Venus on the Night Zenith

ANNOUNCING A NEW BOOK

STEPHEN JAY GOULD AND IMMANUEL VELIKOVSKY Essays in the

Continuing Velikovsky Affair by

Charles Ginenthal, Irving Wolfe, Lynn E. Rose, Dwardu Cardona, David Talbott and Ev Cochrane


One of Velikovsky's supporters in attendence at the AAAS star chamber in 1774, a noted physicist, was not allowed to speak because he worked in private industry rather than in academia and was thus presumably "tainted" by our capitalist, free-enterprise system. Following the same line of logic to it's conclusion apparently, the Imperial Wizard allowed at least one of the yuppie scientists "confronting" Velikovsky to speak on a topic which was to him merely a hobby and regarding which he had no professional credentials whatsoever. Charles Ginenthal notes:


Peter Huber, whose hobby is cuneiform writing, presented a paper at the Velikovsky symposium titled "Early Cuneiform Evidence for the Planet Venus," in which he claimed that he could prove that Venus was always observed just as it is today long before Velikovsky's catastrophe. Therefore, if ancient records show that Venus has always been on its present orbit, it could never have come close enough to the Earth to create the catastrophes Velikovsky described. Huber is so sure of what this evidence shows that he claims " the primary and early cuneiform sources from the second and third millennia B.C. do not support his [Velikovsky's] contentions. On the contrary, they flatly contradict them."

In order to undermine Velikovsky's position on what the ancient texts say, Huber states,

      "Velikovsky draws on historical and archeological evidence
      to support his hypothesis, but unfortunately his arguments
      are mainly based on late and secondary sources, in part on
      obsolete and erroneous translations, and therefore lack force.
      Moreover he sometimes makes a complete muddle of texts, insights,
      periods and places."

Huber claims that the sources Velikovsky relied upon are "obsolete and erroneous," as compared with more modern translations and how they were handled. What Huber maintains is that the modern translations contain the truth and the older ones do not. How do we know this? This is based only on Huber's say so.

According to Rose, in time the present translations will also be erroneous based on Huber's logic. According to Edward Harrison. "...unfailingly, humans pity their ancestors for being so ignorant and forget that their descendants will pity them for the same reason." Based on Huber's logic, future translations will make his acceptable translation obsolete. But does Huber really avoid older translations, analyses, etc.? Of course not!

What Huber has done is use a book published in 1928, The Venus Tablets of Amniizaduga, by Langdon, Fotheringham and Schoch, for analyzing the ancient motions of Venus as depicted on cuneiform tablets. And why does Huber use this old source as his guide? Because the book rejects evidence that will contradict Huber's assumptions. As Rose pointed out, one of the cuneiform readings was for a period of "five months and sixteen days." But in this older source, this is changed to "two months and six days." One of the Babylonian months and days, Nisan 9 is changed in the book to the month Ayar 29, while the month and day, Ulul 29, is changed to Ab 5. Each of these changes made by these investigators supports Huber's preconceptions and thus this old translation is not obsolete or erroneous.

What Huber has chosen to do is use not only an old source, but an old source that has culled and manipulated the data to make it fit Huber's assumptions. Thus, Velikovsky is accused of using "obsolete and erroneous translations" while Huber uses a truly "obsolete and erroneous translation." If the obsolete and erroneous translation agrees with Huber's uniformitarian assumptions, it is an acceptable source. If it disagrees with his dogma, it is rejected. Huber then claims he will employ science and evidence in the proper scientific manner. So begins his hypocrisy.

But this is completely contradicted by a researcher who works in the field of archaeoastronomy who has been examining just how modern researchers handle these kinds of evidence. What he claims, in complete contradiction to Huber, is that modern researchers also manipulate the data to make it fit the view that there have been no changes in the orbits of bodies in the solar system. This scientist, Robert R. Newton, has not made this charge once, but has done so again and again! He states specifically,

"all uses of solar eclipses that I have seen, were based upon the logical fallacy of reasoning in a circle, specifically, most reports used could not be dated on the basis of their texts or their historical contexts. The workers scientists thereupon assigned dates by finding which ones led to accelerations [of the celestial bodies] that agree most closely with assumed values. [i.e., with what the astronomers expect to find] It is not surprising that the resulting 'data' were self- consistent."

Newton elsewhere writes:

"Virtually all studies of ancient solar eclipses that I know have used the following procedure in handling doubtful or ambiguous cases. The author [scienflst] has assumed values of the accelerations [of the celestial bodies] in advance and has calculated the circumstances of the possible observations using them. He has then rejected as invalid all observations or interpretations thereof that do not agree well with the assumed values. He finally used the remaining set of observations to calculate the accelerations. He necessarily found good agreement with his initial assumptions... This, of course, is reasoning in a circle."

Newton specifically claims that all the observations, such as cuneiform texts, taken from the ancient documents by the researchers, are made obsolete by the way they are handled and not at all by the translations, as Huber suggests. Newton said this in the 1970's at the time Huber was presenting the view that these documents, with better translations, are more accurate and thus will fit the modern concept of the motions of celestial bodies in the solar system. Newton maintained that the data was culled, that is, manipulated so that it would fit the "assumed values" of the scientists. He further tells us that these scientists "rejected as invalid all observations or interpretations thereof, that do not agree with the assumed values." What Newton is also telling us is that these new translations, when found to contradict the assumptions of the scientists, are "rejected." In essence, Newton, who is in no way a Velikovskian but is a researcher into ancient astronomy, is saying that ALL translations and applications of them are fixed so that they are made to agree with what is assumed, a priori, to make it fit the scientific viewpoint and thus become self-consistent.

