Jun 28 2016

New publication: Divination as Science A Workshop on Conducted during the 60th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Warsaw, 2014. Jeanette C. Fincke, Ed.

divinationasscience

 

This new book on the scientific nature of divination in the ancient Near East was recently released (June, 2016) by Eisenbraun’s. Reviews and comments are very much welcome.

Bibliographic details:

Divination as Science
A Workshop on Conducted during the 60th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Warsaw, 2014
Edited by Jeanette C. Fincke
Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale – RAI 60W1
Eisenbrauns, 2016
Pp. xi + 172
ISBN: 1-57506-425-1
ISBN13: 978-1-57506-425-3
Your Price: $44.55

Description 

There is no doubt that Ancient Near Eastern divination is firmly rooted in religion, since all ominous signs were thought to have been sent by gods, and the invocation of omens was embedded in rituals. Nonetheless, the omen compendia display many aspects of a generally scientific nature. In their attempt to note all possible changes to the affected objects and to arrange their observations systematically for reference purposes, the scholars produced texts that resulted in a rather detailed description of the world, be it with respect to geography (the urban or rural environment on earth, or celestial and meteorological phenomena observed in the sky), biology (the outer appearance of the bodies of humans or animals, or the entrails of sheep), sociology (behavior of people) or others. Based on different divination methods and omen compendia, the question discussed during this workshop was whether the scholars had a scientific approach, presented as religion, or whether Ancient Near Eastern divination should be considered purely religious and that the term “science” is inappropriate in this context. The workshop attracted a large audience and lively discussion ensued. The papers presented in this volume reflect the focus of the sessions during the workshop and are likely to generate even more discussion, now that they are published.

Table of Contents for Divination as Science

Preface

Abbreviations

Bibliographical Abbreviations

Divination Between Religion and Science, JoAnn Scurlock

Bias in Observations of Natural Phenomena made for Divinatory Purposes, Ulla Susanne Koch

“Šamaš, great lord, whom I am asking, answer me with a reliable ‚Yes!”: The Influence of Divination on the Result of War, Krzysztof Ulanowski

Sheep Anatomical Terminology in the šumma immeru Omen Series and Additional Texts, Yoram Cohen

Some Remarks about the Old Babylonian Libanomancy Texts, Maria Stella Cingolo

The Oldest Mesopotamian Astronomical Treatise: enuma anu enlil, Jeanette C. Fincke

Divination and Religion as a Cultural System, Paul Delnero

Indexes

General index

Index of texts

For more information, or to order, please visit Eisenbrauns.


Jun 20 2016

Three upcoming events on ancient and early medieval Jewish medicine (Berlin)

Courtesy of Lennart Lehmhaus:

We would like to draw your attention to and cordially invite you to THREE upcoming events on the topic of ancient and early medieval Jewish medicine.

The Berlin based research project A03 on Talmudic and Byzantine medical knowledge, run by Markham J. Geller and Philip van der Eijk (AvH-professor, Humboldt University Berlin), will host Dr. Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim as a research fellow in June (20 – 29 June 2016).

Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Goldsmiths, University of London) will present and discuss in various formats (workshops/lecture) her current research into the early history of a medical tradition in Hebrew (Book of Asaf/Sefer Refu’ot) and on the transfer of medical knowledge between East (China/Tibet/Central Asia) and West (Graeco-Roman/ Persian and Arabic traditions).

Tuesday, 21 June (ca. 15:00- 17:30, TOPOI library, ground floor) Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim will host a reading workshop (texts in translation) on the topic “The Hebrew Book of Asaf on Humours and Winds”.

LINK:
<https://www.academia.edu/26247041/Workshop_The_Hebrew_Book_of_Asaf_on_Humours_and_Winds_21_June_2016_FU_Berlin>

Thursday, 23 June (16:30-18:00, TOPOI library), Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim and Lennart Lehmhaus (A03-SFB 980, FU Berlin) will discuss the issue of “Bloodletting between the Talmudim and the Hebrew Book of Asaf” from a comparative perspective (as part of the course “Medizin im Talmud”, but open to all).

LINK:
<https://www.academia.edu/26247206/Reading_Session_Bloodletting_between_the_Talmudim_and_the_Hebrew_Book_of_Asaf_Thursday_23_June_2016_FU_Berlin>

Friday, 24 June (10-12), Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim will present a lecture within the framework of the SFB 980 Jour Fixe on “The Silk-Roads as a model for exploring Eurasian transmissions of medical knowledge”
(SFB-Villa, Schwendenerstr. 8, 14195 Berlin).

LINK:

https://www.academia.edu/26247428/SFB_980_Lecture_The_Silk-Roads_as_a_model_for_exploring_Eurasian_transmissions_of_medical_knowledge._Friday_24_June_2016_SFB_980_FU_Berlin

Everyone is welcome. Due to a limited number of seats,  please RSVP to: info@sfb-episteme.de

The fellowship is generously sponsored by the Collaborative Research Center/ SFB 980 “Episteme in Motion. Transfer of Knowledge from the Ancient World to the Early Modern Period”)


Apr 21 2016

A happy Passover!

