Star Lore – Layers of Lore

Star Lore – Layers of Lore

The groupings of stars that we recognize as constellations have changed their identity over time, with different cultures borrowing from, and adapting older versions. So when we look up at the evening sky, we’re really seeing layers of star lore, bequeathed to us from thousands of years ago. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Edwin Krupp is director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

“We’re perfectly happy in North America to call part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, we call it the Big Dipper. In fact, we all agree to call it the Great Bear with the other stars around it. In Europe, nobody would think of calling this the Big Dipper. They all know it, but you know in France it’s the Saucepan, in Britain it’s the Plow. And yet as you go across Britain, what you see is that there is also another tradition. And this is in fact a wagon. It’s a wagon or a chariot. You find that with everybody in fact. That wagon, or chariot tradition, is actually traceable all the way back to Mesopotamia. We know where that originated, amongst the Sumerians, these people who preceded the Babylonians that get so much credit for our star lore. So here you have today in Europe, and even the knowledge across the Earth, of this wagon in the sky, that is this dipper in the sky, that is this bear in the sky. And even among the ancient Greeks, you could see them talking about both the bear and the wagon. It’s absolutely evident that these systems of configurations in the sky are accumulative and never pristine.”

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.

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Star Lore - Layers of Lore

The night sky is rich with millennial lore.
Air Date:01/20/2011
Scientist:
Transcript:

Star Lore - Layers of Lore

The groupings of stars that we recognize as constellations have changed their identity over time, with different cultures borrowing from, and adapting older versions. So when we look up at the evening sky, we're really seeing layers of star lore, bequeathed to us from thousands of years ago. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Edwin Krupp is director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.

"We're perfectly happy in North America to call part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, we call it the Big Dipper. In fact, we all agree to call it the Great Bear with the other stars around it. In Europe, nobody would think of calling this the Big Dipper. They all know it, but you know in France it's the Saucepan, in Britain it's the Plow. And yet as you go across Britain, what you see is that there is also another tradition. And this is in fact a wagon. It's a wagon or a chariot. You find that with everybody in fact. That wagon, or chariot tradition, is actually traceable all the way back to Mesopotamia. We know where that originated, amongst the Sumerians, these people who preceded the Babylonians that get so much credit for our star lore. So here you have today in Europe, and even the knowledge across the Earth, of this wagon in the sky, that is this dipper in the sky, that is this bear in the sky. And even among the ancient Greeks, you could see them talking about both the bear and the wagon. It's absolutely evident that these systems of configurations in the sky are accumulative and never pristine."

To hear about our new CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation.

music