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by Livio C. Stecchini


To prove that there are ancient records which document that in recent times the earth underwent a cataclysm of extraterrestrial origin which is precisely described and should be taken into account as an empirical datum by those whose task is to construct astronomical and cosmological theories, I shall quote the opinion of a recognized major authority on Babylonian and biblical astronomy, chronology, and mythology, Father Franz Xavier Kugler (1862-1929).

Kugler had a strictly scientific bent of mind. He started his academic career as a university lecturer of chemistry, but, after the death of Joseph Epping (1835-94), a fellow member of the Jesuit order and the founder of the study of cuneiform astronomical texts, Kugler decided to take over and continue his work and to this end became an outstanding expert on ancient astronomy and cuneiform philology. Most of his life was dedicated to the interpretation of cuneiform texts dealing with astronomy and with the related topics of chronology and mythology; the main characteristic of his method was a mathematical rigour for which he is considered still unsurpassed today.

In the latter part of his life he applied the knowledge developed in the field of cuneiform documents to the solution of related problems of biblical interpretation. His greatest contribution to the study of ancient astronomy was his approach, by which he built only from the most painstaking interpretation of specific texts and thereby cleared the field of a priori presuppositions and hasty generalizations.

The decipherment of cuneiform materials had produced from the very beginning an overwhelming mass of novel data which compelled thoughtful scholars to question most of the accepted notions about the development of civilization in ancient times. However, this wealth of revolutionary evidence drove a number of highly competent specialists of cuneiform philology to raise too many general questions at the same time and, in their enthusiasm for the new data before their eyes, to commit themselves to general theories without adequate empirical backing. It is true that many of these general theories were presented as merely tentative, with the purpose of stressing that most of our assumptions need to be totally revised; but the concrete result was that the debate shifted to controversies about generalities, obscuring thereby the more meaningful aspect that cuneiform texts provide a new exact historical documentation, more reliable than most of those that had been hitherto available.

Kugler insisted that one should suspend judgment and concentrate on the careful study of specific groups of documents. For this reason, only at the end of his life did he feel ready to come forth with a general theory, and less than two years before his death, he published a rather slim book entitled Sybillinischer Sternkampf und Phaëthon in naturgeschichtlicher Beleuchtung, 'The Sybilline Battle of the Stars and Phaethon Seen as Natural History, '( Munster, 1927).

He who rested his fame on tomes which, in spite of their intrinsic clarity, are comprehensible only to the few who can understand both mathematical astronomy and cuneiform philology, issued this book as part of a series called Zeitgemässige Beiträge, (' Essays of Current Interest'), because, as he explains, he felt that he had a message that should affect contemporary society, since it had a great meaning for the history of culture. Kugler well understood that great innovating ideas can be made to prevail by presenting them to a public wider than the narrow specialists, who have a tendency to become prisoners of the general conceptions they have learned together with the technical routines that they have spent their lives to master. But even though Kugler intended to address himself to the general public, he could not help following his usual method, which consisted in proving a general point by concentrating on the exact technical interpretations of a few texts.

Werner Jaeger was fond of repeating to us students that the most important rule he had learned from the great Wilamowitz, was that in philology a few univocal texts have more compelling force than one hundred ambiguous ones. The trouble with this method is that it leads to the formulation of conclusions meaningful only for the wise who can understand that the revision of the interpretation of a single text may automatically imply the revision of a host of similar ones. What Kugler submitted was intended to be dynamite that should have shaken the entire field of ancient chronology and historical astronomy, but the fuse was not lit because the general public did not understand what was implied, and those who were competent to understand the implications were not psychologically ready to draw the inevitable conclusions.

The 'pressing warning' that Kugler wanted to communicate to the public was summed up by him as:

the momentous doctrine that ancient traditions, even when they are dressed as myth and saga, cannot be dismissed lightly as fantastic, or worse, meaningless fabrications. It is particularly proper to avoid this pitfall when dealing with serious reports, especially those of religious nature such as those that occur in large number in the Old Testament.

He applied this general theory to the interpretations of the ancient texts that deal with the Battle of the Stars. He observed that these texts have been dismissed by scholars as:

completely nonsensical and that nobody has succeeded in explaining them as a meaningful allegory, if it is not possible to interpret them as references to true cosmic occurrences... I have to confess that in my first occasional attempts I did not succeed any better. But many years of experience with the decipherment of cuneiform documents that concern the astronomical and astromythological conceptions of the Babylonians have taught me that, in the system of ideas of the Easterners and of the ancient Orientals in particular, there is much that seems nonsensical to us Occidentals, but is in reality within the realm of factual foundations and sound logic.

When in 1966 I published a first version of the present essay, I stressed that pronunciamentos such as the two just quoted, were intended to sum up an entire life of research on ancient astronomical documents. It was the intention of Kugler that they should be taken as statements of fundamental importance for the understanding and the gathering of actual empirical data of astronomy (which is relevant to natural science).

After this brief, but final and comprehensive publication of Kugler was rescued from oblivion, it was quoted by several supporters of Velikovsky. Yet it has been ignored by his opponents, which is regrettable since I heartily desire to hear their interpretation of the astronomical records submitted by Kugler.

My essay of 1966 stimulated a writer friendly to Velikovsky's theories, Malcolm Lowery, to dedicate a learned article to the contents of Kugler's book. This article is a valuable contribution. First published in England, it was then published again in the United States in a revised form [1] . It is remarkable that the latter version of Lowery's article (which is the one I shall quote), in spite of its effort to summarize what Kugler intended to convey, had to dedicate 25 compact pages to Kugler's 52 pages. In spite of this, Lowery missed several points made by Kugler. This is not to be taken as a reflection upon Lowery's learning, which is of the highest level: for instance, he has translated well some Greek texts of astromythology which have challenged even the professional classicists. The root of the problem is that, although Kugler meant to address himself to the general public, he knew that he was uttering momentous statements and therefore tried to document every single step: for this reason, in many cases, instead of presenting an argument in his own words, he limited himself to citing the text of ancient documents. The result is a booklet that is comprehensible only to those who are familiar with his previous publications of an extremely specialized nature.

Kugler published his booklet when he was sixty-five years old, because what he intended to issue was actually a manifesto announcing a new line of solutions for problems which had been debated since scholars first began to read the astronomical clay tablets found in Mesopotamia. Kugler had wrestled with these problems all through his scholarly life. A manifesto is a declaration of opinions and of related objectives to be pursued. In his manifesto Kugler was considering what had developed in the study of ancient astronomy in the preceding half century, and was setting aims for future research to be pursued by the next generation.

