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from the annals of Berosus, adapting them to the Egyptian year, and continued them till about the
600th year of Nabonassar, inserting the Macedonian kings of Egypt; as Claudius Ptolemy afterwards continued the list till the reign of Antoninus Pius; the whole forming the most valuable record extant, after the Inspired Writings.
The æra of Nabonassar, the origin of which has furnished a fertile source for learned inquiry, manifestly arose from the indispensable correction of the Chaldean calendar, on the renewal of the embolismal period of 1440 solar years, which was used by the Chaldeans, and the Persians after them, till the æra of Yezdegird, A.D. 632 (if not till the last correction of the Persian calendar by Sultan Gelaleddin, A. D. 1079), as all Oriental writers agree. This will appear from what follows.
The ancient Chaldean and Persian year being formed, like the Egyptian and Julian, of 365 solar days and a quarter, the intercalation of the fraction was effected by the insertion of a supernumerary month of 30 days at the end of every 120 years : so that in the period of 1440 the 12 months became intercalated in succession ;-a mode equivalent to the Egyptian and Julian intercalation of a day every four years.
But this form exceeding the true solar year by about eleven minutes, the departure from the vernal equinox, the radix of the Chaldean and Persian year, would amount to about eleven days in each embolismal period; and hence, on the renewal of each, a correction of the calendar similar to that of the Julian calendar by Pope Gregory, became indispensable.
Thus, computing an embolismal period from the root of their astronomy, at the vernal equinox s.c. 2233, it is clear that, had it consisted of true tropical years, another would have set out from the vernal equinox in the year B.c. 793; but, the equinox having then receded about eleven days from its place at the origin of the period (April 9, B.c. 2233, Julian time), it became necessary either to omit that number of days, as was done when the Gregorian calendar was introduced into England, or to suffer the year to recede to the Equinox (as was proposed by Mr. Graves when the correction of the British calendar was first agitated) before a new period should commence; and that the latter was most consistent with the form of the Chaldean and Persian
year is evident, because it naturally receded and corrected itself, till stopped by the intercalation of a month each 120 years, as above.
But in the space of 44 years the Neomenia would have receded the eleven days required, during which the equinox would have further receded 11 x 44 = 484 min., or 8 hrs. 4 min., supposing the annual anticipation to be eleven minutes exactly; and to bring up this, it is clear that a postponement into the second year afterwards would become necessary, the annual recession
being six hours. This makes forty-six years' difference between the termination of the former embolismal period and the origin of a new one, in the event of a correction of the calendar.
But 1440 + 46 = 1486 years ; and this period, computed from the Chaldean æra b.č. 2233, conducts us to the vernal equinox in the year B.c. 747, which is the æra of Nabonassar; when the equinox fell on March 28 of the Julian year, and the first Chaldean month (Adar) coincided with the second Egyptian month (Paophi) in the vague Sothoic year, then originating on the 26th of February; like the coincidence between the Persian and Egyptian year at the æra of Yezdegird, A.D. 632 (see Hyd. de Relig. Vet. Persar. c. xiv). Hence a new embolismal period originating from the æra of Nabonassar; and thus Hipparchus had not much difficulty in transferring the Chaldean observations into the Egyptian calendar.
Thus it is evident that the æra of Nabonassar is not fixed to the year B.c. 747 because it was the first year of that prince's reign, as Syncellus conjectured, or because the Babylonians at that time revolted from the Assyrians or Medes, as modern writers have generally supposed; but because the old Chaldean calendar then became finally corrected in the natural course of the celestial revolutions, and a new embolismal period set out. Thus there is an indissoluble astronomical connection between the old Chaldean æra, B.C. 2233, and the new æra of Nabonassar, B.c. 747; and hence we obtain another demonstration of the authenticity of the former, in addition to the beforementioned combination of evidence; and a satisfactory origin for the latter.
That a renewal of the embolismal period took place at the æra of Nabonassar, may also be proved from the Oriental writers cited by Dr. Hyde in c. xvii. of his Relig. Vet. Persar.; for these writers agree that the intercalary month at the time of Yezdegird was Aban, answering to the twelfth of the old Chaldean and Persian calendar ; the five epagomanæ, or intercalary days (which those nations, like the Egyptians, added to the twelve months of thirty days each), being at that time at the end of this month; for they always followed the month which was doubled in each cycle of 120 years, which latter took its name from the intercalated month.
