Looking Up


(the Ancient Egyptians worshiped the sun)

Long before humankind developed telescopes to peer up at the night sky and learn its secrets, our ancestors would look up at the dazzling arrangement of twinkling lights and see something very different – they would see signs from gods, even see the gods themselves, and so in a sense, the ancient world literally worshiped the stars (and the planets for that matter).

The most well-known example of this to us would be the Romans. They regarded Jupiter (known today as the largest planet in the solar system) as the king of the gods, whilst Venus was the goddess of love, and Mars the god of war, to give but a few examples. They even told of how Castor and Pollux (two bright stars in the northern hemisphere) helped them in battle – the significance of the heavens was clear to them.

To the Ancient Egyptians, the sun was a god – Ra – whilst to the Ancient Greeks the sun was known as Helios, and the Romans would adopt Helios as Sol (both Helios and Sol inspire modern language about the sun today). There are many ancient civilisations to whom the sun represented a god, and in many ways, worshiping the sun is understandable – it dominates the sky during the day, and provides warmth and light. Unbeknownst to the ancient world, the sun also drives the seasons and processes on earth, impacting our planet in virtually every conceivable fashion.

I can’t even begin to go into great detail about this. There’s a huge amount of information on the history of the ancient world, and the relationship between them and the cosmos. The importance of the stars to us stretches to the birth of Jesus Christ and the Star of Bethlehem, whilst the Star of David is an important symbol in the Jewish faith. Before the advent of aerial mapping and advanced navigation systems, sailors used stars to plot courses and work their way around the globe. Even before we began to properly understand the world around us, we knew that the stars and planets around us were important.

Back to The Stars Above

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