Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Priests of the Ancient World Studied Astronomy

In the ancient world, priests were the wise men of learning. Young men of the ruling class studied under them at the famous shrines and temples. These were the "universities of the archaic world.

The priestly lines known as Horite Hebrew served rulers and were dispersed very widely. Some were serving rulers in the area of Lake Chad, some in Mesopotamia and some in India, Anatolia, and beyond. Some served rulers along the Nile. Plato recounts how the Nilotic priests had been keeping astronomical records for 10,000 years. He studied for 13 years in Memphis under a priest named Sechnuphis. Many Greek philosophers studied at Egyptian temple schools. 

Iamblichus wrote that Thales of Miletus insisted that Pythagoras had to go to Memphis to study because the Egyptian priests were a veritable source of knowledge and wisdom, especially when it came to the natural sciences, medicine and astronomy. 

This recently recovered fragment of a circular star calendar from the library of King Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC) is an example of the relationship between the priest-astronomers and the King. This Babylonian star calendar was found in an underground library in Nineveh, Iraq.

Read more about the Babylonian star calendar here.

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