Located in southern Mesopotamia, the ancient land of Babylonia once sat on the Euphrates River, not that far from what we known as present-day Baghdad. Just with any blossoming civilization during ancient days, Babylonia contributed to scientific advancements. This article will touch upon a few achievements in the field of science, including early astronomy.
In recent years, the ancient Babylonian civilization has earned increasing recognition for its achievements in the world of science. As more researchers study cuneiform records of the past, it has been revealed that some of the things attributed to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks , the early Babylonians had a hand in it already during the Hellenistic era when information was shared with the rest of Europe. While more studies are needed, the fine line between religious belief and scientific knowledge has often prevented researchers from previously making conclusive assessments of ancient Babylonia in regards to science.
However, in astronomy circles, the ancient Babylonians showed a great interest in changes taking place in the sky. Observations of the astrologers were painstakingly recorded each night over the course of hundreds of years. This allowed the ancient Babylonians to accurately predict many different astronomical occurrences and events. They were also able to produce a proper calculation of the solar and lunar year. When taking a look at the Babylonian calendar, you will find that it is based upon the lunar year, but could also be changed to coincide with the solar year if needed , with the help of an astrologer.
The calendar system that we use today was developed with the help of techniques and calculations employed by the ancient Babylonians. Following in the footsteps of the Sumerians, they are often believed to have been one of the first civilizations to have a calendar. At this time, the calendar served an important purpose, as it guided their planning for planting, harvesting, and other tasks associated with agriculture.
In a year, there were 12 lunar months, but at the time, the months were shorter than what we follow now, so they probably added an extra month, which was referred to as the second Elul. Each week was separated into seven days with each day having six parts to it , each consisting of two hours and containing 30 parts. When it came to measuring time, a water or sun clock was used.
Each year for the ancient Babylonians started with the vernal (spring) equinox. By the time of Hammurapi, the Babylonians also designated named for each month. The Babylonian names for months include: Tashritu, Arahsamna, Kislimu, Tebetu, Sabatu, Addaru, Nisannu, Aiaru, Simanu, Du’uzu, Abu, and Alulu.
Another area in which the ancient Babylonians excelled at was mathematics. They became obsessed with theoretical mathematics, which is why a great number of texts centered on geometry and algebra. It is quite clear from analyzing the texts that they had a way with numbers. During the Old Babylonian period, the theorems of Euclid and Pythagoras were already gaining ground. Further development of civilizations showed a need for a system based on numbers. In order to move forward in their progress, they needed to use numbers for measurements, as well as concluding business transactions.