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Research Sources For Astrology

Mesopotamian And Ancient Near East Sources

Astrology began in Mesopotamia. The horoscope was a late invention, but it was derived from much older practices, notably looking into the sky for omens, i.e., messages from the gods, and using astronomy to create a lunisolar calendar. Mesopotamian astrology was based upon observation, without the scientific theory which Greek astrologers used.

Baigent, Michael, From the Omens of Babylon: Astrology and Ancient Mesopotamia (London: Arkana Books = Penguin, 1994) {up-to-date popular account of Mesopotamian astrology; Baigent has written a number of kooky books in the past, such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail, but this is not like those.}

Beitzel, Barry J. and Gordon D. Young, eds., Amarna in Retrospect; A Centennial Celebration, (Winona Lake, IN: 2000?) {Extensive collective work of nearly 50 essays, studying the 336 tablets of the royal archives that shed a great deal of light on the Late Bronze Age in Syria-Palestine.}

Berossus, Berossos und die baylonisch-hellenistische Literatur, tr. and ed. Paul Schnabel (Leipzig and Berlin, 1923; repr. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1968) {History of Mesopotamian civilization in Greek by a hellenized Babylonian priest of Bel, who also brought astrology to Greece. Berossus' work survives only in quotations in later works. This is a critical edition of the Greek text with a German translation and commentary. Compare Burstein's 1978 English translation.}

Berossus, The Babyloniaca of Berossus, Translated by Stanley Mayer Burstein (Malibu, CA: Undena Publications, 1978) {This is an English translation of the above without the Greek text. It includes a valuable introductory essay on Berossus and his goals.}

Berossus, Berossos and Manetho, introduced and translated: native traditions in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, by Gerald Verbrugghe (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996) {A recent text, translation and discussion}

Brown, David, Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology (Groningen, the Netherlands: Styx Press, 2000). {Perhaps the most important recent book on the history of astrology, this dissertation demonstrates that astrology and astronomy were invented during the Neo-Assyrian dynasty, eight and seventh centuries BCE, when Mesopotamian scholars learned to predict what the planets would do in advance, rather than wait for omens. Prediction, in turn, was developed as part of the competition for royal patronage. Brown believes that this was the first example of a Kuhnian "paradigm shift." The book has other useful aspects, as well, such as the catalog of Mesopotamian names given to stars and planets in cuneiform sources or the evidence that the omens in the reference books were largely invented, not observed. Chief drawback: an unusually dense and difficult style, even for a doctoral dissertation in Assyriology.

Craig, James Alexander, Astrological-astronomical texts, copied from the original tablets in the British Museum and autographed by James A. Craig. Leipzig, J. C. Hinrichs, 1899. Assyriologische Bibliothek. Bd.14, 1977 ed. (Leipzig, Zentralantiquariat der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1977) {Valuable resources for primary sources.}

Damascius, Damaskiou diadoxou aporiai kai luseis peri ton proton archon, ed. Charles E. Ruelle (Paris: 1889) {A version of the Mesopotamian creation myth, preserved in the writings of Damascius, a Greek Neo-Platonist philosopher of the sixth century CE., calling Bêl demiurge, or Creator. No one knows for what his sources were, but his account substantially agrees with Enuma Elish, the cuneiform creation epic. Compare Heidel, 1951.}

Damascius, Traité des premiers principes, I De l'ineffable et de l'un texte établi par Leendert Westerink and traduit par Jospeh Combes, Collection G. Budé (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1986) {French translation of the above.}

Dhorme, Édouard. Les religions de Babylonie et Assyrie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1949. {Very good account of Mesopotamian religion, including astrology.}

Ebeling, Erich, "Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Beschwörungsserie Namburbi," Revue Archeologique 48 (1954): pages 113-16 {Namburbis were rituals to counter bad omens listed in Enuma Anu Enlil and similar works. Ebeling has written nine articles with the same title, with editions of various namburbis.}

