The History of Astronomy in the Ancient World

Video

Kelly Macquire
by
published on 17 May 2022

The history of astronomy in the Ancient World can be traced back thousands of years, and well before the Ancient Greek philosophers famously worked on it. It is generally agreed that the discipline of astronomy began in the region of Mesopotamia, although there are scholars who argue it originated in Egypt, and others for ancient India. The evidence of Nabta Playa, a stone circle in Egypt that dates to the fifth millennium BCE and has been interpreted as a prehistoric astronomical calendar, is a main cause for the belief that the Egyptians were the first astronomers. It's definitely a bit of a 'who was first’ debate between Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley Civilisation over who can claim to have been the region with the first astronomers.

The study of how the universe functioned and why, setting aside theistic beliefs concerning gods and creation, and instead relying on mathematical calculations and observations, was certainly not invented by the Greeks as they were latecomers to the field of astronomy, drawing on the works of the Egyptians and the Babylonians. To understand the universe and the earth’s place in it, they developed a working model of the universe explained not by the gods, but by natural laws. Plus, by understanding how the planets moved, the concept of astrology and the idea of planets influencing human affairs transformed into a more scientific view of how planetary movement influenced human affairs. As the planets moved closer and further away from the earth, they were believed to have exerted a certain power over both humans and the natural world.

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— CHAPTERS —
0:00​ Introduction
1:04 Early Astronomy — Egypt and Mesopotamia
3:48 Ancient Greek Astronomy
5:42 The Pre-Socratics
8:03 From Plato to Ptolemy
12:34 Outro

— WANT TO KNOW MORE? —
Greek Astronomy https://www.worldhistory.org/Greek_Astronomy/
Mesopotamian Science https://www.worldhistory.org/Mesopotamian_Science/
Pre-Socratic Philosophers https://www.worldhistory.org/Pre-Socratic_Philosophers/
Hipparchus of Nicea https://www.worldhistory.org/Hipparchus_of_Nicea/
Aristarchus of Samos worldhistory.org/Aristarchus_of_Samos/
Eratosthenes https://www.worldhistory.org/Eratosthenes/
Thales of Miletus https://www.worldhistory.org/Thales_of_Miletus/

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An Introduction to Archaeology: What is Archaeology and Why is it Important? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tkTxALrVvg

— ATTRIBUTIONS —
You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here - https://worldhistory.typehut.com/the-history-of-astronomy-in-the-ancient-world-images-and-attributions-9550

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:
https://www.ancientlyre.com
https://open.spotify.com/artist/7Dx2vFEg8DmOJ5YCRm4A5v?si=emacIH9CRieFNGXRUyJ9
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ1X6F7lGMEadnNETSzTv8A

— THUMBNAIL IMAGE —
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Uranometria_orion.jpg
Johann Bayer / This image is courtesy of the United States Naval Observatory Library
Public Domain US - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain

https://www.flickr.com/photos/carolemage/16092353008/
Carole raddato
CC BY SA 2.0 - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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#ancientastronomy #astronomyhistory #greekastronomy

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2022, May 17). The History of Astronomy in the Ancient World. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2771/the-history-of-astronomy-in-the-ancient-world/

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The History of Astronomy in the Ancient World." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified May 17, 2022. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2771/the-history-of-astronomy-in-the-ancient-world/.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The History of Astronomy in the Ancient World." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 17 May 2022. Web. 25 Jun 2022.

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