Symposium 2

Comparison and Connection in the Astral Sciences across Eurasia

Weixing Niu | Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
John Steele | Brown University, USA


Chairs: Weixing Niu and John Steele

Friday, September 13, 2019

Morning Session | 09:00-11:00
Venue: Marasleio Room 1

Yuzhen Guan | The Culminating Stars in Chinese and Babylonian Astronomy

Alexander Jones | Transmissions of the Babylonian zodiac

John Steele | The Length of Life in Babylonian and Greek Astrology

Erica L. Meszaros | The Legacy of Babylonian Astronomers in the Language of Greek and Roman Authors

Noon Session | 11:30-13:30
Venue: Marasleio Room 1

Chair: John Steele

Zhang Nan | Research on astronomical instruments used and manufactured by Zhang Heng and Ptolemy

Rui Zhang | From Aratus to Geminus: ‘Phenomena’ in the Hellenistic Period

Lyu Peng | Kuṭṭaka and Da-Yan-Shu: Indian and Chinese Methods of Solving the Congruence Problem

Weixing Niu | Lunar Apogee: A Greek Astronomical Concept in China

Afternoon Session | 15:30-17:30
Venue: Marasleio Room 1

Pan Yue | Al-Bīrūnī’s criticism on Indian Cosmography in his “India”

Christopher Cullen | New light on the conflict between European, Islamicate and Chinese astronomical traditions in late 17th century China

Osman Süreyya Kocabaş | An Extenuated Treatise about Comets and The Pre-Modern Ottomans’ classical scientific Explanation of Comet

Anna Jerratsch | The Role and Functions of Visuals in Early Modern Cometary Tracts

About the Symposium

As stated by David Pingree, the astral sciences ‘have been transmitted for millennia from culture to culture and transformed by each recipient culture into something new’ (Isis 83, 554-563). The night sky was an object of study throughout the ancient and medieval world. Cultures across Eurasia all look at more or less the same sky and so it is unsurprising that the people of many different Eurasian cultures interacted with the sky in similar ways: observing astronomical phenomena, trying to understand the structure of the universe, developing computational methods of predicting future astronomical events, and interpreting astronomical phenomena through systems of astrology. Very often, astronomical and astrological knowledge circulated between these different cultures, where it was adapted to fit in with pre-existing knowledge and world-views. The papers in this session will explore the circulation of the astral sciences between cultures including Mesopotamia, Greece, the Arab world, India and China, and compare astronomical and astrological practices in these cultures in order to identify commonalities and differences in how the astral sciences were practiced. The session will contain 15 papers presented by scholars from a diverse range of countries and by a mixture of senior and junior scholars and advanced graduate students. The diversity of topics and contributors demonstrates the level of activity in this research field, and we look forward to moving the relevant research forward through this symposium.