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Re: [ANE-2] VAT4956 line 18 correction?

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  • Hermann Hunger
    I may first note that, as is obvious from the book s preface, Sachs was dead at the time of publication. In the translation of VAT 4956 obv. 18, the moon is
    Message 1 of 9 , May 26, 2010
      I may first note that, as is obvious from the book's preface, Sachs was
      dead at the time of publication.

      In the translation of VAT 4956 obv. 18, "the moon" is a simple mistake -
      as can be seen from the fact that it is not present in the
      transliteration. I don't remember how I came to write it, but in any
      case it is wrong, and I did not argue specifically anywhere that the
      moon was meant. Had I checked it I would very likely have found the
      error. I am very sorry for this mistake. Whenever someone pointed it out
      to me I readily agreed to it.

      It is clear from many other astronomical texts that "the rear foot of
      the Lion" is beta Virginis. I therefore translated it as such in obv. 3.
      To indicate that "the bright star at the end of the Lion's foot" may be
      a different star, I did translate it literally and not propose an
      identification.

      I cannot find anywhere that I proposed an identification with eta Virginis.

      If I was unable or hesitant to propose an identification for a star
      named in the text, everyone is welcome to propose one.
      This is what I meant by "to publish the corrections in an appropriate
      medium".

      "3. And finally, having noted this error, in what scholarly journal or
      discussion board post did Sachs/Hunger ever officially correct this
      error? Reference please." is the style in which a prosecutor addresses
      the accused.

      To remain in the comparison, I confess to be guilty only of erroneously
      restoring "the moon" in obv. 18 where I should have left it blank.

