Babylonians and the Development of Astrology

The Babylonians are credited with creating astrology.

The profession of astrology and the science that underpins it are widely believed to have been pioneered by the Babylonians. Their astrological charts provided them with the ability to forecast the recurrence of certain celestial phenomena as well as the seasons. Astrology and astronomy were two names for the same study when they were first developed, and this continued for more than two thousand years.

Early in the fourth century BCE, Babylonian astrology was presented to the Greeks. By the time Plato, Aristotle, and others had completed their research, astrology had already attained a high level of respect as a scientific discipline. It was quickly adopted by the Romans (the names that the Romans gave to the zodiacal signs are still in use today), and it eventually expanded across the Arab world and the rest of the world.

Although early astrology was practiced with the intention of creating some sense of order out of what seemed to be anarchy, it was quickly put to use to forecast weather patterns, particularly for agricultural reasons. In the end, it was expanded to encompass predictions of natural catastrophes, war, and other events that have an impact on the human condition. Once these areas were proven to be successful, it was a logical progression for astrology to be utilized as a way of providing advice to kings and emperors, and eventually to the general populace as well.

It is thought that ancient Egypt was the birthplace of the zodiac, which derives its name from the Greek phrase that means “circle of animals.” The zodiac was eventually adopted by the Babylonians. Those who practiced astrology in ancient times were aware that it takes twelve lunar cycles, or months, for the sun to return to its starting point. They proceeded to recognize twelve different constellations, all of which, according to their observations, were associated with the changing of the seasons, and they bestowed upon each one the names of certain animals and people (in Babylonia, for example, the rainy season was found to occur when the sun was in a particular constellation which was then named Aquarius, or water bearer).

Around the year 2000 BCE, Babylonian astrologers thought that the sun, the moon, and the five planets that were recognized at that time (Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus) each have their own unique abilities. For instance, Mars was thought to be red in color and was connected with hostile behavior and conflict.