Saturday, May 27, 2017

Auroras and comets in Syriac

SYRIAC WATCH: Mining Ancient Texts Reveals Clues to Space Weather of Yore. Low-latitude sightings of colorful hues in the sky likely to have been auroras indicate powerful geomagnetic storms buffeted Earth when some old chronicles were written, researchers report (Tim Hornyak, Eos).
... Japanese researchers recently identified what may be the earliest known, datable sketch of an aurora and say it can shed light on solar activity more than 1000 years ago.

The crude marginalia were found in the Zūqnīn Chronicle, a history of events from Creation to the late 8th century that is preserved in the Vatican Apostolic Library. Composed in 775 and 776 CE, the manuscript is written in a dialect of Aramaic and attributed to a monk dubbed Joshua the Stylite, who lived in the monastery of Zūqnīn in what is now eastern Turkey. The manuscript yielded a total of 10 drawings of heavenly phenomena, including a sketch of horizontal bands from 771/772 CE. ...
The article says that the Zūqnīn Chronicle (which is written in Syriac) also mentions a comet (Halley's?). And that there are references to auroras in Babylonian cuneiform literature.

For another, later, Syriac reference to a comet, see here.