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


The Origin of the Greek Constellations: A Synopsis by Gary D. Thompson

Copyright © 2015-2018 by Gary D. Thompson


Return To Site Contents Page


The Origin of the Greek Constellations: A Synopsis

(1) Introduction

The repetition observable in the sky was a source of time keeping and calendar making. Astronomical time keeping and calendar making required star lore as a tool for becoming suitably organised.

Two classical texts setting out the constellation set we have inherited are: (1) Aratus' Phaenomena (3rd-century BCE, 45 constellations described); and (2) Ptolemy's Syntaxis [Almagest] (2nd-century CE, 48 constellations described). Aratus locates stars descriptively. Ptolemy locates stars by using coordinates.

Theories concerning the origin of the constellations (and the Greek) remain largely speculative. As yet there is no consensus by scholars. This does not mean that all ideas are credible. The extant evidence clearly indicates the significant role of Mesopotamian civilization in the origin of the constellations (and the Greek constellations). (Likely dating to the Sumerians in the late 3rd-millennium BCE.) Otherwise excellent articles such as "The Hellenistic Transmission of Babylonian Astral Sciences." by Francesca Rochberg (Mélanges de l'Université Saint-Joseph, Volume 61, 2008, Pages 13-32) contribute little to our knowledge of the transmission of Babylonian constellations to the Greek world. (Later she also presented the topic as a Berkeley-Lecture on 29 April 2010, "Babylonian Astral Science in the Hellenistic World: Reception and Transmission.") See also: "Babylonian Influences, Transmission and Survival in Greek Astronomy." by Salvo De Meis In: Cosmology Through Time: Ancient and Modern Cosmologies in the Mediterranean Area edited by Sergio Colafrancesco and Giuliana Giobbi (2003, Pages 73-90). The publication comprises Conference Proceedings, Astronomical Observatory of Rome (Osservatorio astronomico di Roma), held 2001.

A re-examination of - not perpetuation of - many ideas and methods proposed over the past 200 years for the origin of the Western constellations is long overdue. The persistence with futile ideas is disconcerting. Futile research directions need to be dropped. Articles by Ed Krupp (2000) and Brad Schaefer (2002, 2004) have indicated new starting points.

Greece is a country in southeastern Europe consisting of a mainland and an archipelago of islands. Greece has few natural resources and is surrounded by water on 3 sides. Mountains cover 80 percent of Greece and only small rivers run through a rocky landscape which, for the most part, provides little support for agriculture. Consequently, the early Greeks colonized neighbouring islands and founded settlements along the coast of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor). Ancient Greek colonization began during the so-called Geometric period (the name deriving from the simple artistic designs of the Dark Ages circa 1150-900 BCE) of about 900 BCE to 700 BCE, when many seminal elements of ancient Greek society were also established, such as city-states, major sanctuaries, and the Panhellenic festivals. (See: Style and Society in Dark Age Greece by James Whitley (2003).) Greece in circa 1000 BCE was a world of villages. Most people lived in small communities of 20-30 people. It is thought the population of Athens was likely comprised of just 3000-4000 people. The evidence is mainly archaeological. Writing disappeared after the destruction of the Bronze Age palaces around 1200 BCE, only returning around 750 BCE. (During the first half of the 8th-century BCE, the Greeks had adapted the writing system of the Phoenicians. and had created the world's first true alphabetic script.) Homer's Iliad and Odyssey probably date circa 750-700 BCE, but purport to describe a heroic age, probably based on the pre-1200 BCE Bronze Age. Homer imagined small towns, but it is not known how they related to real Dark Age settlements. In the 8th-century BCE the Greek world changed from one of villages to one of towns. Greece slowly moved in the direction of city-states. The Greeks were early traders in the Mediterranean. The ancient Greeks were active seafarers seeking opportunities for trade and founding new independent cities at coastal sites across the Mediterranean Sea. By the 7th and 6th centuries BCE Greek colonies and settlements stretched all the way from western Asia Minor to southern Italy, Sicily, North Africa, and to the coasts of southern France and Spain. The Greeks were involved in more than just commercial exchange. They were also involved with foreign intellectuals possessing a wide range of cultural knowledge. There is ample evidence of cross-culturation in the Mediterranean region, There was a common Mediterranean substratum shared by Greeks, Romans, Israelites, Babylonians, Sumerians, Canaanites, Hittites, and other peoples of the ancient world. Cultural (and intellectual) transfers resulted from movements of cultic personnel, officials, soldiers, merchants, artisans, and ordinary people seeking a better life.

Factors enabling the transmission of culture included trade/commerce, diplomacy, warfare, migration, foreign employment, exile, movement of artisans, and religious festivals. All are considered likely to have created opportunities for cultural exchange - and all of them are considered to have an importance. Arguing for one discrete path over another is limited by lack of adequate evidence, either textual or archaeological. Also, simply referring to these modes as a given avoids the questions of why and how - and is not satisfactory.

The constellations are assemblages of fixed stars, contained within imaginary outlines of figures or objects. The majority of constellation and star names in use today are the same as those employed by Ptolemy. The constellation and star names which Ptolemy used were, with few exceptions, the same that had been used by his Greek predecessors for at least 500 years. The transmission of texts from antiquity to the modern period was a hazardous process. Due to the paucity of surviving texts the early Greek period of constellation development is almost impossible to discern. The first indications of Greek astronomical knowledge are found in the poems by Homer and the works of Hesiod, all dating to the 8th-century BCE.

Superficial, uncritical, and dated assemblies of constellation lore still remain in use even though inadequate. Examples are: (1) Allen, Richard. (1899, reprinted 1936 (in France), and 1963 (in USA)). Star-Names and Their Meanings. The 1963 reprint title was Star-Names: Their Lore and Meaning. The 1963 reprint was unrevised and included only grammatical corrections. (2) Sesti, Giuseppe. (1991). The Glorious Constellations. Best only for the numerous illustrations. Both books are unreliable and should not be used. What is essential is the critical examination of the astronomical traditions of other cultures in the Mediterranean (unfortunately almost nothing is known about the astronomy of the Minoans and Phoenicians), Near East (especially Mesopotamia), and Egypt. (Note: Strictly, 'Mesopotamia' is the name of a Roman province, referring to the lands between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. In more ancient times we more accurately have Babylonia in the south and Assyria in the north.

A combination of highly speculative arguments and persistent use of redundant methodology/sources (such as those proposed by 'constellation detectives') is skewering a proper understanding of history. Also, too much material on constellations and star names is "popular" and not "professional" in presentation and citations. The critical use of historical, philological, anthropological, and archaeological evidentiary tools for addressing the history of the constellations is becoming somewhat ignored and needs to be renewed.

Ancient Greek time periods:

(1) Early Bronze Age (2900-2000 BCE). The Greek Bronze Age (Early Helladic Era) began circa 2800 BCE and lasted till 1050 BCE in Crete while in the Aegean islands it began 3000 BCE. The Bronze Age in Greece is divided into periods such as Helladic I, II. The information on the Bronze Age in Greece is derived from the architecture, burial styles and lifestyle. The colonies were made of 300 to 1000 people.

(2) Excursus: Minoan Bronze Age civilization, centring on the island of Crete (2000-1400 BCE). (The Minoan Age is named after the legendary king Minos.) It is divided into 3 periods: the Early Minoan period (circa 3000-2200 BCE), the Middle Minoan period (circa 2200-1500 BCE) and the Late Minoan period (circa 1500-1000 BCE).

(3) Excursus: Mycenaean Age (1600-1100 BCE). A period of high cultural achievement, forming the backdrop and basis for subsequent myths of the heroes. It was named for the kingdom of Mycenae. The Mycenaean Age ended due to widespread destruction and cultural collapse, ushering in the Greek Dark Age.

(4) The Dark Ages (1100-750 BCE). The period between the fall of the Mycenean civilization and the readoption of writing in the 8th- or 7th-century BCE. Archaeological evidence gives a general picture of isolation, introversion, and instability throughout mainland Greece and the islands of the Aegean.

(5) The Greek Archaic Period refers to the years between 750 BCE and 480 BCE, more particularly from 620 BCE to 480 BCE. The age is defined through the development of art at this time, specifically through the style of pottery and sculpture.

(6) The Greek Classical Period (500 BCE-336 BCE) of ancient Greek history is basically fixed between circa 500 BCE, when the Greeks began to come into conflict with the kingdom of Persia, and the death of the Macedonian king and conqueror Alexander the Great in 323 BCE.

(7) The Hellenistic Period (336 BCE-146 BCE) falls between the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and the establishment of Roman supremacy, in which Greek culture and learning were pre-eminent in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. It is called Hellenistic (Greek, Hellas, "Greece") to distinguish it from the Hellenic culture of classical Greece.

It is likely that most constellation names came from seamen and farmers, and perhaps shepherds and hunters. The idea of 2 classes of constellation schemes - popular and scientific - can be traced at least to the British classicist Edmund Webb, The Names of the Stars (1952). He thought it likely that the popular was the larger of the 2 classes. An issue with popular constellation lore is ancient Greek writers copied astronomical information from each other without scruple (and without actual observation). This included copying from writers of different latitudes, unknowing that this made a difference.

Ed Krupp has concluded (Krupp, Ed. (2000). "Night Gallery: The Function, Origin, and Evolution of Constellations." (Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, Volume XV, Pages 43-63)): "However the constellations were delivered to Eudoxus, Aratus, and the rest of the Mediterranean world, they are an anthology of cultural diffusion - the result of innovation, modification, accretion, diffusion, and abandonment. Episodic accumulation, historic invention, and patchwork adaptation define the night gallery aesthetic."

It is my belief that the constellating of the entire Greek sky, and its consolidation, was due to Eudoxus of Cnidus. However, dating the delineation of the 48 Eudoxan constellations to remote antiquity i.e., circa 3000 BCE is a fantasy. The introduction of the Babylonian zodiac into Greece circa late 5th-century BCE or early 4th-century BCE was likely the impetus for the systematic constellating of the Greek sky. Note: The mathematical zodiac of 12 equal divisions 'signs') does not appear in Greece until before the early 3rd-century BCE. All earlier Greek references to the zodiac are to the less precise system of constellations marking the path of the Sun and Moon. The introduction of the 12-constellation zodiac into Greece necessarily controlled much else about how we can view the Eudoxan/Aratean celestial sphere. Eudoxus carried out the first systematic constellating of the Greek sky. He also the first systematic consolidation of and description of the constellations of the Greeks. The constellations he used in his uranography were a mix of Mesopotamian constellations current at that time mixed with constellations in use by or established by the Greeks at the period (late Greek Archaic Period/early Greek Classical period). Important Ionian intellectual stimulus - and source of knowledge of Mesopotamian uranography - at that time being due to Assyrian influence through Lydia. There is certainly no requirement to invoke a hypothetical Minoan constellation set from 1000 years earlier.

A useful early overview is: A History of the Archaic Greek World ca. 1200-479 BCE by Jonathan Hall (2nd edition, 2014). For discussions of the early period of the Mediterranean world see: Molloy, Barry. (Editor). (2016). Of Odyssey and Oddities: Scales and modes of interaction between prehistoric Aegean societies and there neighbours. An excellent collection of essays. The emphasis is on trade but also includes cultural and knowledge issues.

Some Issues

When were the first Western constellations originated (= when developed)?

Was the process of originating constellation gradual or rapid or abrupt?

Were the Western constellations developed by a class of 'professional' sky watchers or were they originated from rustic traditions (or both)?

Were the majority of Greek constellation established early (before 500 BCE) or late (after 500 BCE)?

How were they originally placed (i.e., stars comprising and defined boundaries)?

Were the mythical ideas (catasterisms) of the Babylonians regarding the constellation figures - and not the actual constellations figures - possibly what most influenced the Greeks in their adoption of Babylonian constellations?

Are the Babylonian constellations of the Neo-Babylonian, Persian, and Seleucid periods (circa 539-100 BCE) perhaps the most important to consider regarding influence on the Greeks (= when borrowed)? Should the period for consideration include the Neo-Assyrian period, 745-612 BCE?

Where and how were they placed (i.e., stars comprising and defined boundaries)?

How far can we reasonably proceed to substitute conjecture for evidence? Any method - especially the void zone method - should be tied into historical data i.e., what we know of the history of the constellations from extent historical records.

No original Greek manuscripts from the period between 650 BCE to 150 CE have survived, only copies or abridgements or selective contents have come down to us. To say an ancient work has survived/come down to us means we have a much later copy, likely corrupted, incomplete, and likely in a different language than the original. What this means is that when dealing with a Greek text we are often not dealing with a single author but rather with an entire 'textual community' (copyists and editors, etc). As example: Aristotle (3rd-century BCE) wrote in Greek but our earliest extant source is a Latin text dating to the early Middle Ages. Interestingly, the Romans never really adopted the sophisticated scientific and mathematical works that Greek civilisation produced.

Basic Choices for the Origin of the Main Greek Constellations

(1) Most of the Aratean constellations were developed shortly before Aratus' time, perhaps 500 BCE. (Note: Eudoxus is indicated as a key influence in establishing a fixed set of Greek constellations. Eudoxus is indicated as having been influenced by Babylonian uranography (with only about half of his constellations being distinctly Greek).

(2) The constellations were developed over a large time range (perhaps 2000 BCE to 400 BCE) and had multiple sources. (Note: The Greek constellations were primarily of Mesopotamian origin (but Babylonian rather than Sumerian). Knowledge of Babylonian uranography was influential on many other (later) cultures - but not the Egyptian until the Greek period. Other Occidental cultures introduced constellations independently of, or different to, the Babylonian system "three stars each"/Mul.Apin.)

(3) The constellations were primarily developed in a single epoch/particular period of time (as a single set) circa the mid 3rd-millennium BCE. (Note: That the constellations originated as a single set (which then remained largely unchanged) in a specific location, and in a short time, is the basic idea of the so-called "constellation detectives." )

(4) Many constellations were developed before the 3rd-millennium BCE. (Note: This idea originated with Charles Dupuis, etc. and later with the Panbabylonists (such as Hugo Winckler and Fritz Hommel). Alex Gurshtein is the modern proponent.)

There are 'mix-and-match' possibilities between the choices. As example: A decision for choice #3 can also accept that Ursa Major is perhaps very ancient (perhaps as early as circa 10,000 BCE) whilst the zodiac (comprising old and new constellations) was a late Babylonian scheme (established circa 500 BCE).

It is indicated that the Greek constellations originated from a mix of #1 and #2. The Greek constellations were effectively consolidated circa 500 BCE but owe much in influence to the earlier scheme of Babylonian uranography (which it seems remained largely unknown to the Greeks until circa 800 BCE). Effectively this can be designated as choice (5): The Greek constellations were consolidated as a set comprising recently developed Greek constellations mixed with adopted (earlier developed) Babylonian constellations. Another mix with #1 and #2 is the constellations that eventually formed the Babylonian zodiac were actually originated at different times in the same place (Babylonia), and then later used collectively at the same time and place (Babylonia), and were shortly afterwards adopted by the Greeks as a constellation set for marking their ecliptic.

 

(2) Early Studies

(1) Book by Georg Thiele (1898): Antike Himmelsbilder: Mit Forshungen zu Hipparchos, Aratos und seinen Fortsetzern und Beträgen zur Kungstgeschichte des Sternhimmels.

George Thiele (1866-1917) was a highly regarded German Professor of Classical Philology. (In 1910 his academic details were: Prof. Dr. Georg Thiele, Privatdozent der klassische Philologie an der Universität Marburg.) Thiele was a pupil of Ernst Maass ((1856-1929), German classical philologist, Philipps-Universität Marburg (Privatdocenten. a. d. Universitiit Marburg)). In later life Thiele was a Professor at the universities of Marburg and Greifswald. (In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, the chair in classical philology at the University of Greifswald was given to Georg Thiele.)

Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; as such it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics. Classical philology is the study of the so-called "classical" Indo-European language systems, including ancient Greek, classical Latin, and Sanskrit.

Thiele's book Antike Himmelsbilder (1898) has been described as a work of amazing erudition and also a pioneering and masterful study. (This important study was inspired by Ernst Maass.) It is still regarded by some persons as the definitive study of classical star maps. Antike Himmelsbilder still has value. It is certainly the classic study of the representation of the constellation figures in Greco-Roman antiquity. The 4 chapters comprising the book have been criticised as uneven. Regardless, they became the basis for all further studies on the astronomical and meteorological poem of Aratus. The early chapters deal with the origin of the constellations. The 4th (and last) chapter is entirely devoted to the zodiacal iconography of early Aratos MSS. Thiele's book was considered reactionary scholarship because Thiele contested the view that the zodiac originated in Babylonia. Thiele held (mistakenly) that the development of the Zodiac was the work of the Asiatic Greeks. (Erich Bethe, in his article "Das Alter der griechischen Sternbilder" (1900), proposed that the constellation of Engonasin 'The Kneeler' originated amongst the Ionian Greeks circa 6th-century BCE as an anonymous man.) The arguments of Fritz Hommel, at this time, for a Babylonian origin of the zodiacal constellations were considered absolutely convincing by most scholars. The focus of the book is the constellations depicted on the Farnese Globe. (Also, Thiele was mainly interested in the "Bilderklasse" (category of images. Thiele was one of a number of scholars, Ernst Maass and Erich Bethe amongst them, who dealt with those illustrated codices that they considered to be copies of lost archetypes of the classical period.) The book Antike Himmelsbilder contains an excellent series of photographs of the Farnese Globe.

A great deal of discussion is given to the Germanicus MS in Leiden, the illustrated Codex Vossianus (saec. IX), which is one of the important monuments of Carolingian Period pictorial art (and an important specimen of the antique method of illustrating books). The highly problematical, illuminated Carolingian MS. of the classical astronomical work called the Aratea or the Syntagma Arateorum, once owned by Isaac Vossius, has long been a prized possession of Leiden's University Library. The Codex Vossianus is illustrated with framed paintings of the constellation figures. These illustrations are a source of lost (Aratea) archetypes of the Classical Period. (There are very few surviving sets of illustrations of the mythological figures associated with the constellations. It needs to be kept in mind the constellation figures of the Aratea are not true star maps.) As a consequence, as well as detailed description of Codex Vossianus (saec. IX), Antike Himmelsbilder is profusely illustrated with constellation figures from Codex Vossianus (saec. IX). (They were fully reproduced by Thiele.) It is believed the Codex Vossianus is a fairly accurate copy of a 4th-century original. According to Thiele the illustrations in Codex Vossianus are copied after illustrations of the poem of Aratus from a 4th-century CE manuscript. Other scholars have contested this date.

The earliest illustrated Latin Aratus manuscripts extant today date to the Carolingian period. (The 2 classical revivals of the Christian era are the Carolingian renovatio and the Italian Renaissance.)

The Leiden Aratea, a small squarish parchment manuscript comprising 99 leaves, is a 9th-century CE copy of an astronomical and meteorological manuscript based on the Phaenomena written by the Greek poet Aratus (circa 315-240/39 BCE). The Leiden Aratea is a faithful copy of an earlier manuscript that was probably made in the 4th- or 5th-century CE and offers unique evidence of the form and content of illustrated books in the ancient world. The existing manuscript was created by an unknown artist during the reign of Louis the Pious (814-840) in the second quarter of the 9th century. (The evidence suggests it was probably produced in the royal scriptorium, possibly in 816 CE.) The ultimate source that formed the basis of the Leiden Aratea was the Latin version of Aratus' Phaenomena by Germanicus Caesar (15 BCE - 19 CE). The manuscript contains 39 full-page miniatures. Of all the manuscripts on astronomy from the Carolingian Renaissance, the Aratea of Leiden is undoubtedly the most famous.

For a brief synthesis of what is known about all the illustrated versions of the Aratea see pages 1-16 of Antike Himmelbilder.

Isaak Vossius, sometimes anglicised Isaac Voss (Leiden, 1618–London, 1689) was a Dutch scholar and manuscript collector. He was the son of the humanist Gerhard Vossius. (He was the seventh child of Gerard Vossius (1577–1649), the famous Dutch scholar, by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Francis du Jon (Junius).) Isaak formed what was believed to be the best private library in the world. It included 762 manuscripts which his enemies described as 'spoils.' Most of his books were included in the 'Index librorum prohibitorum.' From late 1649 Isaac Vossius and Nicolaas Heinsius were occupied as librarians and searched for rare manuscripts and books in foreign countries. In 1650 Vossius bought the famous library of Paul Petau (1568-1614) an avid collector of manuscripts, who lived in Paris. After his death, his heirs sold his library of books and manuscripts to the University of Leiden for thirty-six thousand florins.

Whether the Phaenomena of Aratus was actually illustrated with pictures of the constellation figures is uncertain. It is considered there is greater likelihood that there were already pictures in the Katastarismoi of Eratosthenes of Cyrene (circa 275-195 BCE) which were then later taken over into the commentaries and translations of Latin writers such as Germanicus, Cicero, Hyginus, and others. The American art historian Kurt Weitzmann held the view that the so-called Aratea (after Aratus) were in all likelihood illustrated with mythological figures for the constellations for the first time by Eratosthenes of Cyrene in the late 3rd-century BCE. There are very few sets of early illustrations of the mythological figures associated with the Aratean constellation set. The presently known illustrations (sets) include: the Farnese globe (Roman), the Kugel globe (Roman), the Mainz globe (Roman), the Qusayr 'Amra lodge and bath house (Arab-Islamic), and Codex Vossianus (saec. IX) (Carolingian). The constellation figures are shown from the rear. (This was also the case for most Carolingian illustrated copies of the Aratea.)

It was Thiele (1898) who first identified the 12th-century CE manuscript Madrid 19 (Manuscript Madrid Biblioteca Nacional 19) as the direct source for Michael Scotus' Liber de signis.

The medieval historian George Keidel expressed the opinion that until Thiele's death in 1917 Thiele was the leader in discussions concerning the art of portraying fable situations in the Middle Ages in manuscripts, in the Bayeux tapestry, and on buildings.

In Antike Himmelsbilder Thiele discussed his research on the descriptions of the constellations by Hipparchus and the illustrations in Aratean manuscripts, and their relationship. Also presented is an art historical analysis of the constellation depictions on the Farnese globe, and the descriptions given in Aratus' poem Phainomena. Georg Thiele determined an estimate of the date for the Farnese globe based on artistic styles related to the epoch of the Roman Emperor Hadrian prior to 150 BCE. (Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire from 117 CE to 138 CE.)

Thiele set out a detailed demonstration that the constellation positions on the Farnese globe are consistent with the time of Hipparchus. Thiele held that because the constellations on the globe are rather detailed and scientifically accurate (given the date of the creation of the Farnese Globe circa 2nd-century BCE) that this implied the globe was modelled after a scholarly work on the constellations. Thiele then set out a detailed argument that the constellations depicted on the globe followed the astronomy of Hipparchus (and are based on his fixed-star register). Georg Thiele concluded that the descriptions of the constellations given by Aratus (in his poem Phainomena) were not based on an earlier version of the Farnese globe. He showed a connection between the two is not possible simply because of large differences in star positions and also was evidently not aware of the colures that appear on the Farnese globe.

However, the Farnese Globe is the archetypal model for the constellation illustrations. Georg Thiele, Antike Himmelsbilder (1898), demonstrated a direct link the constellations depicted on the Farnese Globe and those found in the earliest surviving Aratean manuscripts. As example: The 9th-century Germanicus translation in the Leiden manuscript, and the 2 early 9th-century Aratus latinus manuscripts.

Recently Bradley Schafer believed he had demonstrated the basis for the relationship of the Farnese globe with the star catalogue of Hipparchus. In 2005, at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Bradley Schaefer, a professor of physics at Louisiana State University, presented his analysis concluding that the text of Hipparchus' long lost star catalog may have been the inspiration for the representation of the constellations on the Farnese globe, thereby reviving and expanding the earlier (original) proposal by Georg Thiele (Antike Himmelsbilder,1898). The same had been proposed in 1987 by Vladimiro Valerio in his forgotten article "Histographic and numerical notes on the Atlante Farnese and its celestial sphere." in Der Globusfreund, Number 35/37, 1987/1989, Pages 97-127. Schafer's study was fully independent - he had no awareness of the earlier study. The analysis of these scholars was based on stylistic considerations and star-positional evidence. Schaefer's conclusions have been vigorously criticised/contested by the astronomer Dennis Duke (Journal for the History of Astronomy, February, 2006), most particularly on the ground that regardless of the date for the globe the constellation figures on it show large disagreement with the only existing work by Hipparchus.

(2) Book-length essay by Franz Boll and Wilhelm Gundel ((1924-)1937): "Sternbilder, Sternglaube und Sternsymbolik bei Griechen und Römern."

Boll, Franz. and Gundel, Wilhelm. ((1924-)1937). "Sternbilder, Sternglaube und Sternsymbolik bei Griechen und Römern." In: Roscher, Wilhelm. (Editor). Aüsführliches Lexicon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie. (Volume VI, Columns 867-1071). A book-length article that remains a standard study of Greek and Roman constellations and star names. Both the authors were classical philologists who specialized in ancient astronomy.

Likely the best way to determine the origin of the Greek constellations is by studying the evidence remaining for them constellation by constellation, as was done by Thiele, Boll, and Gundel. The book length article by Boll and Gundel is on sound ground in it examination of all textual and philological evidence for the Greek constellations. The article is also free of the erroneous precessional/"void zone" argument which still unfortunately remains a standard tool for discussing the origin and history of the Western constellations (i.e., Star Tales by Ian Ridpath (1988), and extended by some persons to argue that the zodiacal constellations were amongst the earliest Western constellations to be developed).

Excursus: Some people, academics included, are still misled by the publications of the 19th-century English solicitor Robert Brown Junior (Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations of the Greeks, Phoenicians, and Babylonians (1899-1900, 2 Volumes)). A leading theological writer, Bruce Malina has recently uncritically accepted most of Brown's erroneous ideas on the constellations. See: Malina, Bruce. (1997). On the Genre and Message of Revelation: Star Visions and Sky Journeys. The authors argument is weakened by an uncritical reliance on the outdated and error-riddled Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations of Greeks, Phoenicians and Babylonians by Robert Brown Junior. (2 Volumes, 1899-1900). The 19th-century popular science writer, Agnes Clerke also wrote a lot on the origin of the constellations. Most of what she wrote was incorrect also.

 

(3) Recent Essays

(1) Essay by Elizabeth Baity (1973): "Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy So Far."

Baity, Elizabeth. (1973). "Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy So Far." (Current Anthropology, Volume 14, Number 4, Pages 389-431). Comments immediately follow the article from pages 431-439. The authors reply immediately follows the comments from pages 439-449. World-wide in scope, a little dated in some areas, and still very useful. But needs to be used with caution.

Baity (1973) is sympathetic to  the ideas of Hartner (1965) regarding 4 heliacal rising constellation/astral symbols marking the 4 tropical poin5ts, being established circa 4000 BCE in Elam/Mesopotamia. Baity also gives support to the heliacal rising of the constellation Taurus marking the spring (vernal) equinox in the Mesopotamian zodiac circa 3000 BCE. Further, support for Marshack's ideas on Paleolithic and Mesolithic lunar calendars; support for Maunder's "vacant space" argument and Ovenden's use of it. Baity supports Ovenden's conjecture of the preservation of astral data from circa 2800 BCE attributed to early sailors who repeated nautical star-lore. Baity considers the "vacant space" argument and the conclusions drawn from it unanswerable.

(2) Essay by John Rogers (1998): "Origins of the Ancient Constellations, I & II."

Rogers, John. (1998). "Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, 1998, Number 1, February, Pages 9-28); "Origins of the ancient constellations: II. The Mediterranean traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, 1998, Number 2, April, Pages 79-89).

"Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions." Abstract: "In the sky-map of ancient Babylon, constellations had two different roles, and thus developed into two overlapping traditions. One set of constellations represented the gods and their symbols; the other set represented rustic activities and provided a farming calendar. Many constellations were shared by the two traditions, but in some regions of sky there were alternative divine and rustic figures. These figures developed in stages from ~3200 BC to ~500 BC. Of the divine set, the most important (although the last to be finalised) were the twelve zodiacal signs, plus several associated animals (the serpent, crow, eagle, and fish), which were all transmitted to the classical Greek sky-map that we still use today. Conversely, the rustic constellations of workers and tools and animals were not transmitted to the West. However, a few of them may have survived in Bedouin Arab sky-maps of the first millennium AD."

"Origins of the ancient constellations: II. The Mediterranean traditions." Abstract: "The classical map of the sky, with the 48 Greek constellations, was derived from at least two different pre-Greek traditions. One tradition comprised the 12 signs of the zodiac, with several associated animal constellations, all of which developed over ~3200-500 BC in Mesopotamia in a religious or ritual tradition. These were taken over by the Greeks around 500 BC. However the other Babylonian constellations, their farming-calendar tradition, were not adopted. The other tradition was not Mesopotamian; it comprised large constellations which appear to date from ~2800 BC, probably from the Mediterranean region, devised for the navigators of ships. They include huge bears and serpents which marked the celestial pole and equator at that time, and probably the four anonymous giants which we know as Hercules, Ophiuchus, Bootes, and Auriga, as well as some of the large southern 'marine' constellations. The origins of some other constellations, including the Perseus tableau and various animals, are unknown; they may have been new creations of the Greeks. The Greeks assembled the classical sky-map from these different sources between 540-370 BC, but many of the familiar legends were only applied to the constellations later."

The two-part article by Dr John Rogers (a very amiable person), Jupiter Section Director of the British Astronomical Association, "Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, 1998, Number 1, February, Pages 9-28); and "Origins of the ancient constellations: II. The Mediterranean traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, 1998, Number 2, April, Pages 79-89) tends to be highly regarded. However, both parts of this article (comprising a total of 31 pages) needs to be used with caution. The article, the result of prolonged research, ultimately comprises a speculative and misleading synthesis compiled in part from dated and/or unreliable sources. These sources include: Richard Allen, Robert Brown, Andrew Crommelin, Alex Gurshtein, Willy Hartner, Edward Maunder, Michael Ovenden, Werner Papke, Archibald Roy, Richard Proctor, Giuseppe Sesti, and David Ulansey. These authors have had a major influence on the ideas expressed in the article. Discussions of the origins of the Greek/Western constellations are distortive if based on these authors. Richard Proctor, Richard Allen and Robert Brown Junior wrote over 100 years ago. Edward Maunder and Andrew Crommelin wrote almost 100 years ago.

Rogers believes that there were 2 contemporaneously overlapping constellation traditions existing in Mesopotamia. He identifies these as the 'divine' tradition and rustic tradition. The author does not provide any directly supporting statements contained in either mythological or star-list texts for his intriguing theory of two overlapping traditions of constellations - a divine/heraldic tradition and a rustic/farming tradition. He can only argue the concept is implied in the star-list material. In the end the concept is a subjective judgment. (Most of the Mul.Apin stars/constellations are associated with gods/goddesses.) The fact the author allows that many constellations belong to both traditions weakens this theory. What also weakens this theory is the overall scheme for the placement of the constellations in the paths of 3 great gods, Ea, Anu, and Enlil. This scheme of assigning the constellations is explicit within multiple texts from the Boghazköy star-list, the Astrolabe tradition, and the Stars of Elam, Akkad, and Amurru list onwards.

Source: John Rogers (1998, Page 9).

(3) Essay by Ed [Edwin] Krupp (2000): "Night Gallery: The Function, Origin, and Evolution of Constellations."

Krupp, Ed [Edwin]. (2000). "Night Gallery: The Function, Origin, and Evolution of Constellations." (Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, Volume XV, Pages 43-63). Abstract/Introduction: "Demonstrated antiquity, impressive resilience, and widespread modern recognition qualify the constellations as one of our most enduring intellectual properties. Although their function today is primarily cartographic, they are also still generally perceived as characters and creatures from ancient narratives. Their associations with myth and their symbolic nature argue in favor of archaic use as envoys of celestial information, and in fact, seasonal value and referential capacity are reflected in traditional star lore. Because the constellations we have inherited through Greek astronomy at least superficially resemble a package deal, they have inspired several attempts to extract their origin and meaning from the properties of the set. In spotlighting the cohesion of a system assembled by the ancients, however, these strategies have too often sidestepped contradictions. Historical, archaeological, and iconographic evidence actually favor a mixed model of innovation, modification, accretion, diffusion, and abandonment." The best overall summary study to date. It establishes the benchmark for discussions of the origin, development, function and transmission of constellations. (It has survived the test of time and continues (2015) to be the best article overall on the subject.) For a relatively short article it is very comprehensive in scope and insightful. It was originally presented by the author at Oxford VI, June, 1999. It is supportive of Willy Hartner's controversial views on the earliest constellations. The author is the Director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and an expert on the early history of astronomy and astronomical lore.

(4) Essay by Brad [Bradley] Schaefer (2006): "The Origin of the Greek Constellations."

Schaefer, Brad[ley]. (2006). "The Origin of the Greek Constellations." (Scientific American, Volume 295, Number 5, November, Pages 96-101). Reliable account of the origin of the Greek constellations consolidated in Ptolemy's star catalogue and included in his book Almagest. Slightly dogmatic regarding the existence of a Paleolithic bear constellation.

(5) Essay by Roslyn Frank (2014): "Origins of the "Western" Constellations."

Frank, Roslyn. (2014): "Origins of the "Western" Constellations." In: Ruggles, Clive. (Editor). Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, Part I, Pages147-163. Abstract: "The development of the 48 Greek constellations is analyzed as a complex mixture of cognitive layers deriving from different cultural traditions and dating back to different epochs. The analysis begins with a discussion of the zodiacal constellations, goes on to discuss the stellar lore in Homer and Hesiod, and then examines several theories concerning the origins of the southern non-zodiacal constellations. It concludes with a commentary concerning the age and possible cultural significance of stars of the Great Bear constellation in light of ethnohistorical documentation, folklore, and beliefs related to European bear ceremonialism."

Frank follows Rogers in believing there were 2 different star-lore traditions in existence for one or two millennium.

Frank states "... as Rogers has observed [the] ... "Greek authors before Hipparchus had apparently been repeating star-lore for one or two millennia without realizing that it was becoming so out-of-date as to be useless." .... [T]here must have been two traditions operating. In one, actual observations of the heavens continued to be carried out, for example, by actual navigators as well as probably by the agropastoral peoples of the times." The star-lore tradition inherited by the Greeks was a learned and/or poetic one that "... lacked the observational component and therefore was not updated." This "... preexisting starlore recorded in Eudoxus and Aratus became obsolete." Frank concludes that "it would appear that the sources for Eudoxus and Aratus should be sought in a relatively fossilized tradition ...." This is unnecessary speculation. Also, her speculation is not extended to exploring her proposal of 2 constellation traditions. It also ignores the parapegmata traditions in early Greece. The combination of (1) Greek constellations being a composite system that developed over time and independently between Greek city-states, and (2) the lack of any canonical star map prior to Ptolemy's catalogue, simply enabled a variety of schemes to develop, be borrowed, and become adapted by users. We are still stuck with the flawed speculative framework of Michael Ovenden's "The Origin of the Constellations." and Archies Roy's "The Lamps of Atlantis." There is no evidence of any comprehensive constellation set/scheme, Minoan, Phoenician, or Mesopotamian, especially one resembling the later Greek constellation scheme, existing circa 2000 BCE.

The problem with the '2 tradition' theory is it presupposes an early established substantial Greek sky lore that remained practically static regardless of Near Eastern influences being received constantly and more effectively for over a millennium by traders in overland constant contact with Mesopotamia, but who were also seafarers. Mainland Greeks aside, why and how would the Minoans, Phoenicians, Syrians, and Ionians for over a millennium somehow synchronise to unquestioningly propagate 2 traditions, one archaic and static (and Aegean knowledge of it constantly being added to), and the other up-to-date for navigational purposes? Also, are the Babylonian constellations of the Neo-Babylonian, Persian, and Seleucid periods (circa 539-100 BCE) perhaps the most important to consider regarding influence on the Greeks. Or, should the period for consideration include the Neo-Assyrian period, 745-612 BCE?

Regarding Mesopotamian traditions as a source of star lore. "Abstract: Sumerian and Akkadian names of stars and constellations occur in cuneiform texts for over 2,000 years, from the third millennium BC down to the death of cuneiform in the early first millennium AD, but no fully comprehensive list was ever compiled in antiquity. Lists of stars and constellations are available in both the lexical tradition and astronomical-astrological tradition of the cuneiform scribes. The longest list in the former is that in the series Urra = hubullu, in the latter, those in Mul-Apin. Introduction: Cuneiform texts bearing names of stars and constellations are available from the early second millennium BC down to the time of the last available cuneiform tablets of the first-century AD ..., but there is no such thing as an authoritative [standardised] Mesopotamian star list, that is, a standard list of all the stars, or the main stars, known to a set of Ancient Mesopotamians in any one time or place. ... [W]hen speaking of Mesopotamian star lists, what is generally meant is a collection of names of constellations, with the occasional name of a fixed star or planet included. Star lists are found in two very different parts of the cuneiform corpus. First are dictionary lists in the lexical tradition that is best known from the canonical Sumerian-Akkadian series Urra = hubulla ... And the second, sets of star names in the astronomical/astrological tradition. For example, the stars of the Paths of Anu, Enlil, and Ea - the traditional divisions of the Mesopotamian sky. The Lexical Tradition: The canonical version of series Urra = hubulla, dating to ca. 1000 BC, was comprised of 24 tablets with a total of more than 10,000 entries when complete. Included in Tablet 22 of the series was list of star names with a Sumerian name on the left translated by its Akkadian name equivalent on the right. As is typical of the series as a whole, the list begins with the standard sign for stars, that is, the star determinative, Sumerian mul = Akkadian kakkabu, the latter being cognate to terms for stars in the other Semitic languages." (Horowitz, Wayne. (2014). "Mesopotamian Star Lists." In: Ruggles, Clive. (Editor). Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. (Pages 1829-1833).)

 

(4) Critique of Speculations of Willy Hartner, and Alex Gurshtein

Both Hartner and Gurshtein are confusing influences when introduced into a discussion of the origin of the constellations/zodiac. Neither iconography or texts indicate an earlier Sumerian core or even earlier Paleolithic or Neolithic foundation (as Willy Hartner and others have attempted to show). The Hartner article "The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and the Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat." (JNES, 1965) will also remain as a stumbling block to mislead unwary readers. It is appealing but misleading and contributes nothing useful.

(a) Willy Hartner

The lion-bull symplegma is one of the oldest motifs and undoubtedly the most enduring traceable in the history of Near Eastern art. Willy Hartner gave it an astronomical interpretation. Attempts to reasonably identify animal contest scenes (such as lion-bull combat/contest scenes) have broadly varied between naturalistic and astronomical explanations. It is certainly not established, however, that the lion-bull iconography has a single intended meaning. (Two influential studies for an astronomical interpretation of lion-bull combat/contest scenes are: "The Lion and the Unicorn" by the art historian Cyril Bunt (Antiquity, Volume IV, 1930, Pages 425-437); and "The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and the Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat" by the science historian Willy Hartner (Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Volume XXIV, 1965, Numbers 1 and 2, Pages 1-16, and Plates 1-XVI).) Both Bunt and Hartner argued for Lion and Bull constellations being depicted. "The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and the Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat." by Willy Hartner (Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Volume 24, Number 1/2, January-April, 1965, Pages 1-16, and Plates 1-XVI) is one of his more speculative essays. Hartner believed that by February 4000 BCE the Sumerians had originated (for agricultural purposes) a quartet of constellations (i.e., a simple proto-zodiac), comprising the Bull, the Lion, the Scorpion, and the Ibex (later to become the Water Carrier?) marking the 4 tropical points of the sky. Hartner's speculation of an early Ibex constellation remains undemonstrated. In their 1964 essay "The Conquering Lion," Willy Hartner and Richard Ettinghausen express their belief that undoubtedly the significance of the motif has changed over time. They see the lion-bull combat/contest as an astronomical symbol in its earliest occurrences, thereafter a symbol of royalty, and finally a religious motif. A fundamental problem is the "internal evidence" approach to solely argue the case whilst not being able to show that there are any direct supporting statements (or even "hints") contained in any type of texts. Hartner termed the lion-bull symplegma motif the "Lion-Bull Combat." He associated this motif with the development of the Near Eastern agricultural calendar; specifically the marking of the beginning of Spring (in February, 4000 BCE) by the meridian crossing of the Lion constellation and the simultaneous setting of the Bull constellation. Hartner's 'calculations' were for the latitude of the city of Ur, for the night of February 10, 4000 BCE. Some problems with Hartner's assumption's and claims were discussed in the Bulletin (1988, Issues 13-24) of the (Canadian) Society for Mesopotamian Studies. Some kind of system for determining key times in the agricultural cycle would have been very important to the early farmers of the ancient Near East. However, calendars were not a prerequisite for the development of agriculture. In the period before the development of writing early farmers may have simply depended on knowledge of the seasons from changing seasonal temperatures, changes in vegetation, animal births, the flight of birds, onset of rains, or the flooding of rivers. Hartner's method for relating pre-literate era lion-bull combat/contest iconography to the sky consisted of working back in time, on the basis of precession, to achieve a "matching" situation with the positions of the historical lion and bull constellations. Hartner interpreted/speculated that the Lion was the constellation Leo and that the Bull was the constellation Taurus (their earliest appearances in the sky as constellations). This method invites scepticism. (In his article "On the Origin of the Zodiacal Constellations" (Vistas in Astronomy, Volume 36, 1993, Page 181) the astronomer and historian Alexander Gurshtein credits Hartner's 1965 article as a strong stimulus for his own method of constellation reconstruction.) Hartner was actually seeking to substantiate Hezfeld's earlier conjecture. Hartner's influential interpretation of the lion-bull combat/contest motif, as evidence for fourth millennium BCE Lion and Bull constellations being used as seasonal markers (a 4-constellation zodiac), has received later endorsement by several other astronomers. However, both Assyriologists and historians of Mesopotamian art, with the exception of Ernst Herzfeld, have not done so. As recent as 2002 the David Stronach, the British Archaeologist and expert on ancient Iran, denied the validity of Hartner's interpretation. (See: "Icons and Dominion", Iranica Antiqua, Volume 37, 2002.) Hartner speculated from select and very limited evidentiary sources. He didn't necessarily know the Mesopotamian "evidence" better than than Assyriologists. I do not know of any Assyriologist or art historian who supports his views on early Mesopotamian constellations.

The lion-and-bull is undoubtedly a very old symbol. It can be found in numerous Near Eastern cultures in a clear line of historical transmission. It passed from culture to culture during periods of contact, with each new group expressing the symbol with its own emphasis. Interestingly, in an early extant religious poem, a Sumerian lament called "The Wild Bull Who Has Lain Down and Died," the goddess Inanna who is associated with the lion) laments the death of her husband Dumuzi, represented in the poem as a bull: "Dumuzi, the slain wild bull lives no more. The slain wild bull lives no more." (See: The Harps That One by Thorkild Jacobsen (1997, Pages 47-49).)

The basic sense of the bull brought down by the lion (or other beasts of prey) is an image of the fundamental forces of life and death in an intense struggle. As an image of the conflict the lion and the bull are bound together (as a symplegma) as a single symbol.

In summary the perceived problems with Hartner's 4th-millennium BCE Mesopotamian Lion-Bull constellation theory are:

(1) It is not established that the lion-bull iconography has a single intended meaning.

(2) The lion-bull combat/contest depictions are not consistent - in some of the earliest depictions both animals are depicted as achieving supremacy over each other.

(3) There is a complete lack of any type of supportive evidence for an astronomical interpretation i.e., from written sources such as mythological themes.

(4) The stylized lion-bull "symplegma" on an Elamite seal from circa 4000 BCE seems hardly convincing - the figures are barely touching and hardly make a convincing combat/contest scene.

(5) Hartner's earliest convincing lion-bull iconographic evidence (on a pitcher from Uruk) originated some 700 years later than the 4000 BCE seasonal marker date he identified.

(6) The earliest depiction of the eight-petalled rosette as a shoulder ornament on lions (circa 2500 BCE on a statue depicting lions supporting the throne of Inanna) does not necessarily have an astral meaning.

(7) The sheer variety of animal combatants/contestants depicted in iconography makes an astronomical interpretation difficult.

(8) Hartner's speculation of an early Ibex constellation remains unsubstantiated.

(9) No one has attempted to show that changes in iconographic animals depicted in combat/contest scenes match constellation changes/additions due to the requirement for new seasonal markers to deal with the effect of precession.

(10) Splitting the lion-bull symplegma to interpret it is controversial and is not a requirement supported by recent interpreters of animal combat/contest scenes.

(11) Hartner did not track the (origin of the) lion-bull symbol to Elam - we do not know the culture responsible for originating the lion-bull symbolism.

(12) It has not been demonstrated that the lion-bull iconography at Persepolis has an astronomical/seasonal significance.

(13) It has not been demonstrated that the lion-bull iconography at Persepolis formed part of the depiction of a New Year's festival and it has not been demonstrated that a New Year's festival was held at Persepolis circa 500 BCE.

(14) A seal from Achaemenid Sardis supports the conclusion that the Achaemenid lion-bull combat/contest represented the perpetual day-night revolutions with the lion representing the sun and the bull representing the night.

(15) The lion-bull pairing ("symplegma" or otherwise) is not attested in later Mesopotamian cuneiform astronomical and astrological texts.

(16) 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.

(17) Over the past 50 years no supportive texts have been found for Hartner's views.

(b) Alex Gurshtein

Gurshtein's hypothesis of constellation/zodiacal origins is very much a personal approach involving little more then speculation. Gurshtein's arguments are not convincing. There are some particular problems which he does not address. I view it as a work of pseudo-scholarship. His ideas are not representative of the general consensus view of the academic community familiar with the evidence. Gurshtein's 'evidence' at times is a single example only. The use of select and diverse examples of proof - usually single-case examples - is highly speculative and methodologically uncritical.

Alexander Gurshtein's theory of constellation origins has been strongly influenced by the ideas set out in Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend (1969), and the essay "The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and the Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat." by Willy Hartner (Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 1965). As such Gurshtein combines a precessional approach with a gradualist (stadial development) theory of zodiacal origins. Within the theory there is almost a total reliance upon the scheme of Aratean constellations (which he believes was inherited from Babylon). He also believes that his use of iconographic materials give results completely independent of textual evidence but in total agreement with the textual evidence. However, Gurshtein consistently fails to come to grips with the abundant evidence provided by Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets. Whenever he does make use of astronomical cuneiform texts he makes controversial interpretations of the material to fit his ideas.

Gurshtein's choice for making the constellations descriptions in the Phainomena of Aratus the exclusive starting point of his inquiry is somewhat puzzling. This poem with its qualitative descriptions of the emerging Greek constellations appeared circa 275 BCE. The earliest and most detailed star catalogue that we possess, however, is not that given by Aratus in the Phainomena but appears in the Babylonian Mul.Apin series. The contents of this two-tablet astronomical compendium can be reliably dated to circa 1000 BCE. Whilst the constellation descriptions are also qualitative the constellations described in the text existed prior to the constellating of the Greek sky. Also, they were to be a major influence on the later Greeks and their particular choice of constellations. Gurshtein persistently has the greater focus on the origin of the zodiacal constellations. The Assyriologist Peter Jensen was the first to show, in his book Die Kosmologie der Babylonier (1890), that the Greek zodiac (and zodiacal constellation names) was adapted (with few changes) from the earlier zodiacal scheme of the Babylonians. This basically makes the origin of the Babylonian zodiac the key to the proof or disproof of Gurshtein's particular ideas. The cuneiform evidence is decisive in showing that the 12-constellation zodiac was the invention of the Babylonians in the first millennium. (See Appendix 4 below.)     

Alexander Gurshtein's theory of the development of the constellation figures described in the astronomical poem Phainomena by the Greek poet Aratus of Soli (circa 275 BCE) can be divided into 6 key phases. Gurshtein's theory is eloquent, imaginative, and complete, and has had immense appeal since its introduction in a series of articles from 1993 to 1998. However, all of the 6 key phases are open to substantial criticisms that show the theory has serious flaws which prevent its acceptance. His hypothetical (conjectural-deductive) reconstruction of the history of the constellations lacks any real evidence to support his assertions. His unique interpretation of the evidence he uses to claim support for his theory is usually very controversial and contradicts the carefully established mainstream interpretations.

The core of Gurshtein's concept of zodiacal origins lies in his speculations regarding zodiacal quartets. Gurshtein argues that the progress of zodiacal quartets reflect socio-cultural changes. For Gurshtein the developing constellation figures indicate socio-cultural changes over time; from developing rural societies to organised urban societies. As far as I am aware Gurshtein's first English-language exposition of his particular ideas on the origin of the zodiac appeared in "On the Origin of the Zodiacal Constellations." (Vistas in Astronomy, 1993, Volume 36, Pages 171-190). (A summary version "When the Zodiac Climbed into the Sky." appeared in Sky and Telescope, 1995, Volume 90, Number 4, Pages 28-33.) This article set out a highly speculative concept of the origin of the zodiac that was divorced from proper consideration of the cuneiform evidence. Gurshtein maintained that the zodiac did not appear fully developed quite rapidly but evolved gradually during several millennia in three main stages starting in pre-written human history. No one, however, is actually claiming that the zodiac was an "overnight" invention of the Babylonians. The fact that the Babylonian origin of the zodiac took place over some 500 years is completely ignored by Gurshtein in favour of a predominantly Egyptian origin for the zodiac. Gurshtein's three stages concept is based on the assumption of the constellations of each quartet being uniformly used for circa 2000 years (and each quartet of constellations being more or less centred on the tropical points). Throughout each stage, a set of four proto-zodiacal constellations (a quartet) had the function of marking four distinctive points on the ecliptic: the two solstices and the two equinoxes. Hence the scheme acted as a solar calendar of sorts.

Gurshtein's theory of the development of the zodiac does not include any variation of his conjectured process of zodiacal quartets; especially time-wise. For Gurshtein the development proceeds at a defined (slow) pace based on the rate of precession. No attempt at competitive ecliptic systems appear anywhere. No culture attempts 'fast-tracking' of a scheme of ecliptic development. Also, for some inexplicable reason, the development process always involves 30 degree divisions of the ecliptic.

If you propose a thematic zodiacal scheme such as: (1) "Age of Gemini" circa 5600 BCE ± 150, (2) "Age of Taurus" circa 2700 BCE ± 200, and (3) "Age of Aries" circa 1200 BCE ± 400 then you imply that the zodiacal constellations were formed as somewhat equally spaced (approximate 30 degree) divisions from the beginning. This speculations goes against all the hard evidence we have.

Gurshtein has not been able to validate his "statistical" idea that the larger a constellation is then the older the constellation is ("largest are oldest"). This "method" by which he claims to be able to sort the constellations of Aratus' Phainomena (into 3 strata comprising sky, earth, and water) was apparently first introduced with the ideas of Ovenden and Roy. It is based on the sizes of the modern constellations inherited from ancient Greece. Why the argument "largest are oldest" is exclusively applied to the Greek constellations is never really explained. For the argument to have some validity it needs to be applied to the ancient Babylonian, Egyptian, and Chinese constellations. Gurshtein has not done this - or at least has not published any attempts to do this. Also, Gurshtein has not linked his Ice Age claims for "largest are oldest" to the navigation needs of seafarers. The origins are linked with hunter/gatherers. There is no reason to believe that the limits of the earliest ("original") constellations were always laid down. Importantly, we do not know the sizes of ancient constellations. But we do know that the use of the Pleiades asterism is very early and world-wide; and the Greek constellation Argos is very late. Also, we do know that prior to Ptolemy the Greeks altered the boundaries of the constellation figures. The earliest constellations used the brightest stars and the fainter areas of the sky were left unconstellated. This in itself would facilitate large constellations at a later date as well as early.

The Development of the Western Zodiac

There is no mention of the zodiac in Mesopotamia prior to 1000 BCE.

A formal scheme of Babylonian constellations/asterisms was established in the late 2nd-millennium BCE to mark the "three ways each," the paths of Anu, Enlil, and Ea. From a modern perspective they can be described as equatorially centred star paths - but the celestial equator was not identified in Babylonia. The purpose of this scheme was both calendrical and also the serve as sky markers. Circa 1000 BCE the astronomy of the Mul.Apin series established the preconditions for the establishment of the zodiac.

In Mesopotamia when the ecliptic became the primary reference line the 18 constellations/asterism marking the path of the moon were basically formed out of the "astrolabe" system of menologies and other constellations/asterisms were added. Prior to this system of constellations/asterisms (circa 1000 BCE earliest) the ecliptic (i.e., the pathway of the sun) was not specifically marked. In the earlier schemes the constellations. It might be claimed that in the earlier/"astrolabe" scheme the constellations lying somewhat along the equatorial pathway of Anu comprised an equatorial zodiac. Note: The celestial equator was not specifically identified/recognised in Mesopotamian astronomy. The Mesopotamian 17/18 constellation/asterism zodiac marking the path of the Moon was still in use in the 6th-century BCE, and contained the constellations that were to become the 12-constellation solar zodiac. Whilst there is clear evidence that 9 of the 12 present zodiacal constellations existed in the 2nd-millennium BCE there are 3 that most probably did not exist until the 1st-millennium BCE. Out present 12 zodiacal constellations did not arise from thematic zodiac quartets (as proposed by Alex. Gurshtein and previously hinted at by Willy Hartner) but arose during the Assyrian period (beginning circa 1100 BCE earliest) from a deliberate scheme which placed 18 constellations/asterisms (comprised of 12 existing constellations/asterisms used previously used in marking the "equatorial system" (an inaccurate term) of the "three stars each," and 6 new constellations/asterisms) for use as reference points along the path of the Moon. There is no unambiguous evidence that all of our present 12 zodiacal constellations existed prior to the Late Assyrian period.

Constellation identifications that assume the early existence of a constellation system similar to our present Greek-based scheme have yet to include suitable standards of proof to establish such. Our present zodiacal constellations are the classical Greek zodiacal constellations. This scheme was established by the Greek (with a later Roman modification) circa the late 6th-century BCE or early 5th-century BCE and comprised a slightly modified borrowing of the Mesopotamian 12-constellation zodiac established in the early 7th- or 6th-century BCE.

The pre-eminence of the zodiacal constellations in Western thought is very late because the emphasis on the ecliptic as the primary reference line is very late; dating to the 1st-millennium BCE. The division of the ecliptic into 12 equal divisions is well understood from Babylonian cuneiform texts, and was not due to precession (i.e., was not connected with thematic zodiacal quartets) but was implemented at one single period for mathematical reasons. The use of the ecliptic as a primary reference point only dates from circa the 7th-century BCE in Mesopotamian astronomy/omenology. A set of Mesopotamian constellations was basically established by circa 1500 BCE; certainly by circa 1200 BCE. Their 12-constellation zodiac began to originate circa 750 BCE and was equally divided by circa 420 BCE. The invention/consolidation of the zodiac circa 420 BCE resulted from the growing need for an exact frame of reference as the Babylonian astronomers became more involved with mathematical computation and measurement.

Mul.Apin tablet 1 has the Path of Sin (= Way of the Moon) which crossed the boundaries between the Paths of Anu, Enlil, and Ea. This referred to 17/18 constellations/asterisms marking the path of the Moon. It was a fixed path in the sky. Mul.Apin series tablet 2 has the Path of Shamash (= Way of the Sun) which also crossed the boundaries between the Paths of Anu, Enlill, and Ea. The path of the Sun and Planets was identified with the Moon's path. It was likewise a fixed path in the sky. Post Mul.Apin series the number of constellation/asterisms in the path of Sin/Shamash was limited from 17/18 to 12. Hence the system of 12 zodiacal constellations was invented from mostly existing constellations originated largely during the 2nd-millennium BCE for marking a different ("equatorial") sky system. After the Babylonians developed/invented the 12 constellation zodiac they did not regard it as especially important. However, they eventually discarded the old reference system of the "three ways each." Some constellations that later formed part of the zodiac were established circa early 2nd-millennium BCE (or perhaps earlier?). However in the 2nd-millennium BCE they formed part of the system of the "three stars each" (the Paths of Anu, Enlil, and Ea). Quartet gradualism for the origin of the zodiacal constellations is not logically deducible and conflicts with established facts i.e., the 12-month lunar calendar and system of constellations, and 9 of the 12 later zodiacal constellations existing in the 2nd-millennium BCE.

"One can posit the following steps in the development of the zodiac, although it must be said that our knowledge of how the zodiac was first developed is provisional. The division of the schematic calendar into 12 months of 30 days each, such as was used in MUL.APIN, the Astrolabes, and Enūma Anu Enlil, could be correlated with twelve constellations through which the sun was found to travel in one ideal "year" of twelve 30-day months. Because the spring equinox, which was always close to the beginning of the Babylonian year, was to occur in Nisannu (I.15 according to the tradition of MUL.APIN) then Nisannu, or month I, was when the sun was in the constellation Aries (MUL.LÚ.HUN.GA = Agru "the hired man"). For each ideal month, the sun's position in the sky could be identified by the name of a constellation but schematized to correlate the sun's passage through the constellations with the twelve 30-day intervals. The result would be an association of twelve 30-day months and twelve constellations, later standardized to intervals of 30º along the ecliptic." (The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture (2004) by Francesca Rochberg (Chapter 4: Sources for Horoscopes in Astronomical Texts, Page 129).)

In Mesopotamia the zodiac was conceived of as a band through which the planets move. (The zodiacal band was where planetary events took place.) Certainly it was not conceived of as a 360 degree circle.

"The zodiac was almost certainly constructed through analogy with the ideal year of twelve 30-day months. The sun moves at approximately one degree per day through the zodiac, completing a circuit in one year. In the ideal calendar, therefore, the Sun can be taken to move at a mean rate of exactly one degree per day. This assumption underlies the Dodekatemoria and Kalendertext schemes. The parallelism of the zodiac and the calendar is illustrated by the occasional use of the names of the months in place of the names of zodiacal signs in Babylonian texts. It also explains why Aries was taken to be the first sign of the zodiac since the Sun is in Aries during the first month of the year in the Babylonian calendar during the Late Babylonian period. ... The zodiac consisting of twelve signs named after constellations is first attested in the fifth century BC. A zodiacal sign is an abstract division of a path through the sky, bounded by imaginary borders, and named after one of the constellations through which the Sun passes during a year. (T]here are no gaps between neighbouring signs .... The earliest references to zodiacal signs in the Diaries and related texts probably appear in the Diary for -453, although the terminology is occasionally ambiguous in differentiating between zodiacal constellations and signs in fifth-century BC Diaries." ("Celestial Measurement in Babylonian Astronomy." by John Steele (Annals of Science, Volume 64, Number 3, 2007, Pages 293-325.)

 

(5) Methodological Approaches

The key methods of the 'constellation detectives': (1) 'Constellation set' argument. (2) 'Void zone' argument.

That the constellations originated as a single set (which then remained largely unchanged) in a specific location, and in a short time (perhaps less than 100 years), is the "corner-stone" of the so-called "constellation detectives." This  sort of idea originated with Charles Dupuis, etc., and later with the Panbabylonists (such as Hugo Winckler and Fritz Hommel). Alex Gurshtein (with some modifications) is a modern proponent.

There has been considerable speculation regarding the origin of the Western constellations. Until recently it has usually been assumed that they developed over time and were related to the fancies of primitive imaginations. The research methods used by some investigators suggests that the Western constellations were designed as a pictorial scientific coordinate system. A coordinate system is a set of imaginary lines for measuring positions, like the lines of latitude and longitude for determining locations on the earth. The constellations are held to perform a similar function, but they employ pictures, which make it easy to identify stars without need of instruments. Using particular research methods it is claimed that the evidence points to the time and place that the Western constellations originated: circa 2500 BCE at about 36° north latitude. There are 2 particular methods used to provided the claimed evidence that points to this date and location - the polar alignment argument, and the void zone argument.

The term 'constellation detective' is given to any person involved in making a significant contribution - or having influential ideas - in determining the origin of the Western constellations; specifically date(s) (when) and location(s) (where). Key supporters of the methods and arguments of the 'constellation detectives' are also included. Also included are significant critics of the various theories and ideas of the 'constellation detectives.' The 2 main arguments of the majority of the 'constellation detectives' were - and remain - (1) the polar alignment argument, and (2) the vacant space argument. Both arguments are locked into the constellations described in Aratus' Phainomena.

Excluded mostly are proponents of Paleolithic constellations and their methods.

Contenders for identification as the inventors of the Western constellations presently known to us are: (1) Obviously the Greeks. It is accepted that they originated many of their own constellations. (2) The Babylonians. It is accepted that they had definite influences on Greek constellation iconography. (3) The Egyptians. It is accepted that they had limited influence on Greek constellation iconography. (4) The Phoenicians. It is accepted that they had some influence on Greek constellation iconography. (5) The Minoans. No Minoan influence on Greek constellation iconography has been established.

By the last half of the 19th-century there was sufficient evidence to conclude that the constellations known throughout the Hellenistic Mediterranean World (323-31 BCE) are somehow related to Mesopotamian uranography. Though this conclusion remains unchanged and has been strengthened by 20th-century studies it is not precluded attempts by a number of persons to extricate (basically deduce) information from what they see as features/aspects that are inherent in the Greek constellation data. The starting point for this method of investigation has usually always been the astronomical poem Phainomena by Aratus of Soli (3rd-century BCE). (The starting point for a few has been the Commentary on Eudoxus and Aratus by Hipparchus of Rhodes (2nd-century BCE).) A common starting point for the 'constellation detectives' using the Phainomena of Aratus has been the uncharted southern region. This is the vacant space (void zone) argument and comprises an historical inquiry based on speculative deductions.

Basic Methods of the Constellation Detectives

The basic methods employed all involve the precessional dating of the constellations: (1) The unconstellated space around the south celestial pole. (2) The orientation of the constellations to the north celestial pole. (3) The constellations marking the 11 'celestial circles' per Aratean lore. (4) simultaneous rising and setting stars per Aratean lore. (5) The constellations marking the colures.  

(1) Void zone argument (vacant space argument) or "latitude circle" approach. This argument is based on the premise that the time and place of the origin of the Western constellations can be calculated from the consideration of the extent of the vacant space remaining around the south celestial pole when the modern constellations have been removed and only the 48 Eudoxan-Aratean constellations remain. In other words, the defined boundaries of the 48 classical Greek constellations bordering - and defining - the vacant southern space can be used to calculated the time and the place of the origin of the constellations. There is a circle of about 36° radius in the southern part of the sky which does not contain any of the original 48 constellations. This implies that the originators of the constellations lived at about 36° north latitude because at that location, exactly such an area of southern sky would be invisible to them. Moreover, the centre of that circle moves very slowly through the sky because of the motion of the earth's axis. The location of the centre of the empty part of the sky implies an origin date of circa 2500 BCE. See: "The Latitude and Epoch for the Formation of the Southern Greek Constellations." by Bradley [Brad] Schaefer (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume 33, Part 4, Number 113, November, 2002, Pages 313-350). (Note: An important paper by an astronomer comprising a critical quantitative analysis of the "void zone" arguments for the origins of the Greek constellations in the third Millennium BCE.. A suitable discussion of numerous problems with the basic methodologies of Maunder-Crommelin-Ovenden-Roy has been undertaken Schaefer in this paper.)

(2) Polar alignment argument (slanted constellations argument). This argument is based on the premise that the time and place of the origin of the Western constellations is able to be calculated from consideration of the original symmetrical alignment of the constellations to the north equatorial pole. In other words, the Western constellations were designed to be individually orientated to the north celestial pole. Presently, many of the constellations are tipped at an angle to the natural directions of north, east, south and west. Establishing a time and place when they would have all been much aligned vertically and horizontally provides the answer circa 2500 BCE. Much is made of the fact that though this method is an entirely different line of reasoning it yields a very similar date (but no location) of origin. It is further proposed, moreover, that several of the constellations mark astronomically important areas at that early date. As example: The long snake Hydra would have coincided with the particular celestial circle called the celestial equator. This argument is based on the assumption that the data recorded for the Eudoxan-Aratean night sky (i.e., constellation alignments to the north equatorial pole) do not refer to the night sky of the time of Eudoxus/Aratus but refer to the night sky of a much earlier epoch (i.e., circa 2500 BCE). However, the positions of actual stars are not described by Aratus in his astronomical poem describing the Eudoxan constellations.

A slight variation of this method is the claim that the orientation of the early Western constellations was 'orthogonal' i.e., their boundaries were parallel or perpendicular to the celestial equator. (Modern constellation boundaries are orthogonal for the equinox of 1875.)

(3) Additionally, 'star' risings and settings (simultaneously rising and setting constellations). Aratus states that certain stars rise at the same time, or set at the same time, or that one rises as another sets on opposite points on the horizon. Because of the earth's precession, such coincidences depend on both the location on the earth and on the date of observations. Using statistical methods, it has been claimed that Aratus was describing the stars at a north latitude of about 36° (± 2°) at about 2500 BCE (± 800 years). Mostly constellations are meant, not particular stars. On the technical aspects of the simultaneous risings and settings in Aratus' Phainomena see the discussion in Aratus: Phaenomena (Edited) by Douglas Kidd (1998). Also, "Ardua et Astra: On the Calculation of the Dates of the Rising and Setting of Stars." by Matthew Robinson (Classical Philology, Volume 104, Number 3, July, 2009, Pages 354-375).

The 3 types of arguments as traditionally made (and without critical comment) are summarised in Early Astronomy by Hugh Thurston (1994, Pages 135-138).

(4) Also, Eudoxus' placement of colures argument. According to proponents of this argument Eudoxus - in his placement of the colures passing through the middle of what Hipparchus interpreted as zodiacal signs - was referring to constellations established circa 1000 BCE (perhaps circa 1100 BCE), and not in his own lifetime circa 370 BCE. Dependent on Hipparchus' discussion in his critique (Commentary on Aratus and Eudoxus) of Aratus' Phainomena. (Note: Ancient literary sources offer 3 distinct descriptions of the celestial sphere: one by the Greek astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus (born circa 395–390 BCE--died circa 342–337 BCE), one by the Roman poet and astrologer Marcus Manilius (flourished 1st-century CE), and one by the Latin prose writer Martinius Cappela (flourished 5th-century CE).) The earliest description of what the colures are and how they are positioned with respect to the constellations are recorded by Hipparchus and attributed by him to Eudoxus. However, recent investigations show that in describing the colures and how they are positioned Eudoxus was referring to zodiacal constellations and not to zodiacal signs. When Eudoxus described the colures through the middle of Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricornus, he meant the constellations.

