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The Age of Aries Babylonian and Akkadian Astronomy Myths

The Age of Aries Babylonian and Akkadian Astronomy Myths

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Published by: Zavier Mainyu on Oct 08, 2011
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04/03/2013

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Unlike the Sumerians, the Babylonians were excellent astronomers, and they looked to the
stars for wisdom and guidance. They followed the progressions of the sun, moon, and the
five closest planets in the solar system, yielding the magic number 7 that would become
incorporated in mythology worldwide. The Babylonians viewed these moving lights in the
sky as gods, which appeared to be alive since they moved freely in the sky while the other
stars and constellations remained fixed. Therefore, when one planet would pass through a
constellation (as we have already seen with Inanna, a representation of Venus), the
interaction between these two heavenly bodies would be recorded in story form since they
had no star charts or paper to record these messages.

Another new feature of this unit’s readings will be the creation and introduction of human
beings
. We did not really recognize any humans in Unit 1, as those myths were intended to
instruct us of how nature operates, not so much our interaction with these forces directly.
In Babylon, however, we are told many accounts of the creation of humans, whose sole
purpose in all of these stories was relegated to either digging irrigation canals or serving as
kings. We will see how the younger gods rebelled against the older ones who had enslaved
them to a life of manual labor. Humans would be placed beneath the lesser gods to create a
firm hierarchy amongst these various beings: the leader gods at the top, followed by the
working gods, followed by the mortal humans, then the animals. This may appear natural to
you, but please recognize the significance of this political shift: whereas the male and female
forces were treated equally in Unit 1, the Babylonians imposed a strict hierarchy in the
world, placing the masculine firmly over the feminine. Watch for male dominance
throughout this unit’s readings.

The arrival of humans in these stories adds levels of complexity and dispute to the
narratives. You will see that mankind does not appear to be living happily. Their
communities were ravaged by constant warfare, their resources were limited, their
marketplaces were crowded with desperate customers, and the legal system seemed to exist
in a state of chaos. On top of that, this unit’s stories will tell of great misfortune that had
befallen mankind, much of which is doled out by Nature in the form of disease, drought,
floods, plagues, and monsters. Apparently, the progress made by the Sumerian farmers 1500
years earlier resulted in a Middle East that was teeming with too many healthy people.
Several myths from this unit will reveal attempts to control the human population, such as
mortality, impotence, miscarriages, mutations, and even sudden infant death syndrome.

In sum, the Babylonians were a city-centered people, not independent family farmers, so
their reliance on strong leaders and community participation should become evident. Nature,
the great provider of clean water and crops in unit 1, becomes the great tormentor in Unit 2.
In the Age of Taurus, mankind relied on Nature to provide everything needed to thrive, but
in the Age of Aries, Nature’s inconsistencies and indifference become public enemy number
one. This culture gave us the majority of the flood narratives from this region, many of
which are hauntingly similar, but all point in the same direction: that Nature cannot be
trusted; instead, rely on your king to provide for you. The cultural axis mundi shifts from
gardens to kingdoms, from Nature to Man, and from female to male.

Stars in the Sky, Gods in the heavens K

8877

Stars in the Sky, Gods in the Heavens

Prof. Stephen Hagin K Symbolic Connections in WL K 12th edition K Kennesaw State University

The Sacred Number 7

The number 7 first gained sacred status in Sumer. The number represents the 7 lights in the
sky that moved their positions relative to the more stable palette of stars. These moving
lights became personified as gods, whose movements wrote the scripts of ancient mythology
by moving closer to, away from, or across other planets and constellations. Many of these
stories are explained in this section.

Without paper, chalkboards, or computers, the ancient astronomers worldwide needed ways
of recording the basic movements of the 7 wandering lights seen with the naked eye: the sun
and moon, as well as the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Although these planetary names are Latin monikers, they originated mostly because of
Mesopotamian cosmology. The Sumerians began the identity of the modern zodiac, but it
was the Babylonians who turned this science into great literature. Whereas the Sumerians
told nature myths to help communicate good farming practices, the Babylonians looked
skyward for understanding, divination, and control. You will notice this difference in the
unit’s readings compared with the Sumerian tales of earth and water.

The number 7 can be found in many places: the days of the week, the number of steps on
their temples (ziggurats), and even the number of branches on their sacred trees in their
artwork, representing life (and thus, the Tree of Life). In spite of this, the seventh day in
Babylonia was not holy. Rather, it represented danger and darkness due to the dramatic
transformation of the moon from night to night. Being superstitious peoples, the seventh day
became a day of rest.

7 Days a Week

Although the 7-day week developed from the lunar calendar, there were no weeks in ancient
Sumer. Holy days were typically celebrated on the first, seventh and fifteenth of each
month, corresponding to the main stages of the moon: crescent, half, and full. Sargon I had
conquered Akkadia, upstream from Sumer, but soon conquered the deteriorating city-states
that comprised Sumer. In 2350 BCE, Sargon instituted the first weekly calendar ever
recorded.

The Mesopotamian day started at sunset (similar to the Hebrew tradition) and was twelve
double hours long: six of daytime and six of nighttime. Because an “hour” was calculated as
one-sixth of the available daylight, the length of each hour differed from day to day, due to
the length of the daylight that each season provided. Because of their sexagesimal-based
numbering system, the Sumerians’ hour contained 60 minutes and the minute contained 60
seconds. A measure of distance, called a “beru,” was calculated as the distance that a man
could walk in a “double hour” (roughly five miles).

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