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Re: [ANE-2] Sumerian numbers question

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  • Clark Whelton
    ... Do any contemporary sources state specifically that the 360 day year -- which was observed by a number of ancient civilizations around the world -- was
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 21, 2009
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      Ian Onvlee wrote:

      >>>>>>> ... 360 days is the average between a solar and lunar year and
      >>>>>>> therefore for any ancient astronomer the ideal year and the ideal
      >>>>>>> number of degrees for a circle or cycle, already well-known to the
      >>>>>>> Sumerians, who didn't invent this notion either...


      Do any contemporary sources state specifically that the 360 day year --
      which was observed by a number of ancient civilizations around the world --
      was really just an average between the lunar and solar years?


      Clark Whelton
      New York
    • Michael F. Lane
      I thank Marc and Chuck for the links to the interesting and useful articles by Høyrup. I am eager to read several of them. Having said that, I will add
      Message 2 of 13 , Oct 21, 2009
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        I thank Marc and Chuck for the links to the interesting and useful
        articles by Høyrup. I am eager to read several of them.

        Having said that, I will add humbly, and with all due respect, that I
        don't think anyone answered my question about the cognition of counting
        except with skepticism about whether we can know at all ("It's one thing
        to know what Sumerians meant, it's another thing to recover the contents
        of their minds").

        The suggestion that I wish to get to the hidden contents of their mind
        without recourse to meaning seems specious to me. We know what they meant
        because we can make logical inferences about *how* they meant. How else,
        for example, do we recognize a human language, on first encounter, as
        such, especially in unfamiliar discursive circumstances (e.g. newly found
        texts in the common sense of the word)? (Private language arguments are
        pointless.) In the present case, positing a basic capacity to count
        (entailing certain basic numerical relationships) in the face of patent
        evidence of counting is warranted, lest we fall into infinite regress (an
        act substituting for an act substituting for an act, .... etc., none of
        which is thought actually to involve a concept of number).

        In fact, it occurred to me that the Assyriologist who was so kind as to
        take notice of my remarks was proposing the arithmetical variant of the
        Schmandt-Besserat's argument about the origins of Sumerian writing, which,
        in my opinion, Glassner has lately pretty thoroughly torn to pieces on
        theoretical and empirical grounds (inter alia, "tokens" begging the
        question of the origins of iconism in early texts). (I'll confess, I am
        not au fait with counter-arguments to Glassner's.)

        In any case, again, I am grateful for the citations. They should prove
        useful for present purposes -- which do NOT include the zodiac, I hasten
        to add! :D

        All very best,

        Michael F. Lane
        Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County

        --
        Dr. Michael Franklin Lane
        Mycenaean Landscapes Project (MYLAPRO)
        Ancient Studies Department
        University of Maryland, Baltimore County
        Fine Arts Building, Room 452
        1000 Hilltop Circle
        Baltimore, MD 21250, USA
        Tel. +1-410-455-6265 / Fax +1-410-455-1660
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