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Oldest Known Astronomical Chart

1500 BC

Large raised relief panel, hydrostone, 180 x 160 mm (7 x 6 inches) antique gold finish, with museum display stand & parchment description.

Reproduction of the remarkable 3,500-year old star-map which decorates the tomb ceiling of the Senenmut the Great near Luxor (Thebes). Vizier to Queen Hatshepsut, Senenmut was a gifted astronomer and mathematician who was chief architect and calendar registrar of Egypt during the 18th dynasty.

The oldest astronomical presentation known, debate still rages in archaeological circles as to it's true meaning. The complete display consists of two parts, presumed to represent the northern and southern skies. The first records constellations and detailed lists of stars, the second (reproduced here) depicts the twelve zodiacal "houses" or positions within the so-called Sothic Cycle or precessional Great Cycle of 26,000 years.

Notably, the zodiac is pictured with a reversed orientation and carries the inscription, "The sun he riseth in the West." The Egyptians believed the sun changed position four times and this chart presents the cyclical view of world history. It depicts a rare gathering of planets in well-defined celestial positions, wherein eight independently revolving planetary spheres return to their point of departure within the period of the Great Cycle.

Although there are numerous interpretations, including it being a map of the sky above Egypt in 1,500 BC, certain images and mythic metaphors are familiar. Particularly the central image of the classic hero Sun God doing battle with the goddess who dispatches a heavenly Bull, as echoed in the famous Babylonian Gilgamesh myth.

Below the twelve zodiacal wheels, there is a procession of the ancient kings lost in the Great Flood, similar to that graphically depicted in the tomb of Seti I. The ancients are covered by lines of flood water and led by gods of the Underworld, chief of which is the hippopotamus deity, Taueret, Lord of the watery depths. Rows of symbolic stars revolve Above and Below them.

The hieroglyphic text carved across the top reads from right to left:

"Long live Horus most powerful of souls.
Two honored personages flourishing of years:
Horus-of-Gold, divine of appearance,
king of Upper and Lower Egypt,
Maat-Ka-Ra, beloved of the living god Amon-Ra.
The seal-bearer of the king of Lower Egypt,
the steward of Amun, Senenmut, engendered of Ramose, justified and born of Hatnefret."


Ground: $10 Australian dollars - Australia New Zealand

Air: $12 USD - Asia, India, Pacific, Japan

Air: $15 USD - USA & Canada

Air: $17 USD - Europe, Scandinavia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain, Mediterranean, Africa, South America & most other locations.

Combined postage when required postal insurance or more expensive registered mail available on request.

Local Australian ground postage 2-3 days
Airmail Europe, USA & Canada 7-14 days

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