Frank, K., "Bilder und Symbole babylonisch-assyrischer Götter," LSS 2, 2 (1906): pages 1-44 (Leipzig: 1906; repr. Leipzig: Zentralantiquariat, 1968) {Stars and other objects as symbols of the Mesopotamian gods in art.}

Heidel, Alexander, The Babylonian Genesis. The Story of Creation, 2nd ed. (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1951. Phoenix Books, 1963) {The standard translation of the Mesopotamian creation epic, Enuma Elish . Planets were created to help rule the universe.}

Hinke, William J., A New Boundary Stone of Nebuchadnezzar I from Nippur with a Concordance of Proper Names and a Glossary of the Kudurru inscriptions Published thus Far (Philadelphia: 1907) {This is an older work, but is one of the few discussions of the symbols, astrological and otherwise, on kudurrus. Kudurrus were Babylonian boundary stones, carved with land rental contracts and symbols of the gods guaranteeing them. Astral deities figure prominently and there may be a zodiological connection.}

Horowitz, Wayne, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography: Mesopotamian Civilizations, 8 (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1998) {This comprehensive study examines all extant Mesopotamian texts relating to the physical universe and constituent parts. The Mesopotamian view of the universe was at once cohesive as well as discordant, while remaining fairly constant over more than 2,500 years. Of importance for both Assyriologists and those interested in the history of ideas.}

Hunger, Hermann, ed., Astrological Reports to Assyrian Kings; State archives of Assyria 8, illustrations edited by Julian Reade and Simo Parpola. (Helsinki : Helsinki University Press, 1992). {Useful primary source.}

Jastrow, Morris, Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria (1911. repr. NY: Benjamin Blom, Inc., 1971) {This work is the source of Cumont's Mesopotamian information. In spite of its age, and it's association with the now-rejected pan- Babylonian theory, it is not grossly out of date, at least on astral religion.}

Jastrow, Morris, The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria (Boston: Ginn and Co., 1898) {Similar to the above.}

Koch-Westenholz, Ulla. Mesopotamian Astrology: an introduction to Babylonian and Assyrian celestial divination. (Copenhagen: Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near Eastern Studies: Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen, 1995) {One of the most up to date studies. Relatively easy to read, too.}

Labat, Rene, Un calendrier babylonien des travaux des signes et des moins (Series Iqqur Ippush) (Paris: Honore Champion, 1965) {A divination manual which uses astral omens along with calendar dates. This is a useful French translation.}

McLean, Charles Victor, Babylonian astrology and its relation to the Old Testament. (Toronto, The United Church Publishing House, 1929) {Somewhat dated early study of the origins of Jewish Astrology, from author's PhD Thesis, Columbia University, 1929.}

Neugebauer, Otto, Astronomy and History. Selected Essays (NY: Springer Verlag, 1983) {An excellent collection of Neugebauer's essays. Neugebauer was one of the greatest historians of science, practically creating the history of Mesopotamian mathematics and astronomy. He has much to say on astrology as well.}

Neugebauer, Otto, The Exact Sciences in Antiquity (2nd ed., Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1957.) {The best introductory book on astronomy and mathematics in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece.}

Nougayrol, J., et al., eds., La Divination en Mesopotamie ancienne et dans les regions voisines, XIVe rencontre assyriologique internationale 1965 (Paris: Presse universitaires de France, 1966) {Anthology devoted to the history of Mesopotamian methods of divination, including astrology. Contains many useful articles.}

Oppenheim, A. Leo, "A New Prayer to the `Gods of the Night,'" Analecta Biblica 12 (1959): 287-88 {Mesopotamian prayers to the planets, in the Maqlu texts, prayers meant to counter the effects of witchcraft.}

Oppenheim, A. Leo, Ancient Mesopotamia. Portrait of a Dead Civilization, Revised Edition, completed by Erica Reiner (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1977) {A very good survey of Mesopotamian civilization in general, and of the role of divination in particular.}

Parker, Richard A., A Vienna Demotic Papyrus on Eclipse- and Lunar-Omina (Brown Egyptological Studies 2. Providence, RI: Brown University Press, 1959) {An Achaemenian period (sixth- fourth centuries BCE) document with Mesopotamian type astral omens.}

