Dating records

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Since the success of this method depends on the reliability of the written sources and the precision of their accounts of astronomical phenomena, attempts to date literary texts which may describe astronomical events loosely or even as metaphors have led researchers to conclusions that appear precise, but rely on invalid assumptions and are consequently less widely accepted.Thus the attempts to date Vedic texts describing the Pleiades as rising "due East" to about 2300 BCE, which is the time when the Pleiades rose "exactly" due East, is complicated by the fact that poetic descriptions need not be taken as reflecting precise astronomical observations, while precession is a very slow process which makes only small changes in the azimuth of a star rising in the East.A striking example of this method was an astrological portrait of Sir Christopher Hatton (1540–1591), which depicted the positions of the seven classical planets in the zodiac and noted the computed positions of the planets to the nearest minute of arc.Here the largest source of error in the date was the uncertainty of 16th-century astronomical calculations.

A particular case involved a medieval illuminated manuscript which portrayed the position of these seven celestial bodies on 18 March 816; corresponding to the period when the manuscript was written.

When the circumstances are not exact and descriptions leave ambiguities, one can often use other details such as the month of the eclipse or the position of other stars and planets to identify the specific eclipse.

Astronomical dating, like other forms of historical interpretation, requires care in interpreting the surviving written records.

Astronomical chronology, or astronomical dating, is a technical method of dating events or artifacts that are associated with astronomical phenomena.

Written records of historical events that include descriptions of astronomical phenomena have done much to clarify the chronology of the Ancient Near East; works of art which depict the configuration of the stars and planets and buildings which are oriented to the rising and setting of celestial bodies at a particular time have all been dated through astronomical calculations.

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