May 26 2017

Conference Announcement: INSAP X, Oxford XI, SEAC XXV: The Road to the Stars (September 18-22, 2017)

A cultural astronomy conference jointly held by The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena (INSAP X), the Oxford Conference (Oxford XI), and The International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (SEAC XXV) will take place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, September 18-22, 2017.

Entitled “Road to the Stars,” this conference will bring scholars, artists, and other professionals in the field of Cultural Astronomy together to present their research.

Please click here to learn more, or to register.

The proposed schedule is available here.


Mar 05 2017

4,000 Year Old Dolmen Found in Upper Galilee

(Photo credit: GONEN SHARON / TEL HAI COLLEGE)

(Photo credit: GONEN SHARON / TEL HAI COLLEGE)

An unusually large Bronze Age dolmen, or megalithic tomb, has been discovered by Dr. Gonen Sharon of Tel Hai College’s Galilee Studies Program. According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, this dolmen is unique due to its size, its surrounding structure, and rock drawings engraved on its ceiling — the first art ever evidenced on a dolmen from the ancient Near East.

Dolmens are well evidenced globally, from the U.K. to Asia, including those with known or suspected astronomical alignments or markings. For example, dolmens have been found in North Korea decorated with cup marks corresponding to various constellations, with many such marks aligned toward the direction of the sunrise at winter solstice. (1) In the Middle East, thousands of dolmens have been found, including concentrated areas known as “dolmens fields”.

Archeologists from Tel Hai College, the Antiquities Authority, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem published a study on the find in the Upper Galilee last weekend in the scientific journal PLOS One.

At this point, there have been no specific archeoastronomical findings related to this dolmen. I will update if any new information is published.

To read the full Jerusalem Post article, please visit this link.

To view several other dolmens in the Middle East and beyond, please click here.

(1) Yang, Hong-Jin. 2014. “Astronomical Aspects of Korean Dolmens”. In Clive L. N. Ruggles, Ed. Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy. Springer, pp. 2149-2156.


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.


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 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.

 


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 09 2015

The Nebra Sky Disc — an astronomical Bronze Age treasure

Photograph by Gerhard Singer, on Flickr

Photograph by Gerhard Singer, on Flickr

Discovered in 1999, the European Bronze Age astronomical artifact known as the Nebra Sky Disc was nearly lost to the black market, but fortunately found itself in the hands of the scientific community. It is now on display at the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Germany.

Dated to circa 1600 BCE, the bronze and gold-emblazoned disc contains a graphical representation of the sun, moon, and the constellations Andromeda and Cassiopeia, among other celestial objects of agricultural and calendrical importance, including the Pleiades.

The astronomical sophistication it demonstrates is remarkable. Astronomer Ralph Hansen has determined that the disc served to coordinate the solar and lunar cycles for agricultural purposes.

Perhaps just as important is the glimpse it offers into the astral religion of the Bronze age in Northern Europe. This is supported by Hansen’s research, which demonstrated a striking parallel to a rule of intercalation (i.e., adding a thirteenth month to the year) related to the lunar crescent found in the Babylonian MUL.APIN, dating a thousand years later, to the seventh-sixth centuries BCE.  According to Hansen, the intercalary month would be added every two to three years when the position of the Pleiades in the night sky matched its position on the Nebra sky disc. However, according to archaeologist Harald Meller of the State Museum for Prehistory at Halle (who was involved in the recovery of the disc), later layers suggest that at least some of its astronomical function was eventually lost, and “that in the end the disk became a cult object.” Astronomers Emilia Pasztor and Curt Roslund go even further, stating that it more likely served a religious purpose for the Northern Bronze Age European elite, including chiefs and shamans. [The full article, in Antiquity 01/2007; 81 (312):267-78, may be accessed here.]

In 2013, the Nebra sky disc was added to UNESCO’s ‘Memory of the World’ Register.

 

 


Jun 05 2015

Article: An interview with Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno SJ

consolmagno

Source: https://www.christiancentury.org/article/2015-05/considering-heavens

I occasionally link to more confessional, interesting articles that illuminate the ways in which members of different faiths view astronomy. This one, “Considering the Heavens: Astronomer Guy Consolmagno”, is simply fascinating.

Quote:

We need the humility to say that we don’t understand it all. I know my science is true, but I also know it is not completely true, so I have to keep improving it. I think my faith is completely true, but I know I don’t understand all of it—my understanding is in constant need of revision.


Feb 18 2015

Call For Papers: SEAC 2015 — Astronomy in Past and Present Cultures

The European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC) will hold their 2015 conference at the University of Rome, Italy, from  November 9th-15th, 2015.

Abstracts and letters of intent to participate will be accepted until February 28th, 2015.

For more information, please visit the SEAC conference web site.

(Thanks to Shayna Sheinfeld for bringing this to my attention!)


Dec 07 2014

Call for papers — The Ninth International Conference on The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena (INSAP IX)

The call for papers has been posted here for INSAP IX, the ninth international conference on the inspiration of astronomical phenomena. The conference will take place from August 23-28, 2015 at Gresham College, London. The deadline for abstract submission is January 30, 2015.

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


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