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Biot, in a work (1) founded on accurate measures, and
calculations replete with sagacity, has determined that
it represents, according to an exact geometrical
projection, the state of the heavens as it was 700 years
before Christ; but he is extremely cautious in not
coming to any conclusion that it was sculptured at this
In fact, all these efforts of genius and knowledge, in
so much as they affect the epoch of the monuments,
have been rendered superfluous, since terminating
where they should naturally have begun (if the first
observer had not been blinded by prejudice,) pains
have been taken to copy and restore the Greek
inscriptions engraved on these monuments; and
particularly, since M. Champollion has attained the art
of deciphering those expressed in hieroglyphics.
It is now certain, and the Greek inscriptions agree
with the hieroglyphics in proving, that the temple in
which the zodiacs have been ensculptured were built
whilst the country was under the domination of Rome.
The portico of the temple of Dendera, according to the
Greek inscription on its entablature, was dedicated to
the health of Tiberius.(2)
On the planisphere of the same temple we read the
title of Autocrator in hieroglyphic characters;(3) and it
is probable that it refers to Nero. The small temple of
Esne, the origin of which is placed at latest between
2700 or 3000 years before

(1) See M. Biot's work, Researches on many points of Egyptian
Astronomy applied to the astronomical monuments found in Egypt. Paris,
1823, in 8vo.
(2) Letronne. Researches into the History of Egypt, during the
domination of the Greeks and Romans, p. 180.
(3) Letronne. Researches, p. 38.



Christ, has a column engraven and painted in the tenth
year of Antoninus, one hundred and forty- seven years
after Christ, and sculptured and painted in the same
style as the zodiac, which is near it.(1)
Besides, we have a proof that this division of the
zodiac in such or such a sign, has no reference to the
precession of the equinoxes, nor to the displacing of
the solstice. A mummy case lately brought from
Thebes by M. Caillaud (and containing, according to a
very legible Greek inscription, the body of a young
man who died in the nineteenth year of Trajan, one
hundred and sixteen years after Christ,) (2) has on it a
zodiac divided at the same point as those of
Dendera;(3) and, according to all appearances, this
division marks some astrological scheme relative to
this individual, a conclusion which may probably be
applied to the division of the zodiacs of the temples. It
either denotes the astrological theme of the moment of
their erection; that of the prince, for whose safety they
were devoted;or some similar epoch relative to which
the position of the sun would have appeared of some
particular importance to be noted.
Thus are forever dissipated the conclusions that
have been drawn from some incorrectly explained
monuments, against the newness of the continents and
nations, and we might have dispensed with so much
detail on this point, if they were not so recently
broached, and had they not made sufficient

(1) Letronne. Researches, pp. 456 — 457.
(2) Letronne. Observations, critical and archæologica1, on the Zodiacal
Remains of Antiquity, occasioned by an Ægyptian Zodiac, painted in a
mummy case, bearing a Greek inscription of the time of Trajan. Paris, 1824,
in 8vo. p. 30.
(3) Letronne, pp. 48 — 49.



impression to preserve their influence on the opinions
of many persons.


But there are writers who have asserted that the
zodiac bears in itself the date of its invention, in as
much as the names and the figures given to its
constellations are an index to the position of the
colures at the time of its invention; and this date,
according to many, is so evident, and so remote, that it
becomes a matter of indifference whether the
representations which we possess of this circle are
more or less ancient.
They pay no attention to the fact of this sort of
argument involving in itself three suppositions equally
uncertain. The country in which they admit that the
zodiac was invented; the meaning which is supposed to
have been given to the constellations which occupy it;
and the position in which the colures were, relative to
each constellation, when this meaning was given to it.
By the explanation given to other allegories, or as
these allegories are allowed to have relation to the
constellation of which the sun occupied the first de
grees, or to that of which it occupied the middle, or to
that which it was on the point of entering; that is to
say, of which it occupied the last degrees, or finally to
that which was opposite to it, and which rose in the
evening; or, according as the invention of these
allegories was assigned to another climate, so must we
change the date of the zodiac. The possible variations
in this respect may include as much as half



