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By Tamysn Barton

An account of astrology from its beginnings in Mesopotamia, targeting the Greco-Roman global, Ancient Astrology examines the theoretical improvement and altering social and political position of astrology.

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If the star of Marduk (Jupiter) moves into Orion, the gods will consume the land, but if it appears on the way of the Anu stars, a crown prince will rebel against his father and seize the throne. It was from the middle of the seventh century BCE that monthly summaries of planetary movements were kept. The first astronomical ‘Diary’, as these texts are known, is of 652 BCE. Dates of first and last visibility and precise positions in relation to the constellations were recorded. A probable motivation for these records was an interest in constructing a calendar.

In order to assess what evidence there is to substantiate the Greek image of Egypt, in the first place, we should survey what is known from evidence which is properly Egyptian rather than GreekEgyptian. Egyptian origin by no means precludes Mesopotamian influence, since Persia conquered Egypt in 525 BCE. In the era after Alexander’s conquests, there may have been independent links between Egypt and Persia, even discounting the Greek channel of communication. If it is correctly dated, an ostrakon, or potsherd, listing the planets and the zodiac signs in the vernacular Demotic, is a vital piece of evidence for the development of Egyptian astrology.

This work, which attempted to put the case for giving more credit to non-Western peoples, in particular the Egyptians and the Phoenicians, than to the Greeks for the roots of European cultural accomplishments, was taken up with enthusiasm by Afro-American activists but received little endorsement for the basic thesis from Classical scholars. The most convincing part of the book was his account of the role of what we would call racism in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Classicists’ attribution of all intellectual and cultural achievements of significance to the Greeks, and in their assimilation of the Greeks to modern Europeans.

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