[AN-u2.gif] The Astronomers



The astronomer in the ancient Near East was called tupshar Enuma Anu Enlilla, or "scribe of the Enuma Anu Enlil".

In Hellenistic Babylon it seems the astronomers were orgainzed in something like a professional "guild". In order to become a tupshar Enuma Anu Enlilla one would have to pass an examination. Some evidence suggests that the position was hereditary (McEwan, 20). If a particular astronomer's son passed the examination, and was accepted by the "guild", then he would proceed to take his father's place.

The tupshar Enuma Anu Enlilla was paid one or two mina of silver and possibly a portion of land for his services.


The following is a translation of a document (CT XLIX 144) which gives a primary account of the information given above:


"... (the dean of Esagil and) the Babylonians of the assembly of Esagil took council together and said, "On 15 Tebet, year 129 (Arsacid Era), which is year 193 (Seleucid Era), we drew up a memorandum concerning our common holdings (to the effect that) one mina of silver, the currency of Babylon, and the arable land of Bel-aba-usur, the astrologer, son of Bel-rimanni, which he enjoyed(?) for carrying out the observations (and in which) we installed Nabu-apla-usur, the lamentation priest and astrologer. Now, Bel-nasirshu, the astrologer, son of the Bel-aba-usur mentioned above, has gone through everything and we have instructed him. He is capable of carrying out the observations. We have seen(?) that he is capable of making the observations and we have approached the aforementioned Nabu-apla-usur, who has had the free use of the arable land and one mina of silver, the ration of Bel-aba-usur, the father (of Bel-nasirshu) for two years. And he has made it free for Bel-nasirshu, who is thereby(?) equal with us(?), so that we shall give him yearly, from this year on, the aforementioned one mina of silver in the currency of Babylon and the arable land from the account of our needs. He will make the observations and give the calculations and measurements together with Labashi, Muranu, Marduk-shapik-zeri,....Bel-ahhe-usur, Nabu-mushetiq-uddi,....and with the assistant astrologers." (McEwan, 19-20)


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[scorpion with moon and star] A Guide to Ancient Near Eastern Astronomy

Comments Are Very Welcome

Hope Anthony
August 27, 1995