Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, Vol 1, No 2 (2015)

The Mesopotamian Wind-Star Directions and a Compass Card from Uruk

Wayne Horowitz


This paper looks at Ancient Mesopotamian cultural geography and asks how the Babylonians used the winds, rivers, Sun and stars to determine what we call the cardinal directions and hence, to determine their place in the universe. The two main sources considered here are the British Museum tablet BM 92687, better known as “The Babylonian Map of the World” and what has been called “The Uruk Compass Card”, from the Persian or Hellenistic period. Our discussion will ultimately lead us away from maps on clay into the realm of Ancient Mesopotamian instruments that may be compared with modern sundials, weathervanes and other such apparatuses for determining the place of the “rising of the winds”.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsa.v1i2.28256


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