "proof" you are accepting what you should be proving. The exercise in "matchmaking" is deprived of any "evidence" other than itself. It also ignore (sic) other difficulties. The basis for you making claims using planetarium software must be legitimate. I would restart with Inanna's direction of travel through the underworld."

My reply (sent to Hastro-L, 3-3-2016): "CH wrote: CyberSky is NOT a "planetarium scenario." I learned about the software years ago when I visited the big astronomy center in southern Arizona. The data on the sheet of each CyberSky printout of celestial objects (including planets) on a given JD day and hour has no relationship to planetariums except as a reference source. 

GDT: The beginning of the initial paragraph at http://www.cybersky.com/ reads "CyberSky is an accurate, yet easy-to-use planetarium program that provides an excellent way to learn about astronomy and explore the sky visible in the distant past, the present, and the far-off future." The meaning of "scenario" is sequence/series of events. I see no problems indicated by the term "planetarium scenario." 

CH wrote: Experts in Assyriology are not experts in celestial data. 

GDT: The combination of assyriology, mathematics, and astronomy is rare but not non-existent. A few current examples are John Steele and Mathieu Ossendrijver. But the combination in one person is not necessary because there is cooperation between assyriologists, and mathematicians, and astronomers. This was acknowledged by the assyriologist Adolf Oppenheim decades ago. The 19th-century pioneering example of cooperation was Johann Strassmaier and Joseph Epping. But your position of dismissing assyriologists as non-astronomers is irrelevant to early observational astronomy which was basically descriptive. Inanna's Descent - whether astronomical or not - is a descriptive story. 

CH wrote: Sky watchers in 2500 B.C. knew that Venus appeared alternately in the East and the West but knew nothing of celestial mechanics or what was happening when Venus/Inanna and Mercury were not visible. 

GDT: I believe there is sufficient evidence for perhaps circa 3500 BCE. [Regarded as 2 stars as early as 3500 BCE and perhaps 1 star from the Jemdet Nasr period (3100-2900 BCE).] That Venus can appear both in the east and in the west is of course correct. We need to successfully understand the difference between what the story is saying and the interpretation of the story. They are not the same thing. The astronomical interpretation of Inanna in Inanna's Descent with some movements of Venus appears convincing.

CH wrote: Your statement "ld [sic] restart with Inanna’s direction of travel through the underworld" doesn't make sense. 

GDT: It should because you base the foundations of your claims on your assumption of Inanna's direction of travel through the underworld. Succinctly stated you maintain the astronomical interpretation: Venus as Morning Star in the eastern sky, its disappearance, and its reappearance in the western sky as Evening Star. This is your position on Inanna's direction of travel through the underworld. Based on an understanding of cuneiform terms used within Inanna's Descent assyriologists interpret the storyline as Inanna journeying from the western sky to the eastern sky. 

CH wrote: For the past million years or so the movement of Venus has been an orbit, always in the same direction. It's APPEARANCES have been alternately in the East and then in the West. In both cases the altitude above the horizon is never more than about 46 degrees. 

GDT: It should be obvious that the orbit[al] direction of Venus can't be the issue. When I talk about the storyline of Inanna's Descent you change this into an irrelevant comment on the celestial motion of Venus. Your remarks serve to illustrate that you readily confuse the storyline of Inanna's Descent with your astronomical interpretation of the story. 

CH wrote: Let me know if these facts have been enlightening, but first get educated about CyberSky. In Australia there must be a qualified astronomer who can explain all this further.

GDT: Hopefully, with this explanative posting you are able to appreciate the nature of a key problem with your astronomical interpretation.

To break things down into basics: 

Relevant parts of storyline: (1) Inanna decides to travel to, and go down into, underworld. (2) Inanna tells the gatekeeper she is travelling to the 'place of sunrise.' (3) [Eventually] Inanna is allowed to leave the underworld.

(1) Comments:

In the storyline Inanna's direction of travel to the underworld is not deemed as settled. However, this does not affect the other 2 themes. [Line 81, enables an astronomical interpretation, based on the behaviour of Venus = Inanna travels from west to east.]

(2) Transliteration ... :

ETCSL transliteration of line 81: me-e dga-ša-an(source: na)-na ki dutu e3-a-aš

Transliteration given by Wayne Horowitz: me.e dga.ša.an.na  ki.dutu.è.a.aš

(3) Translation:

ETCSL translation of line 81 has, simply: "I am Inanna going to the east."

Translation given by Wayne Horowitz: I am the Lady of Heaven (going) towards the 'Place of Sunrise'.

As a comment it seems evident that Inanna is not in the east but rather in the west and she tells the gatekeeper she is travelling to the east.

(3) Astronomical meaning (excluding that of Bendt Alster whom you reject):

In his 1982 article Wolfgang Heimpel writes: "As I shall demonstrate, the tale has Inanna moving from the western evening sky to the eastern morning sky, and not vice versa .... Inanna has not travelled east to reach the netherworld and then to reappear in the west. In astral terms it relates to Venus's celestial journey from the western horizon to the eastern horizon."

The greater detail appears in Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (1998, Pages 354-355). "When she arrives at the gates, she is challenged by Bidu, the gatekeeper of the underworld, to explain her presence. She answers that she is travelling eastward to the 'Place of Sunrise', presumably to rise as the morning star Venus, since she identifies herself as the 'Lady of the Heaven' .... Inanna's need to excuse her presence at the gate suggests that Inanna has not followed her normal course eastward to the 'Place of Sunrise' and that she is lying to Bidu when she tells him she has traveled eastward to the gate. Thus it cannot be certain that Inanna has traveled eastward to the underworld."

