Monday, 27 April 2015

THE SOLAR SYSTEM WAS ALREADY KNOWN TO ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS ?

In this article we will be discussing about ancient civilizations who knew about our Solar System exactly as we know about it today in the modern era, and this they knew thousands of years ahead in time and there is enough material facts and evidence that they did know this. We will not be able to answer in our article, how these Ancient Civilizations could have been so accurate about the Solar System without the access to modern scientific instruments and even without a telescope to help their naked eyes when they looked up to identify the planets. But we will definitely provide enough evidential substance to proof that this kind of knowledge was already accessible to mankind.
We will begin our understanding of our Solar System as we know of it, as it happened according to the Modern Era first before moving into the Ancient times.

What does Modern Astronomy speak of:

Prior to 1600 AD, mankind had knowledge about the Earth, Sun, our Moon and planets like Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. This was possible because all of these heavenly bodies could be seen by the naked eye. Later, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel . Sometime in 1846, Neptune was discovered  by Adams and Leverlier . Finally Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Tombaugh. And by 2006, three dwarf planets Ceres , Eris and Haumea were also discovered. We also want our readers to know that the Scientific fraternity still is not sure whether to consider Pluto as a planet or not and agrees currently to consider it as a dwarf planet. We will however consider Pluto as a planet in our article. If we consider Ceres and, Eris and Haumea as planets, then the count of planets in our Solar System would be 12. The scientific fraternity is still not sure whether to consider these 3 as asteroids or dwarf planets. So we know now that in the Modern Era, mankind knew about all the 9 planets by the year 1930 with the last discovery being of Pluto.

Telescope and its Arrival:

Because we are talking about Ancient Civilizations who were able to perfectly identify that there were exactly 9 planets in the Solar System, it becomes apparent for us to know about the instrument that could open our vision of our Solar System. And before moving into these Civilizations, we will do a short study of the arrival of the telescope.
According to all the information available today, the earliest working Telescope was invented in the year 1608 in Netherlands by Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Jansten. This model was a refracting telescope. Galileo, who is more known as the man behind the invention of the telescope, actually had heard about this Dutch telescope and by June 1609 had made his own model and later improved upon the design the following year. It was also a refracting telescope. The world would not see a reflecting telescope until 1668, when Isaac Newton built the first practical working design of the reflecting telescope and hence his name bears as the “Newtonian Reflector” .
So, what we know now is that, the world had not seen a telescope at least until the year 1608. We don’t have any previous historical evidence that before 1608, there was a telescope. So we agree that before 1608, mankind did not have access to a telescope and thereby the mystery deepens. How could these Ancient Civilizations, which we speak off now in the article could have easily known that there were 9 planets.

Sumerians and their Knowledge of the 9 Planets:


Who were the Sumerians: Sumer or Sumeria was one of the ancient civilizations and historical regions in southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Although it was previously thought that the earliest forms of writing in the region do not go back much further than c. 3500 BC, modern historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc. as evidence).
While we agree that even more studies are required to understand who Sumerians were and their culture in a deeper way, We will now head to the extra-ordinary knowledge about the Solar System which modern world has come across now.

The ancient Sumerians knew 11 planets that revolved around the Sun and more strikingly they also talked about a 12th planet. We have already come across the fact that only 5 planets of our solar system were visible to mankind with the naked eye and the other planets like Uranus (1781), Neptune (1846), Pluto (1930) , Ceres (2006) ,Eris (2006) and Haumea (2006) were discovered later. In the photograph below, considered to be a 6000 year old cylinder seal impression, we find 11 heavenly bodies revolving around the Sun. There could be in-numerable ways of understanding this.

But the ones we think could seriously apply:

1) The 9 planets revolving around the sun along with the smaller two heavenly bodies being the natural satellites of the two planets around which they have been shown.

2) All the 9 planets of our Solar System, along with Ceres and Eris.

What is more significant is that , the Entire Concept of “ Heliocentric Solar System “ which considers that the Sun was at the middle of the Solar system  and that all the other planets revolved around the Sun was only thought of to have come across to mankind by the 17th century when Nicolaus Copernicus developed a mathematical predictive Heliocentric system , which the likes of Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton developed an understanding of physics later that got acceptance of the idea that the Earth moves around the Sun. And here, we have evidence that a Civilization dating back to 3500 B.C and possibly even more in time, already knew that there were 9 + 2 planets ( We are still not sure about these 2, whether they were satellites/moons or planets )  revolving around the Sun and that the Earth was not the centre of the Solar System, but the Sun was actually the centre and all heavenly bodies revolved around it ? And even more without telescopes or any scientific aid?

