Monday, September 19, 2005

Ancient Egypt and Solar Eclipses - LexiLine Journal 362

Fred Espenak has website pages covering historical and future solar eclipses at
http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/SEcatmax/SEcatmax.html:
"Eight Millennium Catalog of Long Solar Eclipses [by] Fred Espenak -2999 to +5000 (3000 BCE to 5000 CE) [covering the] eight Millennium period -2999 to 5000 (3000 BCE to 5000 CE[1] [during which the] Earth will experience 18,988 solar eclipses.....[longest-lasting eclipses are listed]."

The exact dating and location of these eclipses is uncertain because of variations in the calculation of Delta T, the mathematical value for changes in the rate of the spin of the Earth over time, which is variable. See:
Espenak on Delta-T at http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/SEhelp/deltaT.html and also Espenak on the Saros Cycle at http://cyclesresearchinstitute.org/lunar/saros.html"
David Herald on Lunar Occultations at
http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota/occultdeltaat.htm
Felix Verbelen on Delta-T at
http://user.online.be/felixverbelen/dt.htm
and for comprehensive history and detail on Delta-T see Robert H. van
Gent at: http://www.phys.uu.nl/~vgent/astro/deltatime.htm

Recent Delta-T values are found cited at the Yahoo Group Guide-User
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/guide-user/message/4966
where it is written by Bill J. Gray:
"Usual warning: Delta-T becomes increasingly ill-defined as you
extrapolate it. For example, a decade or so ago, it looked as if
Delta-T was going to keep increasing by about a second or so each
year, requiring a new "leap second" each December. Then it stopped
increasing so briskly, and we've not had a new leap second since
1999. The above formula is there simply because Guide has to say
_something_ about what Delta-T is apt to be, even if that something
isn't very meaningful."
We have our own explanation for the slowdown in the increase starting at 1999 which we have posted elsewhere as follows:

"One way to understand Delta-T better is to spot the cycles which may be incorporated within it. One of these may be solar luminosity - which may have a ca. 190-year cycle, as manifested in the delta-T values evidenced between ca. 1700 and ca. 1890."

As written at Inside Earth
http://www2.nature.nps.gov/geology/caves/newsletters/ie7_1/ie7_1.pdf
"A Master's thesis on a broken stalagmite in the main cave indicates a temperature cycle of 190 years between ~13,500 and 9,500 years ago, most likely a solar luminosity cycle."
This in turn may relate to the cycles in sunspots: http://personal.inet.fi/tiede/tilmari/sunspot5.html which in turn are related to geomagnetic activity:
http://www.sec.noaa.gov/info/SumSept.html

In my opinion, these variations are caused by planetary perturbations viz. planetary positions varying between perihelion and aphelion: http://www.stjarnhimlen.se/comp/tutorial.html

If that were true, then primarily responsible for the ca. 190-year cycle would be Pluto (actually, the orbit here is 248 years as such), which was at perihelion until the year 1999, when it was still within Neptune's orbit. Now Pluto is headed back out to be the 9th planet again:
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast04jan_1.htm

Accordingly, if the above theory be true, Delta T should now slow down as it has done, stay constant at ca. +65 and then diminish, rather than increase. Of course even if we were right on this prediction, we could be wrong, since current theory is that the planets can not exert this kind of influence, but I am not so sure."

Solar eclipses are useful for chronology and potentially especially
for the history of Ancient Egypt. See LexiLine
http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi70.htm
and Amir Bey's Eclipses over Egypt at
http://abey.home.mindspring.com/eclipses.htm
The latter is no longer online but found at Wayback:
http://www.waybackmachine.org/

I reproduce Bey's article here since it is also difficult to reproduce (find) it at Wayback and since the article is too important to become lost:

"ECLIPSES OVER EGYPT © 1999 Amir Bey All Rights Reserved.

Compared to the precise records of the Mesopotamian civilizations, there is not much documentation of total solar eclipses that has survived from Kemet (ancient Egypt). Considering the importance of the Sun for this civilization, this lack of documentation is intriguing. (Note:The original name was Kemet [k m.t] meaning Black Land, that is: land of the fertile dark earth of the Nile Valley. The inhabitants often simply called themselves "People of Kemet" ("People of the Black Land") [rmT n km.t]. In Middle Egyptian the pronunciation for "Egyptians" would probably have been Rama ni Kuma, which is how they will be referred to here.)

