The Babylonian Astronomical Compendium MUL.APIN: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Babylonian Astronomical Compendium MUL.APIN

1st Edition

By Hermann Hunger, John Steele


246 pages

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Hardback: 9781138050471
pub: 2018-07-26
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315168722
pub: 2018-07-11
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MUL.APIN, written sometime before the 8th century BC, was the most widely copied astronomical text in ancient Mesopotamia: a compendium including information such as star lists, descriptions of planetary phases, mathematical schemes for the length of day and night, a discussion of the luni-solar calendar and rules for intercalation, and a short collection of celestial omens. This book contains an introductory essay, followed by a new edition of the text and a facing-page transliteration and English translation. Finally, the book contains a new and detailed commentary on the text. This is a fascinating study, and an important resource for anyone interested in the history of astronomy.


"MUL.APIN is the earliest surviving general work on astronomy in which a wide range of theoretical and practical information relating to the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets is presented. Hermann Hunger and John Steele have done us all an immense service in providing this up-to-date edition and accessible, yet accurate translation of a document of central importance for our understanding of the history of Mesopotamian astronomy, and more broadly of all pre-telescopic astronomy."

- Alexander Jones, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, USA

Table of Contents


List of abbreviations



Table of sources

Description of sources

Concordance of museum numbers

Concordance of previously published tablets

Tablet I

Table II


Philological Notes

Composite Text and Translation





Index of words and names

Subject index

About the Authors

Hermann Hunger is Emeritus Professor of Assyriology at the University of Vienna, Austria.

John Steele is Professor of the History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity in the Department of Egyptology and Assyriology at Brown University, USA.

About the Series

Scientific Writings from the Ancient and Medieval World

Scientific texts provide our main source for understanding the history of science in the ancient and medieval world. The aim of this series is to provide clear and accurate English translations of key scientific texts accompanied by up-to-date commentaries dealing with both textual and scientific aspects of the works and accessible contextual introductions setting the works within the broader history of ancient science. In doing so, the series makes these works accessible to scholars and students in a variety of disciplines including history of science, the sciences, and history (including Classics, Assyriology, East Asian Studies, Near Eastern Studies and Indology).

Texts will be included from all branches of early science including astronomy, mathematics, medicine, biology, and physics, and which are written in a range of ancient languages including Akkadian, Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. Thus, the series is of use both in the teaching of history and the history of science and for researchers on ancient science. In addition, the series provides a venue for the publication of original research on early scientific texts, in particular through the commentaries.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General