See the important essays: "Statistical Dating of the Phenomena of Eudoxus." by Dennis Duke (DIO-The International Journal of Scientific History, Volume 15, December 2008, Pages 7-23). And, "A 'Watermark' of Eudoxan Astronomy." by Elly Dekker (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume XXXXIX, Part 2, Number 135, 2008, Pages 213-238). (Note: Important articles for correcting the mistaken notion that Eudoxus was referring to constellations established circa 1000 BCE, and not in his own lifetime circa 370 BCE.)

(5) Note: There is a variant of the 'Eudoxus' placement of colures argument' known as the 'precession of the equinoxes argument.' It comprises a precessional argument without recourse to Eudoxus. See: Goguet, Du Coutant, Hales, and Brinkley below. All of the arguments for the 5 methods are necessarily tied to the precessional argument.

There are 4 basic methods involved with the precessional argument for dating the Western constellations: (1) The constellations marking the ecliptic of in Aratean lore. (2) The constellations marking the 11 "heavenly circles" in Aratean lore. (3) The unconstellated space around the south celestial pole (void zone) based on Aratean lore. (4) The orientation (symmetrical alignment) of the constellations to the north celestial pole based on Aratean lore. Method 4 was not applied to all the constellations i.e., to the constellations as a recognised set. Carl Swartz originated method 3. Robert Brown Junior made use of methods 1 and 2. Michael Ovenden and Archibald Roy used methods 3 and 4. Brad Schaefer also encompassed method 2.

If the precessional approach to the Aratean sphere has validity regarding dating then the results of all 4 of the above mentioned methods deriving from it should show consistent outcomes, at least for dating, or any discrepancies occurring between them should be reasonably explainable in terms of expected error and the reasons for such. (Each of the above 4 methods has its particular problems.)

(6) Yet another argument is that the constellation Taurus was the original lead zodiacal constellation. The date for the origin of the zodiac obtained with this argument ranges from circa 4000 BCE to circa 2000 BCE.

(7) Some persons seeking a very early date for the origin of the Western constellations propose that because of the similarities between the Greek and the Babylonian constellation systems it is likely that there was some common earlier tradition that played a significant role in shaping these 2 particular ways of constellating the visible northern sky. This form of argument is found in: "Constellations." by Sara Genuth. (1997, Pages 160-164). In: Lankford, John. (Editor). History of Astronomy: An Encyclopedia. It is essentially the Minoan argument originated by Ovenden and Roy, for the origin of the Western constellations. The argument pivots on the assertion that Aratus is describing the Eudoxan globe (it is thought that Eudoxus had one) and this globe was more than 1500 years out of date (due to precession). Further, this sky globe which came into the possession of Eudoxus was designed for a latitude south of Greece and north of Egypt (where Eudoxus did not live). The argument is completely speculative. The speculation naturally extends to the questions: How did Eudoxus come into possession of this globe depicting the constellations? Why did Eudoxus fail to notice that the positions of the constellations on the globe were different to the positions of the constellations in the night sky of his day? The content of the argument is speculative and deductive, comprising: The constellation globe of Eudoxus predated the fixing of the Babylonian constellations. The cuneiform texts show that the Babylonians used some star groups that were not mentioned by Eudoxus. Consequently, it must be recognised that the Western constellations were invented, developed, transmitted, and adapted within and across cultures. (It is also an argument against the notion that the classical (i,e., Western) constellations were designed at one definite time, in one definite place, and according to a preconceived plan.)

Summary of the principal arguments of the 'Constellation Detectives.' Source: Early Astronomy by Hugh Thurston (1994), extracts from Pages 135-138.

Constellation Set or Chance Medley?

The proponents of the 'polar alignment' argument and the 'void zone' argument also hold that the constellations are not a chance-medley over time but came into being as a definite set on some preconceived plan at a definite time and place. Part of the 'void zone' argument rests on the assumption that the ancient constellation-makers attempted to design constellations right down to the horizon. The 2 major problems with the void zone argument are that you have to: (1) Accept that the constellation figures originated as a single scheme. (2) Ignore all problems with our lack of understanding of the original boundaries of the constellation figures.

Three Critical Arguments Against the Void Zone Approach, the Constellation Alignment Approach, and the Constellation Set Approach

(1) The void space method, which is traced back to S(ch)wartz, makes use of the ancient unconstellated space centred around the ancient celestial south pole. The "void space" argument is a simplistic substitution for the more rigorous application of historical evidence (i.e., extent cuneiform and classical texts, philological analysis of constellation names, and constellation iconography and mythology). The 200 year-old "void space" originated at a time when philology and archaeology were both under-developed and unable to be applied in any meaningful way. The main premise of the "void zone" argument is that the Classical constellations were designed at one definite time and in one place, according to a preconceived plan. The argument by Michael Ovenden (a modern proponent of the "void zone" argument) for establishing the time and place of the origin of the Aratean constellations is based on the extent of the vacant space left around the south pole of the celestial sphere when all but the Aratean constellations are removed (that is, when the post Aratean constellations are removed); and the apparent movement of the stars due to precession is taken into account. The further assumption made is that the area of the celestial globe that was not constellated in the description of Aratus was centred on the south celestial pole at the date when the constellations were fixed. The size of the "void zone" is taken as a clue to the latitude at which the constellation inventors lived. A date is found when, by allowing for precession, the centre of the "void zone" on the celestial globe in in the position of the south celestial pole. The accuracy of this method is determined by how precisely the extent and the centre of the void zone can be pinpointed. The subjectivity of the method is demonstrated by the varying estimates of the radius of the "void zone" (30 degrees to 40 degrees) and the varying estimates of the date of origin given by precession (1400 BCE to 2800 BCE with ± varying between 200 years and 800 years). Anyway, the boundaries of the "void zone" cannot be accurately defined as we lack the understanding of the original boundaries of the Classical constellation figures. There are numerous and substantial problems with past work on deducing the latitude and epoch for the origin of the Greek constellations by means of the void zone method. None of the numerous void zone latitude and epoch claims now existing in the literature can be deemed reliable. The perpetual problem is, what stars to use as the southern edge of a supposed early constellation set. There is uncertainty associated with the identification of the southernmost stars catalogued by ancient observers/astronomers which will form the boundary of the void zone. Additionally, there is the assumption that the same observers/astronomers attempted a complete survey of the stars visible to them up to a certain brightness limit. The evidence in Ptolemy's Almagest clearly indicates the lack of evidence for such a complete survey being accomplished (at least in the Greek world). Perhaps any remaining validity in the basic idea of obtaining limits on latitude and epoch lie in using previous calculations as possible northern limits for the development of an early constellation set.

(2) The constellation alignment method which seems to have originated with Maunder is based on the position of constellations on the ancient celestial equator and also on the other celestial circles (i.e., the circles of the celestial sphere). The accuracy of this method is determined by how precisely we can identify the stars or asterisms marking these circles (as described by Aratus in Phainomena). In Aratus’ Phainomena the celestial equator is stated to pass through Orion’s belt, the coil of Hydra, Crater, and the knees of Ophiuchus, among many other constellation figures. Of the asterisms referred to above, the belt of Orion would appear the last asterism for which there is any doubt in its identification, yet it deviates the most (nearly 15 degrees) from the celestial equator circa 2500 BCE. If the Aratean material is based on a celestial equator circa 2500 BCE, why is it not delineated by the stars Hamal, (alpha Arietis), Aldebaran, Procyon, or alpha Pegasi (all less than 5 degrees distant)?

(3) The importance of the ecliptic and the development of the equally divided 12-constellation zodiac does not appear until after the start of the Persian Period in Mesopotamia (circa 500 BCE). The evidence indicates that it was the astronomy of the Babylonian Mul.Apin scheme (circa 1000 BCE) that established the preconditions for the importance of the ecliptic and the establishment of the Babylonian zodiacal scheme which was later adopted by the Greeks. The Babylonian scheme of 12 zodiacal constellations was derived from a system of 18 constellations (established during the Assyrian Period, starting circa 1100 BCE) along the ecliptic to mark the path of the moon. The question remains how can a late Babylonian zodiac (developed circa 450 BCE) comprised of 12 constellations (and 12 equal divisions) have been in use by Homer some 300 years earlier? (And also have had an even earlier origin circa 8000 BCE - which is well prior to the existence of both the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations.) This point can be expanded further. Babylonian constellations of the 2nd-millennium BCE appear in the Greek constellation scheme of Aratus. (The few known constellations of Homer mirror the constellations already existing in the Babylonian scheme.) The Aratean constellations also show a similarity with the later Babylonian constellations listed in Mul.Apin. A definite Babylonian influence on the Greek scheme of constellations is reasonably indicated. If the constellations originated as a set circa 2000-2800 BCE then they cannot have originated with the Greeks. However, the latitude at which the constellations were believed to have originated as a single scheme cannot refer to Mesopotamia because at this time their scheme of constellations was a mix of constellations mentioned by Aratus and other constellations outside this scheme. Crediting the Minoans, as Michael Ovenden did, as the makers of the Classical constellations and offering explanations based on the destruction of Minoan civilisation and the later ineptitude of the Greeks as observers are not convincing.

Other Issues and Comments

The modern text text by Kidd on Aratus' Phainomena appears to be critically up-to-date but in reality contains some ideas still uncritically linked to 19th-century interpretation. (1) Star Names by Richard Allen (Page 378) "Taurus the Bull": Allen considers that the constellation Taurus was established to mark the vernal equinox approximately 4000-1700 BCE and holds Vergil recognised such in his 1st Georgic. (2)  Aratus' Phaenomena by Douglas Kidd (Page 244), "[Lines] 167-178, The Bull": Kidd mentions Allen (Page 378) for Taurus marking the vernal equinox, but without giving a date, and proceeds to mention Vergil's Georgic as evidence of a surviving tradition of Taurus leading the zodiac. Kidd doesn't proceed to correctively quote Seneca as the classicist Arnold did in 1904. (3) The Names of the Stars by Edmund Webb "Chapter 7: An Equinoctial Bull?": Webb critically demonstrates the worthlessness of Vergil's oft quoted phrase and effectively disposes of common "evidence" for the idea of Taurus being established circa 4000 BCE, and marking the vernal equinoz, and being the lead constellation of the zodiac.

Key Constellation Detectives

Isaac Newton (placement of colures argument), Antoine-Yves Goguet (placement of colures argument), [Jean?] du Coutant (placement of colures argument), Carl Swartz (void zone argument), William Hales (placement of colures argument), Richard Proctor (void zone argument, polar alignment argument), Robert Brown Junior (polar alignment argument, placement of colures argument), Edward Maunder (void zone argument, polar alignment argument, placement of colures argument/constellations marking the 11 'celestial circles' argument), William Peck (early origin argument), Edmund Webb (late origin argument), Andrew Crommelin (void zone argument), Robert Böker, Manfred Erren, Willy Hartner (precession of equinoxes argument), Michael Ovenden (void zone argument, polar alignment argument, constellations marking the 11 'celestial circles' argument), Archibald Roy (void zone argument, polar alignment argument, constellations marking the 11 'celestial circles' argument), Frederick Millar (precessional argument), Alexander Gurshtein (precession of equinoxes argument), and Sergey Zhitomirsky (void zone argument).

Key Supporters of the Methods and Arguments of the Constellation Detectives

Alexander von Humboldt (void zone argument), Camille Flammarion (void zone argument), Charles Pierce, Richard Allen (void zone argument), Mary Proctor (void zone argument, polar alignment argument?), Peter Doig (void zone argument), Peter Lancaster-Brown (void zone argument), Leon Pomerance (void zone argument), David Hughes (void zone argument), Ian Ridpath (void zone argument), Hugh Thurston (void zone argument, polar alignment argument, 'star' risings and settings argument), John Barrow (void zone argument, polar alignment argument), and John Rodgers (void zone argument, polar alignment argument, constellations marking the 11 'celestial circles' argument).

Major Redundant Papers by Constellation Detectives

Ovenden, Michael. (1966). The Origin of the Constellations." (The Philosophical Journal, Volume 3, Number 1, Pages 1-18). [Note: The Philosophical Journal = Transactions of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. Originally a talk given/broadcast (at least in Australia) in 1965 on the ABC 'Science Show.' A printed version of the lecture is in the archive files of Peter Mason (Series 2 - Scientific Publications by P. Mason and Others, 2-53 Astronomy.). Inventory Identifier 109 Box Number 12 Series 2. Peter Mason was a physicist and science broadcaster. He was the foundation Professor of Physics, Macquarie University (Australia) from 1966. He also broadcast frequently on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) 'Science Show' and published a number of books for the lay-reader. Michael Ovenden was an astronomer. The authors ideas appeared earlier, for example in a talk on "The Origin of the Constellations" given in 1961 at an ordinary general meeting of the British Astronomical Association, and appeared in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 71, 1960-1961, Pages 91-95 [Some sources give pages 91-97.]. The article is unreliable and contains significant errors (and the same applies to the talk). See: "The Latitude and Epoch for the Formation of the Southern Greek Constellations." by Bradley Schaefer (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume 33, Part 4, 2002 Pages 313-350); and "The Latitude and Epoch for the Origin of the Astronomical Lore of Eudoxus." by Bradley Schaefer (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume 35, Number 2, 2004, Pages 161-223). For his initial talk/article in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, published 1960-1961 (and at least by 1959) Michael Ovenden had sought the advice and collaboration of the classicist Dr Abraham Wasserstein, Department of Greek, University of Glasgow, when developing his ideas on the origin of the constellations. (The University of Glasgow was the same university where Ovenden was teaching at the time. Wasserstein (1921-1995) was Assistant in Greek at Glasgow University from 1951 to 1952 and then Lecturer in Greek at Glasgow University from 1952 to 1960. Wasserstein then then, circa 1960, moved to Leicester University as Professor of Classics.) The core of Wasserstein's advice was the information which the works of Aratus and Hipparchus could give about the origin of the constellation figures. Wasserstein had an interest in Greek astronomy (see: "Thales' Determination of the Diameters of the Sun and Moon." The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Volume LXXV, 1955, Pages 114-116)). In addition to astronomy Abraham Wasserstein also had a deep interest in Greek mathematics and was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Life dates for Michael Ovenden: 1926-1987. See the (English-language) obituaries for Michael Ovenden by Archibald Roy in The Observatory, Volume 108, Number 1082, February, 1988, Pages 31; and the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 29, March, 1988, Pages 90-91. Life dates for Abraham Wasserstein: born 1921, Frankfurt am Main - died 1995, Jerusalem. Assistant in Greek, Glasgow University 1951-52, Lecturer 1952-60; Professor of Classics, Leicester University 1960-69, Dean of the Faculty of Arts 1966-69; Professor of Greek, Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1969- 89 (Emeritus); married 1942 Margaret (Macca) Ecker (two sons, one daughter). See: "Obituary: Professor Abraham Wasserstein." by Aubrey Newman (The Independent, Tuesday, 8 August, 1995). Extract: "Abraham Wasserstein, classicist: born Frankfurt am Main 5 October 1921; Assistant in Greek, Glasgow University 1951-52, Lecturer 1952-60; Professor of Classics, Leicester University 1960-1969, Dean of the Faculty of Arts 1966-1969; Professor of Greek, Hebrew University of Jerusalem 1969- 1989 (Emeritus); married 1942 Margaret (Macca) Ecker (two sons, one daughter); died Jerusalem 20 July 1995. ... He was a man of extremely wide scholarship; there can be few professors of Classics who are also Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society, and his inaugural lecture at Leicester, delivered a short while after he had taken up his appointment, moved broadly but confidently over the whole field of Hellenic endeavour. Greek mathematics, astronomy, musical theory, philosophy, and history - all were brought together to illustrate what he termed "Economy and Elegance". ... After the end of the Second World War he came to Britain and studied Classics part-time at Birkbeck College, London, whence he graduated with his BA in 1949 and his doctorate in 1951. That year he was appointed as Assistant to the Department of Greek in Glasgow, where he stayed for nine years, subsequently as Lecturer in Greek; in later years he emphasised the debt he owed to the patterns of Glasgow's teaching and regarded it as a model to be followed. In 1960 Wasserstein applied for the Chair of Classics in Leicester, with so little confidence in himself that he did not even wait to hear the results of the interview. But his stay in Leicester from 1960 to 1969 was to prove memorable for him. He made many friends in the academic community and for him and his wife these were very happy years. These were stirring years too in the university, culminating in the first manifestations of student unrest in Britain. Much later colleagues still recalled how he stood single-handedly at the entrance to the library to prevent students extending their "sit-in" into its precincts. But when some students asked to be allowed to enter and retrieve their possessions, promising not to abuse this permission, he accepted their word and his trust was not betrayed." ("Obituary: Professor Abraham Wasserstein." by Aubrey Newman, The Independent, Tuesday, 23 December 2014 ) Ovenden, Michael. (1967). "Origine des constellations." (L'Astronomie, Janvier, Pages 1-18). Note: A French-language version of the author's 1966 English-language article.]

Summary:

Method 1: Use of constellation orientation argument. Date(s) deduced for the origin of the Western constellation figures: Circa 2600 BCE ± 800 years (Circa 2800 BCE ± 300 years). Method 2: Use of constellation void zone argument. Date(s) deduced for the origin of the Western constellation figures: Circa 2800 BCE ± 300 years (Circa 2800 BCE ± 800 years). Location: Between 36° ± ½ (36° ± 1½° north latitude).

Relevant key publication (polar alignment argument, void zone argument): "The Origin of the Constellations." by Michael Ovenden (The Philosophical Journal, Volume 3, Number 1, 1966, Pages 1-18). (Note: The Philosophical Journal = Transactions of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. Sometimes the place of publication is given as Edinburgh.)

Ideas adopted from/influenced by: Edward Maunder and Andrew Crommelin.

Ideas adopted by: Archibald Roy, Ian Ridpath. Also, Rice, Michael. (1994). The Archaeology of the Arabian Gulf. (Note: The uninformed nonsense contained in a section of this book is a classic example of the influence of Michael Ovenden's ideas in misguiding even academic discussions on the origin of the constellations.)

Ovenden was profoundly influenced by Maunder and Crommelin and resumed the advocacy of their approach. Ovenden reinvestigated and restated the arguments; including that the Western constellations appeared to originate in a Neolithic system of spherical astronomy. Ovenden ignored the agricultural references in Works and Days by Hesiod and believed there was a predominantly nautical background of Aratus' Phaenomena. On this basis he identified the Minoans as the originators of the Western constellations. According to Ovenden the Phainomena of Aratus was a manual in poetic form that enabled seamen to use the stars for navigation. He identified that seagoing Minoans of Crete as the constellation -makers as they flourished at the deduced time and Crete was at the deduced latitude (basically 35° north). It is an imaginative analysis and identification. According to Ovenden, the only plausible centres of civilisation at the time of circa 2500 BCE and between 36° and 40° north latitude are the Mesopotamian (Sumerian/Akkadian) and the Mediterranean (Minoan in Crete). Interestingly, 36° north is also the latitude of the Greek island of Rhodes. (Robert Newton (1918-1991, American physicist, astronomer, and historian of science) introduced the argument (Ancient planetary observations and the validity of ephemeris time (1976)) that tectonic plate shift ("continental drift") does not seem to have been taken into account and that 4000-5000 years ago Babylon would have been at 34° north latitude. Basically, this argument is ignored.)

The investigations by the astronomer Bradley Schaefer into the particular void zone argument proposed by Michael Ovenden have shown the complete unreliability of Ovenden's method. An important paper by Schaefer, an astronomer, comprising a critical quantitative analysis of the "void zone" arguments for the origins of the Greek constellations in the third Millennium BCE, was published in 2002. A suitable discussion of numerous problems with the basic methodologies of Maunder-Crommelin-Ovenden-Roy has been undertaken Schaefer in his 2002 paper. His conclusions are that the southern Greek constellations originated in the first millennium BCE, and are basically derived from Babylonia. Several opponents/critics claim "they can't understand his statistical argument" and "only Schaefer believes his conclusions." None have offered a detailed rebuttal. See: "The Latitude and Epoch for the Formation of the Southern Greek Constellations." by  Bradley [Brad] Schaefer. (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume 33, Part 4, Number 113, November, 2002, Pages 313-350). In this paper Schafer identifies that Ovenden's important paper ("The Origin of the Constellations." In: Vistas in Astronomy, 1984) is flawed by (amongst other things) the inclusion of 3 additional but imaginary/false stars in the modern constellation Triangulum Australe (in Figure 4), to make it appear as a circlet - supporting his claim - rather than a triangle. The circlet of stars belong to Corona Australis which is located underneath Sagittarius the Archer. (Simply consult a modern star chart.) Archibald Roy later reproduced Ovenden's Figure 4 as Figure 6 in his own important paper. Archibald Roy apparently failed to perceive there was something curious with Ovenden's depiction of Triangulum Australe.

=

Roy, Archibald. (1987). "The Lamps of Atlantis." In: Nash, Sara. (Editor). Science and Intelligence. Proceeding of an Interdisciplinary IBM Conference, London, March 1986. (Pages 167-200). [Note: Earlier and later versions of the talk/article appeared. Some printed versions are quite brief. Roy, A. E. [Archibald/Archie]. (1981). "The Lamps of Atlantis." (Memorie della Società Astronomica Italiana, Volume 52, Pages 613-625). Paper presented in June 1980 on the Greek island of Samos on the occasion of the Aristarchus of Samos Symposium. It does not have the detailed arguments of his 1986 talk/1987 paper. It does have 6 photographs and 1 illustration not included in any other talk/paper. Roy, Archibald. (1984). "The Origin of the Constellations." (Vistas in Astronomy, Volume 27, Pages 171-197). A lengthy article but unreliable and misleading. The article originated out of an earlier series of 3 articles published in the magazine "The Unexplained: Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time," Volume 6, Numbers 61-64, 1981 Pages 1201-1205,1258-?, 1274-1277. The magazine was reprinted as a multi-volume book "Mysteries of Mind, Space & Time: The Unexplained," and the 3 constellation articles appeared in Volume 5, Pages 560-574. The article is uncritical, speculative, and unreliable. Further: "The lamps of Atlantis: An astronomical detective story (constellations)." In: Hunt, J[?]. (Editor). ESA Proceedings of the GIREP Conference 1986. Cosmos: An Educational Challenge (SEE N87-25026 18-89). (Pages 47-49). ESA = European Space Agency; GIREP = Groupe International de Recherche sur l'Ensignement de la Physique. Also referenced as: The Lamps of Atlantis - an astronomical detective story. ESA Spec. Publ., ESA SP-253, p. 47-49 (1986). Originally a talk given/broadcast (at least in Australia) in 1980 on the ABC 'Science Show.' A printed version of the lecture is in the archive files of Peter Mason (Series 2 - Scientific Publications by P. Mason and Others, 2-53 Astronomy.). Inventory Identifier 109 Box Number 12 Series 2. Peter Mason was a physicist and science broadcaster. He was the foundation Professor of Physics, Macquarie University (Australia) from 1966. He also broadcast frequently on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) 'Science Show' and published a number of books for the lay-reader. The topic was presented as a talk multiple times and also published multiple times. Archie Roy apparently originally wrote it as a presentation. It was also produced as a Planetarium presentation which still continues to be shown. The first mention I can identify of the presentation of the talk is in England: 'The Lamps of Atlantis' by Archie Roy, at Airdrie Library, November 10, 1978. Airdrie Public Library is a public library in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. The next presentation in 1978 was to a meeting of the 'Library Association' in England. Publicised as: "Forthcoming Attraction. Professor Archibald E. Roy, of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow, has kindly accepted an invitation to talk to the Society on Sunday,19th November [1978]. The Meeting will begin at 3 p.m. and will be held at the 'Library Association' 7 Ridgmount St., London W.C.1. The talk, entitled "The Lamps of Atlantis", will be concerned with the origin of the constellations and has relevance to the past history of mankind and of the earth. Professor Roy, besides being a noted authority in the field of astronomy, is renowned for his wit and his ability to enlighten in an entertaining manner both the layman and also those whose study of astronomy has proceeded beyond the elementary. It would be a great pity, therefore, if members were to miss this opportunity of meeting again on what promises to be a most enjoyable as well as enlightening occasion. Therefore PLEASE KEEP THIS DATE FREE, FREE, free: SUNDAY 19th NOVEMBER. Your ATTENDANCE will help to make a 'FULL HOUSE' - and thus a MOST STIMULATING afternoon." Following the meeting: “Meeting News. LONDON, 19th NOVEMBER 1978 - "THE LAMPS OF ATLANTIS." The meeting at the Library Association last November has not yet been reported in WORKSHOP: it was addressed by Archie Roy, one of the speakers at the Glasgow conference. Besides being the head of Glasgow University's Astronomy Department, Professor Roy is a most entertaining speaker. He is also a successful writer of detective fiction, and approached his subject - which we might call "The Historic Case of the Constellation Makers" - via "the four basic themes of all detective stories: Who did it? Why did they do it? Where did they do it? And when did they do it?" Drawing on Homer, Hesiod, Hipparchus, Eudoxos, and Ovenden, and with lucid explanations of such concepts as the Procession of the Equinoxes and the Zone of Avoidance, he presented his answers as: The Minoans (whose identification with the Atlanteans, as per current orthodoxy, he accepts); to aid maritime navigation; in the area of Crete (ca. 36°N); and about 2000-2500 BC. The lecture was excellently illustrated with striking slides; and those present will agree that Prof. Roy's own verdict as he thanked his listeners for their attention, fails to do it justice: it was he said, "poor thing, but Minoan"." Planetarium shows of 'The Lamps of Atlantis' per their advertising blurbs: (1) MacMillan Space Science Centre [and Planetarium] [Vancouver, British Columbia, Western Canada]. "June 28th [2003] is opening day for three new programs at Vancouver's H R MacMillan Space Centre. In the planetarium "Lamp's of Atlantis," based on the research of Professor Archie Roy takes a look at some early Mediterranean star watchers, and presents some interesting theories on who they were and where they were located." "John Dickenson (MacMillian (sic) Space Science Center)." (2) "LAMPS OF ATLANTIS Now Available for Fulldome Theaters from Evans & Sutherland and the Eugenides Foundation. [Dec 02, 2011 Judith Rubin] Salt Lake City, USA — Audiences will be able to explore the legend of the lost continent of Atlantis in the new show, Lamps of Atlantis, produced exclusively for digital fulldome theaters. A coproduction between Evans & Sutherland’s award-winning Digital Theater Productions and the Eugenides Foundation planetarium in Athens, Greece, Lamps of Atlantis explores the mythology of Atlantis and investigates clues to the origin of the names of modern constellations that may have come from this mysterious civilization. This detective story promises to keep viewers fascinated and intrigued as the various pieces of evidence fall into place. Narrated by Terry O'Quinn, who played John Locke on TV's hit show, LOST, Lamps of Atlantis features fulldome time-lapse photography from striking locations around the world including Easter Island, Australia, Egypt, South America and Greece. The show also features computer animation visualizations of a number of international locations and the stars and constellations of the night sky. A 40 minute version of the show is available now, and a shorter, approximately 25 minute cut of the show is set for release in late December 2011. For users of Evans & Sutherland Digistar systems, the fulldome trailer is available for download on the DUG library. For more information about the show and to see a trailer, visit the Lamps of Atlantis website." (3) "Lamps of Atlantis showing at A&M-Commerce planetarium. ... Join us in the adventure as we explore the Lamps of Atlantis beginning January 20, 2012 at Texas A&M University-Commerce planetarium. In January, Lamps of Atlantis will be offered on Friday nights for both the 7 and 8 p.m. show times. Lamps of Atlantis is the latest full dome movie produced by Evans & Sutherland who also produced one of our all-time favorite shows, Stars of the Pharaohs. Our search for the lost continent of Atlantis takes us on a journey through the astronomical knowledge and understanding of the ancient Greeks. How did the constellations get their names? What different patterns did ancient cultures see in the sky? Was Atlantis a real place? Did it really sink into the sea? We will uncover clues to help us solve this age-old mystery. This 40-minute show is narrated by Terry O’Quinn, who played John Locke in TV’s hit show LOST. Lamps of Atlantis will be offered at the A&M-Commerce planetarium each Friday night at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. in January and at 7 p.m. in February. Admission to the show is $3 for those under 18 and A&M-Commerce students with ID, $3.50 for university employees and senior citizens, and $4 for all others. A discount of $1 per person will be offered if tickets are purchased at the same times for two shows viewed on the same day. Each planetarium show begins with brief remarks by a member of the planetarium staff, who displays the Commerce night sky on the planetarium's 40-foot dome and points out the current visible constellations, stars, and planets." (4) ""Lamps of Atlantis" at the Pierce Science Dome. February 25, 2014. The Science Dome is a unique part of Pierce College. Not only is it the biggest science dome in Washington, it also has the highest resolution, making it one of best science domes in the area. The Science Dome features five films. One of the featured videos is called "Lamps of Atlantis". "The Lamps of Atlantis" was about the stars and how they might have led to the origins of Atlantis. This was preceded by a thirty-minute live presentation into Astronomy. The film moved from Egypt to China showing the differences in their constellations. Many of the western civilization’s constellations are different from other parts of the world. For instance Leo, the Lion constellation is the Spinning Wheel in China. The film showed astrological maps of the stars and provided information on how the stars helped in everyday life in those times. The film showed how the stars were used for recanting (sic) myths like Orion in Greece. The documentary showed art from Egypt, Greece, and where they believe Atlantis to be. A sculpture of Atlas bearing the heavens is shown and the globe he has is a star map. The film explained how the documentary came to the conclusion that they found Atlantis’ original place. The art, history and information are well represented. All this is packed into forty-five minutes. "The Lamps of Atlantis" special effects are quite realistic. The most notable time was when it rained because it was like a 3-D experience without the glasses and had the sensation of movement that is similar to a roller coaster. The film is shot well. It had scenery that gave the illusion of being close enough to touch. Every scene felt proportionate with the places shown. For instance, an Egyptian temple felt like a gargantuan building, with large pillars inside. The music added to the overall feel of the video, helping it transition from moment to moment and brought out the background." (5) "The Lamps of Atlantis. Date: Friday, 7/10/2015. Time: 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM. Location: Georgia Southern University Planetarium, 65 Georgia Avenue (From Fair Rd, turn on Herty Dr), Math/Physics Bldg.- Planetarium, Statesboro, GA 30458." However, Roy was later influenced by the fact that anciently the faint stars comprising the constellation Draco housed the pole and the sky turned around it and, as well, it enclosed the ecliptic pole, around which the Sun’s apparent motion is centered. Roy concluded that Draco must have seemed more important when it housed both the major hubs of the sky. In another deductive exercise Roy concluded that since the major civilization of the time in the right latitude was the Sumerian culture of Mesopotamia, whose early art he further speculated showed the figures of the polar constellations that we know, he changed his thesis and ascribed the drafting of the constellations to the Sumerians. (80th Birthday Lecture by Archibald Roy presented at the Glasgow Science Centre Scottish Power Planetarium, June 2004.) Archibald [Archie] Roy was one of Scotland's most distinguished astronomers. Life dates: 1924-2012. See the detailed (English-language) obituary "Archibald Edmiston Roy 1924-2012." by David Clarke in Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 54, Issue 2, Page 2.38.]

Summary:

Some issues with "The Lamps of Atlantis.": Use of "zone of avoidance" argument; use of "preccessional argument;" accuracy of "planetarium method;" reliance on the speculations of Robert Brown Junior; speculation regarding Minoan navigation; speculation regarding Minoan star globe; 2 constellation traditions theory.

Ovenden's ideas were elaborated by Roy. Method(s): Use of constellation orientation argument. Date(s) deduced for the origin of the Western constellation figures: Circa 2000 BCE ± 200 years. (Circa 2900 BCE ± 500 years).

Relevant key publications (polar alignment argument, void space argument): "The origin of the constellations." by Archibald Roy (Vistas in Astronomy, Volume 27, Issue 2, 1984, Pages.171-197). Content summary: "The problem of the origin of the stellar constellations familiar to western astronomers from ancient times is discussed in an attempt to answer the classical detective story questions: Who? When? Why? and Where? The available astronomical, literary and archaeological evidence is examined to suggest a possible solution." However, Roy does not describe in detail the method used to test the fit of the Aratean constellations to the tropical and equatorial circles.. It has never been indicated by Roy that a detailed description of the method used is accessible. In September 2001 I e-mailed Roy requesting assistance with the additional details but received no reply. (Note: The article originated out of the material comprising an earlier series of 3 articles published in the magazine "The Unexplained: Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time," [issued in 13/26 volumes, 84 parts, in early 1980s], Volume 6, Numbers 61-64, 1981 Pages 1201-1205,1258-?, 1274-1277. The magazine was reprinted as a multi-volume book "Mysteries of Mind, Space & Time: The Unexplained," and the 3 constellation articles appeared in Volume 5, Pages 560-574. The article is uncritical, speculative, and unreliable. Also, Roy, Archibald. (1986). "The lamps of Atlantis: An astronomical detective story ((constellations))." In: Hunt, J[?]. (Editor). Cosmos: An Educational Challenge. (ESA Proceedings of the GIREP Conference 1986. (Pages 47-49). (Note: ESA = European Space Agency; GIREP = Groupe International de Recherche sur l'Ensignement de la Physique.)

The 3 original articles by Archie Roy (accuracy of citation to be verified): "Pictures in the Stars." by Archie Roy (The Unexplained: Mysteries of the Mind, Space & Time, Volume 6, Number 61, 1981, Pages 1201-1205). "[Title presently unknown]." by Archie Roy (The Unexplained: Mysteries of the Mind, Space & Time, Volume 6, Number 63[?], 1981, Pages 1258-?). "Stars in Their Eyes." by Archie Roy (The Unexplained: Mysteries of the Mind, Space & Time, Volume 6, Number 64, 1981, Pages 1274-1277).

Roy thought highly of Gurshtein's gradualist ideas. (See: "Conjuring Constellations -- Astronomers Debate Origins of Star Patterns." by Alexandra Witze (Dallas Morning News), The Seattle Times (online). Tuesday June 17, 1997.)

Ideas adopted from/influenced by: Michael Ovenden and especially Robert Brown Junior.

Ideas adopted by: "Star names—origins and misconceptions." by Gwyneth Heuter (Vistas in Astronomy, Volume 29, Part 3, 1986, Pages 237–251).: "Abstract: The sources of present day star names used in the western world are examined. Particular interest is shown in the meanings of the most popular names and those whose meanings have proved difficult to trace. A classification of star names is made and attention is drawn to the errors introduced in translation from one language to another. In particular an in-depth study of pre-Ptolemaic Arabic star names is given."

The thesis proposed by Ovenden and Roy is largely speculation and conjecture, devoid of a basis in clear and unambiguous supporting evidence. Roy, in his publications, persists in using the translation of Aratus made by Robert Brown Junior without bothering to inquire into its accuracy. Also, use of later translations by other scholars are not used. The question needs to be asked "Why?" when other later translations of the poem, such as the translation by Jean Soubiran, has approximately half a page of commentary per line of poem.

Ovenden's ideas on constellation origins were embraced by his colleague Archibald Roy. In a series of articles culminating in his 1984 "The origin of the constellations," Roy used a planetarium to evaluate Ovenden's Minoan hypothesis. Roy devised a scheme (since criticised) to score quantitatively the level of error in the 34 statements detailing the relationship of the constellations to the celestial reference circles, provided by Aratus in his Phaenomena. Roy (following Robert Brown Junior as well as Edward Maunder and Andrew Crommelin) also supported the concept of equatorial symmetry in the distribution of the constellation figures. For the location of the originators of the constellations Ovenden settled on Crete. Roy followed Ovenden's conclusion that the Minoans were the likely originators of the Aratean constellations. Roy also speculated that an earlier Mesopotamian constellation tradition had migrated to Minoan Crete and was modified and adapted there to the form that was later acquired by Eudoxus. However, the conclusion is not without serious historical difficulties. Outside of Mesopotamia the only other Western civilisation flourishing circa 2000 BCE at 36° north latitude was the seafaring empire of Minoan Crete. It is unlikely any written material would have survived the centuries of the Greek 'dark ages.' (and spanned the period between Minoan Crete and classical Greece.) The period circa (1100-750 BCE) is conventionally called the Dark Ages of Greece, a period of decline and recovery. Circa 1100 BCE higher civilization in the Aegean ended for hundreds of years. Writing disappeared along with Mycenaean civilization. The collapse of literacy presents a problem. Writing became very scarce and results in little able to be known. There is no written evidence existing for this period in the Aegean region. It was also extremely poor and primitive in other respects and the archaeological remains for this period are also quite limited. The ruling upper class of the Helladic times (circa 3000 BCE to 1100 BCE) had disappeared completely along with the rest of civilization. With the exception of Athens the old major settlements were abandoned and the population of Greece dropped dramatically (In about 1100 BCE, a people called the Dorians invaded Greek from the north and spread down the west coast. This is unconnected with the extent of the collapse of civilisation in the Aegean region.) Hover, important developments in Greece at this time included the epic Homeric poems, the Odyssey and the Iliad (which purport to record earlier events). Writing was readopted in Greece in the 8th- or 7th-century BCE.

=

Rogers, John. (1998). "Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, Number 1, February, Pages 9-28). Rogers, John. (1998). "Origins of the ancient constellations: II. The Mediterranean traditions." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, Number 2, April, Pages 79-89). [Note: Note: Both parts of the article comprise a total of 31 pages. Both parts of this article need to be used with caution. They comprise a speculative and misleading synthesis compiled in part from dated and/or unreliable sources. These include: Richard Allen, Robert Brown, Andrew Crommelin, Alex Gurshtein, Willy Hartner, Edward Maunder, Michael Ovenden, Werner Papke, Archibald Roy, Richard Proctor, Giuseppe Sesti, and David Ulansey. These authors have had a major influence on the ideas expressed in the article. Unfortunately the article tends to be highly regarded instead of highly disregarded. John H. Rogers Ph.D. is a neurobiologist and amateur planetary astronomer. He is a lecturer at the University of Cambridge, School of the Biological Sciences, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, specialising in molecular neurobiology, with an interest in evolution. His professional research interests are: Neural injury and regeneration. Genetic manipulation promoting axon regeneration. Responses of the mammalian CNS to injury. Viral vectors for repairing damaged neurones. This research aims to promote axon regeneration in the injured brain and spinal cord. He is part of a group working to express enzymes in herpes virus vectors, for expression in tissue culture and in neurons of rat brain or spinal cord. Rogers is also Director of the Jupiter Section of the British Astronomical Association. He has been the director of the Jupiter Section of the British Astronomical Association (BAA) for decades and is the author of a definitive book on the observation of Jupiter by amateur astronomers. The 2 parts of the article on constellation origins was initiated originally from an offbeat  personal inquiry. The main sources used were those held in the University of Cambridge Library. Unfortunately - to date - he has not revised/updated either parts of the article. Rodgers has been the only person to attempt a synthesis of all ideas i.e., those of Ovenden, Roy, and Gurshtein, and others. These include: Richard Allen, Robert Brown, Andrew Crommelin, Alex Gurshtein, Willy Hartner, Edward Maunder, Michael Ovenden, Werner Papke, Archibald Roy, Richard Proctor, Giuseppe Sesti, and David Ulansey. Life dates: 1952- ).]

Summary:

Relevant key publications: "Origins of the Ancient Constellations: I. The Mesopotamian Traditions." by John Rogers (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, Number 1, 1998, Pages 9-28). "Origins of the Ancient Constellations: II. The Mediterranean Traditions." by John Rogers (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, Number 2, 1998, Pages 79-89). Both parts of the article comprise a total of 31 pages. The 2 parts of the article on constellation origins was initiated originally from an offbeat  personal inquiry. The main sources used were those held in the University of Cambridge Library. Unfortunately - to date - he has not revised/updated either parts of the article.

Note: Both parts of this article need to be used with caution. They comprise a speculative and misleading synthesis compiled in part from dated and/or unreliable sources. They are an uncritical synthesis of Ovenden-Roy-Gurshtein. Rodgers has been the only person to attempt a synthesis of all ideas i.e., those of Ovenden, Roy, and Gurshtein, and others. These include: Richard Allen, Robert Brown, Andrew Crommelin, Alex Gurshtein, Willy Hartner, Edward Maunder, Michael Ovenden, Werner Papke, Archibald Roy, Richard Proctor, Giuseppe Sesti, and David Ulansey. These authors have had a major influence on the ideas expressed in the article. Unfortunately the article tends to be highly regarded instead of highly disregarded.

Ideas adopted from: Edward Maunder, Andrew Crommelin, Michael Ovenden and Archibald Roy. Ideas adopted by: A host of later writers have uncritically perpetuated the ideas in his 2-part article on the constellations.

=

Constellation Set or Chance Medley

The proponents of the 'polar alignment' argument and the 'void zone' argument also hold that the constellations are not a chance-medley over time but came into being as a definite set on some preconceived plan at a definite time and place. Part of the 'void zone' argument rests on the assumption that the ancient constellation-makers attempted to design constellations right down to the horizon.

 

(6) A Critique of Two Methodological Approaches

The mistaken notions of the 'constellation detectives' are identifiable through careful research and analysis. Regardless of repeated attempts to ensure resilience, misconceptions are still misconceptions. Critical rigour is not part of the toolbox of the 'constellation detectives.' Numerous persons have continued to repeat the claims of the 'constellation detectives,' almost as a mantra. The veracity of their methods and soundness of their arguments lives on through belief rather than knowledge. Sufficient critique exists to to understand their claims are divorced from any any sense of rational accuracy. Rather, their claims are derived from a chain of speculations.

Perspective

Regarding speculations on the age of the zodiac. Unfortunately the myth of a prehistoric 12-constellation zodiac (of equal divisions) is not yet dead. The fact that it has been effectively disposed of seems to be ignored in books addressed to the jury and not the bench. A good summary discussion of the issues is given by Edmund Webb in his The Names of the Stars (1952). There is no evidence that the Greek scheme of 12 zodiacal constellations existed anywhere prior to its evolvement in Greece (circa 400 BCE?). It was Peter Jensen in his Die Kosmologie der Babylonier (1890) who first showed that the Greek zodiac was adapted circa 400 BCE(?) from the (newly developed) zodiac of the Babylonians.

Cylinder seals of the Sumerian and Akkadian Period (3,200-2,000 BCE) only provide speculative suggestions for 7 of the modern constellations in or near the path of the ecliptic: Bull, Lion, Scorpion, Water-Carrier, Swallow/Field, Hired Man, and Goat-Fish.

Interestingly, the scheme of many "precession in mythology" books based on a 12-constellation zodiac of equal divisions incline toward suggesting that the zodiac was originally established as an intended scheme of 12 equal divisions. The Mesopotamian evidence does not suggest this and the idea cannot be maintained.

The evidence (discussed by Bartel van der Waerden in his Science Awakening II (1974)) indicates the Mesopotamian scheme of 12 zodiacal constellations was derived from a system of 18 constellations established (during the Assyrian Period, starting circa 1100 BCE) along the ecliptic to mark the path of the moon. These 18 constellations were then reduced (during the Neo-Babylonian or Persian Period, starting circa 550 BCE) to a scheme of 12 constellations along the ecliptic - to suit a schematic year of 12 months of 30 days each. (The constellations not wholly occupying the ecliptic were removed.) The scheme of 12 constellations (and 12 zodiacal signs of equal length) was the last scheme of constellations (and divisions) to be finalized (and is not older than the 5th-century BCE.) It was a development of the mathematical astronomy of the Babylonians. However, the individual constellations included in the zodiacal scheme have far earlier origins. (Some perhaps 1500 years or more prior to the development of the 12-constellation zodiac of equal divisions.)

The difficulty with maintaining an ancient zodiac is how can a late Mesopotamian zodiac (developed circa 500 BCE) and comprised of 12 constellations (and 12 equal divisions) have been in use by anybody hundreds of years earlier? (Or, even thousands of years earlier - prior to the existence of both the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations.)

The flawed "void zone" argument has become a common tool for maintaining that a Neolithic zodiac (and fully constellated sky) can be reasonably proposed. (Though Alexander Gurshtein has some interesting extensions of the argument his proposals are also not free of problems.) The "void zone" argument can hardly substitute for the lack of clear evidence (which tends to fall under the murky heading of "tradition"). (I have recently read an article titled "The Mystery of the Ages Solved" that confidently states: "The oldest written history we have indicates that the zodiac was already ancient at the time of the Sumerians.... We have evidence from ancient Sumerian tablets that the zero point of the traditional zodiac may be between Gemini and Taurus ...." All of this is, of course, fantasy.)

Due to our lack of knowledge of the boundaries of the Aratean constellations the "void zone" method is subjective and its use has led to no real agreement regarding the latitude and date for the constellations being designed at one definite time and place. It could not be used to identify the Mesopotamians as originating a scheme of constellations that also became the constellations of the Greek sphere (i.e., the Aratean constellations). The Greek constellation scheme of Aratus of Soli (3rd-century BCE) contains both Babylonian constellations (traceable both to the 2nd-millennium BCE and the Mul.Apin texts (circa 700 BCE) and non-Babylonian constellations. The Babylonian scheme of constellations has always been a mix of constellations mentioned by Aratus and other constellations outside of the Aratean scheme. It is obvious that the Greeks borrowed certain constellations from the Babylonians and it is obvious that the constellations could not have originated, or been adopted, as a single devised scheme by either the Babylonians or the Greeks.

Even if the "void zone" argument were correct it has never offered support for the idea that the constellations could have existed as a deliberately planned set extending back some 6000 to 8000 years BCE (or further). The use of the "void zone" argument controls the feasible range for the dating of the constellations if they are considered to have originated as a deliberately planned scheme. Interestingly, Edward Maunder, a committed proponent of the "void zone" argument, later attempted to overcome this limitation by implying a very slow developmental period for the final scheme of constellation design. (See: "Origin of the Constellations," The Observatory, Volume 36, 1913, Page 330.)

Key Critics of the Methods and Arguments of the Constellation Detectives

Hipparchus of Rhodes (critique of Aratus' Phainomena), T[homas] Arnold, Mary Evershed, Edmund Webb, David Dicks (critique of void zone argument), Owen Gingerich, Edwin Krupp (critique of void zone argument, critique of polar alignment argument), Bradley Schaefer (critique of void zone argument, critique of polar alignment argument), Dennis Duke (critique of Eudoxus' placement of colures argument), and Elly Dekker (critique of Eudoxus' placement of colures argument).

Source: Extracts from "The Origin of the Constellations." by Mary Evershed (Observatory Magazine, Volume 36, April, 1913, Number 460, Pages 179-181).

Polar Alignment Argument

Adherents/proponents of this argument include Edward Maunder, Richard Proctor, Robert Brown Junior, Mary Proctor, Michael Ovenden, Archibald Roy, Peter Lancaster-Brown, Robert Böker, David Hughes, Alexander Gurshtein, Hugh Thurston, and John Barrow. The "polar alignment" argument (constellation orientation argument) appears to originate with the English solicitor and antiquarian Robert Brown Junior.

The polar alignment argument is based on the premise that the time and place of the origin if the constellations is calculable from consideration of the original symmetrical alignment of the constellations to the north equatorial pole. (That is, the constellations were designed to be individually oriented to the north celestial pole.) This argument is based on the assumption that the data recorded for the Eudoxan-Aratean celestial sphere (i.e., constellation alignments to the north equatorial pole) do not refer to the sky of that time  but to the sky of a much earlier epoch (i.e., circa 2500 BCE). (However, the positions of actual stars are not described by Aratus in his poem of the Eudoxan constellations.)

Void Zone Argument

Adherents/proponents of this argument include Edward Maunder, Richard Proctor, Richard Allen, Andrew Crommelin, Michael Ovenden, Archibald Roy, Peter Lancaster-Brown, Ian Ridpath, Hugh Thurston, John Barrow, and Frederick Millar.

The vacant space argument is based on the premise that the time and place of the origin of the constellations is calculable from the consideration of the extent of the vacant space left around the south pole of the celestial sphere when all but the 48 ancient constellations have been removed. (Put another way: the defined boundaries of the 48 ancient constellations bordering - and defining - the vacant southern space (frequently termed the 'zone of avoidance') can be used to calculate the time and place of the origin of the constellations. Crommelin estimated that the radius of the 'zone of avoidance' is about 36°. This means - according to the theory - that the early people who invented the constellations lived about 36° north of the equator. (Earlier, Maunder and others had also calculated the radius of the 'zone of avoidance'.)

Due to our lack of knowledge of the boundaries of the Aratean constellations the "void zone" argument is subjective and its use has led to no real agreement regarding the latitude and date for the constellations being designed at one definite time and place.)

Arguments Against the Void Zone Hypothesis

There are a number of substantial arguments against the ‘void zone’ hypothesis.

(1) It is not established that we know all the ancient constellations known to the Greeks. We do not know whether the Aratean list of constellations is complete; especially regarding southern constellations. The existence of other southern constellations omitted by Aratus could affect the determination of the centre of the ‘void zone’ and estimated epoch, and observer latitude, which could be more southernly.

(2) It is not known what stars comprised the boundaries of the ancient constellations. If assumptions of the southern edge of the southernly constellations are incorrect then this will lead to errors with date and latitude. It is not known whether the constellation boundaries were inconsistent (liable to change). The earliest knowledge of specific stars comprising most of the constellation figures only goes back to Hipparchus' Commentary on Aratus.

(3) Proponents of the ‘void zone’ hypothesis make the assumption that the constellations (or at least the most southern constellations were all developed at approximately the same time and place. However, there is no evidence or particular reasons to believe this assumption. The incorrectness of this 'void zone' argument will lead to errors in the determination of the centre of the 'void zone' (= errors in date and latitude). Any argument that the 'void zone' itself provides evidence that the southern constellations were very old in Aratus' time is simply a deduction that is lacking supportive evidence.

(4) Proponents of the use of the 'void zone' hypothesis generally overemphasize this approach as being a simple, direct, and reliable methods to achieve a solution for the date of the constellations. Ignored are the results of other methods such as history, mythology, archaeology, and philology. These other methods combine to indicate that the surviving evidence for the Western constellations show them to be established together in Greek the Greek sky much later than the use of the 'void zone' method indicates.

(5) A now standard question by ‘void zone’ proponents is: Why wasn't the constellation lore inherited in Aratus' Phainomena updated - especially by navigators - as it became obvious that it was in error (i.e., mismatched the visible sky)? This question is overlooked as an argument against the validity of the 'void zone' argument. Commonly invoked is the supposed existence of an inherited archaic constellation globe and a separated nautical tradition. Both without evidence. However, even 'void zone' proponents have to acknowledge that Hipparchus did identify problems with Aratus' Phainomena and update astronomical statements in the poem. In his Commentary on Aratus, Hipparchus also acknowledged the substantial descriptive correctness of Aratus' Phainomena. Many of the criticisms of Hipparchus are unrelated to the positions of the constellations with regard to the celestial equator. Because of the limited amount of information that has come down to the present-day it is not possible to reliably know whether problems went unnoticed earlier or if there were attempts to update the constellation lore that are now lost because they were not successfully adopted into the main body of constellation lore.

(6) There is no realistic evidence that an Aratean scheme of constellations existed earlier than the time of Eudoxus of Cnidus (4th-century BCE). To argue that the evidence is now lost or not yet recovered is to sidestep the particular difficulty with speculation. This does not automatically mean that the first surviving mention of a fully constellated Greek sky is also an argument for the approximate date of this particular development. Some constellation names and figure are met with earlier in Greek sources but these named constellations are nowhere near the detailed list given by Aratus.

(7) We do not know whether the person(s) engaged in the development of the inherited Western constellations constructed the constellation scheme all the way to the southern horizon. If this was not done then this places the deduced latitude farther south than the estimates which have been given.

(8) I cannot recall any 'void zone' proponent who has included discussion of the very real issues of atmospheric extinction and refraction in their method for calculating a date. Even 1st magnitude stars cannot be seen to the horizon. The effects of atmospheric extinction and refraction would place the deduced latitude of the constellation developer(s) farther south than the estimates which have been given.

The Date of Aratus' Equator

Mary Evershed - a critic of the 'void zone' arguments - concluded that the date of Aratus' equator, though it will not fit any date, but then concluded the date circa 800 BCE agrees quite well with Aratus' description. This estimation by Evershed conflicts directly with other claims - for example by Archibald Roy and Goran Henriksson - that the date of Aratus' equator is circa 2500 BCE (Robert Brown Junior asserted 2084 BCE). The wide variation in dates from the same description of constellations along the celestial equator given by Aratus in Phainomena is evidence of a large degree of uncertainty. Evershed also points out that "the two tropical circles; compared with the actual circles of any date ... are in error in one place or another." The French mathematician Jean-Baptiste Delambre also examined the issue of dating the celestial equator described by Aratus and concluded it was impossible to come to any decision. (See: Histoire de l'astronomie ancienne (1817, 2 Volumes).)

Robert Brown Junior

The publications of Robert Brown Junior still mislead people who like to uncritically quote publications.

Brown, Junior., Robert. (1899-1900). Researches into the Origin of the Primitive Constellations of Greeks, Phoenicians and Babylonians. (2 Volumes). [Note: These volumes are full of errors and should not be used. Brown mistook the early circular "three stars each" texts (commonly called "planispheres" or "astrolabes," but actually functioning as schematic star calendars establishing an ideal year with primarily a divinatory purpose) as representing the standard Mesopotamian scheme of constellations. On the basis of three small fragments of these circular "star calendars" (Sm. 162, Sm. 608, and Sm. 94) he attempted to re-establish what he believed was a complete standard Babylonian "planisphere." His very speculative study and erroneous reconstruction of such was based on his belief that the circular "planispheres" set out an ecliptic based scheme with the 12 stars in the Path of Ea (outer ring) marking southern constellations, the 12 stars in the Path of Enlil (inner ring) marking northern constellations, and the 12 stars in the Path of Anu (middle ring) marking the 12 zodiacal constellations along the ecliptic. On the basis of his mistaken circular "planisphere" reconstruction Brown believed the constellations, including a 12-constellation zodiac scheme, in something like their present form, originated in Mesopotamia in the late 3rd millennium BCE. He denied (quite incorrectly) that anyone in Mesopotamia was inventing the 12-constellation zodiac as late as circa 500 BCE. Brown was unaware of the star lists of the Mul.Apin series. Mul.Apin tablet 1 (BM 86378) was not published until 1912 by Leonard King (CT 33, Plates 1-8) and it was perhaps first discussed by Franz Kugler in his Supplement 1 (1913) to his Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel. The first section of Mul.Apin tablet 1 lists considerably more stars in the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea than are found in the "planispheres." (He was also misled by the limited listing of stars/constellations in the Paths of Enlil, Anu, and Ea through Tablet 82-5-22 512.) The later reconstruction of an astrolabe (based on multiple texts) by the British assyriologist Theophilus Pinches was more accurate. Usually Robert Brown is mistakenly described as an English Orientalist. Actually he was an English Solicitor in Barton-on[upon]-Humber. (He lived at Priestgate House.) He was known (locally) as a writer on archaic religion and was an amateur Orientalist. He corresponded with William Gladstone (on Greek literature no doubt) when Gladstone was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1880. His wife was apparently a keen cyclist and she was also connected with - or a member of - the Society for Psychical Research (London). It is possible that Mary-Helen Brown, daughter of Robert Brown, Barton-upon-Humber, (who married William Spry in 1852) was his sister. See the (English-language) book reviews by Anon in Nature, Volume LIX, (Number 1537), April 13, 1899, Pages 553-544, and Volume LXXIV, (Number 1921), August 3, 1906, Pages 410-411; Theophilus Pinches in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1900, Pages 371-375, & Pages 571-577; Anon in The Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume IX, Number 8, 1898/1899, Pages 386-387, and Volume X, Number 10, 1899/1900, Pages 414-415; William Crooke in Folk-Lore, Volume XLIV, 1899, Pages 339-341; W. W. B. in The Observatory, Number 283, Volume 22, September, 1899, Pages 345-346, and The Observatory, Number 294, July, 1900, Pages 292-293; George Barton in The American Journal of Theology, Volume 4, 1900, Page 152, and Volume 5, Number 1, January, 1901, Pages 124-125; and the (French-language) book reviews by Henri Hubert in Revue de L'Histoire des Religions, Volume 41, 1900, Pages 240-242, and Volume 45, 1902, Pages 440-441. Other (English-language) book reviews appear in The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, Volume 90, 1901, Page 463; and The American Journal of Philology, Volume 24, 1903, Page 343. See brief biographical entries in A Supplement to Allibone's Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors, by John Kirk (1891, Volume 1, Page 227); and Men and Women of the Time, 15th edition, by Victor Plarr (1899, Page 137). Life dates: 1844-1912.]

The Precessional Argument Using Aratus and its Problem of its Early Dates versus Late Dates for Constellation Origin

With the precessional dating of the constellations it is important to distinguish between the different techniques that have been used as each requires a different approach in assessing the reliability. There are lots of problems with many of the precessional arguments that have made. There are many technical problems with all analyses of things like the void zone in the south and and the stars near the tropics in Aratus. There has been lack of attention to extinction (much less seasonal variation) when attempting to identify the stars in the southern edge of the constellations bordering the void zone. Many of Michael Ovendon's arguments i.e., the circle of figures and the orientation of those figures to the north pole are highly subjective and speculative, so much that they can hardly be given significant weight or mention. Analyses of Aratus' positional information have been constantly published without adequate explanatory information. Critical to this has been the utter lack of any real error analysis (i.e., do they get 2400 BCE ± 75 years or 2400 BCE ± 1970 years at the one-sigma level? (It is generally accepted that part of Aratean lore (weather lore/seasonal signs) is taken from earlier writers and dates back to at least Homer/Hesiod.) However, another component of Aratean lore, such as the constellations marking the 11 'celestial circles,' is a different issue.

Example 1: The earliest method - which originated with Carl Swartz in the very early 19th-century - makes use of the void space centred around the ancient celestial south pole (of the equator). The accuracy of this method is determined by how precisely the extent and the centre of the "void zone" can be pinpointed. There is uncertainty associated with the identification of the southernmost stars catalogued by the ancient Greek astronomers which will form the boundary of the "void zone." Additionally, it is also assumed that the same Greek astronomers attempted a complete survey of the stars visible to them that had a certain level of brightness (i.e., at least the brightest were included). But, the article by Owen Gingerich and Barbara Welther in Sky and Telescope, Volume 67, 1984, Pages 421-423, clearly indicates that such a complete survey was never realised (at least not from the evidence in Ptolemy's Almagest).

Example 2: Another method - which originated with Robert Brown Junior in the 2nd half of the 19th-century - is based on the position of the ancient celestial equator and other position circles. Robert Brown Junior, and later Edward Maunder - used the celestial equator alone. The precision of this method is determined by how precisely we can identify the stars or asterisms marking these circles, especially the celestial equator when used alone. There can be no doubt about the asterism for Orion's belt. Orion's Belt is an asterism consisting of 3 bright stars that appear about midway in the constellation Orion. The three stars that traditionally make up the belt are, from east to west: Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. The belt of Orion asterism deviates the most of all the constellations identified by Aratus as marking the celestial equator. In 2500 BCE the asterism was nearly 15 degrees away from the celestial equator. There is also an important question: If the Aratean material is based on the celestial equator circa 2500 BCE then why is it not delineated by the star Hamal (alpha Arietis), Aldebaran, Procyon, or alpha Pegasi (all less than 5 degrees distant)?

At the Oxford VI [The Sixth Oxford International Conference [Symposium] on Archaeoastronomy] and SEAC 1999 [Seventh Annual Meeting] conference in La Laguna, Tenerife [Canary Islands], Spain, Göran Henriksson presented a simple statistical analysis of the data in Aratus' Phaenomena which specifies which stars are near the equator and tropics. Regarding the stars described near the equator. Aratus states (Phaenomena (Loeb edition, Page 247) line 515 and following), that the celestial equator passes through the Ram, the knees of the Bull, the belt of Orion, the coil of Hydra, the Cup and the Crow, the Claws, the knees of Ophiuchus, the Eagle, and the neck and head of the Horse. For historians of astronomy it is an easy technical task to determine what year seemingly best represents this data. An important issue is it is more difficult to come up with a realistic error bar. Göran Henriksson estimated something like 2500 BCE ± 400 years. Archibald Roy had previously made an analysis of other data from the Phaenomena and had estimated a similar date. However, a lack of statistical rigour is indicated. These results if "correct" (and with reasonably small error bars) present a new set of problems. (Note: Error bars relate to significance - how far from the reported value the true (error free) value might be. They give a general idea of how precise/uncertain a measurement is.) What is indicated is that it is really the date of the origin of aspects of the constellation lore used by Aratus that is being estimated. If we believe the claims of proponents of this method then the origin of this lore is in the 3rd-millennium BCE. However, the problem is: How can the astronomical lore be generated for constellations that were created only later? The date of the origin of components of the Aratean lore can only be after the date of the origin of the constellations. Written evidence exists for Babylonian constellations. This evidence is relevant to Greek uranography. A strong Babylonian legacy is evident in Greek uranography. The ancient Greeks borrowed some 24 constellations from Babylonian uranography. The cuneiform texts provide sufficient evidence to show that most Babylonian constellations only came into existence in the late 2nd-millennium BCE. This argues against this type of precessional analysis and dating method and those proponents using it who claim a quite early date for the constellations.

An example of the problem using only (1) Orion, (2) Hydra, (3) Crater, and (4) Ophiuchus. (1) The Greek constellation Orion was one of the earliest Greek constellations. First mentioned in Greek uranography by Homer, 8th-century BCE. Orion has been identified with the Babylonian SIPA.ZI.AN.NA (sipa.zi.an.na), "The true shepherd of Anu" (Orion). Sibzianna was the shepherd god; "The True Shepherd of Heaven." Orion appears in star names and constellations mentioned in The Prayer to the Gods of the Night (AO 6769 and Erm. 15642). AO 6769 preserves one of two of the earliest examples of the Prayer to the Gods of the Night. The prayer is addressed to the nocturnal stars and constellations. Though preserved on a Middle Babylonian copy (from Uruk-Warka) the text is dated to the Old Babylonian Period circa 1700 BCE. Orion had much the same star configuration as the Babylonian shepherd god. Interestingly, the belt of Orion (the identification of which is without doubt) deviates nearly 15 degrees from the Greek celestial equator circa 2500 BCE. (2) The Greek constellation Watersnake (Hydra) has been identified with the Babylonian MUSH (MUŠ) (Horned Serpent). Hydra appears in the 10-Star Text/Version (AO 6769) which dates to the Old Babylonian Period circa 1700 BCE. It was the sacred animal of Marduk. The symbolism of Babylonian snakes is different to that of dragons, bašmum was a mythical poisonous snake, a horned viper (a kind of serpent-dragon or snake-dragon) possessing several tongues and jaws. Hydra is a very long constellation - the largest in the sky - and is located in the region of the celestial equator. A late 1st-millennium BCE date (circa 500-400 BCE) is indicated for its inclusion in Greek uranography. Hydra was discussed by Pseudo-Eratosthenes and Hyginus. It was first catalogued by Ptolemy (2nd-century CE). (3) The Greek constellation Bowl/Water-Cup (Latin names, Crater) appears to have been unknown to the Babylonians (the stars forming Crater were used by another constellation). It was most likely the invention of the Greeks, by Eudoxus or earlier. Within the initial Greek scheme Crater was associated with Corvus (Raven) and Hydra. Both Crater and Corvus were position on the coils of the Hydra. A late 1st-millennium BCE date is indicated. Crater was discussed by Pseudo-Eratosthenes and Hyginus. It was first catalogued by Ptolemy (2nd-century CE). Crater and Corvus were usually considered to be equatorial constellations. (4) The Greek constellation Serpent Holder (Ophiuchus, Serpentarius). It is not suggested as having a Babylonian origin. The Serpent Holder appears to be a Greek constellation in its origin. A late 1st-millennium BCE date (circa 500-400 BCE) is indicated. The earliest mention of the constellation Ophiuchus is by Aratus (3rd-century BCE). Undoubtedly it was listed in the now lost catalogue of Eudoxus of Cnidus (4th-century BCE). These examples suffice to show that the foundations for an early date for the origin of the constellations exists in a flawed and subjective methodology.

Back to error bars. The introduction of a real error bar for date(s) and latitude(s) based on using both the void zone argument and the stars marking the celestial equator would likely result in a result that is so large that it would demonstrate the results to be useless.

Introduction to a problem: The importance of the ecliptic and the development of the equally divided 12-constellation zodiac does not appear until after the start of the Persian Period in Mesopotamia (circa 500 BCE). The evidence indicates that it was the astronomy of the Babylonian Mul.Apin scheme (circa 1000 BCE) that established the preconditions for the importance of the ecliptic and the establishment of the Babylonian zodiacal scheme which was later adopted by the Greeks. The Babylonian scheme of 12 zodiacal constellations was derived from a system of 18 constellations (established during the Assyrian Period, starting circa 1100 BCE) along the ecliptic to mark the path of the moon. The question remains how can a late Babylonian zodiac (developed circa 450 BCE) comprised of 12 constellations (and 12 equal divisions) have been in use by Homer some 300 years earlier? (And also have had an even earlier origin circa 8000 BCE - which is well prior to the existence of both the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations.) This point can be expanded further. Babylonian constellations of the 2nd-millennium BCE appear in the Greek constellation scheme of Aratus. (The few known constellations of Homer mirror the constellations already existing in the Babylonian scheme.) The Aratean constellations also show a similarity with the later Babylonian constellations listed in Mul.Apin. A definite Babylonian influence on the Greek scheme of constellations is reasonably indicated. If the constellations originated as a set circa 2000-2800 BCE then they cannot have originated with the Greeks. However, the latitude at which the constellations were believed to have originated as a single scheme cannot refer to Mesopotamia because at this time their scheme of constellations was a mix of constellations mentioned by Aratus and other constellations outside this scheme. Crediting the Minoans, as Michael Ovenden did, as the makers of the Classical constellations and offering explanations based on the destruction of Minoan civilisation and the later ineptitude of the Greeks as observers are not convincing.

Mediterranean navigator constellations

The idea of "Mediterranean navigator constellations" as a substantial source for some of the Greek constellations remains an unsupported supposition. Likewise the conjectural date of circa 2800 BCE for the origin these supposed "Mediterranean navigator constellations" remain an unsupported supposition.

