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Periodicities And Period Relations In Babylonian Celestial Sciences

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Chapter Summary

The flowering of astronomical science in Achaemenid Babylonia came from deep roots in both celestial observation and divination practiced since the second millennium B.C.E. Babylonian astral sciences continued to develop in Hellenistic Babylonia from which time Greek, Greco-Roman, and Indian cultures became aware and borrowed ideas and methods from Babylonian astronomy and astrology. Ultimately some of Babylonian astrologys systems and astronomys mathematical content entered the stream of Western science, continuing until the European Renaissance. What gave the Babylonian astronomical tradition its power and longevity was the fact that it was grounded in an understanding of periodicities. It is by now canonical that the foundation of Babylonian mathematical astronomy is built upon the recognition of period relations. The earliest astronomical compendium, composed around 1100 B.C.E. probably in Nineveh and entitled MUL.APIN or Plow Star, utilizes the schematic year with its twelve 30-day ideal months and 360 ideal days.

Keywords: Babylonian celestial science; Babylonian period relation; European Renaissance; mathematical astronomy; MUL.APIN; Periodicities



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