We also said that the Sumerians talked about a 12th Planet. In the picture above we see distinctly a 12th planet exactly in the middle of the picture and far away from the Solar System. Was it Nibiru? As mentioned by Russian, Zecharia Sitchin in his book on the Sumerians named The 12th Planet published in the year 1976 or was it Haumea or could it be an asteroid which somehow was very important for the Sumerians? We don’t exactly know. But what we do know is this

1) This ancient civilization much before the Modern Era knew that the Sun was the centre of the Solar System and that all the planets revolved around it.

2)  This ancient civilization knew there were more planets than just the five which were visible to mankind that revolved around the Sun.

How could the Sumerians have access to this kind of knowledge with modern instruments like a telescope? 

But the mystery does not end here as we proceed to another Ancient Civilization that has been following the 9 planets system for centuries before Modern Mankind would even find the existence of the 9 planets. And we move on in order to find if other ancient civilizations also spoke of 9 Planets in the Solar System .We found, that even Ancient Vedic Indian astronomers, spoke of 9 heavenly bodies (grahas/planets) and a heliocentric solar system.

However, we admit that, our study of the ancient vedic astronomy found out that Vedic astronomy was a little weak in accurately naming the planets as we have in our Solar System as we know today. In Vedic astronomy, The Sun ( Surya in Sanskrit ) and Chandra ( Our Moon) has been considered as Grahas/Planets . The remaining 7 heavenly bodies are as Mangala (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (North Lunar Node/ Possibly Neptune as Uranus, which would not be discovered until 1781 ) and Ketu (South Lunar Node/ Possibly Neptune which would not be discovered until 1846).

Pluto thereby does not find a place in this Solar System. Ironically, Even Earth does not find a mention as a planet in what the Ancient Vedic astronomers called as the Navagraha ( The Nine planet system).

But understanding Vedic astronomy becomes important in the light that, for whatever reason the Vedic astronomers did not include the Earth into the 9 planets, they did say The Solar System had 9 planets and that it was a heliocentric. We will share some of the evidence we could collect about the proof for both, later in our article below. But before that , we will share some of the information we could collect from the Vedas and Puranas regarding the Solar System. 

So below is a short snapshot of the same.

Ancient Vedic India and the 9 Planets:

Ancient India’s contributions to astronomy are well known and documented. The earliest references to astronomy are found in the Rig Veda, which are dated 2000 BC. By 500 AD, ancient Indian astronomy emerged as an important part of Indian studies and its affect is seen in several treatises of that period. In some instances, astronomical principles were borrowed to explain matters pertaining to astrology, like casting of a horoscope. Apart from this link of astronomy to astrology in ancient India, science of astronomy continued to develop independently, and culminated in original findings, like:

1) The calculation of occurrences of eclipses
2) Calculation of Earth’s circumference
3) Theorizing about gravity
4) Determining that Sun is a star
5) Determining the number of planets in the Solar System

We also found that there are astronomical references of chronological significance in the Vedas. Some Vedic notices mark the beginning of the year and that of the vernal equinox in Orion; this was the case around 4500 BC. Fire altars, with astronomical basis, have been found in the third millennium cities of India. The texts that describe their designs are conservatively dated to the first millennium BC, but their contents appear to be much older.Some scholars have claimed that the Babylonians invented the zodiac of 360 degrees around 700 BCE, perhaps even earlier. Many claim that India received the knowledge of the zodiac from Babylonia or even later from Greece. However, as old as the Rig Veda, the oldest Vedic text, there are clear references to a chakra or wheel of 360 spokes placed in the sky. The number 360 and its related numbers like 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 108, 432 and 720 occur commonly in Vedic symbolism.

We came across a text on Vedic astronomy that is said to have been dated to 1350 BC and written by Lagadha. And it speaks of another of the earliest concept of a heliocentric model of the solar system, in which the Sun that is at the centre of the solar system and the Earth that is orbiting it. Further exploration of the other Vedas, Puranas and other Vedic texts might throw more light into this and we will continue to do that to the extent we can.

