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TechnologicalDarkage OP t1_isudnnm wrote

SS: researches found an ancient text, and using a new method to illuminate its pages where able to make a shocking discovery: they had found the oldest known star map. Previously believed to be a possibility it’s now known that Hipparchus made his star map before Ptolemy and what’s more, used a coordinate system closer to modern ones allowing for much more accurate measurements than Ptolemy. Hipparchus work is older than the Almagest (meaning greatest in Arabic) by several hundred years. This makes the work the first known time humans made detailed measurements of the sky allowing them to predict and model celestial motion, perhaps in a way marking the beginning of astronomy if not science itself.


Snufflepuffster t1_isuqrtb wrote

imo it’s important to note that the optical technique they used recovers the original text from recycled parchment (called a palimpsest). There are thousands of texts like that in libraries all over the world?? so imagine applying this technique to all those documents!


BarbequedYeti t1_isw2cr2 wrote

Sounds like this Hipparchus fellow was a smart cookie.


fredandlunchbox t1_iswdfwi wrote

The pyramids don’t contain any star maps? Stargate aside, didn’t they actually align things with stars/sun/moon? Was there no map guiding them?

Edit: this wikipedia article suggests they were drawing star maps on the inside of coffin lids as early as 2100BCE.


midz411 t1_iswdivl wrote

I'm glad we discovered the night sky in medieval times /s


Supermeme1001 t1_iswdm6h wrote

ahhh St Catherine Monastery, lived in for thousands of years, cant imagine what else is in that library, has one of the earliest depictions of Jesus, and an alleged signed parchment from Muhammed protecting them after they conquered the region back then


WarrenPuff_It t1_iswgzh8 wrote

We assume that a lot of ancient monuments that are built for (or assumed) aligning with celestial bodies were built directly from the ground up using markers and aligning things with your eyes. Not like making a map and then charting things out.

It's easier to place a stick in the ground and mark off seasonal elongations of a star or planet's path, directly on the place you want to build it, and far more accurate that way than using a hand drawn map for reference.


rshorning t1_iswhrm9 wrote

It is remarkable that the work of Hipparchus is so valued by modern astronomers that the modern values of stellar magnitude (aka how bright they appear in the sky) was scaled to match the values given by Hipparchus in his original star charts. There are obviously some adjustments and Hipparchus didn't get all of the stars perfectly, but at the same time if the apparent stellar magnitude seems to have been off by a substantial amount the presumption is that something has happened to the star in the last few centuries rather than suspecting the ancient values were wrong.

In other words, real science can even be gleaned from these ancient manuscripts that result in modern discoveries of new astronomical phenomena too. It really is that good in some cases not to mention that some ancient astronomers were extremely meticulous with their data collection that it still has some modern relevance.


dontevercallmeabully t1_iswnipr wrote

Read the article. Mapping is one thing (as in laying out where stars are respective to each other), registering coordinates for each of them is another. And even in that case, the coordinates are augmented with magnitude. This is what makes the finding remarkable, this is science not politics.


Bradwarden0047 t1_iswps9p wrote

Perhaps you should look into what ancient Egyptian astronomy actually consisted of. The tomb of Ramses for example not only maps out the stars, but also the trajectory the relevant stars take for an observer on Earth. Supposedly something similar is so "surprising" about this discovery. But again - they're not Europeans. Also, they are just attributing this to Hipparchus based on the position of the fixed stars at the time, and as it roughly aligns with his lifetime, it must be him and can be noone else!


zubbs99 t1_iswq05a wrote

Great article, really interesting. Neat that they could use the Earth's precession to cross-check the starmap's approximate date.


dontevercallmeabully t1_iswtnfp wrote

I believe this is more about the coordinates against each star than just a visual representation like the ones we found in Ancient Egypt (not in the pyramids as far as I am aware, rather in tombs like Senenmut’s).

It seems Egyptians we’re getting pretty good at timing and figure alignments out, but in this case the finding seems to provide spherical coordinates.


SpaceInMyBrain t1_iswtrv6 wrote

This is incredibly cool, on so many levels. (Pun unintended, it only became apparent when I typed out the sentence.) I may have heard of Hipparchus but didn't know all of the other info about his work. Talk about being ahead of your time!

