8490 E. 700 S.
Upland, IN 46898, USA
24 October 1974
History of Near Eastern and Egyptian astronomy and computation; Egyptian contexts of astronomy, cosmology and astrology; Chronology; Cultural transmission of technical terms and practices; Linguistic borrowing between incompatible scripts; Astronomical iconography
Ancient Studies Program
Horoscopic Ostraca of Medinet Madi presents thirty-four Demotic ostraca containing forty complete or partial horoscopes. After the provenance and cultural background of the ostraca are laid out, a survey of previous interpretations of the texts from Medinet Madi follows. Then, the previous methods of establishing a date for the collection are examined. Next, introductions of mathematical, astronomical, astrological and chronological concepts are made for the benefit of the non-specialist. Among these discussions, the use of numbers and fractions is introduced. Necessary astronomical terminology is defined and the causes of error in astronomical calculations are considered. A definition of horoscope is presented and the elements of a horoscope are established. The compositional styles of Demotic and Greek horoscopes are contrasted. The calendars of Greco-Roman Egypt are explicated. The varieties of astrological and astronomical ostraca are defined and the results of a search for such texts among the ostraca of Medinet Madi are reported. The documentary aspects of horoscopic ostraca are discussed and the palaeography of Demotic zodiacal signs and planetary symbols is revisited. After these preliminaries are fixed, the horoscopes are divided into four classes. A transcription, transliteration, translation and commentary is presented for each ostracon. No separation is made between the astronomical and philological commentary. In the conclusion, these ostraca are used to establish a more secure historical dating for Medinet Madi. The range of astrological techniques is outlined and correspondences with the Petosirian tradition are noted. Some tentative conclusions are drawn about the scope of astronomical techniques used at Medinet Madi.
Supervisor: Kuang Tai Hsu
I am presently collaborating with Professor Kuang Tai Hsu on the adaptation of European cosmologies and astronomical terms into a Chinese context by Jesuit missionaries. Professor Hsu has studied the work of Matteo Ricci and written extensively on elements of Chinese cosmology and physics. With Hsu, I am considering the Aristotelian physics and Ptolemaic models brought by Jesuits to China. This project seeks to employ Professor Yano’s techniques for establishing linguistic connections in light of similar work done in a Japanese context by Ryuji Hiraoka.
Supervisor: Michio Yano
Through the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, I collaborated with Professor Michio Yano. Professor Yano has studied the transmission of Greek astronomical terms into Sanskrit astronomical and astrological texts of India and the transmission of Sanskrit texts into Arabic. With Yano, I analyzed several Egyptian and Near Eastern elements carried by Greeks into India. I also studied several of Yano’s techniques for establishing linguistic connections between texts and am reapplying these methods to the linguistic exchanges between Greece and Egypt. This project has culminated in JyotiWiki.com, a site for the collaborative edition and electronic dissemination of Sanskrit texts on astral sciences. In electronic form, the technical terms are easily searchable and statistical information is more easily produced.
Supervisor: Yves Duroux
During the spring of 2008, I conducted a series of seminars which evaluated the Greek accounts of Egyptian astronomy from two distinctly different approaches. First, I compared Greek reports of Egyptian astronomical and mathematical development with respect to the available (but unpublished) Egyptian evidence. Also, working with only the Greek accounts, I analyzed the development and rhetorical use of several less credible Greek accounts of Egyptian wisdom.
Supervisor: Karine Chemla
Within the REHSEIS research group at Université Paris 7, I collaborated with Christine Proust on the types of mathematical texts used in antiquity. We compared the contexts in which these texts were found and the development of larger texts from smaller corpuses. These considerations have resulted in our on-going contributions to Dominique Tournès’ project on the history of mathematical tables.
Micah T. Ross — firstname.lastname@example.org