Ancient Egyptian astronomy: timekeeping and cosmography in the new kingdom
Doctor of Philosophy Department of Mathematics and Computer Science,University of Leicester (1999)
The first part of this study analyses and discusses astronomical timekeeping methods used in the New Kingdom. Diagonal star clocks are examined first, looking at classification of sources, decan lists, and the updating of the tables over time. The date list in the Osireion at Abydos is discussed, and issues concerning its place in the history of astronomical timekeeping are raised. The final stellar timekeeping method, the Ramesside star clock, is then examined. The conventional interpretation of the observational method behind the tables is challenged by a new theory, and a system of analysing the tables is introduced. The conclusions of the previous sections are then gathered together in a discussion of the development of stellar timekeeping methods. The small instruments known as shadow clocks, and their later relatives the sloping sundials, are also examined. The established hypothesis that the shadow clock was completed by the addition of a crossbar is challenged and refuted. The second part of this study is based on New Kingdom representations of the sky.
Two major texts and several celestial diagrams are discussed in detail, beginning with the Book of Nut, which describes the motions of the sun and stars. New translations of the vignette and dramatic text are presented and discussed. Portions of the Book of the Day describing the behaviour of the sun and circumpolar group of stars are analysed. Finally, celestial diagrams dating from the New Kingdom are described. Their composition and significance is discussed and the conceptual framework behind the diagrams is recreated. By introducing new theories and analysis methods, and using a modem but sympathetic approach to the original sources, this study attempts to update and extend our knowledge of these areas of ancient astronomy.