Huber, of course, never mentions this approach, and for very good reason, because he will employ this very same approach. He will use only data that fits his assumptions or reject it if it fails to do so. He will only employ data that fits his preconceptions of times and places. He will reason in a circle and in the end will make the data found appear to be in good agreement with his initial assumptions. And it will be fully demonstrated that he does this again and again! We will also show that in his desire to make the evidence fit his assumptions he will make a mess and a mockery of the evidence and scientific procedures. Huber's first point is:

"(1) That Venus was known as the morning and evening star certainly by 1900 B.C., and that in archaic texts, shortly after 3000 B.C., it is mentioned as a star in connection with the rising and selting sun. Hence it was already in an orbit between the sun and the Earth."

Huber dutifully then presents cuneiform data that make it undeniably clear that before Velikovsky's catastrophe around 1500 B.C., that Venus is called the morning and evening star. And he concludes that Venus' orbit had to be "between the sun and the Earth." Now as the reader will recall, both Professor Lynn Rose and scientist C. J. Ransom were excluded from taking a direct part in the debate because Rose was not a scientist and Ransom was not attached to an institution of higher learning. Huber, on the other hand, was a hobby cuneiformist and a mathematician from an institution of higher learning. But this did not stop him from making a whopping error on this very point, which Ransom pointed out to him during the question and answer period. If Huber had been an astronomer, he would understand that his first point is inane and absurd.

To wit, once a body in an orbit around the Sun is inside the orbit of the Earth, it will be seen, for a period of time, as the morning star or as the evening star, based on whether it passes the Earth on the east or west side.

As any astronomer will well understand, during the time Venus' path is inside the orbit of the Earth, that is, between the Earth's orbit and the sun, Venus must he observed as either a morning or evening star. What is extraordinary is that Huber failed to understand this very simple astronomical concept. He has, as was pointed out earlier, simply taken the evidence and rejected the part of it which fails to agree with his assumption. As long as a celestial body is in orbit around the sun, while its path is inside the Earth's oIbit, it is either a morning or evening star. To not know this very simple fact is either great ignorance or wilIftil distortion.

Now, one point that must he understood and stressed is that if Venus' orbit was always inside the orbit of the Earth and never outside, it could never he observed at night at the zenith (directly overhead) at Babylonia. If its orbit was always its present one, Venus could only rise at night only part way above the horizon; it could never rise at night to the Babylonian zenith unless, and that is a very big unless, its orbit was not only inside that of the Earth, but also outside the orbit of the Earth, as depicted in Figure 1.

What do the latest translations of the cuneiform texts say in this regard? Do they say, as Huber would have us believe, that Venus was never seen at night at the zenith? The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, Vol. 16, page 75, analyzes the word Sallumu as it relates to Venus; "when it is altogether red-hued," this authoritative dictionary claims, "Venus moves across (its] variant: at its ZENITH(?)" ( Capitalization added) The cuneiform translators of this passage could hardly believe their eyes when they read that Venus was observed at the zenith of Babylon and placed a question mark in parentheses to emphasize their dismay. That is, in a cuneiform text discussed in 1962, twelve years prior to Huher's discussion on this point, one of the worlds most authoritative cuneiform dictionaries and its translators were forced to admit that a cuneiform document claims that Venus was seen at night, red-hued at the zenith and, swallowing hard after doing so, inserted a question mark in the text to express their shock!

Furthermore, in the cuneiform writing of the Exaltadon of Innana, Venus is described thus: "You are the senior queen of the heavenly foundations and ZENITH."

Why would the ancient Babylonians call Venus "queen of the zenith," which is a point in the sky to which Venus cannot ascend at night? Thus we have two authoritative texts placing Venus at the zenith which requires that its orbit was not only inside that of the Earth's, but [at other times] outside, as well. If Venus were observed at daylight at the zenith, it would not be red-hued. This, too, is not an old translation; it was published six years prior to Huber's presentation in San Francisco.

According to Huber, this "zenith" observation would he absolutely impossible. There are, of course, a number of ways of getting around this contradiction to his assumption. One method would be simply to reject the document by saying the entry was a "scribal error." That is, the scribe was so stupid that when he wrote "zenith, he really meant "horizon." By the simple expedient of saying this is scribal error, Huber would he able to throw out the cuneiform evidence. But then he would also have to explain why the lexicographers, "the real experts" who compiled the dictionary, didn't reject this translation. I would suggest that they have no uniformitarian axes to grind and left it in. They are not, I hastily add, Velikovskians.

..................................

Thus we have the version of one of the "scientists" who "confronted" Velikovsky, and we have the version of the experts prior to tampering in the name of uniformitarian astronomy, and they are not at all alike. The real version absolutely confirms Velikovsky. Nonetheless, just as in our military, in which there is always a right way, a wrong way, and an army way (stupider even than the wrong way) to do everything, there is a third version of this business yet to be heard from, i.e. the version of the Ediacara/Toromanura/BandarLog FAQ archives. There, one reads:


   "This is not widely agreed with. Venus was known as the morning
   and evening star certainly by 1900BC, and clearly discussed
   in connection with the rising and setting sun at 3000BC.


   According to sixteenth century BC records (-1580 to -1560)
   the observed motion of venus was almost identical with todays
   orbit.  Cuneiform writings of the Babylonian astronomers were
   quite clear.  There were even pre- babylonian indications
   from Sumerian and Mesopotamian writings.  I guess "ancient"
   writings are only used if they support Velikovsky.

I and others have pointed out the fatal flaws in this particular little piece of disinformation numerous times to the keepers of the talk.origins "FAQ" system, and yet there it still sits.

Ted Holden medved@digex.com

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