of the revolution of the fixed stars, that is 13,000
years, and even more.
Thus Pluche, generalizing some indications of the
ancients, has thought that Aries announces the
beginning of the sun's elevation and the vernal
equinox; that Cancer announces his retrogradation to
the summer solstice; that Libra, the emblem of the
equality, marks the autumnal equinox;(1) and that
Capricornus, a climbing animal, denotes the winter
solstice; after which, the sun returns to us. In this
manner, by placing the inventors of the zodiac in a
temperate climate, we should have rains under
Aquarius; the birth of lambs and kids under Gemini;
violent heats under Leo; harvests under the Virgin;
hunting under Sagittarius, &c.; and these emblems are
perfectly appropriate. By placing the colures at the
commencement of the constellations, or at least, the
equinox at the first stars of Aries, we should only
arrive in the first instance at 389 years before Christ,
an epoch evidently too modern, and which would
render it necessary to refer to an entire equinoctial
period, or 26,000 years. But if it be supposed that the
equinox passed through the middle of the constellation,
we should reach nearly 1000 or 1200 years more
remote to 1600 or 1700 years before Christ; and this is
the epoch which many celebrated men have thought
really to be that of the invention of the zodiac, the
honour of which, on very slight grounds, they have
assigned to Chiron.
But Dupuis, who needed for the origin which he
pretended to attribute to all religions, that astronomy,

(1) Varro de Ling. Lat. lib. vi. Signa quod aliquid significent, at Libra
æquinoctium, Mabroc. Sat. lib. 1, c. cxxi. Capricornus ab infernis partibus ad
superas soleim reducens Capræ naturam videtur imitari.



and particularly the figures of the zodiac, should in
some sort have preceded all other human institutions,
has sought another climate, to find other explanations
for the emblems, and to deduce for them another
epoch. If, taking Libra always as the equinoctial sigii,
but suppressing it at the vernal equinox, it be asserted
that the zodiac was invented in Egypt, we shall find
other proofs equally plausible for the climate of this
country. (1) Capricornus, or the animal with a fish's
tail, will mark the commencement of the elevation of
the Nile at the summer solstice; Aquarius and Pisces
the increase and decrease of the inundation; Taurus,
the period of labour; Virgo, the gathering in of the
harvest; and they will mark them at the precise seasons
when these operations actually did take place.
According to this hypothesis, the zodiac would have
15,000(2) years for a sun supposed at the first degree
of each sign; more than 16,000 for the middle; and
only 4000, in supposing that the emblem was given to
the sign, opposite to which the sun was. (3) Dupuis has
attached himself to 15,000 years, and on this date has
founded the whole system of his celebrated work.
There were not wanting, however, persons who,
admitting that the zodiac was invented in Egypt, have
imagined allegories applicable to subsequent periods.
Thus, according to Mr. Hamilton, Virgo would
represent the land of Egypt when it is not

(1) See the Memoir on the Origin of the Constellations, in Dupuis'
Origin of Worships, vol. iii. pp. 324, et seq.
(2) See the Memoir referred to in the note above, vol. iii. p.
(3) Dupuis himself suggested this second hypothesis, ibid. p. 340.



fertilized by the inundation; the Leo, the season when
this land is most infested by wild beasts, &c.(1)
The remote antiquity of 15,000 years would besides
involve this absurd consequence, that the Egyptians,
men who represented everything by emblems, and who
attached a vast importance to the conformity of those
emblems with the ideas which they intended to portray,
must have preserved the signs of the zodiac for
thousands of years after they had ceased in any manner
to correspond with the original signification.
The late Remi Raige endeavoured to support Dupuis'
opinion by an entirely novel argument. (2) Having
observed that we may find, in explaining the Egyptian
days of the month by the oriental languages, meanings
more or less analogous to the figures of the zodiacal
signs, and finding from Ptolemæus that epifi, which
signifies Capricornus, begins on the twentieth of June,
and consequently immediately follows the summer
solstice; he draws the conclusion, that at the beginning
Capricornus himself was at the summer solstice, and
thus of the other signs, as Dupuis had done before him.
Buf, independently of all conjecture of these
etymologies, Raige did not observe that it was merely
chance, that five years after the battle of Actium, in
the year 25 before Christ, at the establishing of the
fixed Alexandrian year, the first day of Thoth was

(1) Ægyptiaca, page 213.
(2) See the great work on Egypt. Ant. Mem. v. 1, the Memoir of M.
Remi Raige, on the 'Nominal and Primitive Zodiac of the Ancient Egyptians.'
See also the table of the Greek, Roman, and Alexandrian months, in the
Ptolemæus of Halma, vol. iii.



