6. Summing Up

38. Reliability of the TheSky Software

TheSky software employs several routines to compute celestial configurations. Since the exact procedures are a bit of a mystery, the output of the software was validated by comparing it to Tuckerman's Tables, a standard work from the pre-PC computer era.

Contemporary software reduces astronomical computations to a few mouse clicks. The number crunching of former times has been eliminated, but the end results have not changed much. TheSkyís output is in line with the numbers in Tuckermanís Tables and the supplement to the tables. Modern software, for all its radical capabilities, fits within the ongoing evolution of historical astronomy.

39. An Open End

Despite the triumphs of Newton's gravitational theory, the heavens are not a divinely run clock. Slight variations in celestial orbits accumulate over centuries, and these effects have to be taken into account in dating ancient texts by astronomical means.

Historians and astronomers worked for many decades to perfect their techniques. The evidence, as it stands, indicates they successfully decoded Babylonian astronomy and dated the Diaries accurately.

40. An Open End

Babylonian astronomy and related fields are a neglected branch of history. Thousands of tablets lie untranslated in museum archives, and presumably many more are still buried throughout the Near East. The cache of tablets is enormous (considering their age) because most were written on clay, which is cheap, durable and easy to inscribe.

The texts enable an in depth study of Mesopotamia through contemporary writings. The Diaries are a good place to begin the study of early written history.

The next section eases the committed amateur into naked eye astronomy, the Babylonian way.