The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture

The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture


By (author) Francesca Rochberg


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Paperback $37.19
  • Format: Hardback | 360 pages
  • Dimensions: 162mm x 228mm x 28mm | 581g
  • Publication date: 12 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521830109
  • ISBN 13: 9780521830102
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: 2 line diagrams

Product description

In antiquity, the expertise of the Babylonians in matters of the heavens was legendary and the roots of both western astronomy and astrology are traceable in cuneiform tablets going back to the second and first millennia BC. The Heavenly Writing, first publsiehd in 2004, discusses the place of Babylonian celestial divination, horoscopy, and astronomy in Mesopotamian intellectual culture. Focusing chiefly on celestial divination and horoscopes, it traces the emergence of personal astrology from the tradition of celestial divination and the use of astronomical methods in horoscopes. It further takes up the historiographical and philosophical issue of the nature of these Mesopotamian 'celestial sciences' by examining elements traditionally of concern to the philosophy of science, without sacrificing the ancient methods, goals, and interests to a modern image of science. This book will be of particular interest to those concerned with the early history of science.

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Author information

Francesca Rochberg is Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship. She is the author of Babylonian Horoscopes (1998) and Aspects of Babylonian Celestial Divination: The Lunar Eclipse Tablets of Enuma Anu Enlil (1988).

Review quote

'It is a long time since I've enjoyed a book this much, found so much in it to agree with, and so much to provoke further thought and research ... The Heavenly Writing is a book that lives up to its name.' Bryn Mawr Classical Review 'This is a fascinating read with much to offer and challenge, an erudite and skilful exploration and justification of Assyrian and Babylonian expertise and influence in this area. ... I enjoyed this immensely ... It is a truly exciting book, with true passion and secure appreciation and knowledge of this intriguing subject.' The London Association of Classical Teachers Newsletter

Table of contents

1. The historiography of Mesopotamian science; 2. Celestial divination in context; 3. Mesopotamian genethlialogy: the Babylonian horoscopes; 4. Sources for horoscopes in Babylonian astronomical texts; 5. Sources for horoscopes in the early astrological tradition; 6. The scribes and scholars of Mesopotamian celestial science; 7. The classification of Mesopotamian celestial inquiry as science.