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Nature volume 114, pages 136137 (26 July 1924) | Download Citation



ZENITH OF PRIMITIVE BABYLONIAN ASTRONOMY.—Prof. Reginald A. Fessenden, of Chestnut Hill, Mass., whose proposals for an archaeological expedition to the Caucasus have received support from archaeologists and ethnologists in the United States, including Prof. Clay of Yale, and Dr. A. Hrdlicka, writes to ask whether any information is available in regard to a primitive Babylonian zenith fixed at Mt. Bakhar, near Baku. Prof. Fessenden is of the opinion that the zenith of primitive Babylonian astronomy, which goes back to a time when the Accadai (Agadi) had not yet descended from their mountain fastnesses, was fixed in the Caucasus. This area he maintains was the meeting-point of the original Babylonian and Egyptian civilisations. In support of this view he argues that the Book of the Dead was originally written in what Dr. Clay has called “Amuraic” the early Semitic language-and that when it was translated into Egyptian, place-names were transformed and personal names mistranslated. When corrected in the light of a knowledge of the original tongue, these names reveal that the hidden land of Amen was the Caucasus Isthmus, for the road to which the Book of the Dead gave precise directions. The Egyptians and Colchians would thus be the same race, and the Isthmus the old home-land of the former. At the same time, many of the place-names in the neighbourhood of Mt. Bakhar, which antedate the Russian regime, are Babylonian, e.g. Schemacha, Marazi, Agadi-Kend, etc. It is therefore desirable to fix the zenith with some accuracy to determine which sites may be investigated by a preliminary expedition with most profit.

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