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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Foundations of Celestial Reckoning: Three Ancient Chinese Astronomical Systems

Author:
Christopher Cullen

Publisher:
Routledge

Publication Date:
November 28, 2016




Abstract:

The Foundations of Celestial Reckoning gives the reader direct access to the foundational documents of the tradition of calculation created by astronomers of the early Chinese empire between the late second century BCE and the third century CE. The paradigm they established was to shape East Asian thought and practice in the field of mathematical astronomy for centuries to come. It was in many ways radically different from better known traditions of astronomy in other parts of the ancient world.

This book includes full English translations of the first three systems of mathematical astronomy adopted for use by imperial astronomical officials, together with introductory material explaining the origin and nature of each system, and a general introduction to the work as a whole. The translations, which are accompanied by the original Chinese text, give a consistent rendering of all technical terms, and include detailed explanatory notes. The text in which the second of the three systems is found also includes a unique collection of documents compiled around 178 CE by two experts in the field, one of whom was the author of the third system translated in this book. Using material transcribed from government archives of the two preceding centuries, these scholars carefully document and review controversies and large-scale official debates on astronomical matters up to their own time. Nothing equivalent in detail and clarity has survived from any other ancient culture. The availability of the totality of this material in English opens new perspectives to all historians of pre-modern astronomy.


Table of contents: 

Chapter 1. General Introduction 
A. The world of early imperial China  
B. What was a li , and what did it do? 
C. How did a li work? 
D. Dates  
E. How was a li calculated? 
F. How were the data of a li determined? 
G. A note on translating computational procedures 
H. Arrangement of the text 
I. Works consulted 

Chapter 2. The Triple Concordance astronomical system: San tong li 三統曆
I. Introduction 
A. An astronomical system and its creator B. Structure of the system 
C. Organisation of the text  D. Text used 

II. Text, translation and comments 
A. Concordance constants B. Sequence Constants  C. The Five Pacers 
D. Concordance Workings E. Sequence Workings F. Year Workings  G. [The Twelve Stations] H. The 28 Lodges I. [The Nine Roads] J. [Concordances and Rule Heads] K. APPENDIX 1: Intercalations in theory and practice 

Chapter 3. The Han Quarter Remainder system: Han si fen li 漢四分曆

I. Introduction 
A. The system and its background B. Authorship of the text C. Structure of the system D. Organisation of the text E. Methods of calculation F. Text used 

II. Text, translation and comments 
A. Methods for [astronomical] systems B. Basic solar and lunar constants C. [Lunar eclipse constants] D. Procedures for sun and moon E. Planetary constants F. Planetary Procedures G. Planetary Motions H. [Months, qi and lodges] I. [The solar table] J. The system origin K. Discussion 

Chapter 4. The Uranic Manifestation astronomical system: Qian xiang li 乾象曆

I. Introduction 
A. Liu Hong 劉洪 and his work B. The historical background of Liu Hong's work C. The structure of the system D. Organisation of the text E. The question of 'months' and the finding of true lunar motion F. Text used 

II. Text, translation and comments 
A. [System Origin] B. [Basic solar and lunar constants] C. [Predicting times of lunar and solar events] D. [Predicting positions of sun and moon] E. [Lunar eclipses] F. [Predicting hexagrams and phases in effect] G. [Finding times of day of events] H. Advance and retardation I. [Retardation and acceleration of lunar motion] J. [Lunar speed sequence] K. [Lunar speed constants] L. [Calculating true lunar motion] M. [Lunar latitude] N. [Constants for lunar latitude] O. [Calculating lunar latitude] P. [Epoch; repeated] Q. Predictions for the Five Stars [sc. planets] R. [Constants for the Five Planets] S. Predictions for the Five Planets T. [Planetary Phases] U. [Planetary Motions] 

Chapter 5. Han discussions of astronomical systems and their development: two texts 

I. Introduction 

II. Ban Gu 班固 on li c. 90 CE 
A. [Astronomical systems from High Antiquity to Qin] 
B. [The Grand Inception reform] 
C. [Zhang Shouwang] 
D. [Liu Xiang 劉向 and Liu Xin 劉歆] 

III. The Documentary Collection of Cai Yong 蔡邕 and Liu Hong, 178 CE 
A. [Materials presented] 
B. [Failure of the Grand Inception system in early Eastern Han; proposals for revision deferred.] C. [Observed errors in lunar eclipse predictions in 62 - 69 CE lead to experiments in partial use of Quarter Remainder methods.] 
D. [The fruitless discussions of 66 CE; increased divergence of prediction from observation; Zhangdi's commission of 85 CE to Bian Xin 編訢 and Li Fan 李梵.] 
E. [The edict of March 18th 85 CE reviews the imperative need for revision, and commands use of the Quarter Remainder system.] 
F. [Bian Xin and Deng Fan propose use of an initial long month; Jia Kui 賈逵successfully controverts this.] 
G. [The memorial of Jia Kui, 92 CE] 
H. [103 CE: The edict to construct Jia Kui's instrument; failure of officials to use it.] 
I. [Jia Kui on the varying speed of lunar motion] 
J. [Editorial note on two late Eastern Han attempts to reconstruct a 'Nine Roads' procedure for the moon] 
K. [Seasonal changes in clepsydra graduations] 
L. [Eastern Han disputes on system origin: introduction.] 
M. [Lunar eclipses: Eastern Han discussions.] 

Bibliography 
Index

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