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Astronomical Computation in the Pre-Modern World: Methods – Tables – Accuracy

ZODIAC Workshop Computation

ZODIAC Workshop Computation

Download: Poster

Download: Program

Download: Abstracts

The project Zodiac - Ancient Astral Science in Transformation (ERC) at the Institute for the History of Knowledge of the Ancient World, Freie Universität Berlin, is hosting a workshop on 11–12 April 2024:


Astronomical Computation in the Pre-Modern World: Methods – Tables – Accuracy

Fabeckstraße 23–25, room 2.2058

14195 Berlin

Convenors: Mathieu Ossendrijver and Thomas Peeters





This workshop brings together specialists of predictive methods in pre-modern astronomy. The focus is on zodiac-based computational methods in ancient Babylonia, Egypt, and the Greco-Roman world (ca. 400 BCE – 400 CE) and pre-modern computational methods in other regions, communities, and periods (ca. 400–1500 CE).

Topics of discussion:

  • New approaches and results in the area of table cracking and reconstruction of algorithms
  • Interpreting a multiplicity of predictive methods
  • Accuracy and efficiency of astronomical computation
  • Predictive toolboxes
  • Astronomical tables: notations, layout, non-textual features, material features

Thursday 11 April 2024

09:30 - 09:45


09:45 - 10:30

Alexander Jones (New York University)


“Greco-Egyptian Sign-Entry Almanacs Beyond Van der Waerden: Questions of Accuracy and Derivation”

10:30 - 11:00


11:00 - 11:45

John Steele (Brown University)


“Calculating the Lunar Six: Evidence from Practice”

11:45 - 12:30

Lis Brack-Bernsen (Universität Regensburg)


“The Usefulness of Computer Simulated Lunar Data”

12:30 - 14:00


14:00 - 14:45

Thomas Peeters (Freie Universität Berlin - ZODIAC)


“Accuracy of Ancient Jupiter Tables Across Time and Place”

14:45 - 15:30

Marc Chapuis (Brown University)


“Computational Analysis of Chinese Astronomical Systems: Work-in-progress on Yixing's Great Expansion System”

15:30 - 16:00


16:00 - 16:45

Rob van Gent (Universiteit Utrecht)


Predicting Eclipses in the Late Medieval and Early Modern Period”

16:45 - 17:30

Christián Carman (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes)


What Can We Learn from a Two-Page Manuscript of Tycho Brahe Full of Calculations?”


Reception at ZODIAC (Arnimallee 10)



Friday 12 April 2024

09:30 - 10:15

Sajjad Nikfahm-Khubravan


The Empirical Foundation of Ptolemy’s Oscillating Eccentrics in the Almagest”

10:15 - 11:00

Benno van Dalen (Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften)


“Calculation of the Equations of Mercury in al-Ṭūsī’s Recension of the Almagest

11:00 - 11:30


11:30 - 12:15

Richard Kremer (Dartmouth College)


“An Alfonsine Astrologer’s Toolbox, or Computing Ephemerides 1442-73 in Paris, BnF lat. 7301”

12:15 - 13:00

Matthieu Husson (Université Paris Sciences et Lettres)


Probatio operationis, Alfonsine Astronomers' Views on Accuracy and the Epistemological Values of Computation”

13:00 - 14:30


14:30 - 15:15

Teije de Jong (Universiteit van Amsterdam)


“Tablet U 98: The remains of an Interesting Jupiter system B Ephemeris from Uruk”

15:15 - 16:00

Mathieu Ossendrijver (Freie Universität Berlin - ZODIAC)


“A Close Look at the Babylonian Jupiter tables”

16:00 - 16:30


16:30 - 17:15

Anuj Misra (Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte Berlin; Freie Universität Berlin)


“Tabulating the Heavens: Astronomical Tables in Sanskrit”

17:15 - 17:30

Closing remarks


Reception at ZODIAC (Arnimallee 10)

Since places may be limited, we ask anyone interested in attending to RSVP before 1 April by writing to zodiac@geschkult.fu-berlin.de and providing your full name, country of residence, and affilation (if any), and indicate whether you want to attend in person or remotely.