But the æra of Yezdegird, A.D. 632, fell in the 1379th Chaldean year of that of Nabonassar, B.c. 747, and by consequence in the 59th year of the 12th cycle of the current embolismal period. This, therefore, corresponds with the 12th intercalary month, as above; and it follows that the æra of Nabonassar coincides with the origin of an embolismal period, according to the testimony of Oriental writers.
Thus, whether we compute downwards, from the first Chaldean
astronomical æra, or upwards, from that of the last native Persian king, we arrive at the same results; and I apprehend it would be difficult to find any point in ancient profane history capable of a stronger combination of proofs than the validity of the first-mentioned epoch and the origin of that of Nabonassar ; who, even if he destroyed the records of former reigns (as Syncellus tells us that Berosus related), manifestly fixed his own æra on an astronomical basis; or, rather, left it as produced by the revolutions of the embolismal period, combined with the observed place of the equinox.
The first Chaldean astronomical æra is of great importance, because it not only demonstrates that science was far advanced in the early postdiluvian ages, but because it establishes as direct a synchronism between the times of the first Chaldean Belus and the builders of the tower of Babel, as that established by the Ptolemaic canon between Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and Zedekiah king of Judah. Ancient writers agree that the Babylonian astronomy originated with this Belus, surnamed the Wise ; for which Eupolemus, Seneca, Pliny, Solinus, and a host of other authorities, might be adduced. Castor and Thallus let us know that Belus was concerned in the Titan war, and was the contemporary of Ogyges; and Abydenus and Alexander Polyhistor write from Berosus, that the wars of Cronus, or Belus, and the Titans, ensued immediately on the destruction of the tower erected after the Deluge. The building of this tower is by profane writers uniformly ascribed to Belus. These facts, combined with Varro's æra of the Ogygian or first Deluge, 1600 years before the Olympic æra, or B.C. 2376, afford a very exact approximation to the sacred Hebrew chronology.
§ 3. Of the Quantity of the Nabonassareun Tropical Year. From the above-mentioned correction of the calendar we obtain the precise quantity of the tropical year of the Chaldean astronomers in the age of Nabonassar, when, as is manifest from Berosus, some material improvement took place in their system; for Syncellus tells us, from that historian and his copyist Alexander Polyhistor, “ that thenceforward the Chaldeans diligently noted the celestial motions.” The forty-six years' postponement of the intercalation supposes an anticipation of the equinox amounting to 11 days and 12 hours (for 46 - 4= 11]) during the 1486 years from the old Chaldean æra to that of Nabonassar. But 1486 years divided into 11 days 12 hours gives 11' 8" 381" for the annual anticipation of the tropical year; and this, deducted from 365 days 6 hrs., the quantity of the year supposed by the embolismal period, leaves 365d õh 48' 51" 21}"' for the quantity of the Chaldean tropical year at the æra of Nabonassar. But the true quantity is 365d 5h 48' 51" 36", according to our best astronomers. The difference between the Nabonassarean
tropical year and the true one is therefore less than a quarter of a second of time, which is infinitely less than the discrepancies between many modern estimates.
That this singular coincidence cannot be accidental is manifest, because, had the postponement of the intercalation been suspended either before or after the established æra of Nabonassar, each year's difference of date would have occasioned a difference in the estimate of the tropical year of about a quarter of a minute, or 14" 324"'—the mean arising from the Nabonassarean tropical epact, 11' 8" 38" 46-so that, had the intercalation been renewed only the space of a quadriennium before the æra of Nabonassar, the quantity of the year would have come out about a minute longer; and if a quadriennium after that æra, a minute shorter;-a difference which must have been immediately evident to astronomers who estimated the solar year at all less than 365 days 6 hrs. But as the Nabonassarean correction was undoubtedly made from observation of which we may rest assured from the Chaldean observations since this date, preserved by Hipparchus, in unison with the testimony Berosus, above cited), it is utterly impossible that a single year's error in the date of correction could have happened ; because each year's difference of date would suppose a difference of six hours in the time of observing the equinox, and each quadriennium the difference of a whole day ;-a supposition which the undoubted remains of their astronomy, preserved in the writings of Hipparchus and Ptolemy, proves at once to be ridiculous.