"One may observe the western entrance to the underworld in Inanna's Descent. Inanna, also known as Istar and Venus, surprises the gatekeeper of the 'land of no return.' Inanna claimed to be traveling to the 'place of sunrise' (in the east) where she would rise as the morning star, Venus, but instead has come to the 'land of no return' (in the west), to a path from which no traveler returns. The sites and their geography in the myth derive from observation of a natural phenomenon." (A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17-19 by Kelley Bautch (2003, Pages 135-136).

George, Andrew. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1. (Footnote page 501: "In mythology when Inanna arrives at the gates of the Netherworld she explains her presence there by stating that she is on her way to the place of the sunrise (Inanna's Descent, [Line] 81). This does not mean she has travelled east to reach the Netherworld, but relates to her celestial journey. As Venus, she has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and needs to make her way on this occasion, if not on all other, through the Netherworld to the east in time for her first appearance as a morning star."

(4) Cultural and intellectual background:

Inanna, like other gods/goddesses, is associated with the potency of the place of the rising sun. At the gates of the underworld she states: me.e dga.ša.an.na  ki.dutu.è.a.aš  The term ki.dutu.è.a.aš  refers to the east as a direction or locality and incorporates an element of time, 'sunrise' - the moment when the sun god rises above the horizon into view. [The frequency of use and context in various Sumerian texts is sufficient enough to determine the role of the term - its meaning.] The term ki.duta.é.a  is found also in descriptions of certain temples, incorporating the potency of the place of the rising sun in their imagery. (See: Geller, M. (2000). "The landscape of the 'netherworld'." in: Milano, L. et al. (Editors). Landscapes: Territories, frontiers and horizons in the Ancient Near East. Part III: Landscape in ideology, religion, literature and art. (Pages 41-49).)

The understanding of the term 'place of sunrise' lies with experienced assyriologists. The term has sufficient usage for its meaning to be understood. Of course, you may continue to deny assyriologists even the simplest knowledge of astronomy and substitute your own explanation of the term.

(5) Remarks:

From the remarks of assyriologists who have experience dealing with the genre we can reasonably conclude that when Inanna identifies herself to the gatekeeper of the underworld in line 81 of Inanna's Descent, saying that she goes to the east (she is on her way to the place of sunrise), it means in an astronomical interpretation that Venus has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and will make her way through the netherworld to the east for her first appearance as a morning star. Until she rises in the east, Inanna moves eastward unseen.

It is not indicated that you know you are contradicting the sense of Inanna's Descent regarding direction of travel through the underworld. Of course if you simply stick to comparing this explanation with your claimed "correct" version (your interpretation) - arrived at through your claimed multidisciplinary insights - you will remain without convincing claims. Your particular detailed astronomical interpretation is indicated as a mismatch to the storyline. This particular issue is only 1 of 26 issues that I have identified with your astronomical interpretation.

(6) Astral religion:

Regarding the assumption of planetary gods/goddesses in early Near Eastern cultures, with the example of the astral associations of Inanna/Ištar. Inanna was associated with (1) the planet Venus, and (2) the constellation Anunītu (the eastern fish of the later zodiacal constellation Pisces), and (3) Ištar was associated with the 7 stars of the circumpolar Margidda (Wagon) constellation (= Ursa Major/'Big Dipper'). The eminent assyriologist Francesca Rochberg believes that Mesopotamian religion was not astral in nature. Rather, an astronomical body (i.e., sun, moon, planet, star, constellation) might represent a specific god/goddess, but astronomical bodies themselves did not have a god/goddess-like status. (See: Rochberg, Francesca. (2009). "The Stars Their Likenesses." In: Porter, Barbara. (Editor). What Is a God? (Pages 41-91).) However, the astronomical aspect of Inanna is somewhat ambiguous. During the Ur III period the heliacal settings of the planet Venus were marked by the festivals of Nanaya and Anunnitum (Sauren)."

==

When Inanna identifies herself to Neti (the gatekeeper of the underworld) in line 81 of Inanna's Descent, saying that she goes to the east (she is on her way to the place of sunrise), it means in astral terms that Venus has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and will make her way through the netherworld to the east for her first appearance as a morning star. Until she rises in the east, Inanna moves eastward unseen. In his 1982 article Wolfgang Heimpel writes: "As I shall demonstrate, the tale has Inanna moving from the western evening sky to the eastern morning sky, and not vice versa, as Kramer's translation seems to have been understood by Hostetter." In his 1979 article, Hostetter writes: "… Venus as Morning Star [in eastern sky], its disappearance, and its reappearance [in western sky] as Evening Star." Inanna has not travelled east to reach the netherworld and then to reappear in the west. In astral terms it relates to Venus's celestial journey from the western horizon to the eastern horizon.

It is not indicated that Hostetter does any better with his 2010 paper. He writes: "Then, miraculously, Inanna arose. On March 3, 2502 B.C., she reappeared in the Western sky ... [after 60 days absence from the sky]." Note: Either Hostetter is confused on his dates or he is changing his dates. In another of his parasitic postings to Hastro-L (18-11-2015): "Here are two dates to think about and decide whether they are significant in archaeoastronomy: April 12, 2502 BC and March 3, 2501 BC. If you can check those dates on suitable software you will be observing what may be the earliest significant recorded History of Astronomy, written on cuneiform about happened (sic) between these two dates. If this interests anyone I'll be glad to explain."