      Hermann Hunger
      Vienna


      Gracie Callier schrieb:
      > Dear colleagues,
      >
      > Hermann Hunger noted below regarding corrections:
      >
      > "If I happen to read another scholar's transliteration and come to the
      > conclusion that there are errors in it that are important enough to be
      > corrected, I publish the corrections in an appropriate medium, e.g. on
      > ANE-2 or in a journal. I do not insinuate that a colleague is
      > "misleading their readers", but rather say what I think is the correct
      > reading, interpretation etc."
      >
      > This is a very good news and reflects the inevitable refinements and
      > corrections we make as closer looks and better resources are
      > available, such as electronic astronomical programs that afford easy
      > and more accurate comparisons of the ancient skies. However, there
      > was clearly an error made by Sachs/Hunger in their
      > translation/interpretation of a blank found in Line 18 of the
      > VAT4956. The context of this Line 18 is the 15th of Sivan, the same
      > date as an eclipse. Sachs/Hunger render that line as follows with the
      > presumed missing text noted in brackets:
      >
      > LINE 18: "[the moon was be]low the bright star at the end of the
      > [Lion's foot]"
      >
      > The part of the text that was broken off does not give the planet or
      > moon that would have been in this position around the 15th. Of note,
      > two previous lines in this text give the lunar position in both Libra
      > and Scorpio:
      >
      > Line 15 notes "Night of the 8th, first part of the night. The moon
      > stood 2.5 cubits below beta-Librae".
      >
      > Line 16 notes "Night of the 10th, first part of the night. The moon
      > was balanced 3.5 cubits above Scorpii"
      >
      > Line 17 introduces an eclipse on the 15th of Sivan then continues with
      > a planet that is "below" the "bright star at the end of the Lion's
      > Foot" in Line 18. But the actual planet is not noted, that part of
      > the text being missing; only that on this date it was "sap"
      > (immediately BELOW) the "bright star at the end of the Lion's Foot"
      > (BSELF)(MUL KUR sa TIL GIR UR-A). But here Sachs/Hunger inserted the
      > "Moon" as being in this position on this date without noting any
      > "error." This is incorrect for 2 reasons:
      >
      > 1. As noted in Line 14, when the moon was actually in Virgo on the
      > 5th, it was actually ABOVE the BSELF. Sachs/Hunger assign the BSELF
      > to eta-Virginis.
      >
      > Line 14: "Night of the 5th, beginning of the night. The moon passed
      > towards the east 1 cubit (above:below) the bright star of the end of
      > the Lion's foot."
      >
      > If you check an astronomy program for this date, you'll see that the
      > moon is about 1 cubit past eta-Virginis but also above it. Thus
      > during this month, the moon passed by ABOVE both beta-Virginis and
      > eta-Virginis, two bright stars that follow each other in Virgo. So
      > even on the 5th while the moon was actually in Virgo, it never would
      > have been "sap" or "below" the BSELF which Sachs/Hunger have assigned
      > to eta-Virginis, noting no mismatch for Line 14.
      >
      > See some of the astronomy graphics here for the VAT4956:
      > http://adamoh.org/TreeOfLife.wan.io/OTCh/VAT4956/VAT4956ATranscriptionOfItsTranslationAndComments.htm
      >
      > So that is problem #1 here. The moon specifically was never "below"
      > eta-Virginis or beta-Virginis as the text describes. That is clue #1
      > this could not be a reference to the moon.
      >
      > 2. The second problem, of course, is that the moon had long left out
      > of Virgo by the 15th. Even on the 5th it was 1 cubit past
      > eta-Virginis (BSELF) and already in Libra on the 8th and Scropio on
      > the 10th. It is now the 15th! The moon was now in Capricorn.
      > Sachs/Hunger would have known the moon was in Capricorn on this date
      > had they observed the location of the eclipse event this date from
      > Line 17.
      >
      > So how is it that Sachs/Hunger thought this was a reference to the
      > moon on the 15th of this month and that it was BELOW instead of above
      > eta-Virginis?
      >
      > Further, in Line 3, when the moon was noted to be out of position in
      > regards to being 1 cubit in front of the "Rear Foot of the Lion" (GIR
      > ar sa UR-A) which Sachs/Hunger assign to beta-Virginis, they note "an
      > error for the 8th" when the text gives that lunar position for the
      > 9th. Therefore, one wonders, even if they thought the moon had
      > regressed by 10 days back into Virgo why there was no note this was a
      > 10-day "error"? Not to mention the incorrect position noted as being
      > below rather than above eta-Virginis? Without a note of any "error"
      > the presumption is that this is the astronomically correct position
      > for the moon for this date and that the missing text is correct for
      > the moon; which, of course, it is not.
      >
      > Having noted this, though, there is still the issue as to whether this
      > is a spurious reference or not for the 15th. That is, if the moon
