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Tablets from the Sippar library IX. A ziqpu-star planisphere*

  • W. Horowitz and F. N. H. Al-Rawi

Extract

The Neo-Babylonian Sippar tablet edited below, previously published in photograph only, is a unique member of a group of first-millennium cuneiform astronomical texts commonly known as ziqpu-star texts. Like other members of this group, the tablet's reverse side provides a list of ziqpu-stars (stars which culminated near the centre of the sky when viewed from Assyria or Babylonia) and measures the intervals between these culminations. What is novel about our text is that it is written on a round tablet that preserves on its obverse the remains of circular diagram or planisphere of the ziqpu-stars in the sky. Below we present an edition of the list of ziqpu-stars on the reverse, followed by a study of the planisphere on the obverse and remarks on the place of the tablet in the corpus of cuneiform astronomical texts.

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*

Tablets from the Sippar Library are published by generous leave of the University of Baghdad and the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage, Baghdad. The authors also record their gratitude to the British School of Archaeology in Iraq for its continued aid in support of Dr Al-Rawi's work. They also wish to acknowledge the contributions of C. B. F. Walker to the study of the Sippar tablet edited below.

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1 By Al-Jadir, Walid, “Une bibliothèque et ses tablettes”, Archéologia 224 (Dijon, 05 1987) 26–7.

2 Our text is most similar to AO 6478 // K. 9794 but also has affinities with VAT 16436, VAT 16437 and BM 38369 + 38694. For these tablets and a discussion of the ziqpu-stars see previously and, H. HungerPingree, D., Astral Sciences in Mesopotamia (1999) 8490, Brown, D., Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology (2000) 259–60, id., “Cuneiform conception of celestial space and time”, Cambridge Archaeological Journal 10 (2000) 111–13. For AO 6478 in particular see Horowitz, W., Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (1998) (henceforth MCG) 182–8 and Brown, D., Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology 259–60, but note that Brown misunderstands the discussion of ina qaqqari in MCG 185. An edition of AO 6478 is available in Weidner, , Handbuch 131–40. Hunger and Pingree, Astral Sciences 85 give a table of ziqpu-stars that is based on AO 6478. For further bibliography and examples of ziqpu-slavs see Horowitz, W., “Two new ziqpu-star texts”, JCS 46 (1994) 89 and Koch, J., “Wache und Mine im antiken Mesopotamien”, AfO 44/45 (1997/1998) 190–1. For ziqpu-stars and the dodecatemoria (micro-zodiac) see Hunger, and Pingree, , Astral Sciences 198.

3 Broken passages are restored after AO 6478. See the commentary below.

4ina qaqqari = degrees of arc in each stellar segment. For this term in AO 6478 see MCG 183–6 and note Brown, D., Mesopotamian Planetary Astronomy-Astrology 259.

5 Schaumberger, J., “Die Ziqpu-Gestirne nach neuen Keilschrifttexten”, ZA 50 (1952) 224–5.

6 See Table 1.

7 Our text does not measure the distance between the two stars of the Twins as in AO 6478 rev. 7–8. See the commentary on Sippar rev. 18 below.

8 AO 6478: 5′–8′, rev. 21′–4′; ziqpu-stars Nos. 1–2, 26.

9 Schaumberger, , ZA 50 226–7.

10 See most recently Pongratz-Leisten, B., Ina Šulmi Īrub (1994) 221: 2634, Koch-Westenholz, U., Mesopotamian Astrology (1995) 198–9: 231–6. These twins are associated either with a pair of male deities as in the case of Sin and Nergal, Nabu and Nergal, or Lugalgirra and Meslamtaea (see below, on Sector 1), or with a male and female pair as in the case of dNin.SAR and dÈr.ra.gal.

11 Cf. AO 6478: 26, 28: 4 šá mulLU.LIM; rev. 12, 14: 2 MUL.MEŠ šá SAG.DU mulUR.GU.LA; but note rev. 14, 16: MUL 4 šá ir-ti-šú.

12 In Mesopotamian geometry the circle is composed of 12 bēru, “leagues”, of 30 UŠ (degrees) each, =360°.

13 Note also STT 340: 12: 12 DANNA MUL.MEŠ ⌜ziq⌝-pi šá KASKAL šu-ut den-líl, “Twelve are the leagues of the ziqpu- stars of the Path of Enlil” (see MCG 186). For the stellar circles see the discussion below.