In his 2001 RAI article, the assyriologist Bendt Alster recognised the text has Inanna/Venus moving as the evening star in the western sky to becoming the morning star in the eastern sky. He adds: "But it could easily mean that she was already the morning star, Inanna, who is in the direction of sunrise, or that she is Inanna going to the place from which the sun rises, that is, Venus as morning star about to disappear before superior conjunction." (See: Proceedings of the XLV Recontre Assyriologue Internationale edited by Tzvi Abusch et. al. (2001, Page 144).)

To reinforce the point: George, Andrew. (2003). The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and Cuneiform Texts, Volume 1. (Footnote page 501: "In mythology when Inanna arrives at the gates of the Netherworld she explains her presence there by stating that she is on her way to the place of the sunrise (Inanna's Descent 81). This does not mean she has travelled east to reach the Netherworld, but relates to her celestial journey. As Venus, she has set in the west on her last appearance as an evening star and needs to make her way on this occasion, if not on all other, through the Netherworld to the east in time for her first appearance as a morning star."

"One may observe the western entrance to the underworld in Inanna's Descent. Inanna, also known as Istar and Venus, surprises the gatekeeper of the 'land of no return.' Inanna claimed to be traveling to the 'place of sunrise' (in the east) where she would rise as the morning star, Venus, but instead has come to the 'land of no return' (in the west), to a path from which no traveler returns. The sites and their geography in the myth derive from observation of a natural phenomenon." (A Study of the Geography of 1 Enoch 17-19 by Kelley Bautch (2003, Pages 135-136).

The greater detail appears in Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography by Wayne Horowitz (1998, Pages 354-355). "When she arrives at the gates, she is challenged by Bidu, the gatekeeper of the underworld, to explain her presence. She answers that she is travelling eastward to the 'Place of Sunrise', presumably to rise as the morning star Venus, since she identifies herself as the 'Lady of the Heaven' .... Inanna's need to excuse her presence at the gate suggests that Inanna has not followed her normal course eastward to the 'Place of Sunrise' and that she is lying to Bidu when she tells him she has traveled eastward to the gate. Thus it cannot be certain that Inanna has traveled eastward to the underworld."

Inanna, like other gods/goddesses, is associated with the potency of the place of the rising sun. At the gates of the underworld she states: me.e dga.ša.an.na  ki.dutu.è.a.aš (I am the Lady of Heaven (going) towards the 'Place of Sunrise'). ETCSL has, simply: "I am Inanna going to the east." (ETCSL translation of line 81 of  the ETCSL transliteration: me-e dga-ša-an(source: na)-na ki dutu e3-a-aš) The term ki.dutu.è.a.aš refers to the east as a direction or locality and incorporates an element of time, 'sunrise' - the moment when the sun god rises above the horizon into view. The term ki.duta.é.a is found also in descriptions of certain temples, incorporating the potency of the place of the rising sun in their imagery. (See: Geller, M. (2000). "The landscape of the 'netherworld'." in: Milano, L. et al. (Editors). Landscapes: Territories, frontiers and horizons in the Ancient Near East. Part III: Landscape in ideology, religion, literature and art. (Pages 41-49).)

It is not indicated that Hostetter knows he is contradicting the sense of Inanna's Descent regarding direction of travel. If he does know he is ignoring it without any attempt at explanation. The issue is not discussed at all by Hostetter. For Hostetter the planetarium software has become a 'magic machine' transcending all else, when what is required is a proper study. The whole edifice he has developed and attempted to maintain is a fiction based on his inability to properly understand what is actually being set out in parts of Inanna's Descent. He has ignored understanding the very fundamentals.

To make the point once again: The fact that Hostetter has Venus travelling in the wrong direction destroys in a single example the entire laboured fantasy that he presents.

===

For information: The establishment of the ETCSL goes back to 1997. ETCSL (http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/): "Introduction. Sumerian is the first language for which we have written evidence and its literature the earliest known. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (ETCSL), a project of the University of Oxford, comprises a selection of nearly 400 literary compositions recorded on sources which come from ancient Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and date to the late third and early second millennia BCE. The corpus contains Sumerian texts in transliteration, English prose translations and bibliographical information for each composition. The transliterations and the translations can be searched, browsed and read online using the tools of the website. Funding for the ETCSL project came to an end in the summer of 2006 and no work is currently being done to this site or its contents."

ETCSL Project Members (http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/edition2/credits.php#ack): "Jeremy Black (1951–2004), editor and project director (1997–2004); John Baines, project director (2004–2006); Graham Cunningham, senior editor; Jacob L. Dahl, project director (2008– ); Jarle Ebeling, technical developer; Esther Flückiger-Hawker, editor; Eleanor Robson, technical developer and project associate; Jon Taylor, editor and project associate; Marc Van De Mieroop, project director (2006–2007); Gábor Zólyomi, editor and project associate."

ETCSL Credits (http://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/edition2/credits.php#ack): "Acknowledgements. We thank Miguel Civil and Steve Tinney, whose contributions were fundamental to the shape and success of the project. Miguel's unpublished catalogue of Sumerian literature, the product of decades of brilliant and painstaking work, lies at the heart of the corpus. Steve's wisdom and expertise were crucial throughout, from the earliest planning stages to the final lemmatisation. We are also extremely grateful to all those who have contributed source material to the project: Bendt Alster, Antoine Cavigneaux, Miguel Civil, Gertrud Farber, Andrew George, Geerd Haayer, Bram Jagersma, Joachim Krecher, Marie-Christine Ludwig, Piotr Michalowski, Martha Roth, Yitschak Sefati, Steve Tinney, Herman Vanstiphout, Niek Veldhuis, Konrad Volk, Christopher Walker, Claus Wilcke, and Annette Zgoll. Many other colleagues have given helpful advice, in particular Pascal Attinger, Cale Johnson, Alan Millard, and Nicholas Postgate. Four research students made essential contributions to the project: Ronan Head, Anne Löhnert, Naoko Ohgama, and Faimon Roberts."