Unfortunately Kugler's manifesto was ignored by the generation that immediately followed it. This is not a unique case. Thomas S. Kuhn (The Copernican Revolution, Cambridge, Mass., 1957, pp. 185-6) relates that Copernicus had been 'widely recognized as one of Europe's leading astronomers' for twenty years, before he published his revolutionary book on point of death (A. D. 1543):

Many advanced astronomical tests written during the fifty years after Copernicus' death referred to him as a 'second Ptolemy' or 'the outstanding artificer of our age; ' increasingly these books borrowed data, computations, and diagrams. Authors who applauded his erudition, borrowed his diagrams, or quoted his determination of the distance from the earth to the moon, usually either ignored the earth's motion or dismissed it as absurd.

Today, if what Kugler stated in his booklet was put into the hands of a writer with some journalistic talent, it would be the source of a runaway bestseller. It would be expedient that this writer reserve to himself the copyright to the film version, because Hollywood would be most likely to make a bid for it. But Kugler belonged to a different generation and a different world: he spent most of his life within the walls of Jesuit training institutions, carrying on, as a practical sideline to his reading of Sumerian and Assyrian tablets, the teaching of mathematics to his brothers of the Order.

The pivotal idea in Kugler's book is that the myth of Phaeton, one of the best known but also oddest Greek myths, was based on an actual physical occurrence which can be dated historically around 1500 B. C. According to Kugler it was at this time that there appeared in the sky a body which was more brilliant than the light of the sun and finally made an impact on the earth: 'There really were at one time simultaneous catastrophes of fire and flood. '

The myth narrates that Phaeton (The Shining One) borrowed and drove the chariot of the Sun, but was forced by the steeds that were pulling it to drive it off course through the sky and finally to drive it disastrously close to the surface of the earth. The gods had to put an end to the calamity. Phaeton was struck by a bolt of lightning and fell to earth dead. Kugler concentrates upon this myth in order to establish the principle that, if such a 'highly fantastic' story must be taken as scientific truth wrapped 'in the veil of poetry, ' there are other ancient myths which must be understood as having a similar basis.

Before Kugler many scholars had recognized that the myth of Phaeton refers to an event of physical nature, but they had tried to explain it as an ordinary recurring phenomenon. Some had maintained that it describes the fiery glow of particularly brilliant sunsets, and some, as the coming out of Venus as the morning star. Lowery has translated in full from the original German the pages in which Kugler lists these interpretations, in order to show how forceful Kugler was in scorning them as preposterous. This is a quotation from Lowery's translation:

So simple, ordinary and peaceful a phenomenon as the evening sky could not provide the basis for a legend which patently describes complicated extraordinary and violent natural events. And yet neither, on the hand, could the appearance of Venus as the morning star awaken the idea of a universal catastrophe - even in the wildest imagination.

According to Kugler, the reality behind the myth, is that the earth was enveloped by a stream of meteorites, a stream of 'enormous width' and containing meteorites of such 'giant' size that they could cause 'great fires and violent flood waves. ' He also indicated that the impact must have been preceded by the appearance in the sky of a body larger and more brilliant than the sun. He left the definition of this body open for reasons that I shall explain later.

According to Kugler, the fire of Phaeton which according to the Greeks had its main impact on Africa (some poets claimed that it caused the Africans to turn black), refers to the same event which in Greek mythology is called the Flood of Deucalion (the name by which the Greeks called the man who supposedly survived it and repopulated the land). Having identified the Fire of Phaeton and the Flood of Deucalion, Kugler proceeded to document that ancient chronologists had assigned specific dates to these two events, such as 610 years before the founding of Rome or the 67th year of Moses. Actually, Greek chronologists state that the period for which we have certain dates begins with this event. They date as contemporary the Flood of Deucalion or Ogyges in Greece, the Fire of Phaeton in Africa, and the Plagues of Egypt. Kugler left out of his account of the ancient information the detail that the foundation of Athens, that is, the city of Athena (who was the planet Venus), was made contemporary with these events. In the chronology set up by the Greek historian Ephorus (fourth century B. C.) the cataclysm took place in the year 1528/ 7 B. C. [2] . This chronology was accepted in the chronological studies of Eratosthenes (third century B. C.) which in turn were incorporated into those of Castor of Rhodes (first century B. C.). Varro quotes Castor as his source for the information that at the time of the Flood of Ogyges 'so great a miracle happened in the star of Venus, as never was seen before nor in aftertimes: for the colour, the size, the figure and the course of it were changed. Adrastus of Cyzicus and Dion of Naples, famous mathematicians, said that this occurred in the reign of Ogyges' [3] .

Kugler concluded his quotations of the chronological texts with these words: 'Even though we do not get the notion of ascribing certain chronological value to these dates and of accepting the old chronological tables based on them (e. g. Petavius, de doctrina temporum), we do not have any right to deny that these traditions have a core of historical truth. ' Like Velikovsky, Kugler studies both the ancient writers of chronology and the chronological investigations of Renaissance scholars. Velikovsky quotes a number of Renaissance writers who stress that ancient sources make the cataclysm contemporary with the appearance of the comet Typhon, and observe that, although this was called a comet, it had a circular shape. These Renaissance writers quote, among others, a passage of Pliny (II, XXIII, 91-92) from which one can gather that it had been disputed whether Typhon was a comet or a planet. The passage reads:

Some comets move like planets, but others remain stationary ... A terrible comet was seen by the people of Ethiopia and Egypt, to which Typhon the king of that period gave his name. It had the nature of a fire, twisted like a spiral, but it was dismal in appearance. Rather than a comet it was some sort of conglomeration of fire. Occasionally both planets and comets spread out a coma.

Wilhelm Gundel, a specialist in Hellenistic astromythology, in his review of Kugler's book sharply rebuked Kugler for not mentioning that all the texts similar to those examined by Kugler ascribed the catastrophe to a comet, and specifically to the comet Typhon [4] . Gundel denied to Kugler the merit of originality by remarking:

Kugler arrives at the conclusion that the saga of Phaethon has as its historical core the appearance of a comet that was followed by a partial world fire and a flood. In support of this Kugler provides a complete detailed analysis of the saga. I can observe that this interpretation has been already offered several times in antiquity. Probably it is based on an old Pythagorean theory of comets. The first references to it are in Plato and Aristotle, but it is presented in detail by later commentators.

It would seem that Kugler refrained from using the term comet because he was puzzled by the role of Venus and because the texts mention a globular body similar in apparent size and brightness to the sun. He used the term 'sun-like meteor' which sounds strange except to those who are familiar with ancient terminology. Aristotle, in order to defend the immutability of the heavens, distinguishes astronomy from meteorology and defines the latter as the study of 'the appearance in the sky of burning flames and of shooting stars and of what some call torches and horns' (Meteor. I 341 B). It is significant that, after having described the general topic of meteorology, Aristotle begins the treatment of it by refuting those who say that 'the comet is one of the planets' (342 B).

