Babylonian Tablet Inscription: ‘Ritual for the Observances of Eclipses’ Circa 300 BCE | #SolarEclipse

Humans have long been fascinated with observations of and documenting eclipses in all their manifestations. The Morgan Library & Museum have an ancient tablet circa 300 BCE, inscribed in cuneiform (Akkadian) with the text below about a lunar eclipse. You can check out a full-zoom of the tablet online here, or the tablet is physically on view in the North Room at the Morgan.

As the eclipse begins, the… priest shall light the torch, and attach it to the altar… As long as the eclipse lasts, the fire upon the altar thou shalt not remove. A dirge for the fields thou shalt intone; a dirge for the streams that the water shall not devastate, thou shalt intone… As long as the eclipse lasts, the people of the land shall remove their headgear; they shall cover their heads with their garments. That catastrophe, murder, rebellion, and the eclipse approach not… they shall cry aloud; for a lamentation they shall send up their cry….

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