Hostetter in a parasitic posting (Hastro-L, 28-2-2016) wrote: "Thanks for the reminder that there were complex cultures beyond that of that small part of the globe called Europe. The history of astronomy should include the hundreds of thousands of square miles in the Pacific that were being explored with the help of stars long before there were European telescopes." Hostetter ignores, or is simply unaware that there are numerous studies - and have been for more than half a century - on the pre-European astronomy of the Pacific region. A "reminder" is one thing; implying the history of astronomy ignores the pre-European contact Pacific cultures is simply untrue and shows gross ignorance.

Hostetter summary for February 2016:

It is clear that his copper bowl claims are a historical fiction. (Hostetter has never formally abandoned his copper bowl as evidence of Sumerian astronomy claims.) Hostetter's blunders are far more numerous than those supposedly made by persons he targets for criticism (i.e., assyriologists, art historians, astronomers, and any critic of his views). He presents his claims to be absolutely true and they are presented as dogma; and issued as short formulaic statements. He repeats short statements that in effect declare, "without doubt my claims are true" and demonstrates he is unchangeable. The analysis of his claims for Inanna's descent - another aspect of his copper bowl as evidence of Sumerian astronomy claims - indicates he has constructed another historical fiction. Or should we be less cautious and accept his ideas unquestioned? Hostetter's responses on Hastro-L are largely decoys. He intimates that any perceived problem actually lies with a failing on the part of the critic. Hostetter's persistent rejoinder to my copper bowl criticisms was that I had not read his book (regardless of how many times I stated this was wrong). Hostetter's persistent rejoinder to my Inanna's Descent criticisms is that I have not used the software in conjunction with ETCSL. Wrong again. This is shabby treatment of someone wanting to clarify difficulties with his assertions. If Hostetter wants to rewrite the early history of Near Eastern astronomy - with the assurance that his version is not fantasy - then I suggest he will need to do better than the type of responses he is prone to give. I would have thought that an exacting scholar would not attempt to present their ideas as unassailable, or comment on them in a way that makes them unassailable. It has all the identifying marks of pseudo-scholarship and pseudo-history. If Hostetter is simply to demonstrate scholarly capacity with his claims then he needs to ensure veracity of evidence and accuracy of assertions deriving from such. A rigorous approach to the evidence is not evident. Hostetter does not demonstrate either tireless effort to ensure the integrity of his claims, or boundless curiousity. His persistent technique of presenting with blinkers - that is, ignoring (= not discussing or giving credence) to any other astronomical interpretation - also establishes his lack of credibility. Hostetter is in the business of revealing (his) truth - not engaging in ongoing conversation. Hostetter fails to realise he is not presenting a self-evidently true interpretation or a competitive plausible hypothesis but rather a historical fiction of his own making. Hostetter chooses to continue to proceed with the strategy of impact by popularization without regard for scholarly protocols, as if they are now somehow unnecessary. Hostetter puts a higher value on his ideas than on facts. Interpretations more consistent with the facts are not tolerated at the expense of his ideas. My approach is: What withstands critical scrutiny? Those who propose and support ideas need to show what can be "saved" if the overall idea encounters credibility problems. It is not for "critics" to examine and adjust an idea and "make it true." The question remains: What type of analysis enables a correct understanding of the Descent of Inanna?

The end of it all - finally?

My reply to Hostetter sent to Hastro-L, 3-3-2016, elicited no further response from Hostetter whatsoever. It is indicated that his 35 year venture into pseudohistory is finally ended. But perhaps not. Hostetter has a history of ignoring critical comments, remaining quiet for a while, and then reposting them again some time in the future when he obviously thinks people (most people at least) will have forgotten about the matter. (This method of 'repeat cycling' proved true per his postings to Hastro-L in late May 2016. It is obvious that Hostetter has never really had to deal with any opposition to his numerous claims.) Hostetter had long stopped any legitimate amateur inquiry into the issues. Also, he has not checked his "work" against anyone else's. When he believed that he had developed a compatible scheme he simply made efforts to "improve" it. Also ceased by Hostetter are his frequent abusive e-mails to my personal e-mail address containing such comments as: "You are hoisted with your own petard." (Meaning: I have fallen foul of my own deceit or fallen into my own trap.) "You are the laughing stock of Hastro-L." (Meaning: I am supposedly trying to be important or serious but I am doing something very stupid and I am making myself look ridiculous.) Hostetter has been a persistent contributor to the problem of pseudohistory. It is not just that he has adopted processes that will ensure he remains ignorant. He has sought to misrepresent the past. He has mislead the public, who have been the audience he has constantly sought to influence. His inappropriate methodologies, lack of evidence possessing any merit, fallacies in interpretation, had not stopped him from concocting and promoting preposterous claims about ancient astronomy. Discussion of any evidence that effects his claims is avoided. That he has wilfully ignored information that disprove his conclusions makes it clear that he has been making unscientific, pseudohistorical claims. He has ignored countervailing evidence instead of rethinking his claims in the face of such. Such behaviour has demonstrated his fear of his preferred conclusions being demolished. Preferable would be his honest replies to his arguments that have been shown to be dubious or wrong. In summary, Hostetter has been involved in "bullshit." In his classic paper, "On Bullshit," philosopher Harry Frankfurt argues that the hallmark of bullshit is indifference to truth. A liar knows the truth and takes pains to misrepresent it convincingly. A bullshitter casually mixes fact and fiction because, for him, the truth is beside the point. With Hostetter's postings to Hastro-L at the end of May 2016 it is clear he intends to continue asserting his fantasy-based ideas.