Gundel's criticism is not justified, because even though it is clear from Kugler's explanation of the ancient accounts that he was suggesting answers in terms of the appearance of a comet and of the impact of the comet's tail, he refrained from committing himself because he was puzzled by the role assigned to Venus in the entire event.

Having dealt with the myth of Phaeton, Kugler, in order to prove further that ancient texts that touch upon heavenly occurrences and are dismissed as fantasy or gibberish contain precise scientific information, picks as a test case the last lines of the Fifth Book of the Sybilline Oracles. He chose these lines (512-31) because F. W. Blass, the editor of the text of the Sibylline Oracles, had referred to them as 'the insane finale' of the Fifth Book, and the historian of ancient science, Edmund Hoppe, had declared that, no matter from which angle they are examined, they prove 'entirely nonsensical. '

Kugler concluded that to him, as an expert on ancient astronomy, these lines have a clear meaning, since they contain 'an elegant dressing of real natural events according to a fully unified plan' [5] .

The lines purport to describe the circumstances of the coming end of the world; they were written in the century before the birth of Christ by Greek-speaking inhabitants of Egypt, when the ancient world was agitated by the Messianic expectation of a cosmic upheaval. But the lines give an account that is so exact and technical that it must be something more than a mere mystical vision of coming destruction. Such precise astronomical details are given that, calculating by the position of the constellations around 100 B. C., the crisis began in September and reached a climax in seven months and 2.7 days, after the 7th or the 8th of April. Velikovsky has concluded on the basis of the agreement of Egyptian, Hebrew, Athenian, and Aztec traditions that the earth was hit by the tail of a comet on April 13. According to Kugler, the crisis described as the Battle of the Stars began with the appearance in the eastern sky of a body as bright as the sun and similar in apparent diameter to the sun and the moon. The light of the sun was replaced by long streams of flame crossing each other.

After the mention of these streams of flame that replaced the sun as a source of light, there follows the line, 'the Morning Star fought the battle riding on the back of Leo. ' Kugler observed that this association of Venus with Leo must have had a momentous meaning for the ancients, since the several goddesses that represent Venus, such as the Phrygian Cybele, the Greek Great Mother, the Carthaginian Coelestis was portrayed as riding a lion while holding a spear in her hands. In Babylonian mythology Venus as Evening Star was a goddess of love and motherhood; but as Morning Star she was a divinity of war, leader of the army of the stars, associated with the lion 'as a symbol of a power that overthrows everything. '

The Battle of the Stars ends when the attacker is defeated, falling into the ocean and setting the entire earth on fire. Kugler explained these events by bringing to bear another prophecy of the same book of the Sibylline Oracles (line 206-13) where, after mentioning the same positions of the stars, warning is given to the Indians and the Ethiopians to beware of a coming 'great heavenly fire on earth and a new nature from the fighting stars, when the entire land of the Ethiopians will be destroyed in fire and wailing. ' The emphasis on Ethiopia is comprehensible when one considers that these texts were written in Lower Egypt.

Kugler concluded that the details of the world disaster prophesied in the Sibylline Oracles are materials taken over from the reports of past events, which among the Greeks were presented as the story of Phaeton.

Lowery has stated that in dealing with the Sybilline oracle Kugler retreated from his former position that some major catastrophe of extraterrestrial origin took place at the middle of the second millennium B. C., because Kugler analyzes the oracle according to the normal movement of the heavenly bodies in the year 100 B. C. In spite of his diligence and familiarity with the Greek originals, Lowery has missed the drift of Kugler's argument. First of all, it is a good guess to assume that this oracle was written in the first century B. C., the age in which the Mediterranean countries were most agitated by expectations of a messianic end of this world [6] . In the second place, Kugler wanted to indicate that the writers of the oracle were so preoccupied with solid astronomical facts that they described the successive phases of the episode of Phaeton according to what they knew about the position of the heavenly bodies in the several months of the year. It is his contention that the writers of this oracle, far from being maniacs breathing gibberish, were trying to make their prediction (based on a past historical occurrence) credible by framing it in an accurate astronomical timetable. Kugler left no doubt that he was not thinking of an ordinary movement of the heavens according to the yearly unfolding of the seasons, when he put emphasis on the line of the oracle that reads, 'the Morning Star fought the battle, riding on the back of Leo, ' and linked this line with the fact that, in several ancient cults of the planet Venus, the goddess was portrayed as riding on a lion.

Followers of Velikovsky may find fault with Kugler for having left the role of Venus hang loosely as an unexplained item. They do not understand that Kugler did not intend to compile a treatise of cosmology : he was broadcasting a manifesto on how texts of astromythology should be interpreted. Perhaps one can explain his approach by referring to his first academic position as a teacher of chemistry : by testing two pieces chipped out of a mountain, he proved that there was an entire gold mine to be dug out.

Lowery criticizes Kugler for not having raised the issue of catastrophism versus uniformitarianism; but Kugler was not trying to construct an astronomical theory : he was stating less and stating more, in that he was arguing that there was an entire world of astronomical knowledge to be explored. In any case, Kugler was more clearminded on the theoretical aspects of the problem than Lowery has proved to be. The latter regrets that at the end of his presentation Kugler took a stand against 'catastrophism; ' that is, he dismissed as without historical significance all those passages of Greek philosophers, from Plato in his late writings to the Roman Stoics, in which mention is made of universal destructions by fire and flood, despite the fact that these passages take some elements from the myth of Phaeton.

Kugler was scientifically correct, but in a peculiar sense : these ancient writers failed to see the episode of Phaeton as a unique event. This group of philosophers was fathering modern uniformitarianism, because they were fitting the historical tradition of 'catastrophes' into a cyclical pattern of phenomena recurring at fixed intervals of time, past and future, according to an absolutely unchangeable and predictable order of the heavenly cosmos. It was their way of moving from a disorderly universe, now often admitted, to an orderly progression of disorders, which was a first step towards dropping disorders entirely and leaving the history of science with simple orderly progression of the ages.


Since Kugler's booklet on the myth of Phaeton has been ignored, his reputation rests on his monumental work Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel, 'Astronomical Science and Astronomical Observations at Babylon. ' The first volume was published in 1907 and the second volume in 1909 ; supplements were issued up to 1914. The contents consist essentially in the edition, interpretation, and numerical analysis of cuneiform astronomical records. Even today it is quoted as an invaluable source of data; but those who draw from it do not mention that it was written in order to solve problems of astromythology. The two published volumes were intended to be followed by a third volume dealing with mythology; but this volume was not issued for reasons that I shall explain.