Category: Announcements,Judaismalobel @ 11:48 am

fullmoon

Wishing everyone who celebrates the holiday a happy, healthy, and kosher Passover!

We’re looking forward to spending it with our dear friends, who are like family to us. Weather-permitting, I can’t wait to do some astronomical observing.

From our home to yours, may you know joy and freedom this year and always!

To You alone we give thanks. Even if our mouths were filled with song as the sea, and our tongues with joyous singing like the multitudes of its waves, and our lips with praise like the vast expanse of the sky; and our eyes shining like the sun and the moon, and our hands spread out like the eagles of heaven, and our feet swift like deer, we would still be unable to thank You, oh God of our ancestors, and to bless Your Name, for even one of the thousands of millions, and myriads of myriads, of favours, miracles and wonders which You have done for us and for our ancestors before us.


Jan 06 2016

Egyptian Astronomy with Dr. Bernadette Brady on London Study Day, February 6, 2016

Egyptian Goddess Nut

If you’re in the vicinity of London, you’re invited to join Dr. Bernadette Brady as she teaches An Introduction to Egyptian Astronomy on London Study Day, Sophia Centre for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

During this session, participants will learn about the myth, religion, and civic roles of the sky in ancient Egypt from the time of the Old Kingdom through the Hellenistic period.

Study Day will take place on Saturday, February 6, 2016, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David London Campus, Winchester House, 11 Cranmer Rd, London SW9 6EJ.

For more information and/or to register, please visit the event web site.

 


Nov 05 2015

Special session: ‘Astronomy in the Ancient Near East’, November 10th at the SEAC conference, Rome

Courtesy of the Agade listserv and Dr. Lorenzo Verderame, the following special session on the ancient Near East will take place on November 10th, during the SEAC (Société européenne pour l’astronomie dans la culture / European Society for Astronomy in Culture) annual conference on Astronomy in Past and Present Cultures, to be be held in Rome, 9-13 November 2015.

More information available at http://www.brera.inaf.it/SEAC2015

———

Special session: ‘Astronomy in the Ancient Near East’, November 10, 2015

8:00-9:00 Posters Mounting

9:00 – 9:20 J. A. Belmonte, M. C. Pérez Die, L. Díaz-Iglesias Llanos Shrines of Ram-Headed Divinities and Canopus: Skyscaping at Herakleópolis Magna

9:20 – 9:40 A. C. González-GarcÌa, J. A. Belmonte, A. Polcaro A diachronic analysis of monument orientation in the Levant: the Jordanian paradigm

9:40 - 10:00 S. Gullberg The Babylonian Astronomical Diaries: A Graphical Analysis of their Implied Reference System

10:00 – 10:20 A. Jones Eclipses in Greco-Roman Egypt: Trends in Observation, Prediction, and Interpretation

10:20- 10:40 D. Nadali, A. Polcaro The sky from the high terrace: study on the orientation of the ziqqurat in ancient Mesopotamia

10:40 - 11:00 E. Orrelle Identifying transition in ritual power in the Neolithic of the Levant

• 11:00 Coffee break

11:15 – 11:35 S. Pizzimenti The Kudurrus and the Sky. Analysis and Interpretation of the Astral Symbols as Represented in Kassite Kudurrus Reliefs

11:35 - 11:55 E. Ratson Ideal Lunar Velocity

11:55 – 12:15 A. Rodríguez Antón, J. A. Belmonte, A. C. González-Garcìa Romans in Near East: Orientation of Roman towns and forts inmodern Jordan

12:15 - 12:35 S. Shinnar Rabbinic Standards for Accuracy in Lunar Observation: Regulating the Calendar in the Mishnah Rosh Hashanah

12:35 – 12:55 J. Steele Evidence for the Practice of Astronomy and Astrology in the “House of the ašipu’ in Uruk

12:55 – 13:15 L. Verderame Pleiades in ancient Mesopotamia

 

 


Oct 15 2015

Article: ‘Decoding the Star Charts of Ancient Egypt’

Nut (top), the Egyptian sky goddess Photograph by Ferit Kuyas; courtesy of the University of Tübingen Museum

Nut (top), the Egyptian sky goddess
Photograph by Ferit Kuyas; courtesy of the University of Tübingen Museum

Courtesy of the Agade listserv, this fascinating article in Scientific American Volume 313, Issue 4, available for purchase here.

Preview:

Decoding the Star Charts of Ancient Egypt
Mysterious tables of astronomical information have been found in 4,000-year-old coffins. What in the world was their purpose?

By Sarah Symons and Elizabeth Tasker

The Egyptian town of Mallawi is not on the main tourist beat, given its location 260 miles and a seven-hour train ride north of the temple complexes at Luxor. But one of us (Symons) traveled there in May 2013 with Robert Cockcroft, a postdoctoral researcher in her laboratory, hoping to see one of the oldest astronomical records in the world. The record, which had been described only vaguely, was indeed there, but to their astonishment, it was not the only one.