On June 2 2016 I discovered that Hostetter has created - at some date - a page on independent.academia.edu/ClydeHostetter but as of this date no papers have been uploaded. The introduction claims that Clyde Hostetter studies History of Astronomy, Babylonian Astronomy, and Near Eastern Archaeology. What is not obvious is Hostetter lack of honest academic processes. The term "studies" really means "makes claims." Hostetter is able to reach his erroneous conclusions through a combination of remaining unfamiliar with most modern scholarship and the rejection of modern scholarship that contradicts his ideas (and also including the processes of modern scholarship). Hostetter shows he has no appreciation of the skill involved in archaeology or assyriology, or the valid reconstruction of ancient history. Hostetter still continues to frequently offer to e-mail material to interested persons - his usual ploy to circulate his unreliable information.

Nope ....

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 15-June-2016) responding to notice of another article on the Antikythera Mechanism: "A good summary. I have a friend who was on the team which did the decoding. His research at Hewlett-Packard on shadow angles made it possible to read the text which provided insight on the Mechanism's workings. Over the years there have been continuing revelations on additional cycles and events recorded on the Mechanism. Initially the "expects" insisted that it was impossible to have such precise predicting devices in ancient times. It didn't surprise me. I have similar proof." Hostetter is living in a self-imposed sealed-off intellectual slum, impervious to outside information and incisive criticisms, and obviously giving no attention to the need to reassess the correctness of his claims. It is difficult to know whether Hostetter is inferring that using/quoting experts is hearsay. Of course using/quoting experts is not hearsay. Also when his 'intuitive' claims/original 'research' (= his guesses based on his demonstrably flawed 'evidence') contradicts the actual evidence then there is no requirement on his part to discard expert analysis. For me it reinforces the view, thank goodness for experts.

Hostetter (Hastro-L, 15-June-2016) in a parasitic posting: "It is always refreshing to hear from a Hawaiian expert like Martha who REALLY knows, and doesn't have to quote someone else!" This attempted jibe is aimed squarely at myself. Martha has never made these claims. Overlooked by Hostetter is the fact that Martha never claimed to have exclusively obtained the knowledge. And this was never established by Hostetter. It spoils the opportunity for an attempted jibe. This somewhat simple sentence from Hostetter raises several issues and carries some complexity. By using the phrase "doesn't have to quote someone else" Hostetter avoids the words "source/reference." Hostetter implies that it is somehow possible to gain extensive and accurate historical knowledge without depending on any previous resources. This of course is rubbish. Without the procedure of identifying sources we have hearsay (and the scope for trickery). Hearsay is information received from other people which cannot be substantiated. Hearsay is not looked upon too kindly in most halls of judgment. A reference tells the reader where the information was obtained from and enables independent judgment of its value/reliability. (Interestingly, at this time Martha was seeking references to assist her research. Also, Hostetter sees himself as competent to make judgment on Martha and Hawaiian issues. Apparently another example of his intuitive insight into the history of astronomy.) Hostetter, overall, does not utilise research-based evidence involving the knowledge of experts. Basically, regarding his claims, this reveals the evidence is opposed to his claims. On numerous occasions Hostetter has claimed reasons to mistrust experts and has never consolidated how he obtains his astronomical information, yet will claim to have absolute knowledge on issues such as ancient planetary astronomy. Experts have a high level of specialised knowledge and experience enabling them to be competently involved in establishing, assessing, and interpreting evidence. Undoubtedly also an issue for Hostetter is a expert will know where to draw the line between evidence and conjecture. An expert in his/her own field knows where the grey areas of uncertainty and conjecture are located. Hostetter seems unable to accept that there are many aspects of ancient astronomy of which we do not possess absolute knowledge. An expert who claims to know about everything in his/her field (and those of others) is simply deluding himself/herself. Hostetter does not check his claims with expert sources. When others have done so the result is negative for Hostetter. No experts have been named by Hostetter in support of his claims (which have a 35 year history). Regarding experts using references. References are tools. In my case it is to ensure I am not viewed as merely giving a personal opinion. Hostetter very much likes the strategy of offering his "opinion" (used a a weasel word) and asking "What is your opinion?"; as though everything was merely opinions. Even when offering original claims the expert can use other sources to improve his/her claims. Use of references is not an issue. The critical issue is whether high-quality sources are used in the content of an argument. Consulting a large number of expert references improves the reliability of the results (i.e., establishing what is general agreement, etc). Experts need to use various information sources in order to help build their expertise. Experts synthesize and document their knowledge using published papers, books, etc. Two examples of experts publishing highly original and outstanding work, and also using references: (1) The professional mathematician and historian of early astronomy Otto Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy (1955). A monumental history of ancient mathematical astronomy based on his own studies of primary sources, cites some 950 references. (2) The professional businessman Ralph Baldwin (who was originally trained as an astronomer), The Face of the Moon (1949), cites 126 references. In this book he made the correct interpretation of the origin of the lunar craters.