In the period that goes from the beginning of our century to the First World War, the field of ancient studies was agitated by debates about the value of a theory to which there was given the misleading name of Panbabylonianism. In order to explain how their theory came to be formulated, one would have to review the entire history of the decipherment of cuneiform languages, but here I shall limit myself to a few points. The reading of the clay tablets that were excavated in Mesopotamia after 1842 provoked a revolution in biblical studies, since it was found that many of the accounts of the Old Testament had close parallels in cuneiform narratives. A typical example is the story of the Deluge and of the Ark. To explain these parallels was a complex task which was rendered even more arduous by the circumstance that the Old Testament is sacred literature to Jews and Christians (divine revelation to the more conservative ones). The problem became extremely difficult and at the same time of utmost importance when it was realized that episodes which are common to the Old Testament and to cuneiform literature occur in the mythologies of the most diverse areas of the globe. The case of the Deluge story is the best known one. To this day Scholars have not yet agreed on an explanation for these astounding parallels. Velikovsky's hypotheses constitute an effort to arrive at the solution of the problem, which obviously is central to the understanding of the development of any civilization and of civilization in general.

The decipherment of the cuneiform signs (particularly of the original Sumerian ones) had relied in part on the study of mathematics; documents dealing with measurements had been particularly useful. In the process it was found that, at the time the Sumerians were developing the art of writing, they had already established a scientific system of measures linking length, volume, and weight; the very fact that these units were sexagesimal indicates their connection with time units. Even before one began to read cuneiform tablets, it had been surmised that the measures of the ancient world derived from Mesopotamia. A highlight in the growth of cuneiform studies was a paper submitted by C. F. Lehmann-Haupt to the International Congress of Orientalist held at Stockholm in 1889; 'The Old Babylonian System of Volume and Weight as the Foundation of the Ancient System of Weight, Coinage, and Volume. ' Since the notion that a single system of measures spread through the world by diffusion from Mesopotamia was then generally accepted, it was reasonable to infer that scientific thinking spread from the same area by diffusion.

Friedrich Delitzsch (1850-1922) thought of applying these notions of diffusion in the mathematical field to the solution of the problems of the similarities between the mythologies of the world. This scholar who was one of the most powerful minds in the field of cuneiform studies, developed a comprehensive theory which centres on two main contentions. The first is the common elements of mythologies. The second is that very early in Mesopotamia there was developed an advanced astronomical science which was carried by diffusion to the rest of the world in the form of mythological stories. In substance mythology would have been used as a medium for coding astronomical information. According to this interpretation the mythological dress would have helped in remembering. (According to Velikovsky's interpretation the memory of some astronomical occurrences would have been clothed in a mythical dress because a direct recollection was too traumatic.)

The reason why the Panbabylonists were hurrying to formulate a comprehensive theory, even before all the available evidence was gathered, was that cuneiform scholars were under pressure to answer to statements made by students of the Old Testament; this category included a broad range of writers, from biblical scholars to religious zealots. The discovery of the similarities between Old Testament narratives and cuneiform accounts had caused a commotion among interpreters of the Bible, whether scholarly or not; much of what was published was irrational or irresponsible, and there was some outright exploitation of the interest of the general public. The excavation of the Tower of Babel which was then being planned by German archaeologists, seemed to be symbolic of the situation; in Germany one spoke jokingly of Babel und Bibel, a phrase which in English was expanded into 'Babel, Bible, and babble. ' The German scholars, who were the world leaders in developing the new field of cuneiform studies, felt they had the responsibility to come out with some clear-cut formulation that could put an end to this confusion of tongues.

Delitzsch and his many supporters among the experts on cuneiform philology would have been on solid ground if they had stuck to their own area and investigated the assumed high level of early Mesopotamian astronomy. Instead they over-extended themselves in a sort of imperialist enthusiasm for their own discipline. For instance, they engaged in an unnecessary, and in my opinion misguided, campaign to belittle the achievements of Egyptian mathematics and astronomy. They rushed to explain the great riddle of the similarities among the mythologies of the world.

Panbabylonianism became so well established among German scholars that in 1902 Delitzsch was asked by them to present his ideas in two solemn public lectures in the presence of the Emperor. The latter was so impressed that he asked Delitzsch to repeat them for the Emperor and his court. The text of these lectures was immediately translated into English: Babel and Bible, Two lectures Delivered before the Members of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft in the Presence of the Emperor, (New York and London, 1903). In England too the Panbabylonist theory received so much public attention that the London Times of February 25,1903, printed a letter in which Wilhelm II answered those who wondered whether he had performed his imperial duty of upholding the Christian faith.


Kugler at first was sympathetic to Panbabyloniaism, but later rejected it, because he became convinced that any serious astronomy could not have existed in Mesopotamia before the era of Nabonassar.

Late Mesopotamian and Hellenistic astronomers reckon the years by a chronological system called 'era of Nabonassar, ' which begins on February 26, 747 B. C. This era gets it name by the circumstance that, in the initial centuries, the years are counted according to a list of the years of reign of the Kings of Babylon; the first of the kings included in the list, is Nabonassar. At the time of Nabonassar, Babylon was under foreign rule and the power of its king was only nominal; in any case, as Kugler observed, no significant political event occurred during the reign of Nabonassar. Nevertheless, starting with the reign of Nabonassar there began to be kept a yearly record of outstanding political events, known as the Babylonian Chronicle. Since Ptolemy calculated the years by the era of Nabonassar, it continued to be used by astronomers until the Julian era was adopted as the scientific era during the Renaissance.

The common explanation for the adoption of the era of Nabonassar, which is still repeated today in standard textbooks, is that at that time in Mesopotamia there was introduced a new luni-solar calendar, which gradually was adopted in the neighbouring countries, including Greece. But Kugler realized that the introduction of this calendar was not the cause, but the result of whatever caused the adoption of the new era.

