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Babylonian Seasonal Hours

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Chapter Summary

Evidence in Babylonian astronomical and astrological texts belonging to the period after ca. 600 B.C.E., and the procedures for construction of a gnomon, affords further insight into a particular aspect of ancient time reckoning, namely the division of the day into hours. In classical antiquity and middle ages, hour meant the twelfth part of the actual length of daylight from sunrise to sunset. The length of such hours then necessarily varied through the seasons as well as varying with geographical latitude, and are consequently termed seasonal hours. In both cases, i.e., the horoscopes and the sundial texts, the 12 subdivisions of the day are termed simanu. To demonstrate that the simanu intervals are seasonal hours, it must be shown that they are not the same as the division of the day into 12 bēru, and it must also be clear that both day and night are divided into 12 parts.

Keywords: astrological texts; bēru; Babylonian; horoscopes; seasonal hours; simanu; sundial texts



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