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Francesca Rochberg to speak at CAS

The reception and transmission of Babylonian astral sciences in the Hellenistic world

Munich, 04/22/2010

The astral sciences (astronomy and astrology) penetrated the Greek world more deeply than any other part of cuneiform scribal culture, surviving into and beyond Late Antiquity, well after the demise of cuneiform culture itself. As Francesca Rochberg, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, USA, explains in her lecture, the history of the Hellenistic transmission of Babylonian astronomy may be reconstructed from two disparate sets of sources, which must be reconciled. The traditional story derives from how Greek and Roman writers viewed their astronomical and astrological heritage from the East. The modern version is based on cuneiform texts recovered from archaeological contexts. The modern account, beginning in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, first focused attention on mathematical astronomy, as this material was deemed most appropriate for the history of science. More recently, based on an expanded conception of science in antiquity, celestial divination, astrology and astral magic have come to be seen as equally significant for understanding the broader extent of the legacy of Babylonian scientific culture to the West.

Professor Rochberg will deliver her lecture, entitled “Babylonian Astral Science in the Hellenistic World: Reception and Transmission”, at the Center for Advanced Studies (CAS) of LMU Munich on 29 April 2010 at 6:15 pm.

The renowned scholar of Near Eastern Studies currently holds a visiting professorship within the program “LMU-UCB Research in the Humanities”. During her stay at LMU Munich, she will work on various projects in Babylonian astral sciences, together with Professor Walther Sallaberger, Professor of Assyriology. She is currently preparing a scholarly edition of Babylonian and Assyrian cuneiform texts dealing with the omens that precede a solar eclipse. She will also give a seminar on this topic for graduate students and doctoral candidates at the Institute of Assyriology and Hittite Studies.


For further information on the lecture and registration:
Phone: +49 (0) 89 / 2180 - 72080

For further information on Professor Rochberg’s research:


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