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An Arabic Ephemeris for the Year 931–932CE

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Chapter Summary

The paper fragment P.Vind.inv. A.Ch. 12868 in the Vienna Papyrus Collection is the lower left/right quarter of a leaf from an astronomical ephemeris for the Persian year 300 in the era of Yazdgird (931/932ce). It contains dates in the Persian, Arabic, Syriac, and Coptic calendars and the daily positions of sun, moon, planets, and ascending lunar node, together with solar altitudes and lengths of the day, for the geographical latitude of Aswān. Analysis of the underlying astronomical parameters shows that the calculation of the ephemeris was based on outdated astronomical tables that were probably created in Marw during the early reign of the Caliph al-Maʾmūn (193-202/809-818). Between theoretical manuals on one side and horoscopes on the other, one can find a field of intermediate types of astronomical texts, among them ephemerides. Ephemerides for single planets existed among cuneiform texts from Mesopotamia.

Keywords: Arabic calendars; astronomical ephemeris; astronomical texts; Aswān; Caliph al-Maʾmūn; Coptic calendars; Mesopotamia; paper fragment P.Vind.inv. A.Ch. 12868; Vienna Papyrus Collection; Yazdgird



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