From the earliest of times, the zodiac has been universally used to predict or reflect characteristics of personality, whether from the Chinese, Mesopotamian, Indus Valley, Egyptian or any other culture, echoing the ancient philosophy ' As above - so below ' Astrology, in its broadest sense, is the search for purpose in the heavens. We know from ancient records that the Greeks inherited their knowledge of the heavens primarily from the Mesopotamians, who in turn inherited their knowledge from the Sumerians.
But is there any evidence of the heavenly constellations in art or culture from before this time. Remarkably, it has been proposed that the images at Lascaux and other nearby Palaeolithic sites show exactly that The Lascaux Planetarium.
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Near to the entrance of the Lascaux cave complex is a magnificent painting of a bull. Hanging over its shoulder is what appears to us to be a map of the Pleiades, the cluster of stars sometimes called the Seven Sisters. Inside the bull painting, there are also indications of spots that may be a representation of other stars found in that region of sky.
Today, this region forms part of the constellation of Taurus the bull. I n recent years, new research has suggested that the Lascaux paintings may incorporate prehistoric star charts. Dr Michael Rappenglueck of the University of Munich argued that some of the non-figurative dot clusters and dots within some of the figurative images correlate with the constellations of Taurus, The Pleiades and the grouping known as the "Summer Triangle". More about Lascaux, France. While there are currently 88 constellations officially by the IUA recognised today 9 , this page is concerned only with the origin of the 12 constellations that make up the modern zodiac.
The classical map of the sky, with the 48 Greek constellations , was derived from at least two different pre-Greek traditions. One tradition comprised the 12 signs of the zodiac, with several associated animal constellations , all of which developed over 3, BC in Mesopotamia in a religious or ritual tradition. These were taken over by the Greeks around BC. However the other Babylonian constellations , their farming-calendar tradition, were not adopted.
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The other tradition was not Mesopotamian; it comprised large constellations which appear to date from 2, BC, probably from the Mediterranean region, devised for the navigators of ships. They include huge bears and serpents which marked the celestial pole and equator at that time, and probably the four anonymous giants which we know as Hercules, Ophiuchus, Bootes, and Auriga, as well as some of the large southern 'marine' constellations. The origins of some other constellations , including the Perseus tableau and various animals, are unknown.
Until recently it has usually been assumed that they evolved from the fancies of primitive imaginations, but research now suggests that they were designed as a pictorial scientific coordinate system.
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A coordinate system is a set of imaginary lines for measuring positions, like the lines of latitude and longitude for determining locations on the earth. The constellations perform a similar function, but they employ pictures, which make it easy to identify stars without need of instruments. Moreover, this evidence points to a time and place that they originated: about B. There are three main lines of evidence that point to this date and location'. The Empty Part of the sky. Moreover, the centre of that circle moves very slowly through the sky because of the motion of the earth's axis.
The location of the centre of the empty part of the sky implies an origin date of about 2, B. Slanted Constellations. Many of the constellations are tipped at an angle to the natural directions of north, east, south and west. If one asks if there was a time and place when they would have all been much aligned vertically and horizontally, the answer is, about 2, B.
Note that this is an entirely different line of reasoning, but it yields a very similar date and location of origin. Moreover, several of the constellations mark astronomically important areas at the date. For example, the long snake Hydra would have coincided with the circle called the celestial equator.
Star risings and settings. The ancient Greek poet Aratus states that certain stars rise at the same time, or set at the same time, or that one rises as another sets on opposite points on the horizon. Because of the earth's precession, such coincidences depend on both the location on the earth and on the date of observations. Accordingly, the Sumerians are currently credited with originating the constellations. More about the Sumerians.
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Of particular interest in relation to this is is the location of the capital city of the Assyrian empire Nimrud , which was founded by King Shalmaneser I BC — BC. Perhaps also no coincidence that the longitude of Nimrud is also the same as the exterior angle of both Snoferu's pyramids. More about Egyptian Geodesy. The Babylonian MUL. Having established that astrology the 12 constellations originated in Sumeria, it is worth investigating if this represents the true origins of the zodiac. It is known that Babylonian astrology developed within the context of divination.