      > clearly is the incorrect choice here, then is this a legitimate
      > position for some other planet? Well, if you look up the 15th of
      > Sivan for 568 BCE, you will note that the planet Venus is
      > immediately *below* ("sap"=immediately below) beta-Virginis on the
      > 15th. Thus Venus is clearly in reference here and the obvious match.
      >
      > So the questions for Sachs/Hunger are:
      >
      > 1. How could they have missed such an obvious application of the
      > Planet Venus here for Line 18?
      >
      > 2. If they truly believed that the BSELF (MUL KUR sa TIL GIR UR-A)
      > indeed was eta-Virginis and not beta-Virginis, then why not note an
      > error for the planet Venus for the 15th by a few days as they noted in
      > Line 3 for the moon? That is, if Venus didn't work out for
      > eta-Virginis only a few days in error, then why presume the moon here,
      > which was some 10 days in error? And again, why not note of an error
      > for either Venus or the Moon here. As noted, making no note of an
      > error would mislead readers into thinking the moon was correctly
      > positioned here, in case they didn't notice the impossibility of the
      > moon being here either on this date or "below" eta-Virginis (or
      > beta-Virginis).
      >
      > 3. And finally, having noted this error, in what scholarly journal or
      > discussion board post did Sachs/Hunger ever officially correct this
      > error? Reference please.
      >
      > THE CORRECTION:
      >
      > The actual correction would involve three lines. Lines 3, 14 and 18.
      > That's because if Line 18 is correct in identifying Venus being
      > immediately below ("sap") the "bright star at the end of the Lion's
      > Foot" then Line 18 confirms that the BSELF is none other than
      > beta-Virginis and not eta-Virgins as Sachs/Hunger assign (note Line 14
      > position for the BSELF is eta-Virgins). So correction #1 would be
      > assigning Venus to the blank in Line 18.
      >
      > Correction #2 would be assigning the BSELF not to eta-Virginis but to
      > beta-Virginis. The BSELF occurs in Lines 14 and 18. Therefore Line
      > 14 needs to be corrected from eta-Virginis to beta-Virginis and an
      > error of 1 day noted rather than a match. That is, the Moon is said to
      > be 1 cubit behind eta-Virginis on the 5th, which it is, but should
      > have been 1 cubit behind beta-Virginis, which is an error of about 1
      > day, just as in Line 3. This error of 1 day had already been noted by
      > another professor, P.V. Neugebauer, for Line 14; however, Neugebauer
      > presumed that the BSELF was actually a reference to beta-Virginis
      > rather than eta-Virginis. Neugebaur, of course, was correct in making
      > that star assignment. So Correction #2 would be an error of 1 day for
      > Line 14 when the BSELF is corrected from eta-Virginis to beta-Virginis.
      >
      > Finally Correction #3 would be Line 3 where the "Rear Foot of the
      > Lion" (GIR ar sa UR-A) is assigned by Sachs/Hunger to beta-Virginis.
      > Since Venus below the BSELF on the 15th confirms the BSELF is none
      > other than beta-Virginis and not eta-Virginis, then that means the
      > "Rear Foot of the Line" in Line 3 must be the star in front of the
      > BSELF, thus sigma-Leonis. Of course, sigma-Leonis does actually make
      > up the Rear Foot of Leo! So that is a perfectly accurate generic
      > reference "the Rear Foot Of the Lion." In fact, what is akward, now
      > that we are looking at it, is that beta-Virginis would ever be
      > considered the Rear Foot of the Lion since beta-Virginis is not
      > actually in Leo. The "bright star at the end of the Lion's Foot" or a
      > better translation for "TIL" being "behind" and thus the "bright star
      > BEHIND the Lion's Foot" is a perfect generic description of
      > beta-Virginis which follows behind sigma-Leonis, the star that
      > actually makes up the Rear Foot of Leo.
      >
      > In summary, there are three obvious errors that need to be corrected
      > in the VAT4956 by Sachs/Hunger. For one, the moon in no way around the
      > 15th of Sivan was still Virgo, and was never "below" either
      > beta-Virginis or eta-Virginis even when it was in Virgo around the 5th.
      >
      > Second, clearly this reference matches the position of Venus for this
      > date which should be corrected.
      >
      > However, if this is presumed to be a correct match for Venus on the
      > 15th, then the BSELF is a misassignment by Sachs/Hunger for
      > eta-Virginis for this entire text. The BSELF (MUL KUR sa TIL GIR UR-A)
      > should be assigned to beta-Virginis rather than eta-Virginis. The
      > BSELF is referenced in Line 14 where the moon is noted to be 1 cubit
      > behind and above eta-Virginis and thus no "error" is noted for Line 14
      > by Sachs/Hunger, though P.V. Neugebauer notes an error of 1 day when
      > he correctly assigns that star to beta-Virginis. So an "error of 1
      > day" would be the correction for Line 14 when the BSELF becomes
      > beta-Virginis rather than eta-Virginis.
      >