Speculation for this has ranged from an eclipse being such an upset to the goddess Maat's order that it was unmentionable, to the relative rarity of eclipses as the reason for their absence in Rama ni Kuma records. One possible answer for the lack of historical records is that the Rama ni Kuma recorded much of their documents on papyrus, which kept well in the desert areas. However, papyrus did not keep as well near the damp Nile region where many total solar eclipses occurred. In contrast to the clay tablets of the Babylonians, papyrus was the more vulnerable to decay.

Certainly, they had words for eclipse: tnw, and nshn, with variations such as: iaH nshn - Lunar Eclipse, and nshni-wr - Great Eclipse. nshn is written with a Set-like character for its determinative . This same word also means Storm, Terror, Rage, and Disaster. As another example there is the phrase "a m tA pt pA itn"-"The sky swallows the Sun Disk". There are also references to eclipses that can be found in spells, such as a "Let not the sun-disk grow dark....let not the sky swallow the moon". Concerning the influence of a lunar eclipse, a high priest Osorkon said, "Though the sky had not swallowed the Moon, there was a great turmoil in the country.", an indication that a lunar eclipse was believed to have disruptive effects.

Simply, total solar eclipses occur at the New Moon when the Sun and Moon have the same declination, and lunar eclipses occur at the Full Moon when the Sun and Moon have opposite declinations. The beginning of the Rama ni Kuma month was at the first invisibility of the lunar crescent, and was called psDntyw. psDntyw fell near the New Moon, which would put a total solar eclipse on or near an important calendar day. Likewise with a lunar eclipse, as the Full Moon was an important feast day. This would add to the significance of their appearance. Partial and annular eclipses are certainly visible to the naked eye, and do inspire wonder. Total solar eclipses are the primary focus here as there is no eclipse as remarkable as a total solar eclipse. With its alteration of the daylight and the manner in which it charges the air, it certainly would have been noticed. One can actually see a wave of darkness as a total eclipse path travels across the land. This is the shadow of the Moon, as it comes between the Sun and the Earth. The phase of maximum totality lasts up to 7.5 minutes, averaging around 4 minutes, often lasting less than a minute. The whole process from the beginning partial phase to maximum totality, to the last phase of the eclipse may last over two hours. Those brief minutes of maximum totality would have had a powerful effect on a people who held the Sun and stellar events in the regard that the Rama ni Kuma did.

There were 28 total solar eclipses whose paths crossed the Nile River in Kemet during the period from 2837 BC to 493 BC. Solar eclipses usually have a lunar eclipse following or preceding it. This would result in a pair of eclipses within 15 days of each other. These total solar eclipses had 10 lunar eclipses that were visible in Kemet. The visibility of a lunar eclipse is not confined to a path as with a total solar eclipse, and can be seen wherever the Moon is visible at the time of the eclipse's occurrence.

The following list provides regions and dates where some form of documentation for these total solar eclipses might have been written. The Northernmost and Southernmost cities mark the boundaries of the total eclipse paths, with the Northernmost city listed first. The coordinates for those cities are written in blue. Total solar eclipses that were accompanied by a lunar eclipse that was visible in Kemet are indicated with a /,with their dates in brackets. All of these lunar eclipses were partial.

The dates for the total solar eclipses and their paths were taken from Solar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East, by M. Kudlek and E.H. Mickler. Their dates and approximate paths were confirmed by The Canon of Solar Eclipses, by J. Meeus and H. Mucke. Those dates were also confirmed by Solar Fire 4.07, a software program developed by Esoteric Technologies, Inc. For the lunar eclipses, calculations from Lunar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East by M. Kudlek and E. H. Mickler and Solar Fire 4.07 were used. There are two cases where the lunar eclipse dates from these two sources differ, and they are marked by /*. For eclipse #11, L.E.A.N.E. gives March 1, as the date, while S.F.4.07 gives February 29. For eclipse # 15, L.E.A.N.E. has the eclipse occurring before midnight on the 16th of May, while S.F.4.07 has it occurring after midnight on the 17th of May. Both of those differences are reasonable. In the first case a leap year day is merely given a different date on the calendar. In the second case the differences between mathematical tables and various software computations are bound to disagree slightly, owing to the uncertainty in fluctuations of the Moon and the Earth's rotation rates. This can lead to different results for the locations and timing of eclipses for ancient dates.

1.November 24, 493 BC. From Iunyt (Latopolis) 25N18 32E33 to South of Elephantine 24N05 32E53.

2.December 4, 502 BC / [November 19]. A narrow path from Abedju (Abydos) 26N11 31E55 to Iunyt 25N18 32E55.