In the very first pages of the introduction to his Sternkunde, Kugler states that only with the beginning of the era of Nabonassar did Babylonian and Assyrian astronomers feel the urge 'to ascertain and record the heavenly motions according to space and time by measurement and number. ' Before this era the astronomers of Mesopotamia would have been only 'stargazers' (the German word Sterngucker has a humorous connotation which may be rendered by 'starpeeper') who were 'exceptionally inclined to fantasy' (ausserördentlich phantasiereich). This is indeed a strange claim, but Kugler dedicated the entire body of his Sternkunde to justifying it by facts and figures. In the supplements to it there is a chapter entitled triumphantly, 'Positive Proofs for the Absence of a Scientific Astronomy before the Eighth Century B. C. '

The proofs are basically of two types. First, after the beginning of the era of Nabonassar, the astronomers of Mesopotamia, for a period that lasted about two centuries, worked laboriously to ascertain some basic pieces of numerical information without which any rational study of the heavens is impossible, as, for instance, the exact day of the spring equinox. Second, the earlier astronomers of this group developed elaborate calculations which begin with basic figures set through a rough approximation. For instance, computations of the appositions and conjunctions of the sun and the moon, made for the purpose of calculating the beginning of the new moon, would have been based on a value of the longest day which is in excess by more than ten minutes. Since some of these data could have been obtained by a minimum of diligent observation, he concluded that these astronomers liked to play with numbers and enjoyed calculations that had little to do with reality. Still he had to admit that at times one comes across figures of breathtaking accuracy.

According to Kugler there are two specific pieces of proof that astronomy began to be based on exact calculations in the era of Nabonassar. The first is that, because the list of eclipses available to Hellenistic scholars begins with the year 721 B. C., one can infer that Mesopotamian astronomers had not kept a record of eclipses before this date; any serious study of the heavens would start with such a record. Kugler was not aware of the fact, called to our attention by Velikovsky, that the Chinese list of eclipses begins at the same point of time. The second is that before the age of Nabonassar the Mesopotamian calendar appears to have been based on irregular lengths of the year and month; obviously the establishment of a reliable calendar is a prerequisite even of elementary astronomy.

Kugler fails to provide a consistent evaluation of the method of pre-Nabonassar astronomers: at times he describes them as totally oblivious of numerical data and at other times as occasionally careless. At the beginning (p. 25) of the second volume of the Sternkunde he hedged the statement he had made at the beginning of the first volume, by declaring that the collecting of observational data 'at least was not administered systematically. '

Kugler tried to establish why at the time of Nabonassar there would have been a striking change in the attitude towards astronomical records. At first he suggested that 'perhaps Nabonassar promoted it; ' but later he recognized that Nabonassar contributed only a name to the dating system. He concluded that observers must have been influenced by some momentous astronomical occurrence. Kugler could not trace anything more significant than that, at the time, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars were in conjunction. On December 12, 747 B. C. Venus and Jupiter were at a distance of 1'30" and on February 26, 746 B. C. Mars and Jupiter were at a distance of 23". In reality these conjunctions do not provide an explanation for a total reform in the art of astronomy. If they prove anything, they give some support to Velikovsky's hypothesis that Venus, having been originally ejected from Jupiter, came to interfere with the orbit of Mars on February 26, 747 B. C. According to astrophysics, if there was a near collision, the present orbits, retrojected to the assumed time of the near collision, should indicate proximity.

Kugler had his doubts about the meaning of the era of Nabonassar, but these were assuaged by the statement of the Byzantine chronologist Syncellus that, 'Beginning with Nabonassar the Chaldeans made precise the times of the movements of the heavenly bodies. ' What Kugler did not consider is that Syncellus drew on the Greek chronologists that I mentioned in the first chapter of this essay. These chronologists indicate that whatever change took place in the methods of measurement was not limited to Mesopotamia.

In my doctoral dissertation I studied the role of Pheidon, King of Argos, in Greek chronology [7] . Greek chronologists divide their system of dates, which begins with the Flood of Deucalion, into a first period called mythikon (period of the myths) and a second period called historikon. The dividing line is the date of Pheidon of Argos which was originally set in 748/ 7 B. C. [8] . Other dates of early Greek history, such as the supposed date of the First Olympiad (776 B. C.), were calculated from this assumed date of Pheidon, who would have interfered with the Olympic Games (Cf. Herodotus VI, 127). According to Greek tradition Pheidon of Argos would have invented measures of lengths, volume, and weight; but this tradition puzzled the same Greeks who reported it, since, as they say, 'measures existed even earlier. '

However, I proved to the satisfaction of my academic readers that Pheidon was an imaginary character whose name is derived from the verb pheidomai 'to reduce. ' The earliest texts do not speak of Pheidon, which in Greek is a nickname for one who gives scanty measures, but of pheidonia metra, 'reduced measures. ' Since in successive investigations I established that the basic units of length, volume, and weight were not changed from the Mycenean age, the only units that could have been changed would be time units.

Greek historians report that the first basis for a yearly record of events was the list of the priestesses of the Temple of Hera outside Argos. Excavations show that this temple may well have been founded in the eighth century B. C. One point can be accepted as proven, namely, that Greek chronologists set a break in the calculation of time at the middle of the eighth century B. C., independently of anything that may have happened in Mesopotamia, and that this break was connected with the units of measurement.

Possibly similar developments had occurred independently in Rome. The foundation of Rome is dated by the earliest annalist, Fabius Pictor, in 748 B. C. The foundation of Rome was ascribed to an imaginary character called Romulus after the name of the city, Rome. Romulus was followed by another imaginary character called Numa; this name is derived from an Italian modification of the Greek word nomos, 'norm, standard. ' We are told that Numa was the second founder of Rome; his birthday was April 21, which was the supposed date of the foundation of Rome by Romulus. Numa was the first to establish a calendar 'according to exactness' [9] : he would have calculated a luni-solar calendar according to the correct length of the solar year and the lunar month. Before him the Romans would have used erroneous figures for the length of the year and month. Finally, it must be observed that, up to the second century B. C., the Roman year began on March 1, and hence we say September, October, November, December. The beginning of the era of Nabonassar has been calculated as beginning on February 26, 747 B. C., at a point which, as Kugler related, had no particular significance in the Babylonian calendar and which does not mark any turning point in the unfolding of the seasons.

Kugler probably did not know that Newton too had argued, on the basis of the Greek and Latin authors available to him, that the science of astronomy began with the era of Nabonassar. The purpose of Newton was to silence those who disputed the stability of the solar system since creation. Newton's contention that astronomical science was a late historical development, was challenged by a scholar who anticipated some of the views of the Panbabylonists, Nicolas Fréret (1688-1749), the first permanent secretary of the Academie des Inscriptions. Fréret, who is properly described as l'un des savants les plus illustres que la France ait produit [10] , in a series of monumental studies published in the acts of this academy, foresaw the immense advances that could be made in the study of ancient history by combining linguistics, mythology, chronology, geography, astronomy, and history of science in general, taking into account the information that was beginning to be available concerning the civilization of Mesopotamia, Persia, India and China. He realized that with this material there could be obtained conclusions that not only are revolutionary, but also particularly reliable. This point is summed up in his essay, Réflexions sur l'etude des anciennes histoires et sur le degré de certitude de leurs preuves. He saw that the data of ancient history were in conflict with the theory of Newton. He challenged Newton's views about mythology and ancient science by which the latter tried to dismiss the evidence for changes in the solar system before the era of Nabonassar. A number of scholars of the time wrote heatedly for and against his Défense de la chronologie fondée sur les monuments, contre le système chronologique de Newton (Paris, 1758). The strongest argument, however, against Newton's contention that the ancient evidence on astronomical events is unreliable, is contained in Fréret's essay on ancient geodesy, in which he maintained not only that the length of circumference of the earth was well known in early times but also that the Egyptians knew the length of their country almost to the cubit [11] . In 1816, Jean-Antoine Letronne (1787-1848), after reviewing the entire Academie des Inscriptions concluded that, given the precision of the Egyptian methods of geodetic surveying the declaration of Fréret 'is verified or at least ceases to be too exaggerated' [12] .