It is thought that during the 3rd-millennium BCE at least Minoan ships never deliberately sailed at night. This also seems to be the case during the 2nd-millennium BCE. In fact we lack evidence that the Minoans sailed at night. This creates difficulties for the speculation of a Minoan star globe dating to at least circa 2800 BCE.

To argue that a leading Greek astronomer, Eudoxus, in the 2nd half of the 1st-millennium BCE received a star globe containing an older star map tradition and perpetuated it unexamined and without question is to stretch the bounds of credulity. Also, it does not reflect current developments that were occurring in Mesopotamian astronomy circa the middle of the 1st-millennium BCE. The use of older material in place of more contemporary astronomical learning from Babylonia - in the form of mathematical astronomy - needs to be explained if introduced as a theory. The Ionian Greeks of the Greek Archaic Period were aware of Neo-Assyrian astral/star lore. Also, to claim the existence of a Minoan star globe that pre-dates Babylonian development in uranography whilst reflecting its future development is without foundation.

The more recent studies by the American astronomer Brad Schaefer have undermined the "void space" and "constellation alignment" ideas promulgated by the astronomers Andrew Crommelin (British comet specialist), Edward Maunder (British sun-spot specialist), Michael Ovenden (Canadian astro-physicist), and Archibald Roy (British astro-physicist). Schaefer's recent constellation studies have also undermined the Minoan theory of the source of Greek constellations. Additionally, we have no actual knowledge (evidence) of any Minoan constellations.

Crediting the Minoans, as some like to do, as the makers of the classical constellations and offering explanations based on the destruction of Minoan civilization and the later ineptitude of the Greeks as observers are also not convincing. There is no evidence that the classical Greek scheme of constellations existed anywhere prior to its evolvement in Greece circa 500 BCE. This includes the fact that there is no evidence that the particular Greek scheme of 12 zodiacal constellations existed anywhere prior to its evolvement in Greece circa 500 BCE. The difficulty with maintaining an ancient zodiac is how can a late Mesopotamian zodiac (developed circa 500 BCE) and comprised of 12 constellations (and 12 equal divisions), and substantially borrowed by the Greeks, have been in use by anybody hundreds of years earlier. (Or even thousands of years earlier, prior to the existence of the Babylonian civilization which demonstrably created it.) The flawed "void zone" argument has become a common tool for maintaining that a Neolithic zodiac (and fully constellated sky) can be reasonably be proposed. The "void zone" argument can hardly substitute for the lack of clear evidence (which tends to fall under the murky heading of "tradition"). Even if the "void zone" argument were correct it has never offered support for the idea that the constellations could have existed as a deliberately planned set extending back some 6000-8000 years BCE (or further). The use of the "void zone" argument controls the feasible range for the dating of the constellations if they are considered to have originated as a deliberately planned scheme. Interestingly, Edward Maunder, a committed proponent of the "void zone" argument, in his later articles on the topic attempted to overcome this limitation by implying a very slow developmental period for the final scheme of constellation design (see: "Origin of the Constellations", The Observatory, Volume 36, 1913, Page 330).

The version of the arguments that were promulgated by Michael Ovenden and Archibald Roy remain highly speculative and highly unlikely. They have been effectively demolished by the more recent and more stringent investigations of the American astronomer Brad Schaefer who has convincingly traced many Greek constellations and Greek sky-lore back to Mesopotamia and the Mul.Apin star catalogue circa 1300 BCE.

Nothing the John Rogers has proposed as evidence makes a convincing case that the classical constellations of the zodiac and some others developed progressively from the 4th- to the 1st-millennium BCE. A developed Mesopotamian constellation set is a 'rapid' development of the late 2nd-millennium BCE and is closely associated with the needs for observing and locating celestial omens. The concept of a zodiac - and the origin of constellations that would latter form the constellations of the zodiac - was very much tied to the 1st-millennium BCE. At least 20 of the classical constellations came from Mesopotamia. Other classical constellations reflect the influence of Greek mythological traditions - resulting in multiple constellations groups connected by storyline. Two constellation groups comprising a common mythological theme are: (1) the 5 constellations of the Peseus-Andromeda group: Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cetus; and (2) the 5 constellations mythologically connected with Orion: Scorpio, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Lepus, and the Pleiades. Also, a 3rd group of constellations that are mythologically associated are the 4 constellations: Argo, Centaurus, Ara, and Corvus. The Greeks essentially mapped the whole sky in mythological terms. (See: Star Myths of the Greeks and Romans (1997) by Theony Condos.)

Roy proposed that with the eruption of a massive volcanic blast at the island of Santorini circa 1450 BCE a Minoan ship could have survived with a star globe that was passed to the Egyptians and then later to Eudoxus on his visit to Egypt. The speculative device of a Minoan sky globe dating back to circa 2000 BCE (or further) is simply intended to bolster a speculative theory. There is absolutely no evidence or suggestion to support the claim of a Minoan sky globe. All claims for Minoan constellations rest on erroneous guesswork. To suggest that Eudoxus of Cnidus, whilst in Egypt, came into possession of a Minoam star globe is simple attempting to build a house from a stone. The speculation that a late 2nd-millennium BCE star globe constructed by the Minoans was brought to Egypt after the destructive volcanic eruption of the Greek island of Santorini (Thera) in the 16th-century BCE, and then came into the possession of Eudoxus whilst he was in Egypt, is fiction rather than an attempt at legitimate historical explanation. (This whole approach raise the 'issue' of the possibility of transmission of 'survivals' i.e., types of astronomy and astrology that were already currently outdated in Babylonia itself.)

See also the speculative article: Blomberg, Mary. and Henricksson, Göran. (1999). "Evidence for the Minoan origins of stellar navigation in the Aegean." In: Mikocki, T., Ziolkowski, N., Lebeuf, Arnold., and Soltysiak, A. (Editors). Actes de la Vème Conférence Annuelle de la SEAC. Gdansk, 5-8 septembre 1997. (Pages 69-81). [Note: SWIATOWIT Supplement.] Their argument is a chain of inferences/speculations and subsequent claims are derived from this chain of inferences/speculations. The end result is belief rather than knowledge. The earliest text/evidence they cite for stellar navigation occurs in Homer's Odysseus (5: 271-277). No attempt is made to discuss stellar navigation by the Phoenicians. One part of their chain of suppositions is that Aratus' Phaenomena is could be part of a tradition of didactic poetry (for preservation of knowledge) going back to the Minoans. With the citation of a single paper the explanation of island hopping and coast 'hugging' is dismissed as unreasonable - without any developed discussion.

See the important critical papers: "Statistical Dating of the Phenomena of Eudoxus." by Dennis Duke (DIO-The International Journal of Scientific History, Volume 15, December 2008, Pages 7-23). (URL: http://people.sc.fsu.edu/~dduke/eudoxus.pdf). And, "A 'Watermark' of Eudoxan Astronomy." by Elly Dekker (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume XXXXIX, Part 2, Number 135, 2008, Pages 213-238). (URL: http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/2008JHA....39..213D) (Note: Both are important articles for correcting the mistaken notion that Eudoxus was referring to constellations established circa 1000 BCE, and not in his own lifetime circa 370 BCE.)

Source: The Science of Navigation by Mark Denny (2012, Page 129). No mention is made of Minoans navigating their ships by night.

Conclusion

These methods of investigation are clearly unreliable and not at all convincing. They involve use of completely fantastical notions/arguments. The explanations are pseudo-explanations. They rely on sustaining arguments by presenting only selected versions of available evidence and by this means appear to substantiate their case. A detailed refutation of their speculative arguments seems unnecessary.

The origin of the Greek constellations cannot be determined by dealing with them as a cohesive set. Cuneiform texts do not support the contention that all the Greek constellations - wherever originated - were developed at one definite time time and place according to a preconceived plan.

Evidence for direct constellation borrowing by the Greeks from Mesopotamia is almost non-existent. During the Hellenistic period it is possible that Berossus and some Chaldaean contemporaries made the Babylonian sphaera familiar to the Greeks. (Note: The evidence for Berossus (Hellenistic-era Babylonian writer) himself having moved to the Greek island of Cos to found a school of Babylonian astronomy is considered flimsy.) It is possible that Babylonian uranography was passed to the Greeks through particular intermediaries such as the Phoenicians and Egyptians. Through the Lydians (when a vassal state of Assyria) to the Ionians is also feasible. There were likely "competitive" schemes of Greek sphaera until the wide adoption of the sphaera developed by the Greek astronomer Eudoxus of Cnido and diffused through his written works on the constellations (4th-century BCE). The ultimate success of the Sphaera Graecanica as we have it today (i.e., its complete acceptance by the Greek world and later the Roman world) was largely due to the work of the Greek astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus (4th-century BCE) and the Greek poet Aratus of Soli (3rd-century BCE). Eudoxus constellated and catalogued the entire Greek sky in his works Enoptron and Phaenomena. Aratus later turned these works into an astronomical poem concerning the constellations. The Phaenomena became hugely popular in the Graeco-Roman world. Without this popularisation by Aratus the works of Eudoxus may never have exerted the lasting influence they achieved.

Many of the Aratean constellations show a similarity with Babylonian constellations. The Greek constellation scheme of Aratus of Soli (3rd-century BCE) contains a mix of both Babylonian constellations and non-Babylonian constellations. The Babylonian component of the Aratean constellations is traceable to both Babylonian "star calendar" constellations of the 2nd millennium BCE and also to Babylonian constellations listed in the later Mul.Apin series (circa 1000 BCE). (The few known 8th-century BCE constellations of Homer mirror the constellations already existing in the Babylonian scheme.) The Babylonian scheme of constellations has always been a mix of constellations mentioned by Aratus and other constellations outside the Aratean scheme. A definite Babylonian influence on the later Greek scheme of constellations is reasonably indicated. It is obvious that the Greeks borrowed certain constellations from the Babylonians and it is obvious that the constellations could not have originated, or been adopted, as a single devised scheme by either the Babylonians or the Greeks. If the constellations originated as a set circa 2000-2800, as commonly claimed by the proponents of the "void zone" method, then they cannot have originated with the Greeks. However, the latitude at which the constellations were believed to have originated as a single scheme cannot refer to Mesopotamia because their earliest scheme of constellations, though dating to the 2nd millennium BCE, was a mix of constellations mentioned by Aratus and other constellations outside his scheme.

 

(7) Claims for Antecedent Paleolithic Constellations

Arguments for the origin of some constellations in the Palaeolithic Period remain very controversial. Claiming an elaborate and formal system of zodiacal and other constellations existed in the Paleolithic period and the Neolithic period presents numerous problems. The nature of the claimed evidence is readily disputable. There is no reason for confidently supposing that Western European cave iconography indicates a Paleolithic or Neolithic foundation for the origin of the Greek (i.e., 'Western') constellations. The Paleolithic period and Neolithic period are almost impossible to access due to the paucity of remaining evidence and the difficulty in knowing how to interpret it.

(a) Lascaux Cave

The Lascaux cave in southwest France was discovered by children in 1940. Lascaux is a natural limestone cave. Upper Palaeolithic cave art was first discovered in 1856 in the cave of Niaux in France. The first real claim for the existence of Palaeolithic cave art was that made in 1880 for the Spanish cave of Altamira by a local landowner (an amateur natural historian who was fond of archaeology), Don Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, who first discovered the cave in 1879. His views were treated with scepticism. Palaeolithic cave art remained largely ignored, even suspected by some as a hoax because of its sophistication, until the first decade of the 20th-century. The discovery of the Altimara cave in northern Spain in 1879 initiated 15 years of controversy before the acceptance of the cave paintings as Paleolithic art.

Some of the most splendid Paleolithic cave art locations are Lascaux (discovered in 1940), Altamira (discovered in 1879 and only fully explored in the 1950s), Chauvet (near Marseilles) (discovered in 1994), and the (now) underwater cave Cosquer (also near Marseilles) (discovered in 1991). The Chauvet cave holds the earliest paintings - dated to circa 30,000 BCE. The purpose of the Palaeolithic cave paintings in Europe is not known with any certainty. According to Jean Clottes "Paleolithic Cave Art in France." (Adorant Magazine, 2002): "Wall images are perfectly compatible with the perceptions people could have during their visions, whether one considers their themes, their techniques and their details. The animals, individualised by means of precise details, seem to float on the walls ; they are disconnected from reality, without any ground line, often without respect of the laws of gravity, in the absence of any framework or surroundings. Elementary geometric signs are always present and recall those seen in the various stages of trance."

The earliest expert research attempting a systematic study of the artwork in Palaeolithic caves in southwest Europe was carried out in the 1950s and 1960s by Annette Laming-Emperaire (1917–1977; a French archeologist) and André Leroi-Gourhan (1911–1986; a French archaeologist, paleontologist), working independently of each other. In a series of publications between 1957 and 1965, Annette Laming-Emperaire and Andre Leroi-Gourhan revolutionized the study of Palaeolithic art. André Leroi-Gourhan studied and statistically analysed over 2000 representations in 65 caves. Another important publication was Palaeolithic Cave Art (1967) by Peter Ucko and Andsrée Rosenfeld (both British prehistorians). The authors critically reviewed the theories and speculative assertions, of experts and amateurs - up to that date - concerning the meaning Palaeolithic cave art. The more recent research of Michel Lorbblanchet (French prehistorian) has demonstrated the importance of giving adequate attention to the forces of corrosion and concretion when recording artwork images in Palaeolithic caves. To recover deteriorated artwork Michel Lorbblanchet used different lighting and photographic enlargements. (See: Secrets of the Ice Age by Evan Hadingham (1979).)

The paintings in the cave at Lascaux remain the most well-known Palaeolithic cave paintings. Many are beautiful but some are simple and primitive.

The Lascaux cave contains some 600 paintings and 1500 engravings dating from the Palaeolithic Period. The very few symbols are limited to isolated or grouped dots (mostly black) and to variously coloured dashes. The animals depicted on the cave wall are horses, bulls, and deer. The "Hall of Bulls" mural is dated circa 15,000 BCE. (The radiocarbon dating of charcoal recovered from the cave floor indicates occupancy circa 15,000 BCE to 14,000 BCE.) Lascaux's Hall of Bulls is approximately 18.5 metres long, 7 metres wide, and 6.5 metres high. The largest painted bulls are approximately 6 metres long. Several researchers have offered an astronomical interpretation of Great Bull #18. (The bulls are actually aurochs, a large species of wild cattle. Wild auroch bulls were over 2 metres high at the shoulder and weighed over 2 tons (approximately 2000 kilograms).

There are 2 sets of painted dots closely associated with this bull. One set of dots is placed above the shoulder of the bull and the other set of V-shaped dots are located on the bull's face. Also, there is a row of 4 painted dots to the left of this bull. (A number of types of elementary geometric signs/shapes and patterns appear on the cave walls, scattered between the animal figures.)

Several people pursued independent inquiries, at roughly the same time, regarding the possibility of the Hyades and the Pleiades being depicted among the bulls at Lascaux. In their respective publications, however, the authors develop the argument beyond simply a single array of dots. In Lascaux, for example, the argument for Taurus is extended by the V-shaped arrangement of dots on the face of bull/auroch #18 including a large dot which helps form the eye, which is marked by the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus. The group of six "Pleiades" stars is held to be just above the shoulder of bull #18, in a position analogous to the Pleiades in Taurus. (In his 1999 book Eine Himmelskarte aus der Eiszeit? [A Skychart from the Ice Age?] Michael Rappenglück discusses the extensive world-wide literature written on the topic of the possibility of a Palaeolithic astronomy, extending from the end of the 19th century up to mid 1999.) Rappenglück's book is considered the most comprehensive and the most disciplined on the subject.

The Spanish researcher Luz Antequera Congregado in her doctoral thesis "Arte y astronomia: evolución de los dibujos de las constelaciones" (1992) first set out the astronomical interpretation that the dots above the shoulder of the bull depict the Pleiades open star cluster and the dots on the bull's face depict the Hyades open star cluster. In her later paper "Altamira: Astronomía y religión en el Paleolitico" (1994) she interpreted the row of (what are) 4 dots to the left of Great Bull #18 as the stars of the belt of the constellation Orion. (Luz Antequera Congregado has also investigated Palaeolithic art in other European caves from an astronomical perspective. See her essay: "Practicas Astronomicas en la Prehistoria de la Peninsula Iberica y los Archichipielagos Balear y Canario" (1994).) This paper appeared in Arqueoastronomia Hispanica: Practicas Astronomicas en la Prehistoria de la Peninsula Iberica y los Archichipielagos Balear y Canario edited by Juan Antonio Belmonte Aviles. In this essay, which appeared prior to Frank Edge's article, Luz Antequera Congregado speculates on possible asterisms represented in the paintings in Altamira and Lascaux, including recognition of the Pleiades.

The American dentist and pseudo-nutritionist Weston Price (1870-1948) (at a date that I have not yet been able to identify) also made the identification of 10 painted dots on a Neanderthal cave painting with the Pleiades. (However, there is no indication of any firm methodology being used. His identification seems to be based on pattern recognition. The identification was linked to his assertions of the benefits of early human diets - keen eyesight being one of them.) Price did not mention where the cave painting is located. It has not been identified by any other investigator.

Some people believe that the #18 Lascaux auroch with the two associated sets of dots represents the constellation Taurus. This idea was firmly set out by the American college teacher Frank Edge in his 35-page booklet "Aurochs in the Sky" (1995) and later article "Taurus in Lascaux" (Griffith Observer, September, 1997). Ed Krupp, the editor of the Griffith Observer, restricted Edge's commentary to what were believed to be the most plausible assertions. (He began his studies in this area in 1991. His ideas were first published in Atlantis Rising; a magazine that has been described as making the magazine Fate look respectable.) Frank Edge holds that at least one of the Great Bull images (#18) in the "Hall of Bulls" in the Lascaux cave can be identified as celestial by the simple comparison of the associated dot markings with two particular star groupings as they were viewed on the horizon circa 15,000 BCE. Specifically that a group of 6 dots painted above the shoulder of auroch #18 represents the Pleiades open star cluster, and that another group of V-shaped dots painted on the auroch's face represents the Hyades open star cluster. (Edge states that he was particularly persuaded by the six dots above the shoulder of the bull, which he identified with the Pleiades.) It is Edge's position that the aurochs depicted in Figure 18 in the Great Lascaux Cave accurately depicts the constellation Taurus. It is Edge's belief that the image of the Taurus constellation has remained unchanged for 17,000 years. The ideas/identifications of Edge, who is not a professional astronomer as some persons mistakenly claim, arose from the casual application of pattern recognition.

The German scholar Michael Rappenglück, University of Munich, believes the art of the Lascaux cave not only involves the depiction of constellations but is also a cosmographic depiction by Palaeolithic shamans. His idea that the Pleiades were depicted in the Lascaux cave were first presented at an astronomy conference in 1996 and later published in his essay "The Pleiades in the "Salle des Taureaux" Grotte des Lascaux" (1997). (He has worked on the subject of "Paleoscience" since 1984.) His ideas that the Lascaux cave paintings depict shamanistic cosmography were first set out in his doctoral thesis "Eine Himmelskarte aus der Eiszeit?" (1998). (Michael Rappenglück has also investigated Palaeolithic art in other European caves from an astronomical perspective i.e., the Cueva di El Castillo in Spain. The art in this cave is dated circa 12,000 BCE.)

Another earnest proponent of constellations being depicted in Palaeolithic cave art (especially at Lascaux) is Jesper Christensen. See: his article: "Heaven and Earth in Ice Age Art: Topography and Iconography at Lascaux." (Mankind Quarterly, Spring/Summer, 1996, Volume 36, Numbers 3-4, Pages 247-259).More recently Jesper Christensen wrote (Hastro-L, 18-4-2015): "Hastro-L subscribers with an interest in prehistoric astronomy may find it worth their while to read the extensive discussion of palaeolithic astronomy that I have posted on my website, iceageiconology.net. Chapter XI of that site traces the ancestors of the present Taurus, Capricornus, and Leo via systematic analysis of the images of aurochs bulls, ibexes, and lions in some major, well-dated, caves, notably Chauvet (about 37,000 years old) and Lascaux (about 23,000 years old). Some minor caves that are contemporary with these giants are considered as well. Visual representations of the three species are analyzed with respect to color, orientation (within caves), size, and juxtaposition/superimposition. The findings are discussed relative to the effects of precession and to the seasonal themes of the individual caves. A part of Chapter XI (to be posted later, this summer) will pursue the stellar imagery in half a dozen, fairly well dated, caves of the magdalenian age (between 18,000 and 12,000 years ago)."  

A somewhat recent proponent of an astronomical interpretation of the Lascaux cave paintings is the independent French researcher Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez who has a PhD in Humanities. (Like all persons who make any type of study of this nature she is termed an archeoastronomer/ethnoastronomer.) Her investigations first began in 1992 with the Chalcolithic period cave engravings in the Vallée des Merveilles. In 1998, in partnership with Jean-Michel Geneste (Curator of Lascaux cave), she began studying the caves and Paleolithic ornamented shelters in France. The particular research study was conducted in 1999-2000. From this she believes she has uncovered evidence to demonstrate that the Paleolithic painters were astronomers. (Over a wider period of 7 years, Jègues-Wolkiewiez visited 130 cave sites featuring Paleolithic drawings, identifying believed solar alignments throughout the seasons, and leading to her claim that 122 of the 130 sites had optimal orientations to the solstitial horizons.) At the 2000 international conference on cave art in Val Camonica, Italy she made the claim that the people who painted the Lascaux cave were astronomers and that they also painted a zodiac on the walls of the cave. I think that Frank Edge also claimed that Lascaux's Hall of Bulls pictured the stars of the ecliptic. ("Lascaux, View of the Magdalenian Sky." by Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez (Symposium of Cave Art, Val Camonica, Italy, 2000.) The study was based on a series of astronomical measurements. They used astronomical software to recreate the night sky at Lascaux 17,000 years ago, and models of the modern Western constellations. They made measurements of the astronomical alignments of the cave paintings and also compared the outlines of the paintings in the Hall of the Bulls with the night sky in Magdelenian times. (For a (French-language) summary of her work and conclusions see: "Lascaux planetarium prehistorique?" by Pedro Lima (Science & Vie, Number 999, December, 2000.) Her central claim is the Great Hall figures comprise a prehistoric zodiac. (See also Appendix 1 below.)

Interestingly, during the first decades of the 20th-century the French prehistorians Marcel Baudouin and Henri Breuil speculated about the possibility of constellations being represented in prehistoric art. (To a considerable extent Alexander Marshack and his ideas of Palaeolithic lunar calendars (developed during the 1970s) fostered renewed interest in the possibility of Palaeolithic constellations.) During the last decades of the 20th-century they were followed by the Swiss engineer Amandus Weiss, the astronomer Heino Eelsalu, and the German art historian Marie König who considered the possibility of constellation representation in the Lascaux cave art. Also, the eccentric German ethnologist Leo Frobenius in his book Kulturgeschichte Africas (1934) conjectured that the animals painted in the Magdalenian caves of Southern France and Northern Spain represented stars. Largely forgotten are the proponents of astral theories, Morris Spivack (Morris J. (Redman) Spivack) (1903-?) (Cosmic Dance at Lascaux: New Theory of Paleolithic Art and Religion, 13-page hand-typed manuscript filed in the Library of Congress, 1961, but also published in French and English), and Elaine Mills (The Prehistoric Puzzle and the Key to Paleolithic Art, unpublished Junior Honors Project in Anthropology, May 1972 - August 1973, Sweet Briar College). However, the main proponents remain Luz Antequera Congregado, Frank Edge, and Michael Rappenglück (and more recently Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez). All were involved in independent and lengthy research prior to their first publications.

Luz Antequera Congregado, Frank Edge, Michael Rappenglück, and Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez converge on some similar ideas. However, each of them utilises a different level of speculation. Luz Antequera Congregado largely bases her ideas on the application of the art-historical approach and does not employ archaeological or astronomical analysis. Frank Edge also utilises art-historical and psychological approaches as well as simple constellation projections onto particular paintings. Michael Rappenglück applies a wider interdisciplinary methodology. Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez uses multiple methods of astronomical analysis (including astronomical measurements and constellation projection).

Michael Rappenglück presented his first paper about the Pleiades in the Lascaux grotto "The Pleiades in the "Salle des Taureaux," Grotte de Lascaux. Does a Rock picture in the cave of Lascaux show the open Star Cluster of the Pleiades at the Magdalénien era (ca 15.300 BC)" at the SEAC conference in Salamanca. It was published in 1997 in Actas del IV Congreso de la Sociedad Europea por la Astronomia en la Cultura, "Astronomía en la cultura." edited by C. Jaschek and F. Atrio Barandela. Rappenglück is investigating Lascaux from the viewpoint of a possible cosmovision of Paleolithic man. He believes the best evidence for this cosmovision at Lacaux is to be found in the so-called "shaft of the dead man." Rappenglück believes the rock panels there show a complete scene of the sky - somewhat like a panorama - as seen at the epoch 16,500 BCE. The second part of his book Eine Himmelskarte aus der Eiszeit? contains a long chapter about shamanistic cosmovisions combined with a totemistic worldview referring to the rock panel in the shaft of the Lascaux grotto. According to Rappenglück his analysis agrees with the recent published studies from Jean Clottes and Lewis Williamson about the topic, but he extends these in a broader field, including mythology and sciences of religions.

The German prehistorian (archaeologist) Marie Köenig (1899-1988) interpreted the horse in Paleolithic art as the symbol of the sun, and the bull as the symbol of the moon. According to Köenig the ascending young mares in the rotunda (hall of bulls) of the Lascaux cave show the morning sun, and the descending horses in the small cave area at the rear end of the axial gallery symbolize winter. (See: Köenig, Marie. (1970). "Etude des incisions repestres comme manifestation d'un stade d'evolution de esprit humaine." In: Anati, Emmanuel. (Editor). Symposium international d'art préhistorique: Valcamonica, 23-28 Septembre 1968, (Pages 515-530). (Further, Am Anfang der Kultur Die Zeichensprache der frühen Menschen by Marie Köenig (1973).) Also, New Perspectives of Prehistoric Art by Günter Berghaus (2004).)

The pre-historian and independent researcher Mary Settegast, who focuses on the Neolithic period, also adheres to the idea that constellations are depicted in the Lascaux cave. See her book, Plato prehistorian (1990). Settegast has a graduate degree in anthropology from Columbia University and a graduate degree in educational psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.

To date none of the arguments attempting to show the existence of some sort of Palaeolithic astronomy can be considered convincing. No research into prehistoric European cave art has led to the definitive identification of astronomical information of any kind. All of the various hypotheses put forward identifying astronomy in prehistoric European cave art ultimately lack objective scientific evidence to support them. The positions of the cave drawings plus the numerous signs that exist do not appear to readily correspond to any particular stars or constellations. It is possible to 'prove' almost anything by selectively choosing sets of dots or a particular drawing. There are simply many sets of dots existing within European caves containing prehistoric art. "... the dots are just one example of an element in Lascaux art, and in all cave art .... [There is a] ... profusion of nonrepresentational [i.e., abstract] patterns. In addition to dots, there are grids and chevrons, curves and zigzags, and more. Many kinds of patterns are to be found, sometimes superimposed on animal images, sometimes separate from them. The coincidence of these geometric motifs with representational images [of animals] is one of the most puzzling aspects of Upper Paleolithic Art. (Origin's Reconsidered (1992) by Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin)" Frank Swetz has conjectured (1994) "that such primitive patterns may have emerged as a visual analogue of sound patterns." It is more meaningful to look at the totality of drawings and signs within prehistoric caves and identify whether there are patterns which are repeated throughout different caves. There are numerous prehistoric European caves containing, overall, a large number of, and variety of, animal drawings and signs. In his recent book The Cave and the Cathedral (2009) Amir Aczel has emphasised: "It is important to adopt some form of statistical reasoning here; otherwise, anyone can claim almost anything. A systematic order must be evident in a majority of locations in order to have statistical and logical significance."

The problem of the enormous chronological gap and passage of knowledge quite accurately through some 600 generations and across cultures remains. Claims for unchanged constellation continuity from their origins in the Palaeolithic period to the Hellenistic period are nothing less than remarkable. More than likely they are untrue - especially the claims for the existence of a Palaeolithic zodiac. Simply, there is a lack of convincing evidence. Also lacking is any knowledge of when images appeared. This was most likely over a period of time - not 'immediately.' What then, was the sequence of their appearance?

In summary, some of the important problems with the various arguments which attempt to identify constellations amongst the Paleolithic cave paintings are: (1) The proposed constellation depictions are always separated from their contexts amongst the other painted figures surrounding them. The more numerous other figures forming the cave paintings are generally ignored. (2) Numerous depictions of aurochs are found in cave paintings with dots placed nearby. The claimed correspondences identified in the representations selected would appear to be more coincidental than intended. In the Lascaux cave, for example, there is another Auroch with ’Pleiades’ type dots around one of its eyes. In Iberian caves ‘Pleiades' dots also appear. (3) Significantly, there is circa a 12000 year time gap between proposed Paleolithic constellations and the classical constellation figures of Western Europe. The assertion of constellation continuity is without any supporting evidence from similar depictions being identified from the Neolithic/Bronze Age. (4) It is simply assumed, rather than established, that determining and marking the equinoxes and solstices was significantly important in ordering the affairs of prehistoric communities. There is little evidence for such being important to the later Neolithic period or Bronze Age communities.

Problems also exist with non-astronomical explanations. Many researchers have believed that the animals painted by the Ice-age hunter-gatherers at Lascaux (the Magdalenian culture) were simply those that they hunted. Certainly the animals they depicted comprise the most dangerous in the world of the Ice-age hunters and were both prey and food. The painted dots are thought by some persons to be perhaps no more than a tally of hunting kills. However, the concepts of hunting magic and hunting tallies would seem to be wrong. The 'hunting magic' theory of the paintings, by the French archaeologist Salomon Reinach that was particularly promoted by the French pioneering prehistorian Henri Breuil,  has been subject to increasing criticism since the early 1960s. This is primarily due to the discrepancy between the animals that were eaten and the animals that were depicted. The hunted animal remains on the cave floor were largely reindeer but reindeer are entirely unrepresented in the cave art. A single possible depiction of a reindeer is engraved in the mesh of lines in the Apse (vaulted recess).) However, there are scores of red deer images.

Some recent investigations suggest that beliefs involving connection to the spirit-world, through trance and hallucination, are perhaps the key to understanding the cave paintings (including the dot patterns). See especially the remarkable book The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams (2002). (David Lewis-Williams, born 1934, is Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Archaeology at the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg.) Perhaps the most currently prominent theory of Palaeolithic cave art presently belongs to Jean Clottes (a French paleontologist and cave art specialist) and David Lewis-Williams with their shamanic ritual/trance theory of Palaeolithic art. An important article is "Paleolithic Cave Art in France." by Jean Clottes (Adorant Magazine, 2002). (See also: The Shamans of Prehistory: Trance and Magic in the Painted Caves by Jean Clottes and David Lewis-Williams (1998).) Their Palaeo-shaman/trance theory is presently the prominent model. However, it is not without problems and critics. Their ideas have their effective critics in Derek Hodgson (2000) and Paul Bahn (most recently 2010). (Derek Hodgson is with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto; Paul Bahn is a British archaeologist.) Clottes builds on Mircea Eliade's concept of shamanism. Eliade's claim that shamanism was an early universal religion remains an unsubstantiated claim. Harvey Graham (1995) criticized Eliade's concept of shamanism (and Eliade´s inventiveness that went with it) as poorly defined and historically incoherent. (Harvey Graham is with the Arts Faculty, Open University, Walton Hall, UK.) The existence of 'Palaeo-shamanism' has not been demonstrated. It has even been described as a "pseudo-scientific myth." An informed, solid critique of Clotte/Lewis-Williams and their theory is set out in Prehistoric Rock Art: Polemics and Progress by Paul Bahn (2010). Clottes is identified as being too conjectural-deductive in his approach. His ideas have been described as a "blind alley/dead end."

The only representation of a person is located in what is called "the Pit" or "the Shaft of the Dead Man" section of the cave.  Painted on the yellowish mineral surface is what appears to be a bison, possibly injured from a hunt, attacking a stick figure representing a man, while a prehistoric rhinoceros is shown walking away nearby.  Next to the man is a bird on a long stick.  Of the over two thousand representations on the cave walls of Lascaux, this is the only one to clearly show a person.

The apparent avoidance of painting the human image is contradicted by 155 engraved human portraits found on the floor of a cave at La Marche in France. Professor R[ussell]. Dale Guthrie (Emeritus Professor in the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks; and author of The Nature of Paleolithic Art) proposed in 2006 that the art was largely produced by adolescent males and is somewhat akin to modern teen graffiti. (Guthrie points out that considerable female sexual imagery appears.) Guthrie analysed the dimensions of the hands in European cave art, and compared them to 1000 photocopies of modern hands of men and women of different ages. His conclusion was men and women and boys and girls of all ages left their marks but, statistically, teenage males dominated. Guthrie determined that female artists accounted for less than 20 percent of the cave art. Guthrie has also suggested that Palaeolithic people quite likely painted the majority of their paintings in accessible public (open) places. Only the paintings placed in inaccessible (protected) locations are the ones to have survived.

The notion of the recognition/use in the Palaeolithic period of conspicuous asterisms to track the season is not particularly remarkable. It is well established that nomadic hunters and gatherers such as the Australian Aborigines observed the sky and kept track of the seasons in terms of the appearances of key stars/asterisms. The Pleiades, however, have little importance in the constellations depicted by the ancient Egyptians - and these depictions on the ceilings of tombs are the most ancient we have with certainty. However, as Rolf Sinclair advised in exploring possibilities of Palaeolithic astronomy: "We must be careful lest we act out a Matthew Principle: "... seek and ye shall find .... he that seeketh findeth ....""

Ed Krupp has made the point (Krupp, Ed. (2000). "Night Gallery: The Function, Origin, and Evolution of Constellations." (Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, Volume XV, Pages 43-63)): "If this model [anthropological analogy] is even partially correct, it is pointless to project an elaborate and formal system of constellations into the paleolithic or even deep into the neolithic, when there was no motive, means, or opportunity. The origin of a constellation system is not abrupt but perhaps somewhat compressed in association with the gradual emergence of the pertinent level of social complexity."

Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez

Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez is an independent French researcher who has studied at University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (France). Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez has a Docteur ès Lettres et Sciences Humaines, anthropology. Her doctoral research involved a decade of work studying rock engravings in the Valle des Merveilles, in the southern French Alps. In this area there are an estimated 35,000 rock engravings carved between circa 2500 BCE and circa 1500 BCE. According to one source she defended her thesis on 25 March, 1997 at the UNSA Ethnology Laboratory (Laboratoire d'Ethnologie de l'UNSA). This is also the date given when she presented her thesis at a seminar at the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azu. In part, in her thesis (under the supervision of J-Pierre Jardel and J-Michel Le Contel) Des gravures de la vallée des merveilles au ciel du Mont Bego (Dissertation, 1997, Laboratoire d'Ethnologie, UNSA), she attempted to compare the position of some engravings to the constellations of the bronze age sky and the visible paths of the Moon and of the Sun. She received her doctorate with special honors and the congratulations of the Jury. She also has a MA in psychology. After obtaining her PhD she then began to study the paintings in the Lascaux Cave. In 1999 and 2000 she conducted an intensive study at Lascaux.

Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez is a Paleolithic researcher who has now specialized in attempting to discover the time-keeping and astronomical capabilities of the people of Lascaux Cave in France. Chantal Jegues-Wolkiewiez has theorized that the Lascaux murals are a celestial map of the night sky, no less than a zodiac. She believes there was a long cultural tradition of sky watching in the Upper Palaeolithic period. She holds that many of the Lascaux paintings of animals align with celestial positions essentially revealing a highly sophisticated map of the constellations. Chantal Jegues-Wolkiewiez uses complex anthropological methods involving astronomical measurement and constellation projection.

Her 1st book (2011) is, Sur les chemins étoilés de Lascaux. She has more recently published, L'ethnoastronomie, nouvelle appréhension de l'art préhistorique (2012). According to Chantal Jegues-Wolkiewiez there existed a relationship between the way in which cave art animals were depicted and the time of year when the Sun shone on specific animals in caves. Over a period of 7 years, Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez has visited 130 cave sites featuring Paleolithic drawings, making identifications of their solar alignments throughout seasons. According to her work, 122 of the 130 sites had optimal orientations to the solstitial horizons. Jègues-Wolkiewiez claims that her work shows that prehistoric cave painting sites in the region of southwest Europe were mostly selected because the interiors are illuminated by the setting sun on the day of the winter solstice. In her books and publications Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez asserts her conclusions that sky lore is essential to the interpretation of Palaeolithic cave art in Europe. According to Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez, hunter gatherers spent long nights observing the sky, calculating, and recording their discoveries either on the walls of caves or on animal bones. Their analyses enabled them to measure time and adapt to seasonal change. Chantal Jègues-Wolkiewiez concludes that prehistoric men chose their caves according to the orientation of the sun, created measuring tools such as a lunar calendar, and their wall paintings were the first maps of the sky and stars.

The Pleiades

It is perhaps unlikely that Paleolithic people were already depicting various constellations in their artworks (the Pleiades, for example). Considering that the various constellations, including especially the Pleiades, are all but absent from such early works as the Egyptian Pyramid Texts - the most ancient body of religious texts in the world, and renowned for their astronomical content - it seems unlikely that Paleolithic people some 10,000 years earlier were already drawing the Pleiades. It is doubtful whether there is a single unequivocal depiction of the Pleiades from anywhere in the world prior to 2000 BCE. Six or seven dots on a cave face does not readily indicate the depiction of the Pleiades. In Neolithic rock art, depictions of stars seems certain. Also, sun-like objects (i.e., at Dowth). It seems there are no Paleolithic representations of sun-like objects. The point being: If there is little or no evidence that Paleolithic people were representing the sun or other familiar celestial objects, how likely is it that they were depicting the Pleiades and other asterisms/constellations?

Big Dipper Constellation Possibly Represented on Prehistoric Amulet

From Maud Makemson's 1954 article.

From Marcel Baudouin's 1921 article.

There is perhaps archaeological evidence that the big dipper stars were anciently recognised as a constellation. In her 1954 article on "Astronomy in Primitive Religion." (The Journal of Bible and Religion, Volume 22, Number 3, July, Pages 163-171) the noted astronomer Maud Makemson reproduced a drawing of what she also believed was a representation of stars in Ursa Major and Boötes incised on a fossilised and silicified sea-urchin (Echinus), on an amulet from stone-age northern Europe. The drawing used by Makemson was likely taken from a detailed article ("Luminosities, Colors, Diameters, Densities, Masses of Stars.") relating to the history of stellar astronomy by the Swedish astronomer Knut Lundmark (who had migrated to the USA but after a few years returned to Sweden). Lundmark's article appeared in Handbuch der Astrophysik, Volume 5, Part 1, Chapter 4, 1932, Pages 209-697 (Appendices to Chapter 4 in Volume 5, Part 2, Pages 1077-11501). On page 221 there are 2 figures of the amulet (figure 5 and figure 6). Makemson has reproduced figure 5 as figure a and also adopted Lundmark's discussion of the amulet. Marcel Baudouin also thought he had identified the constellation Ursa Major on a number of palaeolithic bones and rocks (as well as the amulet). Makemson is apparently relying ultimately on the work of the pioneer French archaeoastronomer Marcel Baudouin (1860-1941, Secretary of the Societe Prehistorique Francaises). Baudouin's work with the fossilised and silicified sea-urchin (Echinus) was published in 1921 (Baudouin, Marcel. (1921). "La Grande Ourse et le Phallus du Ciel. [Spongiaire phalliforme à gravures]." Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, Tome 18, Number 11, Pages 301-308). Baudouin has made the original constellation identifications. It is likely that Makemson never sighted Baudouin's original article. Through at least Lundmark's article she endorsed the interpretation of the amulet that included: (1) that the engraver had taken care to indicate the differences in brightness of the stars  by varying the sizes of the cavities, and (2) the depicted configuration of the big dipper stars indicated a high age for the origin of the amulet. Discussions of the amulet and its possible astronomical interpretation are rare. The obvious question is: If the amulet is correctly described by Marcel Baudouin then is the astronomical interpretation reasonable on the evidence? The mention of the amulet by Elizabeth Baity in 1973 likely relies on knowledge of the relevant publication by Maud Makemson and nothing further. Arjan Smit (January, 2011) kindly informed me where Makemson's article can be accessed on the internet. I finally sighted Baudouin's article in April, 2011. (Baudouin also believed that 1 group of 7 cup marks (out of a total of 18) on a stone excavated from Aurignacian cultural deposits at La Ferrassie, France, was a representation of the Big Dipper (= Big Bear) constellation.)

Cup marks on Stones as Possible Prehistoric Representations of Constellations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From: Schütte, Gudmund. (1920). Primæval Astronomy in Scandinavia. (Off-print of his article "Primæval Astronomy in Scandinavia." from The Scottish Geographical Magazine, Volume XXXVI, October, 1920, Page 244-254.)

Throughout parts of Europe and Asia (also Africa, the Americas, and Australia) many rocks and stones – mostly exposed – are decorated with prehistoric hollowed cup markings. A cup-mark is a roughly circular depression produced by human hand into a stone or rock. They appear singly, in lines, or as the basis for further patterns, called cup-and-rings, so as to cover a whole or portion of rock. Almost all cup marks are between 1.5 and 10 centimetres in diameter and their average depth is between 10 and 12 millimetres. They occur on horizontal, sloping, or vertical stone/rock surfaces. The occurrence of single cup marks is unusual. They typically occur in groups, often numbering up to 200 (or even 1000) in a single location. They would likely have been made using a hammer and chisel type instrument. Archeologists have studied the cup markings for over 100 years. New ones are also constantly being discovered during the course of survey work, etc. The reason, or reasons, behind these carvings is unknown. Various suggestions have been put forward since early antiquarians identified them as prehistoric; including maps of the world, maps of the stars, sites where fat was set alight for religion (or to replicate the night sky), records of ownership or boundaries, etc. Despite the multiplicity of the suggested ideas there are common features in the setting of the 'art' forms - they are usually on highland overlooking open land.  The cup marks are very difficult to date. They bear no direct relation to known prehistoric settlement sites. It is believed that cup markings were made during all three eras of the Stone Age - Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. However, dating remains debatable - both Neolithic and Bronze age dates being suggested. Cup marks seem to have lost favour in the middle Bronze Age. Similar cup markings appear on stones and rocks hundreds of kilometres apart and with no obvious connection. Archaeologists view cup marks as an abstract form of art, because there are never any representations recognisable as animals or people. Despite many vigorous arguments their meaning, dating and placing is likely to remain a puzzle. Cup marks are now interpreted as a pattern of behavior throughout the prehistoric world. Most current theories associate cup marks with fertility rites. For instance, the archaeologist Robert Bednarik cites a report by the eminent amateur Australian archaeologist/ethnologist Charles Mountford who witnessed the making of cup marks in Central Australia in 1948 as an 'increase ritual' for the pink cockatoo. The term "cupule" was invented recently (2003) by the archeologist Robert Bednarik, in an attempt to provide a consistent name for a phenomenon.

Since the early 20th-century attempts have been made to interpret the distribution of these cup marks as the patterns of constellations. Perceived patterns of these cup marks have frequently been compared to constellations. Some researchers, both academic and amateur, believe that prehistoric cup marks on stones are grouped together in the shape of well-known constellations. During the late 19th-century and early 20th-century several academics attempted to identify patterns among the cup marks on stones in Europe (especially Sweden) that they believed corresponded (or could correspond) to constellations. (The Big Dipper was a common constellation identified.) However, there is still no consensus about their meaning. The debate whether prehistoric cup marks on stone in Europe can be interpreted as representations of ancient constellations is not yet settled. However, recent interpretations are not supportive of this view. Three early academics who attempted to demonstrate that prehistoric 'astronomers' used cup marks to represent individual constellations on rock and stone were Gudmund Schütte (1920), George Browne (1921), and Marcel Baudouin (1926). Gudmund Schütte (1872-1958) was Danish philologist and historian, George Browne (1833-1930) was a British clergyman and archaeologist,  and Marcel Baudouin (1860-1941) was a French historian and pioneering archaeoastronomer. Basically, Browne and Baudouin only 'identified' instances of single constellations. Schütte believed he could identify examples (stones at Venslan, Denmark, and Dalby, Denmark) of 'star maps' (= multiple constellations/groups of constellations) portrayed on stones and rocks. One of the earliest proponents of prehistoric astronomical theories (focused on Scotland) was the Scottish medical doctor and amateur archaeologist George Moore (1803-1880(?)) (Ancient Pillar Stones (1865)). One of the most enthusiastically persistent early proponents of prehistoric astronomical theories (focused on Scotland) was the Scottish amateur archaeologist Ludovic Mann (1869-1955) (Archaic Sculpturings (1915)). In 1930 Mann reported in the science journal Nature he had interpreted markings on two stones at Langside and Cleuch (near Glasgow), as having astronomical significance. The markings he interpreted consisted of a series of rings, arcs and cup mark depressions. According to Mann some of the groups of cup marks resemble the Sickle in Leo and (more doubtfully) a star-group in Scorpio. Mann also claimed he calculated that there had been an eclipse on March 28, 2983 BCE from markings on the stone itself. He stated that afterwards he found from German astronomers that there had been an eclipse on that date. According to Mann he obtained the year by his interpretation of the system of wheel-like markings on the stone, which he interpreted to be cycles of years. In spite of the difficulties of interpretation - such as the difficulties due to the effects of weathering and aging being able to create cup marks, and also the frequent looseness of the matches made - the belief still exists that prehistoric 'astronomers' used cup marks engraved on rocks and stones to represent individual constellations.

Some References

Moore, George. (1865). Ancient Pillar Stones of Scotland: Their Significance and Bearing on Ethnology.

Mann, Ludovic. (1915). Archaic Sculpturings: Notes on Art, Philosophy, and Religion in Britain 2000 BC to 900 AD.

Schütte, Gudmund. (1920). Primæval Astronomy in Scandinavia. (Off-print of his article "Primæval Astronomy in Scandinavia." from The Scottish Geographical Magazine, Volume XXXVI, October, 1920, Page 244-254.)

Browne, George. (1921). On Some Antiquities in the Neighbourhood of Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire.

Baudouin, Marcel. (1926). La préhistoire par les étoiles: un chronomètre préhistorique.

Brunod, Giuseppe. (2002). "The visibility tunnel: survey method of astronomical oriented cupmarks." (Proceedings of the International Meeting: Archaeoastronomy, a Debate Between Archaeologists and Astronomers Looking for a Shared Method. (Pages ?-?). [Note: Held Genoa and Sanremo, February 8-9, Genoa and November 1-3, Sanremo.]

Dimitriadis, Giorgio. (2002). "Cupmarks: a time system annotation. Geometric analysis of configuration." (Proceedings of the International Meeting: Archaeoastronomy, a Debate Between Archaeologists and Astronomers Looking for a Shared Method. (Pages ?-?). [Note: Held Genoa and Sanremo, February 8-9, Genoa and November 1-3, Sanremo.]

Martini, Sergio. (2002) "Constellation perception and rock art: methodological problems." (Proceedings of the International Meeting: Archaeoastronomy, a Debate Between Archaeologists and Astronomers Looking for a Shared Method. (Pages ?-?). [Note: Held Genoa and Sanremo, February 8-9, Genoa and November 1-3, Sanremo.]

Bednarik, Robert., Consens, Mario., Muzzolini, Alfred., Seglie, Dario., and Sher, Yakov. (2003). Rock Art Glossary: A Multilingual Dictionary.

Lewis, Roy. and Bednarik, Robert. (Editors). (2010). Mysterious Cup Marks: Proceedings of the First International Cupule Conference.

Neolithic Whorl Markings

The abundance of whorls as a decorative motif on stones and pottery during the Neolithic period may simply derive from the importance of hand-spindles (spindle whorls) for weaving. Spindle whorls were usually made of stone or clay. In China, however, Deborah Porter (From Deluge to Discourse (1996, Pages 96-97)) suggests the decorative whorl may indicate an early association between weaving and its metaphorical application to cosmology.

Some Issues Regarding the Possibility of Paleolithic Constellations

From Alan Salt's webpage, Ancient Science and the Science of Ancient Things (http://alunsalt.com/2011/11/14/the-earliest-astronomers/):

"Hayden & Villeneuve examined many ethnographies and found almost all peoples had a concept of the extreme limits of the Sun, the solstices. They also tied lunar cycles to environmental events, like the appearance of first berries. In some ways this is similar to Hesiod's astronomy which is a factor in a wider cosmological view that ties astronomy, weather and nature into one whole cosmos to be observed. They also — and this is big — found no evidence of observation of the equinoxes, except for one group. This ties neatly with the Clive Ruggles paper "Whose Equinox?" where he has argued that looking for equinoxes in pre-Greek astronomies is an anachronism. Solstice observations could be accurate, but they say the observations used "trees, posts or rock alignments" they give an example of a man sitting on a certain stump watching the shadow from a specific tree, and we know this astronomical activity happened because an anthropologist was there recording it, but what debris did it leave? If people used a similar technique in the Palaeolithic what would you look for in the archaeology? Hayden & Villeneuve reflect on how these special places and the techniques for using them translate into social relationships. They argue that it leads to what is effectively a 'secret society' of people with astronomical knowledge. Archaeologically this raises the possibility of equipment being stored in secret spaces, that might be marked with art for those in the know. A secret society implies specialist knowledge, but that creates a problem. If you don’t have writing how to you transmit knowledge? This is a major topic for the paper. One way is to embed tales in constellations. A survey of 26 modern hunter-gather groups revealed 18 constellations, with some complexities. The interesting findings are that surprisingly few constellations or stars were recognised by more than a third of peoples. Orion was known to 16 groups, Venus 15, the Pleiades 12 and the Milky Way and Ursa Major 10. There's a long tail of other stars with many being important to only one or two groups. That, to me, suggests that astronomical knowledge is often local and specific." (Hayden, Brian. and Villeneuve, Suzanne. (2011). "Astronomy in the Upper Palaeolithic?" (Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Volume 21, Issue 3, October, Pages 331-355.)

(b) Bear Constellation

It is still a popular argument that the disappearance of the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska dates the Bear constellation (Ursa Major) to at least that time. However, the argument is erroneous. It has been well demonstrated archaeologically that the disappearance of the land bridge never resulted in the loss of cultural contact between the 2 land masses.

Native American tribes of the northeastern part of North America commonly identify the 7 key stars of Ursa Major (the "big dipper" asterism) as a bear. In his 1906 article "Cherokee Star Lore." (Boas Anniversary Volume, (Pages 354-366)) Stansbury Hagar remarked that generally among the Native American Indians the most important constellations were Ursa Major (= the big dipper) and the Pleiades. The identification of Ursa Major (or more accurately the stars forming the big dipper asterism) as a bear in North America largely exists in the Algonkin (Algonquin) speaking groups but also in the Plateau groups.

It is commonly held that the existence of certain parallels between Siberian/Asian star lore and North America star lore relating to the big dipper asterism establishes a pre-Columbian origin for the latter and also an Ice-Age antiquity for such. Proponents maintain that the big dipper bear constellation entered the American continent with a wave of immigrants circa 14,000 years ago. The eminent science historian Owen Gingerich, in his article "The origin of the zodiac." (Sky and Telescope, Volume 67, 1984, Pages 218-220) proposed that a bear constellation crossed the Bering Straits with ancient migrants. Gingerich acknowledges Campbell's chapter "Circumpolar Cults of the Master Bear." (Pages 147-151) in his book The Way of Animal Powers: Historical Atlas of World Mythology. Volume 1 (1983). The ultimate source for the contents of Campbell's chapter may have been Geographische Kulturkunde by Leo Frobenius (1904). In this book Frobenius examined world-wide diffusion. In his approach to mythology Joseph Campbell was influenced by Leo Frobenius. Leo Frobenius was involved in the study of the circumpolar bear cult. In 1899, Richard Allen, in his book Star-Names and Their Meanings, and in 1900 Stansbury Hagar, in a journal article on the Mi'kmaq celestial bear, both proposed an ancient origin in Asia for the North American bear constellation. However, the idea is problematic and remains highly controversial. Today, archaeological methods have largely replaced the previous method that made almost exclusive use of ethnographic parallels in determining the history of arctic peoples, including Eskimos (Inuit). Archaeology gives a somewhat different picture regarding possibilities. Grant Keddie (Royal British Columbia Museum), 1989, in tracing the diffusion of the labret, set out a case ("Symbolism and Context: The World History of the Labret and Cultural Diffusion on the Pacific Rim." (Paper presented at the Circum-Pacific Prehistory Conference, Session VIII Prehistoric Trans-Pacific Contacts, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., August 1-6, 1989) that the Pacific Rim area circa 3000 BCE saw intensive interaction over broad areas and involving extensive sea travel. Stansbury Hagar remarked in his 1900 article ("The Celestial Bear." (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 13, Number 49, Apr.-Jun., Pages 92-103)) on the Native American bear constellation: "When we seek legends connected with the Bear, we find that in spite of the widespread knowledge of the name there is by no means a wealth of material." In his 1906 article "Cherokee Star Lore." (Boas Anniversary Volume. (Pages 354-366)) Stansbury Hagar also remarked that the Mi'kmaq tradition of the Three Kings (= the three stars of Orion's belt) is evidently of European origin.

In 1896 Stansbury Hagar published an article which in part identified the Mi'kmaq snake dance symbolised the Pleiades. (The work for this was conducted several years earlier.) However, no early ethnologist/investigator seems to have made the effort to investigate and argue for a pre-Columbian origin for all or most of Mi'kmaq uranography/star lore. Even William Gibbon simply summarised secondary sources for his two papers setting out the existence of certain parallels between Siberian/Asian star lore and North America star lore.

Ignoring Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by the Recollect Order missionary Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691) the 1900 article by Stansbury Hagar appears to be the sole source for the details of a Mi'kmaq celestial bear tale. This is unfortunate. At the time Stansbury Hagar began investigating Mi'kmaq lore he was only 22 or 23 years old. To his credit he did actual field work. The celestial bear tale may have been obtained when he was 26 years old (and concluded his investigations of Mi'kmaq lore. (It is also unfortunate that he does not identify his sources. It appears the story was gathered whilst literally sitting around a number of Mi'kmaq camp-fires. There was no specific "follow-up" with the particular story-tellers. There is doubt regarding the accuracy of at least one of Hagar's claims. In their book, The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada (1955), Wilson Wallis and Ruth Wallis (Pages 155 & 260) state no confirmation could be found of Hagar's observation that "a form of water-burial analogous to the Norse, was once practiced by the Micmac at the funeral of chiefs." Also, another modern researcher has written that Hagar's claim of hermits living in the mountains has not been able to be verified.) The Baptist missionary Reverend Silas Rand (1810-1889) recorded in 1850 (A Short Statement of Facts Relating to the History, Manners, Customs, Language, and Literature of the Micmac Tribe of Indians in Nova Scotia.) that the Mi'kmaq call the Great Bear constellation, 'Muen' (the bear). (The celestial bear tale is not among the Mi'kmaq tales later collected (during 1915 and 1922) by the ethnologist Frank Speck.) Not answered is the question of whether the celestial bear story is a rigid embedded part of Mi'kmaq traditional culture. Certainly the sole particular example of a Mi'kmaq celestial bear which has been given by Stansbury Hagar does not validate that the big dipper as a bear is the product of a stable and relatively widespread Mi'kmaq belief. Exactly where Hagar travelled is vague. We only know he visited the Digby area of the province. At the time of Hagar's visits to Digby (Nova Scotia) there were only 160 Mi'kmaq in Digby County. Most of these would have been of mixed French Acadian descent and only a few would likely have been "full-bloods." (It is, at least, a traditional 19th-century belief of the Mi'kmaq informants (consultants) as recorded by non Native-American.) Earlier references are far briefer. It has been noted by the ethnologist Jesse Fawkes that "... in observations on the traditions of the Indian tribes, the tendency of the listener to add his own thoughts or interpretations is very great. Moreover, no two Indians tell the same story alike." (See: "Contributions to Passamaquoddy Folk-Lore." (Journal of American Folk-Lore, October-December, 1890).) In the same article the (untrained) ethnologist Jesse Fewkes also wrote: "Mr. Leland's work [The Algonquin Legends of New England by Charles Leland (1884).] exhibits throughout want of exactness in recording." Even Frank Speck's study of the Mi'kmaq has been shown to be frequently flawed - especially his model of pre-European Mi'kmaq riverine fisheries (but mostly because of problems with methodology). (See: "The Perfect Disguise: Frank Speck's Pilgrimage to Ktaqamkuk - The Place of Fog - In 1914." by David McNab (American Review of Canadian Studies, March, 2001).) The premise of knowledgeable informants (now called consultants) and competent researchers requires examination. (The historian Michael Coe considers that the most complete study of the starlore of any American Indian group was the Navajo and was accomplished by Berard Haile (1947).)

In his monograph Naskapi: The Savage Hunters of the Labrador Peninsula (1935) Frank Speck provides numerous examples of the extensive cultural integration (genetic, "spiritual" and material) that has taken place in Labrador (with the Algonkins (Algonquins)) over the past 400 years. Dating oral traditions can be exceedingly difficult. It is a well established that oral traditions tend to confuse fairly recent events as being "ancient or old" - anything over a hundred years or so can be retold as an original myth. There are many instances in the anthropological literature where events which can be historically placed have been incorporated into tribal lore as very old.

The term "Micmac" for the Native Americans of Nova Scotia (the Atlantic Provinces and Southern Gaspe Bay Peninsula) dates to English records from the end of French rule. Basically it is a mispronunciation of the word Mi'kmaw. The term Nova Scotia (replacing the previous French term "Acadia") also dates to the same period. There are several explanations offered for the term "Micmac" or "Mi'kmaq." One is that before European contact the Mi'kmaq called themselves L'nu'k meaning simply "the people." Mi'kmaq is the plural form of the singular Mi'kmaw. The present name "Mi'kmaq" derives from "nikmaq" which means "the people." Mi'kmaq also presently live in New England, particularly in Maine and Massachusetts.

Both of William Gibbon's papers on "Asiatic Parallels in North American Star Lore." (published 1964 and 1972 in Journal of American Folk-Lore) present a strong case for the common origin of the bear constellation in Asia and America. Gibbon tracks a number of astronomical stories from the Caucasus to America. I would, however, hesitate to conclude that he has conclusively presented the case for the such. (The folklorist Alan Dundes deemed that Gibbon had conducted limited analyses. See the article: "North American Indian Folklore Studies." (1967) by Alan Dundes.) In 1902 Waldemar Bogoras published a study ("The Folklore of Northeastern Asia, as Compared with that of Northwestern America." (American Anthropologist, Volume 4, Number 4, December, Pages 577-683)) showing that many folklore tales of northeast Asian peoples had often striking similarities to the folklore tales of the Inuit and Northwest American tribes. (See also: Asiatic Influences in American Folklore by Gudmund Hatt (1949).) Obviously the question is: How to account for the similarities? However, the issue is perhaps more complex and uncertain than simply arguing for Ice-Age diffusion. Both the ancient Asian and the North American cultures were bear-hunting cultures. If persons wish to maintain that the Native Americans brought the bear constellation with them circa 14,000 years ago when they entered the America continent then they need to make a suitably convincing case that can deal with problematic issues. (Paul Shepard and Barry Sanders (The Sacred Paw (1985), whilst admitting that not every Native American tribe knew of a bear in the sky, simply state: "Some, apparently, had forgotten.") The conclusive case for the early entry of the bear constellation into the Americas has perhaps yet to be incisively made. An early (i.e., pre-Columbian) Native American depiction of the Great Bear constellation would be a convincing discovery. Overall, the Native Americans had few constellations.

The late Danish ethnologist Kaj Birket-Smith (once Curator of Ethnology at the National Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark) wrote: "The cultural link between northern Eurasia and North America is so close that the two parts should be regarded as a single circumpolar cultural district in which a similar environment forms the basis for common development."

Currently archaeology and ethno-history both have an emphasis on cultural interaction. The evidence associated with the history of the pre-contact period and also the post-contact period of the Americas shows that cultural groups do not exist for any extended periods of time in total isolation and that cultural interaction has shaped even those cultural groups who lived in remote and sparsely populated regions. For the northeast region of Canada there is now sufficient archaeological and historical knowledge to understand the inter-related history of the Paleo-Eskimo, Inuit, Dorset, Beothuk and the Mi'kmaq and Abenaki cultures. These cultures largely shared the same climate and geography and their worlds often intersected. The arctic and sub-arctic regions and their adjacent coasts are increasingly recognised as longstanding "highways" rather than as barriers to the flow of plants and animals, peoples and cultures. Siberian influence in several early Alaskan cultures is now recognised, and Bering Strait sources are known for many features of Eskimo cultures found across the Arctic. The evidence reinforces the intimate relation that exists between culture and environment and it shows that climate, in particular, often plays a determining role in cultural interaction and technological innovation. (See: A History of the Native People of Canada. Volume 1. (10,000-1,000 B.C.) by James Wright (1995); and Ancient People of the Arctic by Robert McGhee (1996).)

Native American groups have always "borrowed culture" from one another. This includes stories. For an example of the dispersion of myths between Native American tribes (i.e., "The Story of the Waiwailus" from the Bella Coola to the Chilcotin) see A Guide to B. C. Indian Myth and Legend by Ralph Maud (1982, Page 85). The German-American pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas wrote a paper ("Northern Elements in the Mythology of the Navaho," American Anthropologist, Volume X, November, 1897, Pages 371-376.) discussing the evidence for the influence complex elements of Northeastern Indian mythology on Navaho mythology. The Navaho lived in the Southwest. Historically, the diffusion of agriculture throughout the Americas probably originated from the Valley of Mexico. The diffusion of the Sun Dance throughout much of North America probably originated from the Plains Area. The Algonquin who moved into North Carolina borrowed from their southern neighbours as they adapted to the geographical and climatic conditions of the area. The people of the Woodland Period in the Champlain Valley borrowed from other groups around them. (See also: "Some Aspects of the Aztec Religion in the Hopi Kachina Cult." by Susan James (Journal of the Southwest, Volume 42, 2000). The author also comments on the similarities between Native American tales and folklore and those in other parts of the world. A paleolithic "universal mythology" is postulated with myths being carried away from a common site of origin as early humankind migrated across the world.)

Rarely discussed is early Mi'kmaq knowledge of a number of European languages. Soon after European contact some Mi'kmaqs apparently acquired a limited knowledge of a number of European languages.

In his book The Building of Culture (1928) the ethnologist and historian Roland Dixon showed numerous identical mummification practices existed between the ancient Egyptians (21st dynasty, circa between 1090 BCE and 945 BCE) and the remote Torres Strait Islanders of the 19th-century. However, there were also numerous differences. (The island cluster of the Torres Strait lies in a 200 kilometre wide passage of water between the southern coast of New guinea and the tip of the Cape of York (Queensland, Australia).) Naturally cultural borrowing (diffusion) was out of the question (except for some extreme diffusionists). A nineteenth-century paper by John Murdoch ("On the Siberian Origin of Some customs of the Western Eskimos." (The American Anthropologist, Volume 1, Oct., 1888, Pages 325-336)) holds that use of tobacco, fishing nets, and the bird-bolas amongst the Western Inuit originated from contact with Siberia. Such offers the prospect of a pathway for other cultural borrowing. Tobacco use literally diffused around the world within 100 years of the European discovery of the American continent. In his book The Beothucks or Red Indians (1915) James Howley held that the spear design (for killing seals), and also the technique for such, used by the Beothuks of Newfoundland was borrowed from the Eskimos (Inuit). (The last Beothuk died in captivity in 1829.) The antiquity is unknown for certain but it is now generally agreed that they were relatively recent migrants to the Americas from northeast Asia, spreading across the top of North America from west to east over the course of the past 6,000 years. (The Eskimo-Aleut migration circa 4,000 BCE populated (for the first time) the Arctic coastal zone of North America. Another migration took place more recently, circa 1,000 CE.) At Blue Hill Bay on the central Maine coast at least one stone tool found there that was made from non-native stone is made in the style of the Dorset Culture, a prehistoric Eskimo (Inuit) people. It is evidence that before European contact, the Indians living in the coastal Maine area had long-distance relationships through trade with people living in the far north.

Chinese and Japanese coins, as well as Taoist temple talismans, have been found in British Columbia, the oldest of the Chinese coins dating from 1125 CE. The Japanese coins pre-date European contact. They are obviously items brought across the Bering Strait.

Native American origin stories make no mention of a historic arduous crossing, such as the crossing of the Bering Strait, and then a journey southwards away from an ice-bound northern land. (On the basis of their myths they tend to believe they were always in the American continent.) However, we are asked to believe that they have successfully kept a 14,000 year old memory of a bear constellation. It is obvious that among Native American groups their stories and lore do not primarily serve an historical purpose. (Another theory holds that the first Americans may have used boats to make the crossing into North America. There is a growing viewpoint that the first people to enter the American continent were skilled sailors who came by boat circa 11,000 BCE, island hopping from Siberia all the way to the coast of California.) In their recent paper ("Linguistic Origins of Native Americans." in Scientific American, November, 1992, Pages 94-99) Joseph Greenberg and Merritt Ruhlen propose, on linguistic grounds, 3 major Asian migrations; the first circa 12,000 BCE (Amerind speakers i.e., Maya); the second somewhat later (Na-Dene speakers i.e., Apache); and the third circa 3000-2000 BCE (Eskimo-Aleut speakers i.e., Inuit). The colonisation of the Americas was more recently discussed in "The First Americans." by Heather Pringle (Scientific American, November, 2011, Pages 20-27).

If we uncritically maintain that the big dipper bear constellation entered the American continent with a wave of immigrants circa 14,000 years ago then we would have to argue similarly for the dragon myth and many others. (Also, there is no one homogenous Native American mythology.) It is well understood that storytellers borrow from storytellers. It is often impossible to determine how folktales and stories originated (i.e., where and when) and how they have migrated and been adopted elsewhere. But the transference has to be done through individual story tellers. The term migration is used when we can distinguish the bearers of the culture and the term diffusion is used when we cannot. European scholars have long believed that Glooscap (Glooskap), the legendary cultural hero of the Mi'kmaqs who appears in a numbers of their tales, is ultimately European in origin. (For Stansbury Hagar the Mi'kmaq hero Glooscap was but one version of the world-wide story of the solar hero (See: "Weather and the Seasons in Micmac Mythology." (The Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 10, April-June, 1897, Number 37, Pages 101-105).)