3.March 28, 517 BC / [April 13]. From Abedju 26N11 31E55 through Cusae 27N26 30E49.

4.September 21, 582 BC. From Ankh-tawy (Memphis) 29N51 31E15 to Teudji (Ankyronon Polis) 28N48 30E55.

5. August 19, 636 BC. From Antaeopolis 26N54 31E31 to El-Mo�’alla 25N28 32E31.

6.August 15, 831BC. From The Mediterranean to just North of Ankh-Tawy 29N51 31E15.

7.January 27, 932 BC. A narrow path from Cusae (Qis) 27N26 30E49 to Ipu (Panopolis) 26N34 31E45.

8.May 22, 948 BC / [June 5]. Between Antaeopolis 26N54 31E31 and Iunyt 25N18 32E55.

9.May 31, 957 BC. Between Ipu 26N34 31E45 and South of Elephantine 24N05 32E53.

10.July 31, 1063 BC. A very narrow path that ran through Waset (Thebes) 25N42 32E38.

11.February 14, 1129 BC. /* [February 29-March 1]A very narrow path that ran through Henen-Nesut (Herakleopolis) 29N05 30E56.

12.August 19, 1157 BC. Across the Northern Delta region, between Busiris 30N55 31E14 to Athribis 30N28 31E11.

13.July 27, 1258 BC. Within Ipu 26N34 31E45 to El-Mo�’Alla 25N28 32E31.

14.May 14, 1338 BC. From Aphroditopolis 29N25 31E15 to Shtub 27N09 31E14.

Here is a map which uses lines to give an idea of the angles of the above eclipse paths. Each line is number-coded for their respective dates. The lines are approximately in the middle of their paths. Eclipse paths travel from West to East, and are of varying widths. Eclipse paths can be 167 miles at their widest, usually they are narrower. The list has been divided between two maps to allow for a clearer distinction between the lines. With the exceptions of eclipse #18 and eclipse #25, all of the eclipse paths crossed the Nile.

15.June 1, 1478 BC /*[May 17]. -This is the Solar Fire 4.07 date. Between Zawty (Lykopolis) 27N11 31E10 and Nekhen (Hierakonopolis) 25N05 32E47.

16.May 9, 1533 BC. From just below the North Eastern Delta region coast to Ankh-Tawy 29N51 31E15.

17.April 16, 1699 BC. /[March 31]A narrow path heading Southwest across Abedju 26N11 31E55.

18.December 21, 1741 BC. /[January 6, 1740 BC]This narrow path entered the Delta region near Imu (Kom el-Hsin) 30N48 30E36, moving East to Tanis 30N59 31E53 and Pharbaithos, 30N44 31E37 where it ended.

19.September 15, 1884 BC. From Men�’At Khufu 28N06 30E45 to Zawty 27N11 31E10.

20.April 20, 2044 BC. A very narrow path that ran through Kom Ombo 24N28 32E57.

21.September 11, 2079 BC. From the Mediterranean coast to just North of Heliopolis 30N08 31E18.

22.June 29, 2159 BC. From the Mediterranean coast to just North of Ankh-Tawy 29N51 31E15.

23.December 20, 2289 BC. /[December 5]The Northern two thirds of the Delta region.

24.March 23, 2340 BC. From Abedju 26N11 31E55 to Iunyt 25N18 32E55.

25.July 25, 2430 BC. Not very wide, this path�’s totality phase ended on the Nile at Hermopolis 27N47 30E48.

26.September 2, 2469 BC. A narrow path, from Tihna 28N11 30E47 to Beni Hasan 27N56 30E53.

27.April 1, 2471 BC. /[April 16] From the Mediterranean to just South of Ankh-Tawy 29N51 31E15.

28.November 19, 2837 BC. /[December 4]From the Mediterranean coast to a line stretching from Heliopolis 30N18 31E18 through Khem (Letopolis) 30N08 31E08.

There were a high concentration of total solar eclipse paths in the delta region, with 9 out of the 28 eclipses occurring there. This suggests references to them might be found in that area, especially in the vicinity of Busiris, Hermopolis, and Pharbaithos. That area had more total eclipse paths crossing it than in any other location.

This list does not include every eclipse that was visible to the Rama ni Kuma. There are many types of eclipses that were visible: Annular, Partial, Central Annular, Central Total, Non-central Annular, Non-central Total, Annular-total, besides the Total eclipses listed here. This list is small and does not have a statistical purpose. However, by directing our attention to these regions and dates it can aid in the interpretation of existing materials connected to eclipses.