“I can see writing!” Cockcroft exclaimed. At that moment, he was crouched beside a display case that enclosed a coffin in the central room of the Mallawi Monuments Museum, craning his neck to peer at the underside of the propped-up wood lid. Symons flicked the beam of her flashlight to illuminate a thin batten-a cross piece-that held the flat panels of wood together. The batten’s surface was painted with graceful hieroglyphics representing star names, and Symons and Cockcroft immediately realized that the cross piece was part of yet another ancient astronomical record. Until that moment, no one had recognized the batten’s significance; it had been attached to this particular coffin by mistake [....]

[Click here for full purchasable full story, with charts].


Oct 01 2015

Journal of Skyscape Archaeology — call for submissions

skyscape

From the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology Facebook page.

JSA is soliciting submissions for future issues. Articles which address the relationship between material culture and the sky whether this be the practice of relating the heavenly bodies and celestial phenomena to lives and events on earth as evidenced through material monuments and artefacts or the wider landscape will be considered. Click here for the full Call for Papers.

 


Sep 02 2015

‘Star Men’, a documentary, premieres September 3 at the 35th Cambridge Film Festival.

Very Large Array With Stars. hoto credit: Malcolm Park

‘Very Large Array With Stars’. Photo credit: Malcolm Park

The history of astronomy intersects with the study of religion in a variety of ways — not least of which being the ways in which astronomers parse and experience the night sky.

In the documentary, Star Men, which premieres September 3rd, 2015 at the 35th Cambridge Film Festival, filmmaker Alison Rose accompanies four English astronomers, Drs. Donald Lynden-Bell, Roger Griffin, Wal Sargent and Neville Woolfon, on a return road trip to the U.S. southwest as they revisit the astronomical adventures and discoveries of their youth, with their Union Jack flag in tow.

As the Star Men web site describes the astronomers’ pilgrimage to their old observing sites:

In old age and facing death, their journey through memory and the breathtaking landscape provokes them to reflect on how their profound work on the universe has reflected back on the individual, affecting their sense of religious faith, how life may have purpose, and what is knowable and unknowable.

Filmed in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the film features POV narration, and draws a character-driven, intimate portrait of friendship as the men travel from the century-old telescope on Mt. Wilson through a progression of larger and more powerful observatories. They pause at the Grand Canyon, and re-take a hike that nearly defeated them when they were young.

As blogger Barbara Kiser points out, although Star Men tells the story of the advances in astronomy taking place place fifty years ago, this film transcends the science itself, highlighting the core themes of aging, illness, death, and ultimately, meaning, set against the starry background of the cosmos. Through the eyes of the film’s subjects, the audience is privileged to explore “the worth of human spaceflight to religion, extra-terrestrial life and mortality.”

Which is, after all, precisely what historians of science and religion are reaching for as well, albeit from a slightly different direction.


Aug 24 2015

INSAP IX

The ninth international conference on The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena is currently taking place (August 24-27, 2015) at Gresham College, Holborn, London.

INSAP IX is sponsored by the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Those, like myself, who aren’t attending can still feast their eyes on (and download) the conference programme here.

Held approximately every three years, INSAP is unique in bringing scholars from seemingly far-flung disciplines together to engage and discuss topics that address the theme of astronomical inspiration.

Topics this year include astronomy and literature, early human perceptions of the constellations, the geometry of stone circles, the zodiacal light, astronomy and music, philosophy and space travel, and astronomy and the visual arts. All told, it looks like a fantastic programme. If you are an attendee, and would like to submit a guest posting about your INSAP IX experience or your own research, I would very much like to hear from you. Feel free to contact me at a_lobel@live.concordia.ca


Jul 19 2015

New(ish) publication: The Scientification of Religion: An Historical Study of Discursive Change, 1800-2000, by Kocku von Stuckrad

scientification

In The Scientification of Religion: An Historical Study of Discursive Change, 1800-2000 (De Gruyter, 2014), Kocku von Stuckrad describes “the discursive constructions of  ’religion’ and ‘science’ through the disciplines of astrology, astronomy, psychology, alchemy, chemistry, and scientific experimentation more generally. The second half of the book explores the power of academic legitimization of knowledge in emerging European modernities.” (Source: Review by Kristian Petersen, accessible here.)

The table of contents for this volume may be found here.

An interview with von Stuckrad on a wide range of topics, including Theosophy, marginalized knowledge, Earth-based spirituality, Jewish mysticism, Paganism, and contemporary science, is also available at the above link at the bottom of the page. This is one of the best interviews I’ve listened to in a while.

I have yet to read this volume, but look forward to doing so. I also welcome scholarly guest reviewers in the broadly overlapping areas of astronomy and religion. If you have read this book (or plan to) or other volumes spanning astronomy (and/or space) and religion, and wish to post a review here, please e-mail me at a_lobel@live.concordia.ca.

 


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