Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Astronomers Recreate Ancient Skies to Date a Nearly 2,600-Year-Old Greek Poem

The poet Sappho from the Greek island of Lesbos was revered almost as much as Homer in classical antiquity. Plato called her the Tenth Muse and she appeared on coins and statues for centuries. She reportedly created at least 9 books worth of verse containing 500 poems, but sadly all that remains are about 200 fragments recovered in the late 1800s from a garbage dump in Oxyrynchus, Egypt.

According to Michelle Starr at CNET, the researchers used software called Starry Night (version 7.3) and Digistar 5 from the International Planetarium Society to recreate the night sky as seen from the Greek island of Lesbos. They chose to start with the year 570 B.C., the year Sappho died and the only reliable date associated with her.

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