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When were constellations first described and named?

 
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Fleur



Joined: 05 Feb 2014
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Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2020 11:15 am    Post subject: When were constellations first described and named? Reply with quote

Who first observed, described and named the constellations and planets? Over what period of time?

We have a ready made system that is uncanny in the way it works. Even astronomers use the fanciful sounding names to describe random patterns of stars in the sky. And what powerful equipment was being used millenia ago to be able to see these stars?

The traditional astrologers mostly seem to come from the Roman period around two thousand years ago, to William Lilly around the time of the fire of London in the seventeenth century. But astrology must be much older than that, the people who described and named everything?
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2020 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fleur, if you are interested in the constellations, here is a wonderful little book that I think all astrologers should have. This book covers not only the constellations we know as Greek and Roman, but also the way other cultures saw the stars in the sky: Julius D. W. Staal's The New Patterns in the Sky (The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company, Blacksburg, Virginia, 1988)

The source of many of the constellations with Greek and Roman names have roots is Mesopotamia. There are some fascinating books by Gavin White on Babylonian Star-Lore. I don't know if there is one source book might give an over-all view of the history of the early constellations. I think that Aratus' Phaenomena is the earliest source we have for the older constellations astrologers now use (310-240 BCE). Many of our constellations were introduced through early poetry. At different periods in history astronomers added new constellations to the original 48, so now we have 88 constellations.

Just a quick internet search comes up with this information: Ptolemy listed the 48 constellations in The Almagest, in the 2nd century AD. These constellations originally came from a variety of sources including the myths and legends of Mesopotamia, Babylon, Egypt and Greece. Staal's book is probably the best introductory book on the history of the constellations. There is an illustration for every constellation we now have in the sky. Some constellations have several illustrations from different cultures. A fascinating book for astrologers, and a great reference to keep on hand!!
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Michael Sternbach
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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2020 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While the Babylonian origin of the constellations has been the generally accepted doctrine in academic circles for a long time, new evidence started surfacing recently that suggests that the constellations - and in particular the zodiac - are actually considerably older than hitherto believed. Zodiacal constellations seem to be depicted even on artefacts excavated at Göbekli Tepe, an archaeological site that dates back to about 10.000 BC.

Martin Sweatman wrote a scholarly work called Prehistory Decoded, which I warmly recommend to anybody interested in this topic.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prehistory-Decoded-Martin-Sweatman/dp/178901638X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2WLYNA4SVSI95&dchild=1&keywords=martin+sweatman+prehistory+decoded&qid=1607744642&sprefix=sweatman%2Caps%2C207&sr=8-1
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2020 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Quote:
While the Babylonian origin of the constellations has been the generally accepted doctrine in academic circles for a long time, new evidence started surfacing recently that suggests that the constellations - and in particular the zodiac - are actually considerably older than hitherto believed. Zodiacal constellations seem to be depicted even on artifacts excavated at Göbekli Tepe, an archaeological site that dates back to about 10.000 BC.

It's true that recent discoveries suggest that the zodiac itself was recognized long before our recorded history, but we have to credit Mesopotamia for its rediscovery, and our various other recorded sources for the constellations that astrologers use today.
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Last edited by Therese Hamilton on Mon Dec 14, 2020 3:47 am; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Sternbach
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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2020 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Michael Sternbach wrote:
Quote:
While the Babylonian origin of the constellations has been the generally accepted doctrine in academic circles for a long time, new evidence started surfacing recently that suggests that the constellations - and in particular the zodiac - are actually considerably older than hitherto believed. Zodiacal constellations seem to be depicted even on artifacts excavated at Göbekli Tepe, an archaeological site that dates back to about 10.000 BC.

It's true that recent discoveries suggest that the zodiac itself was recognized long before our recorded history, bit we have to credit Mesopotamia for its rediscovery, and our various other recorded sources for the constellations that astrologers use today.


There is no doubt in my mind that Mesopotamia played a major role in the history of the occult sciences (pardon the term, Waybread Wink ) in general and astrology in particular, as one of the safekeepers of the knowledge of a lost civilization - while putting its own spin on it!

I find it fascinating how latest discoveries in archaeology provide more and more evidence for what esoteric lore - raging from Plato and Hermetics to Edgar Cayce and Theosophy - stated all along: That what we hitherto regarded as Mankind's earliest high cultures were in truth the heirs of yet more advanced civilizations whose memory reaches us mostly in what is considered legend and mythology.

Excuse this long-winded, Edgar Cayce type of sentence, Therese! Wink Laughing
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternback wrote:
Quote:
Excuse this long-winded, Edgar Cayce type of sentence, Therese!

Excused! Edgar Cayce did specifically mention the zodiac in a reading related to an ancient Persian culture (City of the Hills and Planes) 7000-10000 B.C. As I remember, something about a person who had completed "all twelve steps" which was unusual. This would have been after Egypt's high period when the great pyramid was constructed.

