The world’s oldest known star map has been found hidden in a medieval manuscript

The world's oldest known star map has been found hidden in a medieval manuscript
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More than 2,100 years ago, the Greek astronomer Hipparchus mapped the stars — and his document was long considered mankind’s first attempt to assign numerical coordinates to stellar bodies. But despite its fame, the treatise’s existence was known only from the writings of another well-known astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy, who compiled his own celestial inventory some 400 years later.

Until now, that is.

Researchers believe they have found fragments of a lost historical document by Hipparchus in a medieval manuscript.

“This new evidence is the most reliable to date and represents a major advance in the reconstruction of Hipparchus’ Star Catalogue,” says a study of the finding published in the journal. History of astronomy last week. This discovery may shed new light not only on Hipparchus’ attempt to map the night sky through precise measurements and calculations, but also on the history of astronomy.

Also known as the father of trigonometry, Hipparchus is often considered the greatest astronomer of ancient Greece. Portions of his star map appear in the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a collection of Syriac texts written in the 10th or 11th centuries, the parchment pages of which have been removed for reuse (a common recycling practice at the time), but still bear visible traces of their former form. This particular palimpsest came from the Greek Orthodox monastery of St. Catherine in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, although the Museum of the Bible in Washington now owns most of the folios of the Codex.

Multispectral imaging reveals the enhanced Greek text in red beneath the black Syriac supplemental text.

Museum of the Bible

teams from Electronic Library of Early Manuscripts in California and The Lazarus project based on Rochester Institute of Technology detected dark text and measurements using multiple wavelengths of light, a technique known as multispectral imaging.

Researchers from the Sorbonne University and the University of Cambridge were later able to decipher the image of the four constellations. Not only did this seem to unlock Hipparchus’ cartography, but the team says the newly discovered numerical evidence is very consistent. real star coordinates.

This would make Hipparchus’ Catalog more accurate than Ptolemy’s later Almagest astronomical handbook, although the researchers acknowledge that they were working with a small sample and that there may be significant errors in surviving or as yet undiscovered parts of Hipparchus’ Star Catalogue. .

Scholars say the Codex Climaci Rescriptus may yet reveal more about Hipparchus’ star observations.

The most advanced digital technologies continue to restore vital parts of cultural heritage in documents that are invisible to the human eye due to damage, corruption or intentional erasure.

has a multispectral image resurrected text among the oldest known copies of the writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. this revealed the secrets of the scrolls Damaged by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and the overt elements of the Dead Sea Scrolls, historically significant Biblical fragments found in caves in Qumran, Israel.

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