Hostetter would prefer to dismiss expert conclusions as an irrelevance rather than have to dispute the conclusions and demonstrate his lack of knowledge. The term "research" is something of a weasel word when used by Hostetter when claiming to be conducting research. What Hostetter really means is his analysis and interpretation devoid of any other context. It is not apparent that Hostetter has had to conduct a literature search for a university thesis. Likely his undergraduate degree was obtained without the requirement to complete a project or dissertation/thesis. This would also help to understand what Hostetter obviously does not, that when claiming a new theory or model to also account for the current theory/theories. It is accepted procedure when introducing new ideas, to account for current theories/ideas. However, Hostetter shows no familiarity with current scholarship regarding his crackpot claims.     

My reply (Hastro-L, 17-June-2016): "This attempted jibe is obviously aimed squarely at myself or otherwise it makes little sense. I did not consider it worthy of a mere quick response. Focusing only on the issue of use of expert references/quotes, in order to limit the scope and length of my comments .... Experts have a high level of specialised knowledge and experience enabling them to be competently involved in establishing, assessing, and interpreting evidence. An expert will know where to draw the line between evidence and conjecture. An expert in his/her own field knows where the grey areas of uncertainty and conjecture are located. (An expert who claims to know about everything in his/her field (and those of others) is simply deluding himself/herself.) Regarding experts using references. References are tools. In my case, use of references is to ensure I am not viewed as merely giving a personal opinion. It is only possible to evaluate your historical claims if one possesses sufficient background information to be able to appraise the veracity of the "evidence" you use to support your claims. Your homemade alternative history is negated by what has been established by careful expert research. It is surely correct to rely on the views of experts - at the very least to appreciate the context of the issues. Legitimacy of claims is not simply a point of view. Correctness and falsehood is not just a matter of opinion. Using/quoting experts is not hearsay. Even when offering original claims the expert can use other sources to improve his/her claims. Use of references is not an issue. The critical issue is whether high-quality sources are used in the content of an argument. Consulting a large number of expert references improves the reliability of the results (i.e., establishing what is general agreement, etc). Experts need to use various information sources in order to help build their expertise. Experts synthesize and document their knowledge using published papers, books, etc. Two examples of experts publishing highly original and outstanding work, and also using references are: (1) The professional mathematician and historian of early astronomy Otto Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy (1955). A monumental history of ancient mathematical astronomy based on his own studies of primary sources, cites some 950 references. (2) The professional businessman Ralph Baldwin (who was originally trained as an astronomer), The Face of the Moon (1949), cites 126 references. In this book he made the correct interpretation of the origin of the lunar craters. One final point. I have never seen you discuss your claims in the context of countervailing expert knowledge. What I have seen is rhetoric and a self-imposed sealed-off approach that is impervious to outside information and to-the-point criticisms." Overlooked by Hostetter is the fact that experts still need to meet the requirement to establish how they have arrived at their knowledge and conclusions. Hostetter seems to imply that knowledge can be no more than "intuition."

Hostetter constantly demonstrates the insularity of his so-called "research" with his rejection of scholarly knowledge of the issues. (Scholars follow the literature in their field and stay informed of current developments.) Hostetter would apparently like to belittle any attempt to assemble/combine the knowledge of experts that undermine his claims. Hostetter apparently fails to understand that experts do not operate in a vacuum. Documentation at least of primary sources is inevitable to identify sources/evidence. Also, Hostetter constantly demonstrates he has no real understanding of the evidence. A few comments on research: Some people think that 'flopping' around the internet constitutes research. The internet is certainly a useful resource for getting started and/or for uncovering unsuspected leads that otherwise would easily have been missed. The internet, however, is no substitute for referring to the complete copies of books and articles and archive material via libraries, and intelligently analysing and assessing the material. Also, communicating with experts employed by universities and museums, etc. And, remembering that everything is not posted on the internet.

Hostetter's material adds nothing to serious discussions on the history of early astronomy. Hostetter will, I'm sure, continue to defend to the end his prejudices without sufficient or accurate evidence on this subject. He is not concerned for obtaining the truth of the matter. His ideas fall within the category of beliefs, guesses, speculations, and opinions. It is difficult to believe that after my efforts in making very detailed to-the-point criticisms over an extended period of time that Hostetter does not realise that he is weaving a fantasy. However, Hostetter's defence strategies include misrepresenting a critic, implying a critic is incompetent. Hostetter would be better served by being less assertive and ensuring that the "facts" he alleges are really well founded. Hostetter - as is frequently the case with amateurs cursorily dabbling in a subject matter - takes no argument for an argument if it goes beyond his limited understanding of the subject(s). In the words of Ronald Fritze (1994): "Sloppy and inappropriate methodologies and inadequate or non-existent evidence have never stood in the way of the concoction or the survival of the most preposterous theories ...." Hostetter is neither an assyriologist not an astronomer. He has just enough knowledge to be able to come to totally wrong conclusions by putting together totally diverse facts and speculations and attempting to link them. Hostetter obviously enjoys his attempts at offing the scholarly establishment without himself having subject-related academic expertise and credibility. He has sufficiently demonstrated his conviction that he has made a revolutionary historical discovery and that his genius is being denied by the ignorance of experts. Hostetter does not appear to realise that astronomers and assyriologists are neither trying to ignore or disregard any legitimate evidence that would support his views. There is no need to manipulate material in order to bring attention to his claims. However, his claims are based on manipulation of material. His (mis)interpretations are not plausible - they are fictitious. His attempted revisions to the early history of astronomy can be termed myth-history. On the tennis court matches get won instead of getting stuck in interminable rallies. The continuation of a never-ending exchange of replies and rejoinders is hardly necessary. There is no reason why the validity of Hostetter's claims cannot be decided and agreed upon after an assessment of this critique. It now seems psychologically impossible for him to admit the validity of the numerous objections that I have raised.