14 VAT 16436 = Warka 13200. For an edition and copy see Schaumberger, , ZA 50 226–7.

15 For MAŠ.MAŠ as a name for the Twins constellation see CAD M/1 401 māšu and note Urra 22: 259′ (edition forthcoming): [mul]MAŠ.MAŠ = ma-šu-u.

16 For a handcopy see Hunger, H. and Walker, C. B. F., “Zwölfmaldrei,” MDOG 109 (1977) 28–9. The identification of the Twins as Nabu and Nergal may also be explained, in part at least, on the basis of 5 R 46 no. 1: 4–5: MUL.MAŠ.TAB.BA. GAL.GAL.LA dLUGAL.GÌR.RA u dMES.LAM.TA.È.A d30 u dU.GUR, “The Great Twins, Lugalgirra and Meslamtaea, Sin and Nergal”. KAR 307 rev. 5 identifies Sin with Nabu: šá ŠÀ d30 dAG, “the one insidef?) Sin (is) Nabu”.

17 The superfluous A may be from a writing SAG.DU.A = qaqqadu or a mistake resulting in some way from writing the Lion constellation as mulUR.A, for which see CAD N/2 197 2: MUL.UR.A = nēšu, “the Lion”, and VAT 16436: 12, below.

18 Distances restored after AO 6478.

19 The fourth dot is in the disturbed space to the right of the three dots that are plainly visible on the copy.

20 Quoted above, in the introduction to the obverse.

21 See MCG 185. For the 364° stellar circuit of AO 6478, the 364-day year and further discussion see MCG 182–6. It remains Horowitz's position that the anomaly of a stellar “circle” of 364° reflects knowledge of a 364-day stellar year as early as the date of the seventh-century duplicate of, or close parallel to AO 6478, namely K 9794 from Assurbanipal's library, and that this 364-day stellar year was the ultimate source for the 364-day calendar in the Apocrypha and Qumran corpus. See Horowitz, W., MCG 185 n. 54, NABU 1998 pp. 49–51, No. 49 contra Koch, J., NABU 1996 pp. 97–9, No. 111.

22 See MCG 264–5.

23 For astrolabes see MCG 154–66 and Hunger, and Pingree, , Astral Sciences 50–7. A new edition of astrolabes including unpublished examples is being prepared by Horowitz.

24 See the diagram in MCG 156.

25 No date is given for the culmination of the Yoke (mulŠUDUN) in ziqpu-star texts or Mul-Apin. However, an approximate date can be derived from Mul-Apin I iv 10–30, which provides an annual list of concurrent culminations, and risings and settings of ziqpu-stars, beginning on Nisan 20 (I 20) with the culmination of the shoulder of the Panther (kumāru ša mulUD.KA.DUH.A) and ending with the She-Goat (mulÙZ) on Adar 15 (XII 15). In the Sippar Tablet rev. the Yoke culminates 81° (i.e. approximately 81 days) before the “shoulder” of the Panther, i.e. sometime around the end of Month X or the beginning of Month XI.

26 For the latest edition with discussion see Koch, J., Neue Untersuchungen zur Topographie des babylonischen Fixstemhimmels (1989) 56119.

27 See Rochberg-Halton, F., “TCL 6 13: mixed traditions in Late Babylonian astrology”, ZA 77 224–8.

28 BagM Beih. 2 No. 98. See MCG 193–207 with a reconstruction of the diagram on p. 194. Note also SpTU I97, Weidner Gestim-Darstellungen Pls. 3–4, and CBS 1766 (Hilprecht, H., Explorations in Bible Lands [1903] 530), edition by Horowitz forthcoming.

29 BM 61677 = 82-9-18, 1648: see Leichty, E. and Grayson, A. K., Catalogue of the Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum VII: Tablets from Sippar 2 (1987) 46. The fragment is published with the permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.

30 Probably restore [½; DANN]A a-⌜na⌝ [MUL ša māšāti…on the basis of Sippar rev. 4.

31 Sippar rev. 9: MUL ni-bu-úšá GABA⌝-šú, rev. 14: MUL ni-bu-ú šá mulŠU.GI.

* Tablets from the Sippar Library are published by generous leave of the University of Baghdad and the Directorate of Antiquities and Heritage, Baghdad. The authors also record their gratitude to the British School of Archaeology in Iraq for its continued aid in support of Dr Al-Rawi's work. They also wish to acknowledge the contributions of C. B. F. Walker to the study of the Sippar tablet edited below.

Tablets from the Sippar library IX. A ziqpu-star planisphere*

  • W. Horowitz and F. N. H. Al-Rawi

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