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Astrology and Astronomy:

Their marriage and history

The roots of astrology and astronomy stretch back into pre-recorded antiquity. Ever since the Earth has had a clear sky—that is, for billions of years—there have been seven lights visibly moving across the sky against the background of fixed stars: the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. (From these lights we get the seven days of the week and seven as a lucky number.) Early man apparently conceived of these seven as sky deities, whose god-paths then became "significant." The very word significant is derived from significans, the Latin past participle of significare "to signify," in turn from signum, "a sign" + facere, "to make:" i.e., "to make a sign," probably itself derived from the signs/pictures/constellations (con + stella: "set with stars") forever seen in the night sky.

In the 18th - 17th centuries BC., Babylon was rife with superstitions of all kinds, and many omens were recorded that linked external events with augury: "'When a woman bears a child with small ears, the house will fall into ruin," and so forth. Astronomical phenomena were just one category of events that early man used to foretell the future, a world-wide practice from Anatolia to Persia in the middle east, and in the Mayan, Incan and Mexican civilizations in the Western Hemisphere. As ancient astronomer-astrologers slowly acquired more astronomical data based on observation, the apparent retrograde motion and stations of the planets were added to their lexicon and to their interpretations of the same. By the 17th century BC, during the reign of the tenth Babylonian king of the First Dynasty, Ammisaduqa, only the crudest forecasts were being made; but by the 8th - 7th centuries BC, a collection of over 7000 astrological omens were on the shelves of the temple libraries in the Babylonian big cities and the royal libraries of Assyria and Ashur. This collection in 70 tablets has become known as "Enuma Anu Enlil," after the opening words of the first omen.

But in order to predict the future accurately, the interval over which you want to predict has to be measurable to at least the same degree of accuracy by some form of calendar. This may seem easy in hindsight, but it is actually quite complex, and was daunting to first attempts by man. For example, any fixed starting point among the seasons, and consequently among the stars, tends to wander by 1° every 72 years due to the precession of the equinoxes. And the length of any lunar cycle, a simple method for measuring time, does not divide even approximately into the length of a year. The lunar cycle known as the month (or "synodic" period) from new moon to new moon, in which the Moon completes one revolution relative to the Earth-Sun line, is 29.53059 days. The lunar cycle know as the "sidereal" period, in which the Moon completes one revolution relative to the fixed stars, is 27.322 days. The Moon does have a "Saros" cycle of 18 years and 11 plus days, after which lunar and solar eclipses repeat themselves.

Until recently, observational astronomy was thought to have begun around 3500 BC, when the Mesopotamians began constructing their stepped-pyramid Ziggurats to study the night sky in Sumeria. That was believed to have been followed around 2800 BC by the invention, or codification, of the constellations of the Zodiac. I use the past tense "was" purposely here; beginning with a startling report in 1988 and continuing with excavations and new discoveries thereafter, credence has been given to the assertion that the ancient figures of the constellations were probably created by ancient peoples living in the Euphrates valley and near Mount Ararat in eastern Anatolia and Armenia. In Astronomy without Telescopes (London, 1906), E. Maunder wrote [somewhat speciously, I'm afraid]:

People, who divided the sky into constellations, most probably lived between 36 and 42 degrees of the northern latitude, so neither Egypt nor Babylon could be the motherland of creation of constellations. Calculating in what place the center of this empty region coincides with the North Pole, we got the figure 2800 BC, which is probably the date during which the naming of the constellations were completed. It was observed that animals such as the elephant, camel, hippopotamus, crocodile and tiger were not amongst the figures representing the constellations, therefore we can assert that India, Arabia and Egypt could not have been the place where the idea of the firmament originated [just because some native animals were not represented does not exclude a locality from having been the origin of the Zodiac!].
We can exclude Greece, Italy and Spain on the basis of the fact that the figure of the tiger is presented in the figures of the constellations
[you just said the Tiger was NOT amongst the figures representing the constellations —you can't have it both ways]. Thus, purely by logical thinking we can assert that the motherland of the celestial figures must be in Asia Minor and Armenia, that is to say a region limited by the Black, the Mediterranean, the Caspian and the Aegean Seas.

Rick Ney, the author of Karahundj, The Armenian Stonehenge, goes on to say that "Parsamian's discovery at Metsamor, and the stones at Sissian give concrete credence to Maunder's and Olkott's theories, especially when coupled with ca. 4000–3000 BC stone carvings of zodiac figures on rocks on the Geghama Mountain Range in Armenia." With some wishful thinking and some plausible evidence, Nev concludes that the Armenian Stonehenge dates from either 2500 BC or 4200 BC, making it far older than any other known zodiacal sources. As he concludes, "Further testing and analysis is required—carbon dating would help, as would additional research by astronomers. At least the site is 3rd millennium BC, and possibly it is 5th millennium BC. No matter how old the site is, it is older than the henges in Europe, as is the observatory at Metsamor. They are unique—unlike any other henge found."

This Astronomy-Astrology: the-History-of-Astrology-Astronomy page and much of this 600-page website are excerpted from the personalized Fine Art Book You and the Universe.



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