Good heavens! Oldest-known astrologer’s board discovered
Dating back more than 2,000 years, the board was discovered in Croatia, in a cave overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The surviving portion of the board consists of 30 ivory fragments engraved with signs of the zodiac. Researchers spent years digging them up and putting them back together. Inscribed in a Greco-Roman style, they include images of Cancer, Gemini and Pisces.
One of the reconstructed ivory plaques shows Cancer the crab.Illustration: Staso Forenbaher
The board fragments were discovered next to a phallic-shaped stalagmite amid thousands of pieces of ancient Hellenistic (Greek style) drinking vessels.
An ancient astrologer, trying to determine a person’s horoscope, could have used the board to show the position of the planets, sun and moon at the time the person was born.
"What he would show the client would be where each planet is, where the sun is, where the moon is and what are the points on the zodiac that were rising and setting on the horizon at the moment of birth," said Alexander Jones, a professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University.
"This is probably older than any other known example," Jones said. "It’s also older than any of the written-down horoscopes that we have from the Greco-Roman world," he said, adding, "we have a lot of horoscopes that are written down as a kind of document on papyrus or on a wall but none of them as old as this."
Jones and StašoForenbaher, a researcher with the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, reported the discovery in the most recent edition of the Journal for the History of Astronomy.
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