Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa

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Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa
Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa.jpg
Material Clay
Size Length: 17.14 cm (6.75 in)
Width: 9.2 cm (3.6 in)
Thickness: 2.22 cm (0.87 in)
Writing cuneiform,
Period/culture Neo-Assyrian
Place Kouyunjik
Present location Room 55, British Museum, London
Registration K.160

The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa (Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63) refers to the record of astronomical observations of Venus, as preserved in numerous cuneiform tablets dating from the first millennium BCE. It is believed that this astronomical record was first compiled during the reign of King Ammisaduqa (or Ammizaduga), the fourth ruler after Hammurabi. Thus, the origins of this text should probably be dated to around the mid-seventeenth century BCE.[1]

The tablet recorded the rise times of Venus and its first and last visibility on the horizon before or after sunrise and sunset (the heliacal risings and settings of Venus) in the form of lunar dates. These observations are recorded for a period of 21 years.[2]

The sources[edit]

This Venus tablet is part of Enuma anu enlil ("In the days of Anu and Enlil"), a long text dealing with Babylonian astrology, which mostly consists of omens interpreting celestial phenomena.

The earliest copy of this tablet to be published, a 7th-century BC cuneiform, part of the British Museum collections, was recovered from the library at Nineveh. It was first published in 1870 by Henry Creswicke Rawlinson and George Smith as Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63, in "Tablet of Movements of the Planet Venus and their Influences" (The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, volume III).

As many as 20 copies of this text are currently on record, many of them fragmentary, falling into 6 groups.[3] The oldest of these copies is believed to be Source "B", found at Kish in 1924. It was copied from a tablet written at Babylon while Sargon II was King of Assyria between 720 and 704 BCE.[4]

Interpretation[edit]

Several dates for the original observations, as contained in the tablet, were proposed early in the 20th century. The following dates, corresponding to the High, Middle, Low and Ultra-Low Chronologies, were inferred for the beginning of the Venus observations: 1702 BC, 1646 BC, 1582 BC, 1550 BC, respectively.

The tablet's significance for corroborating Babylonian chronology was first recognised by Franz Xaver Kugler in 1912, when he could identify the enigmatic "Year of the Golden Throne" ("Venus" tablet K.160) with the 8th year of the reign of Ammisaduqa. Since then, this 7th-century BC copy has been variously interpreted to support several chronologies in the 2nd millennium BC.

Many uncertainties remain about the interpretation of the record of astronomical observations of Venus, as preserved in these surviving tablets.[5] Some copying corruptions are probable. Problems of atmospheric refraction were addressed by Vahe Gurzadyan in a 2003 publication.[6]

Observations[edit]

Year 1 inferior Venus sets on Shabatu 15 and after 3 days rises on Shabatu 18

Year 2 superior Venus vanishes E on Arahsamnu 21 and after 1 month 25 days appears W on Tebetu 16

Year 3 inferior Venus sets on Ululu 29 and after 16 days rises on Tashritu 15

Year 4 superior Venus vanishes E on Dumuzi 3 and after 2 months 6 days appears W on Ululu 9

Year 5 inferior Venus sets on Nisan 29 and after 12 days rises on Ayar 11

Year 5 superior Venus vanishes E on Kislimu 27 and after 2 months 3 days appears W on Shabatu 30

Year 6 inferior Venus sets on Arahsamnu 28 and after 3 days rises on Kislimu 1

Year 7 superior Venus vanishes E on Abu 30 and after 2 months appears W on Tashritu 30

Year 8 inferior Venus sets on Dumuzi 9 and after 17 days rises on Dumuzi 26

Year 8 superior Venus vanishes E on Adar 27 and after 2 months 16 days appears W on Simanu 13

Year 9 inferior Venus sets on Adar 12 and after 2 days rises on Adar 14

Year 10 superior Venus vanishes E on Arahsamnu 17 and after 1 month 25 days appears W on Tebetu 12

Year 11 inferior Venus sets on Ululu 25 and after 16 days rises on II Ululu 11

Year 12 superior Venus vanishes E on Ayar 29 and after 2 months 6 days appears W on Abu 5

Year 13 inferior Venus sets on Nisan 25 and after 12 days rises on Ayar 7

Year 13 superior Venus vanishes E on Tebetu 23 and after 2 months 3 days appears W on Adar 26

Year 14 inferior Venus sets on Arahsamnu 24 and after 3 days rises on Arahsamnu 27

Year 15 superior Venus vanishes E on Abu 26 and after 2 months appears W on Tashritu 26

Year 16 inferior Venus sets on Dumuzi 5 and after 16 days rises on Dumuzi 21

Year 16 superior Venus vanishes E on Adar 24 and after 2 months 15 days appears W on Simanu 9

Year 17 inferior Venus sets on Adar 8 and after 3 days rises on Adar 11

Year 18 superior Venus vanishes E on Arahsamnu 13 and after 1 month 25 days appears W on Tebetu 8

Year 19 inferior Venus sets on II Ululu 20 and after 17 days rises on Tashritu 8

Year 20 superior Venus vanishes E on Simanu 25 and after 2 months 6 days appears W on Ululu 1

Year 21 inferior Venus sets on Nisan 22 and after 11 days rises on Ayar 3

Year 21 superior Venus vanishes E on Tebetu 19 and after 2 months 3 days appears W on Adar 22

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Russell Hobson, THE EXACT TRANSMISSION OF TEXTS IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM B.C.E., Published PhD Thesis. Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies. University of Sydney. 2009 PDF File
  2. ^ John David North, Cosmos: an illustrated history of astronomy and cosmology., University of Chicago Press, 2008. p. 41. ISBN 0-226-59441-6
  3. ^ Erica Reiner, David Edwin Pingree, Babylonian planetary omens, Volume 3. (Volume 2 of Bibliotheca Mesopotamica Babylonian Planetary Omens). p. 1. BRILL, 1998. ISBN 90-5693-011-7
  4. ^ Hermann Hunger, David Edwin Pingree, Astral sciences in Mesopotamia, Part 1, Volume 44, p. 32. BRILL, 1999 ISBN 90-04-10127-6
  5. ^ "We then discuss why the 56/64 year Venus cycle cannot be traced in the Venus Tablet and therefore cannot serve as an anchor for the search of chronologies." Gurzadyan, V.G. 2000. "On the Astronomical Records and Babylonian Chronology", Akkadica, vol.119-120, pp.175-184.
  6. ^ V.G. Gurzadyan, "The Venus Tablet and refraction." Akkadica 124 (2003), pp 13-17, with bibliography.

Further reading[edit]

  • Huber, Peter J.; Sachs, Abraham (1982), Astronomical dating of Babylon I and Ur III, Undena Publications, ISBN 978-0-89003-045-5 
  • Reiner, Erica and David Pingree 1975. Babylonian Planetary Omens. Part 1. The Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa, (Malibu: Getty). The "fundamental edition", superseding Langdon et al. 1928 (Walker 1984). ISBN 0-89003-010-3
  • Walker, C.B.F. 1984. "Notes on the Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa", Journal of Cuneiform Studies 36.1 pp. 64–66.
  • Gurzadyan, V.G. 2000. "On the Astronomical Records and Babylonian Chronology", Akkadica, vol.119-120, p. 175.

External links[edit]