Oldest Biblical Photo voltaic Eclipse Exactly Dated, Helps Pinpoint Egyptian Pharaohs’ Reigns


On today three,224 years in the past — Oct. 30, 1207, B.C. — Earth noticed a photo voltaic eclipse which was the oldest recognized eclipse but to be recorded. It’s talked about within the ebook of Joshua within the Outdated Testomony, however scientists have solely now calculated its actual date exactly.

The textual content in Joshua 10:13 which speaks of the time when he led the individuals of Israel into Canaan — the area overlaying present-day Israel and Palestinian territories — says: “Solar, stand nonetheless at Gibeon, and Moon, within the Valley of Aijalon. And the Solar stood nonetheless, and the Moon stopped till the nation took vengeance on their enemies.”

The reference to what was clearly a serious astronomical phenomenon, if primarily based on an precise commentary, has typically been considered speaking about an eclipse.

“Fashionable English translations, which comply with the King James translation of 1611, often interpret this textual content to imply that the solar and moon stopped transferring. However going again to the unique Hebrew textual content, we decided that another which means might be that the solar and moon simply stopped doing what they usually do: they stopped shining. On this context, the Hebrew phrases might be referring to a photo voltaic eclipse, when the moon pbades between the earth and the solar, and the solar seems to cease shining. This interpretation is supported by the truth that the Hebrew phrase translated ‘stand nonetheless’ has the identical root as a Babylonian phrase utilized in historical astronomical texts to explain eclipses,” Colin Humphreys from the College of Cambridge’s Division of Supplies Science & Metallurgy, who co-authored a paper on the topic, defined in a press release Monday.

Merneptah Stele The Merneptah stele, together with inscription. Picture: Wellcome Library, London

That Israelites had been in Canaan between the years 1500 and 1050 BC may be confirmed utilizing unrelated proof, primarily the Merneptah Stele — an Egyptian textual content written on a big granite block, on show on the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. It was carved within the fifth 12 months of the reign of Pharaoh Merneptah — son of the a lot better-known Ramesses the Nice — and says he defeated Israelites in Canaan throughout a army marketing campaign.

Humphrey and his co-author Graeme Waddington, an astrophysicist at Oxford College, weren’t the primary to make use of these two texts to strive date the eclipse, however the duo was the primary who thought-about non-total photo voltaic eclipses. As a substitute, they checked out annular eclipses.

Relying on the space of the moon from Earth when it pbades between the solar and the planet, its shadow covers both the whole lot of the star’s face — making it a complete photo voltaic eclipse — or it’s too small to dam out the entire solar’s floor — resulting in a “ring of fireside” look, or an annular eclipse.

Annular Eclipse A view of an annular photo voltaic eclipse from Tokyo, Might 21, 2012. Picture: Reuters/Issei Kato

Based mostly on new calculations and accounting for the variations in Earth’s rotation over time, the researchers concluded: “The one annular eclipse seen from Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC was on 30 October 1207 BC, within the afternoon.”

If the date is accepted by the bigger scientific neighborhood, it could be the oldest photo voltaic eclipse to be precisely dated. It might additionally imply Merneptah’s reign started in 1210 or 1209 BC, and that his father Ramesses the Nice dominated from 1276-1210 BC, give or take a 12 months.

The open-access paper, titled “Photo voltaic eclipse of 1207 BC helps thus far pharaohs,” appeared not too long ago within the journal Astronomy & Geophysics.

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