Tuesday, October 28, 2014
thought for the day/ Ancient astronomy before the Greeks
Sir Thomas Heath wrote what's still the technical history on Greek astronomy with his "Aristarchus of Samos", and a complementary book, "Greek Astronomy." Van Der Waerden wrote "Science Awakening II" as an astronomical complement to his "Science Awakening" which was about ancient mathematics from the Egyptians through Greek times. As it turns out, Van Der Waerden's "Science Awakening II" is more about Egyptian and Mesopotamian" astronomy, so I've been eager to read it for years now! For the longest time, the local library had no access to university libraries; but, recently, due to various events, I tried them again, and now they have partial access! And, I was able to order it. What follows is my amazon review. I'll be adding some more in due time. This I of course consider complementary to my Greek Astronomy writeup. Of course, it should have been read, written, and posted before then, but that's the way things go sometimes!
- Van Der Waerden's Science Awakening II is comparably boring to Science Awakening I. Science Awakening I is the mathematics from Egyptian to Greek times. What I'm saying is the mathematics of these times is far more exciting than the astronomy which consists of motions of the moon, sun, and planets. Noticing there's planets at all is more exciting than knowing their motions. Knowing the twelve constellations is more exciting than knowing the motions themselves. It's pretty hard to make this exciting. You have to try pretty hard to make this interesting. But, if you try hard enough, you might find a few things here and there exciting!
In particular, the Babylonian astronomy game of determining the motions of the sun, moon, and planets from their periods. Period is not just one cycle of a circular motion from a fixed point. Period here means the planets after going around however many times, ends up at the same point. Perhaps an easier 20th/21st century example would be the motion of Mercury. One of the first confirmations of Einstein's General theory of Relativity was the odd pattern of the planet Mercury's orbit. Mercury of course has an elliptical orbit, and it just turns out to have a pattern, or a period where it comes back to the same point after so many elliptical orbits. So, Mercury's orbit looks a little bit of a smooth star shape(more complex than a five pointed star). Similarly, the motions of the moon, and planets from the perspective of viewers here on Earth, and in particular, the Babylonians, noticed there were patterns in the comings and goings in of the planets movement around the Earth(the geocentric view). They sought as many periods as they could. For instance, 9 sidereal periods = 256 synodic periods. Each planet had their own 'periods/theory'. They were also interested in the "Great period" that stretches to 30,000 years. This idea was brought to the Greeks by a Babylonian - Berrosis. Carl Sagan mentions this guy in his Cosmos . . . about a great three volume history of the world, written by a Babylonian priest/astronomer Berrosis
Anyways, the Babylonians tried to be able to calculate where a planet would be by these periods. They had all kinds of mean values, and correction factors that Van Der Waerden clothes in modern simple one degree algebraic equations. Van Der Waerden also makes a pretty good case that the inspiration for the infinit series was Babylonian astronomy. They calculated some things like the risings of constellations from infinit series. The Greeks would go on to relate infinit series to proportions and come up with a vast theory of irrationals due to Thaetateous. This is found in book ten of Euclid's Elements.
Van Der Waerden notes that his account of Babylonian astronomy is only basics compared to Neugebauer's "Antiquity of Exact Sciences."
I've not mentioned much about Egyptian astronomy. Egypitan astronomy is mostly noticing Sirius, making a calendar by it, and how remarkably, the Nile flooded at the rising of Sirius. They have a mythology of deacons that is the degrees of nighttime. They don't have much. Mythology and Astronomy was almost more exciting in this book than the astronomy(until you kind of get the whole point about periods).
Van Der Waerden traces three periods of astrotheology. An early Omen period, a primitive zodiacal astrology, and a Horoscope astrology. He goes through some of the major historical points of various Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures. Venus was discovered by a descendent king of Hammurabi; this was the high point astronomy of its day(about 1,700 B.C). He notes some interesting history of the Persians who were probably the high point of Babylonian astronomy before the classical Greeks took over. These are the kings of Xerxes, Darious, famous both in Greek history and the Bible. Van Der Waerden finds that Herodotus relates that Darious tried to wipe out the Chaldean astrologers. And then, later in Herodotuses Histories, he shows that Xerxes after Darious finds a place in the Persian empire for them to live comfortably. I find it interesting that Van Der Waerden notes all these things in Herodotus, and even much later in the book, the last chapter of the Book, he notes that the Greeks got their twelve constellations from the Egyptians. But, he doesn't note, after all the King Darious and Xerxes, and all the astrotheology he's poinint out, that right around the same paragraph of Herodotus saying the Greeks got the twelve constellations, Herodotus also says the Egyptians were the first to personify the twelve constellations - twelve constellations, twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It seems clear to anybody who knows the twelve constellations and astrology, that the Gospels follow the twelve constellations pattern/story, and Jesus Christ is just a new Sungod, like all the sungods before him - the Egyptian Osirus, the Babylonians Marduk, Zoroastrianism, and Mithras, and the Greek Dionysius. But, Van Der Waerden misses this!
- More tidbits from Van Der Waerden's "Science Awakening II"-
- Van Der Waerden notes that celectial mechanics was the prototype of mechanics in general. I write up some of the latest and chaos theory in my celestial mechanics article.
