Article ID: CBB093702502

Explaining Babylonian Astronomy (2019)


A large number of cuneiform tablets from ancient Babylonia containing astronomical texts are preserved. It is on the basis of these texts that we can attempt to reconstruct the history of Babylonian astronomical practice. In order to do so, the individual astronomical texts themselves must be understood. This essay discusses three different types of explanation of an astronomical text that are part of this process: a philological explanation, a technical explanation, and a historical explanation. It argues that a full understanding of any text can be achieved only once all three types of explanation have been provided.

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Authors & Contributors
Horowitz, Wayne
Steele, John M.
Robson, Eleanor
Proust, Christine
Clark, Kathleen M.
Yasuyuki Mitsuma
Sciamvs: Sources and Commentaries in Exact Sciences
Journal for the History of Astronomy
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
Archive for History of Exact Sciences
Technai, An International Journal for Ancient Science and Technology
American Philosophical Society Press
University of Chicago Press
Oxford University Press
Cuneiform inscriptions
Tablets; papyri
Constellations; zodiac
Time Periods
Shang dynasty (China, ca. 1766-1027 B.C.)
Zhou dynasty (China, 1122-221 B.C.)
Bronze age
21st century
Middle and Near East
Babylon (extinct city)
United States
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

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