Contributed Talk - Splinter Culture

Wednesday, 15 September 2021, 14:40   (virtual Cult)

Intercultural Misunderstandings triggered some Transformations of Constellations

Susanne M Hoffmann, Asterios-Evangelos Kechagias
Michael Stifel Center for Data-Driven and Simulation Science Jena, HU Jerusalem

Some Greek constellations are certainly transferred and adopted from Mesopotamian astronomy, some other are clearly Greek inventions and some might have emerged from misunderstandings in the multicultural environment of the cities where the exchange took place. Already Gössmann (1950) suggested that the figure of the Ram might have come up out of abbreviations and misreadings of cuneiform words. McHugh (2016) suggested that there have been intended wordplays with divine meaning and that these created the Crater out of nothing, changed the Field Measure (a square) to a Horse and the Cancer into two Donkeys, and even explains that the Greek ship Argo is sailing backwards and it is a doppelganger of the Sumerian Magurru. Taking up these ideas, we propose a much more straightforward transfer of ideas and constellations through homophones and misunderstandings.