Hostetter's history of claim-making is an important illustration of bad method. Hostetter fails to realise/demonstrate that without accurate data no credible assessment can be done. Hostetter chooses to work with bad data. (It is important to note that Hostetter has never mentioned any person independently assessing his copper bowl iconography and his method of analysis for it and finding no problems.) It has proved useless to try and discuss issues with Hostetter. Hostetter's advocacy of his claims - none of which have ever been withdrawn by him - and his responses to critics comprise remarkable manipulations of standards of evidence. His method of argument to support his claims and preconceived ideas involves manipulation of deemed evidence coupled with a concern to ignore/brush aside unpalatable facts. Hostetter simply rejects evidence against his ideas. He simply avoids any informed discussion of evidence against his ideas. When faced with significant contrary evidence either silence or denial is used. The degree of credulity of people who support his claims is also an issue. The prolonged saga has become a farce. It is clear his forms of reasoning are simply similar to fringe theories. There is nothing to admire in the scope of his undertaking. He continues to ignore arguments fatal to his claims and he persists with his zealotry.

 

Part 6: Parallel Tales

Tale 1

Throughout recorded history, people involved in digging have been reported as finding objects that appear to be modern or made of advanced materials, but are located in old rock or other particular locations where they shouldn't be, or couldn't be if the details of the story are correct. Such objects have become designated as "out of place artifacts" (OOPArt). An OOPArt, by definition, is one that appears to contradict our existing understanding of history.

1a:

The Coso Artifact

by Andrew O'Hehir

http://www.salon.com/2005/08/31/archaeology/

In February of 1961, three amateur gem collectors dug a mechanical gizmo encased in fossil-encrusted rock out of a mountainside in the Southern California desert. They didn't know what it was, and began showing it to friends and associates. Within a few years this thingummy, which became known as the Coso artifact, had assumed an almost mythic importance.

It consisted of a cylinder of what seemed to be porcelain with a 2-millimeter shaft of bright metal in its center, enclosed by a hexagonal sheath composed of copper and another substance they couldn’t identify. Yet its discoverers at first believed it had been found in a geode, a hardened mineral nodule at least 500,000 years old. If the Coso artifact was real — that is, if it was really an example of unknown technology from many millennia before the accepted emergence of Homo sapiens, let alone the dawn of human history — it would turn everything scientists thought they knew about the past of our species upside down.

Critics of mainstream science from all over the ideological and theological spectrum seized on the object. Some were followers of "alternative archaeology," especially believers in a lost Atlantis-type civilization deep in antiquity that gave birth to all the known civilizations of early human history. Others were followers of Erich von Däniken's hypothesis that human civilization has its roots in outer space. Still others were "young-earth" biblical creationists, who thought the artifact might be a fragment of the forgotten world that existed before the great Flood described in the Book of Genesis. (Of course, they didn't buy the idea that it might be hundreds of thousands of years old, since most creationists believe that God created the heavens and the earth somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago.)

The Coso artifact was featured in publications of the Charles Fort Society, which propounds all kinds of quirky pseudoscience. It appeared prominently in "Secrets of the Ancient Races," a 1977 collection of alternative-archaeology evidence by journalist Rene Noorbergen. As recently as 1999, it was a staple of lectures by chemist Donald Chittick, a leading "creation science" evangelist. Its fans had various theories about what it might be: a transmitter, a superconductor, a spark plug or a capacitor, or simply an unknown instrument "as old as legendary Mu or Atlantis," as one of its discoverers mused. If they didn't agree on much, they shared a common enemy. They all longed for a discovery that would destroy the accepted chronologies of archaeology, paleontology and history.

Very few of these people actually saw the artifact itself, which seems to have been lost sometime after 1969. Photographs and X-ray images of it can easily be found on the Internet, and in 1999, when skeptic Paul Heinrich sent those to four different spark-plug collectors, who had never seen the pictures or heard about the find, they unanimously and independently agreed: It was an old plug, all right, but not exactly a wonder of ancient Mu.

The Coso artifact, they reported, looked an awful lot like a standard Champion spark plug from the 1920s, which had most likely powered the engine of a Model T or Model A Ford. Furthermore, the object wasn't sealed in a geode after all, but just a sun-baked lump of clay, pebbles and shells. It had been on that mountain no longer than 40 years. Case closed, or pretty much so.

About the only thing that distinguishes the Coso artifact from the rest of the murky realm of fringe archaeology is the fact that no one — or almost no one — is still prepared to defend it as an ancient mystery. In every other way, it's a classic example: an odd discovery or "out-of-place artifact" ("oopart," in alternative-archaeology jargon) that lends itself to unorthodox and highly speculative notions about the origins of human civilization. The Internet, with its unique ability to elevate bogosity and cheapen fact, is awash with this stuff: video footage of underwater Atlantean "roads" near Bimini; engineering diagrams of Noah's ark; evidence linking the "face on Mars" to the Pyramids of Giza and the Old Testament.

As the Coso story demonstrates, over the last several decades, a loose and sometimes uncomfortable common front has been forged between fundamentalist Christian creationists and New Age-flavored practitioners of alternative archaeology. Although the two sides' philosophies are sharply different in some areas, they've both launched forceful attacks against the authority and guiding ideology of modern science. (In general, these movements rely on reinterpreting existing data, although some prominent alternative-archaeology researchers fund their own expeditions and research, and there are creationists involved in biblical archaeology.)