Parker, Richard A., and Neugebauer, Otto, Egyptian Astronomical Texts, 4 Vols., Brown University Egyptological Studies 6 (Providence, RI: Brown U. Press, 1969) {Volume III has illustrations of late Egyptian zodiacs, such as at Denderah, first century CE/BCE.}

Parpola, Simo, Letters from Assyrian Scholars to the Kings Esarhaddon and Ashshurbanipal (Kevelaer: Butzon and Bercker, 1970) {The Assyrian kings had an elaborate empire-wide network of observer, looking for astral omens. These are the letters they wrote to court on what they saw, and what rituals the king should perform to make the gods happy again. One might compare them to the reports of modern economists or pollsters in political importance. Compare Thompson, 1900.}

Pettinato, Giovanni, La scrittura celeste: la nascita dell'astrologia in Mesopotamia. (Milano : Mondadori, 1998) {Recent study from Italian scholar.}

Pingree, David, "Mesopotamian Astronomy and Astral Omens in Other Civilizations," in Mesopotamien und seine Nachbarn, politische und kulturelle Wechselbeziehungen im altem Vorderasien vom 4-1 Jahrtausend v. Chr., XXV Rencontre assyriologique internationale, Hans-Jörd Nissen and Johannes Renger, eds. (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 1982), pages 613-31. {An excellent survey.}

Pingree, David, and Hunger, Hermann, Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1999) {A new survey by two of the leading scholars of astrology}

Reiner, Erica, "The Uses of Astrology," Journal of the American Oriental Society 105 (1985): 589-95 {Featured address to the annual conference of the American Oriental Society, this is a good survey of the broader aspects of Mesopotamian astrology, including the astrological properties of plants, stones, etc.}

Reiner, Erica, and Pingree, David, Enuma Anu Enlil, Part 1: Tablet 63: The Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa, Bibliotheca Mesopotamica, ed., Giorgio Buccelati (Malibu: Undena Publications, 1975) {Enuma Anu Enlil was the standard reference work on Mesopotamian astral omens and what they meant, and constantly cited by the Assyrian observer corps. Reiner and Pingree are slowly publishing a critical edition of the work. The work, per se, dates to the Neo-Assyrian empire, ninth through seventh centuries BCE. This section preserves observations from the grandson of Hammurabi, in the eighteenth century BC.}

Reiner, Erica, and Pingree, David, Babylonian Planetary Omens, Part 2: Enuma Anu Enlil (Malibu: Undena Publications, 1981) {Continuation of the above.}

Reiner, Erica, and Pingree, David, Babylonian Planetary Omens, Part 3, Cuneiform Monographs 11 (Groeningen: Styx Publs., 1998) {The long-awaited third fascicle}

Reiner, Erica, Shurpu, a Collection of Sumerian and Akkadian Incantations, Archiv fuer Orientforschung, ed. Ernst Weidner, Beiheft 11 (Graz, 1958. repr. Osnabrueck: Biblio Verlag, 1970) {This corpus includes prayers and sacrifices to the planet-gods.}

Rochberg-Halton, Francesca, "Babylonian Horoscopes and their Sources," Orientalia NS (1989): 102-23 {More cuneiform horoscopes. Compare Sachs, 1952.}

Rochberg-Halton, Francesca, "Benefics and Malefics in Babylonian Astrology," A. Sachs Memorial Volume (Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1993) {Explains the usual order of the planets in Mesopotamian texts as related to the planets' natures, favorable or hostile.}

Rochberg-Halton, Francesca, "Elements of the Babylonian Contribution to Hellenistic Astrology," Journal of the American Oriental Society 108.1 (1988): pages 51-62 {Demonstrate how the doctrines of the hupsomata, dodekatemoria, and the trine aspect began in Mesopotamia.}

