Scientists discover the world’s first known star map: hidden in a monastery
A report from Natrure.com notes that scholars have been searching for centuries for the catalog of Hipparchus, the oldest known complete star map in the world.
Nine of the 146 leaves the researchers found contained astronomical data. Also, according to radiocarbon dating, these data were all transcribed in the fifth or sixth century. The folios also include Eratosthenes’ myth of the star origin – part of the famous poem Phaenomena written in the third century BC – and the star coordinates, which may make it the oldest complete star map in the world.
The map is believed to be the work of Hipparchus because its coordinates correspond to the time of Hipparchus’ work – about 129 BC. However, since the oldest complete star map in the world does not have the exact author’s signature, it is impossible to be sure. Instead, researchers can only make educated guesses based on their findings so far.
In fact, researchers have discovered quite a few things. The team published their findings Oct. 18 in the Journal for the History of Astronomoy. In the paper, they present the exact details of the star map they found and why they believe it is the oldest complete star map in the world.
The discovery of the world’s oldest complete star map under other texts is also a reminder of how scientists are using technology to discover ancient Amazonian structures in the rainforest. Even older parchments have been used to reveal the possible location of a lost city, which is why these ancient writings are so important to preserving our history.
What makes this discovery even more intriguing, though, is that the manuscript found was actually a silk book, meaning that the original writing was scraped from its parchment so that other writing could be written on it. So researchers didn’t notice the star map until they dig deeper using multispectral imaging.