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Principle of the projection of the image of the sky on the terrestrial area
As far as I know, the first serious study in this field has been made by Jean Richer. This genial researcher has shown that, in the Mediterranean area, the ancients used to divide their territories into twelve sectors, each corresponding to a zodiacal constellation (which are here considered equal, as are the tropical signs), the symbolic pictures observed on coins and on sacred buildings enabling a link between each section of territory and a given zodiac area. In "Géographie sacrée du monde grec", Jean Richer stresses, for instance, a triangle Delphi (Phocis) - Sardis (Asia Minor) - Ammonion (Oasis of Siwa in Egypt), each of these sites being placed in the center of a zodiac wheel. Another center ("omphalos") was the Island of Delos which lies in the Cyclades at the same longitude as Ammonion (the city of Amun).
Generally speaking, Jean Richer shows us that this projection of the celestial vault on earth was common in the Greek and Roman worlds. This practice dates back from the High Antiquity for the vernal point is still linked with the Taurus constellation on a few schemes.
More accurately, Jean Richer gives us useful informations in relation to Egypt : Thebes in Boeotia lies, in the Delphi-centered zodiac, in the Libra (Balance) sector and Thebes in Egypt is linked with the Aries (Ram) constellation. The two cities are therefore symbolically situated on the same zodiacal axis (Aries-Libra). Moreover, they both worship Amun (Géographie sacrée du monde grec : IX 4).
At last but not least, in "Géographie sacrée dans le monde romain", Jean Richer shows us that the side turning over of the celestial vault was a common practice in the ancient mediterranean world. On the map 2 of this book, we see that the zodiacal system centered on Cumes (Campania) was represented with the help of two systems :
- A system in which the constellations are seen in the normal order (anti-clockwise)
- A system in which the constellations are placed in the reverse order (clockwise). This show us, in fact, the zodiac such as it would appear in a mirror.
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