A coordinate system is a set of imaginary lines for measuring positions, like the lines of latitude and longitude for determining locations on the earth. The constellations perform a similar function, but they employ pictures, which make it easy to identify stars without need of instruments. Moreover, this evidence points to a time and place that they originated: about B. There are three main lines of evidence that point to this date and location'.
The Empty Part of the sky. Moreover, the centre of that circle moves very slowly through the sky because of the motion of the earth's axis.
by DE MAILLY NESLE, SOLANGE
The location of the centre of the empty part of the sky implies an origin date of about 2, B. Slanted Constellations. Many of the constellations are tipped at an angle to the natural directions of north, east, south and west. If one asks if there was a time and place when they would have all been much aligned vertically and horizontally, the answer is, about 2, B.
Note that this is an entirely different line of reasoning, but it yields a very similar date and location of origin. Moreover, several of the constellations mark astronomically important areas at the date. For example, the long snake Hydra would have coincided with the circle called the celestial equator. Star risings and settings. The ancient Greek poet Aratus states that certain stars rise at the same time, or set at the same time, or that one rises as another sets on opposite points on the horizon.
Because of the earth's precession, such coincidences depend on both the location on the earth and on the date of observations. Accordingly, the Sumerians are currently credited with originating the constellations. More about the Sumerians. Of particular interest in relation to this is is the location of the capital city of the Assyrian empire Nimrud , which was founded by King Shalmaneser I BC — BC. Perhaps also no coincidence that the longitude of Nimrud is also the same as the exterior angle of both Snoferu's pyramids.
More about Egyptian Geodesy. The Babylonian MUL. Having established that astrology the 12 constellations originated in Sumeria, it is worth investigating if this represents the true origins of the zodiac. It is known that Babylonian astrology developed within the context of divination.
A collection of 32 tablets with inscribed liver models, dating from about 1, BC, are the oldest known detailed texts of Babylonian divination, and these demonstrate the same interpretational format as that employed in celestial omen analysis.
The Sumerians called the twelve major zodiacal constellations the 'Shiny herd'. Right: Sumerian astrology tablet, dating from c. The first official inscribed version of a Babylonian compendium is from 86 BC, but by using modern astronomical techniques an astronomer at Louisiana State University has dated the original observations to 1, BC, give or take years. He also says the observations were made within km of The tablets record the day of the year that certain groups of stars, or constellations, appear in the sky at dawn.
These constellations are widely thought to be the precursors of the modern Signs of the Zodiac. More about Sumeria. The Armenian Zodiac:. While it is traditionally claimed that the earliest reference to the zodiac originates with the Babylonians, the discovery of an observatory in Metsamor , Armenia, predating the Babylonian kingdom by almost 2, years has changed our perception of events as the observatory at Metsamor apparently contains the first recorded example of dividing the year into 12 sections.
Using an early form of geometry, the inhabitants of Metsamor were able to create both a calendar and envision the curve of the earth. The discovery of the astronomical 'observatory' at Metsamor and the presence of engravings which have been speculatively called 'zodiac creatures' has given credence to the assertion that the ancient figures of the constellations were probably created by ancient peoples living in the Euphrates valley and near Mount Ararat in eastern Anatolia and Armenia: Rick Ney, the author of 'Karahundj, The Armenian Stonehenge' , says of it:.
More about Metsamor, Armenia. Article : Old Linear and the Zodiac Signs. Flavin, There have been suggestions that the Bible contains hidden allegories to describe astronomical events. Indeed a calculation of Biblical chronologies led the Bishop Usher to announce a date of BC as the creation date. Bullinger interpreted the creatures appearing in the books of Ezekiel and revelation as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac, with the Lion as Leo, the Bull is Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle representing Scorpio.
Some authors have linked the twelve tribes of Israel with the twelve signs of the zodiac. It is arguable that the large emphasis placed on Moses and the Israelites 'escape' from captivity is because it was at this very time as it was later at the time of Christ , that the astrologers of the time were aware of a change in the precessionary clock From the age of Taurus to the age of Aries an event which would have been proclaimed with prophesies and predictions.
When Moses was said to have descended from mount Sinai with the ten commandments, some of his people or followers were found by him to be worshipping a golden bull calf. He instructed these false idol-worshippers to be killed.
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The new Testament concerns itself with the next zodiac sign, Pisces, through the coming of Christ. It is no coincidence that one of the enduring signs for Christianity is the fish. So the Babylonians picked one, Ophiuchus, to leave out. Even then, some of the chosen 12 didn't fit neatly into their assigned slice of the pie and slopped over into the next one. When the Babylonians first invented the 12 signs of zodiac, a birthday between about July 23 and August 22 meant being born under the constellation Leo.
Now, 3, years later, the sky has shifted because Earth's axis North Pole doesn't point in quite the same direction. Now Mimi's August 4 birthday would mean she was born "under the sign" of Cancer one constellation "earlier" , not Leo. The constellations are different sizes and shapes, so the Sun spends different lengths of time lined up with each one.
The line from Earth through the Sun points to Virgo for 45 days, but it points to Scorpius for only 7 days.
To make a tidy match with their month calendar, the Babylonians ignored the fact that the Sun actually moves through 13 constellations, not Then they assigned each of those 12 constellations equal amounts of time. Besides the 12 familiar constellations of the zodiac, the Sun is also aligned with Ophiuchus for about 18 days each year. Some people believe, or make-believe, that the current sign of the zodiac affects how things go in their everyday lives, depending on the sign of their birth.
This idea is called astrology , and people who claim to use the signs of the zodiac to make predictions are called astrologers. Mimi's birthday is August 4. When she says, "I'm a Leo," she means that on her birthday, the imaginary line from Earth, through the Sun, and out into space on the other side of the Sun points to the constellation Leo. The trouble is, it doesn't! Read this article and find out why. Constellations and the Calendar. These Western, or tropical, zodiac signs were named after constellations and matched with dates based on the apparent relationship between their placement in the sky and the sun.
The Babylonians had already divided the zodiac into 12 equal signs by BC — boasting similar constellation names to the ones familiar today, such as The Great Twins, The Lion, The Scales — and these were later incorporated into Greek divination. The astronomer Ptolemy, author of the Tetrabiblos, which became a core book in the history of Western astrology, helped popularize these 12 signs.
In fact, the chronology has really shifted one sign to the West. That means zodiac sign dates, based on the mathematical division of the year, basically correspond today to the presence of the sun in the constellations of the signs that come before them.
For centuries, astrology looking for signs based on the movement of the celestial bodies was considered basically the same thing as astronomy the scientific study of those objects.
For example, revolutionary 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler, who studied the motion of the planets, was at the time considered an astrologer. That changed around the beginning of the Enlightenment in the late 17th century. After all, a National Science Foundation poll found more than half of millennials think astrology is a science. Write to Olivia B.