Rochberg-Halton, Francesca, "New Evidence for the History of Astrology," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 43 (1984): pages 115-140 {The text of an Achaemenian period tablet BM36746 and an explanation of how it bridges gap between Mesopotamian and Greek astrology. Very important! Rochberg- Halton has done path- breaking research in recent years on Mesopotamian scientific astrology, particularly with practices hitherto known only in Hellenistic versions.}

Rochberg-Halton, Francesca, "TCL 6 13: Mixed Traditions in Late Babylonian Astrology," Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie (1987): pages 207-28. {Tablet showing a mixture of Mesopotamian and Greek practices in scientific astrology.}

Rochberg-Halton, Francesca, Aspects of Babylonian Celestial Divination: The Lunar Eclipse Tablets of Enuma Anu Enlil (Horn, Austria: Ferdinand Berger & Sohne, 1988) {This is Rochberg-Halton's dissertation, an edition of lunar omens in Enuma Anu Enlil. Also discusses Enuma Anu Enlil outside Mesopotamia.}

Rochberg-Halton, Francesca, ed., Language, Literature and History: Philological, and Historical Studies Presented to Erica Reiner, American Oriental Studies, Vol. 67 (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1987) {Festschrift for Erica Reiner, with astrological essays.}

Sachs, A., "Babylonian Horoscopes," Journal of Cuneiform Studies 6 (1952): pages 47-100 {Publishes all cuneiform horoscopes known to 1952.}

Saggs, H. W. F., The Greatness that was Babylon: A Sketch of the Ancient Civilization of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley (New York and Scarborough, Ontario: Mentor Books, New American Library, 1962, 1968) {A good standard survey of Mesopotamian civilization. The chapter on science has a useful introduction to astrology.}

Sayce, A. H., Astronomy and Astrology of the Babylonians, with translations of the tablets relating to these subjects. (San Diego: Wizards Bookshelf, 1981) {Useful reference with some analysis. The date on this edition is deceptive; Sayce was a 19th century pioneer Assyriologist}

Seidl, Ursula, "Die babylonischen Kudurru-reliefs," Deutsche Achäologisches Institut Abteilung Baghdad, Baghdader Mitteilungen 4 (1968): pages 7-220, and plates 1-32 {A recent discussion of the iconography of kudurrus, including astral symbols.}

Slanski, Kathryn, A Study in the Form and Function of the Babylonian Kudurrus. (PhD dissertation submitted to Harvard University, November, 1997. Publication pending with ASOR) {One of the most recent studies on kudurrus, including a discussion of the astral images.}

Tuman, Victor S., "Astronomical Dating of the Nebuchadnezzar kudurru found in February, 1896," Nippur at the Centennial: Papers read at the 35e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1988, 281-295; Tuman "Immortality etched in stone", Griffith Observer 50/1 (1986) 10-19. {Tuman's work is extremely suspect.}

van Soldt, W.H., Solar Omens of Enuma Anu Enlil: Tablets 23(24)-29(30) (Nederlands Historisch-Archaeologisch Instituut, Istanbul, 1995 [Publication de l'Institut historique-archaéologique néerlandais de Stamboul, nr. LXXII]) {cf. Reiner 's and Pingree's edition of EAE; "also, E.F. Weidner's articles in Archiv fuer Orientforschung}

Wilfred H. van Soldt, Solar Omens of Enuma Anu Enlil: Tablets 23 (24) - 29 (30) (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1995. {A more recent study of solar omens.}

Thompson, R. Campbell, Late Babylonian Tablets in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (London: 1922) {A classic discussion astral divination in Mesopotamia. Contains primary sources, tablets in translation.}

Thompson, R. Campbell, The Reports of the Magicians and Astrologers of Nineveh and Babylon, The Original Texts, printed in cuneiform characters, edited tr., notes, vocab., index, and an intro., Luzac's Semitic Texts and Translations Series, Vol. VII (London: Luzac, 1900, reprinted New York: AMS Press, 1977) {These are the official reports of the Assyrian corps of omen observer, with many references to Enuma Anu Enlil. Compare Parpola, 1970.}