Models and Theory in Ancient Astronomy: From the Babylonians to the Greeks
In the context of knowledge of heavenly phenomena, model-making played a continuous role throughout the history of Babylonian astronomy, from the 2nd millennium BCE to the Hellenistic period. This course looks selectively at the development of models for astronomy, from arithmetical linear models in 2nd millennium BCE to 1st century BCE Babylonia to the geometrical cinematic models of Hellenistic Greek astronomy. Questions about the relationship of observation to theory and model-making, and the relationship of astronomical models to the representation of the motion of heavenly bodies and to cosmology will be of interest. The material will be set against its historical and cultural contexts, including the relationship of astronomy to astrology. Readings will be taken from cuneiform texts and translations of Greek astronomical treatises.
The online version of the Caltech Catalog is provided as a convenience; however, the printed version is the only authoritative source of information about course offerings, option requirements, graduation requirements, and other important topics.