Geographical sites:

  • Praeneste (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #423013)
    Pleiades_icon Praeneste urban, settlement, temple, cave Description: An ancient city of central Italy, the eighth and seventh century B.C. origins of which demonstrate high level trade contact with the Eastern Mediterranean world. The city withdrew from the Latin League (499 BC) and opposed Rome in the Latin war; Cincinnatus eventually subdued Praeneste. Sulla founded a new colony there in the first century B.C.
  • China (click here to focus in map) (see also GeoNames #1814991)
    Geonames_icon People’s Republic of China independent political entity
  • Babylonia (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #912816)
    Pleiades_icon Babylonia province, region Geocontext: IRQ
    Description: An ancient place, cited: BAtlas 93 A1 Babylonia


Text #3288

Obsequens. "A Book of Prodigies After the 505th year of Rome"
[Ch. 24 ]


24. M. Aemilio C. Hostilio Mancino coss. AUC 617/137 BC

When they were taking the auspices at Lavinium, the chickens flew from their coops into the Laurentine wood and could not be found. At Praeneste a blazing torch was seen in the sky, and it thundered on a tranquil day. At Terracina the praetor M. Claudius burst into flames from a thunderbolt on his ship. The Fucine lake overflowed for almost five thousand paces in all directions. In the Graecostasis and in the place of assembly it flowed with blood. On the Esquiline a foal with five feet was born. Many places were shattered by lightning. The consul Hostilius Mancinus at the gate of Hercules when he had embarked on his ship as he headed for Numantia, heard an unexpected voice: “Stay, Mancinus.” When he had left and afterwards embarked on a ship at Genua, a snake was found on the ship and escaped from his hands. The consul himself was defeated, then handed over to the Numantines.

Text #59

Kronk. Cometography: A Catalog of Comets. Series: Cometography. Vol. 1
[p. 13]

On the Babylonian cuneiform tablet designated BMA 45709, Hermann Hunger identified two fragments referring to a comet seen during the 174th year of the Seleucid era. Fragment one was from a section for the second month and Hunger (1995) said it states, “[…]when the comet became stationary between the star[…].” Hunger (1995) said fragment two states, “That month, a comet which had set in Libra, […] on the night of the 20th in the west (?) in the area of the pa[th of…].” The indicated date is -137 May 28.

The Han shu (100) was the only ancient Chinese text reporting this object. It says a “sparkling star” was seen sometime during the month of -137 May 8 to June 6. It “appeared at T’ien-Chi [ε, ζ, and θ Herculis, and ν and ξ Coronae Borealis], and went as far as Chih-Ny [α, ε and ζ Lyrae].” The object was probably visible throughout the night.

Full moon: May 22

Text #9448

Yeomans. Comets

138 BC, May, China, Babylonia, a bushy star comet appeared in Hercules and traveled as far as Vega. (Ho, 35) Babylonian diaries record a comet that had previously set in Libra reappeared in the west on May 28. (Hunger, 1989)

Text #9449

Pankenier & Xu & Jiang. Archaeoastronomy in East Asia

3rd year of the Jianyuan reign period of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, 4th month; a star became fuzzy in Tianji that reached Zhiny.

Text #60

Pankenier & Xu & Jiang. Archaeoastronomy in East Asia

May 9-Jun 6

Kevin Kam Ching Yau, An investigation of some contemporary problems in astronomy and astrophysics by way of early astronomical records, p. 245: 139 BC Jun 11 [China] Emperor Wu-ti, Chien-yuan reign-period, 2nd year, 4th month summer, day wu-shen (45). “It was as if the Sun appeared at night.” (Han-shu, 6)

Text #9450

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

The years 138, 137 appear to have witnessed several cometary apparitions and there is some confusion withal. I have included the report from Livy preserved by Julius Obsequens here because of the mention of ‘the gate of Hercules’ which may associate this event with the comet observed in the Hercules constellation, and because Spring was the start of the military campaign season.

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