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03/28/2018 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

Rostovtzeff Lecture Series: The Sky over Ancient Iraq: Babylonian Astronomy in Context

Lecture I: Babylonian Astronomy: Interpreting an Ancient Science

Mathieu Ossendrijver

Note: We are now fully booked for this event and are only accepting names for the wait-list. Due to inclement weather on March 21st, the first lecture of the Rostovtzeff series has been rescheduled for March 28th, and the second lecture of the series has been rescheduled for April 3rd. In the first lecture the geographical and historical contours of Babylonian astronomy are sketched, the cuneiform sources are introduced, and the methodological framework for interpreting Babylonian astronomy as an ancient science is discussed. Babylonian astronomy takes us to ancient Iraq, where thousands of cuneiform tablets with an astronomical content have come to light since the end of the nineteenth century. What can we learn by studying these tablets? While early interpretations were strongly shaped by modern mathematics and astronomy, the focus of much current research has shifted to uncovering the conceptual framework of Babylonian astronomy and exploring its practical, institutional, political, religious, and social context. In order to achieve this, methodological considerations from the wider historiography and sociology of science are increasingly applied.
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