"The indigenous stories with the most similarity to European fairy tales are those that depict the adventures of an unprepossessing central character, often an orphan, who lives on the margins of a community, sometimes with a grandparent. Through his or her personal efforts and talents, the assistance of spiritual beings or forces, or luck, the protagonist attains power, prestige, and occasionally material wealth." … Stith Thompson (Tales of the North American Indian (1929)) concluded that ""The Seven-Headed Dragon" from an Ojibwe source, an Assiniboine version of "John the Bear,"' a Zuni retelling of ''Cinderella,'' and a text of the ''The Clever Numskull'' from the Micmac" were tales borrowed from Europeans and deftly included into Native American narrative repetoires. (Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art edited by Charlie McCormick and Kim White (Volume E-L, 2011, Page 61).) It is now considered inappropriate to compare American Indian narrative traditions to European fairy tales. However, the Mi’kmaq had French-Canadian sources to draw on for European folk-tales, and mingle their native tales with. (Note: The normal form of "The Dragon-Slayer" tale likely emerged in France.)

It is difficult to know how much influence the pioneering American anthropologist, Daniel Brinton (1837-1899) may have had. Brinton was an advocate of solar mythology. The European (French) story of John, the son of the bear (Bear Son tale), faithfully appears in the tales of a number of Native American tribes. (The European Bear Son tales have also passed into the folk tales of the French, Spanish, and English speaking areas of the Caribbean.) This European story obviously was not carried by immigrants across a land bridge circa 14,000 years ago. The same may be said of the Cinderella story. (The "Cinderella" story (or rather a variation of it) was told by a Mi'kmaq storyteller circa 1870 and is obviously a reworking from some French-Canadian storyteller. Even the Bear Son tale appears in Mi'kmaq story telling.) (A useful publication is: European Tales Among the North American Indians by Stith Thompson (1919).) In his book The Algonquin Legends of New England (1884) Charles Leland frequently makes reference to French influence on Indian stories. The Americanist Earl Count identified that the Earth-Diver stories of the Native Americans had basic similarities to the Earth-Diver stories told by European nations; especially the Slavs. The presence of the Swastika in North America is able to be convincingly explained as a separate parallel development. (Another point of caution with Native America beliefs relate to Creation and Flood legends. This class of myths provides a very useful and important way to assess the issues of European influences.)

The Mi'kmaq story of "The Orchard Keeper" (recorded by Silas Rand; see his: Legends of the Micmac, Volume 2, Pages 242-251) has been considered a French tale (or French influenced tale).

For an example of Hagar's capacity for error with Mi'kmaq myths see: "Angels of Light: A Mi'kmaq Myth in a New Archê." by Jennifer Reid (Canadian Journal of Native Studies, Volume 25, Number 2, 2005, Pages 463-475). Also: Mi'kmaw Myth: Finding Kluskap by Jennifer Reid (2011). Both involve the study of the Mi'kmaw mythic hero Kluskap, and of a ritual space that is the site of an annual Mi'kmaw mission to St. Anne. The author (an academic who has spent time with the Mi'kmaq) suggests that Kluskap myths are linked to a series of 17th-century treaties negotiated with the British, and that both the treaties and Kluskap are enmeshed in a distinctive structure of Catholic ritual through which Mi'kmaw peoples express a unique critique of modernity. The association between the Mi'kmaqs and the Roman Catholic Church dates to the earliest fur trade alliances at the turn of the 17th-century. There are parallels between Glooskap (Kluskap / Koluskap) and St. Anne (Mary's Mother). Hagar (1897), no doubt utilising a range of already established interpretive categories, believed Kluskap was a sky god and an example of a universal solar hero.

Other studies for assessing the issues of European influences (with identified limitations) are: (1) Mythology of the Thompson Indians by James Teit (1912) (edited by Lucy Kramer) which has a section of "Tales Based on European Folklore"; (2) the further selection James Teit in 1916 in Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 29, Pages 301-329; and (3) the short study "Romance Folk-lore Among American Indians" that Franz Boas contributed to his book Race, Language and Culture (1940, Pages 517-524). A more recent study worthy of note is: "The Bible in Western Indian Mythology." by Jarold Ramsey in Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 90, 1977, Pages 442-454.

A relevant but overlooked article is "The Migration of Folktales: Four Channels to the Americas." by Francis Utley (a specialist in folklore and linguistics) (Current Anthropology, Volume 15, Number 1, March, 1974, Pages 5-27 (then additional comments pages)). The late Francis Utley was Professor of English at Ohio State University, He received his PhD in 1936 from Harvard University (Department of Medieval English Studies). He was also a Fellow of the American Folklore Society. In his article he identifies 4 major routes through which culture, including folklore, has traveled or might have traveled into the American continent. The 4 routes identified are: (1) from Northeast Asia across the Bering Strait; (2) from Southeast Asia across the Pacific islands; (3) from Europe across the North Atlantic; and (4) from Africa across the South Atlantic (due to the slave trade in South America). Regarding early European influence. The English were established in the north; the French and the Spanish were established in the south. The Spanish in the southwest remained undisturbed throughout the 18th-century. Influence was exerted through the Spanish missions. The French military (French garrisons) and French traders also exerted influence. The French were well established in lower Louisiana. At one time the Choctaw nation was virtually reduced to a French protectorate. A French trading post was established on the Arkansas but eventually advance to western Pennsylvania.

"The mythic figure of the bear is ubiquitous in Christian mythology. The are countless numbers of saints known by a name based on the French or Latin words for bear - Saint Ours, Saint Ursin, and so forth - as well as names based on other similar etymological associations (such as Saint Bernard - from bär, a Germanic source, and -art, the Celtic name for this animal) (Christianity: The Origins of a Pagan Religion by Philippe Walter (2003, Page 176))." Hagar lacked the means to date tales. A lot of European folklore and beliefs were introduced to Native Americans (especially in Canada) by the early French settlers. Amongst the early French settlers were singer, fiddlers, dancers, and storytellers. The Mi'kmaq relationship with the early French colonists in Canada's Maritime provinces was very close and intermarriage was common. In the early 17th-century several hundred French settlers came to settle in the Maritime Region. (According to the work of Genevieve Massignon the original French farmer settlers who called themselves Acadians came from the region around the city of Loudun. Effectively they all knew each other and were often related to each other.) During the 17th-century many Mi'kmaq children attended French schools on a daily basis. The Mi'kmaqs also adopted the Roman Catholic faith. (The baptism of the aged Chief Membertou and his family at Port Royal, in 1610, was followed in a few years by the conversion, chiefly under Recollet friars, of the whole Mi'kmaq tribe to Roman Catholicism.) By the early 18th-century the British found it difficult to distinguish the French Acadians from the Mi'kmaqs. The French Acadian and the Mi'kmaq population were inseparable. Partly in reaction to Jesuit resistance to sexual relations between Indians and French settlers, the French Crown began a policy in 1668 of encouraging intermarriages. In his recent history of the Mi'kmaq, the historian Harald Prins notes that given the close interaction and relationships between the French settlers and Mi'kmaq in Acadia, and the fact that their communities were so small in number, the result of the policy of the French Crown (began in 1668) of encouraging intermarriages between Indians and French settlers was that few of the local Mi'kmaq and French Acadians would have been "full-bloods" by the mid-1700s. (See: The Mi'kmaq Resistance, Accommodation, and Cultural Survival by Harald Prins (1996), Page 68.) The French Acadian influence was simply enormous. Currently most Mi'kmaqs have French surnames.

The French-Canadian anthropologist Marius Barbeau (1883-1969) relates that in 1914, during the course of a meeting of the Anthropological Association, that Franz Boas at Columbia University told him that Native American folktales as far south as Mexico could only be French in origin and were likely transferred through the influence of French Canadians. (See also: "Notes on Mexican Folklore." by Franz Boas (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 25, 1912, Pages 204-260).) The anthropologists Franz Boas, Elsie Parsons, and Aurelio Espinosa held the view that except for the Huichol people, and possibly the Cora people (both groups residing in Western Central Mexico), the folklore of all Native American groups studied in Mexico is primarily European in type (i.e., European in origin). The anthropologist Ralph Beals also commented on the scarcity of tales among many Mexican Indian groups. (See: "Comparative Notes on New Mexican and Mexican Spanish Folktales." by Aurelio Espinosa (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 27, 1914, Pages 211-231; and also "Problems of Mexican Indian Folklore." by Ralph Beals (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 56, Number 219, Jan.-Mar., 1943, Pages 8-16.) The anthropologist Gladys Reichard wrote in her Introduction to An Analysis of Coeur D'Alene Indian Myths (1947) that the Coeur d'Alene Indian mythology "has many evidences of white influence." This European influence included French Canadian fur traders. (The Coeur d'Alene traditionally lived in what would become the Panhandle region of Idaho.)

The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales by Maria Tatar (1987, Page 42): "The critic who undertakes the task of interpreting a tale without first studying the relation of a folkloric text to its variant forms may find himself drawing generalizations based on false premises. The Prairie Band Potawatomi may be able to state with impunity that the folktale hero P'teejah is a full-blooded American Indian boy, but the folklorist who fails to recognize that P'teejah is the French folk hero Petit Jean masquerading as an Indian will find himself drawing embarrassing conclusions about Amerindian culture."

The French presence in Canada began in 1534, but permanent settlement did not begin until Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608. The French eventually carved out an enormous territory stretching as far east as the Maritime provinces and south to the Gulf of Mexico. After France's defeat in the French and Indian Wars, Britain won control of New France, formalized by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Under British rule, the French Canadians remained a distinct cultural group. The preservation of their cultural identity was aided by the influence of the Catholic Church, the tendency to marry within their own community, and the tradition of having large families. When the Dominion of Canada was established in 1867, French Canadians accounted for one-third of the new country's population. The French-Canadian folklore tradition was strengthened by colonial laws that made it crucial for French Canadians to transmit their culture orally across the generations. Popular characters in French Canadian folklore include a hero figure named Ti-Jean (short for petit Jean, or Little John) and a hunter named Dalbec.

"Important Metis Mythological Figures. Since the Metis are primarily of mixed French, Cree and Ojibway origins, it is not surprising that their folklore contains many traditional stories and mythological figures from all three of these traditions. Here are some common characters from Metis stories: Nenabush, Wisakechak or Ti-Jean. These are benevolent trickster/transformer figures that have largely merged together in traditional Metis folktales. Nenabush is the Michif pronunciation of the Ojibway hero Nanabozho and is the most common name given to the Metis hero; Wisakechak is a traditional Cree trickster; and Ti-Jean is a Michif pronunciation of the French Canadian folk hero Petit Jean ("Little John.") Although the original Petit Jean is quite different in character from the two Algonquian heroes Nanabozho and Wisakechak, Metis storytellers tend to use the three characters interchangeably, and the same story can be heard ascribed to any of these three trickster figures. Nenabush is pronounced similar to nay-nah-boosh, Wisakechak is pronounced similar to wee-sah-kay-chock (and is often called "Whiskey-Jack" by English speaking Metis people), and Ti-Jean is pronounced tee-zhawn." (http://www.native-languages.org/michif-legends.htm; accessed February 2016.)

Source: Coyote Was Going There edited by Jarold Ramsey (2014, Page xxix)

Another popular figure in early French Canadian folklore was Dalbec the hunter. Stories involved him with bears, but not as far as I know, bear hunting.

Due to the French settlers calling the general region of the Maritime Provinces by the name "Acadia" (l'Acadie), possibly from a Mi'kmaq word meaning "fertile land", the French settlers there became known as Acadians. (The establishment of fur posts in 1603-1608 by Samuel de Champlain marked the beginning of Acadia. After the capture of Acadia by British colonial forces in 1710 it became known as Nova Scotia. At that time there was a population of some 2000 French farmers and fishermen.) There was a 100 year period of uninterrupted close relationships and harmony between the Mi'kmaq and French Accadians. In 1755 the "Great Expulsion" ("Great Upheaval") occurred. In 1755, just prior to (or at) the outbreak of the British-French war (the Seven Year's War), the British deported all the French Acadian population of Nova Scotia (including their Mi'kmaq families), at least 10,000 persons, for their refusal to take an oath of allegiance to Britain (and fight against the French). Of the estimated 10,000 Acadians in 1755 about 8,000 were deported. Thousands more Acadians were killed for resisting deportation and many Acadian homes were burnt. The Acadians had wanted to keep a neutral position regarding the constant wars between Britain and France. They were initially dispersed along the southern Atlantic seaboard. mostly amongst the 13 colonies, and lived a destitute existence. Many Acadians eventually settled in Louisiana which was still under French rule), becoming known as the Cajun culture ("Cajuns"). (The name Cajun is derived from Acadia.) In 1763, after 7 years of war, the British Government gained effective control and after 1764 the proscription against their presence was lifted. Initially only a small number of Acadians were allowed to return to Acadia. Eventually many Acadians returned to Nova Scotia and were resettled on inferior land at the periphery of the settlements established by British settlers. British settlers now occupied much of their former homeland. (For the duration of the war the area had remained largely unoccupied. At the end of the war the British encouraged British settlement of the area.) Most of the Acadians who returned to Nova Scotia were those displaced Acadians who had settled in Louisiana.

In the west the marriages between early French settlers with Native Americans created the Métis (a French term) of western Canada. The Métis were the result of marriages of Woodland Cree, Ojibway, Saulteaux, and Menominee Native Americans to French settlers circa the mid-seventeenth century. The Métis homeland consisted of the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, as well as the Northwest Territories. It also included parts of the northern United States (specifically Montana, North Dakota, and northwest Minnesota. (The Hudson's Bay post in the northwest USA was also another likely source of influence.)

The early Spanish conquerors also were influential in passing European folklore and beliefs to Native Americans (especially in Mexico). Dispersion of European tales was likely from the southeast through the trade routes. Early Christian missionaries introduced some 50 biblical themes into Indian beliefs across the USA. Influences for the post-Columbian introduction of some European star lore and constellations to the Native Americans include: missionaries, explorers, traders (including coureurs de bois ("wood rangers") who were free traders who accompanied the Native Americans on their hunting expeditions), colonists, trappers, captives, military alliances, inter-marriage, tribal relocations (migrations and reservations), Indian schools, and ethnologists (exchanging tales). Of these early cultural contacts the key ones were French commercial connections and frequent intermarriage with Native Americans (i.e., Canada), and Spanish military and religious contact (i.e., the mission system) (in Mexico and the Southwest USA). By the 17th-century European colonists had made direct contact with most Native American communities. Some assimilation had also taken place by this early date. Fascinatingly, it was apparently common for early European maps of North America to call it America Septentrional (= Great Bear constellation (Big Dipper)). It is not too difficult to expect that some European constellation beliefs were transmitted to Native Americans after Columbus.

It is particularly among Native American lore that the 4 stars of the 'dipper' are seen as a bear being pursued by the 3 stars of the 'dipper handle.' This is an idea comparable to the Greek constellation myth of Callistro being pursued by hounds.

In his Introduction to Cushing's book Zuni Folk Tales (1901, Pages xvi-xvii) the noted ethnologist John Powell (1834-1902) relates how a Seneca Indian, the nephew of a Seneca shaman, was taken by the Spaniards to Europe and educated as a priest. On his return the nephew related numerous Bible stories to his uncle who proceeded to compound a number of these with Seneca folk tales and then establish these new stories among the Seneca. (In his early article "Micmac Customs and Traditions" (American Anthropologist, January, 1895, Volume 8, Number 4, Pages 31-42), Stansbury Hagar stated it was his purpose to make a record of the rapidly disappearing Micmac stories in order that they could be preserved. In this article he narrates a Micmac folktale about the water fairies, and notes its resemblance to a Chippewa legend ("The Magic Circle in the Prairie"), and even to the biblical story of Moses and the Red Sea crossing.)

The differences between European and Native American bear constellations does not pose a problem for late borrowing. Europe and North America have two different bear constellations. The European bear constellation is inherited from ancient Greece. The Greek bear constellation has a long tail (but modern bears have no tail). With the Greek sky-bear the stars of the big dipper form the hindquarters and tail of the bear with other forming the head and paws. The Native American bear constellation has no tail. In most North American folk-tales the 4 stars comprising the cup of the big dipper is the bear and the 3 stars comprising the handle of the big dipper are warriors chasing the bear (around the pole). However, it has been recognised that the wide familiarity of the seven big dipper stars would tend to make them readily susceptible to the influence of European star lore. For several examples of this see The Arctic Sky by John MacDonald (1998). The later movements of Native American tribes would have assisted in the diffusion of these beliefs. One of the interesting effects of post-colonization was that Native Americans borrowed (copied) some of each other's tribal dress as they were forced into closer contact. They also adapted some articles of European clothing to their own style. (The Mi'kmaq early adopted forms of European dress.)

The astronomer Ed. Krupp pointed out (personal communication, 28 April, 2006): "I am not aware of any European tradition, including French, that incorporates a myth that parallels the content and meaning of the Micmac tale. In fact, the French seem to have taken a different and typically European turn with the Big Dipper and referenced the Bear only because they also inherited the Classical tradition." This comment by Ed. Krupp is, as always, astute and to the point, and requires answering. More so since the European (Greek) bear myth involves both the Great Bear and the Little Bear. (Only a few tribes of Native Americans reflect this scenario.) I can only offer, without the benefit of having made a detailed examination, that the Mi'kmaq bear tale recorded by Stansbury Hagar over 100 years ago is likely a story constructed out of Mi'kmaq seasonal lore and post-contact European star lore. Hagar relates a very short story. A legitimate question is whether it is a "full version" or a "condensed" (i.e., truncated) version that he was told. It has been noted that the Mi'kmaq tale accurately portrays the relative positions as well as their appearance and disappearance in the sky at 45 degrees north latitude (in Nova Scotia). However, the establishment of these details would not be difficult in post-Columbian America. The Mi'kmaq have one of the longest records of interaction with Europeans and North American settlers of any North American Native Indian people. Hagar really doesn't tell us anything detailed about his informants (consultants). We appear to have no information about them - we really know nothing about them regarding their attainments, or status in the tribe. Nothing was done by Hagar to establish the age of the story or its genuineness as a product of Mi'kmaq thought. In his book The Algonquin Legends of New England (1884) Charles Leland wrote: "I have often heard French fairy tales and Aesop's fables Indianized to perfection...." (In European star lore Boötes and his dogs were in perpetual pursuit of the Great Bear constellation.) It is also relevant that Stansbury Hagar had strong preconceptions. His misguided attempts to reconstruct the constellations of the Inca were made on his erroneous assumption that they were identical to Greek and Roman constellations.

The Alabama tribe of the southeastern USA possess a seasonal myth involving the big dipper stars as a boat (i.e., celestial canoe with occupants). (The Alabama Indians lived along the Alabama River in the State of Alabama.) In some ways it has similarities with the Mi'kmaq seasonal myth involving the big dipper stars as a bear. Also, one version of the Alabama myth holds the big dipper stars are a large canoe and a small canoe. The work of ethnologists to recover Native American folklore from the southeastern region of the USA began in the late 1800s. By this time the Alabama had sustained a long history of European contact. In contrast, Blackfoot lore had the 7 stars of the big dipper 'Ishkitsi-kammika' comprising 6 legendary brothers and their sister. (See: The Blackfoot Papers: Volume 3, by Adolf Hungry-Wolf, 2006, Page 128.)

There is a paucity of material dealing with the critical analysis of storytelling practices of the Mi'kmaq. One source is Micmac Documented Oral Accounts as Historical Source Material by Scott McKeen (unpublished MA Thesis, 1995). In it he points out that Mi'kmaq storytelling was flexible and "freeform." The storyteller could easily (and did) incorporate changes to suit the audience. He also states that the form of Mi'kmaq stories did change over time. Without reliable sources from the early period of European contact with Native Americans it is very difficult to decide just how much a story may have been influenced by European beliefs. Stansbury Hagar acknowledges that Native American legends of the "big dipper" as a celestial bear is given most fully by the Mi'kmaqs. The earliest European reference to a Native American belief in the stars of Ursa Major representing a celestial bear is by the Recollect Order missionary Father Chréstien Le Clerq in Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691). (The Recollect Order began work on the St. Lawrence in 1615 and the Jesuits joined them in 1626. Father Chréstien Le Clerq was a missionary to the Mi'kmaq on the Gaspé peninsula in the mid 1600s. The Gaspesiens were a Mi'kmaq band inhabiting the area of Cape Gaspé, at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River.) In the Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie book he relates that, in 1677, he heard a Mi'kmaq tale of the "big dipper" being a celestial bear during his explorations in North America.) I have never seen anybody reproduce the relevant passage(s) from the book and discuss it. (See Appendix 3 below.) The possibility of miscommunication and contamination from the interplay between the priest(s), his informants, and any interpreter(s) during the process of questioning and discussion to acquire information exists. The Native Americans had no written language. Native American oral traditions were written and modified by non-Indians. Indeed, the definition of primary reference appears to include Native American oral traditions that were written down by non-Indians. Native Americans were also forced to learn English. Also, there is some degree of confusion amongst ethnologists and authors regarding which Native American peoples (including Inuit) actually identified the seven (or four) stars of the big dipper asterisms as a bear (or some other figure).

In the few details set down by Father Chréstien Le Clerq in Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691) it is not self-evident that the pursuit theme in connection with "this bear" means the Great Bear. No explicit mention is made of any pursuit of the Great Bear. The pursuit might well be connected with the Little Bear as the Three Hunters in a Canoe are stars belonging to that constellation. (Circling behaviour around the Great Bear is not mentioned.) Yet in Stars of the First People by Dorcas Miller (1997) the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor) is basically identified with Three Hunters in a Canoe circling the Great Bear. (Though Father Chréstien Le Clerq is mentioned the interpretation is likely based on the much later account by Stansbury Hagar.) It is obvious from the brief accounts of the missionaries Father Chréstien Le Clerq and the Reverend Silas Rand that the Mi'kmaq, at least by 1677, had called the stars of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor the Big Bear and the Little Bear respectively, and the Milky Way was also called the Milky Way. Just as the European celestial bear is not the hunter but the hunted (i.e., Boötes the Bear-keeper/Bear-guard chases both the Big Bear and the Little Bear) in the Mi'kmaq myth the bear is not the hunter but, at least with one bear constellation, is the hunted.

In their book The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada (1955, page 98), authors Wilson Wallis and Ruth Wallis write" "The stars are called aklo we'djiwi. Many of them have names, for example, ohtadab'an, morning star seen in the east. The North Star, called go'gwadane glo'go wetc, meaning "north," was a guide to travellers. The constellation of the Great Dipper is called mu'in (bear), or adjalkatc. In the seventeenth century it was called mouhinne, and mouhinchiche was the Little Bear or Little Dipper. The three guards of the North Star are three Indians in a canoe who embarked to catch the bear but have not done so yet."

In his Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691, Page 103) Father Chréstien Le Clerq records that he found that the Mi'kmaq tribes at Miramichi (near present-day Chatham) revered and worshipped the cross (or an emblem very similar to a cross) in connection with sun-worshipping rites. It appears they wore the cross on their clothes, carried a cross next to their skin, put it in their cabins, took it with them on their journeys, and had cemeteries with these crosses. This degree of rather obvious European influence seems hardly surprising. (Some Mi'kmaq claimed their use of the cross was pre-contact.) "By the 1670s the Mi'kmaq of the Gaspé Peninsula and Acadia were quite familiar with Catholic missionaries - since the colonies founding in 1604" (Paper Talk: a history of libraries, print culture, and Aboriginal peoples in Canada before 1960 by Brendan Edwards (2005, Page 30)).

The noted anthropologist James Mooney (1861-1921), an ethnographer with the Bureau of American Ethnology from 1885 to 1921, in his review of Legends of the Micmacs by Silas Rand (1894) wrote (The American Anthropologist, Volume 7, Number 1, January, 1894, Pages 118-120): "[T]heir mental life has been strongly influenced by three centuries of contact with French Catholic priests and fishermen, a fact which becomes apparent as soon as we examine the legends. As a contribution to aboriginal mythology the book is a grievous disappointment. ... The book shows ... an utter inability to to discriminate between the true and the false, and a complete ignorance of the aboriginal range of thought with the result that we find the Arabian Nights and Grimm's Fairy Tales given as Micmac legends. The same mistake was made by Father Petitot [a missionary], who publishes the story of "Brother Lustig" as one of a volume of Indian tales, although it contains not a single aboriginal idea. [It is from Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm.] ... Indians are fond of stories, and readily learn and repeat anything in that line that strikes their fancy. They have been learning fairy stories from French voyageurs and Highland trappers for at least two centuries, and have had descriptions of heaven and hell, of angels and devils for as long a period. There is probably today not a tribe on the continent that has not assimilated some of this material .... The author himself, in his introduction, unconsciously shows us how these "white man stories" come among the Indians and how direct is the line of descent. His first instructor in the language was a Frenchman "who had lived among the Indians nearly all his life and could talk both French and Micmac very fluently." This man's father had been a French sailor who had drifted to Nova Scotia. "The son lived among the Micmacs, married one of them, and translated his name, Joseph Ruisseaux, into Joseph Brooks. He rendered me great service in mastering the Micmac language, and it was from his lips that I first learned of the wonderful legends that, after confirmation by many old Indians, I subsequently gave to the world." Then he goes on to tell us genuine Indian stories of Glooscap, of Kitpooseagunow, and other aboriginal gods and heroes, stories ... which are so mixed up with such tales as "The Prince and the Peasant Girl" and "The King's Daughter and the Man Servant" that it is hardly worth while to try to separate Micmac from missionary. ... Their legends delight in making tiny, insignificant things perform great wonders." Is it possible he never heard of Tom Thumb?" For comments on the gullibility of Silas Rand also see: "Glooscap Encounters Silas T. Rand." by Thomas Abler in Earth, Water, Air and Fire edited by David McNab (1998, Pages 127-141).

There are few reasons to believe that Father Chréstien Le Clerq engaged in meticulous research on the issues concerning Mi'kmaq belief and European influence. There is no reason to believe that the Reverend Silas Rand engaged in meticulous research on such. Rand lacked any formal schooling and it is recognised that he had limitations as a linguist.

At the "talking circles" or "kikwtoqiaknutmátimk" held at University College of Cape Breton in 1993 Patrick Johnson, a Mi'kmaq participant, remarked that in the early 1900s a number of Mi'kmaq informants (consultants) lied to ethnologists/anthropologists.

The origin of American anthropology/ethnology took place during the period between 1860 and 1890. During the 19th-century in North America ethnology was a branch of anthropology which focused on recording the rapidly disappearing traditional cultures and beliefs of the Native Americans. Only after 1875 did American ethnologists conduct extensive fieldwork among living Native Americans. For decades they simply concentrated on collecting reminiscences of traditional cultural beliefs from a few elderly native informants (now called consultants) who: (1) claimed to remember what life had been like in their youth, and/or (2) have knowledge of historic cultural beliefs and practices. However, as many Native American peoples were so radically altered by European influence by the time they were studied the (salvage) ethnologists were quite unable to verify what they were being told. Often they only spent limited time with their native informants (now called consultants) - a number of hours per day for up to several weeks. Evidence of significant cultural change was usually simply ignored. By the 20th-century the Mi'kmaq had lost nearly everything in their culture and a number of them actually became engaged in the process of borrowing from other Native American cultures - predominantly those located across the border in the USA. (An example of this is the late adoption by the Mi'kmaq of the feathered head-dress.) For a time even the Mi'kmaq language was at risk. It had largely ceased to be spoken and had been diluted by the French language.

The Mi'kmaq Indians were among the first Native Americans to have contact with Europeans. This contact began in the early 1500s with the exploration of Cape Breton by the French Bretons. (In 1497 the British seaman John Cabot discovered the northeast coast of America and also reported an abundance of cod on the Newfoundland Banks.) Virginia Miller (who taught at Dalhousie University) believes there was intensive contact between the Mi'kmaqs and Europeans throughout the 16th-century (and earlier). (See: "The Decline of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Population, A.D. 1600-1850." in Culture, Volume 2, Number 3, Pages 107-120.) Beginning in 1501, a variety of European fishing (Basque, Spanish, French, British, and Irish) boats (comprising some 10,000 fishermen) visited the Grand Banks every summer and returned to Europe in the autumn. A few crew members stayed over the winter, past their seasonal fishing tasks, to maintain the shore installations. A few persons even resided permanently as "liveyers." By 1519 these fishermen were coming ashore to dry their catch. (At the beginning of the 16th-century, news of the rich fishing waters off the coast of Nova Scotia spread quickly in Europe.) During the early contact period it was estimated that the Mi'kmaq population numbered approximately 4000 people. Estimates of Mi'kmaq numbers at this time vary and have been placed at 12,000 and substantially higher. According to A Gazetteer of the World ((Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain), Volume 5, 1856, Pages 224): "The Micmacs were once scattered over the entire extent of the eastern coast of Canada, of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and some of the adjacent islands - who now inhabit the SW coast of Nova Scotia and the interior of Newfoundland." (Following European contact there was a dramatic decline in population due to disease. In 1617, at the height of a disease epidemic (likely "chicken pox") caused by English slave raiders, large sections of the coast of New England were completely depopulated. In 1746 (or 1747) the French apparently spread typhus (or smallpox) to the Mi'kmaq Indians and this resulted in the death of up to 75% of the Mi'kmaq population. Foe example see: Pox Americana by Elizabeth Fenn (2003). (The introduction of alcohol also had a devastating cultural effect.) Many Mi'kmaq died during the crop failures of the 1840s and 1850s. The (largely potato) crop failure circa 1845 to 1848 was particularly devastating for the Mi'kmaqs. (See: "The Decline of Nova Scotia Micmac Population, A.D. 1600 - 1850. (Culture, 1982, Volume 2, Number 3, Pages 107-118).)) In 1830, New Brunswick (which separated from Nova Scotia in 1784) counted less than 1,000 Mi'kmaq, Ma;iseet, and Abenaki. (See: Canada's First Nations by Olive Dickason (1992).) According to the Census of 1871, the first opportunity for obtaining reliable knowledge of Mi'kmaq numbers, the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia numbered 1,666 persons.) The accuracy of Mi'kmaq population counts encounter the problem of the migratory habits of the Mi'kmaq and also the reluctance of many families to identify themselves as being Mi'kmaq. By the early 1600s missionaries had established solid contact with the Mi'kmaqs and were living amongst them. (An example is the Jesuit Pierre Biard who had a missionary station among the Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia from 1611 to 1612. By this time there was also an immense amount of contact with fur traders and European fishing fleets.) However, the first Frenchman to master the Mi'kmaq language was the Catholic missionary Abbé Antoine-Simon Maillard. From 1735 to 1762 he lived with the Mi'kmaq Indians at Restigouche on the Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec. For the early influence of European Catholic beliefs upon Mi'kmaq religion see: "Culture Change in the Making: Some Examples of How a Catholic Missionary Influenced Mi'kmaq Religion." by Carlo Krieger (American Studies International, Volume 40, Number 2, June, 2002, Pages 37-56). Stansbury Hagar was one of the first ethnologists to collect Mi'kmaq tales. (At the time that Hagar carried out his work there was no established standard for anthropological/ethnological certification.) Hagar's work among the Mi'kmaq's was conducted in 1895, 1896, and 1897. For his several studies of Micmac lore Stansbury Hagar nearly always based himself in the town of Digby (Nova Scotia). At the time of these studies there were only 160 Mi'kmaq in Digby County. (The local Digby Weekly Courier (the local newspaper at this time) is perhaps a source of information regarding the visit by Stansbury Hagar. It was acknowledged as being a quality newspaper.)

Pre-contact and post-contact Native American population figures vary considerably. Also, since the 1960s there has been a move by some demographers to revise Native American population figures arbitrarily upwards. (Some modern estimates range from a population of 2 million to 10 million circa 1492.) The anthropologist Keith Cunningham (American Indians: Folk Tales and Legends (2001)) conservatively holds the pre-contact Native American population of North America (i.e., USA, Canada, and Alaska) was over 300,000 people but by 1850 had declined to less than 150,000 people, and by 1900 had declined to less than 16,000 people. Other estimates hold the pre-contact Native American population of the USA alone to be no more than 850,000. (The Indian Commissioner estimated that by 1880 only half the population of Native American were "full bloods.") According to one estimate circa 1600 CE (at the time of their first meeting with the French in 1603) the various bands of Algonquin Indians comprised a total population of about 6,000 persons. By 1768 the British estimated their population totalled 1,500. Other persons conservatively estimate a pre-contact Native American population of North America of between 1.2 million - 2.6 million people. Whatever the population before 1492 by 1800 it was estimated that only about 600,000 Native Americans remained in present-day Canada and the USA. By 1900 this was estimated to have declined drastically, to about 350,000 people. (See the population discussion in 1491 by Charles Mann (2006).) A large number of Native American folktales and legends were collected by anthropologists and others during the period of drastic decline of Native American tribes.

Two factors commonly overlooked are Native American dislocation (due to the consequences of the westward expansion of European settlers) and forced migration (forced (or agreed) removal and resettlement). By 1837 Andrew Jackson had removed 46,000 Native Americans from their land east of the Mississipi. Also, Indians of the eastern part of the USA who survived annihilation (e.g., the Mandans, and the Apalachee) were deculturised. Interestingly, the French and British from Canada had penetrated Mandan territory before the Lewis and Clark expedition starting May 1804. In the 18th-century Native American dislocation was significant. There were scattered groups of Indian refugees living in settlements, refugee camps, or with other tribes. Throughout the 18th-century (and 19th-century), through outcomes of warfare or migratory resettlement (forced or agreed), various Native American tribes merged with each other. In the early 1800s the Chicksaws were removed to share land with the Choctaws. The Natchez (after surviving a massacre) mixed with the Creeks. In the early 18th-century there was an attempt to settle the Seminoles among the Creeks. In the early 18th-century, displaced Indians such as the Creeks in Alabama wandered throughout the USA. About 2,500 joined the Cherokees. The Cherokees displaced from Georgia moved to other parts of the USA. Apart from this there were intertribal unities. The Ohio tribes, especially the Shawnees, kept active contacts with the Southern Indians (= the territory south of Ohio). In the late 1800s the so-called Indian Territory (comprising most of Oklahoma and Kansas) became the home of many diverse tribes due to the removal policy of the USA government. Indian tribes living in close proximity included at least: Cherokee, Commanche, Chicksaw, Creek, Choctaw, Delawares, Iowas, Sauks, Kickapoos, Osage, and Poncas. (See: A History of the Indians of the United States by Angie Debo (1970).)

The generic 'Thunderbird' (giant bird) tale is rather widespread amongst Indian tribes. (See "The Thunder-Bird amongst the Algonkins." by Alexander Chamberlain (The American Anthropologist, Volume III, January, 1890, Pages 51-54).) The particular details of a hunter being carried away by a giant bird to its nest and escaping by using the wings of a nestling, are identical among the Micmac, Cherokee, and the Menominee (in Wisconsin). (See: Thunderbirds by Mark Hall and Mark Rollins (2008).)

Perhaps the earliest European reference identifying that a Native American people named the key 7 stars (big dipper) of Ursa Major a "a bear" appears Key to the Languages of America by Roger Williams (1643). Roger Williams (circa 1600-circa 1683/4) was a British-born Baptist theologian who several times resided in North America. (He was the founder of the city of Providence, Rhode Island in New England). His (now very rare) first book Key to the Languages of America was written during a return voyage to England (and published in London). He briefly remarks that just as the Greeks and others call the 7 stars of the big dipper asterism the bear so do the Narragansett tribe of New England call these stars a bear. (The modern English quote is: "As the Greeks and other nations, and our selves call the seven stars, or Charles Wain, the bear; so do they [using the words] Mosk or Paukunnawaw, [which both mean] the bear.") (At least one other early source identifies that in the language of the Narragansett tribe the words mosk and paukúnauwaw both mean "a bear," and also have several other meanings.) However, Roger Williams also claimed he found their language had a great affinity with the Greek language. This claim has not been taken up by any specialist in Native American languages. The Narragansett tribe occupied the area surrounding Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island (and also parts of Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts). Most of the New England tribes spoke Algonquin languages. The Narragansett tribe were prolific traders. It is estimated that up to 75 percent of Native Americans in New England died of European diseases in the 1500's and 1600's.

In 1712 Cotton Mather wrote that he asked the Native Americans in Boston about their astronomical knowledge and was told that they always called the constellation known by the Europeans as "the bear" by the name of paukunnawaw, meaning "the bear." In the case of both Roger Williams and Cotton Mather we really have no knowledge of how critically the information was gathered, an assessment of their informants, and the reliability of both the information and the informants.

Probably one of the best (but uncritical) collections of Native American star lore is to be found in Stars of the First People by Dorcas Miller (1997). However, no one seems to have really examined the possibility of mistaken cross cultural equivalences. Undoubtedly we need a more critical assessment of sources - not simply repetitive assembling of references. The issue is raised by the astronomer John Eddy in his article "Archaeoastronomy of North America." in In Search of Ancient Astronomies edited by Ed. Krupp (1978). John Eddy has made it clear on several occasions that he is somewhat skeptical of the argument for widespread Native American belief in big dipper = bear constellation prior to European influence.

The identification of Ursa Major (or more accurately the 7 stars forming the big dipper asterism) as a bear constellation in North America largely exists in the Algonquin speaking groups of northeastern North America and also in the Plateau groups living in the northern part of East Oregon. (The Plateau group lived in the area between the Cascade Range on the west and the Rocky Mountains on the east and north of the Great Basin. The Plateau group culture was not stable.) It would seem that few of the southwestern Indian tribes (some 18 approximately) identified the big dipper with a bear constellation. (It all depends on who is included in the list and vice-versa who is excluded. The Zuni and Jemez are commonly excluded.) The southwestern Indian tribes tend to call the stars of the big dipper as "the seven." (An exception are the Southern Paiute who identify the big dipper as a bear. The Keresan Sia (a Pueblo tribe) also appear to identify the big dipper as a bear.) It is commonly held that apart from some very early and transient Spanish (and Portuguese) contact the southwestern tribes appear to have remained almost untouched by European influence (but not European contact) until the late 1800s. However, in her 1936 article "Riddles and Metaphors among Indian Peoples." (Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 49, Numbers 191/192, Jan.-Jun., Pages 171-174) Elsie Parsons observed: "The Pueblo Indians have been exposed for centuries to Spanish riddles and tales; they have taken over the tales but not the riddles." Jesuit missionaries seem to have had far-reaching contact with most other tribes during the 1500s. (See also: Pueblo Indian Folk-Tales, probably of Spanish Provenience." by Elsi Parsons in Journal of American Folklore, 1918, Volume 31; and "Spanish Tales from Laguna and Zūni, New Mexico." by Elsie Parsons and Franz Boas in Journal of American Foklore, 1920, Volume 33.) Few southwestern tribes appear to have a bear constellation. Also, it is recognised that the astronomical information that has been recorded in this region by ethnologists is frequently very confused and contradictory. (It has been pointed out that the publication Ethnography of the Tewa Indians by John Harrington (1916) needs to be used with some caution (and this includes the astronomical information on star names and constellations) as his willingness to pay for information resulted in him being misled by some informants (now called consultants). The Tewa are part of the Pueblo Indian group.) The reference(s) used by William Gibbon have the Zuni Indians and the Jemez Indians identifying the big dipper as a bear constellation. It is doubtful, however, that the Zuni can be included in the list for the Zuni identification of the big dipper as a bear constellation usually relates to references to Stansbury Hagar or Frank Cushing.

"The Blackfeet know the principal stars of Ursa Major as seven boys, all save the youngest of whom (Dubhæ) had been killed by their sister. The Sioux call the four body stars the coffin. It is borne by four men who are followed by mourners. Mizar and Alcor are called 'She who comes with her young ones weeping.' The Ojibwas also called these stars 'the Fisher' .... (Hasting's Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 23, Page 71.)"

Interestingly, in his book Myths and Folk-lore of the Timiskaming Algonquin and Timagami Ojibwa (1915, Pages 22-23) the ethnologist Frank Speck states that in the folklore of the Timiskaming Algonquin (who are located in Canada near Quebec) the constellation Ursa Major is called "fisher" or "black cat." The 4 main stars (of the asterism "the dipper") form the body of the animal and the 3 stars trailing behind (the "handle of the dipper") represent the fisher's tail. In his book Beothuk and Micmac (1922), focusing on Newfoundland, Frank Speck makes no mention of a bear story. In the book In Indian Tents: Stories Told by Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and Micmac Indians to Abby Alger (1897) no mention is made of any bear story. It is easy to conclude that a celestial bear story was not widespread amongst the Micmacs.

Neither Stansbury Hagar or Frank Cushing can be considered reliable. The work of both is generally ignored by modern anthropologists/ethnologists. Both worked within a period known as salvage ethnology (also known as the Dark Ages of ethnology). Stansbury Hagar's work with the Mi'kmaq simply focused on oral testimony from informants (now called consultants) but it does not appear that he had a command of the Mi'kmaq language. (By the end of the 19th-century - at the time of Hagar's investigations - many Newfoundland Mi'kmaqs had ceased speaking their own language.) Hagar was not a seasoned ethnologist when he collected Mi'kmaq stories. There is no indication of how they were recorded. Also unresolved is the question: Did Hagar pay his informants (consultants) an honorarium? Unlike Cushing who lived with the Zuni for years Hagar only made brief visits to them where they had an encampment near an established town (i.e., Digby) and used several informants (now called consultants) only. This leads to the issue of how hurriedly the stories were collected. It is perhaps likely that Hagar never spent more than several weeks at a time in Digby. (By way of interest the town of Digby dates to the latter half of the 18th-century and the rail line to Digby was completed in 1891.) Hagar was obviously dealing with members of the Digby-Annapolis tribe which occupied the area of the Digby and Annapolis counties. (By the late 19th-century the Mi'kmaqs lived in abject poverty in small communities near European towns that had been trading centres.) Additionally, Hagar did not always specify who exactly gave him what information. (Two early informants (now called consultants) were Abram (Abraham) Glode and Newell [Newel] Glode, both Elders of the Bear River Band, Bear River Reserve. Their recollections were the basis for much of the information collected by Hagar.) No critical study of the ethnological contributions of Stansbury Hagar has been made (or at least published). There is no reason to believe Stansbury Hagar had any command of the Mi'kmaq language. He likely never obtained any stories in Mi'kmaq. (Franz Boas (1858-1944) is considered to be the first professional anthropologist to do field work in Canada. This was first carried out in the 1880s.) In their critical discussion of Zuni constellations and star names ("Ethnoastronomy: The Zuni Case." In: Williamson, Ray. (Editor). Archaeoastronomy in the Americas. (1981, Pages 183-191) Mary Young and Ray Williamson state that "the "seven stars" is ordinarily used by the Zuni for the Western constellation the Big Dipper." It is worth mentioning that it is recognised that the pioneer ethnologist Frank Cushing extensively reworked Zuni stories. Cushing did not hesitate to add his own inventions to the original Zuni stories. This has been made clear by both Dennis Tedlock and Eliza McFeely. In his generous Introduction to Cushing's book Zuni Folk Tales (1901) the noted ethnologist John Powell (1834-1902) wrote: "Mr Cushing has introduced a hybrid tale into his collection entitled "The Cock and the Mouse." Such tales are found again and again among the Amerinds. In a large majority of cases Bible stories are compounded with native stories ...." (The German-American anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942), an admirer of Cushing's ability, nevertheless remarked that Cushing's work would have to be done all over again.) For a critical assessment of Cushing and his lack of rigorous methodology see especially: The Zuni and the American Imagination by (the historian) Eliza McFeely (2002). Further, John Powell has described Cushing's book Zuni Folk Tales as discredited mythology. See also "Identity and Difference." in the Translation of Native American Oral Literatures: A Zuni Case Study by William Clements (SAIL, Series 2, Volume 3, Number 3, Fall, 1991, Pages 1-13). (It is also on record that Cushing caused deep offence to the Zuni's with his eagerness to relate their stories, and display their artifacts, to Europeans.) William Newell, the editor of The Journal of American Folk-Lore, wrote of Zuni creation myths furnished by Cushing: "... the impression of philosophic reflection is intensified by the biblical language favored by the reporter." (See: The Journal of American Folk-Lore, Volume 10, April-June, 1897, Number 37, Page 163.) Also see the informed critical article on the issue of European sources: "Proceed with Caution: Using Native American Folktales in the Classroom." by Debbie Reese (Language Arts, Volume 84, Number 3, January, 2007, Pages 245-256).

Gibbon uses Reagan for the Jemez beliefs. The article ("Notes on Jemez Ethnography." (American Anthropologist, New Series Volume 29, 1927, Pages 719-728)) by Albert Reagan, who spent a lot of time with the Jemez, relates a story involving the turning of the Bear into a constellation in the "cold northern heavens." Gibbon, however, does not identify which stars are identified as the Bear by the Jemez as Reagan cannot make the identification of a Jemez bear constellation with the stars of the big dipper. Reagan does not know which stars are meant. (The implication of the bear constellation being described as being placed in the cold northern heavens is that it is the stars comprising the big dipper.) According to Von Del Chamberlain the Jemez saw the stars of Taurus as forming a celestial bear (the Hyades as the face and the other stars of Taurus as the body). Both Gibbon and Chamberlain can't both be correct. Also, Taurus as the Jemez bear constellation does not qualify as being in the cold northern heavens. The issue clearly needs to be resolved by other means than simply preferential choice that it is likely that the stars of the big dipper are meant.

Another example involving southwestern Indians. Navajo belief in a celestial bear = the big dipper is not supported by the anthropologist Berard Haile (Starlore Among the Navajo (1947)) who worked with the Zuni for 50 years. Chamberlain, like Haile, also identifies the Navajo constellation of The Revolving Male (not identified as a bear) with the big dipper (= the primary stars of Ursa Major) plus the Pole Star. Paired with this constellation is the constellation of The Revolving Woman formed by the stars of Cassiopeia.

In summary: A large number of tales diffused from European settlers to Native American peoples. The case for acceptance of a pre-contact Native American bear constellation needs to deal with (1) problems existing with the reliability of early ethnological work; (2) possibility existing for post-contact influence and diffusion; and (3) possibility existing for the late introduction of the bear constellation from southeast Asia across water "highways" and diffusion. The case for rejection of a Bering Strait migration / pre-contact Native American bear constellation needs to deal with (1) seeming distinct form of Native American bear constellation tales compared to European tradition; (2) early post-contact reports of a Native American bear constellation; and (3) existence of certain parallels between Siberian/Asian star lore and North America star lore relating to the big dipper asterism. The possibility existing of the late (pre-contact) introduction of the bear constellation from southeast Asia across water "highways" rejects the Bering Strait migration theory but accepts the pre-contact Native American bear constellation theory.

Table summary of possibilities for the introduction of the bear constellation into the Americas. (Basically there are only 4 possibilities.)

(1) Bering Strait crossing theory (circa 12000 BCE). The original migrations to the American continent brought the bear constellation with them. They then remained isolated from the rest of the world until European contact in the 15th-century CE. [Rated as unlikely.]

(2) 'Recent' pre-European contact across the Bering Strait "sea road" (beginning circa 3000 BCE) - for which there is archaeological/ethnographic evidence. The Bering Strait is presently 83 kilometres (51 miles) wide from Siberia to Alaska. Circa 2013 the marine scientist Sonya Baumstein crossed the Bering Strait on a stand-up paddleboard. [Rated as likely.]

(3) Post European contact (beginning circa 15th-century CE). There is a strong case for the introduction of the bear constellation into North America being either late and/or (re)introduced by European Americans, especially, for example, the French settlers. The French settlers eventually occupied an enormous territory stretching as far east as the Maritime provinces and south to the Gulf of Mexico. The French folklore tradition was strengthened by frequent intermarriage with Native Americans and the French practice of proactively transmitting their culture orally across the generations. [Rated as feasible.]
(4) Post-European contact diffusion amongst Natives American. At a period of depopulation and dislocation they shared their cultures. Depopulation circa 17th- and 18th-centuries CE. In the late 19th-century the so-called Indian Territory (comprising most of Oklahoma and Kansas) became the home of many diverse tribes due to the removal policy of the USA government. [Rated as feasible.]

Hagar's Early Informants

Two of Stansbury Hagar's early informants (now called consultants) were Abram Glode and Newell Glode. (Much of what is known about Mi'kmaq lore has come from Abram and Newell Glode. Another source of Mi'kmaq lore was Pierre Clemeau, "a famous Micmac storyteller" whom Stansbury Hagar interviewed at least once.) At the time Hagar published his 1895 article on "Micmac Customs and Traditions" Abram Glode was 73. Abram Glode was considered to be a very reliable Micmac by Stansbury Hagar. Abram Glode would have been initially interviewed in 1894 by Hagar for his article published in January 1895. It is most likely that Stansbury Hagar first met Newell Glode (Abram Glode's son) in New York City. In 1890 Newell Glode (who appears to have been well educated) had presented a somewhat controversial paper (talk) to the New York Academy of Sciences on his views of the nature of folklore and mythology. Earlier, in 1888, in several published articles, Newell Glode had emphasised the need to collect Native American material on folklore, myths, and tales. (See: American Folklore Scholarship by Rosemary Zumwalt (1988).) Both Abram Glode and Newell [Newel] Glode were Elders of the Bear River Band, Bear River Reserve. During the 19th-century and during the early 20th-century there seems to have been considerable Mi'kmaqs with the family name Glode, including: Sam Glode, Jim Glode, Joseph Glode, Charles Glode, Louis Glode, and Joan Glode. The date of birth for Newell Glode appears to be unknown. His wife's first names may have been Mary Ann. Abram Glode attending school in 1843 is mentioned in L'sitkuk: The Story of the Bear River Mi'kmaw Community by Darlene Ricker (1997). See also the lengthy (German-language) dissertation Der Heilbringer by Arie Deursen (1931). It is indicated that Newell Glode served with the Canadian Forces during World War I, with the rank of Private. He was described as a good canoe paddler.

"My information about the customs and traditions of the Micmac Indians of Nova Scotia has been derived almost entirely from Abram and Newell Glode, the first a man of seventy-three years, the latter somewhat younger and of exceptionally pure blood for a time when none are wholly so. These two Indians have justly achieved a reputation among their tribe for intelligence and knowledge of their native lore. During the many days I' have spent with them at Digby and elsewhere I have invariably found them all eager and interested in being questioned as I was in catechizing them. However, in most cases I have confirmed what they told me by information obtained from others, and I have read to them what I have written in order to avoid mistakes." ("Micmac Customs and Traditions." by Stanbury Hagar (The American Anthropologist, Volume VIII, January, 1895, Page 31.)

Two other sources Stansbury Hagar relied upon for Mi'kmaq traditions were Silas Rand and Charles Leland. Both are considered somewhat unreliable. However, Stansbury Hagar considered both persons to be capable investigators of Mi'kmaq tradition/lore.

The issues arising here are: (1) Has Hagar recorded the evidence fully and accurately; (2) Were all possible informants used, or simply those who were considered the 'best;' (3) Were all available variants recorded.

Worth noting is the fact that Franz Boas (1858-1942) who, in 1886 worked among American Indian tribes in British Columbia, used the technique of recording the reminiscences of informants as a valuable supplement to ethnography.

Unreliability of Charles Leland

Quote from the Introduction of The Algonquin Legends of New England by Charles Leland (1884). (Charles Leland was a 19th-century amateur anthropologist and largely armchair folklorist. Much of his work is now discounted as unreliable.)

"There has always been intercourse between Greenland and Labrador, and in this latter country we find the first Algonquin Indians. Even at the present day there are men among the Mi'kmaqs and Passamaquoddies who have gone on their hunting excursions even to the Eskimo. I myself know one of the latter who has done so, and the Rev. S. T. Rand, in answer to a question on the subject, writes to me as follows:-- "Nancy Jeddore, a Mi'kmaq woman, assures me that her father, now dead, used to go as far as the wild (heathen) Eskimo, and remained once for three years among the more civilized. She has so correctly described their habits that I am satisfied that her statements are correct.""

Quote from Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie

Quote from Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691), Pages 135-136, (translated and edited by William Ganong (1910)). "Although our Indians exist in an ignorance so gross that, as we have said, they do not know how to read or how to write, they have nevertheless some knowledge of the Great and the Little Bears, which they call, the first Mouhinne, and the second Mouhinchiche, which mean exactly in our language the Great and the Little Bears. They say that the three guards of the North Star is a canoe in which three Indians are embarked to overtake this bear, but that unfortunately they have not been able to catch it." [Note: (1) This is hardly a detailed systematic description for purpose of comparison. (2) According to Stansbury Hagar the Mi'kmaqs identified 2 bear constellations to him.]

Part of the translator's footnote comments relating to the above passage are: "These words are pure Micmac. Rand gives Mooin for "bear" (in his Dictionaries), while chiche is the inseparable suffix, very commonly used, meaning "little." Our author evidently believed that the Indians had independently named these constellations the Great and Little Bear, but one's first thought must be that this were too remarkable a coincidence, and the Indians must have obtained the names from early fishermen or other Europeans."

The identification of a Little Bear constellation by the Mi'kmaqs is somewhat problematic. There is every reason to believe the constellation of Ursa Minor (Little Bear) is a late Occidental invention; perhaps introduced to the Greeks from Phoenicia by the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus circa 600 BCE. (According to the Greek historian Strabo (63/64 BCE - circa 24 CE) Ursa Minor (known as the Phoenician bear) was introduced as a superior navigational aid.) Mi'kmaq knowledge of a Little Bear constellation seems very much like a borrowing from Europeans.

Quote from Legends of the Micmacs

Quote from Legends of the Micmacs by Silas Rand, (2 Volumes, 1894), Volume 1, Pages 56-57. "They have some knowledge of astronomy. They have watched the stars during their night excursions, or while laying wait for game. They know that the North Star does not move, and call it okwotunuguwa kulokuwech (the North Star). They have observed that the circumpolar stars never set. The call the Great Bear, (Muen (the Bear), and they have names for several other constellations. The morning star is ut'adabum and the seven stars ejulkuch. And "What do you call that?" asked a venerable old lady a short time ago, who, with her husband, the head chief of Cape Breton, was giving me a lecture on astronomy, on Nature's celestial globe, through the apertures of the wigwam. She was pointing to the Milky Way. "Oh, we call it the Milky Way, the milky road," said I. To my surprise she gave it the same name in Micmac."

For a critical discussion of Silas Rand see: Earth, Water, Air and Fire: Studies in Canadian Ethnohistory. edited by David McNab (1998).

Quote from "Some Customs of the Micmacs"

Quote from "Some Customs of the Micmacs." by Greta Bidlake (in Christian Guardian (a newspaper)) which appeared in The Register (a Nova Scotia newspaper) June 14, 1922. (The information is obviously taken from Silas Rand.) "The Micmacs knew something of astronomy. They had observed that the North Star did not move and, more than that, they called it by a name which meant exactly what those two English words mean., They discovered, too, that the stars around the Pole star did not set and called several constellations by Indian names. It is a strange and puzzling fact that they spoke of the Great Bear as "Muen," the Micmac term for "bear" and of the Milky Way by a phrase which meant precisely the same as our English."

Stansbury Hagar

Stansbury Hagar graduated from Yale University in 1892 and he graduated from the New York Law School in 1897. His work with the Mi'kmaqs is usually identified as being conducted in 1895, 1896, and 1897. At some time Stansbury Hagar obviously decided to gather some original ethnographic data and travel access to the Mi'kmaqs was rather easy. The first two research episodes usually identified i.e., 1895 and 1896, were conducted when he was enrolled at the New York Law school. It is difficult to believe that he was studying law "part-time." What other work he was perhaps doing at the time to support himself is not known. The third research episode was perhaps conducted after he had graduated from the New York Law School. (In fact his work with the Mi'kmaqs began as early as 1894. The New York Times for Wednesday, August 21, 1894, page 3?/8? reported that Stansbury Hagar gave a 30 minute address "Notes on the Customs and Traditions of the Micmacs" at the recent proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.) It is not known if he had conducted research with other Native American tribes prior to his work with the Mi'kmaqs. The research work seems to have been arranged by himself as an independent project. It is likely that it was his first experience as an (amateur) ethnologist. I have never seen a review of the competence of his work by an experienced professional ethnologist. At least in 1897 he had confidence in the reliability of Silas Rand.

Entry on the "Star Lore of the Micmacs of Nova Scotia"

An entry on the "Star Lore of the Micmacs of Nova Scotia." by Stansbury Hagar appeared in Appleton's Annual Cyclopædia and Register of Important Events of the Year .... (1899, Page 46).

Canadian anthropologist Charles Barbeau

The highly respected Canadian anthropologist Charles Barbeau (C. Marius Barbeau) ("The Field of European Folk-Lore in America." The Journal of American Folk-lore, Volume 32, 1919, Pages 185-197) identified 4 key "primary sources" of intrusive folk-tradition (in Native American lore). These are: (1) the Spanish elements located in the southwest, (2) the French elements located in the northeast, (3) the British elements located in the centre, and (4) the later German oral tradition (initially) located in the German colony in Pennsylvania beginning in 1683.

Maud Makemson

"In 1954, Makemson extended her speculation about the power of primitive astronomy in ancient belief in an article in the Journal of Bible and Religion called, "Astronomy in Primitive Religion." Telling "a dramatic story of a distant past when religion included the worship of the celestial bodies," with evidence from China, Mesopotamia, ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt, Makemson drew on the work of the pioneer French archaeoastronomer Marcel Baudouin in analyzing a map of the stars in Ursa Major and Boötes incised on a fossilized sea-urchin amulet from stone-age northern Europe. "The representation," she asserted, "of Ursa Major...is remarkable for two reasons: first because the relative positions of the stars point to a very great antiquity for the amulet; and second, because the engraver has taken pains to indicate the difference in brightness of the stars, by varying the size of the cavities." After discussing a variety of star-worship artifacts, including a relatively contemporary account of a star cult reported by the "apostle to the Muslims," American missionary Sameul Zwemer, she concluded "that in general the various star-cults led ultimately to the seasons of the agricultural year, and to the sun from whose light and warmth all living creatures draw their sustenance."" (Source: Vassar Encyclopedia: (Entry) Maud W. Makemson, 2008 CJ, MH.)

Earliest Sources

The earliest sources in chronological order are: 1643: Perhaps the earliest European reference identifying that a Native American people named the key 7 stars (big dipper) of Ursa Major a "a bear" appears Key to the Languages of America by Roger Williams (1643). Roger Williams (circa 1600-circa 1683/4) was a British-born Baptist theologian who several times resided in North America. (He was the founder of the city of Providence, Rhode Island in New England). His (now very rare) first book Key to the Languages of America was written during a return voyage to England (and published in London). He briefly remarks that just as the Greeks and others call the 7 stars of the big dipper asterism the bear so do the Narragansett tribe of New England call these stars a bear. (The modern English quote is: "As the Greeks and other nations, and our selves call the seven stars, or Charles Wain, the bear; so do they [using the words] Mosk or Paukunnawaw, [which both mean] the bear.") (At least one other early source identifies that in the language of the Narragansett tribe the words mosk and paukúnauwaw both mean "a bear," and also have several other meanings.) However, Roger Williams also claimed he found their language had a great affinity with the Greek language.

1691: Quote from Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691), Pages 135-136, (translated and edited by William Ganong (1910)). "Although our Indians exist in an ignorance so gross that, as we have said, they do not know how to read or how to write, they have nevertheless some knowledge of the Great and the Little Bears, which they call, the first Mouhinne, and the second Mouhinchiche, which mean exactly in our language the Great and the Little Bears. They say that the three guards of the North Star is a canoe in which three Indians are embarked to overtake this bear, but that unfortunately they have not been able to catch it." [Note: (1) This is hardly a detailed systematic description for purpose of comparison. (2) According to Stansbury Hagar the Mi'kmaqs identified 2 bear constellations to him.] Part of the translator's footnote comments relating to the above passage are: "These words are pure Micmac. Rand gives Mooin for "bear" (in his Dictionaries), while chiche is the inseparable suffix, very commonly used, meaning "little." Our author evidently believed that the Indians had independently named these constellations the Great and Little Bear, but one's first thought must be that this were too remarkable a coincidence, and the Indians must have obtained the names from early fishermen or other Europeans." In the few details set down by Father Chréstien Le Clerq in Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie (1691) it is not self-evident that the pursuit theme in connection with "this bear" means the Great Bear. No explicit mention is made of any pursuit of the Great Bear. The pursuit might well be connected with the Little Bear as the Three Hunters in a Canoe are stars belonging to that constellation. (Circling behaviour around the Great Bear is not mentioned.)

1712: In 1712 Cotton Mather wrote that he asked the Native Americans in Boston about their astronomical knowledge and was told that they always called the constellation known by the Europeans as "the bear" by the name of paukunnawaw, meaning "the bear." In the case of both Roger Williams and Cotton Mather we really have no knowledge of how critically the information was gathered, an assessment of their informants, and the reliability of both the information and the informants.

1850: The Baptist missionary Reverend Silas Rand (1810-1889) recorded in 1850 (A Short Statement of Facts Relating to the History, Manners, Customs, Language, and Literature of the Micmac Tribe of Indians in Nova Scotia.) that the Mi'kmaq call the Great Bear constellation, 'Muen' (the bear).

1900: Ignoring Nouvelle relation de la Gaspésie by the Recollect Order missionary Father Chréstien Le Clerq (1691) the 1900 article by Stansbury Hagar appears to be the sole source for the details of a Mi'kmaq celestial bear tale. This is unfortunate. (It is also unfortunate that he does not identify his sources. It appears the story was gathered whilst literally sitting around a number of Mi'kmaq camp-fires. There was no specific "follow-up" with the particular story-tellers.) (The celestial bear tale is not among the Mi'kmaq tales later collected (during 1915 and 1922) by the ethnologist Frank Speck. Nor is it included in Part Two: Folktales and Traditions of The Micmac Indians of Eastern Canada (1955) by Wilson Wallis and Ruth Wallis. The book, Part Two of which consists of 144 stories (137 being collected in 1912), was written by 2 ethnologists who had spent considerable time studying the Mi'kmaq since 1912.) Not answered is the question of whether the celestial bear story is a rigid embedded part of Mi'kmaq traditional culture.

A Micmac Manuscript

In the appendices of his book Man in Northeastern America (1946) Frederick Johnson mentions "A Micmac Manuscript." by John Prince (ICA-P, Quebec: 87-124). (Other sources give the reference as: ICA-P 15.i. 87-124.) Johnson states: "This manuscript was written in Indian-English by a Micmac Indian for Stansbury Hagar, just when is not stated." Other references to this document give the year as 1906 and also 1907.

Anthropology Journal Archive Project

Social Sciences: An evaluation of "Micmac Customs and Traditions" (http://www.wangniao.net/bbs/read-htm-tid-48828.html) posted 7 June, 2010. It seems to be a reproduction of an essay included in the databases of WriteWork, Data Researchers Network, and also Atlants.lv Internet Library (where the author is identified by the tern "taramanky").

A rare critical review/assessment of Hagar's investigative method (or lack of it) amongst the Mi'kmaq. Hagar would have been following the ethnological techniques and fashions of his day. Unfortunately I can not presently locate any details of the author. The review/assessment written in 2004 by a university student studying for a Bachelor's degree (in the social sciences?) It's style is similar to the Public Anthropology critiques of the (internet) Anthropology Journal Archive Project. It is valuable for its insights into the problems with Hagar's investigative approach. (In reproducing the essay I have only clarified some words.)

 

(8) The Constellations of Homer and Hesiod

The Greek literature we know begins with a 'big bang,' namely the Homeric epics. Homer's Odyssey and Iliad are the closest thing we have to a history of the Greek people before the 7th-century BCE. Traditional sources and linguistic evidence indicate they were substantially fixed in the form they have come down to us circa 700 BCE. It is also indicated that both the Iliad and the Odyssey contain information of an older, orally remembered past. The mythological cosmogony in Hesiod's Theogony is a another early source for Greek mythological thought.

But Homer was not really the first. Homer's texts are the first in ancient Greek literature that have been passed down to us. However, it is certain they were in fact preceded by other oral literature whose texts have not come down to us. There is also the issue of the indebtedness of early Greek literature to Near Eastern literature. (As example see the recent discussions: West, Martin. (1997). The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth; and Haubold, Johannes. (2013). Greece and Mesopotamia: Dialogues in Literature.

There is no solid proof the Homeric poems were written in the 8th-century BCE. The view that Homer was earlier than Hesiod has shifted towards greater skepticism. Regardless, their written forms date from  between 750 BCE and 600 BCE. It is known they were compiled in the 6th-century BCE. This was at a time of Mesopotamian influence. Onomacritus (circa 530–circa 480 BCE) a Greek chresmologue (compiler of oracles), who lived at the court of the tyrant Pisistratus in Athens before being banished as a Persian sympathiser, was an editor of the Homeric poems and was accused of interpolation. The text was not fixed, the editors at the Library of Alexandria would have had a further opportunity to add astral significance to the texts.

David Pingree (1998) pointed out that Homer's line in the Iliad naming the Pleiades, the Hyades, and Orion, follows the order in which these constellations are named in the Old Babylonian Prayer to the Gods of the Night, and Section B of Astrolabe B (as stars in the Path of Ea). Also, in the first line of the description of Archilles' shield mention of "the earth, the heaven and the sea" corresponds to the 3 Mesopotamian gods Enlil, Anu, and Ea; the gods of the "three paths" across the sky. 

Homer mostly names constellations, not stars. In the Illiad and the Odyssey, Homer mentions to 6 constellations/asterisms/star names: (1) the constellation Boötes, (2) the star cluster Hyades, (3) the constellation Orion, (4) the star cluster Pleiades, (5) the star Sirius (Dog Star), and (6) the constellation Ursa Major. Hesiod, who wrote in the early 7th century BCE, adds the star Arcturus to this list in his poetic calendar Works and Days. However, in mentioning Arcturus, Hesiod may have meant Boötes.

