View Full Version : What is the oldest reference...

Fr. Wayne
2006-Mar-01, 07:04 AM
to "stars" in the written record of human history?

2006-Mar-01, 07:43 AM
to "stars" in the written record of human history? Please include a date if possible.
Really old. The word itself appears to come from Proto-Indo-European:

Online Etymology Dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=star)

star: [...] from PIE *ster-

2006-Mar-01, 09:46 AM
to "stars" in the written record of human history? Please include a date if possible.

Things are never so simple. I assume that if you go back, you'll find possible references on old Chinese turtle shell writing or on mesopotamian carvings, and nobody is really sure how old those kinds of things are, and whether they really represented this or that or something else. But hey, if you do some research into it you might find out some really interesting things about word origins, etc.

Fr. Wayne
2006-Mar-01, 01:37 PM
There are so many carved bones which theorectically tracked moon phases, but I will zero in on written (language) translated by another extant source of same symbols to verify it's meaning, Specifically "star" as we call it. I 'm aiming at Sumerian/Babylonian/Sanskrit clay tablets as first investigational field.

2006-Mar-01, 03:34 PM
Hard to say unequivocally, but the Cylinder A of Gudea deals with the rising of a particular star and is thought to be from 2600 BCE. See here (http://members.optusnet.com.au/~gtosiris/page9k.html) for a chronology of Babylonian astronomy.

2006-Mar-01, 05:23 PM
Go here for more discussion (double post?) (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=38737)

Hey ToSeek... You're slipping :)

Fr. Wayne
2006-Mar-01, 11:19 PM
Sorry about the double post. Moderator? Help! Here's what I've noted in my files:
Egypt 5200 B.C. northern stars called An, Annu, Ant, or On
Temples of Edfu, Philae, Amada, & Semnek: used Canopus rising for autumnal equinox ca. 6400 B.C.
Ptah sanctuary in Memphis "Capella" orientation 5200 bc
Whether these old notes of mine have any value I doubt it, but they seem to claim that star written records may go back further in Egypt than Babylonian by 2600 years. That's an aweful big jump. I will try to decipher where I got these wild dates from.

2006-Mar-02, 04:45 AM
I placed this question at another site which contains people who are knowledgeable about such things


Some interesting replies

2006-Mar-02, 04:47 AM
From that thread...

The earliest textual references from ancient Egypt are probably from Early Dynastic estate / domain names.

Some examples of Early Dynastic estate seal impressions: Hr sbA ht, 'Horus, star of the corporation' (Anedjib, 1st dyn); Hr h sbA, 'Horus risen as a star' (Hetepsekhemwy, 2nd dyn); Hr sbA bAw, 'Horus, the star of souls' (Khasekhmwy, 2nd dyn); Hr sbA hnti pt, 'Horus, the foremost star of the sky' (Netjerkhet, 3rd dyn) (see T. Wilkinson, 2000: 119, 121-2)

The earliest date to c.2900 BC.


Horus was 'lord of the sky' (P 318), an all encompassing cosmic sky god, with the sun, moon, stars, and planets making up various aspects of his persona. 'Horus was in the sunlight' (W 168), but in the early dynastic era and OK he also clearly had a stellar aspect to his character.

Faulkner translates PT §1207a, "O Morning Star (nTr dwA), Horus of the Netherworld (Hr dA.t), divine falcon....."

'Morning Star' is written, nTr dwA + star determinative (N 14) - 'Morning star god'? - the planet Venus?)

The 3rd dynasty funerary complex of Netjerikhet (Djoser) was named 'Horus is the star at the head of the sky' according to Quirke following the interpretation by Wolfgang Helck (Quirke 2000: 116). Whether this name applies to the royal estate / domain of Netjerkhet or his funerary complex, or to both, the idea that Horus is the star at the head of the sky is quite explicit.

A similar idea is found in the earliest surviving royal mortuary texts:

Faulkner: Horus is over the stars of the sky, is he who brings Re to life every day; He refashions Unas and brings Unas to life every day. (PT §449-50 U)

Or Allen's translation: Horus at the sky's starry ceiling, who brings the sun to life every day, shall build Unis and bring Unis to life every day. (W 206)

In Pepi's funerary texts, Horus is the star that crosses the Great Green (sea?):

Pepi is your seed Sun, which is sharp in your identity, (O seed), of Horus at the fore of the akhs, the star that crosses the Great Green (sbA DAj wAD-wr). (P 518)

The name of Netjerikhet's estate / domain is mentioned as late as the Fifth Dynasty - Kaiemnefert was "adj mer manager of the estate called 'Star of Horus Foremost of Heaven', a vineyard in the Delta" (Malek, 1986: 82) An alternative translation is "Administrator of (the vineyard) 'Horus is the star at the top of heaven'." (Strudwick, 2005: 27). This title may have been purely honorific by the 5th dynasty.

The sun is of course a star, but did the AE know that? The AE were concerned among other things, with preparing themselves for the afterlife as stars, but I'm not sure how they would have reacted to the modern idea that every atom in our bodies was created inside stars millions of years ago - in other words they and us, are wonderfully reconstituted star dust / nuclear waste from ancient exploding stars.

Fr. Wayne
2006-Mar-02, 06:13 AM
Wonderful Egyptian material- 2900 B.c. is much more reasonable, than 5200 BC.

2006-Mar-02, 12:21 PM
I don't know if you would consider this "written" but some of the paintings in the Lascaux cave (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/871930.stm) depict stars and the cave paintings are around 16,000 years old.

2006-Mar-02, 03:47 PM
Threads merged - discussion may be slightly disjointed as a result.

Fr. Wayne
2006-Mar-02, 10:28 PM
Threads merged - discussion may be slightly disjointed as a result.
Nah, probably as synchronized as the way I think. Thanks for fixing my boo boo. I feel much better now. It only hurts when I use my left hand on the keypad.