People are taught the importance of Gutenberg's printing press but most fail to realize the watershed it represents between valuable knowledge being easily lost and the same knowledge very likely being preserved. Multiple copies are incredibly important. The Antikythera mechanism is looked at with wonder but I also feel sadness - the immense amount of research and theoretical work that went into creating it could have propagated throughout the ancient world. Who knows what would have resulted?


dontevercallmeabully t1_iswttp9 wrote

Nobody serious is disregarding one civilisation against another. Highlighting this is the earliest coordinates-rich mapping we know of doesn’t cast shadows on what pre-Colombian or ancient Egyptian folks achieved. There is absolutely no need to polarise this. They are all fascinating.


JohnnyUtah_QB1 t1_isx2qzs wrote

> A medieval parchment from a monastery in Egypt has yielded a surprising treasure. Hidden beneath Christian texts, scholars have discovered what seems to be part of the long-lost star catalogue of the astronomer Hipparchus — believed to be the earliest known attempt to map the entire sky.

If you actually read the article you would see this is what makes it unique. The article does mention prior depictions of the night sky occurring throughout history, but these are always just a handful of celestial bodies that were important for those cultures. This text in contrast was intended to be a rigourous mapping of every object that could be seen.


balkibartokamis t1_isx5rf8 wrote

Why did medieval people scrape off old text? Was parchment that hard to find?


sithelephant t1_isxb5o7 wrote

Guilds are another problem.

The reason for not preserving many of the techniques was not lack of printing, but intentional control of knowledge to the degree it was often lost going from master->apprentice->Oh, he got hit by a cart.


hatesfacebook2022 t1_isxbfzc wrote

Don’t see how this is the first. Is t the night sky painted inside some times in Egypt and also the Chinese had maps of the sky earlier than this I thought also. 200bc is not that old.


SpaceInMyBrain t1_isxctmy wrote

Right. And even before that - I've read that in ancient Greece the technology in a temple that was used to do things like open a door or raise a statue from the floor by hidden means was guarded by the priest class. It could have been developed and been useful but instead was lost until archeologists found it and put the findings together with ancient accounts of the moving doors, etc.


zoinkability t1_isxh9zz wrote

It seems that Hipparchus’ measurements were so precise and accurate that the researchers were able to use procession — a phenomenon he apparently discovered — to date the observation to the era of his life. Pretty incredible work.


stewartm0205 t1_isy1i7o wrote

The Ancient Egyptians knew of the precession of the earth thousands of years ago.


alvinofdiaspar t1_isy3hz4 wrote

There are a number of these mechanical devices (even a form of steam engine) - look up Hero of Alexandria. They didn’t make the leap to using these machines in a mass-produced, industrial manner though; mainly just as curiosities. History would have turned out so differently had they been able to make the leap.


Bradwarden0047 t1_isy4oyl wrote

Actually you should read the article first before preaching it. This finding details only the Corona Borealis constellation. Not the entire sky. Maybe try reading beyond the first paragraph next time.

Hipparchus is thought to have charted the entire night sky and click baity articles like this create the impression that this discovery is it. They bank on the fact that people like you just read the headline or first paragraph and become experts on the subject.


JohnnyUtah_QB1 t1_isy7ol1 wrote

I read it. Try again.

This catalog has been alluded to over the centuries by ancient texts but no one had any surviving proof. Ancient texts make vague allusions to Hipparchus' catalog but no one had ever actually dug up the catalog itself. While the deciphered piece is only partial, it's compelling proof that Hipparchus did produce a catalog of stars, and given testimony from other ancient astronomers who saw it in whole there's good reason to believe it was exhaustive.

Ancient peoples were citing this work for centuries. It was lost at some point and scholars have been trying to find a copy for centuries. It's pretty incredible to find pieces of it written over and hidden in documents we've been sitting on the whole time


ali-n t1_it05r36 wrote

Ahem... it's the Sacred Autonomous Royal Monastery of Saint Katherine of the Holy and God-Trodden Mount Sinai

On a less frivolous note: there are untold numbers of manuscripts from there which were "washed" and reused. Many of them are now residing in various places, like Russia and Norway.


OkOrdinary5299 t1_itmwhqo wrote

Sometimes I am amazed at how much the ancients paid attention to the stars