      > Finally, if we assign the BSELF in Lines 14 and 18 to beta-Virginis,
      > which we must, then Line 3's reference to beta-Virginis as the "Rear
      > Foot of the Lion"(GIR ar sa UR-A) by Sachs/Hunger is incorrect
      > and needs to be corrected to sigma-Leonis, which literally makes
      > up rear foot of Leo.
      >
      > These transliterations were published years ago and thus plenty of
      > time has passed by to note this error, which some have. So I would
      > like to know from Professor Hunger in which journals did he make an
      > attempt to formally correct Line 18, and respectively also Lines 14
      > and 3? Or if he hasn't actually corrected it yet, does he actually
      > intend to do so now when an obvious error or improvement is noted?
      >
      > Thank you, Professor Hunger, for your reply. But just out of
      > curiously, if you wish, could you please explain why you and
      > Sachs choose the "moon" rather than Venus for application to Line 18?
      > Also, why didn't you note an "error of 10 days" for the moon in this
      > position since you noted an 'error' of 1 day for the moon in Line 3?
      >
      > If you have formally corrected this, please provide the reference for
      > that correction for us. If not, how soon would you be planning a
      > formal correction of Lines 3, 14 and 18, and in which scholarly journals?
      >
      > Regards,
      >
      >
      > L. Lynn (Callier) Wilson
      > Independent Biblical Chronologist
      > Texas, USA
      >
      > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      > *From:* hermannhunger <hermann.hunger@...>
      > *To:* ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      > *Sent:* Thu, May 20, 2010 9:20:39 AM
      > *Subject:* [ANE-2] Re: BM 41536 (LBAT 1421)
      >
      >
      >
      > Dear colleagues and Prof. Hunger,
      >
      > there are not so many "transliterations and translations of
      > stronomical cunei9form tablets" available in print. I therefore would
      > like a more precise information on "we often find guesses and circular
      > reasoning". What is "often"? Are 10% of the transliterations guesses?
      > Which translations contain "circular reasoning"?
      >
      > As for BM 41536, the copy by Pinches can be compared to the photo
      > published by me in the work quoted by Dr. Furuli. As usual, Pinches'
      > copy is very good.
      > In my translteration, there are 6 signs marked by "x" which are broken
      > so that I could not read them. I counted the signs on the copy but I
      > did not arrive at 31, which is probably not important. I do not see
      > which "8 clear signs" I did not transliterate.
      > If I happen to read another scholar's transliteration and come to the
      > conclusion that there are errors in it that are important enough to be
      > corrected, I publish the corrections in an appropriate medium, e.g. on
      > ANE-2 or in a journal. I do not insinuate that a colleague is
      > "misleading their readers", but rather say what I think is the correct
      > reading, interpretation etc.
      >
      > So I expect to hear from Dr. Furuli what is wrong in my
      > transliteration and translation, and what he thinks is correct.
      >
      > Hermann Hunger
      >
      > --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com <mailto:ANE-2%40yahoogroups.com>, Rolf
      > Furuli <furuli@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Dear colleagues,
      > >
      > > In the transliteration and translation of astronomical cuneiform
      > > tablets we often find guesses and circular reasonings. But the
      > > scholar who scrutinizes a tablet in order to make a transliteration,
      > > usually faithfully tries to transliterate all the signs that he or
      > > she sees.
      > >
      > > BM 41536 is believed to list lunar eclipses and is applied to year 42
      > > of Nebuchadnezzar II. I was very surprised when I compared the
      > > transliteration and translation in H. Hunger et al. 2001.
      > > "Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia" V, I pp. 30,
      > > 31 with the drawing of the tablet in A. J, Sachs. 1955. "Late
      > > Babylonian Astronomical and Related Texts Copied by T. G. Pinches and
      > > J. N. Strassmaier," p. 223. I have not collated the tablet, but I
      > > assume that the beautiful hand of Pinches or Strassmaier faithfully
      > > reproduces all the signs they saw on the tablet.
      > >
      > > I found that of the 31 clear signs (I count each number as one sign),
      > > 8 (26%) were not transliterated. If these 8 signs are taken into
      > > account, the interpretation of the tablet could be very different
      > > from the one given by Hunger et al. So it seems to me that the
      > > authors are misleading their readers. Because the authors are highly
      > > qualified scholars who are experts on astronomical tablets, this
      > > situation is strange indeed. So I would like to hear the opinion of
      > > other list members regarding this situation.
      > >
      > >
      > > Best regards,
      > >
      > > Rolf Furuli Ph.D
      > > University of Oslo
      > >
      >
      >
      >


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