Astronomy in China

  • Ho Peng Yoke
Reference work entry

Chinese astronomy became a subject of long debate among historians and astronomers in the first half of the twentieth century. Some based their argument on the Shujing (Book of Documents) and concluded that Chinese star clerks had already made astronomical observations between 2000 and 3000 BCE. Richard Schlegel even asserted that they knew about the 28 lunar mansions as long ago as the year 1600 BCE. Others doubted the reliability of the records in the Shujing claiming that Chinese astronomy could not have originated earlier than 500 or 600 BCE. Some said that Chinese astronomy originated from India, others said from Arabia, and there were yet those who said that it was from Mesopotamia. Joseph Needham, for example, favors a Mesopotamian origin.

Recent archaeological studies carried out in China have thrown more light on early Chinese astronomy and enabled scholars to re‐examine some of the old interpretations. Archaeologists have been hard at work during the last two decades to...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • Ho Peng Yoke

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