"There is a single passage in the Iliad, and a parallel one in the Odyssey, in which the constellations are formally enumerated by name. ... There is reason to believe that the stars enumerated in the Iliad and Odyssey constituted the whole of those known by name to the early Greeks. This view is strongly favoured by the identity of the Homeric and Hesiodic stars. It is difficult to believe that had there been room for choice the same list precisely would have been picked out for presentation in poems so widely diverse  in scope and origin as the Iliad and Odyssey on the one side and, the Works and Days on the other. (Familiar Studies in Homer by Agnes Clerke (1892, Pages 41-42)"

At the time of Homer, the (Greek) constellations were not associated with any particular myth (at least none were provided). There are no direct references to constellation myths in Homer, only 2 indirect references involving Ursa Major (the Great Bear). Homer states the Great Bear is 'to keep a watchful eye' on Orion the hunter, and the Great Bear, uniquely, does not set below the horizon (implying there is a reason for this). There is only the slightest indication of constellation myths in Hesiod.

Hesiod's relatively rudimentary star catalogue for farmers and sailors basically matches the constellations and star names listed earlier by Homer. Hesiod also adds practically useful remarks and also some additional basic astronomy. Hesiod (Works and Days): "For stars or constellations that rise and set, like Orion and Sirius, there can be only one visible transit across the meridian. But for a circumpolar star, two transits are observable, an upper and a lower one."

Star Names and Star Groups in Homer

Star Names and Star Groups in Hesiod

In the Iliad and the Odyssey (mostly in the description of Achille's shield and in the sailing directions of Calypso to Odysseus). Homer (8th-century BCE-circa 750 BCE) names the following star names and star groupings: Star names and star groups in Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days (8th-century BCE):`
the Pleiades (now a star cluster in Taurus) the Pleiades
the Hyades (now a star cluster in Taurus) the Hyades
the Wain ('haxama') (the Wagon (the 7 stars of the Big Dipper asterism)) / also called Arktos/Arctus = (She-)Bear (termed 'Bear' by Homer) [later known as Great Bear when name of Cynosura 'dog's tail' changed to Little Bear (Ursa Minor)] Not named by Hesiod
Orion Orion
'Autumn star' (Sirius) / also known as the Dog of Orion Sirius
the Wagoner (Boötes) / also called Artophylax(Arctophylax)/Arcturus/ 'Bear watcher' or 'Bear driver' (Homer does not mention that Boötes was called Arctophylax) Arcturus (according to early Classicists it is uncertain whether the whole constellation Boötes is meant but according to recent Classicists the name Arcturus (the brightest star of the constellation the Wagoner, the name was applied by Hesiod to the whole constellation Boötes)
The date and authorship of the Homeric poems are uncertain. In origin it is likely court poetry, composed for aristocratic entertainment. Note: (1) There is reference to the circumpolar stars. Attention centres on Ursa Major, the Great Bear, which comprises stars that never set below the horizon. (In astronomical terms the stars of the constellation Great Bear are circumpolar.) (2) The double name of the 7 stars of the ‘dipper’ asterism, '(great) bear'/'wagon' has resulted in 2 different names to the constellation that follows it: artophylax 'bear-watcher' and arktouros/arcturus boötes 'the wagoner.' Note: Three names are given to Ursa Major in Greek literature: haxama ('wagon'), arktos ('bear'), and Helice. The first 2 names were used by Homer. All the 3 names are also applied to Ursa Minor. Works and Days is a versified farmer's manual (the earliest Greek didactic poetry). The date and authorship of the Hesiodic poems are uncertain. It is probable that the Hesiodic corpus is later than the Homeric corpus. Hesiod names almost the same stars as Homer. Whether Hesiod actually wrote a work on the constellations is considered doubtful. Note: Arcturus (Latin Arcturus, from Greek Arktouros) refers to the star, not the constellation. Hesiod was acquainted with the solstices. Hesiod, in his poetical Works and Days, makes the achronycal rising (i.e., rising at dusk) of the single star Arcturus 60 days after the winter solstice.
Both 'Homer' and Hesiod must have noticed the planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. However, because of the irregularity in the movements of the planets they were useless for calendrical/agricultural purposes. Homer mentions, in addition to the sun and moon, the Morning Star (Venus), and the Evening Star (Venus). Homer was unaware that the morning and evening star are identical with the planet Venus. It appears there were no systematic observations made of the planets until circa the late 6th-century BCE and early 5th-century BCE. Note: The constellations mentioned by Homer and Hesiod are basically indicated as connected with Babylonian uranography.

Authorities now tend to to date the composition of the Iliad and Odyssey to the period 750-700 BCE.

Homer was likely a collector of the tales and ballads of earlier times. The popularity of Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey ensured that they were written down and survived and the oral texts that preceded them were lost. It is now impossible to know what astronomical content may have been included in any lost early epics. Knowledge of the Iliad and the Odyssey only began to spread across the Greek speaking world in the course of the 6th-century BCE. No doubt helped by being in written form. The focus of the Iliad was the Trojan war. The focus of the Odyssey was the homeward voyage of Ulysses.

Homer was possibly Ionian. (A number of Ionian Greek cities claimed to be the birthplace of Homer.) Hesiod was influenced by Ionian epic tradition. It is indicated that the astronomy of Homer and Hesiod is of a primitive type.

Hesiod resided in Boeotia, a district of ancient Greece with a distinctive military, artistic, and political history. Hesiod makes it very clear that he was a farmer. Boeotia lies to the north of the eastern part of the Gulf of Corinth. It also has a short coastline on the Gulf of Euboea. Boeotia was a great agriculture and cattle-rearing plain dominated by Thebes but also dotted with smaller cities. The Greek city of Thebes was located in Boeotia, central Greece. It has been continuously inhabited since the 3rd-millennium BCE. It played an important role in Greek myth, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus and others. In Hesiod’s time Athens was not yet a growing power.

The ease and readiness with which  additional star groups were composed is unknown. How many existing early star groups were extended in size is also unknown.

Older authorities were highly valued by the Greeks and considered more reliable.

 

(9) The Bear Constellation

As early as Homer's time  the group of stars comprising the modern-day asterism the 'dipper' was known to the Greeks as the 'Bear,' (not the 'Great Bear'). Also, to Homer the Bear is female. A tradition exists that the 'Little Bear' was introduced to the Greeks by Thales (circa 600 BCE) in his book Nautical Astronomy. However, the book is also attributed to Phocus of Samos. Homer knew the 7 stars of the 'dipper' as both the 'bear' and the 'chariot' or 'wain.' This is the earliest reference to the constellation of the (Great) Bear. (The double name of the 7 stars of the 'dipper' asterism, '(great) bear'/'wagon' has resulted in 2 different names to the constellation that follows it: Arktouros "bear-watcher" and boötes "the wagoner.") It is apparent that the designation 'chariot' or 'wain' is Babylonian in origin. (Wain = a wagon or cart, usually four wheeled.) Perhaps the Bear is to be dated to the Greek Archaic Period.

Thales was reported to have introduced Ursa Minor (Little Bear) as a constellation for Greek mariners in place of Ursa Major (Great Bear). The Little Bear star group was originally designated 'Phoinike' by the Greeks.

For Homer and Hesiod the bear constellation seems to have been the only recognised constellation in the northern sky.

The origin of the Bear constellation in Greek uranography remains unknown. The name and constellation are usually discussed in the context of being borrowed by the Greeks. However, there were populations of Eurasian brown bears in ancient Anatolia and ancient Greece and Macedonia.

A theory that is still promoted is the constellation title originated in prehistoric times among the Indo-Europeans. It is claimed that the earliest known religions were those of the bear cults. However, The origin of the Greek Bear constellation may be connected to the myth of Callisto. To the ancient Greeks, Ursa Major represented Callisto (Kallisto). The bear was an (totemic) animal sacred to the cult of Artemis. The goddess Artemis had a bear cult in Attica. The name Artemis is possibly related to the Greek word ārktos meaning "bear." Homer was familiar with Artemis as the Mistress of Animals. (Principally Artemis was a goddess of animals and hunting.) A cult title of the goddess Artemis was Calliste/Kalliste (Artemis Kalliste) (= Callisto?). It is understood that the story about Callisto was originally about Artemis. The popular Greek goddess Artemis originated in the pre-Greek era. Artemis worshipers were found all over the ancient Greek world. "The identification of the constellation of the Bear with Artemis occurs at PGM VII. 687. The Great Bear was believed to be Callistro, Artemis' fellow huntress, who was transformed into a constellation. Callistro was a manifestation of Artemis herself, who play an important role as a she-bear, especially at Brauronia." [This refers to the bear cult of Artemis at Brauron.] (The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation by Hans Betz (1996, Page 333).)

In Greek mythology the goddess Artemis is involved in the origin of 3 prominent constellations: Ursa Major (the Great Bear), Ursa Minor (the Little Bear), and Orion (the Hunter). According to late Greek myth Ursa Minor is the son of Callistro. (Artemis by Claire O'Neil (2007, see pages 35-39).) See also the discussion: Blomberg, Peter. (2007). "How did the constellation of the Bear receive its name?" In: Pásztor, Emília. (Editor). Archaeoastronomy in Archaeology and Ethnography: Papers from the annual meeting of SEAC (European Society for Astronomy in Culture), held in Kecskemét, Hungary, 2004. BAR [British Archaeological Reports] S1647. (Pages 129-132).

 

(10) Introduction of Constellations from the 6th-Century BCE to the 4th-Century BCE

The Greek constellating of the sky was perhaps mostly consolidated during a short period circa 600 BCE. Prime candidates for this phase are the Ionian Greeks.

The Greek poet Aglaosthenes (7th-century BCE; flourished perhaps circa 650 BCE) of the island of Naxos, in his Naxian Tales, mentioned the constellations Cynosura (now Ursa Minor) and the Eagle (Aquila) and their respective myths (Catasterisms). Epimenides of Crete (circa 600 BCE), a semi-mythical figure and supposed author of Cretan Tales, mentioned Capricornus = 'Goat-horn' (at least the Catasterism) and the star Capella (= goat-star). Anacreon (circa 582 – circa 485 BCE), the Greek lyric poet who wrote in the Ionic dialect, though greatly posterior to Homer and Hesiod, only names 1 additional constellation than these earlier writers. Anacreon knew of the Little Bear (or rather it was known in the time of Anacreon) because he uses the plural whereas Homer and Hesiod always use the singular.

The development and use of the celestial globe as a framework for astronomical calculation and observation was a decisive event in the history of Greek astronomy. The innovation of the celestial globe is likely datable prior to the work of Eudoxus in the early 4th-century BCE.

It would be reasonably accurate to say that during this period - and even much later - different Greek astronomers would change the constellation boundaries, if not the actual constellations. The constellation figures of the Greek sky, and most constellation boundaries, only became standardised after Aratus (i.e., with Ptolemy). It is known that some Greek constellation figures shared the same star (or even stars) within their respective boundaries. There are 3 illustrations for this: (1) Aratus included Serpens in Ophiuchus, and Lupus in Centaurus. Serpens was separated from Ophiuchus, and Lupus separated from Centaurus by Hipparchus/Ptolemy. Lupus is described by Eratosthenes as a "Wine-skin." Aratus separated the Pleiades from Taurus whereas Hipparchus made the Pleiades an asterism of Taurus. Aratus' description of Perseus (specifically the left knee) is criticised by Hipparchus. (2) From Otto Neugebauer's, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy (1975): "Ptolemy states that he had repeatedly changed the boundaries of constellations and quotes some examples where he deviates from Hipparchus. ... When Ptolemy says that he had redefined the association of many single stars with respect to the traditional constellation configurations he adds the remark that his predecessors did not act differently." (Part 1, Pages 286-287). See Part 1, Page 336 for differences between Aratus, Hipparchus, and Ptolemy regarding Cassiopeia and Perseus; and Part 2, Page 1027 regarding the drastic regrouping of stars in Virgo by Ptolemy to that of Hipparchus. (3) Gerd Grasshoff in his, The History of Ptolemy's Star Catalogue (1990) states (Page 40): "The decrease in the number of constellations in the course of the [Greek] development of the constellations can be deduced by comparing the number of stars in Ptolemy's constellations with [those in] the Hipparchian register. The oldest constellations, the zodiacal signs [constellations] have a disproportionately larger number of external stars, indicating that the area of the constellations was reduced in the course of time." These examples of constellation changes all deal with subdividing or removing parts of one, or renaming a group of stars. They do not indicate the relocation of positions of constellations.

Circa 500 BCE there were some 700 cities on the Greek mainland.

 

(11) Origin and Transmission of the Zodiacal Constellations

The standard scheme of the 12 constellation zodiac was introduced in Babylonia circa the 5th-century BCE and developed during the Seleucid period. The Greek elaboration of the zodiac followed, with minor changes in the mythological representation of a few constellations, the Babylonian scheme.

Most of the zodiacal names are merely those of old late 2nd-millennium BCE Babylonian constellations. The archaic Greek zodiac of the Aratean-Eratosthenic period was comprised of 11 figures positioned along the ecliptic. The 12 constellation zodiac of the Greek-Roman world originated in the 1st-century CE with the introduction of the Libra (in place of the Claws of the Scorpion). The different versions survive in a number of different celestial maps (likely produced to support to the comprehension of the first part of the Phaenomena) depicting either the Greek Aratean tradition or the later Latin Aratean tradition.

 

(12) The Constellations of Eudoxus and Aratus

The primary sources on Greek constellations and star lore are Aratus, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Ptolemy, and Hyginus.

There is only limited information on indigenous Greek constellations. The starting point (primary source) for all studies of Greek constellations and star lore is the astronomical poem Phaenomena ['Appearances'] written circa 275 BCE by the Greek poet Aratus of Soli. The Phainomena is a description of the constellations and a compendium of astronomical mythology connected with the constellations. After Aratus the next important work for the study of the constellations is the summary essay Catasterisms (Latin, Catasterismi) attributed to Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE), a Greek scientist and writer. It is a collection of traditional Greek constellation myths. The Catasterisms is an additional primary source for information on the most archaic Greek constellations. The antiquity of 'Eratosthenes' (commonly, Pseudo-Eratosthenes) sources is certain because he quotes in places from a long-lost work on astronomy by Hesiod. Additional sources of constellation lore are: Hyginus(1st-century BCE), author (compiler) of Poeticon Astronomicon (Poetical Astronomy; also known as De Astronomia); and Manilius (1st-century CE), Astronomica.

Eudoxus of Cnidus

The earliest complete (or almost complete) description of the night sky as seen from Greece was written by Eudoxus. Eudoxus' work on the systematic organisation of the fixed stars, the Mirror and later the Phainomena, survives in Aratos' Phainomena and Hipparchus' Commentary on Aratus. Eudoxus appears to have been the earliest Greek writer to write about the constellations solely for the purpose of writing a description of the night sky as seen from Greece. His description mainly survives in the Phainomena of Aratus.

The 5th- and 4th- centuries BCE saw the introduction of celestial mapping in Greece - including celestial globes. It is indicated that Eudoxus was the first Greek to make a comprehensive star globe. According to the Roman poet and orator Cicero (106-43 BCE), It is indicated that Aratus derived his entire systematic description of the constellations from the star globe constructed by Eudoxus. In Aratus' Phaenomena the description of the human figures at least seem to be taken from those on a star globe. However, a star globe is never mentioned. The earliest extant systematic description of the Greek constellations is found in the Phaenomena of Aratus. His astronomical poem contained the description of 43 constellations and named 5 individual stars. The most significant motivation for the construction of celestial globes with constellation figures originated with the astronomical poem Phaenomena by Aratus (1st half of the 3rd-century BCE).

Descriptions of constellations in Greece existed as early as Eudoxus, circa early 4th-century BCE). The Greek astronomer Eudoxus, circa 375 BCE, appears to have been the first person to develop a standardised map of the Greek constellations. A complete set of Greek constellations appears to have been first described by Eudoxus in two works called the Enoptron and the Phaenomena. (Eudoxus appears to have been the first person to have comprehensively arranged and described (i.e., consolidated) the Greek constellation set.) The early method of the Greek astronomer Eudoxus for determining the places of the stars was to divide the stars into named constellations and define the constellations partly by their juxtaposition, partly by their relation to the zodiac, and also by their relation to the tropical and arctic circles. The complete (and standardised) constellating of the Greek sky (with 48 constellations) was possibly first achieved by Eudoxus in his work Phaenomena. (The fragments of Eudoxus' lost works, Phaenomena and Enoptron, were collected and published by the classical scholar François Lassere in his Die Fragmente des Eudoxus von Knidus (1966).)

The first account of all 48 classical constellations was made by Eudoxus of Cnidos (circa 390-340 BCE). Poetic descriptions followed, such as Aratus' Phaenomena, the Catasterisms falsely ascribed to Eratosthenes of Cyrene (circa 275-194 BCE), the Poetica astronomica of Hyginus (2nd-century CE), derivative versions by Marcus Manilius (early 1st-century CE), Germanicus (early 1st-century CE) and Rufius Festus Avienus (4th-century CE), and also more scientific catalogue lists by Hipparchus and Ptolemy. Pseudo-Eratosthenes gave each constellation a mythological identity. These poetic/poetic-based works inclined towards "the transformation of the firmament into a rendezvous of mythological figures."

According to an anonymous Greek commentator of Aratus it was Eudoxus who brought Assyrian uranography to the Greeks. In his works Eudoxus gave descriptions of a large number of constellations known in Mesopotamia. Eudoxus continued the Mesopotamian traditions of constellations in the Mul.Apin series. There is a case for Babylonian astronomy being introduced to the Greeks through Philip of Opus and Eudoxus of Knidos. The detailed description by Eudoxus of the constellations - especially the use of the 12 zodiacal constellations - depended in part on Babylonian traditions. (Philip (or Philippus) of Opus (Opous), was a Greek philosopher and a member of Plato's Academy during Plato's lifetime. There is a case that Philip of Opus is probably identical with the Philip of Medma (or Mende) the astronomer, who is also described as a disciple of Plato.) Philip of Opus is probably identical with the Philip of Medma (or Mende).)

After Eudoxus' time there were only a few new constellations added by later Greek astronomers, or the boundaries of existing constellations modified. Regardless of considerable Mesopotamian influence it is indicated that a substantial number of Greek constellations and a substantial amount of Greek sky lore remained independent and were likely derived from Greek tradition. (There is the possibility that many of the constellations used by the Greeks may have been simply influenced by constellations in general/navigational use in the Mediterranean region in the late 1st-millennium BCE.) When Hesiod sets out rules for sailing, the relationship with the weather becomes particularly important and is made explicit.

Eudoxus' Enoptron and the Phaenomena

Descriptions of constellations in Greece existed as early as Eudoxus, circa early 4th-century BCE. Circa 360 BCE Eudoxos of Cnidus (408-355 BCE) is considered to have constructed the first star chart. (He is also considered to be the 'father' of Greek scientific astronomical observations.) He named a number of conspicuous stars and compared their brightness. Eudoxus of Cnidus (circa 390-circa 340 BCE) produced a pioneering work known as the Phaenomena, in which he described a calendar with references to the risings and settings of constellations. The Greek astronomer Eudoxus was likely the first Greek to summarise the Greek system of constellations. Eudoxus, circa 375 BCE, also appears to have been the first person to develop a standardised map of the Greek constellations. Our information is obtained from secondary sources as his work is has not come down to us. A complete set of Greek constellations appears to have been first described by Eudoxus in two works called the Enoptron and the Phaenomena. (Eudoxus appears to have been the first person to have comprehensively arranged and named and described (i.e., consolidated) the Greek constellation set.)

The early method of the Greek astronomer Eudoxus for determining the places of the stars was to divide the stars into named constellations and define the constellations partly by their juxtaposition, partly by their relation to the zodiac, and also by their relation to the tropical and arctic circles. The complete (and standardised) constellating of the Greek sky (with 48 constellations) was possibly first achieved by Eudoxus in his work Phaenomena. It is, however, the oldest known complete description of the celestial sphere.

It appears that Eudoxus did not mention the planets. They are not mentioned by Hipparchus in his Commentary and only barely mentioned by Aratus in his Phainomena. This indicates they were only briefly mentioned by Eudoxus in his Enoptron and Phainomena.

Eudoxus is also linked to the theoretical model of rotating celestial spheres centred on the Earth that were to explain the motion of the planets.

Aratus of Soli

According to several extant accounts of the life of Aratus, his patron, Antigonus Gonatas, gave him a set of Eudoxus' writings on the constellations and instructed Aratus to versify such. Antigonus Gonatas (319-239 BCE) was a powerful Greek king who solidified the position of the Antigonid dynasty in Macedon after a long period defined by anarchy and chaos and acquired fame for his victory over the Gauls who had invaded the Balkans. Aratus' Phainomena is the earliest extant star catalogue that has specific and intentional order to it, no minor achievement.

Whether Aratus dealt with existing star groups or formed new star groups is unknown. It is not known for certain whether Eudoxus was the person who actually introduced numerous Babylonian constellations into his scheme in order to constellate the entire Greek night sky or whether he made choices regarding constellations already known to the Greeks but whose use was not uniformly agreed upon - resulting in different constellation systems within the Greek world at that time. Also, Aratus was apparently concerned with giving definite shapes to the constellations.

Aratus of Soli was a Greek didactic poet who flourished in Macedonia in the early 3rd-century BCE (circa 315 BCE/310 BCE–240 BCE). Several accounts of his life are extant, by anonymous Greek writers. His only surviving work is his hexameter poem Phainomena (Phaenomena) ("Visible appearances") a book describing the constellations, some other celestial phenomena, and weather signs. The Phainomena of Aratus, probably composed in the period circa 280-260 BCE is an account in 1154 hexameters of: (1) the fixed constellations and their conjunctions, and (2) of weather-signs associated with both heavenly bodies and other natural phenomena. The opening of the poem asserts the dependence of all things upon Zeus.

Aratus' Phainomena

The first complete description of the Greek constellations to survive is given by the Greek poet Aratus circa 270 BCE. (The poem also survives in its entirety. It contains the earliest surviving description of the present-day Western constellation patterns.) With only a few exceptions no actual stars are described by Aratus - only constellation figures. This method was undoubtedly inherited from Eudoxus who produced a set of descriptions of constellations in which the relative positions of stars in each of the constellations was described. Eudoxus was likely the first Greek to summarise the Greek system of constellations. The purpose of the Phaenomena by Aratus was to describe the appearance and the organisation of the constellations in the sky with reference to each other. (The Greek 'Phaenomena' = 'Visible Signs.') The first complete description of the Greek constellations to survive is given by the Greek poet Aratus circa 270 BCE. With only a few exceptions no actual stars are described by Aratus - only constellation figures. This method was undoubtedly inherited from Eudoxus who produced a set of descriptions of constellations in which the relative positions of stars in each of the constellations was described. Eudoxus was likely the first Greek to summarise the Greek system of constellations. The purpose of the Phaenomena by Aratus was to describe the appearance and the organisation of the constellations in the sky with reference to each other. (The Greek 'Phaenomena' = 'Visible Signs.') Katherine Volk states the majority (= consensus) of scholars agree that the Phaenomena is an expression of larger themes that have to do with the nature of the universe and the place of people in this world. (See her excellent book chapter: "Aratus." by Katherine Volk. In: A Companion to Hellenistic Literature edited by James Clauss and Martine Cuypers (2010; Pages 197-210). "The Phainomena is the means through which Aratus promulgates a Stoicising view of the cosmos and of divine beneficence." (See: Tradition and Innovation in Hellenistic Poetry by Marco Fantuzzi and Richard Hunter (2005).) Richard Hunter has also commented that that Aratus' poem continues in a new mode the age-old position of the poet as a communal repository of wisdom. However, the interpretation of the poem's character and purpose remains somewhat undecided.

The Phaenomena of Aratus provided the most widely known description of the night sky in the Graeco-Roman world. from the time of its composition until the downfall of the Roman empire. The Greek poet Aratus of Soli (circa 315–circa 245 BCE), gave a verse description of 44 constellations in his Phainomena. The Phainomena of Aratus is in part a versification of a prose work by Eudoxus. Although Aratus wrote many other poems the Phainomena is his only extant work. The Phainomena is a didactic epic poem modeled on Hesiod's Works and Days. "The most important predecessor to the Phaenomena in the genre is Hesiod's early-seventh-century BCE Works and Days, and Aratus' emphasis on agriculture in the proem [preface/introduction] serves as a nod to this poem as its primary model." (Aratus: Phaenomena by Aaron Poochigian (2010, Page x.) It also owes something to a work by Cleanthes of Assos. "There are resemblances between parts of the Phaenomena and the contemporary Hymn to Zeus by Cleanthes (331-332 BCE), the successor of Zeno as head of the Stoic school." (Aratus: Phaenomena by Aaron Poochigian (2010, Page xi.) Aratus' Phaenomena was a practical manual in verse to teach the reader how to identify constellations and predict weather. It was one of the most popular literary works of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It is the starting point for all studies of Greek constellations and star lore. It contains an occasional reference to a myth associated with a particular constellation. With only a few exceptions no actual stars are described by Aratus - only constellation figures. This method was undoubtedly inherited from Eudoxus who produced a set of descriptions of constellations in which the relative positions of stars in each of the constellations was described.

"... Aratus synthesizes three texts: Eudoxus of Cnidus' treatise on astronomy, Pseudo-Theophrastus' Concerning Weather-Signs, and Hesiod's Works and Days." (Aratus: Phaenomena by Aaron Poochigian (2010, Page xi.) However, David Sider has suggested that the section on weather signs is based on Eudoxus, who may have dealt with both astronomy and meteorology.

The purpose of the Phainomena is to give an introduction to the constellations, with the rules for their risings and settings; and of the circles of the sphere, amongst which the Milky Way is also included. The positions of the constellations, north of the ecliptic, are described by reference to the principal groups surrounding the north pole (Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, and Cepheus), whilst Orion serves as a point of departure for describing the constellation to the south. The immobility of the earth, and the revolution of the sky about a fixed axis are maintained; the path of the sun in the zodiac is described; but the planets are introduced merely as bodies having a motion of their own, without any attempt to define their periods. Nothing is said about the moon's orbit. The purpose of the Phaenomena by Aratus was also to describe the appearance and the organisation of the constellations in the sky with reference to each other. Within the poem the constellations are descriptively arranged into two main areas, the northern constellations (including all of the zodiacal constellations), and the southern constellations. (The goal of the Phainomena was to entertain and educate the literate upper class of Greek society. The contents, especially the brief sections on seasonal signs and weather signs, are too sophisticated for ordinary farmers and sailors.) The star names mentioned by Aratus are Sirius, Arcturus, Procyon ("Forerunner of the Dog"), Stachys ("Ear of Corn," now Spica), and Protrugater ("Herald of the Vintage"). The poem of Aratus was a product of the Hellenistic Greek culture centred not at Alexandria, where scientific activity flourished, but at Athens and the Macedonian court there. The Phainomena describes the constellation figures of the night sky that embodied the cultural history and traditions of the world of Aratus. The poem has no astrological content.

It is interesting to note that Eudoxus resided in Cnidus, a city in southern Asia Minor (founded by Sparta) near to the later established Ionia and eventually having a large Ionian and Dorian population. Athens claimed a founders relationship with the Ionians. A flow of information to Athens is unsurprising.

Aratus' Phainomena draws extensively upon two prose sources which modern scholars can reconstruct with some confidence. For the constellations Aratus was very heavily indebted to the prose Phainomena of the pioneering Greek astronomer Eudoxus, written perhaps as much as a century before Aratus' poem. The relationship of Aratus' work to that of Eudoxus has been a matter of discussion since antiquity. The 2nd-century BCE Greek astronomer Hipparchus emphasised Aratus' debt in his extant commentary (exégesis) on the works of Eudoxus and Aratus which preserves many fragments of the former's treatise. It is generally accepted that the 1st half of Aratus' Phainomena is a verse setting of a lost work of the same name by the Greek astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus. In composing his astronomical poem Phainomena, Aratus utilised an earlier prose work on the constellations by the astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidos, known also as the Phainomena. It contained detailed information about the constellations and may have been one of the earliest works establishing a Greek constellation set. In his Phainomena Eudoxus provided calendaric notices of the risings and settings of stars. Eudoxus' Phainomena provided the basis for the 1st part of Aratus' poem. (The Phainomena appears to be based on two prose works - Phainomena and Enoptron ("Mirror", presumably a descriptive image of the heavens) - by Eudoxus of Cnidus, written about a century earlier. We are told by the biographers of Aratus that it was the desire of Antigonus to have them turned into verse, which gave rise to the Phainomena of Aratus; and it appears from the fragments of them preserved by Hipparchus, that Aratus has in fact versified, or closely imitated parts of them both, but especially of the first.) However, some modern scholars have suggested that Aratus' poem differed in numerous ways from the prose of Eudoxus. There is also reason to believe that Hesiod's Works and Days was the model used for Aratus' Phainomena.

The poem can be divided/separated into 3 parts, the most important being his poetical description of the constellations, which forms the 1st part; followed by a discussion of the rising and setting of the constellations forming the 2nd part. The 3rd part is called the Diosemeia ("Forecasts"), and is mostly about weather lore. The 3rd part of Aratus' poem concerned with weather signs may have been derived from the work, On Weather Signs by Theophrastus. Possibly Eudoxus may have made extensive use of On Weather Signs. When this part of Aratus' Phainomena was first given the separate title 'Signs' is unclear. The Diosemeia consists of forecasts of the weather from astronomical phenomena, with an account of its effects upon animals. It appears to be an imitation of Hesiod, and to have been imitated by Virgil in some parts of the Georgics. The materials are stated to have been taken almost wholly from Aristotle's Meteorologica, from the work of Theophratus, On Weather Signs, and from Hesiod. No mention of Hellenistic astrology is made in either of these poems.

Aaron Poochigian divides the poem into 2 parts. "The Phaenomena is divided into two parts. The first part (1-783), an adaptation of a mostly lost prose treatise by Eudoxus of Cnidus, instructs the reader in the constellations of the northern and southern skies and their risings and settings. The second part (784-1189), sometimes referred to separately as the Diosemeia (Weather Signs), largely concerns the signs by which the weather can be predicted. It draws primarily from a work on weather signs referred to as De Signis (Concerning Weather Signs) and attributed to Aristotle's pupil Theophrastus." (Aratus: Phaenomena by Aaron Poochigian (2010, Page xi.)

Also, Aratus did not target his poem towards readers with extensive knowledge or experience of astronomy or the practical uses of astronomy. The astronomical information contained in Aratus' Phainomena was not always correct. The lack of precision in the constellation descriptions indicate that Aratus was neither a mathematician nor observer or, at any rate, that in his Phainomena he did not aim at scientific accuracy. He not only represents the configurations of particular groups incorrectly, but describes some phenomena which are inconsistent with any one supposed latitude of the observer, and others which could not coexist at any one epoch. These errors are perhaps partly to be attributed to Eudoxus himself, and partly to the way in which Aratus has used the materials by Eudoxus. Hipparchus (about a century later), who was a scientific astronomer and observer, left a commentary upon the Phainomena of Eudoxus and Aratus, accompanied by the discrepancies which he had noticed between his own observations and their descriptions.

However, the main appeal of Aratus' Phainomena may well have been its literary charm and also its numerous mythological allusions. Aratus enjoyed immense prestige among Hellenistic poets, including Theocritus, Callimachus and Leonidas of Tarentum. This assessment was picked up by Latin poets, including Ovid and Virgil.

In the Phainomena of Aratus (circa 275 BCE) 44 constellations are named. (Rembrandt Duits has pointed out: "The Aratean procedure for mapping the sky is astrologically completely neutral.") Within the poem the constellations are descriptively arranged into two main areas, the northern constellations (including all of the zodiacal constellations), and the southern constellations. (The goal of the Phainomena was to entertain and educate the literate upper class of Greek society. The contents, especially the brief sections on seasonal signs and weather signs, are too sophisticated for ordinary farmers and sailors.) The star names mentioned by Aratus are Sirius, Arcturus, Procyon ("Forerunner of the Dog"), Stachys ("Ear of Corn," now Spica), and Protrugater ("Herald of the Vintage"). The poem of Aratus was a product of the Hellenistic Greek culture centred not at Alexandria, where scientific activity flourished, but at Athens and the Macedonian court there. The Phainomena describes the constellation figures of the night sky that embodied the cultural history and traditions of the world of Aratus. (In addition to the Phainomena, Aratus' poetic compositions are said to have included a series of funeral dirges, elegies, epigrams, and hymns, as well as a noted hymn to Pan.)

The Phaenomena of Aratus was not a scientific work. The Phaenomena described the sky in poetic language and remained a major influence throughout classical antiquity. Without using technical terms, Aratus described the layout of the constellations in the sky and the myths behind their names, as well as meteorological implications of the rising and setting of certain stars. (The Phaenomena of Aratus was modelled on Hesiod's Works and Days.) Cicero (1st-century BCE) wrote that Aratus' poem was essentially a description of a celestial globe constructed by Eudoxus of Cnidos (circa 390-340 BCE): "[He] … described it in verse, not displaying any knowledge of astronomy but showing considerable poetical skill." Aratus' poetical slant and identification of constellation with mythological identities was continued by later authors, who assigned further mythological identities to constellations: Catasterismi falsely ascribed to Eratosthenes of Cyrene (circa 275-194 BCE), and Poetica Astronomica by Hyginus (1st / 2nd-century CE). Nothing is known of the star globe of Eudoxus.

Aratus authored other poems but his Phainomena is his only extant work. Several poetical works on various subjects, as well as a number of prose epistles, are attributed to Aratus, but none of them have come down to us, except his 2 astronomical poems in hexameter. These have generally been joined together as if parts of the same work; but they seem to be distinct poems, the 1st, called Phainomena ("Visible appearances"), consists of 732 verses; the 2nd, Diosemeia ("On Weather Signs"), of 422 verses. In antiquity at least 27 separate commentaries were known to have been written of the Phainomena by Aratus. The ones by Theon of Alexandria, Archilles Tatius, and Hipparchus of Nicea survive. Several Roman writers translated it into Latin, including Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE), the author presumed to be Iulius Caesar Germanicus (15 or 16 BCE-19 CE), and Postumius Rufius Festus Avienus (flourished mid 4th-century CE). The popularity of the Phainomena in the ancient world was both widespread and enduring. After the epic Homeric poems Iliad and Odyssey it was the most widely read poem. Aratus' Phainomena was also one of the very few Greek poems translated into Arabic. An Arabic translation was commissioned in the 9th-century CE by the Caliph Al Ma’mun.

See: Taub, Liba. (2010). "Translating the Phainomena across genre, language and culture." In: Imhausen, Annette. and Pommerening, Tanja. (Editors). Writings of Early Scholars in the Ancient Near East, Egypt, and Greece. (Pages 119-138).

Astronomical Information in Aratus' Phainomena:

By the early 4th-century BCE the basic theory of the celestial sphere (i.e., ecliptic (and zodiac), equator, tropics, arctic circle, horizon, wandering stars (= planets), and the Milky Way) had been established by the Greeks. The astronomical sense of phainomai = "things that are seen/appear in the heavens." Aratus' poem can be organized into five sections: the proem (1-18); the constellations and planets (19-461); the measurement of time (462-757); the weather signs (758-1141); and conclusion (1142-1154). The multiple but uneven translations of Aratus' Phainomena shows the direct astronomical information in the poem includes:

(1) The names and related positions of 46 constellations, beginning at the north celestial pole.

(2) The design of the heavens by means of the polar axis, the 4 celestial circles (the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn defined, the ecliptic, the celestial equator), and these related to the Milky Way.  

(3) The demarcation/separation of the constellations in the northern celestial hemisphere from the constellations in the southern celestial hemisphere.

(4) The names of the Signs of the Zodiac, beginning with the Crab through to the Twins, and the explanation that the sun moves around this circle.

Aratus omits any mention of astrology. Interestingly, Eudoxus was known in antiquity for his rejection of astrology.

Not included or lacking in the original Greek poem and/or in later Latin translations are discussions of:

(1) The particular (individual) stars that make up the constellations. (Even at this period very few stars were named.)

(2) The number or position of the stars within each constellation. (This information is added later through the scholia.)

(3) There is only minimal mention of the planets. (No specific information concerning their order, movements, names, or traditional attributes.)

(4) There is no information on transitory events. (Such things as comets, solar and lunar eclipses, changes in hours of daylight, are ignored.)

(5) There is no mention of the moon's orbit.

The interest of Aratus' Phainomena is the perfection of the celestial realm.

Note: Archibald Roy argued that because the Phaenomena of Aratus contains such a large amount of nautical weather lore associated with the appearance of constellations it was evidence - as least as interpreted by him - that the constellations were intended as a navigational aid for seafarers (specifically, Minoan sailors).

Aratus Leitmotif in Phainomena

The Phaenomena (literally, "things that appear") is about the fixed stars (constellations), and their annual motion, and also about atmospheric occurrences, and the behaviour of the flora and fauna. Treating Aratus' Phainomena with exactness in its description and position of the constellations is likely not justified. It has limitations with its exactness. It is a poem, not an accurate scientific treatise on descriptive astronomy. It provides, amongst other things, information about the general location of constellations in the sky. The central intention (leitmotif) of Aratus within the poem is to draw attention to the perceivable signs in nature, which the god Zeus has benignly given to humankind.

 

(13) Hipparchus' Commentary on Aratus and Eudoxus

Aratus' Phainomena quickly became one of the most widely read poems in the Graeco-Roman world after the Iliad and Odyssey by Hesiod. The popularity of Phainomena was widespread and long-lived. It was the subject of numerous ancient commentaries. Hipparchus' critique of Eudoxus and Aratus, written circa the mid 2nd-century BCE, was concerned only with the astronomical content, not with the weather signs. It is indicated that in the 1st-century CE, Hipparchus and Aratus were read together as a unit of astronomical authority.

Hipparchus of Nicaea (in Bithynia, an ancient kingdom in what is now Turkey) is considered to be the greatest astronomer in Antiquity. Hipparchus spent much of his (later) life on the Greek island of Rhodes and is believed to have died there. Hipparchus, is the first systematic astronomer on record. Most of what we know about Hipparchus (who flourished during the 2nd half of 2nd-century BCE) comes from the works of Ptolemy, Pappus, Theon, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder.

The only work by Hipparchus which has survived is his Commentary on the Phaenomena of Aratus and Eudoxus written in 3 books as a commentary on 3 different writings. Firstly, the treatise by Eudoxus on in the names and descriptions of the Greek constellations. Secondly, the astronomical poem Phaenomena by Aratus which was based on the constellation treatise by Eudoxus. Thirdly, the commentary on Aratus by Attalus of Rhodes, written shortly before the time of Hipparchus. The Commentary is a relatively minor work by Hipparchus. Otto Neugebauer noted that Hipparchus' Commentary is more a sharp critique than a commentary. (Basically, Hipparchus found that several statements in the poem by Aratus did not agree with his own observations.)

Except for his short Commentary on the Phaenomena of Eudoxus and Aratus (in 2?/3? books) on the astronomical poem by Aratus, all of Hipparchus' works are lost. This is a highly critical commentary in the form of two books on a popular poem by Aratus based on the work by Eudoxus. Hipparchus also made a list of his major works, which apparently mentioned about fourteen books, but which is only known from references by later authors. (According to Fabricius, Hipparchus wrote nine separate works.) Caroline Bishop comments ("Hipparchus of Nicaea and the Commentary Tradition."): "... its opening chapters are dominated by polemic—against Aratus, whose poem is filled with astronomical errors, against Eudoxus, who provided a faulty model for Aratus, and against Attalus of Rhodes, a contemporary Aratean commentator, who was more interested in justifying Aratus' mistakes than in correcting them." Germanicus Caesar made use of Hipparchus' Commentary in his translation of the Phaenomena. Gerd Graßhoff writes (The History of Ptolemy's Star Catalogue (1990)): "In his actual commentary on Aratus and Eudoxus, which makes up the first part and the main body of the work, Hipparchus compares their results with what he holds to be the "true" phenomena for the horizon of Athens; that is to say, he describes the constellations in their relation to the horizon for the geographical latitude of 37º."

"Hipparchos’ main goal [in his Commentary] is to show how both Aratos and Eudoxos are wrong and how his description is the only accurate one. So sometimes he disagrees with both Aratos and Eudoxos, sometimes not only with them but with "all the mathematicians" (Commentaries 2.2.19), and other times only with either Aratos or Eudoxos." ("Greek Constellations." by Stamatina Mastorakou. In: Clive Ruggles (Editor). Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, Part IX, Pages 1555-1561; Page 1560.)

Hipparchus's catalogue of stars (which is not extant as an independent work, but is contained in part in his commentary on Aratus). The number of stars, as well as the number of distinct constellations, in Hipparchus's catalogue is ambiguous, but it seems there were between 45 and 47 constellations with no more than 850 stars. (Circa 134 BCE the star catalogue appears close to the development of the graphical depiction of the sky. It is a list or tabulation of stars referred to simply by numbers. Timocharis (circa 320-260 BCE) and Aristillus (circa 280 BCE), both of Alexandria, are said to have created the first catalogue of the Western world. The works of Hipparchus were greatly valued by Ptolemy. (The works of Hipparchus were still extant when the Greek mathematician Pappus of Alexandria (one of the last great Greek mathematicians of Antiquity) wrote his Commentary on Ptolemy's Almagest in the 4th century CE.) Ptolemy's synthesis of astronomy superseded Hipparchus's work.)

It would appear that there was a lack of schools and continuity in Greek astronomy in the 4th-century BCE and in the 3rd-century BCE as well. The primary evidence is the lack of consolidation of a Greek constellation set and also the variety of choices made by Greek astronomers to establish the 1st point of Aries - variously 15°, 8°, and 0° Aries. The zodiac had a place in the constellation system of the greatest Greek astronomer of the 4th-century BCE, Eudoxus of Cnidus, a friend of Plato. It was the constellation set/celestial system and other celestial phenomena that was described in verse by the great Greek poet Aratus of Soli (315-240 BCE) in the early 3rd-century BCE. (It is plausible that Eudoxus divided the spherical Earth into the familiar 6 sections (northern and southern tropical, temperate, and arctic zones) according to a division of the celestial sphere.) Aratus was the court poet of Antigonus Gonatus, King of Macedonia, and like him was also a member of the Stoic sect of philosophers.

Aratus' Phainomena Described the Constellations in His Time

Only Hipparchus's Commentary on the Phenomena of Aratus and Eudoxus survives intact. "This commentary belongs to a long-standing discursive tradition concerned with constellations and astrological weather forecasting. In its third and final book, we find Hipparchus's own description of the constellations, plus the positions of 44 bright stars that he determined for telling time by night. Some of Hipparchus's later measurements are preserved in Ptolemy's Almagest, which is also our main source of information about Hipparchus’s mathematical astronomy." ("Hippachus." by Alistair Kwan. In: The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers edited by Thomas Hockey (2007, Pages 511-512; Page 511).)

Hipparchus brought his scientific precision to bear upon Aratus' versification of Eudoxus' astronomy. Hipparchus was working with latitudes measured in degrees, more accurate instruments, and a knowledge of trigonometry. The constellation descriptions in Eudoxus and Aratus are simply verbal descriptions. Aratus was accurate by the standards of his time. It is not to be expected that all his statements should be minutely accurate. Aratus' Hellenistic peers unanimously agreed that the Phaenomena was remarkably accurate. As example: Aratus accurately asserts that the Eagle constellation lies on the celestial equator. "[Hipparchus] ...  i, 3, ɪɪ-ɪ2 also realized the inadequacy to be expected of astronomical theory of a period some two hundred years earlier than his own, and was prepared to be satisfied if the data he was examining agreed only roughly with the latitude of Greece. The observer's latitude would any way only make a marked difference as regards the risings and settings of constellations, while the general description of their relative positions on the celestial sphere would not be much affected by it, except in so far as more of the stars near the south pole would become invisible as the north latitude of the observer increased." (Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle by David Dicks (1970; Page 155).)

Conference, Harvard University, 9-10 April, 2010, Pros and Cons: Professionalism and Expertise in the Ancient World. Abstract of paper presented by Caroline B. Bishop: "Astronomical Errors: Hipparchus, Aratus, and the Rise of Professional Astronomy.": "In this paper I examine how Hipparchus of Nicaea (fl[ourished]. 147-127 [BCE]) created and maintained a stable professional identity for astronomy. Hipparchus has long been known in the scientific world as the father of astronomy; though this honorific owes in large part to his monumental advances in the discipline, I argue that at least some of the credit is due to the strategies of self-fashioning found in his only surviving work, the Commentary on the Phaenomena of Aratus and Eudoxus. That he was successful in creating a model for the field, and in placing himself at its apogee, is evident: though he was nowhere near the first professional astronomer, his is the earliest astronomical treatise that survives. Faced with shaping a nascent discipline and correcting cosmological fiction masquerading as fact, Hipparchus finds it easiest to define astronomy by what it is not: two-thirds of his commentary is given over to pointing out the errors of earlier practitioners of the science. His tone is brusque and often highly polemical, and he does not shrink from criticizing fellow professional astronomers such as Eudoxus and Attalus. But Hipparchus is also in the unique position of having to take on a poet. By his time, Aratus' poem had achieved great popularity, and Hipparchus was clearly concerned that many received their sole astronomical knowledge from it. He offers a careful catalogue of Aratus' mistakes and denounces the illusory authority that dactylic hexameter lends an author. If Aratus' Phaenomena had been in prose, Hipparchus argues, no one would have accepted a text so full of errors. It is with this argument, I contend, that Hipparchus makes his most important contribution to his field. His critique of his professional predecessors may have solidified his position as an astronomer, but it was his passionate defense of professional expertise over poetic authority that secured the status of astronomy." The point has been made that Hipparchus’ criticisms of Aratus' precision in his Commentary eventually becomes fused, in the Roman period, with the tradition of the Phaenomena. Hipparchus' criticism of Aratus' precision was seen as demonstrating the problem with using poetry to convey technical knowledge. The unexpected effect of Hipparchus' Commentary was to update Aratus' poem, and enhance its relevance. It is indicated that in the Roman period of the 1st-century CE Hipparchus and Aratus were read together as a unit of astronomical authority. Hipparchus’ criticisms come to a head in a his discussion of the simultaneous risings and settings of the signs of the zodiac. Hipparchus makes a lengthy criticism of this section of Aratus' Phaenomena, undoubtedly because it requires the most precision. Hipparchus' main criticisms are that Aratus does not take into account that some constellations take more time than others to rise and set, some lie above or below the ecliptic, and that some overlap. Hipparchus approach is to divide the zodiac belt into perfect twelfths, and then discuss what constellation sets at the rising of each twelfth. Kidd (1997, Page 20) regarding Hipparchus' Commentary: "Book 2.1-3 is devoted to the stars that rise and set simultaneously with the risings of successive signs of the zodiac. Here he makes two preliminary statements, one that he will treat the signs as exact twelfths of the ecliptic, the other that he will assume that when A. refers to the rising of a sign, he means the beginning of its rising ... . The first is the basis of many of the errors that Hipparchus finds in A., because A. is referring to the visible constellations. Hipparchus is writing for readers who are interested in mathematical astronomy, and are familiar with his divisions of the ecliptic into 360°, with 30° to each sign."

"Hipparchos’ main goal [in his Commentary] is to show how both Aratos and Eudoxos are wrong and how his description is the only accurate one. So sometimes he disagrees with both Aratos and Eudoxos, sometimes not only with them but with "all the mathematicians" (Commentaries 2.2.19), and other times only with either Aratos or Eudoxos." ("Greek Constellations." by Stamatina Mastorakou. In: Clive Ruggles (Editor). Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, Part IX, Pages 1555-1561; Page 1560.)

"Hipparchus tells us that Eudoxus described the constellations through which the chief circles of the celestial sphere passed - the summer tropic ..., the winter tropic ..., the equator ..., and the solstitial and equanoctial colures ... . In addition, he gave the stars which marked the 'arctic' and antarctic' circles for the region of Greece, i.e. the limits of the circumpolar stars and those never visible at that latitude ... . Hipparchus has many criticisms to make of Eudoxus' relative placings of the constellations, but also indicates agreement with a number of them; he finds errors of up to 10° (although in the majority of instances the error ranges only from 1°-3°) in the descriptions of the tropics, equator, and 'arctic' and 'antarctic' circles, but up to 23° and once (astonishingly) of nearly two zodiacal signs, i.e. nearly 60° (i, ɪɪ, ɪ6), in the description of the colures. As regards the 'antarctic' circle, he finds fault only with Eudoxus' placing on it of the star Canopus which, Hipparchus says  (i, ɪɪ, 7-8), is situated about 38½° from the south pole and so is visible at north latitude 37° (Athens) and 36° (Rhodes); [Note 246] but he explicitly states that he has no fault to find with the other data that Eudoxus gives for this circle, which are near enough correct ... . This agreement is particularly significant in view of some of the theories propounded by modern scholars concerning the origin of the constellations ... . Hipparchus criticizes Eudoxus for saying that these is a star at the north pole, and points out that there is actually an empty space there, but that the hypothetical point marking  the pole forms one corner of a quadrilateral with three other stars." Note 246: "In fact, Eudoxus was more correct here than Hipparchus; according to Baehr's tables, the declination of Canopus (α Carinae) in the former's time was -52.8° and in the latter's -52.7°, so that it would be near the limit of visibility at latitude 37° and invisible at the true latitude of Athens, 38°, but in both cases it would (just) be visible at Rhodes ... ." (Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle by David Dicks (1970; Pages 155-156, Note 246 Page 247).)

Excerpts from: "Statistical Dating of the Phenomena of Eudoxus." by Dennis Duke (DIO-The International Journal of Scientific History, Volume 15, December 2008, Pages 7-23).

"A 'Watermark' of Eudoxan Astronomy." by Elly Dekker (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume XXXXIX, Part 2, Number 135, 2008, Pages 213-238; Page 220).

"A 'Watermark' of Eudoxan Astronomy." by Elly Dekker (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume XXXXIX, Part 2, Number 135, 2008, Pages 213-238; Page 224).

Also, see the important essays: "Statistical Dating of the Phenomena of Eudoxus." by Dennis Duke (DIO-The International Journal of Scientific History, Volume 15, December 2008, Pages 7-23). And, "A 'Watermark' of Eudoxan Astronomy." by Elly Dekker (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume XXXXIX, Part 2, Number 135, 2008, Pages 213-238). (Note: Important articles for correcting the mistaken notion that Eudoxus was referring to constellations established circa 1000 BCE, and not in his own lifetime circa 370 BCE.)

Dennis Duke (Hastro-L, 30-1-2002): "In Part 1 of his Commentary to Aratus [,] Hipparchus repeatedly gives the positions of stars by dividing the equator (not the ecliptic) and circles parallel to the equator (hence circles of constant declination) into equal 30 degree segments and naming those segments sequentially with the usual twelve signs of the zodiac." No other ancient astronomer has done this.

Attalus' Commentary

The commentary on Aratus, written by Attalus of Rhodes has not come down to us.

Thomas Heath, in an article "Constellations" (in Ox. Cl. Lex.), thought the myth of Orion and those concerning the Pleiades and Hyades are perhaps the earliest (and do belong to an early period). Circa the 5th-century BCE many of the constellations recognised by the Greeks had become associated with myths. Both the star catalogue (constellation description) of Eudoxus (4th-century BCE) and the star catalogue (constellation description) of Aratus (3rd-century BCE) adopted the vocabulary of myth. In his Castasterismi Eratosthenes (284-204 BCE) completed and standardised this process with each of the constellations being given a mythological significance.

Stellar Coordinates

The development of a system of coordinates to enable the positions of individual stars to be located accurately was first achieved in Greece; but only after undergoing considerable evolvement. The fixed stars were first located only in very vague terms. In the Works and Days of Hesiod (circa 7th-century BCE) there exists only the most rudimentary system for identifying particular stars and where to find them in the sky. A first attempt at an exact coordinate system for locating particular stars was not to occur until some 500 years later with the star catalogue of Hipparchus. In the 2nd-century BCE Hipparchus originated a star catalogue in which also he tried to give some reasonably accurate locational coordinates for the stars he listed. However, the coordinate system he used to locate the positions of the stars on his list remains unknown. Hipparchus introduced the system of assigning Greek letters to identify the magnitudes (brightness) of the naked-eye stars in each constellation. Some 300 years later this system of designating stellar magnitude was adopted by Claudius Ptolemy.

The earliest Western star catalogue (as we understand the term) originated with the astronomer Ptolemy (circa 140 CE). The culmination of Greek establishment of constellation (and star) names was contained in (Book VII and Book VIII) of Ptolemy's Almagest written circa 140 CE. In it Ptolemy listed 1025 (fixed) stars. For his star catalogue Ptolemy used one system of coordinates (ecliptic longitudes and latitudes) for all the stars listed in it. (Interestingly, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder (1st-century CE) mentioned the existence of another star catalogue of 1600 stars existing some 75 years prior to Ptolemy's star catalogue.)

Cataloguing Stellar Positions

Early in the 3rd-century BCE the Greek philosophers Timocharis and Aristyllus, using a cross-staff, accurately catalogued the positions (i.e., declinations) of some of the brightest stars. Timocharis, between circa 290-270 BCE, observed the declinations of twelve fixed stars. Aristyllus, continuing the program of Timocharis, observed between circa 280-240 BCE, the declinations of six more fixed stars. This is the first known Greek compilation of measured stellar positions forming a star catalogue. (See: "Ancient Stellar Observations Timocharis, Aristyllos, Hipparchus, Ptolemy - the Dates and Accuracies." by Y. Maeyama (Centaurus, Volume 27, 1984, Pages 280-310.)) It can be deemed the first true star catalogue.

The Greek scientist Eratosthenes of Cyrene (circa 276-circa 194 BCE) reportedly compiled a catalog of 675 brightest stars. Eratosthenes was a mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist, and became the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria.

Before the ancient Greek astronomers from Hipparchus of Rhodes (2nd-century BCE) onwards developed a co-ordinate system the constellations provided the usual means for identifying the position of anything in the night sky.

Circa 134 BCE the star catalogue appears close to the development of the graphical depiction of the sky. It is a list or tabulation of stars referred to simply by numbers. Timocharis (circa 320-260 BCE) and Aristillus (circa 280 BCE), both of Alexandria, are said to have created the first catalogue of the Western world. The works of Hipparchus were greatly valued by Ptolemy. (The works of Hipparchus were still extant when the Greek mathematician Pappus of Alexandria (one of the last great Greek mathematicians of Antiquity) wrote his Commentary on Ptolemy's Almagest in the 4th century CE.) Ptolemy's synthesis of astronomy superseded Hipparchus's work.

 

(14) Ptolemy's Almagest Star Catalogue

All of Ptolemy's major works have survived. The final consolidation of the classical Greek star names and constellation figures was accomplished by the polymath Ptolemy circa 140/150 CE in his book The Great System of Astronomy. (Originally called the Syntaxis by Ptolemy and then called the Almagest by the later Arabic translators.). The original Greek title of Ptolemy's most important work was The Mathematical Compilation (or The Great System of Astronomy) but it is now known by its popularised short Arabic title Almagest. The book was originally called Syntaxis by Ptolemy. Ptolemy's original Greek title was soon replaced by another Greek title The Mathematical Compilation/The Greatest Compilation. Its commonly known title Almagest originates from its translation into Arabic as "al-majisti." (When Gherardo of Cremona translated the Arabic version of Ptolemy's work into Latin from the Arabic, in 1175, the al-Magisti become known as Almagest.) This thirteen book work, mostly concerned with presenting his original detailed geometric mathematical theory of the movements of the Sun, Moon, and planets, was his earliest and marks the high-point of Greek (Alexandrine) astronomy.

Between Hipparchus and Ptolemy there is no evidence for the existence of any systematic description of the stars. Claudius Ptolemy was born circa 85 CE in Egypt and died circa 165 in Alexandria in Egypt. He made his astronomical observations between circa 127 CE and 141 CE. Ptolemy was one of the most influential Greek astronomers and geographers of his time. However, very little is actually known of his life. His name, Claudius Ptolemy, combines a mix of the Greek Egyptian "Ptolemy" and the Roman "Claudius."

The earliest Western star catalogue (as we understand the term) originated with Ptolemy. The culmination of Greek establishment of constellation (and star) names was contained in (Book VII and Book VIII) of Ptolemy's Almagest written circa 140/150 CE. In it Ptolemy listed 1025 (fixed) stars. (The Almagest contained no star maps.) For his star catalogue Ptolemy used one system of coordinates (ecliptic longitudes and latitudes) for all the stars listed in it. Ptolemy did not identify the stars in his catalogue with Greek letters, as is done by modern astronomers. Each of the 1025 stars listed was identified (1) descriptively by its position within one of the 48 constellation figures; then (2) by its ecliptic latitude and longitude; and then (3) its magnitude (using a Greek letter). (Stars that did not fit into the figure of a constellation were sated to be outside the constellation and their position described in terms of their relationship to the nearest constellated stars.) It is this particular star catalogue method of Ptolemy that enables us to identify, with considerable exactness, the boundaries (i.e., shape) of the ancient Greek constellations. Ptolemy's Almagest devotes 2 chapters to the fixed stars. The total number of stars listed in his star catalogue is 1022. The most important of these are the 14 stars frequently used used by Ptolemy as fundamental reference stars. Books VII and VIII of the Almagest contain a catalogue of 1022 stars divided into 48 constellations. The catalogue survives today in some 2 dozen manuscripts in Greek, Arabic, and Latin, the oldest of which date from the 9th-century CE. Reconstruction of the original catalogue from these imperfect copies involves identifying the stars, reconciling differences between the manuscripts, and attempting to explain discrepancies between the catalogue listing and the night sky. The identities of some of the stars in Ptolemy's list still remain completely uncertain due to errors in Ptolemy's measured coordinates and lack of precision in described positions. It is Ptolemy's catalogue of 48 constellations that is ancestral to the modern system of Western constellations.

Gerd Graßhoff (The History of Ptolemy’s Star Catalogue (1990)) concludes that Hipparchus' observations were incorporated into the Ptolemaic catalogue but that Ptolemy, in the absence of any understanding of how to treat errors of observation, selected from a variety of observations those that best fit his theory.

The constellation list in Ptolemy's star catalogue standardised the Western constellation scheme. The 48 constellation scheme described/listed by Ptolemy in his Almagest (circa 140 CE) consisted of 21 northern constellations, 12 zodiacal constellations, and 15 southern constellations. Many of the fainter stars are not included in any constellation. They lie outside the constellations. Of Ptolemy's 48 constellation figures, 14 (including Centaurus) represent men and women; 3 are birds, 14 are other land creatures., 7 are water creatures, and 10 are inanimate objects.

The northern constellations: (1) Little Bear [Ursa Minor], (2) Great Bear [Ursa Major], (3) Dragon [Draco], (4) Cepheus, (5) Ploughman [Boötes], (6) Northern Crown [Corona Borealis], (7) Kneeler [Hercules], (8) Lyre [Lyra], (9) Bird [Cygnus], (10) Cassiopeia, (11) Perseus, (12) Charioteer (Auriga], (13) Serpent Holder [Ophiuchus], (14) Serpent [Serpens], (15) Arrow [Sagitta], (16) Eagle [Aquila], (17) Dolphin [Delphinus], (18) Forepart of Horse [Equuleus], (19) Horse [Pegasus], (20) Andromeda, (21) Triangle [Triangulum]. The zodiacal constellations: (1) Ram [Aries], (2) Bull [Taurus], (3) Twins [Gemini], (4) Crab [Cancer], (5) Lion [Leo], (6) Virgin [Virgo], (7) Scales [Claws/Libra], (8) Scorpion [Scorpius], (9) Archer [Sagittarius], (10) Goat-horned [Capricornus], (11) Water-pourer [Aquarius], (12) Fishes [Pisces]. The southern constellations: (1) Sea-Monster [Whale/Cetus], (2) Orion, (3) River [Eridanus], (4) Hare [Lepus], (5) Dog [Greater Dog/Canis Major], (6) Dog's Forerunner [Lesser Dog/Canis Minor], (7) Argo [Argo Navis], (8) Watersnake [Hydra], (9) Bowl [Crater], (10) Raven [Corvus], (11) Centaur [Centaurus], (12) Beast [Wolf/Lupus], (13) Censer [Altar/Ara], (14) Southern Crown [Corona Australis], (15) Southern Fish [Pisces Austrinus].

Ptolemy's Almagest, and its star catalogue, became dominant and influential for many centuries both in the Islamic world and in Western Europe.

 

(15) Evidence for the Cultural Diffusion of Constellations to Greece

The Babylonian astronomers managed all aspects of their astral sciences perfectly well without any concept of a celestial sphere. (The circular astrolabes and planispheres were different to celestial globes.)

It is not possible to explain the origin of the Greek constellations from purely Greek influences. A major source of constellations that were part of the Greek night sky was Babylonian uranography. The Mesopotamian system of constellations influenced the Greek formation of the constellations.

The Greeks borrowing the system of zodiacal constellations from Mesopotamia was particularly influential. It was this particular borrowing that hastened the establishment of a constellated Greek sky. Only about half of the Greek constellation system is basically uniquely Greek and the constellating of the entire Greek sky was perhaps first accomplished by Eudoxus of Cnidus (early 4th-century BCE).  However, the number of Greek constellations was being added to in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. The eventual Greek constellation set was a compilation influenced by cultural diffusion from at least Mesopotamia. It is reasonably indicated that 22 of the constellations comprising the constellations of the Greek Classical Period are ultimately Babylonian in origin. The route of constellation transmission to Greece may remain unknown. By whatever means and when the numerous Babylonian constellations that were borrowed by the Greeks were transmitted to them it is indicated that were chosen/adopted by various Greek compilers over time. Those constellations - indigenous and borrowed - that were selected and described by Eudoxus of Cnidus in his system of star groupings became almost a canonical constellation system for the Greeks..

 

(16) Candidates for the Cultural Diffusion of Constellations to Greece

The region comprising the Mediterranean world is a unique configuration in which the relatively calm waters of the closed Mediterranean Sea connects 3 continents.

That the Greek-speaking world had extensive contact with the Middle East is not in dispute. From trade routes encouraged by the Neo-Assyrian Empire to the Graeco-Persian Wars and the Persian military conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 539 BCE, to the military conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE, it is clear that the Greeks were aware of and had continual interactions with the people of Mesopotamia and its surrounding environs. However, the issue of close cultural interrelations in the Eastern Mediterranean is controversial. The processualist school (= cultural evolutionism) scarcely recognises any evidence of significant cultural exchange between the Aegean and the Near East.

Ed Krupp has made the point (Krupp, Ed. (2000). "Night Gallery: The Function, Origin, and Evolution of Constellations." (Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, Volume XV, Pages 43-63)): "Despite endorsements for Minoan Crete, Phoenicia, or paleolithic Indo-Europeans, it may be just as reasonable to attribute the route to Anatolia. Ionia, at its western shore, was, after all, a Mediterranean center of intellectual ferment, wealthy and well connected."

Gunter Kopcke delivered a paper, "Did the Phoenicians Introduce the Idea of Interest to Greece and Italy – and if so When?" at a symposium at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, March 15th-16th, 1990. The paper was subsequently in, Kopcke, Gunter. and Tokumaru, Isabelle. (Editors). (1992). Greece between East and West: 10th – 8th Centuries BC. Günter Kopcke, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, New York University has made a detailed study of ancient Near Eastern and Aegean economy and commerce. His detailed study enables an understanding of how trade and culture are intertwined. Although there is little historical evidence, the cultural network was probably based on the prolific trading that was being carried out. His 1990 paper is rich with facts and ideas. As example how trade and culture are intertwined: Established on the Greek island of Delos during the Hellenistic period was an international community (a mix of Aegean and Near Eastern nationalities) including Syrians and Palestinians, who were living, trading, and worshipping their own traditional gods/goddesses. The Assyrian god Ba'al had a sanctuary there. (Numerous Mesopotamian cult figures have been found there.)

Dated, but still worth reading is, "Greeks" in the Neo-Assyrian Levant and "Assyria" in Early Greek Writers by Peyton Helm (1980; unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Pennsylvania). He writes (Pages 2-3): "... there have been comparatively few attempts to define the period in which Greeks first encountered Assyrians and to reconstruct the historical setting in which these encounters occurred. ... few were overly concerned with the frequency of the encounters or the motivation for them."

From the 8th-century BCE peoples in the Aegean region came into increasing contact with Assyrians. The first surviving mention of the Greeks (as Ionian pirates) by the Assyrians is an administrative letter in cuneiform dated circa 730 BCE.

See also: The Globalization of Knowledge in History edited by Jürgen Renn (2012).

(a) Ancient Greece was part of West Asia

Ancient Greece was part of West Asia and subject to at least sporadic cultural influences from the Near East. (Ancient Greece also lay at the crossroads of many trade routes.) Influences from Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Egypt are identifiable in numerous aspects of Greek cultural/intellectual life.

"Today we know that Greece already in the third millennium BC was an inseparable part of the ancient Near Eastern cultural sphere. The local culture, which the Greeks adopted when they invaded the country in the early second millennium BC, had long had close ties with Anatolia, Mesopotamia and the Levant. this oriental connection continued and gained in strength in the early part of the first millennium BC, when the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid empires extended their spheres of influence farther and farther towards the West. Irrespective of political boundaries, the Greeks and Ionians at this time accepted influences from the East in all areas of culture: religion, science, arts, fashion, and even political and administrative systems. The general east-to-west direction of the influences is easy to document, and their quantity and variety is impressive." ("The Mesopotamian Soul of Western Culture." by Simo Parpola, Lecture By Dr. Simo Parpola on November 1, 2000 at Harvard University, Page 1.)

Ongoing Greek contact with the Near East was established during the Hellenistic period. The 1st period of ancient Greece being influenced by Near Eastern civilization was the high Mycenaean period (1450-1200 BCE) with the establishment of extensive international trade networks and communications networks between rulers. The 2nd period was the late Bronze Age period (1200-1050 BCE) with the substantial Greek colonisation of Cyprus and some parts of the south Anatolian littoral (sea coast). (The period circa 1200 BCE was one of significant, momentous change.) The 3rd period was the expansionist Assyrian empire - the occurrences of the Assyrian conquest of the Near East and Middle East. Assyria became the most extensive of the Mesopotamian empires. The greatest expansion of the Assyria took place during the 9th to 7th centuries BCE. During the 7th-century BCE the Assyrian empire was expanded to its greatest extent and included the conquest of Mesopotamia, western Iran, northern Arabia, western Anatolia, the Middle East, and Egypt. Greek populations were resident within the Assyrian empire. (Greek mercenaries may have served in the Assyrian army.) Assyrian and Babylonian populations were established in north Syria and Cilicia (the south coastal region of Asia Minor). The Assyrian empire was eventually destroyed in 612 BCE by a military coalition of the Medes (Iran) and Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian Empire fell in 539 BCE to king Cyrus of Persia. The period of the Persian wars (Greco-Persian wars) - a series of conflicts fought between 492 BCE and 449 BCE - did not promote cultural exchanges. Also, the Persians had annexed Ionia circa 545 BCE. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire in 330 BCE the cultural contact between the Babylonian civilisation and Greek civilisation became closer than before. Traditional borders that had acted as cultural barriers ceased to be so. There was an increased movement of people and ideas between countries.