Rudolf Steiner places this Persian culture between very ancient India (settled from Lemuria) and the later Egypt of recorded history which was followed by the Greek/Roman period we are familiar with. I like to see statements relating to ancient cultures supported from another source, here by Rudolf Steiner.
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Michael Sternbach
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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2020 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Michael Sternback wrote:
Quote:
Excuse this long-winded, Edgar Cayce type of sentence, Therese!

Excused! Edgar Cayce did specifically mention the zodiac in a reading related to an ancient Persian culture (City of the Hills and Planes) 7000-10000 B.C. As I remember, something about a person who had completed "all twelve steps" which was unusual. This would have been after Egypt's high period when the great pyramid was constructed.


Interesting. I always thought Cayce's remarks referred to a Persian system of astrogy of more recent ancestry. As you indicated yourself in an article I read on your website.

Quote:
Rudolf Steiner places this Persian culture between very ancient India (settled from Lemuria) and the later Egypt of recorded history which was followed by the Greek/Roman period we are familiar with. I like to see statements relating to ancient cultures supported from another source, here by Rudolf Steiner.


Probably the most comprehensive work on those ancient cultures from the Anthroposophical view is Atlantis aus aktueller hellsichtiger und naturwissenschaftlicher Sicht by Andreas Delor. While much of this is speculative, Delor does offer some unconventional hypotheses worth further consideration. Alas, so far none of his books have been translated to English, as far as I know.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
Quote:
Interesting. I always thought Cayce's remarks referred to a Persian system of astrology of more recent ancestry. As you indicated yourself in an article I read on your website.

That's true. In his zodiac comments Cayce was referring to the modern Persian period and use of the sidereal zodiac. The comment about completing the twelve zodiac steps was only made in passing for a client who had lived at that earlier time of which we have no historical record.
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Michael Sternbach
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Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2020 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Therese Hamilton wrote:
Michael Sternbach wrote:
Quote:
Interesting. I always thought Cayce's remarks referred to a Persian system of astrology of more recent ancestry. As you indicated yourself in an article I read on your website.

That's true. In his zodiac comments Cayce was referring to the modern Persian period and use of the sidereal zodiac. The comment about completing the twelve zodiac steps was only made in passing for a client who had lived at that earlier time of which we have no historical record.


I see.

My next question would be if there is any archaeological evidence for a "Persia" existing in a period dating back to the Last Ice Age.
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Therese Hamilton



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Posted: Tue Dec 15, 2020 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael Sternbach wrote:
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My next question would be if there is any archaeological evidence for a "Persia" existing in a period dating back to the Last Ice Age.

I don't know anything about the dating of ice ages. The Persian civilization Cayce discussed existed in tents and caves and was known for its healing abilities and spiritual philosophy by passing travelers. Cayce's organization has sent research teams to the area which was supposed to be near the modern day Shushtar (an ancient fortress city) in Iran.

The ARE Press published an interesting book on this civilization according to the Cayce readings: The Persian Legacy and the Edgar Cayce Maerial by Kevin J. Todeschi (ARE Press, 2000). Dating problems are discussed in the Introduction. So Cayce mentioned the zodiac both in readings related to this civilization (ca. 8000 BC) and also to an earlier Egyptian civilization ca. 10,000 B.C. The book is still listed on Amazon here in the USA.
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waybread



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Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is some evidence of constellations known during the Paleolithic, notably Taurus.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/871930.stm

There is a saying that history begins with Sumer, because we don't know so much about the lore of pre-literate societies who left no written records.
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Mark
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Posted: Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your clearly all unaware of by far the best site on the internet on the subject of the history of constellations which is the website of the Australian astronomer and historian Gary Thompson. The site is a treasure trove on academic research. I have spent many many happy hours studying material on this site.

However, as an entry to the website I will share some more visual parts of the site which I am sure will fascinate members here.


Scroll down to see full index:

http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/index1.html

(A) Palaeolithic European Constellations:
Illustration One (1): Ice-age star maps? (Lascaux cave paintings, prehistoric amulet markings, cup marks, whorl markings, archaeoastronomy)

http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/page11-1.html

(B) Palaeolithic Siberian-North American Constellations:
Illustration Two (2): Ice-age bear constellation? (North American bear constellation)

http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/page11-2.html

There are the first two links but check out the others to see Thompson go on to provide illustrations and informed discussion of Bronze age, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Islamic, Chinese, Indian, Iranian and modern western constellations.

Do keep in mind though Thompson is very sceptical about astrology so I would not recommend trying to start up a friendly conversation with him by explaining your an astrologer!

Mark
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Last edited by Mark on Tue Mar 16, 2021 7:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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waybread



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Posted: Tue Mar 16, 2021 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Mark. These look really interesting.
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