In 1972, I published the figures used by the Egyptians in calculating the length of their country at the beginning of the dynastic period and showed that they calculated the size of the earth according to a polar flattening of 1/ 297.75 [13] . At present, I have ready for publication the Mesopotamian figures for the size of the earth, which are based on a polar flattening of 1/ 298.666. There are accounts that concern the discrepancy between the two sets of figures. In our own age, before the launching of satellites, it was believed that the flattening is 1/ 297.1. With the help of satellites it has been established that the earth flattening is 1/ 298.25. Using this figure and an equatorial radius of 6,378,140 metres, it has been calculated how each area of the globe is above or below the level indicated by a geometrically perfect spheroid. It happens that Egypt and Mesopotamia are among the few areas in which the actual sea level agrees with the spheroid of reference. Even before the figures of our space age were published, on purely empirical grounds I had reached the conclusion that the ancient calculations of distances within Egypt agree best of all with a flattening of 1/ 298.3.

In conclusion, Kugler was right in documenting that a new age in the reporting of astronomical data began with the era of Nabonassar, but the aberrant astronomical data reported for the earlier period cannot be explained by a lack of interest in precise measurements.


Kugler's criticism, which concentrated on the specific issue of the era of Nabonassar, had a sobering effect on some leading members of the Panbabylonist school. Hugo Winckler (1863- 1913) and Alfred Jeremias (1864-1935) withdrew from the emotion laden debates about the value of the biblical testimony. In 1907 they began to publish a series of monographs aimed at refuting Kugler. This Series was entitled Im Kampfe um den Alten Orient; Wehr- und Streitschriften, 'On the Field of Battle about the Ancient Orient; Writings of Defence and Attack; ' but in spite of their flamboyant heading, these monographs concentrated on what their authors knew well, cuneiform philology. General questions of comparative mythology were introduced only as far as it was necessary to interpret cuneiform texts.

In their counteroffensive Winckler and Jeremias tried to prove their case by focusing the attention on one specific item : 'the entire manner in which Venus is handled by mythology. ' They observed that all the astromythologies they considered reveal consistently three features: there is a paramount concern with Venus which is described as the Queen of Heaven; the planets are listed as four, whereas Venus is grouped together with the sun and the moon; mention is made of the phases of Venus. In their opinion the last feature must have been the determining one: Venus was grouped with the sun and the moon because it has phases like the moon and was the object of particular attention because of these phases. Only advanced astronomers would have been able to observe the phases of Venus. Hence, it should be inferred that an advanced level of astronomy was reached so early in Mesopotamia as to have an echo in the mythology of distant countries.

The phases of Venus became the kingpin of Panbabylonist theory. Winckler stated that one should not be surprised at discovering that the astronomers of Mesopotamia were acquainted with them since unquestionably these astronomers had seen four satellites of Jupiter, 'which are much more difficult to observe than the phases of Venus. '

At this point Kugler felt that he could score a crushing victory over his opponents. In March of 1909 he published in Anthropos, an international magazine of anthropological and ethnographic studies, an article entitled 'Auf den Trümmern des Panbabylonysmus, ' (' On the Wreckage of Panbabylonism'). The following year he expanded it into a book [14] . His main contention was that to assume a knowledge of the phases of Venus was a patent absurdity. He remarked sarcastically (p. 58 of the book) :'The phases of Venus! If this discovery is authentic, then, oh Galileo Galilei, your fame is turning pale. ' According to Kugler the Panbabylonist should have refrained from any further publication until they were ready to submit a special excursus on the physiology of the eyes of the Babylonians.

In reality Kugler was treading on slippery ground, because when in 1611 Galileo announced the discovery of the phases of Venus, some of his contemporaries immediately remarked that they seem to have been known to the ancient Greeks (I have mentioned what Sir Walter Raleigh wrote in 1616). The contemporaries of Galileo who were familiar with classical literature wondered whether Greek mythology hinted at the four satellites of Jupiter, which Galileo saw in 1610 with a telescope that enlarged thirty times. For this reason the four satellites were given the name of four mythological figures closely associated with Zeus: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.

For that matter, the contemporaries of Galileo did not know that in Babylonian mythology the god Marduk is accompanied by four dogs. They did not know that the planet Jupiter is portrayed with satellites in the art of the Near East. Kugler did not deny that the Babylonians were acquainted with the satellites of Jupiter, but he dismissed this point as unimportant (p. 61): 'Only this is true: in most rare cases and under most favourable conditions one could have observed the satellites of Jupiter - in any case they could have been seen only for a few minutes. ' They would not have been seen well enough to permit listing their appearances in astronomical tables, and only such a listing could be a proof of scientific astronomy.

On the central issue of the special treatment of Venus, Kugler granted readily that this planet forms a 'triad' with the sun and the moon. He even submitted pictures from Babylonian monuments in which Venus is grouped with the sun and the moon. But, according to Kugler, all of this can be explained by the elementary fact that occasionally Venus is bright enough to cause a pointer to cast a shadow, as the sun and the moon do, and often is bright enough to be seen during daylight. In reality, neither the Panbabylonists nor Kugler could account for the cuneiform texts in which Venus is referred to by phrases such as the 'diamond that shines like the sun' or 'lordly miraculous apparition in the middle of the sky. '

The very title of the book that Kugler published in 1910 indicates how confident he was that he had succeeded in laughing his opponents out of the scene of cuneiform studies. But their ranks received reinforcement in the person of a young recruit, Ernst Friedrich Weidner (born 1891), who was not only like them a master of cuneiform languages (he was respected as an authority throughout the following half century of his life), but was also well versed in astronomy and mathematics. Winckler and Jeremias, like other distinguished Panbabylonists such as F. E. Peiser, had declared that they were philologists whose task was merely the deciphering of the texts and that they intended to leave the task of solving the problems of astronomy to experts of that discipline.

