SUMERIAN STAR CHART - ($40 US)
SKY MAP OF ANCIENT NINEVEH, 3300 BC
Circular stone-cast tablet, 140 mm diameter (approx 5.5 inches), pale ochre-terracotta, with black wood museum display stand and parchment description.
Reproduction of an archaic British Museum Sumerian star map or "planisphere" recovered from the 650 BC underground library of King Assurbanipal in Nineveh, Iraq in the late 19th century. Long thought to be an Assyrian tablet, computer analysis has matched it with the sky above Mesopotamia in 3300 BC and proves it to be of much more ancient Sumerian origin.
The tablet is an "Astrolabe," the earliest known astronomical instrument. It consists of a segmented, disk-shaped star chart with marked units of angle measure inscribed upon the rim. Unfortunately considerable parts of the planisphere on this tablet are missing (approximately 40%), damage which dates to the sacking of Nineveh. The reverse of the tablet is not inscribed. Still under study by modern scholars, the planisphere provides extraordinary proof for the existence of Sumerian astronomy ... and a very sophisticated astronomy at that.
The tablet depicts a circle divided by radial lines into eight equal sectors. The lines radiating from the center define eight stellar sectors of 45 degrees each. Star figures are found in six of these sectors. "God names" are used to signify Orion and the Milky Way, in addition to known Sumerian star/constellation names.
The eight sectors include constellations depicted in addition to being written, along with star names and their attendant symbols. The intact sections display cuneiform text naming particular stars and constellations, as well as points and diagrams, including arrows, triangles, intersecting lines and an ellipse, which comprise schematic drawings of six stars and constellations.
The constellations depicted in each sector are drawn as dots representing stars, connected by lines. Constellation figures are identifiable in the six undamaged sectors. The stars and constellations shown are identified as:
(2) not identified
(3) Sirius (Arrow)
(4) Pegasus & Andromeda (Field & Plough)
(5) not identified
(8) Hydra, Corvus & Virgo.
Thus the circular star map divides the night sky into eight sectors and illustrates the most prominent constellations and their direction of movement.
In 2008 two authors, Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell published a book about the tablet called "A Sumerian Observation of the Kofels' Impact Event." Raising a storm in archaeological circles, they re-translated the cuneiform text and assert the tablet records an ancient asteroid strike, the Kfels' Impact, which struck Austria sometime around 3100 BC.
(thanks to Gary D. Thompson for star map info)
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