Regarding the Nabonassarean quantity 365d 5h 48' 51" 21}"', though it appears to be true agreeably to our present astronomy, yet the statements of astronomers on this subject differ a few seconds more or less-i.e. from about 365d 5h 48'48" to 3654 5h 49', being a difference of 12", which I think will include all disagreements. But if we add the mean annual difference of 14" 32"' to the Nabonassarean tropical year, the result is 365d 5h 49' 5" 531"; and if we deduct it, the result would be 365d 5h 48' 36" 491"';-a variation that, in a single year's anticipation or postponement of the æra, would exceed all the differences of present astronomers. Hence the result of the Nabonassarean æra is as near an approximation to certainty as is within the scope of possibility.
The following table, which supposes the equinox to have happened on March 28, at 12 p.m. B.c. 747, in the latitude of Babylon, will place all this in a very clear point of view. The equinox is computed upwards from Tycho's observation, March 1od 9h 8'p.m. A.D. 1586, being the second after Bissextile, as was the first year of Nabonassar. The internal 2332 years, at the civil precession of a day in 1294 years (for 1486 years =114 days = 1294). The exact hour is, however, of no moment to the calculation following:
Error in Obs. Chald
d. h. 1441 793 Biss. 365 6 0 0 0 + 11 8 381 Mar. 28 20 32 371 Apr. 9 +11 3 27 22 1481 753Biss. 365 5 50 18 331 + 1 27 12 28 13 6 51 Mar. 30 + 1 10 53 9 1482 752 i. 365 5 50 4 11 + 1 12 40 28 18 55 421 30 + 1 5 4 171 1483 751 ii. 365 5 49 49 297 + 0 58 8 29 044 34 30 + 0 23 15 26 1484 750 iii. 365 5 49 34 571 + 0 43 36 29 6 33 255 30+ 0 17 26 347 1485 749 Biss. 365 5 49 20 253 + 0 29 4 28 12 22 17 29 + 0 11 37 43 1486 748 i. 365 5 495 551 + 0 14 32 28 18 11 8} 29 + 0 5 48 513 1487 747 ii. 365 5 48 51 211.. 0 0 0 29 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 1488 746 iii. 365 5 48 36 491 0 14 32 29 5 48 511 29 0 5 48 511 1489 745 Biss. 365 5 48 22 171 0 29 4 28 11 37 43 28 0 11 37 43 1490 744 i. 365 5 48 7 451 0.43 36 28 17 26 341 28 0 17 26 341 1491 743 ii. 365 5 47 53 131 0 58 8 28 23 15 26 28 0 23 15 26 1492 742 iii. 365 5 47 38 411 1 12 40 29 5 4 71 28 1 5 4 171 1493 741 Biss. 365 5 47 24 92 1 27 12 28 10 53 9 27 1 10 53 9 1533 701 Biss. 365 5 37 42 43 11 8 381 28 3 27 22}| 17 – 11 3 27 228
The time of the equinox, &c., is here reckoned from midnight.
Hence, if we ascend to the end of the old embolismal period, forty-six years before the era of Nabonassar, we arrive at the vulgar year of 365 days 6 hours; while, by descending the same number of years, we double the Nabonassarean or true tropical epact, and reduce the quantity of the tropical year to 365d. 5h. 37' 42' 43'"; and in either case we depart from the true time of the equinox by 11d. 3h. 27m.
Thus it is evident, that, were the first year of Nabonassar's æra uncertain, the old astronomical æra, combined with the elements of the Chaldean year, would critically fix it, with infinitely more simplicity and certainty, than Mr. Bentley's admirable calculations have fixed the age of the Surya Siddhanta and the Indian astronomical æras, which are all uncertain as to their chronological elements. But when we find the most undoubted astronomical and chronological æra of antiquity so critically connected with the old Chaldean æra of Callisthenes and Epigenes, and in such amazing harmony with the elements of the intercalary period, as well as with the known accuracy of the Chaldean observations since the age of Nabonassar; all these circumstances combined, I conceive, form an absolute demonstration, first, of the antiquity of the Chaldean astronomical system, and the certainty of the æra of Callisthenes and Epigenes : secondly, of the Oriental embolismal period of 1440 years being, as Scaliger thought, of Chaldean origin; and of the nature and elements of the Chaldean year, and the great perfection to which the astronomy of that nation had arrived ; and, lastly, of the nature and origin of the Nabonassarean ara.
§ 4. Objections anticipated and refuted. That the Chaldean astronomy originated in the first ages, ancient writers are unanimous; its invention being usually attributed to Belus the Wise, the first founder of the kingdom, and supposed,