Thursday, 17 June 2010

Ancient Egyptian Achievements in Astronomy

By Muhammed Khaled

The ancient Egyptian civilization was one of the first and greatest civilizations on the whole world..and the fact that the ancient Egyptians had done many achievements which covered most sides of the human life, including the political and social improvements , as well, their advances in many scientific majors. Let's talk now about what they have achieved in the science of astronomy.

The Egyptians were very interested in the stars and constellations and they gave much care for that exciting science. From the Middle Kingdom, constellations were often depicted on coffins as star clocks, showing the length of time stars were visible or invisible.
From the New Kingdom, ceilings of tombs and temples often displayed the constellation of stars. These constellations were the same as the ones we see today, but represented differently. For example, Orion was represented as a man turning his head and Ursa Major was represented as a bull's foreleg. From the Middle Kingdom, the Egyptians were able to recognize five planets, known as stars that know no rest, which were often associated with Horus, the Egyptian god of the sky:

* Jupiter, known as Horus who limits the two lands
* Mars, known as Horus the red
* Mercury, known as Sebegu (a god associated with Seth)
* Saturn, known as Horus, bull of the sky
* Venus, known as god of the morning

The ancient Egyptians had used astronomy for many different practical sides..and one of their best achievements was setting the new year always to coincide with the rising of Sirius in mid-July and the annual flooding of the Nile.

Flooding was happening every year and at the same time. The ancient astronomers and priests, noticed that the flooding always occurred at the summer solstice, which also just happened to be when the bright star Sirius rose before the sun and so, they were able to predict the annual flooding, a skill which in turn rendered them considerable power. Then they divided the year into twelve months of 30 day, followed by a five day feast period.
In addition to this,..the Egyptians used astronomy in scheduling temple-building ceremonies, which relied on the visibility of the constellations we refer to now as the Great Bear and Orion... as well,..they could set the cardinal points for the orientation of the pyramids by observing the North Star. Finally, it is important to say that The stars were not used to predict the fate of humans in Egypt until the Ptolemaic period when the Greeks introduced astrology. The most famous zodiac in Egypt is on the ceiling at Denderah and dates to the first century AD. This zodiac displays all the familiar zodiac signs, including Leo, Aries, and Taurus.

Muhammed Khaled is concerned about Egyptian culture and history and the owner of Egyptian Panorama blog where you can discover more about Egypt through a collection of informative and simple articles and reviews on both ancient and modern Egypt. To see more details about the Ancient Egyptian Achievements in Astronomy click here

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