The arguments lined up by Weidner hit Kugler so hard that in reacting he lost his balance. He stated that the texts that mention that a star was seen as being near the 'right' or 'left' crescent of Venus, really referred to the crescent of the moon (waxing or waning moon) behind which Venus was concealed at the moment; then, a short time later, he printed a special sheet in order to withdraw this interpretation. The debate between Kugler and Weidner had become so heated that their publications were dated not only by the year, but also by the month and the day.

In March 1914 Weidner published a monograph entitled Alter und Bedeutung der babylonischen Astronomie und Astrallehre (' Antiquity and Import of Babylonian Astronomy and Astrological Conceptions'), which was intended to be a refutation of Kugler's main contention, as stated in the Preface. Weidner felt so sure of himself that, in spite of his young age, soon after, in 1915, he issued the first instalment of a comprehensive manual of Babylonian astronomy [15] .

In the mentioned monograph Weidner saved his best argument for the last pages where he refuted Kugler on the interpretation of texts which mentioned the 'crescent' of Venus. The very last sentence of the book reads: 'Henceforth nobody will try to shake the solid fact that the Babylonians were acquainted with the phases of Venus. ' But this forceful and positive statement is followed, at the bottom of the page, by the following elusive footnote: 'One may also mention that well-known staffers of astronomical observatories have assured me that, in the clear sky of the Orient, it is definitely possible to follow the phases of Venus with the naked eye. '

The quarrel between Kugler and the Panbabylonists had reached a dead end. Kugler could not deny that the phases of Venus and the satellites of Jupiter had been observed; but his opponents could not explain how this feat had been accomplished. It was pointless for them to cite alleged expert opinions, unless they could produce living individuals who had actually seen such features of the heavens with the unaided eye. Both sides had declared that they were interested in establishing the textual record and that they did not intend any personal rancor, but in fact their exchanges had deteriorated into unconstructive vituperation. Kugler, years later, expressed regret for the asperity of his attacks on the Panbabylonists. Both Kugler and his opponents took advantage of the pause forced upon them by World War I to drop the matter entirely. However, although silence about what had been aired in the controversy may have been advantageous in terms of academic respectability, it did not contribute to the advancement of knowledge.


Since the 'Panbabylonists' were the innovators and Kugler proved that some of their contentions were incorrect, their silence was interpreted by the academic community as a confession of defeat. But Kugler too had been forced into a corner, and kept silent after 1914. Scholars who chose to avoid thorny problems on their way to achieving academic prestige acted as if the 'Panbabylonists' had been totally refuted. Yet, even assuming that Kugler had made a 'wreck' of Panbabylonism, one should ask whether in this wreck there were pieces of valuable salvage.

A distorted view of the status of the controversy was created by the circumstance that Delitzsch, in 1920, at the age of seventy, two years before his death, aimed a Parthian shaft at his religious opponents, in which he reiterated and broadened some of the original positions of Panbabylonism. The claim that many of the most striking accounts of the Old Testament must be interpreted as astronomical information and that this information was derived from Mesopotamian scientific astronomy was presented in the context of a book entitled Die grosse Taüschung; The title 'The Great Fraud' refers to Old Testament religion. This book stirred a furor in Jewish and Christian religious groups and aroused all sorts of suspicion in less committed circles. Delitzsch even felt compelled to write an article in the popular press, in which he reviewed his life in order to prove that he had not been motivated by antisemitism [16] .

A standard German encyclopedia, Brockhaus Enzyklopädie, in the edition of 1972, in the entry 'Panbabylonismus' states the following: 'Today Panbabylonism survives only as a subject of historical interest, because in a one-sided manner it reduces the history of religion to diffusionism. ' This evaluation may be justifiable in relation to Delitzsch, but not in relation to the other 'Panbabylonists' who tried to avoid theological topics and concentrated on the interpretation of cuneiform records.

In 1914 they withdrew from the battle because they did not know how to respond to Kugler's documentation of the 'gross errors' in early Babylonian records. Weidner tried to answer by pointing out that there are errors of a few degrees in Ptolemy's list of the positions of fixed stars [17] ; but this is a poor way of defending the high scientific level of early Mesopotamian astronomy. He might have made his point, if he had had the courage to infer from the records that Mesopotamian astronomers made use of some means of optical enlargement. But the Panbabylonists were intimidated by Kugler's statement of 1910 that, 'At the start one must relegate to the realm of illusions the assumption that the Babylonians were already acquainted with the telescope. '

They appeared ridiculous when they ascribed unusually good eyesight to the Babylonians. There is a consensus among those who deal with measurements, that the human eye cannot perceive intervals of less than a minute. It has been argued that this practical reason explains why the degree was divided into 60 minutes. An object which, because of its size and distance, subtends an arc of less than a minute of degree is perceived as a point without any recognizable shape. The apparent diameter of Venus varies from less than 10" to 63" when she is closest to the earth (inferior conjunction); but at the latter point she shows us her dark side (being between the Sun and earth like a new moon), so that she is hard to observe even with a telescope. For an amateur astronomer the best time to observe Venus is about a month before and after inferior conjunction, when she appears as a thin crescent. The four satellites of Jupiter per se would be in the range of visible objects, since they have a brightness of stars of the fourth or fifth magnitude, but what is decisive is their angular distance from the body of Jupiter. We perceive as one light two stars that are less than 3 minutes apart.

Supporters of Velikovsky could argue that the phases of Venus were seen because there was a time when Venus came closer to the earth. In this spirit Lynn E. Rose, with the help of mathematicians and astrophysicists, has been conducting investigations aimed at establishing what may have been the orbits of the earth, Mars, and Venus before the age of Nabonassar [18] . He has gone so far as to consider the possibility that there had been a period of time in which Venus was an outer planet and Mars an inner planet. But, even if these investigations were to arrive at a wellgrounded conclusion, they could not solve all the problems raised by the Panbabylonists.

There has been a general neglect of one problem which in my opinion should be the first one to be asked in dealing with ancient astromythologies : how could Jupiter have been conceived as ruler of the gods, when the planet Jupiter, although by far the largest of the planets, appears to the naked eye as a not particularly brilliant point. However, with an enlarging tool of modest power one can see that Jupiter surpasses all other planets in apparent diameter; this diameter varies between 30" and 50". I do not claim that the apparent diameter of Jupiter is the only explanation for the role assigned to Jupiter by mythology, but I suggest that it may be a part of the explanation.