We also found some more evidence and we share here and this one we have taken from another referential study to start and we share what we could collect as information available today .
The Aitareya Brahmana (9th–8th century BC) states: "The Sun never sets nor rises. When people think the sun is setting, it is not so; they are mistaken." This indicates that the Sun is stationery (hence the Earth is moving around it), which is elaborated in a later commentary Vishnu Purana (2.8) (1st century AD), which states: "The sun is stationed for all time, in the middle of the day. ... Of the sun, which is always in one and the same place, there is neither setting nor rising."
Yajnavalkya (9th–8th century BC) recognized that the Earth was round and believed that the Sun was "the centre of the spheres" as described in the Vedas at the time. His astronomical text Shatapatha Brahmana (8.7.3.10) stated: "The sun strings these worlds - the earth, the planets, the atmosphere - to himself on a thread." He recognized that the Sun was much larger than the Earth, which would have influenced this early heliocentric concept. He also accurately measured the relative distances of the Sun and the Moon from the Earth as 108 times the diameters of these heavenly bodies, almost close to the modern measurements of 107.6 for the Sun and 110.6 for the Moon.

Based on his heliocentric model, Yajnavalkya proposed a 95-year cycle to synchronize the motions of the Sun and the Moon, which gives the average length of the tropical year as 365.24675 days, which is only 6 minutes longer than the modern value of 365.24220 days. This estimate for the length of the tropical year remained the most accurate anywhere in the world for over a thousand years. The distance of the Moon and the Sun from the Earth was accurately measured as 108 times the diameters of these heavenly bodies. These are very close to the modern values of 110.6 for the Moon and 107.6 for the Sun, which were obtained using modern instruments.
There is an old Sanskrit shloka (couplet) which also states "Sarva Dishanaam, Suryaha, Suryaha, Suryaha" which means that there are suns in all directions. This couplet which describes the night sky as full of suns, indicates that in ancient times Indian astronomers had arrived at the important discovery that the stars visible at night are similar to the Sun visible during day time. In other words, it was recognized that the sun is also a star, though the nearest one. This understanding is demonstrated in another Sloka which says that when one sun sinks below the horizon, a thousand suns take its place. Many Indian astronomers had later formulated ideas about gravity and gravitation in the early middle ages.

The cosmological time cycles explained in the Surya Siddhanta, which was copied from an earlier work, gives:The average length of the sidereal year (the length of the Earth's revolution around the Sun) as 365.2563627 days, which is only 1.4 seconds longer than the modern value of 365.2563627 days. This remained the most accurate estimate for the length of the sidereal year anywhere in the world for over a thousand years. The average length of the tropical year (the length of the year as observed on Earth) as 365.2421756 days, which is only 2 seconds shorter than the modern value of 365.2421988 days. This estimate remained the most accurate estimate for the length of the tropical year anywhere in the world for another 6 centuries (until Muslim mathematician Omar Khayyam gave a better estimate), and still remains more accurate than the value given by the modern Gregorian calendar currently in use around the world, which gives the average length of the year as 365.2425 days. Later Indian astronomer-mathematicians such as Aryabhata made references to this text, while later Arabic and Latin translations were very influential in Europe and the Middle East.
The Indian astronomer-mathematician Aryabhata (476–550 AD), in his magnum opus Aryabhatiya, propounded a mathematical heliocentric model in which the Earth was taken to be spinning on its axis and the periods of the planets were given with respect to a stationary Sun. He was also the first to discover that the light from the Moon and the planets were reflected from the Sun, and that the planets follow an elliptical orbit around the Sun, and thus propunded an eccentric elliptical model of the planets, on which he accurately calculated many astronomical constants, such as the times of the solar and lunar eclipses, and the instantaneous motion of the Moon (expressed as a differential equation). Bhaskara (1114-1185) expanded on Aryabhata's heliocentric model in his treatise Siddhanta-Shiromani, where he mentioned the law of gravity, discovered that the planets don't orbit the Sun at a uniform velocity, and accurately calculated many astronomical constants based on this model, such as the solar and lunar eclipses, and the velocities and instantaneous motions of the planets. Arabic translations of Aryabhata's Aryabhatiya were available from the 8th century, while Latin translations were available from the 13th century, before Copernicus had written De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, so it's quite likely that Aryabhata's work had an influence on Copernicus' ideas. Aryabhata wrote that 1,582,237,500 rotations of the Earth equal 57,753,336 lunar orbits. This is an extremely accurate ratio of a fundamental astronomical ratio (1,582,237,500/57,753,336 = 27.3964693572), and is perhaps the oldest astronomical constant calculated to such accuracy.