A somewhat ongoing passage of astronomical information from Babylonia - prior to Alexander's conquest of the Persian empire - was possible through the Hittites to the Ionian (Asiatic) Greeks. Hittite influence on Greece began circa 2nd-millennium BCE. The Hittites were one of a group of Indo-European speaking peoples who moved into Anatolia some time before 2000 BCE. The Hittites rose from a modest city state to eventually establish an empire that fought against the kings of Babylon and Assyria, the Hurrians, and the pharaohs of Egypt for control of southeast Anatolia, Syria and Palestine, and competed with one or more Mycenaean Greek kings over control of western Asia Minor. One of their many vassal states was Wilusa - identified with Troy. The multiethnic Hittite kingdom absorbed heavy cultural influence from many peoples and played a role in transmitting their own and ancient Near Eastern culture to the Greeks. (See: Anatolian Interfaces: Hittites, Greeks and their Neighbours edited by Billie Jean Collins, Mary Bachvarova, and Ian Rutherford (2008). [Note: Proceedings of an International Conference on Cross-Cultural Interaction, September 17-19, 2004, Emory University, Atlanta, GA. It contacts a wealth of material on contacts and influences from the 2nd-milennium BCE onwards.]) A combination of factors, including the assaults of the so-called "Sea Peoples" (an enigmatic group of maritime raiders) brought an end to the Hittite empire shortly after 1200 BCE.

Interestingly, in her book, Sea-Peoples: Warriors of the Ancient Mediterranean (1978) the English archaeologist Nancy Sanders (1914-2015) examined the period of havoc in the eastern Mediterranean and surrounding areas towards the end of the 2nd-millennium BCE. She had a slightly different interpretation on the issue. According to Sanders, Egyptian influence collapsed, the Hittite Empire and the great late Bronze Age cities of Cyprus and Mesopotamia fell, and the Mycenaean civilization lay in ruins, plunging eastern Mediterranean into a "Dark Age" that lasted for more than 300 years. The absence of texts from the period, coupled with the fragmentary nature of the archaeological evidence, gave rise to theories that some natural catastrophe sweeping across the entire region. Sandars, however, focused her attention on the so-called "sea-peoples," a confederacy of naval raiders who harried the coastal towns and cities of the Mediterranean region between approximately 1276 and 1178 BC, with a ferocity exceeding that exercised by the later Vikings. The "sea peoples" still remain something of a mystery. Nancy Sandars drew together evidence from several cultures, from literature and archaeology, to speculate that their origins lay in Anatolia, which had been in the grip of a widespread and severe famine caused by a climatic downturn.

Note: The fact remains that the evidence for direct borrowings from Babylonian astralism/astral lore remains quite scarce. During the Babylonian period astronomical knowledge was transmitted unchanged, due to the superiority of Babylonian astronomy, to all neighbouring cultures. Sometime around the middle of the 1st-millennium BCE Mesopotamian astronomical knowledge (including the accurate prediction of particular astronomical phenomena) spread westward. It had already done so during phases of the Assyrian Period. 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. It was the Mul.Apin series that formed the basis for inter-relatedness between astronomical systems in these regions outside Mesopotamia.

The issue of the influence of Babylonian uranography on the development of the Greek constellation scheme is fraught with considerable difficulties. There is still restricted evidence available for reconstructing the history of Babylonian astronomy, and Babylonian uranography, before the Seleucid era (began 312 BCE). A degree of congruence does not rule out that the similarities are simply coincidences between 2 separately developed constellation systems.

How the Greek and Mesopotamian worlds interacted during the period preceding Alexander's conquest of the Persian Empire is not recoverable with any exactness. Greek access to the Mesopotamian scribal schools was likely filtered through both Anatolia and the Levant. Mesopotamian scholars of astronomy and astrology were part of various scribal schools.

The Greek zodiac is a system distinct from but closely dependent upon the earlier Babylonian zodiac. There is little doubt that the Greeks adopted many Babylonian constellations with or without modification. (The Greek Scorpion comprising 2 halves was originally much larger than the later constellation of the Romans. One half of the Greek Scorpion comprised the body and sting and the front half comprised the Claws (named Chelae). The later Romans made the Scorpion smaller and the space previously occupied by the Claws became the separate constellation Libra (Scales).) Why exactly the Classical Greeks relied on Mesopotamia for constellations is not known. However, it is no longer controversial to state that ancient Greece was part of the Near East/West Asia. In the late 19th-century the German Assyriologist Peter Jensen and the German Semiticist Fritz Hommel independently (and successfully) argued the case that the Greeks had borrowed the Babylonian zodiacal constellations. The classical Greek constellation set is comprised of Babylonian and Greek constellations. The 12 zodiacal constellations are of Babylonian origin and were adopted by the Greeks (by the 5th-century BCE), with only a few modifications. (When the early Greeks (5th-century BCE) borrowed the zodiacal constellations from the Babylonians the Scales/Balance were left out. The early Greeks joined this 'group' of stars to the Scorpion, and called it the Claws. The Greeks had, at first, pictured the Scorpion as one constellation.) Most of the extra-zodiacal constellations are of Greek origin. Since the military expeditions of Alexander the Great (his army conquered Babylon in 331 BCE), communications between Greece and Mesopotamia were easy and numerous.

According to an anonymous Greek commentator of Aratus it was Eudoxus who brought Assyrian uranography to the Greeks. In his works Eudoxus gave descriptions of a large number of constellations known in Mesopotamia. Eudoxus continued the Mesopotamian traditions of constellations in the Mul.Apin series. There is a case for Babylonian astronomy being introduced to the Greeks through Philip of Opus and Eudoxus of Knidos. (Philip (or Philippus) of Opus (Opous), was a Greek philosopher and a member of Plato's Academy during Plato's lifetime. Philip of Opus is probably identical with the Philip of Medma (or Mende).)

The Greek names from which the modern descriptions of the zodiacal constellations/signs are derived are mostly translations of the much older Babylonian constellation names.

A number of writers consider the earliest evidence of Babylonian influence upon Greek astronomy is the Greek adoption of the Babylonian zodiacal constellations - both figures and names - with only slight changes being made. The exact date is uncertain but is thought to have occurred in the 6th-century BCE or perhaps even earlier. Towards the end of the 6th-century BCE the Greek astronomer Cleostratus of Tenedos (an island situated near Troy) is stated by Pliny the Elder to have distinguished (set apart) the zodiacal constellations. Pliny states that Cleostratus "recognised the signs in it." From this statement it is reasonable to infer that Cleostratus imported knowledge of the Babylonian zodiacal constellations (and perhaps some other constellations) into Greece.

Eudoxus of Cnidus (early 4th-century BCE) may have been the first Greek to employ Babylonian zodiacal signs each equal to one twelfth of the ecliptic circle. It appears that Eudoxus was aware of the Babylonian division of the ecliptic into 12 equal parts. (Plato may not have been aware of the Babylonian division of the ecliptic into 12 equal parts.) The classicist and philologist François Lasserre (Die Fragmente des Eudoxus von Knidos (F. 2., 1966, P. 39)) refers to an anonymous commentator on Aratus claiming that Eudoxus brought "the Assyrian sphere" to Greece. We know the Assyrians (and the Babylonians) did not construct celestial spheres. However, Eudoxus did describe a large number of constellations and it is believed by modern scholars that many of these constellations likely originated in Mesopotamia. Eudoxus also placed the solstices and equinoxes in the middle of the zodiacal signs (divisions) Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. This appears to be an adoption of the Mul.Apin tradition which placed/located them in the middle of the 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th months.

Source: "IV. Mesopotamian Contact and Influence in the Greek World I. To the Persian Conquest." by Stephanie Dalley and A. T. Retes. In: The Legacy of Mesopotamia edited by Stephanie Dalley (1998, Pages 85-106; Pages 94-5, 97-98

(b) Earliest trading contacts

The southern Levant played the role of commercial mediator between Syria, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Anatolia. In the southern Levant, trade flourished significantly in the Early Bronze Age. The inhabitants of the 3rd-millennium BCE began to end the cultural isolation that characterized their previous villages and camps of the Stone Age. They established commercial relations with Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria, and more farther regions that included Anatolia, Caucus and Armenia.

The evidence suggests that southern Mesopotamia was trading with western Anatolia as early as the Ubaid period. (The Ubaid period (circa 5500 to 3800 BCE) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia which saw networks of interregional interaction established.) Mesopotamian "colonies" were established in northern Syria and southern Anatolia. These colonies disappeared at about the time of the southern movement of the Yanick culture in eastern Iran. By the beginning of the Jamdat Nasr period the Mesopotamian "colonies" in northern Syria had disappeared. (See: Mark, Samuel. (1993). A Study of Possible Trade Routes Between Egypt and Mesopotamia, ca. 3500-3100 B.C. (Master of Arts Thesis (Anthropology), Texas A&M University).)

From the late 3rd-millennium BCE the great southern Mesopotamian capital cities Kishi, Akkadê, Babylon, Seleucia, Ktesiphon, and Baghdad were great centres of trade. (The Sumerian city-state of Nippur was also an important trading centre.) The emergence of writing is intertwined with the expansion of economic transactions and political complexity.

In the early 2nd-millennium BCE, Amorite dynasties emerged in northern Mesopotamia. The Mari Letters reveal far-flung Amorite overland trade networks (especially in tin and textiles) that reached as far as Hazor. Overland trade caravans (also in tin and textiles) emerged between Assur and central Anatolia, as evidenced by the Old Assyrian trade colony at Kültepe/Kanesh. Maritime trade networks were also crucially important. In the Levant, coastal ports were linked to the interior via gateway towns. Complex interactions emerged in the eastern Mediterranean, as revealed by paintings from Thera, Knossos, Tell ed-Dab'a (Avaris), Kabri and Alalakh. In the northern Levant, the city-state Ebla was powerful. Links between Middle Kingdom Egypt & coastal Syria-Palestine (as illustrated by Byblos, Sidon and Ajjul) were followed by the takeover of the Nile Delta by Hyksos, who founded a capital at Avaris/Tell ed-Dab'a. Eventually the Hyksos were expelled; Egyptian sources state that they retreated to 'Sharuhen,' which may have been Ajjul. (Egyptian trade contacts with Byblos began during the Old Kingdom.)

See: Beyond Babylon. Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C. edited by Joan Aruz, et al. (2009). Also: The Mediterranean Context of Early Greek History by Nancy Demand (2011).

(ci) Later trading contacts

For more than 300 years (perhaps 500 years) during the Late Bronze Age, from circa 1500 BCE (perhaps 1700 BCE) to 1200 BCE, the Mediterranean region was a complex international region in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all closely interacted, creating a unique cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. The various civilizations were independent but consistently interacted. In many respects the globalisation was economic - based on a sophisticated system of trade. It was also enabled by the close and amiable cooperation between the numerous kings. (Exactly how ethno-linguistic and cultural barriers were overcome during this period is not yet understood. Later, Mesopotamian astral sciences successfully penetrated the linguistic and cultural boundaries of Hellenism. How this was achieved is also not yet understood.) This Bronze Age internationalism ended in what has been termed an "apocalyptic disaster." After centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. Long established international trade routes were cut. This end was the world's first recorded Dark Ages. The so-called "apocalyptic disaster" resulted in a loss of knowledge. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas. Circa 1200 BCE to circa 1000 BCE the movement of peoples (and accompanying violence), and the economic disruptions weakened or obliterated cities, kingdoms, and civilisations across the Near East. The reason for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually attributed to the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, the end of the Bronze Age empires in the Mediterranean and Near East was more likely the result of multiple causes rather than a single wave of invasion. Whilst the "Sea Peoples" may likely have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age it is much more likely that a series of interconnected events, both human and natural - including earthquake storms, droughts (agrarian crisis), rebellions, and systems collapse (political, economic, and social) - combined to create the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. See especially: 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed. Turning Points in Ancient History 1 by Eric Cline (2014). The author makes the case that various civilizations of the Near East and Aegean were economically and politically interconnected beginning as early as the 15th-century. The 4 centuries from 1600 BCE (perhaps 1700 BCE) to 1200 BCE saw the establishment of a system of complex internationalism throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East. At the start of the 12th-century - roughly contemporary with the battle between Ramses III and the Sea Peoples - this interconnected system fell apart and the various participating civilizations collapsed. A possible scenario is environmental problems leading to economic recession leading to mass migration to rural areas leading to opportunistic raiding of major coastal cities in the Aegean region. Almost every city or stronghold in the Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia was destroyed. Many of them were never reoccupied. Cline establishes that the major civilizations of the Eastern Mediterranean belonged to an interconnected system by the start of the Late Bronze Age in the 15th-century and that this system originated in the preceding Middle Bronze Age (as early as circa 1700 BCE). Cline gives a number of examples: Exchange between Crete and Mesopotamia in the Middle Bronze Age; the appearance of envoys from Crete in the tombs of New Kingdom Egypt; political tensions between New Kingdom Egypt and the Mitanni of Syria; and interactions between the Mycenaeans and Hittites along the western coast of Turkey. A 13th-century example of the interconnectedness of the Eastern Mediterranean is the Uluburun shipwreck off the coast of southern Turkey. The contents of the ship to illustrate the great extent of trade that joined the various civilizations of the Near East and Aegean. This is also supported with texts from the archive of a 13th-century merchant from Ugarit. Tablets dating to the first decade of 12th-century Ugarit (when the Late Bronze Age came to an end and the Early Iron Age began) suggest that trade and diplomatic correspondence continued until the destruction of the city around 1185 B.C. Besides Ugarit, a number of other cities in northern Syria and the Levant have destruction levels dating to the beginning of the 12th-century. How civilizations that had been thriving since the 15th-century collapsed is unknown. Possibly it was due to multiple events: Earthquakes, climate change, internal rebellion, invaders and the collapse of international trade, decentralization and the rise of the private merchant, and the invasions of the Sea Peoples.

Ancient Greece was part of West Asia and subject to cultural influences from the Near East. (Ancient Greece also lay at the crossroads of many trade routes.) The 1st period of ancient Greece being influenced by Near Eastern civilization was the high Mycenaean period (1450-1200 BCE) with the establishment of extensive international trade networks and communications networks between rulers. It is indicated that Mycenaean Greece had strong trading and cultural contacts with the Near East, especially so in the 13th-century BCE when Babylonia was apparently actively exporting its literate culture. The 2nd period was the late Bronze Age period (1200-1050 BCE) with the substantial Greek colonisation of Cyprus and some parts of the south Anatolian littoral (sea coast). The 3rd period was the expansionist Assyrian empire - the occurrences of the Assyrian conquest of the Near East and Middle East. The greatest expansion of the Assyria took place during the 9th to 7th centuries BCE.  During the 7th-century BCE the Assyrian empire was expanded to its greatest extent and included the conquest of Mesopotamia, western Iran, northern Arabia, western Anatolia, the Middle East, and Egypt. Greek populations were resident within the Assyrian empire. Assyrian and Babylonian populations were established in north Syria and Cilicia (the south coastal region of Asia Minor). The Assyrian empire was eventually destroyed in 612 BCE by a military coalition of the Medes (Iran) and Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. The period of the Persian wars (Greco-Persian wars) - a series of conflicts fought between 492 BCE and 449 BCE - did not promote cultural exchanges. Also, the Persians had annexed Ionia circa 545 BCE. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian empire in 330 BCE the cultural contact between the Babylonian civilisation and Greek civilisation became closer than before. Traditional borders that had acted as cultural barriers ceased to be so. There was an increased movement of people and ideas between countries.

During the so-called Dark Age international maritime trade did not cease completely. However its conduct changed. In the so-called Dark Age centuries following the collapse of Mycenaean civilization in 1200 BCE Greek international trade still continued. What was missing was the involvement of the palaces. With the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces, nearly all the Greek Bronze Age administrative practices were lost. In the undestroyed centres the Mycenaeans continued their way of life which now showed provincialism - there was population movement away from the Mycenaean centres - and was no longer centred upon the palaces. The only myth and ritual, technology, and agricultural practices that survived into classical Greece were those which took on a life of their own independently of the palaces (and perhaps temples). Following the collapse of the Late Bronze Age societies circa 1200 BCE which led to the so-called Dark Age in the eastern Mediterranean, increasingly commercialized city-states emerged in the 7th-century BCE. But, though the intervening archaic period is opaque as far as historical records are concerned, we know is that from the 9th-century onwards a wave of Near Eastern contacts with the Aegean and western Mediterranean gained momentum, reaching from Italy and Sardinia via North Africa all the way to Spain. This is evidenced by the excavation of such the Near Eastern innovations as the North Syrian bronze cauldrons, conical stands and related banquet utensils, gold and silver jewellery with granulation, filigree and punchwork, and, by the late 8th- century BCE, Phoenician metal jugs. The Dark Age Greeks and the ancient Anatolians conducted commerce with Mesopotamia. Also introduced were various aspects of originally Mesopotamian religion, myth and ritual, along with modes of social organization such as contractual legal forms and oaths, weights and measures, and the use of weighed pieces of silver as the cosmopolitan Middle Bronze Age 'money of the world.'

Note: The date 1200 BCE is used as a generic date, not an absolute date.

The ongoing problem with Greek history before the 8th-century BCE is the absence of written documentation before that date. This literary gap within Greece can only be filled by archaeology. Stable communities existed in Dark Age Greece. The archaeological excavations at Lefkandi show it was one of the most active, outward-looking and prosperous communities in central and southern Greece during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE. Towards the end of the Greek Dark Age there emerged the rise of the new social form known as the Polis. The emergence of the Polis is linked to the sending out of Greek colonies to the west. Also, within Greece, temples were erected over Bronze Age palace sites. This was due to the fact that palaces were also the site of religious ceremonies/cultic practices.

Greek trading contacts with the Phoenicians were commenced by Greek traders from the early Bronze Age town of Lefkandi (on the island of Euboea/Euboia) before the end of the Greek Dark Ages and these trading contacts were maintained by its successor town Eretria and by traders from the town of Chalcis (also on the island of Euboea). After the collapse of the Mycenaean administration system the site of Lefkandi became - in the Aegean during the Middle Bronze Age - one of the key settlements in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean. It was a prosperous Late Bronze Age settlement. The archaeological evidence from the site at Lefkandi shows that at least on the Greek island of Euboea there was no Dark Age. (The period of the Greek Dark Age was circa 1100-750 BCE.) Its inhabitants managed to build impressive structures and also establish trade and cultural contacts with the rest of the known world - either the Greek world or outside the Greek world - with Cyprus, the Levantine coast, and Egypt. This is contrary to the theme of isolation typical of life in the Greek Dark Age. (An Old Babylonian period gold pendant was found with the female burial in (beneath) the Toumba cemetery building (but also described as 'grand dwelling' so perhaps at the Toumba building cemetery) at Lefkandi. The cemeteries at Lefkandi have provided evidence for overseas contact with Cyprus, the Levantine coast, Egypt and Italy all through the so-called Dark Age.) "We can, therefore, speculate that the type of community that might have lived at Lefkandi was populous, self-sufficient, innovative, technologically-skilled, powerful, affluent and ancestrally-distant, with further skills in craft, seafaring and almost certainly warfare." ("Discussing Dark Age Greece: The Lost Community of Lefkandi." by Michael Kempsey (CJA Anthrojournal (The Collegiate Journal of Anthropology), Volume 1, Wednesday, March 20, 2013, (online)). Dark Age activity at Lefkandi spans a period beginning around 1100 BCE and ending around 750 BCE when the Dark Ages yielded to the Archaic Period. Lefkandi was best-placed strategically to control and farm the fertile Lelantine Plain on the Greek island of Euboea. Lefkandi's strategic position and several natural harbours was significant to maritime activity. The Lefkandi community might also have been seafarers. Hesiod lived in the district of Boeotia which has a short coastline on the Gulf of Euboea. However, archaeological results show that Greek goods have not been found in Palestine before circa 800 BCE and remain rare in the late 7th-century BCE. Eventually Greek trade penetrated the northern Levantine mainland.

It is mistaken to assume that the 10th and 9th centuries BCE might seem to have had little or nothing to contribute. It is now clear that long-distance traffic of one kind or another always existed. It is probable that earlier contacts underlie 8th-century BCE consequences. In the 8th-century BCE, conditions outside of Greece caused these contacts to flourish anew. Those who engaged in these contacts had centuries ago ceased to be strangers to the Greeks. Their encounters lowered linguistic and other barriers. It is essential not to neglect the Bronze Age and its aftermath which we now hesitate to call a Dark Age. Evidence for Levantine expansion into 10th-century Greece comes mainly from objects/utensils found in family tombs.

During the 2nd-half of the 8th-century BCE the Greeks emerged from their Dark Age and recommenced active trade and multilevel cultural exchange with the Near East. The evidence fot this lies primarily in the creation of the Greek alphabet, and also the presence of numeous Near Eastern artifacts and motifs excavated in Greece. Also, the Phoenicians were bringing trade and cultural ideas to Greece in the 8th-century BCE. It is known that Phoenician traders visited both Italy and Greece by the middle of the 8th-century BCE. (There was joint Phoenician and Greek establishment of trade on the offshore entrepôt of Ischia/Pithecousi.) An entrepôt or entrepot is a port, city, or trading post where merchandise may be imported, stored and/or traded, typically to be exported again. The benefit of the entrepôt in the past was that it removed the need for ships to travel the whole distance of the shipping route. The ships would sell their goods to the entrepôt and the entrepôt would in turn sell them to another ship, removing the large risks associated with long distance travel in the past.

Primarily in the 8th-century BCE Phoenician and Syrian objects were donated to Greek sanctuaries. (This indicates foreign visitors to Greek sanctuaries.) The temples receiving Phoenician offerings are specifically those of Apollo the sun-god of justice, and Hera, Artemis and Athena. These are the counterparts to the Near Eastern deities such as Nanshe in lagash and Nidaba in Umma sponsoring written record-keeping, fair dealing, honest weights and measures, and commercial equity in general.

The monumental female funerary amphora 'Inventory Number 804' in the Athens National Museum - the single most famous art work of the 8th-century BCE (dated to circa 760-750 BCE) - provides testimony to the interchange of ideas between Greece and Phoenicia and the Near East. (See: “Mourning Before and After the Dark Age.” by Wiliam Cavanaugh and Christopher Mee (Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Volume 40, Issue S63, February, 1995, Pages 45-61). The large (152 centimetre tall) vase (this particular vase was by far the largest vase yet created by an Attic potter) was used as a funerary monument at the Kerameikos (the main cemetery area of Athens), and it is the work of a so-called 'Dipylon master painter' (named after the Dipylon Gate ('double door') in Athens, the area where his vases were first found (in the area of the Kerameikos). The gravemarker was commissioned at the death of a female member of an elite Athenian family, whose wealth ensured that the best and most original or 'modern' could be provided for this occasion. (Though the terracotta vase was a relatively inexpensive substitute for metal yet still appeared impressive in the eyes of their peers when burying their dead.) The painter emulated something that apparently was popular and admired: the art of Phoenician figural decoration. The vase is a Greek example of ‘orientalizing’ in art and this trend perhaps corresponds to other domains as well.

Indirect trade between Greece and Pakistan had been in place for centuries prior to the invasion of Alexander the Great.

A somewhat ongoing passage of astronomical information from Babylonia - prior to Alexander's conquest of the Persian empire - was possible through the Hittites to the Ionian (Asiatic) Greeks. The Hittites were one of a group of Indo-European speaking peoples who moved into Anatolia some time before 2000 BCE. The Hittites rose from a modest city state to eventually establish an empire that fought with the kings of Babylon and Assyria, the Hurrians, and the pharaohs of Egypt for control of southeast Anatolia, Syria and Palestine, and competed with one or more Mycenaean Greek kings over control of western Asia Minor. One of their many vassal states was Wilusa - identified with Troy. The multiethnic Hittite kingdom absorbed heavy cultural influence from many peoples and played a role in transmitting ancient Near Eastern culture to the Greeks. A combination of factors, including the assaults of the so-called "Sea Peoples," brought an end to the Hittite empire shortly after 1200 BCE.

Note: The fact remains that the evidence for direct borrowings from Babylonian astralism/astral lore remains quite scarce. During the Babylonian period astronomical knowledge was transmitted unchanged, due to the superiority of Babylonian astronomy, to all neighbouring cultures. Sometime around the middle of the 1st-millennium BCE Mesopotamian astronomical knowledge (including the accurate prediction of particular astronomical phenomena) spread westward. It had already done so during phases of the Assyrian Period. 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. It was the Mul.Apin series that formed the basis for inter-relatedness between astronomical systems in these regions outside Mesopotamia.

See: "Archaic Greeks in the Orient: Textual and Archaeological Evidence." by Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier (BASOR 322, 2001, Pages 11-32). Also useful is: A Companion to Ethnicity in the Ancient Mediterranean edited by Jeremy McInerney (2014).

See also: Geller, Markham. (Editor). (2014). MELAMMU: The Ancient World in an Age of Globalization. (Note: Discusses the 1st-millennium BCE.)

Recent approaches to the so-called Greek 'Dark Ages'

For the last 150 years it has been common to designate circa 1200 BCE as the beginning of a "Dark Age," conceived analogously to the post-Roman "Dark Age" of Western Europe. Comparison involved the breakup of empires and widespread depopulation, the destruction and disappearance of established political and economic centres, the reduction of literacy, the loss of historical records, the massive disruption or forced cessation of interregional trade, and cultural or artistic decline. The possible trigger for this considered to be the encroachment of mass migratory movements (from various remote regions) or generalised invasions into the centres of civilization of the eastern half of the Mediterranean. The result being the loss of civilization over a wide area ranging from Greece in the west to Assyria in the east, from Anatolia in the north to the borders of Egypt in the south. A product of the "Dark Ages" was the introduction of iron and the Iron Age (into Greece by the invading Dorians and into the Levant by the migratory Philistines) based upon previously secret Hittite knowledge of metallurgy.

Amongst scholars there has been an increasing tendency to limit the scope of this so-called "Dark Age." The Greek "Dark Age" is still considered a period of almost total illiteracy and also, in most Aegean regions, an age of poverty, poor communications, and isolation from the outside world. The focus of recent scholars is on particular aspects of the collapse: the collapse of the palace structures and the regulated palace economies, and the total disappearance of the Late Bronze Age palaces and all the special features of life associated with these palaces, most notably the art of writing. After circa 1200 BCE, the entire palace structure disappears, never to be re-established in any subsequent period of Greek history. These features of the collapse brought on so-called "Dark Age."

During the Late Bronze Age, especially in the 14th and 13th centuries BCE, palatial administrations dominated the world of the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. They were centred at sites such as Mycenae, Tiryns, Pylos and Thebes, at Knossos, Ayia Triadha, and Hania, at Bogazköy, Mavat Höyük, and Alaca Höyük, at Ugarit and Emar, Megiddo and Hazor. These diverse and widely separated administrations worked together to create a successful system of interregional intellectual and commercial exchange on a scale unlike anything that had ever existed before or since (until the modern period).

It is indicated that in the 12th and 11th centuries BCE (early Iron Age) Greece, Anatolia, and Cyprus all experienced a collapse of the centres that had dominated their respective Late Bronze Age worlds. Mycenae, Pylos and Thebes, Bogazköy and Mavat Höyük, Enkomi and Hala Sultan Tekke all collapsed in the early 12th-century BCE. The bureaucratic system centred around the palaces disappeared, and people lived in relatively small, isolated communities. There was poverty, insecurity, and unrest. But this collapse did not result in everything being brought to an end. Rather than a "Dark Age" there was a shift in settlement patterns and the development of new life-styles. Things continued but on a different scale. The 12th and 11th centuries saw an expansion out of the centres into the peripheries. This expansion was led by warrior princes who were out to seize what they could for themselves. Interregional maritime trade did not cease at the end of the 13th century; it continued into the 12th-century. However, the extent and nature of maritime trade and the way in which now operated had become radically changed. Greece slowly moved in the direction of city-states.

The Greek warrior princes of the "Dark Age" are considered the founders of the aristocratic clans that dominated Greece from circa 1100 BCE to 600 BCE. Odysseus is likely to have been a warrior prince of the Greek "Dark Age." There are compelling reason to believe that, prior to circa 500 BCE, many versions of the "Homeric" stories (including the Greek warrior prince Odysseus) were in circulation. These stories almost certainly were already being recited at the princely courts of Crete and Cyprus in the 11th century BCE.

(d) Minoans

The island of Crete is located in the centre of the eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The island of Crete was first settled circa 7000 BCE. This coincides with the development and widespread adoption of agricultural practices in the Middle East and Anatolia. Looking for new land to cultivate, these new farmers spread into Europe - and, it now appears, to Crete.

The Minoans flourished on Crete for perhaps 1500 years until circa 1,500 BCE, when it is thought to have been devastated (or at least severely interrupted/impacted) by a catastrophic eruption of the Mediterranean island volcano Santorini, and a subsequent tsunami. The Minoans are considered the first advanced civilization in Bronze Age Europe. The Minoan Bronze Age civilization, centring on the island of Crete (2000-1400 BCE) is divided into 3 periods: the Early Minoan period (circa 3000-2200 BCE), the Middle Minoan period (circa 2200-1500 BCE) and the Late Minoan period (circa 1500-1000 BCE).

Ancient DNA recovered from the skeletons (including tooth samples) of 37 well-preserved ancient Minoans ( who lived on Crete between circa 2900 BCE and 1800 BCE) found in a cave in east-central Crete - compared the DNA from the remains of 135 modern and ancient populations.- suggests a relationship with both ancient and modern European populations. The research team was led by George Stamatoyannopoulos, a geneticist at the University of Washington in Seattle who has been working on the problem for more than a decade. The results were published in 2013. Wolfgang Haak, a molecular archaeologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia, thinks that the early history of Crete is likely more complicated, with multiple Neolithic populations arriving at different times.

George Stamatoyannopoulos believes it likely that the Minoans descended from Neolithic populations that migrated to Europe from the Middle East and Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). Archaeological excavations suggest that early farmers were living in Crete circa 7000 BCE, so these could be the ancestors of the Minoans. Once settled on the island of Crete, according to the study by George Stamatoyannopoulos and team, the farmers with ancestral roots in Anatolia and the Middle East developed their own indigenous culture, which evolved into the Minoan civilization.

Mycenaean civilisation began to flourish suddenly circa 1600 BCE. By circa 1400 BCE the Mycenaean had penetrated the greater part of mainland Greece and extended their influence as far north as Thessaly and the borders of Epirus (northwestern Greece). There was a great deal of mutual influence between the Minoan culture of Crete and the Mycenaean culture of Greece. Circa 1450 BCE the Mycenaeans took possession of central Crete. Circa 1100 BCE the Mycenaean civilisation collapsed.

The Minoans received many cultural influences from the Phoenicians, Egyptians and others. Saul Weinburg (1954) has pointed out many similarities between the Cretan culture in the 3rd-millennium BCE and the slightly earlier Ghassul culture in the southern Levant. These included "bird vases, mat impressions on the base of pots, high pedestal feet for chalices, suspension lugs, clay ladles, pattern burnishes, cheese pots, impressed spirals, contracted burial in cist graves, pithos burial, pyxides and incised decoration." The British archaeologist and academic Keith Branigan (1970) agreed with Weinburg and expanded upon these similarities. Branigan further stated his belief that these influences had come up to 'Syria' before being conveyed to Crete. Clear evidence of Minoan trade and influence from the East is much in view. The Eastern influence arrived on Crete in the form of the Phoenicians. Other influences arrived from Egypt and, to a lesser extent, from Anatolia and Mesopotamia. A smaller number of artifacts and cultural influences from the Phoenicians' lesser trading partners in Anatolia and the Levant have also been found in Crete. Eventually the Minoans were strongly a blend of 2 cultures, Phoenician and Cretan. Phoenicians’ arrival at Crete in significant numbers, just before 2000 BCE. The impact of the Phoenicians would have been most strongly felt some time after 2000 BCE. In terms of seamanship both the Minoans and the Phoenicians were the dominant traders on the seas during the 2nd- and 1st-millennium. Remarkably there is not a single mention in the extensive Greek and Egyptian records of antiquity regarding any conflict or fights between the Minoan and Phoenician fleets. It is possible to understand why the Minoans and Phoenicians did not fight each other. The migration of numerous Phoenicians to Crete seems to have given the Minoans a family relationship to the Phoenicians.

Didier Viviers and Athina Tsingarida (2015) discuss a variety of subjects related to the Minoan harbour city of Itanos on Crete and the nearby Minoan Bronze Age settlements at Palaikastro and Roussolakos. (Itanos was one of the most prominent coastal cities of Eastern Crete from the Minoan era until the early Christian period.) The authors note the international relationships of Itanos, especially with the Phoenicians. The authors suggest that the foundation of Itanos in the early 8th-century BCE might be related to the need for a safe anchorage for foreign merchants. (The large harbour at Itanos was an important centre of cross-trade, especially to the East.

References to Crete and the Minoans are found in Mesopotamian (and Syria-Palestine, and Egyptian) texts during the 2nd-millennium BCE. Minoan trade routes with Mesopotamia were overland using caravan routes. Mesopotamian texts from the 2nd-millenium BCE record that one of the major trade routes ran from Crete to Ugarit, to Mari, and then on to Babylon. Mesopotamian texts also mention other trade route stops such as Eshnunna in Mesopotamia and Byblos in Syria-Palestine. There is also evidence for early Minoan settlers at Miletus. Miletus was located on an important trade route. The port had 4 magnificent habours. Shipping trade included grain ships from the Crimea, and merchant ships from Syria, Egypt, and Italy.

There are no preserved Minoan astronomical texts or Minoan objects clearly recognisable as astronomical tools.

Nothing at all is known about Minoan constellations. Everything is speculation/conjecture. In 2005 Evangelos Kyriakidis (Lecturer in Classical and Archaeological Studies at the University of Kent) published his conclusions ("The Unidentified Floating Objects on Late Minoan Seal Iconography." (American Journal of Archaeology, Volume 109, 2005, Pages 137-154)) that the series of unidentified 'floating' objects/ ornamentations comprising dots and drop-like symbols on Minoan seals and gold 'signet rings' found in late bronze age (dated 1600-1700 BCE) contexts in Minoan Crete and mainland Greece are representations of constellations, most of which bear a strong physical resemblance to modern day constellations and their position in the sky (i.e., Orion and Pleiades on the Minoan seal in the Ashmolean Museum). (Prior to this the illustration on a Minoan seal of a man standing with a raised bow had been compared to the constellation Orion.) Kyriakidis argues that his interpretation makes it much more likely that bronze-age Minoan Crete is the source for the later Greek constellation set as the constellation-patterns more closely resemble the later Classical Greek ones much more than any Near Eastern or Middle Eastern examples. Kyriakidis also suggested that the Minoan system of constellations was depicted at times of ritual observances. Kyriakidis also believes that the identification of Minoan constellations helps illuminate the applied knowledge of the bronze-age Minoans regarding calendars, navigation, agriculture, superstition, religion, mythology, and story-telling; a window into the workings of the Minoan mind. Dr Evangelos Kyriakidis FSA is currently (2012) Senior Lecturer Classical & Archaeological Studies, University of Kent, UK. Prior to his appointment at University of Kent he was Cotsen Visiting Scholar in the Institute of Archaeology, UCLA (University of California Los Angeles). At University of Kent he is currently Senior Lecturer in Aegean Prehistory and has wide interests in Mycenaean Administration, Minoan Religion and Iconography as well as Ritual Theory. He is also interested in the history of archaeological thought and in archaeological site management and planning.

Minoan Navigation

In general ancient sailors preferred to sail in daylight hours and keep land in sight. Navigation by the stars seems to be an exception in the Homeric world; usually, the Greeks relied on landfalls. The Phoenicians and the Greeks learned to sail at night. It is thought that during the 3rd-millennium BCE at least Minoan ships never deliberately sailed at night. This also seems to be the case during the 2nd-millennium BCE. In fact we lack evidence that the Minoans sailed at night. This creates difficulties for the speculation of a Minoan star globe dating to at least circa 2800 BCE.

Evidence-based discussions of sea routes and navigation in the Mediterranean really only begins with the 1st-millennium BCE.

The claim has been made that the belief that ancient ships only hugged the coast has been proven false by finds of shipwrecks in deep water, indicating that merchant ships routinely risked the high seas. However, the claim needs to be qualified by the discussion of the wrecks found. The examples, as far as I am aware date from the Hellenistic/Roman period, between 2nd-century BCE and 4th-century CE. As example: In 2012 two Roman-era (3rd-century CE) shipwrecks were found in deep water (between 1130 metres and 1450 metres deep) off a western Greek island (between Corfu and Italy). They are among the deepest known ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. (It is indicated they were not sailing close to the coast/using coastal sea-routes.) The deepest (3 kilometres deep) ancient ship-wreck in the Mediterranean was found in 1999 off Cyprus. In 1999, Nauticos Corporation, whilst searching for a missing Israeli submarine, found a Greek shipwreck at circa 3000 metres depth, circa 300 kilometres off Cyprus. The wreck carried 2000-3000 amphoras with Greek stamps, and is dated at approximately 200 BCE. (See: New York Times, 27 March, 2001.) Presumably they were sailing during the day. Since circa 2000 a series of ancient shipwrecks have been located far from land. These type of examples are claimed to prove that ancient traders didn't always 'hug the coastline' but at times sailed across the open sea. These archaeological discoveries also show the considerable risks associated with sailing/navigating across the open Mediterranean Sea in the trading ships of that era. It is unlikely that explanations such as being caught in a storm and pushed off-shore, or pirate activity, or undersea currents causing the wreckage to shift over time, can account for much. Interestingly, Jeffrey Royal, Director of RPM Nautical Foundation which has carried out a series of Mediterranean underwater projects has stated the depth of such finds is immaterial from an archaeological standpoint. "In antiquity, ships didn’t sail around with depth finders and keep track of how deep they were. It was more how far they were on the surface in relation to land. After 30 meters of depth the boat's safe, so if it's 30 meters (100 feet) or 3,000 meters it's a little irrelevant."

Most scholars believe that ancient traders were unwilling to veer far offshore, unlike warships which were unburdened by ballast and cargo. The ships usually did not handle well in stormy seas. Most of the numerous ancient shipwrecks around the Mediterranean Sea are located close to coastal routes and are generally found 30-40 metres deep. It needs to be kept in mind that some trading ships were only 30 metres long. A safety reason was if there was a wreck they would be close enough to the coast for the crew to be saved. However, in many cases - as when winds threatened to push ships onto rocks - ancient mariners made a conscious effort to avoid coastal waters. Hugging the coast also made sense for other reasons than safety. It has been pointed out that close to the coast, the wind often blows in such a way that sailing to one direction or another is possible. It has also been pointed out that ancient Mediterranean ships with their small square sail could go under/before the wind but were rarely able to go up wind. (Mostly they had to go within 90 degrees of the direction of the wind.) It is thought that the first sailors to discover the techniques of sailing upwind (with lateen sails) were the Portuguese circa the 13th/14th century CE. (A latten sail is a triangular sail on a long yard at an angle of 45 degrees to the mast.) On the open sea, the wind may blow only in one direction for long. As example: Sailing from Europe to Alexandria is not difficult. However, the return trip is quite difficult and for most of the year the only way is to go along the coast. Even the Phoenicians when they made the round trip to the top of Africa, they did so by following the coastlines. Also to be noted, ancient sailors did not have the capacity to navigate far from the coast - they lacked instruments of navigation to accurately sail across the open sea. A provisional date for sailing outside of coastal sea-routes seems indicated as circa 2nd-century BCE. Robert Ballard, on the basis of his underwater searches, believes that during the Roman era trading ships across the open sea of the Mediterranean. Ballard has found shipwrecks along a possible open-sea trade route between Rome and modern-day Tunisia (near the city of Carthage, which the Romans destroyed in the 2nd-century BCE). However, this possible open-sea route passed through an area that is notorious for having dangerous currents. Ancient ships travelling along the open-sea route apparently tried to avoid sinking by throwing their cargoes overboard, as evidenced by debris trails.

A recent joint Greek-American archaeological expedition recorded 22 shipwrecks over 13 days in the Fourni archipelago in the Greek Islands. The expedition was a collaboration between the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities (EUA) and RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF), directed by George Koutsouflakis (EUA), Jeffrey Royal (RPMNF), and Peter Campbell (RPMNF/University of Southampton). The discovery of the shipwrecks helps identify ancient trade networks that once connected the entire Mediterranean. Fournoi Korseon, more commonly simply Fournoi, is a complex or archipelago of 12/13 small Greek islands that lie between Ikaria, Samos and Patmos in Ikaria regional unit, North Aegean region. The unprecedented concentration of ancient shipwrecks in the Fourni archipelago, that had no major cities or harbours, identifies their critical role as an anchorage and navigational point in the eastern Aegean, as well as the perils of sailing the eastern Aegean. Fourni lies along a major east-west crossing route, as well as the primary north-south route that connected the Aegean to the Levant. The wrecks date from the Archaic Period (700-480 BC) through the Late Medieval Period (16th century). Several date to the Classical (480-323 BC) and Hellenistic (323-31 BC) periods, but over half of the wrecks date to the Late Roman Period (circa 300-600 AD). The ships' cargos point to the importance of long distance trade between the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, Cyprus, the Levant, and Egypt - in all these periods.

Excursus: "The Mediterranean is not so much one sea as several seas, joined by narrow waters between islands and promontories, often [it is] not easy to distinguish one from another. The Ionian Sea and the West Mediterranean basin were for a long time maritime deserts, avoided by shipping as late as the 16th century AD. Most traffic was coastwise, but certain regular winds and currents made the crossing to North Africa from Rhodes or Crete possible even in the 2nd millennium. The east-west passage from Syria to Cyprus, Crete and Sicily, is probably also very ancient. Sailing was seasonal in the late 8th century BC when Hesiod lived and wrote, and until much later too. Even in the days of the Byzantine emperors there was no sailing between 25 October, the feast of St Dimitri, and 5 May, St George's day. (The stormy seasons were from the end of October until early March.) Hesiod was able to fit his advice on sailing into the pattern of the farmer's year; but then it was not the main occupation. Among communities more heavily dependent on the sea there was real want during the winter months. In the 2nd millennium 'sailing' can only be used very loosely to mean oars supported by sail-power with a following wind. This was all that the square rig of boats, like those of the Egyptians and Sea Peoples, could encompass. The sail simply acted as a great bag to to catch the wind when the boat was running before it, and no tacking was possible." (The Sea Peoples by Nancy Sandars (Revised Edition, 1985; Page 21.) The difficulties of navigation persisted even to the mid 2nd-millennium CE. "Navigation was almost one of the black arts. Rudimentary compasses existed on ships but the only means of timekeeping and therefore longitudinal position was by use of hour-glasses; so there was no way of getting a precise position, and charts were non-existent. Consequently ship's masters would never know exactly where they were when offshore. Even when hugging a shoreline they had to rely on good visibility and their own experience to estimate where they were. When the difficulties of navigation are added to the problems of sailing to windward in a cog, which could, at best best, sail at between 75 and 80 degrees to the wind, it can be seen that sailing offshore or along the coastline was a hazardous business. To add to the difficulties there was only one light-house in the fourteenth century, at St Catherine's Point on the Isle of Wight." (A Brief History of Medieval Warfare. The Rise and Fall of English Supremacy at Arms, 1314-1485 by Peter Reid (2007, Page 35). The earliest Occidental navigation manuals were the Book of Useful Information on the Principles and Rules of Navigation by Ahmad ibn Majid (1490) and Arte de Navegar by Pedro de Medina (1545). See also: Commercial Navigation in the Greek and Roman World by Danny Lee Davis (PhD dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin, 2009).

Note: For a discussion of early cultural contacts in Crete see: Hoffman, Gail. (1997). Imports and Immigrants: Near Eastern Contacts with Iron Age Crete.

The Greek philosopher Thales and Ursa Minor

Thales of Miletus is a half legendary Greek philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician/scientist. Almost nothing is known about him. Most of what is known about Thales originates with the Greek historian Herodotus (484 BCE-425 BCE). Later generations told many anecdotes about Thales but it is difficult to verify the reliability of these stories. According to Diogenes Laertios, Thales was born in the first year of the 35th Olympiad (640 BCE), and his death occurred in the 58th Olympiad (548-545 BCE). Other life dates given are circa 625 to 545 BCE. Miletus was a city-state in Ionia, a region on the south-west coast of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). Thales probably founded the first Greek scientific and philosophical school of thought - the Milesian school - which sought non-mythical/natural explanations for everything. He apparently was the first natural philosopher and attained a reputation as a scientific thinker; mythical explanations were discarded.

It is not certain whether Thales is the author of any substantial works. Although various ancient writers ascribed a book entitled Nautical Astronomy to Thales, it is considered likely by modern scholars that he did not write a book. No quotation from Thales survives. Only few fragmentary sources survive from work attributed to Thales. All that we have is what others have written about him and his ideas. Simplicius of Cilicia (490 CE-560 CE) specifically attributed to Thales authorship of the so-called Nautical Astronomy (Nautical Star-guide). Diogenes Laertius raised doubts about authenticity, and wrote that according to others Thales only wrote 2 works, On the Solstice and On the Equinox. It is considered that the three titles that are attributed to him may be later inventions. (It has also been suggested that the 3 names denote the one and the same poem.)

The Greeks were first made acquainted with the constellation Ursa Minor by Thales. He introduced the navigational usefulness of this constellation to the Greeks. The first Greek mention of Ursa Minor in Greek texts was by philosopher Thales of Miletus in the 6th-century BCE. The earliest reference to this seems to have been made by the Greek poet and critic Callimachus in the 3rd-century BCE, who wrote that Thales "measured out the little stars of the Wain [wagon] by which the Phoenicians sail." Basically he is stating that the stars of the Little Bear constellation (Ursa Minor) were first named by Thales. The Greek poet and critic Callimachus (311 BCE-240 BCE), a scholar at the library of Alexandria, knows Thales as the discoverer of the constellation Ursa Minor. Callimachus wrote that the Phoenicians navigated by reference to Ursa Minor rather than Ursa Major as the Greeks did. Callimachus states in his Iambics: "Who first of men the course made plain, Of those small stars we call the Wain, Whereby Phoenicians sail the main." Greek mariners steered by the Great Bear constellation, the Phoenicians by the Little Bear constellation, as Ovid states, Tristia, iv. 3. 1, 2. Ursa Minor (Little Bear) was evidently unknown to Homer, 2 centuries before Thales, for he wrote only of Ursa Major (Great Bear), never mentioning its smaller counterpart. Thales is thought to have obtained his knowledge of Ursa Minor from the Phoenicians, the Greek philosopher Strabo (65 BCE-23 CE) who lived in Asia Minor wrote that the Phoenicians were the first to originate the constellation Ursa Minor. It is considered unclear whether Thales actually invented the constellation or only introduced it to the Greeks. Thales was reputedly descended from a Phoenician family.

(e) Ugarit

A most likely point of early cultural transmission to the Aegean would have been the emporium city-state of Ugarit. Ur traders reached Ugarit on the Mediterranean Sea. Mycenaean trade goods are found concentrated there in the 14th and 13th centuries BCE, along with products from most other neighbouring Late Bronze Age regions. The city-state of Ugarit is a likely candidate for diffusing Mesopotamian beliefs to the Aegean throughout the 2nd-millennium BCE. Ugarit was an important sea port city in the Northern Levant. Though never a world power, Ugarit was a key economic centre in the Ancient Near East, serving as a major trade centre between Egypt and the major powers of Bronze Age Asia Minor and Mesopotamia. Geographically, Ugarit was perfectly situated to serve as a trade centre between Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Cyprus. Ugarit's pragmatism allowed them the exploit this situation. Though Ugarit had been inhabited almost continuously since the Neolithic period (circa 6500 BCE), it was not until circa 1900 BCE that Ugarit begins to establish itself as a major centre of trade. Ugarit, and the empire of their Hittite overlords, collapsed by the middle of the 12th-century BCE.

(f) Phoenicians

A Phoenician/Ionian path of constellation transmission from Mesopotamia is most likely. There is little doubt the Phoenicians understood and spoke Greek. It is likely that Thales and other early Ionian astronomers were of Phoenician descent. (Herodotus of Miletus states that Thales was of Phoenician descent.) Nothing by Thales has come down to us. The most complete collection of ancient documentary evidence on Thales of Miletus is, The Milesians: Thales edited by Georg Wöhrle and Richard McKirahan (2014). The early Mediterranean sailors had used the 'Big Dipper' to guide them but the Phoenicians switched to the 'Little Dipper.' It seems that Thales may have been the originator of the Little Bear constellation, variously called Phoenike and Cynosura.) Aratus in his Phainomena states the Achaeans (the Greek sailors) navigated by using Helice (the Big Bear) and the Sidonians (the Phoenician sailors) navigated by using Cynosura (the Little Bear). At the time of the Greek-Persian wars circa 500 BCE the Phoenicians had apparently learnt to navigate the open sea by night. Usually sailing meant coast-hugging and island-hopping.

Phoenicia was an ancient Semitic maritime trading culture that occupied the coast of the Levant (eastern Mediterranean). Phoenicia was an ancient Semitic thalassocratic (maritime) civilization centred on the coastline of the Levant. All major Phoenician cities were situated on the coastline of the Mediterranean. Their civilization was organized in city-states. Their major cities were Berytus, Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, and the island city of Arwad. All were fiercely independent, rival cities and, unlike the neighbouring inland states, the Phoenicians represented a confederation of maritime traders rather than a defined country. As many as 25 city-states flourished along the coastal strip of Phoenicia. Each city-state was a politically independent unit. The Phoenicians were a cultural group rather than an ethnic group. The Phoenicians were not a 'nation/nationality.' While the Phoenicians spoke a common language and worshipped the same gods/goddesses they never united. The language was Phoenician, Punic. There is little to set the Phoenicians apart as markedly different from other Semitic cultures of Canaan. As Canaanites, they were unique in their remarkable seafaring achievements. Unfortunately, the writings/literature of the Phoenicians have been lost in antiquity. We only know of them from the writings of other cultures. Most Phoenician written sources, excepting inscriptions, have not survived. The written documents - due to their fragility - have simply perished over time. The earliest Phoenicians used cuneiform writing which owed its development to the Sumerians. However, they used it quite differently. After circa 1500 BCE (or perhaps closer to 1000 BCE) they produced a script of their own - a precursor to the modern Western alphabet.

The Phoenicians created a wealthy trading society. All the Phoenician cities were involved in trade (especially maritime trade). The Phoenicians had numerous speedy ships for commerce. The Phoenicians used the galley, a man-powered sailing vessel (with a keeled hull). For the establishment of commercial supremacy, an essential ingredient was the Phoenician skill in navigation and seafaring. Land trade (in Asia) using caravans was also an important activity for the Phoenicians.

The culture later known as Phoenician was flourishing as early as circa the 3rd-millennium BCE in the Levant, a coastal region now divided primarily between Lebanon, Syria, and Israel. Present-day Lebanon occupies most of what was once Phoenicia.

The Minoan-Phoenician trading harmony stands in stark contrast to the naval foray's of the Greeks 1000 years later, when they sought to erode the trading dominance of the Phoenicians and establish their own trade and mastery of the seas. By circa 600 BCE there was a demand for luxury goods by the Ionians. The later competition and battles between Greeks and Phoenicians were legendary, and appeared in accounts of the Persian War, the Peloponnesian War, and the fight for control of Sicily. For most of their history the Phoenicians were pacifistic. It was for commercial objectives - the elimination of commercial rivalry from Greek traders - that the Phoenicians supported the Persians in the Greek-Persian wars. This initiated official hostility with the Greeks.

Because of the paucity of their natural resources (particularly mineral wealth, metal ores, and timber) the Babylonians and Assyrians needed to engage in international trade. This trading need was met by the Phoenicians, a major naval and trading power of the region. Phoenicia was comprised of independent city-states which lay along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea stretching through what is now Syria, Lebanon and northern Israel. The island city of Tyre and the city of Sidon were the most powerful city-states in Phoenicia. Other powerful Phoenician city-states were Byblos, and Arvad. With the exception of Byblos, which had been a flourishing centre from at least the 3rd-millennium BCE, the Phoenician cities first emerged as urban entities around 1500 BCE. (Some claim that Phoenician city-states arose circa 3200 BCE and were firmly established by circa 2750 BCE. The Phoenician city of Byblos was settled circa 6000 BCE, while the city of Tyre was established circa 2700 BC. Byblos shows evidence of being destroyed and rebuilt several times circa 2000 BCE.) Between circa 1500 BCE and 322 BCE the city-states of Phoenicia flourished as the dominant maritime trading and manufacturing centre. The Phoenicians were highly regarded for their skill in ship-building, glass-making, the production of dyes, and their skill in manufacturing luxury and common goods. The main natural resources of the Phoenician cities in the eastern Mediterranean were the cedars trees of Lebanon and murex shells used to make the purple dye. Phoenician craftspeople were skilled in wood, ivory, and metalworking, as well as textile production. For centuries the Phoenicians transported luxury goods and bulk raw materials throughout the eastern Mediterranean region. The trade routes included Cyprus, Rhodes, the Cyclades, mainland Greece, Crete, the Libyan coast, Egypt and also Spain, Britain (in search of tin) and Mesopotamia. Alexander the Great effectively conquered the Phoenician city-states by 332 BCE. Because of particular indisputable similarities between some stories concerning the Phoenician gods Baal and Yamm and the Greek deities of Zeus and Poseidon it is thought that a number of the ancient Greek gods/goddesses were borrowed from Phoenicia, or heavily influenced by Phoenician religion. Perhaps the most significant contribution of the Phoenicians was an alphabetic writing system that became the basis of the Western alphabets when adopted by the Greeks.

In their westward trading journeys the Phoenicians carried Levantine and Near Eastern culture. Circa 1100 BCE, after a period of general disorder and social collapse throughout the region, the Phoenicians emerged as a significant cultural, trading, and political force. Large communities of Phoenicians were spread over the Mediterranean world (i.e., Carthage). In addition to Carthage in north Africa they established new colonies in Cyprus, Sicily, Sardinia, along the coast of north Africa, and the south coast of Spain. From the 9th-century BCE to the 6th-century BCE they dominated the Mediterranean Sea, establishing emporiums and colonies throughout the region. Acting as cultural middlemen, the Phoenicians disseminated ideas, myths, and knowledge from the Assyrian and Babylonian worlds in what is now Syria and Iraq to their trade contacts in the Aegean. It was also the dissemination of these ideas that helped initiate a cultural revival in the Greek world.

In the Archaic Greek Period the Phoenicians had trading contact with Babylon and Assyria. The Phoenicians had earlier trading connections with with Mesopotamia and also Egypt, dating back to the 2nd-millennium BCE. Through trading, the Phoenicians indirectly spread Egyptian and Babylonian culture throughout the Mediterranean area. In the 8th-century BCE the Assyrians conquered Phoenicia. The Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III achieved direct rule over northern Syria and Phoenicia during the 740s-730s BCE. Around 750 BCE the Phoenician city-states lost their independence to the Assyrians, and in later years to the Neo-Babylonians, and then other empires i.e., Persia. From circa 600 BCE to circa 540 BCE Phoenicia was under Babylonian control. (See: Phoenicians by Glenn Markoe (2000, Pages 47-49). After circa 750 BCE the Phoenician cities initially formed part of a wide-ranging administrative district, known as Assyria, which encompassed all of Mesopotamia and Syria -Palestine. Under the efficient Persian (Achaemenid) administration and communication network the Phoenicians had inland trade opportunities with Mesopotamia and the Persian heartland. Also, Persian political control enabled the Phoenicians to dominate maritime trade with Egypt and the Mediterranean.

According to one source, both main types designs of Phoenician sea vessels (merchant ships and war vessels - both fitted with sails and rowers - the former more dependent on being propelled by sail and the latter by rowers) are depicted in the palaces of Assyrian kings from the 7th and 8th centuries BCE. There is no evidence that the Phoenicians ever sailed a vessel in the Persian Gulf, or had any connection with the nations inhabiting its shores, beyond that maintained by the trade caravans which trafficked by land between the Phoenician cities and Dedan in northwestern Arabia, and Babylon. Dedan possessed a port where trading ships from India discharged their cargoes. It was also on a caravan route. (The sea trade of the Phoenicians was still more extensive than their land traffic.)

By the 6th-century BCE almost the whole of Western Asia was penetrated by Phoenician trading caravans. Land-based commerce by means of camel caravans was routine. The Phoenician trade with Arabia was of especial importance because it was through Arabia that the Indian market was thrown open to the Phoenician traders. Arabian caravan trade passed through Phoenician hands. Phoenician commerce with Babylonia itself is well attested in the numerous royal court records detailing Phoenician artisans in state employment in Babylonia. The Phoenicians established/used regular trade routes to and from the Tigris-Euphrates region. (Overland trade routes were originally established by the Sumerians.) The Phoenician trade with Babylonia and Assyria was likely solely accomplished by caravans, which traversed the Syrian desert by way of Tadmor or Palmyra, and arrived at the confluence of the Khabur River with the Euphrates River, at the Assyrian city of Sirhi. From here the route divided, passing to Babylon southwards along the course of the Euphrates River, and to Nineveh eastwards by way of the Khabur River and the Sinjar mountain-range. The wares furnished by Assyria were in some cases exported to Greece, as well as being for home consumption in Phoenicia. The nature of the Phoenician trade with Upper Mesopotamia is unknown to us; and it is possible their merchants visited Haran simply because it lay on the route which they had to follow to reach Armenia.

For most of their history the Phoenicians were pacifistic, or generally so. However, the Phoenicians allied themselves with king Xerxes and the Persian military invasion of Greece in the early 5th-century BCE, and sent a fleet of warships to join the Persian fleet. (The Phoenician warships were the mainstay of the Persian fleet until the stunning Greek naval victories.) In naval actions with the Greeks the Phoenician fleet suffered considerable damage and destruction. Now also gone was Phoenician cultural and intellectual interaction with the Greeks. The Phoenicians gradually lost their separate identity by being absorbed into the Greco-Macedonian empire.

Similarities between astronomical systems are always fertile grounds for study and discussion, with speculations about a possible single shared source. The Greeks had a higher regard for the Phoenicians than other 'barbarians.' Transmission between the Ionian Greeks and the astronomical tradition of the Near East was likely mediated by the Phoenicians who were in a position to be the direct bearers of ancient Near Eastern culture. They perhaps had the best opportunity to be in contact with the scribal schools of Mesopotamia. The mercantile class of the Phoenician city-states are to be regarded as the great cultural mediators of the Near Eastern world. They were geographically positioned between the Greeks, the Hebrews, the Egyptians, the Hittites, and the Assyrians. The commercial structure of the Phoenicians functioned as a vast communication network of trade and cultural exchange at the cross-roads of the European and Asian worlds. The Phoenician traders were ideally placed to become the transmitters of all sorts of Near Eastern legacies to the West. Undoubtedly navigational, astronomical, and technical skills accumulated from lengthy trading voyages throughout the Mediterranean region. (See: Presocratic Reflexivity by Barry Sandywell (1996); The Orientalizing Revolution by Walter Burkert (1992); and Bronze Age by Henry Boran (1976).) However, during the late 6th-century BCE and 5th-century BCE Greek civilisation with its powerful navy emerged as the dominant trading power in the eastern Mediterranean. At this time the Greek merchants of the Ionian city-states became a dominant trading power. By circa 430 BCE Athens was in a position to dominant maritime trade routes.

The Sidonian colony in the Idumaean capital Marissa circa the mid 3rd-century BCE was a mixed Hellenistic, Phoenician, and Idumaean culture. Idumea or Idumaea = Edom was an ancient territory/country of Palestine south of Judah (between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba).

Phoenician Navigation

The Phoenicians employed 2 fundamental systems of navigation: (1) short-haul coast hugging, mainly a daytime activity; and (2) open sea (but probably always in sight of land). The first was coastal (island hopping) navigation used in short-haul voyages while trading between villages and towns along the coast. It typically involved a daytime voyage between ports that were no more than 25 to 30 nautical miles apart. It was done while keeping the coast within sight and when there were no problems with visibility or direction. The second type of navigation was open-sea navigation. This was used when the Phoenicians were sailing over deep open water to distant destinations that were far from the port of departure. While they would probably also keep land in sight, they were much farther out in open water. When sailing by night they would keep the ship in the right direction by celestial navigation (i.e., making use of the stars and constellations). This could involve observing the Ursa Minor constellation (containing the 'Phoenician Star' = the Pole Star). The pole stars were used to navigate because they did not disappear below the horizon and could be seen consistently throughout the night. (Circa 1000 BCE the constellation Draco would have been closer to the North Pole than Polaris.) Phoenician commercial navigation on the Mediterranean took place almost exclusively between March and October when weather condition were best.

One example of Phoenician celestial navigation involving the use of Polaris to know which way is north: When crossing the Mediterranean along direct north-south routes - travelling to or from the island of Cyprus at night - the Phoenician navigators would keep the Pole Star (Polaris) directly in front or in back of their ships. Early in the first millennium BCE Phoenician city-states were sending out long-distance sea expeditions. (The modern pole star Polaris is at the end of the tail of the Little Bear.)

Homer's Odyssey lists nearly all the navigation stars and constellations used at the period. (Long-range sea-borne commercial voyage in Homer are always conducted by the Phoenicians.)

By the 3rd-century BCE the Greeks had begun to use the Little Bear constellation (Ursa Minor) to navigate. In the mid 1st-century CE the Roman poet Lucan (Marcus Lucanus) wrote about Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, a military and political leader) asking a sailor about the use of stars in navigation. The sailor's reply described the use of circumpolar stars to navigate by. To navigate along a degree of latitude a sailor would have needed to find a circumpolar star above that degree in the sky. As example: Apollonius would have used β Draconis to navigate as he travelled west from the mouth of the Alpheus River to Syracuse.

See especially: Davis, Danny. (2001). Navigation in the Ancient Mediterranean. (MA Thesis, Texas A&M University.)

The celestial navigation was basic and effective and without any hint of a constellation set and/or a star globe as alleged for the Minoans.

(g) Ionians

The Ionian Greeks were more exposed to new influences from Asia Minor and the Near East. Important Ionian intellectual stimuli was due to Assyrian influence through Lydia.

Circa 1000 BCE Greek colonists established themselves at Miletus. Previous the site had been occupied by Minoans and Myceneans and then the Luwian language speakers from south central Anatolia calling themselves the Carians. (Originally, Miletus was the main Mycenaean settlement in Asia Minor.) During the 8th- and 7th-century BCE, Miletus established over 90 colonies throughout the Eastern Aegean; from Naucratis in Egypt to Sinope on the Black Sea. Miletus was an important Maritime location (situated at the mouth of the Maeander River), possessing several natural harbours. Miletus prospered as a trading centre. The trade and international contacts of Miletus brought a prosperity. Before the Persian invasion in Miletus was considered the greatest and wealthiest of Greek cities. It had become an economic and cultural 'powerhouse.' The Greek Archaic Period began with a sudden and brilliant outburst of art and philosophy on the coast of Anatolia. In the 6th-century BC (in the Greek Archaic Period) Miletus was a major centre for the early development of Greek science and philosophy. Miletus was part of the Persian empire during the emergence of Greek philosophy. In 494 BCE Miletus was captured by the invading Persian army and later the Persians destroyed the city by fire. (Miletus was destroyed (literally obliterated by fire) because it was at the forefront of Ionian opposition to the Persians. It organised and led the Ionian resistance to the Persian army.) However, it was later rebuilt but the previous prosperity of Miletus was not restored as the recovery of its sea trade was now hindered by the rise of Athenian naval supremacy. As a predominant naval force in the latter part of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, Athens exerted considerable influence over sea trade.

The well-established maritime trade routes around the Mediterranean basin enabled foreigners to travel to Greece. In the 7th-century BCE, contacts with itinerant eastern craftsmen, notably on Crete and Cyprus, inspired Greek artists to work in techniques as diverse as gem cutting, ivory carving, jewelry making, and metalworking. After the unprecedented military campaign of Alexander the Great (reigned 336–323 BCE), more extensive trade routes were opened across Asia, extending as far as Afghanistan and the Indus River Valley.

The Milesians may have been active in the Greek trading posts on the coast of Syria just north of the Phoenician city-states, which would have put them into contact with Mesopotamia. The Greeks sailed to al-Mina, and then became an active element in contact with Phoenicia. Whether the Greeks settled at the trading-post city of al-Mina in northern Syria is unknown. Other groups living there included Phoenicians (predominantly) and Cypriots. Al-Mina was important as the start of the shortest overland caravan route to Mesopotamia. Al-mina (on the Levantine coast) was a thriving 'port of trade.' (Al-Mina functioned as the western terminus of caravan routes leading to Aleppo and to Carchemish, where caravans were organised for distribution within Mesopotamia.) There is evidence of Iron Age/Bronze Age occupation in the area, but the main period of activity at al-Mina dates from the 9th-century BCE, when supposedly the first Greek colonists arrived there. The importance of al-Mina and the Greeks there remains controversial. See the informed and detailed discussion: Graham, A. J. (2001). "The Historical Interpretation of Al Mina." In: Collected Papers on Greek Civilization. (Pages 67-82).

Ionian civilisation originated in the 8th-century BCE. The astronomy of the Ionians was stimulated by the reception of Babylonian astral knowledge. This may have been due to Thales. (Thales' purported eclipse prediction is most likely an apocryphal story.) The periodicity of astronomical phenomena became a trigger for intellectual inquiry. (Babylonian (Assyrian period) predictive astronomy provided a particular impetus for the philosophers of Miletus in Ionia.