Since the great debates of the period that preceded World War I scholars of ancient astronomy have avoided difficult problems. Father Johann Schaumberger in 1935 published an addition to Kugler's Sternkunde based upon the notes that Kugler had left unpublished at his death. Upon noticing that Kugler did not reply to Weidner's statement of 1914 about the phases of Venus, he supposed that Weidner had been refuted by implication [19] . The argument of Weidner was that cuneiform documents refer to the left and right 'horn' of Venus, using a Sumerian symbol which is used to refer to the shape of the waxing or waning moon. Schaumberger observed that there have been found texts in which the same symbol is used in relation to Mars; since the phases of Mars undoubtedly cannot be observed with the unaided eye, the symbol should not be understood as referring to a moonlike shape. He left out of consideration that Mars when in quadrature (that is, just before and after its closest approach to the earth) shows a contour similar to that of the moon in second and third quarter, and that this face was first noticed in 1636 by Francesco Fontana with the help of a poor telescope.

The total evidence suggests to me that the astronomers of Mesopotamia made use of some sort of enlarging device [20] . But, even if one chooses to let the investigation of this possibility hang suspended in limbo, it remains that the astronomers of Mesopotamia were acquainted with the phases of Venus and Mars and with four satellites of Jupiter, and must have had some notion about the huge size of Jupiter. The question whether Mesopotamian astronomy had an influence on the astromythology of other countries may also be ignored for the time being. The essential point is that the early astronomers of Mesopotamia cannot be dismissed as fantasts who had no concern with empirical reality and lacked scientific spirit; here the Panbabylonists were right.

But, on his side, Kugler was right in pointing out that in the early cuneiform records there occur figures which seem to be gross errors, and that after the beginning of the era of Nabonassar Babylonian astronomers were conducting investigations aimed at ascertaining basic data without which any scientific study of the heavens is impossible. It must have occurred to Kugler that the explanation of these discrepancies may have been some shift in the heavenly motion in the period preceding the era of Nabonassar.

It is a fact that after 1914 Kugler suspended the publication of his major work which had given him a world wide reputation. From the beginning he had announced that the first two volumes, which dealt with observational data, would be followed by a third volume dealing with mythology and cosmological concepts. This third volume was never published, and one must understand that the booklet of 1927 on the myth of Phaeton, in a real, if limited, sense, replaced it. The message of this booklet is not so much that the myth of Phaeton refers to a cosmic catastrophe which took place at the middle of the second millennium B. C., but that in general astromythologies are based on astronomical occurrences. Kugler would have granted to Velikovsky that it is perfectly legitimate to use mythological materials as a source of information about astronomical events.

In substance Kugler accepted one of the major contentions of the Panbabylonists. It may not be true that Mesopotamia was the center of diffusion of astromythologies, but the Panbabylonists were right in pointing out that in Mesopotamia one comes across data which are superior as sources of astronomical information. The information is not only couched in the form of mythological stories, but also in the form of numerical records.

The cuneiform astronomical tablets dating before the era of Nabonassar must be taken at face value. It is no longer possible to speak of careless measurements. Since the publication of Kugler's writings these tablets have been almost completely neglected, with the result that only a fraction of what is available has been published. The collections of cuneiform astronomical tablets that are stored in some museums have been gathered from the excavation of entire astronomical libraries of Mesopotamia. The wealth of material that is available is such that it should occupy scores of scholars for several generations. But the effort would be well justified, because these tablets contain more than general accounts of the events, such as those studied by Velikovsky; they contain exact quantitative data on the basis of which it will be possible to establish on empirical, not metaphysical, foundations the history of the solar system.

Notes (References cited in "Cuneiform Astronomical Records and Celestial Instability")

1. The article first appeared under the title 'F. X. Kugler - Almost a Catastrophist, ' in the second Newsletter of the Inter-disciplinary Study Group, now I. S. G. Review. It appeared in revised form under the title 'Father Kugler's Falling Star, ' in Kronos, II (1977), No 4.

2. Felix Jacoby, Das Marmor Parium (Berlin, 1904), 136-37.

3. Augustine, City of God, XXI, 8.

4. Gnomon, 1927,449-51.

5. The Greek text of this particular oracle with an English translation and commentary, has been now provided by Lowery in Appendix I to his mentioned article. It must be noticed that, although the academic world has generally ignored Kugler's book, when Alfred Kurfess, Sybillinische Weissagungen (Berlin, 1951), published an authoritative translation with commentary upon the entire body of Sybilline Oracles, in relation to this particular oracle he followed Kugler's interpretation.

6. Lowery objects that Kugler was arbitrary in choosing the date of 100 B. C. for the composition of this oracle. Kugler would have just chosen a point of time in which the sky fitted the text of the oracle, although the book called the Sybilline Oracles most likely was put together in the second century A. D. but the date of the gathering of the oracles in a collection has no relation with the date of composition of this particular oracle.

7. The Origin of Money in Greece (Harvard, 1946).

8. Jacoby, Op. cit. 93, 158.

9. Plutarch, Life of Numa.

10. Grand Dictionnaire Universel, ed. by Pierre Larousse (Paris, 1866-90), VIII 818, s. v. 'Nicolas Fréret. '

11. Mémoires, Académie des Inscriptions, XXIV (1756), 507-522.

12. Recherches critiques, historiques et géographiques sur les fragments d'Héron d'Alexandrie (Paris, 1851), 133.

13. Noted on the Relation of Ancient Measures to the Great Pyramid, published as Appendix to Peter Tompkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid (New York, 1971).

14. In Bannkreis Babels: Panbabylonistische Konstructionen und religionsgeschichtliche Tatsachen (Munster, 1910).

15. Handbuch der babylonischen Astronomie, Vol. I (Leipzig, 1915).

16. 'Mein Lebenslauf, ' Reclams Universum, 36 (1920), Heft 47, 241-46.

17. Alter und Bedetung, 13.

18. A good sample of these investigations is provided by Lynn E. Rose and Raymond C. Vaughan, 'Velikovsky and the Sequence of Planetary Orbits, ' Pensée IV (1974), No. 3, 27-34. Cf. also Velikovsky Reconsidered, by the Editors of Pensée (Garden City, 1976), 100-133.

19. Ergänzungsheft 3, 302.

20. One of the few Orientalists who pays attention to this problem is H. W. F. Saggs, The Greatness that was Babylon (New York, 1962), 432. But Saggs assumes that the solution must of necessity be the discovery of lenses in excavations. Saggs indicates that some lenses were found. Sir Flinders Petrie too was always on the lookout for lenses in his excavations in Egypt, and reported that once he found an object that might have been a lens. I must observe that a simple glass container of the right shape, filled with water, can perform the function of a lens. Furthermore, the written and archeological evidence suggests that in the ancient world enlargement was obtained by the use of mirrors. Mirrors provide simple and powerful enlarging devices.


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