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American Philosophical Society
Francesca Rochberg (au). Interpretation of heavenly phenomena as signs of the future was a Mesopotamian tradition of great antiquity. The practice of Babylonian celestial divination, spanning a period from ca. 1800 B.C. to Hellenistic times, is known in the form of celestial omens portending the life of the king & stability of the state. Emerging for the first time in the 5th cent. B.C., horoscopes reflect the application of the idea & practice of celestial divination to the life of the individual. Whereas an omen focuses on a single astronomical phenomenon, the horoscope takes into account the positions of the moon, sun, & five naked eye planets at the moment of a birth. As such, Babylonian horoscopes presuppose the concept of the ecliptic & a methodology for obtaining the positions of heavenly bodies when they are not observable. This is the first complete edition of the extant cuneiform horoscopes -- with transcription & philological & astronomical commentary. It is the first study to offer a systematic description of the documents as a definable class of Babylonian astronomical/astrological texts. Publication of the Babylonian horoscopes fills a significant gap in our materials for the history of Western astrology as well as of ancient astronomy, & provides a rich source for further study of the transmission of astronomical science from ancient Babylonia to the Greeks.
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