A practical approach to understanding the universe originated with Milesian and Ionian philosophers. The Ionian tribe of Greeks comprised the important eastern division of the ancient Greek people occupied the region of central coastal Anatolia. The Milesian school was a school of philosophy was founded in the 6th-century BCE. The ideas associated with it are exemplified by 3 philosophers from the Ionian city of Miletus (on the Aegean coast of Anatolia): Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. The Ionian Greeks were more scientists than philosophers i.e., practical geometers, engineers, and astronomers. They were pragmatic thinkers interested in how the natural environment worked in the light of everyday experience. Thales was a critic of mythological tradition. Miletus became the greatest urban centre of the ancient world from which Greek civilisation was spread throughout the Aegean and beyond. Miletus founded more than 30 colonies. (When colonies were established there must have been some interchange of influences with the local inhabitants.) The Ionian Greeks are perhaps an important source for diffusing Babylonian astral ideas to the mainland Greeks.

The Ionian city of Cnidus had a well known science school which Eudoxus attended. No writing by Eudoxus survive; but his contributions are recorded in numerous Greek sources and in commentaries from later Byzantine times. What is known about his life is derived from the writings of Diogenes Laërtius from the 3rd-century CE. Eudoxus came from the Pythagorean tradition that regarded mathematics as the key to astronomy. Eudoxus made substantial contributions to number theory, began the necessary interaction between observation and theory in astronomy, and gave the first systematic explanation of the motions of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Eudoxus was instrumental in bringing together observation and theory in astronomy. Starting from the Greek conviction that the universe is built on simple and beautiful principles, Eudoxus devised a system of concentric spheres and described the movement of the Sun, Moon, and Planets relative to each other mathematically. The Phainomena, a work of Eudoxus unfortunately now lost, is the earliest known Greek source that describes a large number of star groups as constellations. The use of stars and constellations for navigation at sea was of paramount importance for the Greek merchant class. (Accurate knowledge of the sky would have been important to any navigators.)

Interestingly, Ionian and Phoenician shipwrights were active in Babylon during the first half of the 6th-century BCE.

Ionian Enlightenment

Miletus was originally a colony established by the Minoans. The Minoans abandoned their colony in Miletus by 1400 BCE. Mycenaeans then colonised Miletus. Shortly after 1300 BCE the Mycenaeans settlement was destroyed by fire, possibly at the instigation of the Hittites. The Hittites then fortified the city against possible naval attacks by the Greeks. The Greeks colonised Miletus circa the 9th-century BCE. The ancient Greek city of Miletus in Asia Minor (the west coast of present-day Turkey), has been called the birthplace of the modern world. Ancient Miletus was situated on a peninsula with 3 harbours on the west and 1 on the east. Miletus was the intellectual and commercial capital of the Greek world in the century before Athens rose to prominence. Miletus was powerful enough to establish about 80 colonies. Miletus sent settlers to (mostly) the Black Sea area (where there were abundant corn supplies), as well as the Hellespont (the Dardanelles, a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara). In 499 BCE Miletus led the Ionian revolt that was a contributing factor in the Greek-Persian Wars. At the beginning of the Greek-Persian Wars, Miletus was besieged and in 494 BCE was destroyed by the armies of Darius the Great. The city was later rebuilt but it never recovered its early importance. Miletus eventually declined due to the unstoppable silting up of its harbours. By the Middle Ages the once-busy harbours of Miletus had largely silted up and the site was abandoned.

Excursus: The Greek colonising movement in the 2nd-half of the 8th-century BCE was likely due to the serious social and economic problems of over-population and shortage of agricultural land on mainland Greece. The majority of Greeks depended for their livelihood on agriculture.

Greek philosophy and science originated in 6th-century BCE Miletus. (Miletus was one of the 12 Ionian cities of Asia Minor. The city of Miletus played an important role in the history of western Anatolia. Also, it was one of the most important cities in the ancient Greek world.) The Ionian Enlightenment began in the Archaic Period and continued into the early Classical Period. Greek scientific thought began with a small group of Greek intellectuals in the port city of Miletus. Miletus was the home of Thales, 'the father of philosophy,' and his followers Anaximander and Anaximenes, It appears that Thales exhibited a number of astronomical skills. Thales defined the constellation Ursa Minor and pointed out its navigational usefulness (presumably because it includes the Pole Star, Polaris). He may also have had access to Babylonian astronomical knowledge/documentation. According to ancient sources Thales was exposed to the mathematical and astronomical traditions of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

It has been remarked that from Thales (circa 624-circa 547 BCE) to Anaximenes (585-528 BCE), Milesian astronomy indicates Assyrian and Babylonian influences. By the 5th-century BCE, Ionian science had spread to other Greek cities, including Athens. In Herodotus' account of the battle between the armies of King Alyattes of the Lydians  and King Cyaxaros of the Medes, Thales is said to have predicted the eclipse "for the year" in which it actually occurred. As far as is known, no astronomical theory capable of predicting solar eclipses existed in Thales' time.

As stated above, the Milesians may have been active in the supposedly Greek trading posts on the coast of Syria just north of the Phoenician city-states, which would have put them into contact with Mesopotamia. Al-mina (on the Levantine coast) was a thriving 'port of trade.' There is evidence of Iron Age/Bronze Age occupation in the area, but the main period of activity at al-Mina dates from the 9th-century BCE, when supposedly the first Greek colonists arrived there. The importance of al-Mina and the Greeks there remains controversial. A supposed Greek colony at al-Mina has been attributed the key role in the transmission of Near East (West Asiatic) cultural influences to the Greek world at the end of the Dark Ages. Not only West Asiatic trade goods but myths and lore have been thought to have come to Greece from al-Mina. There is little to support this dated interpretation of a very early Greek colony from the island of Euboea. There is no strong archaeological evidence that al-Mina was primarily a Greek colony. Al-Mina has no Greek graves and there is no evidence for Greek cults. It is not known for certain whether there were Greeks at al-Mina during the Archaic Period. However, based on some limited evidence - dating to the 7th-century BCE - from nearby Tell Sukas (an Iron Age/Late Bronze Age archaeological mound on the Syrian coast) it is likely that there were some Greek inhabitants at al-Mina in the Archaic Period. But al-Mina was not a Greek settlement. The evidence suggests it was founded by Phoenicians. It does, however, show connections between Greeks and Phoenicians.

Trade was an economic mainstay. Miletus was a prosperous Greek emporium city. Beginning in the late 7th-century BCE, Miletus engaged in trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was resource poor but produced abundant wheat, barley, dates, flax, and other essential crops; and also manufactured textiles. Miletus was located on poor agricultural ground. Miletus traded with the interior of Asia Minor. Also, Miletus was the Mediterranean port for major overland trade routes from Mesopotamia.

Miletus undoubtedly attracted intellectuals who could offer their services as teachers and translators.

Due to Assyrian expansion in the 8th-century BCE, Miletus was also close to numerous Assyrian provinces. In the late 8th-century and early (first half) 7th-century the Sargonid kings of Assyrian annexed numerous Levantine kingdoms and transformed some into Assyrian provinces. In the 8th-century BCE the northern Syrian kingdoms of Arpad, Hamat, and Unqu were invaded and annexed as Syrian provinces. Que (Cilicia) also became an Assyrian province. Assyria also annexed the kingdoms of Carchemish, Marqasa, and Kummuhi.

Ancient Assyria dominated southwest Asia for centuries during the Neo-Assyrian period (911-612 BCE). For a discussion of evidence for Greek names in ancient Tarsus during the Neo-Assyrian period see: "Archaic Greek Names in a Neo-Assyrian Cuneiform Tablet From Tarsus." by Philip Schmitz (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Volume 61, 2000, Pages 127-131). Tarsus (located in south-central Turkey) was one of the principal cities of the ancient Assyrian province of Cilicia.

See the informed and detailed discussion: Graham, A. J. (2001). "The Historical Interpretation of Al Mina." In: Collected Papers on Greek Civilization. (Pages 67-82). Also see: Freely, John. (2012). The Flame of Miletus: The Birth of science in Ancient Greece (and How it Changed the World); and Gormon, Vanessa. (2001). Miletos, the Ornament of Ionia: A History of the City to 400 B.C.E. Also: Children of Achilles: The Greeks in Asia Minor since the Days of Troy by John Freely (2016); and The Land of Ionia: Society and Economy in the Archaic Period by Alan Greaves (2010).

(h) Lydia as vassal state of Assyria

In the 1st-millennium BCE the capital of Lydia was Sardis.

Source: Parpola, Simo. (2003). "Assyria's Expansion in the 8th and 7th Centuries and its Long-Term Repercussions in the West." In: Dever, William. and Gitin, Seymour. (Editors). Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past. (Pages 99-111, Pages 102-103).

Known examples of the influences exerted over the Greeks by the kingdom of the Lydians include the Mother of the Gods (Kybele/Cybele). See: The Mother of the Gods by Mark Munn (2006). The dynasty of the Mermnad tyrants of Lydia ruled over western Asia Minor from the time of Gyges (circa 680-circa 645 BCE) until the end of the reign of Croesus (circa 560-circa 547 BCE).

It is feasible that Babylonian uranography was passed to the Ionian Greeks through particular intermediaries such as the Lydians (when a vassal state of Assyria). The Ionian Greeks were more exposed to new influences from Asia Minor and the Near East. Important Ionian intellectual stimuli was due to Assyrian influence through Lydia. It is my belief that the constellating of the entire Greek sky, and its consolidation, was due to Eudoxus of Cnidus. The versification of his uranography in Aratus Phainomena indicates that the astronomic work of Eudoxus was accepted as authoritative. The constellations he used in his uranography were a mix of Mesopotamian constellations current at that time mixed with constellations in use by or established by the Greeks at the period (late Greek Archaic Period/early Greek Classical period). Important Ionian intellectual stimulus - and source of knowledge of Mesopotamian uranography - at that time being due to Assyrian influence through Lydia. There is certainly no requirement to invoke a hypothetical Minoan constellation set from 1000 years earlier.

(i) Egyptians

"The classification of stars in groups and their ordering is an ancient component of the Egyptian worldview, which produced the concept of the decans already by the late third millennium BCE." (Ben-Dov, Jonathan. (2013(2014?)). "A Jewish Parapegma? Reading 1 Enoch 82 in Roman Egypt." In: Stern, Sacha. and Burnett, Charles. (Editors). Time, Astronomy, and Calendars in the Jewish Tradition. (Page 19).)

That Egypt was located away from the main trade route between East and West did not seem to be a hindrance to trade. Egypt had trade relations with Mesopotamia at the same time as Egypt's trade relations with Syria and Palestine intensified. Mesopotamian influences rapidly disappear from Egypt during the First Dynasty. There was direct contact between Egypt and Southern Levant during the early Pre-Dynastic period. Trade relations developed tremendously in later periods, in particular during the rule of the first Egyptian Dynasty. During and after the Predynastic period it appears that trade between Egypt and Mesopotamia was being carried out via northern Syria and the Mediterranean. (See: Mark, Samuel. (1993). A Study of Possible Trade Routes Between Egypt and Mesopotamia, ca. 3500-3100 B.C. (Master of Arts Thesis (Anthropology), Texas A&M University).)

From circa 730 BCE during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III, and increasingly thereafter, the Assyrians were in repeated contact with Egypt. Esarhaddon's involvement with Egypt in the early 7th-century BCE resulted in a range of Egyptians living in Mesopotamia. Also, there is a cuneiform record of an "Egyptian scribe" with an Assyrian name buying a house in Nineveh in 692 BCE.

There was an Egyptian intellectual and cultural renaissance under the Saite pharaohs (26th Dynasty) that would have benefitted Milesian intellectuals. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire the Saite Pharaohs established increasingly close links with Greece until Egypt came under the control of the Persians. The Saite dynasty's reign was from 664 BCE to 525 BCE. (Egyptian scientific texts were basically kept by priests in the libraries.) The Persian invasion of Egypt occurred at the end of the Saite Dynasty. Egyptian Pharaohs of the Saite Period increasingly engaged with neighbouring cultures. Military, political, and economic alliances were forged with Greece. This resulted in a large Greek presence in Egypt and a strong Egyptian influence on Archaic Greek civilisation.

A multilingual environment existed in Persian and Ptolemaic Egypt. The main languages of papyrological documentation were Egyptian (Demotic script) Aramaic, and Greek.

Source: A History of Science in World Cultures: Voices of Knowledge by Scott Montgomery and Alok Kumar (2015, Page 133).

Source: "What Texts Shaped Our Corpuses of Astral and Mathematical Cuneiform Texts?" by David Brown. In: Looking at It from Asia edited by Florence Bretelle-Establet (2010, Pages 277-304; Page 282).

Source: The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt edited by Christina Riggs (2012, Page 554).

A transmission of Mesopotamian astral sciences to Greece through Demotic Egyptian channels has been conjectured by Richard Steiner and Karl-Theodor Zauzich. (Egyptian demotic was a popular form of cursive writing.) The transmission of Babylonian sciences and mathematics in Demotic sources occurred by at least the time of Euclid of Alexandria (flourished circa 300 BCE).

Also, research suggests the Greeks borrowed their system known as alphabetic numerals from the Egyptians, and did not develop it themselves as was long believed. Dr Stephen Chrisomalis of McGill University in Montreal, Canada proposed in 2003 that the enormous amount of trade between Greece and Egypt after 600 BCE led to the system of Egyptian demotic numerals being adopted by the Greeks. There are striking similarities between Greek alphabetic numerals and Egyptian demotic numerals, used in Egypt from the late 8th Century BC until around AD 450. Greek merchants may have seen the demotic system in use in Egypt and adapted it for their own purposes. 

Source: Head of all Years: Astronomy and Calendars at Qumran in their Ancient Context by Jonathan Ben-Dov (2008).

Source: "Mathematics, Science, and Medicine in the Papyri." by Alexander Jones. In: The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology edited by Roger Bagnell (2009, Pages 338-357; Page 344). Note: P.Hib. I 27 = Papyrus Hibeh I 27, a long strip of papyrus used in the cartonage of a mummy, written in the early 3rd-century BCE in the Saite Nome. It is the earliest extant example of a written parapegma. Possible predecessors for the parapegma tradition exist in cuneiform writings.

See also: "The Interaction of Egyptian and Aramaic Literature." by the Egyptologist Joachim Quack. (Originalveröffentlichung in: Oded Lipschits/Gary N. Knoppers/Manfred Oeming (Hg.), Judah and the Judeans in the Achaemenid Age. Negotiating Identity in an International Context, Winona Lake 2011, S. 375-40). "The Multilingual Environment of Persian and Ptolemaic Egypt: Egyptian, Aramaic, and Greek Documentation." by Dorothy Thompson. In: The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology edited by Roger Bagnell (2009, Pages 395-417).

(j) Hittites

The Hittites were a people who once lived in what is modern Turkey and northern Syria. The Hittites ruled an extensive empire of inland (north-central) Anatolia. The Hittite Empire was established circa 1600 BCE, reached its height during the mid-14th century BCE when it encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia, and then after circa 1180 BCE came to an end (during the 'Dark Age' Bronze Age collapse. The Hittites had numerous allies and client states to their west, south, and southeast. They maintained regular contacts with rulers in Syria, Assyria, Babylonia, and Egypt. Out of the Hittite contacts with Assyria and Babylonia came the diffusion of scribal learning to the Hittites. The Hittite Empire ended by splintering into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until the 8th-century BCE.

A Hittite version of "The Prayer to the Gods of the Night" exists. There also exists a fragment of a Hittite translation of the introduction to Enūma Anu Enlil (KUB 34 12). A variety of celestial omina in the Hittite language also exist, as well as celestial omina in Akkadian. The constellation 'Wagon' is mentioned in 2 Hittite omina texts (KUB VIII, and KUB XXXIV).

Influences of literary works in Hittite and Assyrian languages on the epics of the Greek Archaic Period have been formulated and discussed by specialists. There are obvious parallels between Hesiod's Theogony and the Hittite Kumarbi Cycle.

Blurb for public lecture "Hittites, Greeks, and Others: Interaction between Ancient Anatolia, Greece, and the Levant" by H. Craig Melchert (UCLA) at University of Kentucky on 24 March 2015: "One of a group of Indo-European speaking peoples intrusive to Anatolia, the Hittites rose from a modest city state to establish first a kingdom on the central plateau and then an empire that fought with the kings of Babylon and Assyria, the Hurrians, and the pharaohs of Egypt for control of SE Anatolia, Syria and Palestine, and contended with one or more Mycenaean Greek kings over western Asia Minor. One of their many vassal states was Wilusa, certainly to be identified with Troy. The multiethnic Hittite kingdom absorbed heavy cultural influence from many peoples and played a role in transmitting Ancient Near Eastern culture to the Greeks. A combination of factors, including the assaults of the "Sea Peoples", brought an end to the Hittite Empire shortly after 1200 BCE, but some former subordinate states inherited their name and culture and maintained a degree of independence for several centuries until conquered by the Assyrians. It is these "Neo-Hittite" states that are represented in the "Hittites" of the Old Testament."

The imprecise term "Sea Peoples" refers to peoples displaced from their earlier homes in the West, who arrived on the coasts of the eastern Mediterranean seeking a new homeland. They comprised a confederacy of maritime raiders. The Hittites may have succumbed to their old enemies, the nomadic Kaskaean people from northern Anatolia.

See: From Hittite to Homer: The Anatolian Background of Ancient Greek Epic by Mary Bachvarova (2016). From publisher's blurb: "This book provides a groundbreaking reassessment of the prehistory of Homeric epic. It argues that in the Early Iron Age bilingual poets transmitted to the Greeks a set of narrative traditions closely related to the one found at Bronze-Age Hattusa, the Hittite capital. Key drivers for Near Eastern influence on the developing Homeric tradition were the shared practices of supralocal festivals and venerating divinized ancestors, and a shared interest in creating narratives about a legendary past using a few specific storylines: theogonies, genealogies connecting local polities, long-distance travel, destruction of a famous city because it refuses to release captives, and trying to overcome death when confronted with the loss of a dear companion."

Festivals gave foreigners - traders, artists, shoppers, entertainers, etc. - a good reason to visit a major civic centre.

See: Bachvarova, Mary. (2016). From Hittite to Homer: The Anatolian Background of Ancient Greek epic. Deals with oral transmission. Argues that in Iron Age western Anatolia there was a demand for luxury goods, and for performing bards.

(k) The Possible Nature of Babylonian Sources

Southern Mesopotamia is taken to mean Sumer and Babylonia. Northern Mesopotamia is taken to mean Assyria. It has been generally concluded that southern Mesopotamia was occupied by Sumerian speaking people and northern Mesopotamia was occupied by a Semitic speaking people. Syria is being increasingly placed in the larger context of Mesopotamian history; the result of excavations at Ebla and Mari (and other sites). The area is increasingly indicated as Mesopotamian more than previously had been thought.

The notion of Mediterranean and Near East peoples as homogeneous cultures has been put into question. Influences of literary works in Assyrian languages on the epics of the Greek Archaic Period have been formulated and discussed by specialists.

Due to the different languages and the spatial distance it would be interesting to understand the channels of transmission. The channels of transmission still remain elusive. It is recognised that an important issue is how the Near Eastern source material in incorporated into a new literary, cultural, and historical context. Especially important are the issues of 'adaptation,' 'refiguration,' and 'transplantation.'

In accessing Babylonian astral knowledge there were ethno-linguistic and cultural barriers to be overcome.

Trade Routes and Areas

The ancient world was connected by trade. Trade involves interregional interaction. Trade routes connected most major civilisations. It is also recognised that long-distance trade can be a prime mover of social change. Trade routes are one of the key reasons cultural diffusion took place. Merchants carried religious and other ideas. People of different regions were exposed to new ideas, cultures, beliefs, and people.

A key region for initiating interregional trade was Mesopotamia, a geographic area with earth and water and very little else. Large-scale, high-volume exchange networks emerged during the Uruk period in the 4th-millennium BCE. Mesopotamian demand for raw materials led to the early establishment of a network of trading colonies and outposts. Uruk period (4th-millennium BCE) colonies - likely connected with trade - have been excavated in Syria, Iran, and Anatolia. To the north and west ancient Mesopotamian traders reached Emar, Ebla, and Aleppa to the north, and Ešnunna, and Ugarit on the Mediterranean Sea. The single most important historical route of Mesopotamian trade and communication with Syria, the Levant, Anatolia, and the Mediterranean was the Euphrates River. Downstream travel by boat/barge was fast and easy with good weather conditions. Upstream travel was usually by donkey and/or towed barge and much slower.

Source: Rethinking World-Systems by Gil Stein (1999), Pages 46 & 47.

Overland trade routes were busy places. Land-based trade routes involved donkey and/or camel caravans. How traders met and spent time together along the trade routes remains unknown. Even the conservative view concedes the possibility of a land trade route through Asia Minor conducted by Aramaic speakers in the 8th-century BCE. This date was the beginning of Aramaic being adopted as the international language of diplomacy and commerce.

Very little is known about long-distance trade in the Neo-Assyrian period. In the early Neo-Assyrian Period there was loss of Assyrian access to trade routes. A key figure in Neo-Assyrian trade is the tamkāru (DAM.GÀR). The tamkāru is a royal trade agent legitimated by the king and held quasi-diplomatic status. The function of the tamkāru was to travel widely to ensure the king was provided with the goods needed to run state matters smoothly.

 

Source: "Traders in the Neo-Assyrian Period." by Karen Radner. In: Trade and Finance in Ancient Mesopotamia edited by Jan Derckden (1999), (Pages 101-126, see pages 101, 104 & 105).

Key trading cities in the Levant area - at one time or another - included: Kanesh, Ebla, Ischia, Byblos, Tyre, Sidon, and Miletus. By circa 430 BCE Athens was in a position to dominant maritime trade routes.

The Mesopotamian practice of establishing trade-diasporas commence at least as early as the Uruk period in the 4th-millennium BCE. This practice was continued by later Mesopotamian empires. There were, at one time or another, some 35 Assyrian trading colonies and smaller trading stations. Uniform Akkadian architecture is found in distant trading areas.

Commercial routes undoubtedly stimulated the diffusion of Mesopotamian astronomy to the West. These routes definitely made a major contribution to the diffusion of religious beliefs/ideas. (See: Religions and Trade edited by Peter Wick and Volker Rabens (2013) (ancient world); and Religion and Trade edited by Francesca Trivellato (2014).('modern' world).

Unfortunately very little evidence has come down to us regarding maritime trading in the ancient Greek world. See: Maritime Traders in the Ancient Greek World by C. M. Reed (2003).

See also: Maritime Archaeology and Ancient Trade in the Mediterranean edited by Damian Robinson and Andrew Wilson (2011). The monograph focuses on the maritime dimension of the trading economy of the ancient Mediterranean, using the evidence from shipwrecks, harbour archaeology, and the distribution of traded goods. Also: "Phoenician Overland Trade within the Mesopotamian Empires." by Moshe Elat (Pages 21-35), and "The Trade Network of Tyre according to Ezek.27." by Mario Liverani (Pages 65-79), both in Ah, Assyria edited by Mordechai Cogan and Israel Eph'al (1991).

Two other references are: Maritime Networks in the Mycenaean World by Thomas Tartaron (2013); and A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean by Irad Malkin (2011). See also: Trade, Traders and the Ancient City edited by Helen Parkins and Christopher Smith (1998).

Travellers

Source: Pythagoras and the Early Pythagoreans by Leonid Zhmud. (2012, Page 320 (Translated from Russian)). The remark: "... Babylonian influence on Greek astronomy in the first three centuries of its development." refers to the Greek Classical Period.

Foreign visitors to Greek sanctuaries is attested by archaeology.

Other contacts must have taken place that are not referred to in the extant literature. The only known translator of Babylonian ideas into Greek was Berossos, a priest of Bel-Marduk of Babylon. He read both Mesopotamian and Greek texts and wrote in the Koine Greek language. However, he was active at the beginning of the 3rd-century BCE (on the Greek island of Cos (Kos) in the Seleucid Period.

One ancient Greek traveller whose accounts raise doubts about their authenticity is Herodotus (484-425 BCE). Whether the Greek historian Herodotus actually toured Mesopotamia toward the end of Assyrian rule is disputable. Perhaps he simply embellished stories told by traders.

Religious Sanctuaries

As example, see: Kistler, Erich., Öhlinger, Birgit., Mohr, Martin. and Hoernes, Matthias. (2015). (Editors). Sanctuaries and the Power of Consumption: Networking and the Formation of Elites in the Archaic Western Mediterranean World. [Note: Proceedings of the international conference in Innsbruck, 20th-23rd March 2012. Philippika, 92. See the (English-language) book review by Charlotte Potts, University of Oxford, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2016.08.34. In part: "This volume presents the collected proceedings of a conference held at the University of Innsbruck in 2012. The conference was designed to test the extent to which network theory could help to analyse and interpret the archaeological data for 'protoglobal complexities of circumstances, people and their activities' in the Archaic Western Mediterranean (p. XI). As such the publication aims to join the growing body of scholarship focused on describing and explaining connections between different Mediterranean communities in the first millennium BC, and particularly those using theoretical approaches developed in the social sciences such as peer-polity interaction, network analysis, and globalisation. ... One of these mechanisms, and indeed the one at the heart of this volume, is religious activity. In order to allow contributors to make comparisons between different sites, the organisers of the Innsbruck conference identified sanctuaries as a common frame of reference and adopted the working hypothesis that sanctuaries facilitated elite networks that would have otherwise been impossible."]

Wandering Poets

Unfortunately wandering poets have left no trace. Supraregional festivals, both Greek and Hittite, attracted numerous foreign visitors. Some of these festivals were quite lengthy - up to a month long. Persons (performers) who attended included wandering poets. This created opportunities for cultural transmission. Anatolia and the Levant are locations for contact between the Greeks and the Near East. The Neo-Assyryian Empire and the Persian Empire stimulated intellectual inquiry amongst the Greeks in the West.

See: Wandering Poets in Ancient Greek Culture edited by Richard Hunter and Ian Rutherford (2009). Publisher's blurb: "Although recent scholarship has focused on the city-state as the context for the production of Greek poetry, for poets and performers travel was more the norm than the exception. This book traces this central aspect of ancient culture from its roots in the near Eastern societies which preceded the Greeks, through the way in which early semi-mythical figures such as Orpheus were imagined, the poets who travelled to the brilliant courts of archaic tyrants, and on into the fluid mobility of imperial and late antique culture. The emphasis is both on why poets travelled, and on how local communities used the skills of these outsiders for their own purposes. Wandering poets are also set within the wider context of ancient networks of exchange, patronage and affiliation between communities and are seen as one particularly powerful manifestation of a feature of ancient life which is too often overlooked."

Extract from the book review by Roosevelt Rocha, Federal University of Paraná, Brazil (Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.01.55): "In Ancient times, it was very common that poets and performers were great travellers. This is a theme still overlooked, according to Richard Hunter and Ian Rutherford, the editors of the book under review here. It is a collection of papers formerly presented in April 2005, in a colloquium at the University of Cambridge in which the main questions were why poets travelled and how the skills of these outsiders were used by the local communities for their own purposes. In the Introduction, Hunter and Rutherford present the volume, asserting that "travel and wandering are persistent elements in both the reality and imaginaire of Greek poetry, and intellectual and cultural life more generally, from the earliest days" (p. 1). Orpheus was the first wandering poet and even a professional of the word like Empedocles of Acragas is a good example of the truth of this statement. But not only the poet could be a traveller. The public also could make a journey by attending or reading a text. And even more, a poem could travel and spread the fame of both poet and patron. Names like Theognis and Pindar are examples of that. And there's still another possibility of travel in the act of composing or enacting a poem. This also can be seen as a kind of journey and the Argonautica, by Apollonius Rhodius, must be cited in this context.

It was very common that poets and performers travelled to receive honors like the proxenia but also to get payment, like the epinician composers and the Artists of Dionysus. This kind of activity continued into Hellenistic times and even into the Roman period, as the example of Archias, the poet defended by Cicero, shows. So, there were a munber of motivations that led to poetic mobility. Another one was the desire to receive commissions for celebrating the antiquities (patria), buildings and local worthies of particular towns. Thus the most common forms of performance were the encomia of the host city and its traditions.

Travels could lead to different kinds of innovations producing an 'internationalization' in the Archaic period. We have many notices of poets working far away from their homeland in those times, like Thaletas of Cretan Gortyna and Alcman (from Sparta or Lydian Sardis?). It could be important for a powerful ruler to draw in skilled poets: Polycrates of Samos attracted Ibycus from Rhegium and Anacreon from Teos; Periander of Corinth brought to his court Arion, from Lesbian Methymna; Peisistratus took Homer's poetry to Athens and latter Anacreon and Simonides of Ceos spent some time there, before going to courts in Thessaly (the Tean) and in Sicily (the Cean). So, in Ancient times, a poet would take all the chances he had at hand to profit from his art (cf. Theocritus 16.34-47, cited p. 28).

But this phenomenon was not particular to Greece alone. As the editors say (p. 14), "singers and poets travel in many societies, perhaps most". In Japan, in late medieval Europe, in medieval India, in Western Africa singers travelled to where they could find employment, and the best singers migrated to where they would be paid most. And to consider this comparative evidence can be useful in helping us to understand the ways poetic itinerancy developed in Ancient Greece.

Concluding their Introduction, the editors say (p.17) that poets travel to perform, but this does not exhaust the issue. It's very import also to say that poets, local and foreign, played a role in celebrating local traditions. "One of the main functions of the shared cultural tradition was to provide an ideological fabric connecting the different Greek cities" (p. 20). So poets, when wandering, were reinforcing local traditions but also making Hellenic identity.

In the second chapter, 'Hittite and Greek perspectives on travelling poets, texts and festivals', Mary R. Bacharova starts by asserting that the mechanism by which literature from the Near East reached Greece has not been well studied. She argues that there was contact at an early stage between Pre-Greek and Anatolian poetic traditions. According to her, transmission of cultural practices via Anatolia during the Mycenean period should be given serious consideration. She examines the mechanisms by which second-millenium Anatolian singers and other 'masters of the word' made their way from one location to another. The focus is particularly on two related settings: the worship of an imported god and festivals. In analysing the texts, she presents phraseological correspondences that she claims to be "good indirect evidence of the contact between wordsmiths through whom the phrasing crossed langages (sic)" (p. 29). In conclusion, Bacharova asserts that festivals from Anatolia and other parts of the Near East shared much in common with Greek festivals of the first millenium."

The Expansion of the Greek World from 8th to 6th Centuries

See: The Cambridge Ancient History, 2nd Edition, Volume III, Part 3, The Expansion of the Greek World, Eighth to Sixth Centuries B.C. edited by John Boardman and N. G. L. Hammond (1982).

Immigration and Emigration

See: Immigration and Emigration Within the Ancient Near East edited by Edward Lipiŕiski et. al. (1995). Also: Imports and Immigration by Gail Hoffman (1997). Discusses immigrant craftsmen in the Greek world. Has discussion of Near Eastern contacts with Iron Age Crete. See also: Zadok, Ran. (1979). "On Some Foreign Population Groups in First-Millennium Babylonia." (Tel Aviv. Journal of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University, Volume 6, Issue 3-4, Pages 164-181).

Colonization

See: Local Responses to Colonization in the Iron Age Mediterranean by Tamar Hodos (2006). Also: Wandering Greeks. The Ancient Greek Diaspora from the Age of Homer to the Death of Alexander the Great by Robert Garland (2014).

Temples

There are a lot of Mesopotamian texts related to interregional and international trade. Archaeologists have been able are able to trace sophisticated economic practices as syllabic writing and account-keeping on clay tablets, seals and sealing, and many idiosyncratic layouts and technical details of accounting formats that have moved up the Euphrates to Sumerian outposts such as Asshur (Ashur) and Mari, and on to Syria, Ugarit, and ultimately Crete and Mycenae.

Both royalty and temples had roles as sponsors of trading expeditions, requiring materials to build and embellish palaces, temples, etc. Cuneiform documents from the end of the 3rd-millennium BCE show that much of Mesopotamia's trade was in the hands of individual merchants, although the temples were heavily involved and temple complexes could double as warehouses. Merchants traded goods owned by temples, kings, wealthy landowners, and kin groups on a commission basis and bought and sold goods on their own account. An important export from Mesopotamian cities was food staples such as grain. The view has been expressed that likely long-distance trade was originally controlled by the temples, and that the merchants had temple affiliations. The southern Mesopotamian cities organised their trade through temple embassies. In peripheral regions temples functioned as 'neutral zones' which protected and sanctified their commercial undertakings. (There is also the viewpoint that the economic importance of the temple was primarily local. The amount of foreign trade carried on by temples apparently was small within the volume of trade that being carried out.)

Mesopotamian trade from Sumerian times in the 3rd-millennium BCE can be traced diffusing from southern Mesopotamia upward along the Euphrates and westward into the Levant as part of Sumerian trade/commercial expansion. Circa the late 3rd-millennium BCE the temple at Ur was heavily involved in manufacturing and trading activities. (The temple at Ur had its own manufacturing workshop.) Besides the temple, the palace was involved in long distance trade. Though the merchants of the Ur III period were independent of the state and temple - both were important customers. Traders served the state, and temple, when it was to their advantage. The activities performed by the Ur traders followed a model that spread throughout the ancient Near East and Aegean region. Later, the Assyrians conducted large scale commercial activities. Assyrian kings established trading colonies in the mercantile cities of the West. Business letters written in Luwian (used in Anatolia and Syria) and records in Aramaic are known from Ashur (also known as Assur) in late Assyrian times. This implies that merchants in Mesopotamia were capable of multilingual communication, and that scribes who were also translators were available. At one time it was custom for Assyrian merchants to live abroad in foreign cities, trading with occasional back-up from a home-based temple or their trading company or mercantile banker.

Perhaps one of the roles temples played in ancient trade - and in other types of contact with foreigners - was establishing the basis for economic and legal issues. If so, the most active traders likely established temple embassies and commercial cults. An example is the trade colonies established by the Assyrians in central Asia Minor, in Cappadocia. The trade colony of Kanesh dates at least from the 20th-century BCE, and may have actually been established earlier by the Sargonids from Akkad or by other southern Mesopotamians.

The role that temples and foreign mercantile cults may have played in transmitting cultural and scientific beliefs will never be exactly established. However, the fact that the Phoenician role at Delos, Delphi, Olympus, Samos and Argos have assuredly been important in transmitting economic institutions and transferring other aspects of culture. The exchange of commodities between an economically sophisticated core and a less commercialized periphery involves more than just the physical exchange of goods. It must ground itself in the context of economic institutions and legal traditions put into place on both sides. It is not firmly established whether in the 1st-millennium BCE that Mediterranean cults acted as commercial embassies sponsoring relations with outsiders and/or as creditors along the lines they had done in 3rd-millennium BCE with Mesopotamian trade with Asia Minor, and as late as the 2nd-century BCE, most notably at Delos. However, temple hierarchies would have served as commercial and diplomatic embassies, being higher social entities than individuals, and the most morally binding context for commercial trade when legal formalities could still be relatively loose outside of the sacred sphere. The traditional role of temples in protecting travellers (mainly merchants) and sponsoring the general ethic of hospitality (especially at the pan-Hellenic shrines) would also be significant. Also, the reason temples played an important a role in ancient commercial exchange is they were a higher and more perpetual source of recourse to traders. Unlike individuals, they would not go away. It is possible that temple groups may have stood surety for their commercial members.

By the 8th-century BCE things had changed regarding the involvement of Mesopotamian and other temples and palaces in commercial activity. The involvement of temples and palaces in the Bronze Age, during early commercial enterprise, gave way to a secularized and privatized commercial enterprise in the hands of traders increasingly independent from any centralized controlling body. The private economy took over certain practices that were first innovated and legitimized by temples, and subsequently were privatized. Private trading firms and banking agents established offices throughout the various regions involved with trading. The role of temples at this period would likely include sponsoring the sanctity of contracts and debts, and of protecting commerce and the safety of merchants on their travels. However, in keeping with earlier Near Eastern practice, temples acted as permanent corporate entities, able to provide continuity and recourse among traders vis-à-vis foreigners, and to settle disputes among trading companies.

While there were many temples in early 1st-millennium BCE Greece and Italy, there was no temple economy to anywhere near the extent found in Mesopotamia. However, it was Apollo's temple at Delphi that long coordinated Greek colonization and related commerce and diplomacy, and likewise the Delos temple that subsequently developed into a commercial entrepôt on the basis of its ancient traditions. It is only recently that classical scholars have become increasingly receptive to the idea of diffusion of Near Eastern practices. It is also now recognised that Greek monetary practices were strongly influenced by Near Eastern practices, as well as by the many Near Eastern trapezites (money dealers) who settled throughout the Aegean and on the Greek mainland.

Astronomical and Omenology Archives

The storage of cuneiform tablets shows little relationship to modern administrative ideas. Archival collections were not necessarily centralised i.e., kept in one place. Tablets could be stored across multiple buildings.

Uruk, Babylon, Sippar, and Nineveh were Mesopotamian cities with important astronomy and omenology activities and archives. According to Ulla Koch, at Uruk astronomy and omenology were more a sideline for scholars, with other traditional subjects given greater emphasis.

In the palace and temple archives there were both "public" and "private" documents. By the 1st-millennium BCE there were private libraries in addition to palace and temple archives. At times the boundaries that existed between the public and private documents were blurred - such as identified at the Syrian site of Ugarit. In 1st-millennium BCE Mesopotamia, the boundaries between public and private temple collections were not rigidly established. (See: Writing, Literacy, and Textual Transmission by Jessica Whisenant (2000, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Michigan; Page 80.)

During the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, in regions lying to the west of Mesopotamia the spread of Mesopotamian literary skills (i.e., the system of cuneiform writing) also meant the spread of other types of Mesopotamian knowledge. It is indicated that at Ebla the importation of cuneiform script brought with it the entire canonical corpus. (See: Writing, Literacy, and Textual Transmission by Jessica Whisenant (2000, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Michigan; Page 92.)

Note: A key storage place for knowledge was simply what was retained in the heads of scholars. Scholars were expected to remember large amounts of information, without recourse to texts.

Translators

Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing. Translation began only after the appearance of written literature. There exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2000 BCE) into Southwest Asian languages of the 2nd-millennium BCE. Regional politics and regional trade in the ancient world promoted a class of professional translators. The traditions of translating material among Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Syriac, Anatolian and Hebrew go back several millennia. An early example of a bilingual document is the 1274 BCE Treaty of Kadesh.

The first written proof for interpreting dates back to 3000 BCE, at which time the ancient Egyptians had a hieroglyphic signifying 'interpreter.' The Egyptians lived in a society with very little exposure to influences from abroad. foreign languages were largely incomprehensible to the Egyptians. However, it was important for Egyptian merchants to make themselves understood. They may have hired interpreters or learned the languages of their trading partners. Some of their knowledge found its way into the general culture, as many loan words appearing in Middle and New Kingdom Egyptian indicate. There are even some magical spells written down in their original languages in Egyptian transcription i.e., the names of the Minoan gods in a charm.

Undoubtedly, amongst the peoples living close to Egypt, those in authority who negotiated deals with Egyptians would have had some knowledge of Egyptian. During the New Kingdom young noblemen from the small kingdoms making up the Egyptian ‘empire' were taken as hostages to be educated in Egypt. The foreign ruling classes in these neighbouring countries had therefore often extensive knowledge of the Egyptian language and culture.

During the 2nd-millennium BCE Egyptian diplomatic business with foreign powers was conducted in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day, which was written in cuneiform (e.g., the so-called collection of Amarna letters sent by mid-eastern rulers to Amenhotep III and Akhenaten. These letters had to be translated into Egyptian so that the pharaoh and his administrators would understand them; and answers had to be written in Akkadian. There were also representatives of foreign governments who carried the missives and had to be received at court and entertained. The identities of the translators and interpreters involved in these tasks are unknown. They may have been Egyptians who had acquired the necessary skills, or captured or hired Asiatics who had become naturalised Egyptians.

During the 1st-millennium BCE foreign languages were forcefully introduced into Egypt by conquerors. Mercenaries and settlers often insisted on speaking their own languages. At first this probably did not affect the population as a whole to any significant extent. But during the 6th-century BCE Aramaic became the lingua franca in the Levant, and spoken in Egypt by Jews, Aramaeans and other mercenaries. From 300 BCE onwards Greek culture in its Hellenised form was well established, and the Greek language became the recognised 2nd language of Egypt.

Translation had been a regular occurrence in Mesopotamia since the 3rd-millennium BCE. In ancient Mesopotamia a class of professional translators was called eme-bal, literally 'language turners.' In the 1st-millennium BCE translation activity in Assyria and Babylonia was often characterised by a preference for an interlinear format. The next widely known use of interpreting occurred in ancient Greece and Rome. For both the ancient Greeks and Romans, learning the language of the people that they conquered was considered undignified and slaves, prisoners and ethnic hybrids were forced to learn multiple languages and interpret for the nobility.

Hellenistic astronomy shows no ignorance of sophisticated forms of mathematical astronomy that was developed in Seleucid Babylonia. It appears to have been readily transmitted to the Greek world. During the Hellenistic Period knowledge of Babylonian astral sciences reached the Greek world and having been transformed into Hellenistic astronomy and astrology was transmitted elsewhere again. Texts directly from cuneiform into Greek is only very late. As examples: Berossos, and the Graeco-Babyloniaca (Akkadian written in Greek characters). At least by the 1st-century CE a multitude of professional scribes were available in the Mediterranean world to render non-Greek texts into polished Greek.

See: Translators, Interpreters, and Cultural Negotiators edited by Federico Federici and Dario Tessicini (2014). Also, Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman Worlds edited by Alex Mullen and Patrick James (2012).

Seers

Mesopotamian seers had ready access to the large Mesopotamian omenology corpus. Also, they were expected to remember large sections of Mesopotamian omenology texts.

Source: The Seer in Ancient Greece by Michael Flower (2008, Pages 30-31).

Aramaic

.

Source: Civilization Before Greece and Rome by H. W. F. Saggs (1989, Page 85).

Speaking and writing Aramaic gave access to Babylonians/Assyrians, and Persians, and Egyptians. However the Greeks were monolingual.

Bilingualism was current on the Western periphery of Assyria at least from the 9th-century BCE onwards. From circa the early 7th-century BCE Aramaic became the 2nd language of the Assyrian empire, alongside Akkadian.

The first example of lingua franca in the ancient world, before Greek and Latin, was Aramaic, the language of the Persian Empire. (Aramaic became the official language of the Assyrian empire and its successors.) Beginning circa 750 BCE Aramaic emerged as an international language. By the 6th-century BCE Aramaic was the international language throughout the Near East. It is usual to identify the region of Aram and the Aramaeans as present-day central Syria (but it appears the Assyrians may have resettled large numbers of them there. It appears the region of Aram and the Aramaean tribes was originally located between Babylonia and Elam. There were several reasons for the extensive diffusion of the Aramaeans. Foremost, there was the practice of Assyria deporting rebellious Aramaean tribes from Babylonia/Elam to other parts of the Assyrian empire. This contributed to the original spread of the Aramaic language. (Aramaic speaking principalities emerged in Syria shortly after 1000 BCE. They remained incorporated into the Assyrian empire and its Babylonian successor.) The spread of Aramaic increased its importance for traders and travellers. Traders and specialised artisans/craftsmen accelerated the spread of Aramaic. The reason for the success of Aramaic over other languages was simplicity. The simplicity of the alphabet compared with cuneiform and the greater diversity of writing surfaces suitable for Aramaic (i.e., parchment or papyrus scrolls).

The first traces of Aramaic date back to the 12th century BCE and was originally spoken by the Middle Eastern Aramaeans. Aramaic is a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew, Syriac and Phoenician. Its script is derived from the Phoenician alphabet and has also formed the basis for many other alphabets such as the Arabic and Hebrew. The settlement of great numbers of Aramaeans in Mesopotamia and the use of Aramaic by Babylonian merchants from 700 BCE turned Aramaic into the second language of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, where it was also used as the language of diplomacy. Around 600 BCE, after the conquest of Mesopotamia by Darius I, Aramaic was adopted as the official language of the whole Persian empire. From that period on a very uniform standardised variety known as imperial Aramaic was in use. It was clearly distinguished from the local varieties of Aramaic and was a powerful tool for the strong administrative apparatus which held the Persian empire under control. Several texts from Egypt (the so-called Armarna collection of letters) and large collection of texts from Persia (and the so-called Persepolis fortification tablets unearthed in 1933) are the sources for this and our knowledge of the language.

The Phoenicians adopted Aramaic at least for official purposes.

Use of Aramaic was basically limited to political diplomacy and commercial trading. Aramaean was the commercial language of Mesopotamia. (After the introduction of Aramaic there may have been private schools established.)

After Alexander the Great's conquest of the Persian empire, Aramaic slowly gave way to Greek, which finally overtook it as the common language in Egypt and Syria in the early 2nd century BCE. Before Alexander, Greek did not exist as a uniform standardised language, but when he launched his military campaigns with armies composed of people of different origins, speaking different Greek dialects, a common language allowing for intercomprehension became essential. Under Alexander's leadership koine Greek became the standard language of commerce and government throughout the Greek empire from Egypt to India. After the death of Alexander koine Greek became established in the various Hellenistic kingdoms which flourished on the territory of the former Macedonian Empire. (Under the Seleucids koine Greek replaced Aramaic.) The Hellenistic koine (common/simplified) version of Greek was based on the Attic dialect spoken in Athens.

Source: The Babylonians by H. W. F. Saggs (2000, Page 140).

Source: The Babylonians by H. W. F. Saggs (2000, Pages 141-142).

Source: Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? by Douglas Hamp (2005, Page 18).

The Aramaeans were heavily influenced by the cuneiform culture of Mesopotamia.

See also: Parpola, Simo. (2004). "National and Ethnic Identity in the Neo-Assyrian Empire and Assyrian Identity in Post-Empire Times." (Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies, Volume 18, Number 2, Pages 5-22).

Scribes

The adoption of cuneiform script from Mesopotamia, prevalent throughout the Near East during the 2nd-millennium BCE (excluding Egypt), also entailed the borrowing of Mesopotamian cultural traditions. Scribal education was the means by which Mesopotamian cultural tradition was transmitted outside of Mesopotamia. This does not mean to all scribes had ready access to astronomical archives or could readily understand  the technical terms employed. There is insufficient information about the operation of temple archives to know whether all scribes employed in the service of a temple would have had free access to anything they wished to consult. However, private archives of astronomical tablets existed.

"The theory of oral transmission has never been popular in ancient Near Eastern studies and particularly in Assyriology. Part of the reason for its rejection lies with the history of scholarship. When the oral composition hypothesis of Parry and Lord gained traction in the 1960s, many of the major epic texts were only partly known, their literary history murky. But even after the establishment of modern and complete editions, Assyriology was still reluctant to adopt the theory of oral composition in order to explain how ancient Near Eastern epic was composed and transmitted across the centuries. By this time it had found a much more compelling explanation for textual transmission throughout Mesopotamia and beyond — the curricular or scribal school setting. Since the 1980s, it had become clear that generally speaking Mesopotamian literature (Sumerian and Akkadian), including epic, was the by-product of the scribal school. Children or young adults (usually male but not exclusively) basically learnt the same curriculum across the centuries — not only in Mesopotamia, but anywhere where cuneiform was studied, in Canaan, Syria, Anatolia and even Egypt. At the first stage of their training, they copied lexical lists, the elementary compositions for learning cuneiform, and later Gilgamesh, narû compositions about the Sargonic kings, and wisdom literature. By force of this curricular activity, new texts were composed and older ones reworked, until they were eventually standardized (as first millennium BCE copies make evident). The curricular setting might in fact account for the transmission of the "Cuthean Legend" and the Hurrian-Hittite "Song of Release" to Hattusa: there is no apparent and immediate use for such compositions but in scribal school setting. Their translation from Akkadian and Hurrian to Hittite seems to prove the point." (Extract from book review by Yoram Cohen in Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2016.11.14.)

See: "Mesopotamians and Mesopotamian Learning at Hattuša." by Gary Beckman (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Volume 35, Numbers 1/2, 1983, Pages 97-114).

Sepīrus Scribes

Palace and temple complexes, and trading companies were the key employers if scribes.

Likely sources for knowledge of Babylonian astral sciences were the Babylonian scribes. The employment of Phoenician artisans by the royal court seems to have little bearing. The temple was the place of learning in Babylonia and the location for scribal schools. It is not indicated that the Phoenician traders had direct access to Babylonian centres of learning. (The temple schools continued to write in cuneiform until the 1st-century CE.) There is no evidence that any foreigners had direct access to Babylonian schools or scholars until Alexander's conquest of Babylon. (The cooperation then given to the Greeks was unprecedented.) As well as the king and temples, Babylonian scribes served the business communities, both private and public. Scribes were at the centre of commercial transactions regarding local and foreign trade. They belonged to the social elite. The distribution of scribes across various specialities has been estimated as 70 percent administrative, 20 percent private, and 10 percent scientific and quasi-scientific activities. Not all scribes were Babylonian. As example, there were Aramaic sepīrus scribes. These were Aramaic speakers who had assimilated into Babylonian culture. Sepīrus scribes seem to have been well integrated into the temple organisation, as well as in administrative roles for Babylonian traders. Their role, if any, in transmitting Babylonian astral knowledge is unknown. It appears that there were Babylonians who were interested in disseminating aspects of their culture to non-Babylonians. The 2 main possibilities for the transmission of Babylonian astral lore are: (1) direct personal contacts, and (2) through various intermediaries such as Aramaic speaking scribes. Elements of Babylonian astral lore that were transmitted (at various times) included the star lists comprising Astrolabes, the Enuma Elish cosmology, the Enūma Anu Enlil omen series, and the astronomy of the Mul.Apin series.

Within ancient Mesopotamian written tradition there is a dislike of generalising. It may be that Mesopotamian oral tradition was different.

There is no evidence that advanced Babylonian mathematical astronomy was translated into Aramaic until the use of cuneiform script finally ended.

Source: Renn, Jürgen. (2012). (Editor). The Globalization of Knowledge in History. (Page 86).

Source: Hengel, Martin. (2003). Judaism and Hellenism: Studies in their Encounter in Palestine during the Early Hellenistic Period. (Page, 43).

Source: Pearce, Laurie. (1995). "The Scribes and Scholars in Ancient Mesopotamia." In: Sasson, Jack. (Editor in Chief). Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. (Volume IV, Pages 2265-2278, See page 2273).

See also: "West Semitic Names in the Assyrian Empire: Diffusion and Social Relevance." by Frederick Fales (SEL (Studi Epigrafici e Linguistici sul Vicino Oriente antico), [Volume/Number] 8, 1991, Pages 99-117). For further (earlier) studies of Aramaeans in the Neo-Assyrian empire («Assyro-aramaica») see the 1978 paper presented at the Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale 25 on «Mesopotamien und seine Nachbarn»: "Importance et rôle des Araméens dans l'administration de l'empire assyrien." by P. Garelli. In: Mesopotamien und seine Nachbarn edited by Hans Jörg Nissen and Johannes Renger (1982, 2 Volumes, Pages 437-447). Also, the 1978 paper presented at the same Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale on «Mesopotamien und seine Nachbarn»: "The Aramaization of Assyria: Aspects of Western Impact." by H. Tadmor. In: Mesopotamien und seine Nachbarn edited by Hans Jörg Nissen and Johannes Renger (1982, 2 Volumes, Pages 449-470). Both of these studies examined the presence of the Aramaic linguistic and cultural component within the Assyrian empire. Specifically, both studies made use of onomastics to demonstrate the penetration of Aramaeans within all levels of Assyrian society, gradually transforming the cultural face of the Assyrian Empire (making it in fact definable as an Asyrian-Aramaean empire. Aramaeans likely had penetrated even into the high-ranking officialdom as provincial governors and limmu-holders. Ethnic groups with Assyrian society included Phoenicians, Philistines, Moabites, and Arabians.

Loaned experts

Source: Beckman, Gary. (2013). "Foreigners in the Ancient Near East." (Journal of the American Oriental Society, Volume 133, Number 2, Pages 203-215; Pages 207-208).

The loan of 'technical experts' and 'guest professors' is not discussed in articles relating to the origin if the Greek constellations. However, it provides another opportunity to understand how astral information travels. The correspondence between the Hittite king Hattusilis III to the Babylonian king Kadašman-Enlil II is dated to the late 2nd-millennium BCE. Anu-šar-ilāni (a Babylonian (or Assyrian) residing at Hattuša) flourished circa the reign (period) of the Hittite king Hantili II, circa mid 2nd-millennium BCE.

See also: "Mesopotamians and Mesopotamian Learning at Hattuša." by Gary Beckman (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Volume 35, Numbers 1/2, 1983, Pages 97-114).

Diviners

During the Late Bronze Age (circa 1375-1175 BCE) in Syria (at least in Emar, a town on the Syrian Euphrates) the transmission of Babylonian/Assyrian scholarship was enabled through the activities of diviners, who acted as high-ranking scribes and cultic functionaries. This was undoubtedly a means for communicating the astral sciences also. See the discussion of the cuneiform tablet evidence in: Bodies of Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia: The Diviners of Late Bronze Age Emar and their Tablet Collection by Matthew Rutz (2013).

Note: Greek celestial divination and astrology were primarily adaptions of Mesopotamian systems that were transmitted into the Greek world through Egypt. See: Ancient Greek Divination edited by Sarah Johnston (2008).

Assyrian Education of Foreign Elites

Source: Parpola, Simo. (2003). "Assyria's Expansion in the 8th and 7th Centuries and its Long-Term Repercussions in the West." In: Dever, William. and Gitin, Seymour. (Editors). Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past. (Pages 99-111, Pages 101-102).

Envoys

See: State Correspondence in the Ancient World, From New Kingdom Egypt to the Roman Empire edited by Karen Radner (2014).

Migration of Foreign Elites

See: "Migration of Elites in Early Egypt." by Juan José Castillos (RSUE, Volune 32, 2015, Pages 31-49).

Exiles

Exiles participating in the social and intellectual life of Mesopotamia. As example: Jewish exiles.

Also, see: Exile, Ostracism, and Democracy: The Politics of Expulsion in Ancient Greece by Sara Forsdyke (2005).

Art as Evidence for Cultural Interaction

See: The Art of Greece: Its Origins in the Mediterranean and Near East by Ekrem Akurgal (1966). "Art as Evidence for Interaction: Relations between the Assyrian Empire and North Syria." In: On Art in the Ancient Near East by Irene Winter (2 Volumes, 2010; Volume 1 Of the First Millennium B.C.E., Pages 525-550).

Mesopotamian prisoners taken by the Greeks

Scholars might be part of the booty captured by Greek armies or by Greek or Phoenician pirates. See also: McHugh, John. (2016). "How Cuneiform Puns Inspired Some of the Bizarre Greek Constellations and Asterisms." (Archaeoastronomy and Ancient Technologies, Volume 4, Number 2, Pages 69-100).

Network Analysis Theory

The common long-held notion that ideas travel with material culture and that trade contacts provide a suitable mechanism for the transmission of cultural ideas is not now supported by the latest research on the transmission of ideas in antiquity. It is now discounted that soldiers (mercenaries) or traders communicated astronomical knowledge. This type of explanation is not disregarded but a stricter level of proof is being required to demonstrate the communication of higher level ideas and specialized knowledge between cultures. According to the discipline of network analysis theory, knowledge resides as the possession of certain specific groups whose contacts must be carefully traced in order to document the transmission of ideas. As example: The high-level ideas comprising astronomical knowledge is in the possession of "astronomers" and is communicated from one culture to another within these circles, not by simple trade contacts. Undoubtedly certain ideas do travel with certain people. It has often been somewhat casually assumed that trade or other incidental cultural contact could explain the transfer of various types of specialized knowledge by a vague process of cultural osmosis. Network analysis seeks to identify which ideas travel with which people, and how. A system of inviting scholars (educated elites) to visit a particular location where there was a school in order to interact and provide their knowledge is not unknown. Circa 270 BCE a delegation of Jewish scholars were invited to Alexandria to provide a copy of the Jewish laws in Greek for the Great Library (the Septuagint). It is indicated that this same delegation both wrote the Pentateuch in Hebrew and also provided a version in Greek.

However, the idea that intellectual ideas such as astronomy (including descriptive astronomy) were only transmitted by specialised elites to other similar specialised groups does not seem likely. There is too much evidence for the casual transmission of knowledge. The various objects of material culture are only what remains in the archaeological record and so are likely to be the proverbial  "tip of the iceberg." Archaeology inherently deals with incomplete data bases, which makes the issues of interpretation even more difficult. One of the real problems of archaeology is that it deals only with physical remains and then, based on them, attempts to successfully interpret their significance. See also: McEvilley, Thomas. (2002). Shape of Ancient Thought. (Note: Emphasises the role of the trading communities within Persian Babylon and Persepolis as melting pots of all kinds of new ideas.) See also: "What Travelled with Greek Pottery?" by Robin Osborne, In: Irad Malkin, Christy Constantakopoulou, and Katerina Panagopoulou (Editors). Greek and Roman Networks in the Mediterranean (2009, Pages 83-93). Osborne argued from archaeological data that neither the creation of new social networks of intellectual contacts nor a dissemination of Greek culture, practices and learning accompanied the trade in Greek pottery in the Mediterranean world.

Note: The term 'elites' has various uses. 'Elites' are generally considered best defined as people who held and exercised power. They are small group of people that wield much of the power to to influence people and make decisions. An example would be rulers (i.e., kings, pharaohs, chiefs). Elites, by pursuing their own (economic) interest (and change and innovation), bring cultural ideas, technical innovation, and knowledge, at least as a by-product. Within Network Analysis Theory there is a different application of the term 'elites.' They are highly skilled scholars.

 

17) Evidence for Native Greek Constellations

Unfortunately only limited information on indigenous Greek constellations has come down to us.

Greek astronomy began with the organisation of the more prominent stars into constellations. Bernard Goldstein and Alan Bowen have proposed that the original motivation for Greek astronomy was the construction of star calendars (parapegmata, which correlated dates and weather phenomena with the risings and settings of the stars). In Greece, constellations were introduced as an aid to identify individual stars in the sky in so that they could be recognised at their rising and setting. Connecting constellations to stories helped people to memorise their various stellar configurations, independently of their astronomical/time-keeping functions.

Many of out modern constellations are the invention of the Greeks and were likely originated in the Greek Archaic Period.

 

(18) Conclusion

There clearly was an interest in Oriental learning among the Greeks, and this interest led to adoptions and adaptations of Oriental ideas. However, our knowledge of Greek astronomy before the 4th century BCE is very incomplete, and is likely to remain this way.

Source: Noegel, Scott. (2006 (2007?). "Greek Religion and the Ancient Near East." In: Ogden, Daniel. (Editor). The Blackwell Companion to Greek Religion. (Pages 21-37; Pages 29-31). See also: Yamauchi, Edwin. (1981). "Daniel and Contacts Between the Aegean and the Near East Before Alexander." (Evangelical Quarterly, Volume 53, Number 1, January-March, Pages 37-47).

Ancient intellectual contacts are very hard to trace.

It is puzzling that there is a constant reference to outdated/outmoded essays on constellations origins. The list of defunct authors include: Richard Allen, Robert Brown Junior, Andrew Crommelin, Alex Gurshtein, Willy Hartner, Edward Maunder, Michael Ovenden, Werner Papke, Archibald Roy, Richard Proctor, Giuseppe Sesti, and David Ulansey. (Mostly they are astronomers or amateur astronomers.) Their approaches and arguments need to be abandoned.

It is indicated that the most reasonable hypothesis for the origin of the main group of the Greek constellations is they had multiple sources and were made over a wide range in time (stretching mainly from circa 2000 BCE to circa 400 BCE. Some were developed circa the time of Eudoxus (4th-century BCE) and some were borrowed from earlier scheme of Babylonian uranography which was consolidated circa the late 2nd-millennium BCE. The Greek consolidation of the 2 streams of constellation development was effectively achieved circa the 4th-century BCE (with the impetus of the introduction into Greece of the Babylonian zodiacal constellations). It is indicated that the earlier scheme of Babylonian uranography remained largely unknown to the Greeks until circa 800 BCE. There is no satisfactory evidence for the long popular hypothesis that many of the western constellations are very ancient, originating long before the 3rd-millennium BCE. Alongside this idea there is no satisfactory evidence for the long popular hypothesis that the main Western constellations were primarily developed in a single epoch/time circa in the mid 3rd-millennium BCE. There is certainly no support for the hypothesis that most, if not all, of the Eudoxan-Aratean constellations had only been developed circa 500 BCE. This idea is convincingly contradicted by the evidence from Babylonian uranography. There is no reason to 'mix-and-match' between these hypotheses - specifically the inclusion that the main Western constellations were primarily developed as part of a constellation set circa 3rd-millennium BCE.

Some of the Aratean constellations did exist back circa 2nd-millennium BCE, but in the Babylonian scheme of constellations. However, no unique Aratean constellation set can be shown to exist back circa 2nd-millennium BCE. What is known of the history of the Greek constellations is that the earliest that were in use were the same constellations as found in the existing Babylonian uranography for that period. The Eudoxan-Aratean constellations are a mix/combination of existing Babylonian and later Greek developments. That the Greeks borrowed from the Babylonians can be traced in the early Babylonian "three stars each" and the later, more developed, constellation scheme of Mul.Apin.

The extant evidence indicates the introduction of the Babylonian zodiac into Greece no earlier than circa 600 BCE and no later than circa 400 BCE. It was the introduction of the Babylonian zodiac that was the impetus for the systematic constellating of the Greek sky. It is indicated that the Ionian mathematician and astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus offered the first systematic consolidation and description of the constellations of the Greeks. The period of the origin of the 12-constellation zodiac (and its introduction into Greece) necessarily controls much else about how we can view the Aratean sphere.

Babylonian uranography does not seem too difficult for the Greeks to appropriate. However, there is rarely any kind of evidence to argue for any direct connection between the Greeks and a Near Eastern culture. The northern Levant/Northwest Semites, specifically the Ugaritic and Phoenician cultures, are identifiable as important conduits for literary/cultural exchange within the Mediterranean region and the Near East. The Minoans had trading links with Ugarit and also had a small resident colony in Egypt. Assyrian domination of Phoenicia began in the early 9th-century BCE and continued until 612 BCE. The Phoenicians maintained diverse trading links. The Assyrian empire expanded into the Middle East and Egypt, 674-664 BCE. towards 600 BCE, scientific and technological lore penetrated from Egypt and Babylonia in to Greek world, through commercial relations between Egypt and Phoenicia and the Ionian colonies which had already existed for centuries along the western coast of Asia Minor. The Persian empire expanded into Mesopotamia and Egypt circa 550-330 BCE. The Greek empire expanded into Mesopotamia and Egypt between 334 and 323 BCE. There is no need to make speculative claims for the priority of Minoan and Phoenician sources in the transmission of Babylonian knowledge to the Greeks. It is indicated by archaeological evidence that even during the Greek Dark Ages they were trading directly with Mesopotamians via multi-cultural trading posts on the Levant coast.

What enabled and facilitated the transmission of information? The extent to which the transmission must be mediated through language? Exactly how the transmission took place is a matter of guesswork. The period to focus on is indicated to be from the 5th to the 4th centuries i.e., circa 600 to circa 400 BCE. Persons who could readily move between Assyrian dominated territory and the Greek world included traders/merchants, craftsmen/artisans, mercenaries, diviners, seers, translators, and foreign elites.

"It is a matter of controversial discussion whether, after the Philistines in Iron Age I, a second wave of people from the Aegean-Greeks-arrived on the Levantine coast in the Iron Age IIB-C period. Greek presence at that time has been assumed for a series of settlements. A systematic investigation of these settlements in regard to criteria for foreign presence-as imported religion and cult, burial customs, settlement layout, architecture, and kitchen-does not provide convincing evidence for resident Greek civilians in the Levant before the second half of the seventh century B.C. when Greek merchants apparently lived in some of the harbor cities. More clearly, textual, iconographic, and archaeological evidence discussed in this paper indicates the presence of Greek mercenaries from the eighth century B.C. on. These mercenaries were not common men but members of the elite driven out of their homeland. On their return, they transferred foreign ideas and concepts and thus were mediators in the continuing Oriental influx to Greece." ("Archaic Greeks in the Orient: Textual and Archaeological Evidence." by Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier (BASOR 322, 2001, Abstract).) "Since there was a series of Babylonian campaigns along the Phoenician coast at the end of the seventh and in the first two decades of the sixth century B.C. ... other destruction dates are also possible. CONCLUSION The evidence for Greek presence in the Iron Age IIB-C period in the Levant is not overwhelming. There is no site comparable to Naukratis which, from at least 620 B.C. onward, became a Greek trad-ing city with temples dedicated to different Greek gods .... Convincing signs of some Greek presence in the Levant do not antedate the second half of the seventh century B.C. At that time Greek merchants (and their families-see the Pesaphore loomweight from Tall Sukas) may have lived in some of the harbor cities such as Al Mina, Ras el-Bassit, Tall Sukas, and Ashkelon. More clearly, textual and archaeological evidence points to the presence of another group of Greeks: mercenaries who first arrived in the eighth century B.C., were in the pay of the different powers present in the seventh century Levant (Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Judah, and Tyre), and made a profitable living amid the rise and fall of empires. Not infrequently they may have fought against each other as members of different armies as illustrated on the Amathus bowl .... They were members of the elite who had been driven out of their native country by war, exile following staseis (conflicts between aristocratic families), or economic problems, typical phenomena of the crises of the early Greek polis ... or had pursued a search for an alternative way of aristocratic life centered on Homeric values like courage, honor, and glory .... On their return they transferred foreign ideas and concepts to their homeland ... and thus became, along with other mobile elements such as itinerant Oriental merchants, craftsmen, seers, and healers, mediators in the continuing Oriental influx to Greece .... " ("Archaic Greeks in the Orient: Textual and Archaeological Evidence." by Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier (BASOR 322, 2001, Page 24).)

A question to answer is: What adaptations did the Babylonian constellation material undergo?

Source: "Beyond "Orientalizing": Encounters Among Cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean." by Ann Gunter. In: Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age edited by Joan Anuz et. al. (2014, Pages 248-254; see Pages 248-249).

Diffusion

The History of Astronomy by Eudemus of Rhodes (circa 370-300 BCE), a Greek philosopher and historian of science, has not come down to the present-day. It perhaps would have been assistive for understanding the development of the Greek constellations. Extant Greek sources are very fragmentary regarding early astronomical knowledge. However, we do know that major Greek astronomers of the Archaic Greek Period and the Classical Greek Period were Ionian (i.e., connected with Mesopotamia and Persia western Asia, and also the Saite Dynasty in Egypt).

