The Selection and Calculation of Cycles: Eclipse Theories in Mesopotamia and Early China

The Selection and Calculation of Cycles: Eclipse Theories in Mesopotamia and Early China

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The cover page of a Chinese translation of a Brief Introduction of Astronomy in the Middle East (to be published in 2017, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press, Shanghai)

The cover page of a Chinese translation of a Brief Introduction of Astronomy in the Middle East (to be published in 2017, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Press, Shanghai)

The aim of this project is to investigate the theories of solar and lunar eclipses in early China and Mesopotamia. Solar and lunar eclipses are important astronomical phenomena in both civilizations. Prediction methods developed from being based on eclipse periods to constructing systematical theories. There have been scholars who argued that ancient Chinese astronomy comes from the West by comparing specific features between the two cultures. However, the argument was not generally accepted. This project aims to push forward research on eclipse theories in Mesopotamian and Chinese astronomy. It focuses on the development of the theories, and analyzes the differences between the prediction methods of solar and lunar eclipses in early China and in Mesopotamia. From the perspective of mathematical astronomy, it reveals the different approaches that the two astronomies developed. Finally, the project aims to discuss the possibility of Babylonian astronomy transmitted to China or vice versa, based on investigating the basis and keys of the eclipse theories and the cultural context of transmission.