Culturas antiguas

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Publ. Astron. Obs. Belgrade No. 80 (2006), 251 - 257

Contributed paper

ANCIENT ECLIPSES AND DATING THE FALL OF BABYLON
´ BORIS BANJEVIC Belgrade’s Institute for Informatics and Statistics, Serbia and Montenegro E–mail: boris.banjevic@zis.beoland.com Abstract. The formation of an absolute chronology for the ancient Near East depends upon identifying the recorded observations of ancientastronomers. The author investigates connection between the Venus observations and nine ancient solar and lunar eclipses. The Middle Chronology for the fall of Babylon 1595 BC is too long; the Ultra-Low chronology (1499 BC) is too short. The new chronology is proposed starting with 1547 BC.

1. INTRODUCTION Our investigation of the ancient eclipses is based on Assyrian and Babylonian King Lists. Theearliest records of astronomical omens date from the Dynasty of Akkad. However, the most valuable collection of celestial observations was collected during the Kassite period and developed into a series known as Enuma Anu Enlil (EAE). Several eclipse observations found in EAE are considered as essential for the absolute dating of the early dynasties of Mesopotamia and among them the eclipses ofUr III and Old Babylon Dynasty. Assyrian and Babylonian King Lists do not give the exact answer when Babylon fell. The Long Chronology, which puts the end of Babylon in 1659 BC, is not supported by any evidence except the astronomical data. The discovery of the Kani Eponym List and the Mari Eponym Chronicle is very important for the reconstruction of the Old Assyrian chronology, but it gives only arelative chronology. Three-ring dates are more specific, but they are approximate. The political situation was very complicated. The appearance of a new state Mittani and coming to power of the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt forced Hittite king Murili I to attack Alalakh and Babylon. After a short time, he returned to Hatua (the capital of the Hittites) and was murdered. The Hittites were unable tohold on to Babylon after they sacked it because of the great distance, so they abandoned it, leaving a power vacuum. They were replaced with the Kassites, an Iranian tribe and the rulers of Mari. The Kassites were an indigenous Iranian tribe from the central Zagros region south of Hamadan. They were organized into a nation of warriors by an Aryan aristocracy. They eventually took control of all ofSumer and Akkad. The Kassite kings ruled a unified Mesopotamia longer than any other dynasty and Babylon became the political and cultural center of the ancient world under them. 251

´ B. BANJEVIC

2. THE DECELERATION OF THE EARTH’S ROTATION RATE The discrepancy in time ∆T was detected when ancient observations were compared with modern calculations. We have two opposing forces: tidalfriction slowing down the rate of rotation and ’non tidal mechanisms’ speeding it up. The resultant of these processes is a gradual slowing down of the Earth’s rotation, but at an irregular rate. The earliest observations of eclipses come from China and Babylon. According to the Shang dynasty oracle bone eclipse records ∆T = (30 ± 2.5) · t2 (1)

where t is measured in centuries since 1800 AD. The rateof change in the length of day (l.o.d.) is 1.64 ± 0.14 ms/cy (Pang et al., 1996). Lunar orbital acceleration is −26′′ /cy2 . Something different result obtained by Stephenson and Morrison (2003: 26) where the mean value c = 31 s/cy2 appears to be satisfactory. The rate of change in l.o.d. is 1.7 ± 0.1 ms/cy. According to the relation between ∆T and l.o.d (Stephenson and Morrison, 1984: 56), wherethe second derivative of ∆T is d2 (∆T ) = 2c dt2 which is equivalent to rate of change in l.o.d. d(l.o.d.) = 2c dt 1000 36525 = 0.0548 c (2)

(3)

(in ms/d/cy, usually written ms/cy) we find ∆T = (31 ± 1.8) · t2 (−700 < y < 1620) (4)

where t is measured in centuries since 1820 AD. No ∆T curve will capture all eclipses over all epochs of time. We assume t to be measured in centuries since...
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