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Astral deities

(329 words)

Author(s): Hunger, Hermann (Vienna)
[German version] Some, (but by no means all) gods in the religions of Mesopotamia, Syria and Egypt are represented by astral bodies: the sun ( Samas in Mesopotamia and  Re and  Aton in Egypt) and the moon ( Sin and  Thot) are gods. They are viewed and worshipped as part of the cosmos -- both in the form in that they appear in the cosmos and as anthropomorphous figures. Their inherent power and the resulting effects, their influence on cosmic events and human destiny are thematized in myths and myt…


(3,907 words)

Author(s): Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster) | Hunger, Hermann (Vienna)
(Zodiakos: ζῳδιακὸς κύκλος/ zōidiakós kýklos, Lat. zodiacus or signifer, literally: 'circle of animals'). Name     Name     Name     Melothesia     Twelve Gods     English     Greek     Latin     Ram     Kriós     Aries     Head     Minerva     Bull     Taûros     Taurus     Neck     Venus     Twins     Dídymoi     Gemini     Shoulders, arms     Apollo     Crab     Karkínos     Cancer     Chest     Mercurius     Lion     Léōn     Leo     Flanks     Iuppiter     Maiden     Parthénos     Virgo     Abdomen     Ceres     Scales     Zygós (Chēlaí)     Lib…


(5,492 words)

Author(s): Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn) | Hunger, Hermann (Vienna)
[German version] A. Extent, definition and term Astronomy is the description, causal justification and forecast of celestial phenomena, the latter on the basis of repeatable and repeated observations or calculations based on these -- and periods derived from them. In Greece astronomy originally comprised all the μετέωρα ( metéōra, celestial bodies; Thales fr. A 2; Gorgias fr. B 11, 13 DK), at the latest since Aristotle the metéōra conceived as sublunary were largely excluded. Besides, in the pre-Classical period exclusively, in Aristotle and by preference (syno…


(1,454 words)

Author(s): Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster) | Hunger, Hermann (Vienna)
(ἀστρολογία; astrología). [German version] A. Term Astrology is the original and more natural name for the study of the heavens in general; until well into late antiquity it was not strictly demarcated from its rival word astronomía, which is closely linked to the Platonic school [24]. According to current understanding astrology is concerned with forecasts according to a specific position of the stars and, according to the mythical way of thinking, has available for this a comprehensive categorization system of space and time [10]. Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster) [German version] B. Anc…

Milky Way

(568 words)

Author(s): Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) | Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient The expression for the MW in ancient Mesopotamia has not yet been discovered. However, it is possible that it referred to milk; in hymnal texts, the stars were described as the ‘cattle herds of the Moon deities’. In Egypt, too, the MW was perceived as a phenomenon; its designation is still discussed in modern scholarship [2]. Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) Bibliography 1 W. Heimpel, The Babylonian Background of the Term ‘Milky Way’, in: H. Behrens (Ed.), FS A.Sjöberg, 1989, 249-252 2 O. Neugebauer, R. A. Parker, Egyptian Astronomical Texts I, 1960, 50. …


(526 words)

Author(s): Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) | Kunitzsch, Paul (Munich)
[German version] A. Babylonia The cuneiform script texts called astrolabia (oldest example c. 1100 BC) are lists of constellations with the ancient name ‘The three stars each’. For each month three constellations are named, which ascend (heliacally). Four planets are also included, the risings of which do not remain in the same month; this results in schematization. Some examples organize the stars in a circle divided into 12 sectors. Many texts also contain explanations of the star names or numbers, which vary parallel to the length of the day [1]. Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) …


(2,264 words)

Author(s): Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) | Fritscher, Bernhard (Munich)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Meteorology in the sense of a systematic study of the weather is found in Babylon in the form of omens, for instance in the omen collection Enūma Anu Enlil ( Astrology). Thunder (‘the call of the god Adad’) and lightning were particularly important; for instance, the date, time of day, direction, and number of their occurrence were observed. For rain, the time and the way it appeared were considered ominous, as were rainbows, the colour and position of the clouds in the sky, as well as twiligh…


(2,459 words)

Author(s): Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) | Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient In Mesopotamia, the visible stars were combined into constellations; some of these notions about constellations were communicated to other cultures as early as the 2nd millennium BC and, through Greek-Roman transmission, are still common today. The constellations of the  zodiac ─ Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, and Pisces ─ can be traced back to Babylonian models, also the Big Dipper ( Ursa Maior), the Raven, and the Eagle, among others. Babylonian  lists of constellations have existed since the early 2nd mille…

Fixed stars

(1,142 words)

Author(s): Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) | Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Sumerian and Akkadian languages do not distinguish between fixed stars and planets: for both MUL or kakkabu is used. Nevertheless the movement of the planets in relation to the fixed stars was known. Individual fixed stars certainly rarely had their own names (e.g. Li9-si4 = Antares), but most were grouped into  constellations. According to their position in the sky, they were initially roughly organized in the so-called  astrolabia (earliest example around 1100 BC), then more precisely in the astronomical c…


(381 words)

Author(s): Hunger, Hermann (Vienna) | Hübner, Wolfgang (Münster)
[German version] I. Ancient Orient Currently 32 horoscopes are known from Babylonia from the period 410 to 69 BC. They mostly begin with the date on which a child was born. This is followed by the positions of the moon, sun and planets in the sequence Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars. The positions are given relative to the signs of the zodiac, and sometimes the degree within a sign. Sometimes this is followed by further astronomical phenomena from the month or the year of birth. The positions a…


(494 words)

Author(s): Engelmann, Helmut (Cologne) | Ziegler, Konrat (Göttingen) | Hunger, Hermann (Vienna)
(Κολοφῶν; Kolophôn). [German version] [1] City in Lydia This item can be found on the following maps: Achaemenids | Colonization | Pergamum | Persian Wars | Delian League | Education / Culture Ionian city (Str. 14,1,3-5; Paus. 7,3,1-4) in Lydia, c. 13 km north of the harbour of  Notion. Ruins (acropolis, theatre, thermal baths) near today's Değirmendere. Temporarily at war with the Lydian kings, C. enjoyed great prosperity in the 7th/6th cents. BC (Aristot. Pol. 4,1290 b 15) and was notorious for its ‘opulence’ (Ath. 12,524b; 526a wit…