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 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.

 


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.

 


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 03 2015

Call for Papers: Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop – ND XII June 24–28, 2015, University of Notre Dame

The Twelfth Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop will be held from June 24-28, 2015 at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.

Conference Theme: Astronomy and Authority.

For more information, and to view the call for paper proposals (deadline of March 1, 2015), please visit this year’s Workshop web site.

 


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.


Oct 31 2014

Book review: Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature

ancientjewishsciencescover

As promised, my review of the 2013 publication Ancient Jewish Sciences and the History of Knowledge in Second Temple Literature, edited by Jonathan Ben-Dov and Seth L. Sanders. New York: NYU Press.


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