Assyrian eclipse

The Assyrian eclipse, also known as the Bur-Sagale eclipse, is a solar eclipse recorded in Assyrian eponym lists that most likely dates to the tenth year of the reign of king Ashur-dan III. The eclipse is identified with the one that occurred on 15 June 763 BC (proleptic Julian calendar).


The entry is short and reads:

"[year of] Bur-Sagale of Guzana. Revolt in the city of Assur. In the month Simanu an eclipse of the sun took place."

The phrase used — shamash ("the sun") akallu ("bent", "twisted", "crooked", "distorted", "obscured") — has been interpreted as a reference to a solar eclipse since the first decipherment of cuneiform in the mid 19th century. The name Bur-Sagale (also rendered Bur-Saggile, Pur-Sagale or Par-Sagale) is the name of the limmu official in the eponymous year.

In 1867, Henry Rawlinson identified the near-total eclipse of 15 June 763 BC as the most likely candidate (the month Simanu corresponding to the May/June lunation),[1] visible in northern Assyria just before noon. This date has been widely accepted ever since; the identification is also substantiated by other astronomical observations from the same period.[2]

This record is one of the crucial pieces of evidence that anchor the absolute chronology of the ancient Near East for the Assyrian period.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Rawlinson, Henry Creswicke, "The Assyrian Canon Verified by the Record of a Solar Eclipse, B.C. 763", The Athenaeum: Journal of Literature, Science and the Fine Arts, nr. 2064, 660-661 [18 May 1867].[1]
  2. ^ Hermann Hunger, "Zur Datierung der neuassyrischen Eponymenliste," Altorientalische Forschungen, Vol. 35:2, 2008, pp. 323-325. An English translation is available on the web: [2]

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 35°27′N 43°16′E / 35.450°N 43.267°E / 35.450; 43.267