A collection of 32 tablets with inscribed liver models, dating from about 1, BC, are the oldest known detailed texts of Babylonian divination, and these demonstrate the same interpretational format as that employed in celestial omen analysis. The Sumerians called the twelve major zodiacal constellations the 'Shiny herd'. Right: Sumerian astrology tablet, dating from c.
The first official inscribed version of a Babylonian compendium is from 86 BC, but by using modern astronomical techniques an astronomer at Louisiana State University has dated the original observations to 1, BC, give or take years. He also says the observations were made within km of The tablets record the day of the year that certain groups of stars, or constellations, appear in the sky at dawn.
These constellations are widely thought to be the precursors of the modern Signs of the Zodiac. More about Sumeria. The Armenian Zodiac:. While it is traditionally claimed that the earliest reference to the zodiac originates with the Babylonians, the discovery of an observatory in Metsamor , Armenia, predating the Babylonian kingdom by almost 2, years has changed our perception of events as the observatory at Metsamor apparently contains the first recorded example of dividing the year into 12 sections.
Using an early form of geometry, the inhabitants of Metsamor were able to create both a calendar and envision the curve of the earth. The discovery of the astronomical 'observatory' at Metsamor and the presence of engravings which have been speculatively called 'zodiac creatures' has given credence to the assertion that the ancient figures of the constellations were probably created by ancient peoples living in the Euphrates valley and near Mount Ararat in eastern Anatolia and Armenia: Rick Ney, the author of 'Karahundj, The Armenian Stonehenge' , says of it:.
More about Metsamor, Armenia. Article : Old Linear and the Zodiac Signs. Flavin, There have been suggestions that the Bible contains hidden allegories to describe astronomical events. Indeed a calculation of Biblical chronologies led the Bishop Usher to announce a date of BC as the creation date. Bullinger interpreted the creatures appearing in the books of Ezekiel and revelation as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac, with the Lion as Leo, the Bull is Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle representing Scorpio.
Some authors have linked the twelve tribes of Israel with the twelve signs of the zodiac. It is arguable that the large emphasis placed on Moses and the Israelites 'escape' from captivity is because it was at this very time as it was later at the time of Christ , that the astrologers of the time were aware of a change in the precessionary clock From the age of Taurus to the age of Aries an event which would have been proclaimed with prophesies and predictions. When Moses was said to have descended from mount Sinai with the ten commandments, some of his people or followers were found by him to be worshipping a golden bull calf.
He instructed these false idol-worshippers to be killed. The new Testament concerns itself with the next zodiac sign, Pisces, through the coming of Christ. It is no coincidence that one of the enduring signs for Christianity is the fish. The names of the Hindu zodiac and corresponding Greek signs sound very different, being in Sanskrit and Greek respectively, but it has been long recognised that their symbols are identical. For example, dhanu means "bow" and corresponds to Sagittarius, the "archer", and kumbha means "water-pitcher" and corresponds to Aquarius, the "water-carrier".
They make warm and lively friends. People born under the sign of Taurus are practical, patient, and determined. Because of this, they can appear stubborn and obstinate to others. They like to do things their own way.
source Taureans can be extremely generous, but they always keep something in reserve, as security is important to them. They are generally good at managing their financial affairs.
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They are persistent and possess enormous drive and determination. Taureans love beauty and work best in harmonious surroundings. Their homes invariably display good quality and tasteful objects, and whenever they buy something, it has to be of good quality. The main lesson Taureans need to learn is how to control obstinacy.
This can make them inflexible and unforgiving, which is out of tune with the calm, harmonious approach they usually have. People born under the sign of Gemini are ingenious, versatile, restless, and quick-thinking. They love meeting new people, and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
They are good with words, and can talk at great length on almost anything. They enjoy occupations that use their voices in some way.
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