While we have shared whatever information we could collect about Ancient Vedic astronomy ,for us evidence and material facts are important to understand that the Vedic astronomers did actually had the knowledge about the 9 planets. So we tried to explore the places where half of any knowledge is always parked of in Hinduism. The Hindu Temples ? Was our first guess and we were not disappointed at all.  While we again mention here that In the Vedic astronomy the Sun and the Moon, have been considered as planets and we will continue to keep this in our mind. And more importantly, the Earth is not even considered as a planet among these 9 heavenly bodies.

Evidence of the 9 planet knowledge found in Indian Temples called the Navagraha (Nine Planets):

The Navagraha temples are temples devoted to Navagraha - the nine (nava) major celestial bodies (Grahas) of Hindu astronomy. These celestial bodies are named Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (North Lunar Node) and Ketu (South Lunar Node). Many temples in South India, Maharastra , Assam contain a shrine dedicated to the Navagrahas. While newer ones are still being built in India

Earliest evidence of the Navagraha Temples are found in Tamil Nadu:

There is a cluster of Navagraha Temples dating from the Chola dynasty near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. Each temple is located in a different village, and is considered an abode of one of the Navagrahas. However, the majority of these temples are dedicated to Shiva. The Surya temple is the only one dedicated to the Graham. In fact, it is dedicated entirely to the worship of the Sun-God and the other navagrahas, the former being the object of worship as the principal deity and the latter as attendant deities. It was built around the 11th or 12th century A.D. The other temples were built earlier, ranging back to 7th-9th century A.D.

So, we know that Ancient Indians were praying to the 9 Planets all along as these temples in Tamil Nadu still stand till this date and prayers are still being offered at this temples.

But we need a proof that the Ancient Vedic astronomy left an evidence of a heliocentric Solar System with the Sun at the centre and had there been any temple prior to our modern era that gives that substantial proof of evidence. We found it at the Navagraha temple in Assam.

Navagraha Temple In Assam:

The Navagraha Temple is found on the top of Chitrasal Hill (or Navagraha Hill), in Guwahati city, Assam, India. Enshrined in this temple are nine Shivalingams, representing the nine Celestial bodies, each covered with a colored garment symbolic of each of the celestial bodies, with a Shivaligam in the centre symbolising the Sun. The Navagraha temple in Assam  The Navagraha temple was built by Ahom King Rajeswar Singha in the late 18th century. The exterior of the temple had been renovated in recent times during the late 1923-45. But the inner sanctorum remains exactly the way it was built first. Do we see the heliocentric evidence here? We do. The Sun is again at the centre.

So why did the ancient Vedic astronomers who exactly knew that the Solar System was heliocentric and that the Sun was the one around which all planets revolved, did not include the Earth in the same line in their description of the Navagraha and we don’t find Earth in any of the Navagraha temples ? Another question that comes up here is that , though enough evidence has already been pointed out in the Vedas and the Puranas , we have also shared in our article already that ancient Vedic astronomers knew that the Sun was actually a Star, the Navagraha temples considered the Sun as a Planets ?
Possibly, the answer lies in another Branch of Vedic knowledge that also had evolved exactly at the same time as Vedic astronomy and that was “ VEDIC ASTROLOGY “ . Now , in Vedic astrology, everything in nature, Living or Non-Living is said to be influenced by the position of the Grahas/ Planets. Vedic astrology further states that every moment in a person’s life and especially events like Birth, Marriage and Death , in order words the most important aspects of a human life happens under the influence of the planetary positions of these 9 heavenly bodies.  But, because Vedic astrology is an astrological calculation based on the Lunar calendar, The Moon became an important part of these 9 heavenly bodies. Further , the Sun was very important is calculating out the Lunar Charts , events like equinoxes , eclipses needed to be calculated based on the Sun’s position. So the Sun also became very important for the ancient astrologers. As there was no way to exactly state the position of the Earth, any calculations based out on the Earth’s position could not in any way have been possible. So the Earth actually became a redundant aspect in the Lunar chart and possibly was considered a non contributor to the events that happened to a person’s life. And if that was how , it was thought of , then the whole idea of not having the Earth in the Navagraha temples , exactly fits in and possibly thereby , ancient Hindus needed to have prayed only to the 9 planets which they thought influenced their life events.