With certainty the Rama ni Kuma were great observers of the sky who were acquainted with planetary and stellar cycles in the pre-dynastic era (See the April 2, 1998 issue of Nature Magazine, Megaliths and Neolithic astronomy in southern Egypt). Recent discoveries of sites revealed ceremonial complexes that consisted of megalithic alignments and stone circles at the Nabta Playa depression in the Sahara. Those complexes indicate the Rama ni Kuma could have been familiar with Sun/Moon phases enough to know about eclipse cycles. How they were regarded is not known at this time. "
.

Stonehenge New Developments ; New Giant Henge near Stonehenge - LexiLine Journal 361

I was at Stonehenge (and also at Avebury) last week and can report here that there are new, exciting developments at and around the Stonehenge megalithic site.

New Giant Henge at Stonehenge

David Vallis in his September 14, 2005 Salisbury Journal & Avon Advertiser article
http://snipurl.com/hs9b
http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/wiltshire/salisbury/news/SALIS_NEWS1.html
titled "Dig throws new light on Stonehenge mystery"
reports that new archaeological work at Durrington Walls near Stonehenge has revealed an ancient large circular henge and causeway or walkway, leading ca. 30 meters from Durrington Walls to the Avon River. Archaeologists suggest that the causeway was used to transport the deceased from the henge to the river.

Well, my goodness, is that not exacty what was done in Egypt, as the deceased kings were transported by causeway to the Nile from their funeral location (e.g. a pyramid) to their final burial place? in later dynasties e.g. the Valley of Kings.

Stonehenge Photography by LIDAR

Stonehenge has been photographed from the air by a new technology known as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). See http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.5156

This new Stonehenge Aerial Survey, according to that website:
"[H]ad its origins in the requirement for English Heritage and the National Trust to produce a management plan for the World Heritage Site at Stonehenge, and an archaeological response to the improvements to the roads around Stonehenge (and the new Visitor Centre).. The results were spectacular ... and ... are published in greater detail in "New light on an ancient landscape: lidar survey in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site" by Bewley, Crutchley and Shell in Antiquity, Vol 79:305 [pp. 636-647]...."
My Next Posting

My next posting sheds more light on the origin of the cults of Egypt and their relation to ancient European cultures.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Astronomical Axe of Lamao Village, Qinghai, China - LexiLine Journal 360

I received the following comment at my Ancient World blog regarding my alleged decipherment of the astronomical axe of Lamao Vilage, Qinghai, China: http://ancientworldblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/astronomical-axe-of-lamao-village.htm
"There is another interpretation for this, much more in keeping with actual Chinese astronomy. Certainly Beidou is recognized, but so are many other important stars, like Zhaoyao and Beiji. The two large holes encompass Ziwei yuan, but were probably fittings (the artifact appears to be a rudimentary planisphere).

The marks on the sides are probably the 12 Branches, beginning with Chou in the bottom-left. This indicates a time near the Ploughing ceremony, which was associated with xiu Jiao (Spica), and also echoes the ancient legends of the Yellow Springs and the "drain" of the oceans and rivers."
This was my reply:

I am not sure that I understand what is meant by "actual" Chinese astronomy. We are interested in "ancient" Chinese astronomy.

I agree that the axe is a planisphere and that the two major holes were also "fittings".

Axes were surely used as ceremonial astronomical objects also in Western civilization (for example, on Sarsen 4 at Stonehenge to mark Leo - see http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LexiLine/message/1097 and I have deciphered a ceremonial axe from the Brimble Pit Swallet
in England as marking Gemini and the surrounding stars. Axes were the main tools of the Neolithic age and thus surely highly revered.

