The identity of the North Star in antiquity.

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The identity of the North Star in antiquity.

Postby dragonsteeth » Mon 15 Apr 2019 10:39 am

In the S I S Review 2019 : 1 Marinus Anthony van der Slujis in his article 'Homer's Arktos - 'Bearly' Polar' questions whether ancient traditions point to the Great Bear really being the polar constellation. There are many different anomalies linking the Great Bear, the Dipper or the Great Wain with the far North in antiquity but I will just mention two.

The first relates to the Little Dipper or Ursa Minor which in antiquity was known as the Cynosure or Dog's Tail. Today Polaris stands at the pole and it is easy to see how this star of Ursa Minor standing as a pole star could be regarded as a steady guiding light which the word cynosure came to mean. The handle of the Little Dipper might readily be regarded as a dog's tail so today referring to Polaris is no doubt appropriate. But the problem is that three thousand years ago Polaris had not reached its position as the North Star so instead of acting as a stable this Dog's Tail would have been whizzing around the ancient night skies in circles. This raises the question why was the Dog's Tail was originally associated with the North Pole. Either the name was previously identified with a different constellation or could the Little Dipper and Polaris have stood as the polar constellation 4,000 years before it should have arrived there according to calculations based on precession.

Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision (p.213) notes that where Seneca describes how the Great Wain fell from the heights of the North it was replaced by the Little Bear. So the question how the Cynosure the steadfast Dog's Tail acquired its affiliation with Ursa Minor long before Polaris reached its modern position at the pole remains unclear.

The second problem relating to pole stars in antiquity concerns the Egyptian identification of Ursa Major as a Hoe or Plough ridden by Anubis. In the West we also generally know Ursa Major as 'the Plough' because of the resemblance of these seven stars to an old fashioned horse drawn plough. But with the ancient Egyptian plough or hoe we find a fundamental difference between. Their 'Hoe' is made up of just four stars with Dubhe representing Anubis the Jackal seated on the back. This creates a difficulty. In the night sky, and so long as the movement of the stars has not reversed, the constellation we call the Plough moves forward with an anticlockwise rotation. But the Egyptian Hoe faces with its front to the left as it passes beneath the pole star. This meant that the Hoe of Anubis was forever moving backwards as it circled the pole. Anubis would have been stuck in reverse.

Like us the Egyptians provided Ursa Major with several different identifications. They sometimes described the seven stars as the Foreleg or the Foreleg of the Bull, and at other times it appeared to be represented just as the Bull as on the ceiling of Senmut's tomb. Depictions of Anubis riding the Hoe are surprisingly rare but one of the better known examples is on the Dendera Zodiac.

So why on Earth or or in Heaven's name would the ancient Egyptians have identified Anubis with a mode of transport on which their jackal headed god was doomed to forever travel backwards. However if the Great Wain itself had once stood as the polar constellation with Dubhe standing at the pole (as Velikovsky appears to suggest W in C p 302), this might provide a partial explanation. If Dubhe representing Anubis stood at the pole instead of moving forwards or backwards the Hoe would just be pivoting as the other stars revolved in a circular motion. This would have meant that the stars of the Hoe would have had neither a backwards or a forwards motion.

Velikovsky claimed that in antiquity the direction in which the stars appeared to move was reversed but this is very unlikely. (If the spin of the Earth was reversed the New Moon would first appear in the morning not in the evening which might have been noted in Hebrew Scriptures.) For Dubhe to have shifted to a polar position would have required not only for the Earth's axis to have shifted but for the obliquity of the axis to have been raised to more than 30 degrees. This hardly seems credible in terms of climatic disruption but certain ancient Babylonian records appear to provide support for claims of an increased obliquity. In the Bronze Age Babylonia we have records that their seasonal measurements of time were linked to a widely followed use of their 2:1 solstice ratio. This is a bizarre solstice ratio for Mesopotamia as it is better suited to the latitude of Paris or the 49th Parallel. As this strange solstice ratio was being widely discussed and mulled over by Assyriologists in the decades following the publication of Velikovsky's work it is surprising how it could have been overlooked by Velikovsky himself as it provided clear and obvious supporting evidence for his claims of major disturbances of the Earth's axis in historical antiquity.
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