So the question here is, Why would the Ancient Vedic astronomers put the Count of the Planets, as 9 ? They could have put it at any number, But WHY 9?. Did the ancient Vedic Astronomers know exactly that the Solar System comprised of our Sun and another 9 Planets? Or was it that They did know that the Sun was the centre of the Solar System, but were not able to identify the 9th Planet which would be Pluto (discovered in 1930) and knew there was a 9th Planetary body that was influencing the Solar System, so instead had Our Moon included in the planetary system.

There could be in-numerable accounts to look at and various possibilities. A deeper research into the ancient Vedic astronomy and Astrology might provide the missing link which we are at now. But the fact remains, the Ancient Vedic astronomers were right when they said that the Solar system was heliocentric , they were right in putting the Sun at the centre of the Solar system and all this had happened, centuries before the arrival of Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler or Galileo Gallilei.

Solar System and the Mayans, The Ancient Greeks, The Ancient Babylonians, The Ancient Egyptians, The Ancient Chinese:

While we have already spoken about who ancient civilizations who knew substantially more about our Solar System years before the Modern technology would discover some of the planets, we also need to understand , what is known and available about the Knowledge the Mayans, The Ancient Greeks , The Ancient Babylonians , The Ancient Egyptians and the Ancient Chinese had about the Solar System.

Evidences point out that ancient Mayans, Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians and the Chinese had amazing knowledge about the Solar System. Much is already accepted, about their ability to make Solar Calendars with so much accuracy that in most cases, it is as accurate as the one Modern Astronomy of ours talks of. At this point, we are not saying that they were 100% accurate, yes we know that, but given the fact, we already know How precise they were able to calculate Solar eclipses, Lunar eclipses , Equinoxes etc. Their knowledge about the Stars and Constellations still marvel Modern scientist. As of to talk about , the 150-100 B.C Antikythera Machinism that was recently discovered is a massive example of the Ancient Greek Astronomical knowledge.

But in our article, we are not being able to provide any evidence that the Ancient Mayans, The Ancient Greeks , The Ancient Babylonians, Egyptians or the Chinese knew about the presence of 9 or more Planets in our Solar System. This is primarily only because of the limited knowledge that mankind today has about these ancient Civilizations. As we study, we also need proof and evidence. At this point of the hour, we state that it is only because of no literary, pictorial or otherwise evidence that we have come across so far, that we are not being able to state in clarity whether the Mayans, Greeks, Babylonians, Egyptians and the Chinese knew about the 9 Planets of our Solar System. We however believe that in time when our knowledge about these civilizations would expand with our better understanding of their Scriptures, literature, their ancient tablets, their ancients languages and their ancient Cultural system, we might find evidence that they knew More than WE KNOW TODAY !!! And it is possible that, we are just at the Tip of the Iceberg of knowledge these Ancient Civilizations Had.

2 comments:

  1. This information is very good! I find your writing style (i.e., how you present your facts and the items you have discovered) to be easier to understand than several other historical texts I have found and read online discussing ancient Indian knowledge of the solar system.

    I also think you may be right in that they did not mention Earth since it was "the point of origin" and therefor did not directly affect their astrological calculations of the planetary effects on people's lives. Where Earth was did not matter, only where everything else was in relationship to Earth (i.e., as seen in the sky) mattered. Granted, I have only been looking onto the historical aspects of how much older civilizations knew about the solar system for a little over a year now, and admittedly a novice to this, but your presentation and organization makes good sense to me.

    I am now getting ready to dig into your discussion on the "ancient war" discussed in the Mahabharata (another of my interests). Everything I have read to date sure sounds like it is describing a real war, and a very nasty war with some powerful weapons, at that. But it seems that a lot of mainstream historians write it off as a work of fiction, but I don't think it is fiction. I think it is as real as our own world wars I and II. I am headed over to dig in to your article right now and see what you think about it.

    Thanks for your work and your effort, I enjoyed reading it.
    Richard Burgess

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