1b:

"Out of Place Artifacts." by Brian Dunning, Skeptoid Podcast #40, Skeptoid Media, 25 February 2014.

"The Coso Artifact

In 1961, three people were out collecting geodes and other interesting rocks for the rock and gem shop they operated in Olancha, CA, little more than a truck stop in the Owens Valley west of Death Valley. When they put their specimens under the diamond blade saw to cut them open, one of them jammed the blade. It had a piece of metal in the center.

It became known as the Coso Artifact, named for the Coso Range of mountains in which it was found. Spark plug collectors all agree that the object inside the rock, as depicted in the one existing X-ray, is a 1920s Champion spark plug. Rocks take a very long time to form, certainly a lot longer than 40 years; so the Coso Artifact has become an icon of OOPArts, and is popularly believed to constitute an insoluble problem.

Unfortunately, the real secret of the Coso Artifact is that we don't really know anything about it. It's been long lost; nobody can find any of its original discoverers; and no proper analysis of it was ever done while it existed. Only one named person ever actually examined it, a Young Earth Creationist named Ron Calais who took the X-ray and a few pictures. Nobody ever properly characterized the material in which it was encased, but the discoverers described it as "hardened clay" and when they cut it, they found it had a hardness of only 3 on the Mohs scale. Also found embedded in its surface were some fossilized shells, pebbles, a nail, and a washer.

So unfortunately, the Coso Artifact turns out to be a complete non-mystery. Some corroded old debris from local mines had been accreted within some hardened sediment; as far as we know, since there's nothing to test. Really, not even remarkable enough to bother searching for."

Tale 2

The following pamphlet by D. T. Glazion was sold for 1 penny, on the streets of London, in the winter of 1846-1847: "Important discovery in astronomy, communicated to the Astronomer Royal, December 21, 1846: That the Sun revolves around the Planets in 25,748 2/5 years, in consequence of the combined attraction of the planets and their satellites, and that the earth revolves around the moon in 18 years and 228 days." He obviously believed that George Airy, the Astronomer Royal, did not want to understand some recognizable and clear-cut astronomical fundamentals. Glazion apparently even failed to receive any praise for his ingenuity.

 

Appendix 1: Scholarly Traits

A scholar:

1. Stays informed of current developments.

2. Does not ignore discrepant data in own and related fields.

3. Cites independent corroborative support for their argument.

4. Limits speculation.

5. Does not base claims on speculation.

6. Acknowledge evidence that poses a problem to their claims.

7. Weighs the evidence.

8. Avoids giving all evidence at least equal weight (or greatest weight to the least significant evidence).

9. Discusses alternative explanations.

10. Withholds criticism until reading something on the issue.

11. Conducts research rather than culling the literature to 'cherry-pick' snippets they can force-fit into their pre-conceived ideas.

12. Considers new ideas.

13. Considers interdisciplinary methodology/synthesis.

 

Appendix 2: Cranks and Pseudohistory

The advent of the internet and its lack of restrictions has enabled a variety of people to promote their own versions of history. The promotion of pseudo-history (false history) by enormous numbers of people has now become a continuing problem. The promotion of a variety of alternate history ideas is characterised by poor standards of evidence and poor standards of reasoning. Misuse of modern established methods of rational historical research is habitual. The word "crank" is a pejorative term commonly used to describe a person who unshakably holds to a belief that most of his/her contemporaries consider to be false. A crank belief is so greatly at variance with commonly established beliefs that it is considered ludicrous. Cranks characteristically reject/dismiss all evidence or arguments which contradict their own unconventional beliefs, making rational debate a futile task, and rendering them impervious to facts, evidence, and rational inference.

Amateurs are now an established part of the wilder lunacies of pseudo-historical studies. The absence of information does not limit their speculations. Fantasies evoked by vivid imaginations are presented as established facts.

It is generally considered that the virtually universal characteristics of cranks include:

(1) They overestimate their own knowledge and ability, and underestimate the expertise of acknowledged experts.

(2) They insist that they have made important discoveries.

(3) They rarely, if ever, acknowledge any error, no matter how trivial.

(4) They remain keen to talk about their own beliefs, but they tend to be bad listeners, being uninterested in anyone else's viewpoint.

Some cranks lack formal academic qualifications in the subject matter they are interested in, in which case they typically assert that academic training in the subject of their crank belief is irrelevant or restrictive. Other cranks greatly exaggerate their personal achievements, and may insist or infer that some claimed achievement, usually in some entirely unrelated subject area, implies that their cranky opinion should be taken seriously. Some cranks will claim vast knowledge of any relevant literature, while other cranks will claim that familiarity with previous work is entirely unnecessary. Regardless, cranks inevitably demonstrate that whether or not they believe themselves to be knowledgeable concerning relevant matters of fact, mainstream opinion, or previous work, they are not in fact well-informed concerning the topic of their belief.

Additionally, many cranks:

(1) Seriously misunderstand the mainstream scholarship they believe they are objecting to.

(2) Emphasise that they have been working on their ideas for many decades and that this ensures that their claims cannot be readily dismissed as erroneous.

(3) Compare themselves with Galileo or Copernicus, implying that the mere unpopularity of some belief is not evidence of its implausibility.

(4) Claim that their ideas are being ignored/suppressed by "academia."

(5) Either claim to be or appear to regard themselves as being in possession of revolutionary insights regarding history.

(6) Appear to regard themselves as persons of unique historical importance.

 

"The menace to understanding [is] not so much ignorance as the illusion of knowledge." Daniel Boorstin (Hidden history: Exploring our secret past (1987, Page 53)), American historian (1914–2004).

 


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