A reference is made to Ziwei Yuan. As written at Circle of Asia about the Forbidden City of China: http://www.circleofasia.com/guide/Beijing.asp
"It is believed that the Palace Museum, or Zi Jin Cheng (Purple
Forbidden City), got its name from astronomy and folklore. The
ancient astronomers divided the constellations into groups and
centered them around the Ziwei Yuan (North Star). The constellation
containing the North Star was called the Constellation of Heavenly
God and the star itself was called the purple palace. Because the
emperor was supposedly the son of the heavenly gods, his central and
dominant position would be further highlighted by the use of the word
purple in the name of his residence."
As regards Beidou, we find written at qi-whiz.com on Taoist Feng Shui: http://www.qi-whiz.com/Debunking/deeb11.html
"The Nine Stars are based on astronomy, which was later mythologized. Since the fourth century CE, Daoists have recognized the stars of Beidou (Ursa Major) as gods. However, they claim the constellation consists of nine stars, but only seven stars are visible to ordinary people. When the Zhou observed the heavens Beidou was much nearer the north pole, just as four thousand years ago the xiu were much nearer to the equator than they are now. Ancient astronomers could extend the handle of Beidou through the constellation of Bootes as long as it remained above the horizon. It is believed that gamma Bootes ("Far- Flight" or Zhaoyao), which was lost to visibility around 1500 BCE, was once part of Beidou. (The ninth star is still unknown.) Draw a line through the "handle" of Beidou to find Zhaoyao. In the Star Manual of Master Shi (third century BCE), Beidou was eight stars plus Fu, the operator of Kaiyang (Mizar), the sixth star of Beidou. Yuheng (Alioth) was the fifth star (the Jade Observation Tube). By the time of Hanlong jing the nine stars indicated earthly counterparts of the stars in Beidou and of mountain shapes. During the Qing dynasty, when ba zhai was a popular feng shui technique, the Nine Stars provided only names for eight auspices associated with triagrams.
References: Field, Xun and Kistemaker, Joseph Yu, Lagerwey, Kalinowski (Early China), Staal."
We can also quote here ZU CHONGZHI AND THE CHINESE CALENDAR REFORM OF 462 AD, A GEM1506K PROJECT BY: LIM NYEK FONG, ELAYNE ONG SZE JIE, DESMOND TEO CHIH LEANG and YANG SHAO-YUN: http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/gem-projects/hm/Zu_Chongzhi.pdf
"Chinese astronomy, like that of every other ancient civilization, had its roots in astrology. Starting from the Warring States period (480-222 BC), astrologers began to group the stars into constellations, each with a symbolic significance, in relation to which the motions of the sun, moon and planets were used as portents of earthly events. Eventually up to 283 constellations were identified, and the 28 most important were classified as lunar mansions (xiu)2. They were then further divided into 4 'palaces' of 7, corresponding with the 4 seasons and 4 compass directions. There was also a 'central palace' consisting of all circumpolar stars within 40 degrees from the north celestial pole."
At our megalithic site we write: http://www.megaliths.co.uk/china.htm
"There is an old Chinese system of marking the sky, consisting of 28 moon stations (lunar mansions), called xiu or sieu. Our decipherment of the Great Wall of China gives us the original position of these lunar mansions. They are much older than currently thought.

In modern times they are started at the star Spica in Virgo, but this of course was not the original position. The scholars rely on sources such as Hasumi Yasui - who wrote only in 1699 AD - thinking that Spica started the Lunar Mansions because Spica marked the Autumn Equinox in ca. 500 AD. But this undisputed fact about Spica in 500 AD has nothing to do with dating of the origin of the xiu system nor which lunar mansion was originally first - many years prior to 500
AD."
There is of course the system of 10 heavenly stems and 12 earthly branches. This is known as Gan-Zhi. http://www.hko.gov.hk/gts/time/stemsandbranches.htm

What the 12 refer to are the 12 houses of the Yellow Path: http://www.chinapage.com/astronomy/syho/syho.html
"Ancient Chinese determined seasons through the pointing direction of the handle of the Big Dipper (the Plough). In the winter the "handle" points downward, north, at early evening. In the spring the "handle" points east at early evening, and so on. Accordingly, ancient Chinese divided the horizon into twelve sections and gave them names for linking the directions to which the "handle" of Big Dipper points in twelve months. Twelve names of these sections are Zi (north), Chou, Yin, Mao (east), Chen, Si, Wu (south), Wei, Shen, You (west), Xu and Hai, and are known as twelve Terrestrial/Earthly Branches. Each branch has its meaning, e.g.. Zi means to nurture. Finally, the twelve Terrestrial/Earthly Branches were applied to the 12 houses of the Yellow Path and arranged in clockwise direction."
That Chou ("ox") would have any role in starting this path is doubtful.

The idea that an axe would be used to symbolize the ploughing ceremony is also highly questionable.

"Yellow Springs" represent the underworld and have nothing to do with this axe.
http://www.qugs.org.au/queensland-wargamer/afterlife.htm

The "drain" of the oceans and rivers are irrelevant to this artifact and there is no connection of any kind visible.

In any case, based on the above, it is quite clear that the one side of the axe represents Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) and not Spica, whose stars are never shown anywhere in ancient days as cupmarked on the axe.

The cited sources show how important the Big Dipper and its handle were to ancient Chinese astronomy and we see that verified by this axe.

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