Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa
The Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa recovered from the library at Nineveh, is a 7th century BC cuneiform tablet that bears much older (Bronze Age) records of the rise times of Venus and its first and last visibility on the horizon before or after sunrise and sunset. Several dates for the original observations were proposed early in the 20th century, corresponding to the High, Middle and Low Chronologies, the dates inferred for the beginning of the lunar observations being the dates 1702, 1646 and 1582 respectively. More recent work has produced several so-called Ultra-Low Chronologies - 1551 proposed by astronomer Vahe Gurzadyan, 1519 proposed by archaeologist Peter James, and 1419 proposed by Egyptologist David Rohl. The information copied on the surviving tablet was first compiled during the reign of King Ammisaduqa, grandson of Hammurabi of the First Dynasty of Babylon. The tablet is currently part of the British Museum collections.
First published in 1870 by Henry Creswicke Rawlinson and George Smith as tablet 63, in "Tablet of Movements of the Planet Venus and their Influences" (The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, volume III), the tablet's significance for corroborating Babylonian chronology was first recognised by Franz Xaver Kugler in 1912, when he could identify the enigmatic "Year of the Golden Throne" ("Venus" tablet K.160) with the 8th year of the reign of Ammisaduqa. Since then, this 7th-century BC copy has been variously interpreted to support several chronologies in the 2nd millennium BC.
It has been the basis of most assumptions that there was a link between a fixed lunar calendar and the 56/64 year cycles of the visibility of Venus, called into question by V.G. Gurzadyan in 2000. The lunar dates for Venus from the Middle Chronology (1646-1625 BC) were miscalculated in our early 20th century as 275 years earlier, 243-year Venus plus 32 years (4 × 8 years), implying that the biblical Patriarch Abram knew Hammurabi as Amrapal (42 years 2067-2025 BC.) Hammurabi was subsequently corrected to 1792-1750 BC, but this is now under challenge by the various Ultra-Low Chronologies. Possibly the biblical AmarPal matches the 9-year reign of AmarSin of 3rd dynasty Ur (1943-1934 BC) and since the Ur III dynasty ended 25 lunar years later (IbbiSin 1925-1900 BC) the Hindu and Nordic concepts of 1900 BC as Chaldea's year 3600 are understandable.
The tablets have been copied and recopied over many centuries, resulting in predictable scribal errors. Immanuel Velikovsky interpreted the few scribal errors as evidence for a perturbation of Venus' orbit when writing Worlds in Collision (1950), avoiding the rest of the text, which shows a high degree of regularity.
Year 1 inferior Venus sets on Shabatu 15 and after 3 days rises on Shabatu 18
Year 2 superior Venus vanishes E on Arahsamnu 21 and after 1 month 25 days appears W on Tebetu 16
Year 3 inferior Venus sets on Ululu 29 and after 16 days rises on Tashritu 15
Year 4 superior Venus vanishes E on Dumuzi 3 and after 2 months 6 days appears W on Ululu 9
Year 5 inferior Venus sets on Nisan 29 and after 12 days rises on Ayar 11
Year 5 superior Venus vanishes E on Kislimu 27 and after 2 months 3 days appears W on Shabatu 30
Year 6 inferior Venus sets on Arahsamnu 28 and after 3 days rises on Kislimu 1
Year 7 superior Venus vanishes E on Abu 30 and after 2 months appears W on Tashritu 30
Year 8 inferior Venus sets on Dumuzi 9 and after 17 days rises on Dumuzi 26
Year 8 superior Venus vanishes E on Adar 27 and after 2 months 16 days appears W on Simanu 13
Year 9 inferior Venus sets on Adar 12 and after 2 days rises on Adar 14
Year 10 superior Venus vanishes E on Arahsamnu 17 and after 1 month 25 days appears W on Tebetu 12
Year 11 inferior Venus sets on Ululu 25 and after 16 days rises on II Ululu 11
Year 12 superior Venus vanishes E on Ayar 29 and after 2 months 6 days appears W on Abu 5
Year 13 inferior Venus sets on Nisan 25 and after 12 days rises on Ayar 7
Year 13 superior Venus vanishes E on Tebetu 23 and after 2 months 3 days appears W on Adar 26
Year 14 inferior Venus sets on Arahsamnu 24 and after 3 days rises on Arahsamnu 27
Year 15 superior Venus vanishes E on Abu 26 and after 2 months appears W on Tashritu 26
Year 16 inferior Venus sets on Dumuzi 5 and after 16 days rises on Dumuzi 21
Year 16 superior Venus vanishes E on Adar 24 and after 2 months 15 days appears W on Simanu 9
Year 17 inferior Venus sets on Adar 8 and after 3 days rises on Adar 11
Year 18 superior Venus vanishes E on Arahsamnu 13 and after 1 month 25 days appears W on Tebetu 8
Year 19 inferior Venus sets on II Ululu 20 and after 17 days rises on Tashritu 8
Year 20 superior Venus vanishes E on Simanu 25 and after 2 months 6 days appears W on Ululu 1
Year 21 inferior Venus sets on Nisan 22 and after 11 days rises on Ayar 3
Year 21 superior Venus vanishes E on Tebetu 19 and after 2 months 3 days appears W on Adar 22
See alsoAncient Near East Portal
- ^ Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63
- ^ Problems of atmospheric refraction were addressed by V.G. Gurzadyan, "The Venus Tablet and refractionPDF (66.5 KiB)"Akkadica 124 (2003), pp 13-17, with bibliography.
- Huber, P.J. 1982. Astronomical Dating of Babylon I and Ur III (Malibu: Getty).
- Reiner, Erica and David Pingree 1975. Babylonian Planetary Omens. Part 1. The Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa, (Malibu: Getty). The "fundamental edition", superseding Langdon et al. 1928 (Walker 1984). ISBN 0-890030103
- Walker, C.B.F. 1984. "Notes on the Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa", Journal of Cuneiform Studies 36.1 pp. 64-66.
- Gurzadyan, V.G. 2000. "On the Astronomical Records and Babylonian ChronologyPDF", Akkadica, vol.119-120, p.175.