Astronomy in Ancient Civilizations I

International Year of Light Blog

MUL.APIN, the most famous Babylonian series of astronomical tablets, preserved in a copy from the 7th century BC (although it was compiled in roughly 1000 BC). It is part of the British Museum collection (BM 86378), although it is not on display. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. MUL.APIN, the most famous Babylonian series of astronomical tablets, preserved in a copy from the 7th century BC (although it was compiled in roughly 1000 BC). It is part of the British Museum collection (BM 86378), although it is not on display. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences in the history of mankind (depending on one’s definition of „science“, of course).

The first civilisation that observed the sky systematically are the Babylonians. They have left us innumerable clay tablets with astronomical records. The clay tablets known as „Astronomical diaries“ contain various kinds of information aside from astronomical observations (for example political events, the price of various important goods or the level of the river Euphrates). The astronomical records contain day by day information about the positions of planets, the Sun and the Moon, rare astronomical events like eclipses, and so on. Sometimes we find the…

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