- Early astronomy was entirely geocentric. As Carl Sagan points out(does he get it from Van Der Waerden? Or maybe, he picked it up from someone else who had read Van Der Waerden's Science Awakening II?), the sun sets, but also words like rest, motion relative to the Earth, and I'll add sidereal and synodic motions are all inferred units Jacob Bronowski like(see my origins of knowledge and imagination) that are based on the conditioning of the persons current perspective. The synodic month is the period from one full moon to the next. Sidereal motion; sidereal is the time planets take to cross through the zodiac constellations. See, sidereal is defined on a very abstract and artificial definition - the constellations. The constellations have some real meaning, but only from our current perspective; as the stars motions evolve, our constellations will become meaningless. For Saturn and Jupiter, the sidereal motion is 12 and 29 years respectively; for Mercury and Venus who follow the sun much more closely, their sidereal numbers are . . . one year!(approximately)
- More on the inferred units described above; they are subjective and specific. Mathematics seeks the general perspective; they are found by deductive logic.
- Egypt was conquered by the Egyptians around Assyrians around 670 B.C. This was when they started their most intensive astronomical observations, and Thales and the Greeks would come and become inspired by it all. The Mesopotamian/Assyrian conquered Babylonian's calculated eclipses by the periodicities above, and Thales must have gotten this data to predict his Eclipse. The Assyrians seemed to be annoyed at these Greeks for coming in and taking their knowledge; knowledge is dangerous I guess. Ever since Miletians/Ionians such as Thales and Pythagoras went around taking everyone's knowledge(in particular the Assyrians), they held a grunge against the Greeks. They sent wave after wave of armies at the Greeks in what would be some of the most legendary military battles in all human history(who knows what great battles occurred before the written word) - the Spartan 300, the peloponisian wars. At the end of it was the Delian league with Athens on top. They were a partial Democracy. But, all this only lasted a little more than a generation before political maneuvering of those who were not part of the cultural spark of Athens . . . in particular the Spartans siding with the Persians . . . almost put this awakening to sleep early. But, then came along the Mycenean Alexander the Great to avenge the death of his own father. Alexander the Great went on to conquer the Meditteraenean and start 'Hellenistic society.' But, through the Romans spending three hundred years conquering the three Greek division of the Med(leading to the famous sacking of Sicily and the killing of Archimedes), the Greek rationality pathway became less and less. I've perhaps digressed enough here. The rest is explained, starting with my Gospel of Truth, first post of this blog.
- The Egyptians started their year with the rising of Sirius(a white dwarf star that shines brightly in our current sky). There's an ivory tablet from the first dynasty tomb of Abydos with the words, "herald of the new year and of the flood." The Assyrians just used periodicities, as described above. The Greeks started the year with the Equinoxes. Today, we don't even do that! Our year's start is kind of meaningless.
- The Babylonians may have known about the tides because they explored the Persian gulf; the Greeks would later rediscover the tides.
- Kings tend to make themselves rule by divine rule. Persian ruler Darius was no exception, "A great god is Ahuramazda, who created the Earth here, who created the sky there, who created man, who created happiness for men, who made Darius to be king, the one to be king over many."
- Herodotus notes Xerxes took the Chaldeans golden bulls and killed the prients, link here - - > herodotus histories 1-183 you'll have to read three pages in to see this.
- I remember seeing a documentary about researchers of Mount Nemrod-Dagh,
Here it is from far away and you don't know what secrets it holds!
It was destroyed soon enough (100 B.C. is the time of it's being built) for some reason,
Here's Antiochus who built the place,
I'm showing this because like the archaeological inscriptions found in Nysa and other places showing we can say that people's gods are previous people's gods recast and renamed, Van Der Waerden notes that Zues was identified by Antiochus 1 above to Mazda. As I've shown in my Gospel of Truth and elsewhere, for instance my post about the Hittites, there's a tendency of dictators to make a one god and combine all gods of all the peoples he's conquered(usually, around this time, its a he) into one religion/god. The significance of Nemrod-Dagh is that Antiochus 1 is doing this with this temple. He thinks he's going to live forever and so is his kingdom. The Hittite post I made is on 'Sunday, August 7, 2011', titles, "thought for the day/ Yazilikaya - Hittite sanctuary where PuduHepa tried to make one god out of many and rule the world"
- The idea that the universe is ordered by the logical though of god goes to Socrates, not Medieval Christians. The supernatural religious believers sometimes try to argue science can't learn anything(moon landing disbelievers and so on), and sometimes you get these guys who believe in a god but have learned to do science and want to do science, so they twist this around and say the logical thought of god patterned the universe. You can do this because god is a vague concept that can prove everything.
- Van Der Waerden finds a Roman emperor Julianus quote where he reveals the mysteries religions are just astrology of the twelve constellations and the sungod Helios. Jesus Christ is made to cry out to a Elios in the Gospel of Mark when he's hanged on the cross. Then a bunch of zombies come out of their graves and walk around . . . Anyways, Emperor Julianus reverted the Roman empire back to paganism after Constantine died. He was the last to do so.
- Persian king Cyrus, whom the Jews considered 'the anointed one', or the messiah because he released them from being Exhiled to Babylon, was considered a Mithra follower in Ezra 1-8, "Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer,"
- The Jews were influenced by this astrology to wish for the end of this or that kingdom, Isaiah 47 -13, " Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. and 47 -14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it."
- Van Der Waerden determines mathematically, he reads the Babylonian tablets and works out the mathematics, and does the literature reading to show that King Darius attacks and wins various kingdoms based on which constellation the planet Jupiter is in. Jupiter's sidereal number is twelve, which means it's in a constellation per month. The first battle was on December 13th, 522 B.C, Jupiter was in Scorpio; the last battle was on December 28, 521 B.C, when Jupiter was in Sagittarius.
- More Herodotus -->, Herodotus, Histories, book 3, 78 , Darius kills the Magi, continue to section 79 according to the link provided. I've shown that Xerxes did a certain amount of persecution of the Magi, but later in Herodotus, Xerxes makes peace with them -->, Herodotus Histories 7.37