The key points of how Mesopotamian astral sciences influenced early and later Greek astronomy are only able to be shown by numerous similarities. The work of Otto Neugebauer - ACT (1955) and HAMA (1975) - has shown convincing reasons why it is not possible to think of the development of Greek (mathematical) astronomy without the Babylonian antecedents. George Saliba has written: "Babylonia astronomy contributed basic empirical material for the development of Greek geometric theories and also arithmetrical methods which were used simultaneously with and independently of the geometric methods." Contacts must have taken place that are not referred to in the extant literature. The astronomical works of both Hipparchus and Ptolemy demonstrate an informed knowledge of Mesopotamian astronomy. Of particular interest is: What was happening in the 6th to 4th centuries BCE when the conceptual fundamentals of Greek astronomy were taking shape? How much interaction within Greece (Ionian and Mainland) in establishing astronomical knowledge was occurring at this period?

Mesopotamian conventions and practices with their astral sciences provided over time a technical and non-technical background against which all subsequent astronomical researches in West Asia and the Aegean were conducted. Within the western sphere, Babylon was the ancient world's capital of scholarship and science. Babylon was situated on the Hilla branch of the Euphrates River, located at the northern end of the alluvial plain near where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers come most closely together.

That Babylonian astral sciences travelled far beyond the original geographic boundaries of Mesopotamia is undisputed. That evidence of how this was done has been irretrievably lost should not be controversial. The accessibility and mobility of Babylonian astral knowledge may not have been limited by any of the prohibitions that existed i.e., requirements for Babylonian scholars and scribes to limit who had access to certain texts.

The transmission of Babylonian astral sciences to Greek scholars (the Greek world) is without sufficiently established details.

Method

It is not possible to invoke a Babylonian "stream of tradition" as a fixed and stable entity that was available everywhere. Perhaps a division in to (1) a culture/package of popular Babylonian traditions; and (2) a culture/package of elite/scholarly Babylonian traditions. Undoubtedly the transmission and dissemination of Babylonian scholarly knowledge and texts was conditioned by specific circumstances. Importantly, Eleanor Robson has made the point that we should not think of a disembodied Babylonian 'stream of tradition' which was 'out there' and able to be readily tapped into. What so-called 'networks' or 'channels' existed to enable the transmission of Babylonian astral sciences to the Greek world (throughout the 1st-millennium BCE)? Over time there were likely different networks/channels of communication (i.e., routes and means) by which Babylonian astronomical learning was communicated to the Greek world.

The late transmission of Babylonian astral sciences (both mathematical astronomy and astrology) to Greek scholars, such as Hipparchus, during the Hellenistic period was undoubtedly deliberate (and perhaps done by scholar to scholar contact). For early Greek knowledge of Babylonian astral sciences there is no reason to suppose direct contact with Babylonian scholars or direct access to cuneiform texts. For late Greek knowledge the opposite seems indicated. During the Hellenistic Period at least, the Greek scholarly elite may have had some status within Babylonia. At least during the Hellenistic Period, Babylonian scientific data were not transmitted indiscriminately. The prestige of Babylonian astronomy likely facilitated the reception of Babylonian astronomy (and astronomers) in the Greek world. The transmission of Babylonian star lore likely occurred from different places that were not at the centre of Babylonian learning, but rather at the periphery, or was achieved through intermediaries.

Both written and oral communication likely shaped ancient contexts of transmission. There is also the question: Were there social relationships between individuals? Transmission is likely determined by social relationships - especially networks/channels. However, it is posited that not all learned men would have interacted with all learned men from other cultures. The opportunity for interaction would be dependent on various factors.

For networks/channels see the detailed and informative discussion in: Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature by Jonathan Ben-Dov and Seth Sanders (2014); especially "Networks of Scholars" (comprising approximately 45 pages of discussion (approximately pages 150-195) including the involvement of non-Babylonians in Babylonian science (pages 169ff). Also: "The Production and Dissemination of Scholarly Knowledge." by Eleanor Robson. In: The Oxford Handbook of Cuneiform Culture edited by K. Radner and E. Robson (2011, Pages 557–576).

There is no evidence that the Greeks (or any or geographic group) had direct access to Babylonian schools. All intermediaries (links) between the Greeks and Babylonian sources are as yet undiscovered. It is not known how knowledge of Babylonian uranography circulated and was transmitted. Perhaps it was orally, through multiple oral traditions. Perhaps the transmission took place through one or more related texts; perhaps a chain of related texts. It is not likely that any documents will be found that set out how astronomical or meteorological knowledge was brought to Greece from Mesopotamia.

The impression from the Neo-Assyrian Period is that a lot of movement of both tablets and scholars went on. (See: "La formazione dell’esperto (ummanu) nel periodo neo-assiro." by Lorenzo Verderame (Historiac, Volume 5, 2008, Pages 51-67). This enables the possibility of direct contact with travelling scribes outside Babylonia or indirectly via a tradition that had been transmitted to various localities through travelling scholars. (Private archives of astronomical tablets existed. Interestingly, private libraries of cuneiform texts held by families of masmassu’s (e.g., Uruk in the late 5th and late 4th centuries BCE) suggests a tight social network of scholarly families. Some of the texts they copied/possessed did not originate in Uruk. Also, there is evidence that Babylonian learned disciplines were not always strictly divided between different types of specialist scholars.) Babylonian scribes/scholars who journeyed/travelled within or outside of the Neo-Assyrian Empire were a potent link in the diffusion of knowledge. As example: The diffusion of scribal learning to the Hittites.

It is plausible that Aramaic was a means of mediation of Assyrian astral texts. Unfortunately there is almost total loss of Aramaic versions of texts due to highly perishable parchment (skin) being used. Given the lack of definitive evidence the solution will be no more than a reasonable scenario at best. The mechanisms of transmission are perhaps too complex to reconstruct. from the paucity of evidence. Aspects of Mesopotamian astral knowledge was likely introduced into Greece at various times and in an incomplete manner. In 1990 Oscar Muscarella remarked in another context, "All we know is that it got there." Walter Burkert (1984) cites a wide range of Near Eastern practices that diffused to the classical Mediterranean lands, including those transmitted via the Etruscans to the Romans. These practices include liver divination and related omen procedures that can be traced firmly back to Babylonia. There were also many Mediterranean adaptations of Near Eastern myths and rituals, especially Saturnalia-type New Year festivals (Bourboulis, 1964). See: "Mesopotamian Astronomy and Astral Omens in Other Cultures." by David Pingree (1982). In: Mesopotamien und seine Nachbarn edited by Hans Jörg Nissen and Johannes Renger (1982, 2 Volumes, Pages 613-631).

The Semitic people with whom the Greeks came most into contact were the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians were Canaanites. They were variously subject to the Egyptians and the Assyrians. There is respect paid by later Greeks to the Phoenicians as providers of their culture and social organisation. Contacts between mainland Greece and the Near East had begun at least in the 9th-century BCE. From this early date the Phoenicians had a key role in cross-cultural interaction. East and West were mutual participants in an unfolding continuum. The Assyrian Empire was the first to unite almost all of the ancient Near East. Assyrian Empire expansion in the 8th-century BCE reached the eastern Mediterranean coast with its numerous ports providing access to other regions. Two stimuli for the Greeks were created by trade and Assyrian expansion. Archaeological finds indicate that instead of a distinct orientalising period within a limited time frame, or some episodic opportunities within a limited time frame, there were instead persistent cultural interactions occurring. Individual persons moved both east and west and this mobility included resident settlements of foreigners (including artisans). Mesopotamian star lists/constellation systems were gradually transmitted to a variety of Greek recipients.

Aramaic may have been the language used. Aramaic likely became the medium for the diffusion of cuneiform astronomical material at the provincial or peripheral localities. The Greeks likely encountered some elements of Babylonian non-mathematical astronomy indirectly via the medium of the Aramaic language. There is no evidence for the translation of complex astronomical cuneiform texts into Aramaic. The Aramaic sepīru scribes were well integrated into temple and royal court organisation. Unfortunately, Whatever existed in the way of a body of Babylonian Aramaic literature and scholarship has vanished. Errors are to be expected during the transmission of a text or during the translation process. For Greeks, the Greek language remained the only language of civilisation for every Greek speaking person. Lack of proficiency in other languages made the Greeks heavily dependent on the translations of foreigners.

Some Babylonians learned Greek and participated in Greek scholarly networks. (See: "Official and Vernacular Languages: the Shifting Sands of Imperial and Cultural Identities in First Millennium B.C." by Paul-Alain Beaulieu. In: Margins of Writing, Origin of Cultures: New Approaches to Writing and Reading in the Ancient Near East, Papers from a Symposium held February 25-26, 2005 edited by S. L. Sanders (2006, Pages185-215).) In the Hellenistic Period at least it seems that some Babylonian scholars had an active interest in disseminating elements of their culture to non-Babylonians (specifically Greeks). The examples of Berossos and Antipater indicate there were Babylonians or scholars with access to Babylonian learning who were interested in disseminating elements of their culture to non-Babylonians. Antipater Chaldaeus (mentioned in an inscription from Larisa and also by the Roman author Vitruvius (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (circa 80 BCE - circa 15 BCE)) was the name of a Syrian (Chaldaean) astronomer/astrologer from Hierapolis who settled (or at least spent considerable time) in Larisa (Homolian?) in the region of Thessaly, Greece, in the 2nd-century BCE. See: "Antipater Chaldaeus." by G. W. Bowersock (Classical Quarterly, Volume 33, Number 2, 1983, Page 491).

Note: Regarding Berossos. It is not evident that Berossos had any useful knowledge of Babylonian astronomy - or really understood Babylonian astronomy. Even if Berossos had access to astronomical tablets held by a Babylonian temple, there is no reason to suppose he could readily read and understand them. Late cuneiform astronomical texts contain technical language that likely would not have been understood by the majority of cuneiform scribes. Berossos only conveyed some Babylonian cosmological ideas. He was not a transmitter of Babylonian knowledge of astronomy to the Greeks.

Texts

In the early half of the 1st-millennium BCE the astronomical texts were less technical and more divinatory. In the later half of the 1st-millennium BCE astronomical texts were mathematical. Older Mesopotamian examples of astral material from the 1st half of the 1st-millennium BCE (circa 1000-500 BCE) can be expected to comprise such sources as Enūma Anu Enlil and Mul.Apin. There is some evidence for the transmission of Enūma Anu Enlil and Mul.Apin during the Seleucid Period. There is evidence for the continued copying of both of these texts (the reason being they were deemed canonical).

Time

Archaic Period Greece was orientalised by being influenced by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, significant Mesopotamian astral influences reach Greece during several different periods.

Thales of Miletus (circa 640/circa 624-circa 546 BCE) reportedly gave us Ursa Minor. Only few fragmentary sources survive from Thales' work. The poem Nautical Star-guide was attributed by some ancient authors - without serious justification - to the Ionian Greek pre-Socratic philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. The nautical instructions (for navigational use) are based on astronomical observations. A practical approach to understanding the universe originated with Milesian and Ionian philosophers. The Ionian tribe of Greeks comprised the important eastern division of the ancient Greek people occupied the region of central coastal Anatolia. The Milesian school was a school of philosophy was founded in the 6th-century BCE. The ideas associated with it are exemplified by 3 philosophers from the Ionian city of Miletus (on the Aegean coast of Anatolia): Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes. They were pragmatic thinkers interested in how the natural environment worked in the light of everyday experience. They are perhaps an important source for diffusing Babylonian astral ideas to the mainland Greeks.

Greek Knowledge of Constellations/Stars During the 6th- and 5th-century BCE: From the 6th-century BCE onwards, legends concerning the constellation subjects were frequently treated by historians and poets. Agathosthenes (Aglaosthenes/Agaosthenes) a historian or philosopher of uncertain date who wrote a work on the history of Naxos (a Greek island and city) and in his work Asiatica Carmina knew Ursa Minor as Cynosura and recorded the translation of Aquila. Epimenides the Cretan/Epimenides of Knossos (flourished 6th-century BCE) recorded the translation of Capricornus and the star Capella. The philosopher Pherecydes of Syros (an island) (flourished 6th-century BCE) recorded the legend of Orion and stated the astronomical fact that when Orion sets Scorpio rises. (The historian Jack Lindsay remarked that the Greeks were as interested as the Babylonians in simultaneously rising and setting stars, and for the same reasons: they were drawing on the Babylonian traditions.) The dramatist and poet Aeschylus (526-456 BCE) and the logographer (the Greek historiographers and chroniclers before Herodotus, "the father of history") Hellanicus of Mytilene (island of Lesbos) (496-411 BCE) narrated the legend of the 7 Pleiades.

The Pythagorean school of philosophers in the Greek colonies of southern Italy developed abstract ideas about the principals underlying how the universe functioned. Their ideas were primarily rooted in numerical ratios and geometrical proportions. The extent to which Pythagorean astronomy was scientific remains unknown. Within Pythagorean astronomy there was speculation about the "Great Year" - in origin a Babylonian concept originating with the ratios of the orbital periods of the known planets. (The "Great Year" is a common multiple of all orbital periods.) Knowledge of Pythagorean astronomy is derived from later sources such as Plato and Aristotle. It appears that features of Pythagorean astronomy were similar to geometry. If it is assumed that Pythagoras of Samos (circa 570-circa 500/490) and his school were acquainted with Babylonian arithmetrical astronomy, their emphasis on the importance of numbers becomes understandable. In the 5th-century BCE the Pythagoreans lived in Southern Italy. It is unlikely that the Pythagoreans came into direct contact with Babylonian astronomy. Pythagorean knowledge of planetary periods was most likely obtained indirectly, by way of Egypt. The determination of planetary periods requires serial observations over many centuries. At the time of Pythagoras the Greeks had not accumulated such knowledge.

The earliest known Greek parapēgmata (star calendars) were those by Euktēmon (and Meton) (5th-century BCE), Eudoxus (early 4th-century BCE), and Kallippos (late 4th-century BCE).

In Greece the zodiac with its 12 constellations/signs was not, as in Babylon, the product of a long development. The Greek zodiac emerged fully developed at the end of the 6th-century BCE. The Greeks definitely knew of the zodiac during the last third of the 5th-century BCE when the mathematician and astronomer Meton of Athens and the astronomer Euctemon of Athens were laying the foundations of a scientific astronomy. Ancient sources mention that descriptions of the constellations were given by Cleostratus (6th-century BCE) but nothing has survived. Cleostratus (Kleostratus) of Tenedos is said to have made known the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE; starting with Aries (the Ram) and Arcitenens (the Archer). The Greeks attributed the discovery of the inclination of the ecliptic to the mathematician and astronomer Oenopides of Chios, who flourished circa 450 BCE. (The philosopher Anaximander (Anaximandros) of Miletus (610 BCE-546 BCE) is also said to have made known the obliquity of the ecliptic.)

Ancient sources mention that a catalogue of stars (constellations) was compiled by the pre-Socratic philosopher Democritus (circa 460-circa 370) in the 5th-century BCE. The Roman author Vitruvius (Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, circa 90- circa 20 BCE) claimed that Democritus (circa 460 BCE-circa 370 BCE) compiled a star catalogue. however, there is no knowledge of the form this catalogue took but it possibly described the major constellations in some way. The science historian John north thought that the catalogue of stars by Democritus may have been the Uranography attributed by some to the Greek philosopher Leucippus (the teacher of Democritus, flourished 5th-century (some sources state born 490 BCE)-died 370 BCE). Many other Greeks followed his lead. As nothing or just fragments mentioning them have survived it is not possible to state what they all contained. Some were likely just star/constellation lists. It is not until work of Hipparchus (2nd-century BCE) that there is clear evidence of a consistent scheme of co-ordinates on the celestial sphere. The Uranography of Leucippus or his pupil Democritus did not survive the destruction of the Greek coastal cities of Asia Minor by the Persians. It was perhaps a description of the heavens. (Only one single fragment (a single line) of a work by Leucippus survives verbatim.)

Greek Knowledge of Constellations/Stars During the 4th- and 3rd-century BCE: Ancient sources mention that descriptions of the constellations were given by Sminthes (a poet?) in the 4th-century BCE. He was one of a number of Greek writers composing Phaenomena. According to a common story, Eudoxus brought the constellations from Egypt and circa 365 BCE published them in the original prose Phainomena. (Many other Greek writers (besides Eudoxus and Aratus) composed Phaenomena, including Cleopater (a Hellenistic poet), Alexander of Aetolia, Alexander of Ephesus, Alexander Lycaites, the Greek lyric poet Anacreon of Teos (circa 582-circa 485), the professional dream diviner Artemidorus surnamed Ephesius (circa 101-circa 200 CE) who interpreted astrological dreams in which the sleeper saw stars, and the Hellenistic astronomer Hipparchus of Rhodes (2nd-century BCE.)

By the time of Hipparchus (2nd-century BCE) a large amount of Babylonian astronomical knowledge had reached - and was reaching - the Greek world. The mode of transmission is unknown. The result was a radical transformation of Greek astronomy; especially Greek mathematical and theoretical astronomy. The notion of quantitative prediction was acquired by Hipparchus from Babylonian mathematical astronomy. It was the Jesuit mathematician and astronomer Franz Kugler who first realised that Hipparchus of Rhodes had taken fundamental period relations for his lunar theory (so many months equal so many years), from the Babylonian System B.

Source: Head of all Years: Astronomy and Calendars at Qumran in their Ancient Context by Jonathan Ben-Dov (2008).

Source: "Scientific Writings in Aramaic and Hebrew at Qumran: Translation and Concealment." by Jonathan Ben-Dov. In: Aramaica Qumranica edited by Katell Berthelot and Daniel Ben Ezra (2010, Pages 379-399; Page 386).

Source: "Assyria's Expansion in the 8th and 7th Centuries and Its Long-Term Repercussions in the West." by Simo Parpola. In: Symbiosis, Symbolism, and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Ancient Israel, and Their Neighbors from the Late Bronze Age through Roman Palaestina edited by William Dever and Seymour Gitin (2003 Pages 99-112(111?); see Pages 102-103).

The 3 likeliest possibilities important for (cultural transmission and the transmission of Mesopotamian star lore to the Greeks are: (1) contact with Assyrians during the (late) Neo-Assyrian Period (variously dated but circa 935-610 BCE); and (2) contact with Persians during the (early) Achaemenid Period (550-330 BCE). The Neo-Assyrian Period saw the transmission of constellation knowledge and the Achaemenid Period saw the transmission of knowledge of the zodiac. As usual, the Greeks borrowed and adapted what was useful for their particular needs. (3) Concurrently with the Achaemenid Period the Egyptian Saite Dynasty (26th Dynasty) from 664 BCE to 525 BCE saw the transmission of various aspects of Mesopotamian astral lore. (The Persian invasion of Egypt occurred at the end of the Saite Dynasty.)

It seems probable that substantial transmission of astral knowledge began in the Neo-Assyrian Period. It is indicated that during the Neo-Assyrian period there was a lot of movement of both cuneiform tablets and scholars. Also, the late 5th-century BCE was a period of rapprochement between Greece and Persia.

Location

Important Ionian intellectual stimuli was due to Assyrian influence through Lydia.

Lydia was a large territory (kingdom) encompassing western Asia Minor and was neighbouring state of Miletus. The Lydians were mediators between Hellas and Asia. The Hittites were mediators between Lydia in the West and Assyria in the East. In the 6th-century BCE all the Ionian cities on the Aegean coastline were brought under the rule of Lydia. Miletus was an exception. In 546 BCE, the Persian army defeated the Lydian king, Croesus and the capital city, Sardis was captured by Cyrus. After the fall of Lydia and Sardis, Persians continued their invasion capturing the Ionian city-states one by one. The Ionian league (also called the Panionic league) was unable to consolidate any strong, united resistance. However, Miletus signed an agreement acquiring special terms from the Persians and gained considerable freedom. The period between the years 500 BCE and 494 BCE saw the military struggle of the Ionian cities against the Persian rule. In the battle of Lade in which Miletus provided 80 battle ships was a catastrophe for the Ionians. Miletus was razed to the ground by the Persian army. In 490 BC, Persian king, Darius was defeated by the Athenians at Marathon, and ten years later Xerxes was defeated at Salamis and Platea. These two victories enabled the Ionian cities to regain their freedom. In the following years an alliance of Ionian cities so called The Delian League was formed under the leadership of Athens in order to avoid and resist any future threats. Miletus was rebuilt and quickly restored to its previous prosperity and status.

It is indicated that there is a possibility that Babylonian star lists (constellation lists) - and other topics involving descriptive astronomy -  may have been written in Aramaic as early as the Persian period. Perhaps a body or 'package' of astral information  was transmitted by travelling scholars speaking Aramaic. The body of astral information or 'package' being based on astrolabes, EAE tablets (specifically tablets 50-51 regarding constellations), or selected content that comprised the Mul.Apin series (or the sources that comprised the making of the Mul.Apin series). Babylonian scribes were expected to memorise large sections of texts relating to the astral sciences. Jonathan Ben-Dove ("A Jewish Parapegma? Reading 1 Enoch 82 in Roman Egypt." In: Stern, Sacha. and Burnett, Charles. (Editors). Time, Astronomy, and Calendars in the Jewish Tradition. (2009, Pages 1-26; Page 18)) has noted that the popular astronomy of the type found in parapegma, based ultimately on Mul.Apin type models, circulated outside Mesopotamia throughout the Mediterranean basin between circa 500 BCE and 500 CE.

Process of Greek Uranography

Greek Archaic period. Source: An Introduction to the Ancient World by Luka De Bois and R. J. van der Spek (2008; Page 67).

During the Archaic period Greece was orientalised due to being influenced by the Neo-Assyrian Empire. See also the critical paper: "Identity in the Making: Greeks in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Iron Age." by Alexander Fantalkin. In: Naukratis: Greek Diversity in Egypt. Studies on East Greek Pottery and Exchange in the Eastern Mediterranean edited by Alexandra Villing and Udo Schlotzhauer. (2006). (Pages 199-235). Also worth noting is the Neo-Assyrian period in Cyprus corresponds approximately to the century between the last quarter of the 8th- and the third quarter of the 7th-century BCE, which is the time of maximum expansion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire following the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE).

Greek Classical period. Source: An Introduction to the Ancient World by Luka De Bois and R. J. van der Spek (2008; Page 89).

Near Eastern star lore from Mesopotamia was transmitted episodically and incompletely to the Greek world. Also, it was either received in a modified form by the Greeks (and other Mediterranean cultures) or was readily modified when received. The Greeks exhibited the ability to make use of much older foreign scientific traditions, particularly those of Mesopotamia and Egypt. The Greek intellectuals were creative enough to expand the older scientific traditions in many new directions. Within the Greek world indigenous constellations were added to the constellations being collected from elsewhere. Within the process of using Babylonian constellations there was a process of modification of the borrowed constellations and partial abandonment of the Babylonian legacy. Also, there was no canonical list/system of Babylonian constellations. See: Horowitz, Wayne. (2014). "Mesopotamian Star Lists." In: Ruggles, Clive. (Editor). Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. (Pages 1829-1833); and Rochberg-Halton, Francesca. (1984). "Canonicity in Cuneiform Texts." (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Volume 36, Number 2, Autumn, Pages 127-144).

Some star groups remained unaltered throughout their history in the Greek sphere. We know from Hipparchus and Ptolemy that other Greek star groups were subject to alterations/changes.

The complete Greek constellations were established in the period from Eudoxus to Ptolemy. The Greek constellating of the sky was perhaps mostly completed during a short period circa 600 BCE (the Greek Archaic Period). For much of the history of the Greeks constellating the entire sky had no purpose. Until the Ionian Enlightenment Greek knowledge and use of constellations is perhaps local and specific. The Greeks had identified those stars that were important and practical to them. Until the Ionian Enlightenment the issue perhaps is not only what constellations were known to Greek communities but also what constellations known were actually in use by the Greeks. There is a paucity of sources for knowledge of borrowings from Mesopotamia during the 6th to 4th centuries BCE. There really is no evidence for such at all.

The constellations that were to comprise the 'Western' constellations were consolidated in the Greek Classical Period. Classical Greece was a 200-year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th-century BCE through the 4th-century BCE. The Classical Period of ancient Greece is fixed between circa 500 BCE (when the Greeks began to come into conflict with the kingdom of Persia), and 323 BCE (the death of the Macedonian king and conqueror Alexander the Great). In 500 BCE the Greek city-states on the western coast of Anatolia rose up in rebellion against Persia. This uprising, known as the Ionian revolt (500–494 BCE), failed, but its consequences for the mainland Greeks was the so-called Persian Wars (began 490 BCE). After the defeat of the Persians in 479 BCE, Athens dominated Greece politically, economically, and culturally. Athens began to decline during the 4th-century BCE (after the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE) with league of allied city-states led by Sparta) and eventually lost its primacy. During the mid 4th-century BCE Macedonia (in northern Greece) became a formidable power under Philip II, and the Macedonian royal court became the leading centre of Greek culture. The year 336 BCE marked the end of the reign of Philip II of Macedonia. The year 323 BCE marked the death of Macedonian king and conqueror Alexander the Great.

Circa the 5th-century BCE many of the constellations recognised by the Greeks had become associated with myths. Both the star catalogue (constellation description) of Eudoxus (4-century BCE) and the star catalogue (constellation description) of Aratus (3rd-century BCE) adopted the vocabulary of myth. In his Castasterismi Eratosthenes (284-204 BCE) completed and standardised this process with each of the constellations being given a mythological significance.

The ancient Greeks named the most prominent stars and established the most obvious constellations by circa 800 BCE. The Greeks never thought of constellating the entire visible sky until circa the 5th-century BCE. By circa 400 BCE (likely under the influence of Babylonian uranography) the Greeks had, by borrowing and invention, established the majority of the 48 classical constellations. The Romans derived a considerable portion of their star lore and uranography from the Greeks. Eudoxus would seem to be a key influence in establishing a fixed set of constellations for the Greeks. Eudoxus would also seem to have been influenced by Babylonian uranography (though many of his constellations are distinctly Greek). There is a substantial Mesopotamian influence for the origin of the Western constellations. Within the Near Eastern world (of which Greece was a part) the earliest constellations primarily had a Mesopotamian origin (but Babylonian rather than Sumerian). Knowledge of Babylonian uranography then influence many other (later) cultures - but not the Egyptian until the Greek period. Other cultures introduced constellations independently of, or different to, the early Babylonian system of "three stars each."

The Greek world was comprised of numerous city-states. This inevitably led to different schools of Greek astronomy. However, despite the absence of a canonical system, there seems to have been continuing general agreement amongst the various Greek astronomers regarding the introduction and use of constellations. The various rulers of the city-states apparently made no attempt to become involved in influencing the constellating of the Greek night sky.

Greek Period Regional Period Trade/Cultural Links Astral Sciences
The Dark Ages (1100-750 BCE). The period between the fall of the Mycenaean civilization and the readoption of writing in the 8th- or 7th-century BCE. So-called Dark Ages. Collapse of many coastal palaces and kingdoms around the Aegean. Greek trading contacts with the Phoenicians were commenced by Greek traders from the early Bronze Age town of Lefkandi (on the island of Euboea) before the end of the Greek Dark Ages and these trading contacts were maintained by its successor town Eretria and by traders from the town of Chalcis (also on the island of Euboea). After the collapse of the Mycenaean administration system the site of Lefkandi became - in the Aegean during the Middle Bronze Age - one of the key settlements in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean. The Lefkandi trade with the East was the beginning of the Greek orientalising movement, mainly through the Syrians (with perhaps only minor Phoenician contribution). Assyrian expansion and domination in the East took place near the end of the 8th- and during the greater part of the 7th-century BCE. Establishment of Assyrian emporia in Levantine kingdoms. Greek trading with the East via Al-Mina.

Greek astronomy began with the organisation of the more prominent stars into constellations. Bernard Goldstein and Alan Bowen have proposed that the original motivation for Greek astronomy was the construction of star calendars (parapegmata, which correlated dates and weather phenomena with the risings and settings of the stars). In Greece, constellations were introduced as an aid to identify individual stars in the sky in so that they could be recognised at their rising and setting. Connecting constellations to stories helped people to memorise their various stellar configurations, independently of their astronomical/time-keeping functions.

The Greek Archaic Period refers to the years between 750 BCE and 480 BCE, more particularly from 620 BCE to 480 BCE. The age is defined through the development of art at this time, specifically through the style of pottery and sculpture. It was one of the most brilliant and productive epochs known in the ancient world. Considerable expansion of the Greek world took place from the 8th to the 6th centuries BCE. Contact with Assyrians during the (late) Neo-Assyrian Period (variously dated but circa 935-610 BCE). Note: The Assyrians were not always readily involved in cultural exchanges. Cultural mixing occurred in the Assyrian empire. There was a series of Assyrian/Babylonian campaigns along the Phoenician coast at the end of the 7th-and in the first 2 decades of the 6th-century BCE. (Officials were were appointed from Mesopotamia to rule and administer the newly conquered territories.) Convincing evidence of some Greek presence in the Levant from the 2nd half of the 7th-century BCE. At that time Greek merchants (and their families) may have lived in some of the harbor cities such as Al Mina, Ras el-Bassit, Tall Sukas, and Ashkelon. Archaeological evidence indicates the presence of Greek mercenaries who arrived from the 8th-century BCE on, and were in the employ of the different powers present in the 7th-century Levant (Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Judah, and Tyre). They were members of the Greek elite who had been driven out of their homeland by war, exile following staseis (conflicts between aristocratic families), or economic problems, or had pursued a search for an alternative way of aristocratic life. Ionian Greek city of Miletus established. There was an influx of Ionian Greeks into the Near East before 500 BCE. Ionian and Phoenician shipwrights active in Babylon during the first half of the 6th-century BCE. 'East Greece' was the main mediator between the East and Mainland Greece. Aramaic becomes the lingua franca. The Persian invasion of Egypt occurred at the end of the Saite Dynasty. However from circa 730 BCE during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III, and increasingly thereafter, the Assyrians were in repeated contact with Egypt. East Greek trade to Naukratis in Egypt, established towards the end of the 7th-century BCE. The originality of many aspects of Greek astronomy is doubtful in view of evidence supporting continual borrowing from Babylonian astronomy. There is general agreement amongst historians for an Orientalising period of Greece in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. On their return to the Greek mainland the Greek mercenaries transferred foreign ideas and concepts and so became, along with other mobile elements such as itinerant Oriental merchants, craftsmen, seers, and healers, mediators in the continuing Oriental influx to Greece. ("Archaic Greeks in the Orient: Textual and Archaeological Evidence." by Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier (BASOR 322, 2001, Pages 11-32).) Eastern influences transmitted to Greece through interactions with the Phoenicians (but these gradually change from friendly to hostile), and through Ionian artisans/craftsmen. Prominent Ionian Greek astronomer - Thales of Miletus. It is indicated that the Milesians were interested in observational astronomy i.e., the stories concerning Thales and the traditional ascription ascription to him of an old 'Nautical Astronomy.' Greek interest in the ecliptic region as a region of solar, lunar, and planetary motion was developed in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE. Oinopides (flourished circa 450 BCE) may have been the first Greek to identify the region of the zodiacal circle. Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE. Kleoxenos (4th-century BCE) may have been the first to introduce Babylonian zodiacal constellations to Greece. The testimonies of Herodotus and Aristotle establish that in the 4th-century BCE the Greeks acknowledged they had derived useful astronomical knowledge from the Babylonians and the Egyptians. Concurrently with the Achaemenid Period the Egyptian Saite Dynasty (26th Dynasty) from 664 BCE to 525 BCE saw the transmission of various aspects of Mesopotamian astral lore. In the 6th-century BCE renewed Greek knowledge of Babylonian astronomy is indicated by the Greeks having knowledge of: (1) the Morning and Evening star (Venus) are one and the same; (2) the 8-year intercalation cycle for the soli-lunar calendar; (3) the designations of the constellations Scorpio and Sagittarius. To what extent in the 6th-century BCE the Greeks learned of the Babylonian constellational zodiac is difficult to establish.
The Greek Classical Period (500 BCE-336 BCE) of ancient Greek history is basically fixed between circa 500 BCE, when the Greeks began to come into conflict with the kingdom of Persia, and the death of the Macedonian king and conqueror Alexander the Great in 323 BCE. Contact with Persians during the (early) Achaemenid Period (550-330 BCE). The Persian military conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 539 BCE. Ionian Greek city of Miletus. In 546(547) BCE, the Persian King Cyrus defeated the Lydian king Croesus, and the capital city Sardis was captured by Cyrus (and Persian rule was established over most of Anatolia). Important Ionian intellectual stimuli was due to Assyrian influence through Lydia. (There were contacts between Lydia and the Neo-Babylonian Empire.) The late 5th-century BCE was a period of rapprochement between Greece and Persia. The cultural renewal of Ionian Greece started in the first half of the 4th-century BCE. Aramaic the lingua franca. The popular astronomy of the type found in parapegma, based ultimately on Mul.Apin type models, circulated outside Mesopotamia throughout the Mediterranean basin between circa 500 BCE and 500 CE. Prominent Ionian Greek astronomer - Eudoxus of Cnidus (circa 408 BCE- circa 355 BCE). It is reasonably indicated that the Ionian Greeks obtained detailed knowledge of the Mesopotamian constellations in the century or so preceding Eudoxus. Walter Burkert (Weisheit und Wissenschaft (1962, Pages 289-296)) believed he had found evidence for renewed contacts with the East in certain features of Greek astronomy in the period following circa 440 BCE but his evidence is debatable. Circa the 5th-century BCE saw the beginning of mathematical astronomy in Greece. Also, Greek astronomy of the 5th-century BCE, like that of the astronomy of the Near East, was intertwined with the study of meteorological phenomena generally (i.e., with clouds, winds, thunder and lightning, meteors (shooting stars), the rainbow and such).

The Hellenistic Period (336 BCE-146 BCE) falls between the conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great and the establishment of Roman supremacy, in which Greek culture and learning were pre-eminent in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. It is called Hellenistic (Greek, Hellas, "Greece") to distinguish it from the Hellenic culture of classical Greece.

Alexander's military conquest of the Persian (Achaemenid) Empire in 331 BCE (and occupation of Mesopotamia). Collapse of traditional international boundaries. Greek becomes the lingua franca. The diffusion of astronomical and astrological themes between Babylonia, Greece, Iran, India, Saudi Arabia, and China is complex and interactive over time (4th-century BCE to 7th-century CE. Indication of one-to-one contact between Babylonian and Greek scholars. Transmission of mathematical astronomy to Greece. (Greek astronomer, particularly Hypsicles and Hipparchus, made use of the results of Babylonian observations and calculations.)

In the end we are reliant on a shallow knowledge base. For this very reason we need to encompass all possible avenues that are indicated indicated by the most recent historical knowledge. Conclusions regarding the Greek constellations should be primarily determined by what is known rather than by what can be speculated. None of the historical possibilities reviewed can be considered reasonably demonstrated. In the absence of sufficient evidence it should not be supposed that any of these ideas/arguments/explanations/theories are historically proven. Whilst none have been convincingly validated they are indicated as a sound verdict - the most plausible and persuasive set of explanations.

Plato

Source: Plato's Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato by Francis Cornford (2014 (1st printed 1948), Page 219). Plato (circa 428 BCE - circa 348 BCE) was a Greek philosopher who was a student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle.

Euctemon

In 431 BCE Meton and Euctemon observed the summer solstice in Athens. Starting with this observation Euctemon constructed a parapegma. (A parapegma is basically a calendar in which the annual risings and settings of a number of fixed stars are noted.) The 1st day of the month "Cancer" (the 1st day the sun entered the sign Cancer) was the day of the summer solstice; the 1st day of the month "Libra" was the autumn equinox, and so on. The parapegma developed by Meton used the original Babylonian norm and located the vernal equinox at 8° Aries (the 8th part of the constellation Aries). Euctemon's new division of the zodiac placed the vernal equinox at 0° Aries. Euctemon's solar year began with the summer solstice. In Euctemon's parapegma system the first 5 "months" had 31 days each; the last 7 "months" had 30 days each. Euctemon's parapegma system assumed that the sun moves through one part of the zodiac with a constant velocity of 30° per 31 days, and through the remaining part of the zodiac with a constant velocity of 30° per 30 days. This model of the variable motion of the sun is rather similar to the Babylonian System A.

It is considered that the parapegmata of Euctemon have many similarities with the Babylonian text Mul.Apin. (A passage/section in Mul.Apin tablet II is indicated as having been written with the so-called astrolabes in mind. The introduction to the passage/section traces the place of the sun - as it rises and sets - on the horizon during seasons of the year, recording also the weather signs typical of those seasons.) If the Mul.Apin series has been an influence, then in many ways the parapegmata of Euctemon is also an improvement on Mul.Apin. Euctemon's parapegmata are more accurate and better adapted to practical use than the assumed Babylonian prototype. (The influence of Mul.Apin is not accepted by Daryn Lehoux. See: Astronomy, Weather, and Calendars in the Ancient World: Parapegmata and Related Texts in Classical and Near Eastern Societies by Daryn Lehoux (2007).)

With Euctemon's parapegma, Greek astronomy starts to divide the ecliptic into 12 zodiacal divisions/signs. (Note: This is somewhat speculative. The distinction between actual zodiacal constellations and artificial zodiacal divisions/signs of 30° of arc is not attested in extant Greek texts before the 3rd-century BCE.)

It appears likely that Meton and Euctemon were acquainted with Babylonian astronomy. It is considered that numerous details of Meton's and Euctemon's parapegmatas can be traced back to Babylonian astronomy with a high degree of certainty. As particular examples: the division of the ecliptic into 12 parts, the 19 year cycle (the so-called Metonic cycle), the anomaly of the sun's motion, the observational apparatus used (the heliotropion). Several early Babylonian precedents for the astro-meteorological tradition are apparent in the so-called astrolabes (literary texts which correlate the heliacal risings of key fixed-stars throughout the year, with weather conditions and major festivals in each of the seasons). Euctemon's parapegma also has numerous points of similarity to the calendar of fixed star risings in Mul.Apin. The calendars of both systems are divided into a date list (based on a division of the solar year into 12 artificial (solar) months defined by the course of the sun along the zodiac) and a time interval list (the time intervals between between the star phases in days). The equinoxes and solstices are also entered in the date list of both systems. The 19 year luni-solar cycle employed by Meton was almost certainly modelled on the one in use in contemporary Mesopotamia.

It appears that Euctemon was the first Greek astronomer who introduced the tropical division of the zodiac. Pliny the Elder asserted that Aries and Sagittarius were formed by Cleostratus at some time between 584 BCE and 432 BCE. The rest, with equal probability, have been ascribed by Aristotle's pupil Eudemos to the Pythagorean Oinopides of Chios circa 500 BCE, from Egyptian sources. In the 5th-century BCE the Athenian astronomer Euctemon (flourished 432 BCE), according to Geminus of Rhodes, compiled a weather calendar in which the constellations Aquarius, Aquila, Canis Major, Corona, Cygnus, Delphinus, Lyra, Orion, Pegasus, Sagitta, and the asterisms Hyades, and Pleiades are mentioned. Always, however, in relation to weather changes. Euctemon's weather calendar was included as part of his published parapegma, which also included the dates of the equinoxes and solstices (the seasons), and the annual risings and settings of the fixed stars.

The astronomy of Meton and Euctemon had a geometrical character. The impressive achievements of Greek astronomers, based on use of geometry/geometrical models, owed little or nothing to to the Babylonian astronomers.

 

Appendix 1: Table of Greek Constellations and Origin/Source and Earliest Known Date

The best way to approach the investigation of the Greek constellations established by Aratus and Ptolemy is constellation by constellation.

(1) Some Issues with Mesopotamian Uranography

(1) Establishment of Babylonian Uranography

There is a lack of both astronomical and astrological texts texts in Mesopotamia until the late 2nd-millennium BCE. There is no compelling reason for assuming that the astronomical texts from the 2nd-millennium BCE relied upon astronomical texts from the 3rd-millennium BCE. The Sumerians of the 4th-millennium BCE did, however, make simple calendrical calculations based on the movements of the celestial bodies. Circa 2700 BCE the goddess Nisiba (the patron goddess of scribes) had a knowledge of astronomy attributed to her and her temple in Eres was called the "House of the Stars." She had a lapis-lazuli tablet which is sometimes called the "tablet with the stars of the heavens" or "tablet with the stars of the pure heavens." It was kept in her "House of Wisdom." It is possible that this lapis-lazuli tablet - which was connected with astronomy - was a kind of star-map or symbolic representation of the heavens. However, all the extant evidence indicates a set of constellations covering the entire visible sky was not consolidated until circa the last quarter of the 2nd-millennium BCE. This approximately matched the completion of the omen series Enûma Anu Enlil. The earliest Mesopotamian star list that covers the entire visible sky is contained in the two-tablet Mul.Apin series. The Mul.Apin series contains the earliest (surviving) full description of the Mesopotamian constellations. Because the Mul.Apin series is a compilation from various sources no single date is assignable.) It is difficult to identify the history of the text or the sources for its parts. Analysing all of the star list data in the Mul.Apin series the American astronomer Brad Schaefer has concluded (2007) that the epoch for the data comprising Mul.Apin star lists is 1370 ± 100 BCE with a latitude of 35° ± 1.2°. The actual observations to establish the data through averaging were obviously a little earlier. This corresponds with the cuneiform evidence (the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil, the Astrolabes (i.e., star calendars), the creation epic Enuma Elish) indicating that most of the Mesopotamian constellation set was established during the late 2nd millennium BCE.

The Babylonians gave single or short names to the constellations they originated. The Babylonian scheme of constellations, excepting for the development of the zodiacal scheme of 12 constellations, was mostly finalised by the late 2nd-millennium BCE (i.e., near the end of the Kassite Period circa 1160 BCE). The only significant change that took place in the early 1st-millennium BCE was the development of the 12-constellation zodiacal scheme (and the shift from the scheme of the "three ways" to the ecliptic as the primary celestial reference point). The Babylonian names for the stars forming a constellation are descriptive phrases that serve to identify their location within the constellation figure. The exact configuration and boundaries of the Mesopotamian constellations are not known. In a section of the Mul.Apin astronomical compendium, due to the use of the horizon as reference point for a list of simultaneous risings and settings of constellations, these particular constellations are approximately identifiable. The earlier Babylonian "star calendars" (commonly misnamed "Astrolabes") do not provide any suitable information to enable the identification of the constellations. This is simply because we do not have any information regarding the principles of their categorizations (i.e., astronomical or divination). Tablet 1 of the Assyrian Mul.Apin compendium (circa 1000 BCE) contains a qualitative description of constellations and the star positions comprising such. The incomplete Neo-Assyrian text (VAT 9428, circa 400 BCE) from Assur originally contained a complete qualitative star by star description of the Babylonian constellations.

(2) Lack of Standardised Star List

"Abstract: Sumerian and Akkadian names of stars and constellations occur in cuneiform texts for over 2,000 years, from the third millennium BC down to the death of cuneiform in the early first millennium AD, but no fully comprehensive list was ever compiled in antiquity. Lists of stars and constellations are available in both the lexical tradition and astronomical-astrological tradition of the cuneiform scribes. The longest list in the former is that in the series Urra = hubullu, in the latter, those in Mul-Apin. Introduction: Cuneiform texts bearing names of stars and constellations are available from the early second millennium BC down to the time of the last available cuneiform tablets of the first-century AD ..., but there is no such thing as an authoritative [standardised] Mesopotamian star list, that is, a standard list of all the stars, or the main stars, known to a set of Ancient Mesopotamians in any one time or place. ... [W]hen speaking of Mesopotamian star lists, what is generally meant is a collection of names of constellations, with the occasional name of a fixed star or planet included. Star lists are found in two very different parts of the cuneiform corpus. First are dictionary lists in the lexical tradition that is best known from the canonical Sumerian-Akkadian series Urra = hubulla ... And the second, sets of star names in the astronomical/astrological tradition. For example, the stars of the Paths of Anu, Enlil, and Ea - the traditional divisions of the Mesopotamian sky. The Lexical Tradition: The canonical version of series Urra = hubulla, dating to ca. 1000 BC, was comprised of 24 tablets with a total of more than 10,000 entries when complete. Included in Tablet 22 of the series was list of star names with a Sumerian name on the left translated by its Akkadian name equivalent on the right. As is typical of the series as a whole, the list begins with the standard sign for stars, that is, the star determinative, Sumerian mul = Akkadian kakkabu, the latter being cognate to terms for stars in the other Semitic languages." (Horowitz, Wayne. (2014). "Mesopotamian Star Lists." In: Ruggles, Clive. (Editor). Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. (Pages 1829-1833).)

(3) Transient Nature of Early Babylonian Constellations

An example: "Mušhuššum, "furious serpent." This constellation is only attested in the OB [Old Babylonian] period. It might be the dragon whose origin is described in the Labbu Myth (Frans Wiggermann, "Tišpak, his Seal, and the Dragon Mušhuššu," in To the Euphrates and Beyond: Archaeological Studies in Honor of Mauits N. van Loon [ed. O. Haex et al; Rotterdam: A. A. Balkema, 1989], 117–33, esp. 126). Gössmann equates it with the later constellation MUŠ, though this is by no means certain; if it is the case, however, it is possibly to be identified with the constellation Hydra ...." (Cooley, Jeffrey. (2011). "An OB Prayer to the Gods of the Night." In: Lenzi, Alan. (Editor). Reading Akkadian Prayers and Hymns. (Page 77).)

Whether or not the Mesopotamians only used a single series of constellations throughout the country at all times is unknown. Alastair McBeath (Tiamat's Brood, Page 41) states: "... Gössmann's work and other cuneiform sources argue for several variant traditions. It is possible each city-state had at least some constellations that were more or less unique to them, as with their gods." There is, however, the possibility that some particular names that occasionally appear were late and/or variant (alternative) names of constellations/stars. It was only late i.e., perhaps 1st-millennium  BCE that constellation and star/planet names became standardized.

(2 Some Issues with Greek Uranography and Adoption of Mesopotamian Uranography

(1) Late Greek Adoption of Early Mesopotamian Constellations

The originality of many aspects of Greek astronomy is doubtful in view of evidence supporting continual borrowing from Babylonian astronomy.

The Babylonian scheme of constellations, excepting for the development of the zodiacal scheme of 12 constellations, was mostly finalised by the late 2nd-millennium BCE (i.e., near the end of the Kassite Period circa 1160 BCE). The only significant change that took place in the early 1st-millennium BCE was the development of the 12-constellation zodiacal scheme. Whether or not the Mesopotamians only used a single series of constellations throughout the country at all times is unknown. It is possible there were several variant traditions. It is possible each city-state had at least some constellations that were more or less unique to them, and their city gods/goddess. There is, however, the possibility that some particular names that occasionally appear were late and/or variant (alternative) names of constellations/stars. It was only late i.e., perhaps 1st-millennium  BCE that constellation and star/planet names became standardized. It is indicated at times/on more than one occasion that the Mesopotamian constellations transmitted to the Greek in the Classical Period  were not part of a correspondingly late Mesopotamian scheme but rather of an earlier late 2nd-millennium Mesopotamian scheme. This goes to the question of sources and modes of transmission.

In Mesopotamian traditional astrology and omenology texts continued to be copied even when astronomy and omenology (astral divination) began to change circa the 7th-century BCE. Part of the change was the keeping of 'astronomical diaries' at the Esangil temple in Babylon, and the process towards the development of the 12-constellation/sign zodiac, finalised in the 5th-century BCE. The impetus for change may have originated with the development of mathematical astronomy. Newer ideas existed side-by-side with the older material (i.e., the old astrolabe texts and the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil). There is a paucity of Mesopotamian astronomy and omenology texts for the first 3 centuries of the 1st-millennium BCE. The high status of Mesopotamian omenology for the period of the Sargonid kings (especially Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal) perhaps contributed to copies of the omen series Enūma Anu Enlil being kept in the provinces. (The omen series Enūma Anu Enlil was compiled some time between circa 1500 BCE and 1200 BCE and incorporated even earlier material. It only reached its more or less final form by circa the 7th-century BCE. Assumed tablets 50-51 deal with constellations related to the astrolabe genre.)

Number [Latin Name] Ptolemy's Catalogue Aratus' Poem Origin / Source and Earliest Known Date of Constellation Earliest Known Date of in Greek Uranography
1 [Ursa Minor] Little Bear Little Bear Phoenician? The Greek poet Aglaosthenes (circa 650 BCE) mentioned the Eagle (Aquila) and Cynosura (now Ursa Minor).
2 [Ursa Major] Great Bear Great Bear Babylonian (= Wagon) Homer, 8th-century BCE.
3 [Draco] Dragon Dragon Babylonian? Not mentioned in Greek texts until after 500 BCE.
4 [Cepheus] [King] Cepheus Cepheus    
5 [Boötes] Bear Watcher Boötes Babylonian Homer, 8th-century BCE (Wagoner/Boötes).
6 [Corona Borealis] Northern Crown Ariadne's Crown   Geminus of Rhodes relates that in the 5th-century BCE Euctemon of Athens compiled a weather almanac in which he mentioned Orion, Hyades, Pleiades, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquarius, Corona, Delphinus, Pegasus, Aquila, and Canis Major as weather portents.
7 [Hercules] Kneeler Kneeler    
8 [Lyra] Lyre Lyre Babylonian?/Egyptian? Geminus of Rhodes relates that in the 5th-century BCE Euctemon of Athens compiled a weather almanac in which he mentioned Orion, Hyades, Pleiades, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquarius, Corona, Delphinus, Pegasus, Aquila, and Canis Major as weather portents.
9 [Cygnus] Bird Bird   Geminus of Rhodes relates that in the 5th-century BCE Euctemon of Athens compiled a weather almanac in which he mentioned Orion, Hyades, Pleiades, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquarius, Corona, Delphinus, Pegasus, Aquila, and Canis Major as weather portents.
10 [Cassiopeia] [Wife of King Cepheus] Cassiopeia Cassiopeia Babylonian?/Phoenician?  
11 [Perseus] Perseus Perseus Babylonian  
 [Pleiades]   Pleiades   Homer, 8th-century BCE.
12 [Aurigas] Charioteer Charioteer Babylonian Kleoxenos (4th-century BCE) introduced the star pair, the Kids, in Auriga.
13 [Ophiuchus] Serpent-holder Serpent-holder    
14 [Serpens] Serpent Serpent    
15 [Sagitta] Arrow Arrow    
16 [Aquila] Eagle Eagle Babylonian, astrolabes (identified with Zababa), Mul.Apin (Eagle and Zababa identified as 2 separate constellations), late 2nd-millennium BCE The Greek poet Aglaosthenes (circa 650 BCE) mentioned the Eagle (Aquila) and Cynosura (now Ursa Minor).
[Antinous] Antinous (Ptolemy considered Antinous to be an asterism (sub-division) in the constellation Aquila.)      
17 [Delphinus] Dolphin Dolphin   Geminus of Rhodes relates that in the 5th-century BCE Euctemon of Athens compiled a weather almanac in which he mentioned Orion, Hyades, Pleiades, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquarius, Corona, Delphinus, Pegasus, Aquila, and Canis Major as weather portents.
18 [Equuleus] Front of Horse [head and part of neck]/Small Horse (Foal) Horse    
19 [Pegasus] Horse (Pegasus)     (Hesiod, 8th-century BCE in Theogony relates etiological story of Pegasus but does not mention Pegasus as a constellation.) Geminus of Rhodes relates that in the 5th-century BCE Euctemon of Athens compiled a weather almanac in which he mentioned Orion, Hyades, Pleiades, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquarius, Corona, Delphinus, Pegasus, Aquila, and Canis Major as weather portents.
20 [Andromeda] Andromeda Andromeda    
21 [Triangulum] Triangle Triangle    
[Coma Berenices] Berenice's Hair (Ptolemy considered Coma Berenices to be an asterism (sub-division) in the constellation Leo, representing the tuft at the end of the lion’s tail.)      
22 [Aries] Ram Ram Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE. Kleoxenos (4th-century BCE) mentioned the constellations on the zodiac, including Aries, Sagittarius, and Scorpio.
23 [Taurus] Bull Bull Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
24 [Gemini] Twins Twins Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
25 [Cancer] Crab Crab Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
26 [Leo] Lion Lion Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
27 [Virgo] Virgin Maiden Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
28 [Libra] Scales   Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
29 [Scorpio/Scorpius] Scorpion Scorpion Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE. Pherecydes of Athens (500-450 BCE) told the legend of Orion and mentioned that as Orion sets Scorpius rises. Kleoxenos (4th-century BCE) mentioned the constellations on the zodiac, including Aries, Sagittarius, and Scorpio.
 [Libra]   Claws Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE (but not Libra as Balance). Kidd: The Balance (Libra) entered the Greek zodiac only after its mention in Hipparchus' 2nd-century BCE Commentary. Goold: Zygós (Scales = Libra) and Libra were adopted into Hellenistic astronomy and the Greco-Roman literary world in the 1st-century CE, and first appear in Geminus. Note: The Roman reintroduction of the "scales" to replace the Greek "claws" (of the Scorpion) was most probably unconnected with the earlier Babylonian "scales of heaven." The Romans associated Libra with Astraea, the Roman goddess of justice.
30 [Sagittarius] Archer Archer Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE. Kleoxenos (4th-century BCE) mentioned the constellations on the zodiac, including Aries, Sagittarius, and Scorpio.
31 [Capricornus] Goat-horned Goat-horned Babylonian Mentioned by Epimenides circa late 7th-century BCE (also Goat-star/Capella). Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
32 [Aquarius] Water-pourer Water-pourer Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE. Geminus of Rhodes relates that in the 5th-century BCE Euctemon of Athens compiled a weather almanac in which he mentioned Orion, Hyades, Pleiades, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquarius, Corona, Delphinus, Pegasus, Aquila, and Canis Major as weather portents.
 [Aqua in Aquarius]        
33 [Pisces] Fishes Fishes Babylonian Cleostratus said to have introduced the zodiacal constellations/signs circa 520 BCE.
34 [Cetus] Sea-monster Sea-monster    
 [Aqua in Aquarius]   Water    
35 [Orion] Orion Orion Babylonian Homer, 8th-century BCE.
36 [Eridanus] River River Greek (At least Eridanos ('Morning River'/'River of Dawn') is the shortest of the Athenian rivers, rising from the slopes of Mount Lykabettos and coursing southwestward to skirt the north side of the Agora.)  
37 [Lepus] Hare Hare    
38 [Canis Major] Dog Dog   Homer, 8th-century BCE (Dog of Orion/Sirius). Geminus of Rhodes relates that in the 5th-century BCE Euctemon of Athens compiled a weather almanac in which he mentioned Orion, Hyades, Pleiades, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquarius, Corona, Delphinus, Pegasus, Aquila, and Canis Major as weather portents.
39 [Canis Minor] Dog's Forerunner [Procyon]   Aratus' mention of Procyon circa 275 BCE may be considered a recognition of Canis Minor.
40 [Argo] Argo Argo    
41 [Hydra] Watersnake Hydra Babylonian  
42 [Crater] Bowl Bowl    
43 [Corvus] Raven Raven Babylonian  
44 [Centaurus] Centaur Centaur    
45 [Lupus] Beast Beast Babylonian  
46 [Ara] Censer Altar Egyptian?  
47 [Corona Australis] Southern Crown   Babylonian?  
48 [Piscis Austrinus] Southern Fish Southern Fish Babylonian?  

A strong Babylonian legacy is evident. This conclusion is especially supported by cuneiform texts, and iconography, and a number of non-Mesopotamian sources.

It is evident there are Babylonian counterparts for some Greek 20 constellations (including nearly all of the zodiacal constellations). Almost half of the ancient Greek sky is comprised of Hellenised versions of much earlier Babylonian constellations. Homer's use of the name 'Wagon' as an alternative name for the Great Bear constellation indicates that at least some knowledge of Babylonian sky lore had reached Greece by circa the 8th-century BCE. If Aratus' Phainomena describes the constellations known to Eudoxus then a considerable number of Babylonian constellations had become known in Greece by circa the 4th-century BCE. Babylonian-Assyrian constellation lore may have been conveyed to the Mediterranean region by way of Phoenicia, Israel, and Hellenic Egypt.

Ultimately there is a strong Babylonian core to the establishment of the Greek constellations. It is not indicated that the Babylonian constellations originated from a Sumerian core, or some other Near Eastern Neolithic core.

Excursus: "How Cuneiform Puns Inspired Some of the Bizarre Greek Constellations and Asterisms" by John McHugh (2016)

McHugh, John. (2016). "How Cuneiform Puns Inspired Some of the Bizarre Greek Constellations and Asterisms." (Archaeoastronomy and Ancient Technologies, Volume 4, Number 2, Pages 69-100). [Note: "Abstract: Many of the Greek constellations catalogued in Claudius Ptolemy's mid-second century Almagest originated in Mesopotamia. Yet numerous other Greek constellations and asterisms do not correspond to Mesopotamian prototypes, and simultaneously display bizarre or incongruous features. This is especially apparent in Pegasus, a winged Horse severed at the navel; Crater, the "Wine-Bowl" stationed upon the back of Hydra, the "Water-Snake"; Cancer, a "Crab" that carries a "Manger" and "Donkeys" upon its shell; and Argo, the "Swift" Ship that sails backwards through the night sky without a prow. Because the aforementioned star-figures cannot be traced to Mesopotamian originals most historians of astronomy have assumed they are either indigenous Greek inventions or the creations of seafaring civilization that had direct contact with Greece. This article presents seminal research that offers a more elegant possibility, namely, that the origin of the aforementioned constellations and asterisms was indeed Mesopotamia, and can be traced to arcane precepts that informed the astronomers of that land. Cuneiform texts confirm that Mesopotamian astronomers were literally "writers" who envisioned the starry sky as "heavenly writing" that divulged inviolable truth through the medium of wordplay. In Mesopotamia the Pegasus Square was known as the "Field," and puns encrypted in its cuneiform spellings divulged that the Field be "changed into" a "flying horse severed at the navel"; wordplay in Hydra's cuneiform title disclosed that a "wine-bowl" be "placed upon the back of the "water-snake""; double entendre in Cancer's cuneiform appellative imparted that a "manger" and "two donkeys" be "placed between the shoulders of the crab"; and punning in the Mesopotamian prototype for Argo divulged that these stars were a "divine ship named "Swift"" which had its "prow cut off" and sailed "backward" through the southern sky. Circumstantial evidence implies that the Mesopotamian perception of the stars as a divine "text" that divulged enlightenment via puns had been transmitted directly to the Hellenic world at the inception of Greek alphabetic writing in the mid-eighth century BC. And it was this Mesopotamian celestial wisdom that inspired Greek astronomer-poets to reconfigure the preceding star-figures into the irrational images described by the puns."]

 

Appendix 2: Table of Some Ideas in Papers Relating to the Origin of the Constellations

 

Period: 1807 - 1898 (19th-century void zone arguments)

Carl Swartz William Peck Edward Maunder
Recherches sur l'origine et le signification des Constellations de la Sphère greque by Carl Swartz (1807) Peck, William. (1884). The constellations and how to find them. Peck, William. (1890). "The Constellation Figures - Their Probable Origin." In: Peck, William. A Popular Handbook and Atlas of Astronomy. (Pages 1-11). (The article is Chapter 1 of his book.) Maunder, Edward. (1898). "The Zodiac Explained." (The Observatory, Volume XXI, Pages 438-444). Maunder, Edward. (1897/1898). "The Oldest Astronomy." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume VIII, Number 9, Pages 373-376). Maunder, Edward. (1898/1899). "The Oldest Astronomy. II." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume IX, Number 7, Pages 317-321). Maunder, Edward. (1900). "The Oldest Picture-Book of All." (The Nineteenth Century: A Monthly Review, Volume 48, September, Pages 451-464). Maunder, Edward. and Maunder, Annie. (1903/1904). "The Oldest Astronomy. III." (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume XIV, Number 6, Pages 241-246). See also: Astronomy Without a Telescope by Edward Maunder (1902).
Apparent originator of void zone argument. The precessional argument forms part of the void zone argument. Used several of the arguments and conclusions employed by the void zone proponents (i.e., Richard Proctor?). Revived Swartz's void zone argument. Also used polar alignment argument.
Deduced the date of origin of the (Greek) constellations was circa 1400 BCE. Believed that the very earliest constellations were established by the Egyptians circa 15,000 BCE and were further developed by the 'Chaldeans' circa 2000 BCE. Date deduced for the origin of the Western constellation figures: Circa 2700 BCE.
Place of origin of the (Greek) constellations was Baku on the Caspian Sea (in modern Azebaijan). Originated in Egypt circa 15,000 BCE and were further developed in Mesopotamia circa 2000 BCE. Locations: Between 35° (36°) & 40° north latitude. (Also, circa 2700 BCE, 40° north latitude).
The occidental constellations originated largely as a set. The occidental constellations originated largely as a set. The occidental constellations originated largely as a set.

 

Period: 1923-1981 (20th-century void zone arguments)
Andrew Crommelin Michael Ovenden Archibald Roy
Crommelin, Andrew. (1923). "The Ancient Constellation Figures." In: Hutchinson's Splendour of the Heavens. (Pages 640-669). (2 Volumes, also later published in one volume but no date.) (Note: Chapter XVII in Volume 2.) "The Origin of the Constellations." by Michael Ovenden (The Philosophical Journal, Volume 3, Number 1, 1966, Pages 1-18) "The origin of the constellations." by Archibald Roy (Vistas in Astronomy, Volume 27, Issue 2, 1984, Pages.171-197).
Void zone argument. Polar alignment argument and void zone argument. Polar alignment argument and void zone argument.
Date deduced for the origin of the Western constellation figures: 2460 BCE. Variously, circa 2800 BCE ± 800 years, circa 2800 BCE ± 300 years, and 2600 BCE ± 800 years. Date(s) deduced for the origin of the Western constellation figures: Circa 2000 BCE ± 200 years. (Circa 2900 BCE ± 500 years).
Location: At 36° north latitude. Minoan origin. Minoan origin.
The occidental constellations originated largely as a set. The Sumerians originated the constellations later inherited by the Greeks. The occidental constellations originated largely as a set. The Greek constellations inherited from a Minoan constellation set. The occidental constellations originated largely as a set (by the Sumerians). The Greek constellations inherited from a Minoan constellation set.

 

Period: 1913-2008 (20th-/21st-century refutation of void zone arguments)
Mary Evershed (née Orr) Dennis Duke Elly Dekker
"The Origin of the Constellations." by Mary Evershed (Observatory Magazine, Volume 36, 1913, Pages 179-181). See also: Orr, Mary. (1913, new and revised edition 1956 by Barbara Reynolds). Dante and the Early Astronomers. "Statistical Dating of the Phenomena of Eudoxus." by Dennis Duke (DIO-The International Journal of Scientific History, Volume 15, December 2008, Pages 7-23). "A 'Watermark' of Eudoxan Astronomy." by Elly Dekker (Journal for the History of Astronomy, Volume XXXXIX, Part 2, Number 135, May 2008, Pages 213-238). (Based on assistance from Dennis Duke and access to his forthcoming paper.)
Succinct presentation of key arguments against 3 main methods used by the 'constellation detectives.' Critique of void zone argument, polar alignment argument, and Taurus as original lead zodiacal constellation used by Edward and Annie Maunder, and the celestial circles of Aratus argument used by Brown Junior. Critique of Eudoxus' placement of colures argument. Critique of Eudoxus' placement of colures argument
Rejects a 3rd-millennium BCE date for the Greek constellations. Dates the Greek constellations to the 1st-millennium BCE. Important article for correcting the mistaken notion that Eudoxus was referring to constellations established circa 1000 BCE, and not in his own lifetime circa 370 BCE. Important article for correcting the mistaken notion that Eudoxus was referring to constellations established circa 1000 BCE, and not in his own lifetime circa 370 BCE.
Origin a mix of Mesopotamian and Greek constellations. Greek constellations a mix of Mesopotamian and Greek constellations. Greek constellations a mix of Mesopotamian and Greek constellations.
The occidental constellations did not originate as a set. The Greek constellations originated as a chance medley. The occidental constellations did not originate as a set. The Greek constellations originated as a chance medley. The occidental constellations did not originate as a set. The Greek constellations originated as a chance medley.

 

Period: 1998-2014 (Late 20th-/early 21st-century ideas. Krupp's is the most reliable and insightful - the turning point for a new approach)
John Rodgers Ed. Krupp Roslyn Frank
"Origins of the Ancient Constellations: I. The Mesopotamian Traditions." by John Rogers (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, Number 1, 1998, Pages 9-28). "Origins of the Ancient Constellations: II. The Mediterranean Traditions." by John Rogers (Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Volume 108, Number 2, 1998, Pages 79-89). "Night Gallery: The Function, Origin, and Evolution of Constellations" by Edwin Krupp (Archaeoastronomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture, Volume XV, 2000, Pages 43-63). (Originally presented by the author at Oxford VI, June, 1999. Oxford VI was held in the Canary Islands.) Frank, Roslyn. (2014). "Origins of "Western" Constellations." In: Ruggles, Clive. (General Editor). Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. (3 Volumes; Volume 1, Part 1, Pages 148-163)
Polar alignment argument/Void zone argument/Precessional argument. Critique of polar alignment argument/Critique of void zone argument/Critique of Gurshtein's gradualist argument. The 48 Ptolemaic constellations represent a long-evolved mixture which includes elements from "very ancient" cultures. Believes there were 2 constellation traditions; an observation-based navigation tradition, and a non-observations fossilized tradition inherited by Eudoxus. This latter hypothesized archaic tradition was inflexible (i.e., fixed by tradition and incapable of change or development).
Circa 3rd-millennium BCE. Mostly 2nd millennium onwards. The non-zodiacal constellations could date back to the Bronze Age or earlier.
Minoan origin. The Western constellations were invented, developed, transmitted, and adapted within and across cultures. The Greek constellations influenced by Mesopotamia through the Ionian Greeks. Unidentified Bronze Age culture or earlier.
The occidental constellations originated largely as a set. The occidental constellations did not originate as a set. The Greek constellations originated as a chance medley. The occidental constellations did not originate as a set. The Greek constellations inherited from an earlier constellation set comprising a fossilized tradition.

 


Return to top of page.


This web page was last updated on: Wednesday, April 4, 2018, 9.30 pm.


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


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


Return To Site Contents Page