was found to correspond with the twenty-ninth of
August of the Julian year, and continued ever since to
correspond. It is only from this epoch that the
Egyptian months began from fixed days of the Julian
year, at Alexandria only; and Ptolemæus himself did
not discontinue to employ in his Almagest the ancient
Egyptian year, with its indefinite months.(1)
Why may not, at some epoch, the names of the
signs, have been given to the months, or the names of
the months to the signs in as arbitrary a manner as the
Indians have given to their twenty-seven months
twelve names, chosen from amongst those of their
lunar houses, for reasons now impossible to ascertain
or account for?(2)
The absurdity of preserving for fifteen thousand
years in the constellations, the figures and symbolic
names which no longer bore any relation to their
respective situations, would have been much more
evident if it had been carried so far as to preserve to
the months those same names which were incessantly in
the mouths of the people, and the irrelevancy of which
would be perceptible at every instant.
What then would become of all those other systems,
if the figures and names of the zodiacal constellations
had been given to them, without at all relating to the
course of the sun, as their inequality, the extent of
many of them beyond the zodiac, and

(1) See Ideler's 'Researches on the Astronomical Observations of the
Ancients,' a translation of which has been inserted by M. Halma, in the third
volume of his Ptolemæus; and particularly the Memoir of Freret on the
opinion of Lanauze, relative to the establishing of the Alexandrian year, in
the Memoir of the Aca demy of Belles Lettres, vol. xvi. p. 308.
(2) See Sir William Jones's Memoir on the Antiquity of the Indian
Zodiac, Mem. de Calcutta, vol. ii.



their manifest connexion with neighbouring
constellations, seem to demonstrate?( 1)
What would be the consequence, if, as Macrobius
distinctly says,(2) "each sign should be considered as
an emblem of the sun, considered in some one-of his
effects or general phenomena, and without any
reference to the months through which he passes,
either into the sign or into its opposite?"
Finally, how would it be if names had been given in
an abstract manner to the divisions of space or time, as
they are now assigned by astronomers to what they call
the signs, and had not been applied to the
constellations or groups of stars but at an epoch
determined by chance, so that we could conclude
nothing farther from their signification?(3)
Here are, doubtless, sufficient arguments to deter an
ingenuous mind from seeking into astronomy for
proofs of the antiquity of nations; but even if these
pretended proofs were as certain as they are vague and
destitute of convincing results, what conclusion could
we thence draw against the great catastrophe of which
we have so many other indisputable demonstrations?
We can only allow that, as some modern writers have
said, astronomy was amongst the sciences preserved by
those persons whom this catastrophe spared.

(1) See the Zodiac :Explained, or Researches on the Origin and
Signification of the Constellations of the Greek Sphere, translated from the
Swedish by M. Swartz. Paris, 1809.
(2) Saturnal. 1. 1, c. 21, sub fin. Nec solus Leo, sed signa quoque
universa Zodiaci ad naturam solis jure referunter, &c. it is only in this
explanation of Leo and Capricornus, that he has recourse to any phenomena
relative to the seasons; Cancer even is explained under a general point of
view, and with relation to the obliquity of the progress of the sun.
(3) See M. de Guignes' Memoir on the Zodiacs of the Eastern Nations,
Academic des Belles Lettres, vol. xlvii.




The antiquity of certain mining operations has been
greatly exaggerated. A modern author asserts, that the
mines of the island of Elba, judging from the heaps of
rubbish excavated from them, must have been worked
for more than forty thousand years; but another author,
who has also examined these rubbish heaps with care,
reduces this period to rather more than five thousand
years,(1) and then, in supposing that the ancients only
excavated annually but a quarter of the quantity now
extracted. But why should we believe that the Romans,
who consumed so much iron in their military arrange
ments, should draw so little from these mines? Besides,
if these mines had been worked for four thousand years
only, how should iron have been known in days of
such remote antiquity.


I concur, then, with the opinion of MM. Deluc and
Dolomien, that if there be any thing determined in
geology, it is, that the surface of our globe has been
subjected to a vast and sudden revolution, not farther
back than from five to six thousand years: that this
revolution has buried and caused to disappear the
countries formerly inhabited by man, and the species
of animals now most known; that contrariwise it has
left the bottom of the former sea

(1) See M. de Fortia d'Urban's History of China before the Deluge of
Oxyges, p. 33.



dry, and has formed on it the countries now irihabited;
that since the revolution, those few individuals whom
it spared have been spread and propagated over the
lands newly left dry, and consequently it is only since
this epoch that our societies have assumed a
progressive march, have formed establishments, raised
monuments, collected natural facts, and combined
scientific systems.
But the countries now inhabited, and which the last
revolution left dry, had been before, inhabited, if not
by mankind, at least by land animals; conse uently, one
preceding revolution, at least, had over whelmed them
with water; and if we may judge by the different
orders of animals whose remains we find therein, they
had, perhaps, undergone two or three irruptions of the


These are the alternatives which now appear to me
to form the most important geologic problem which
requires solving, or rather, properly defining, or
accurately limiting; for, to solve it entirely, it would
be requisite to discover the cause of these events, an
undertaking of a very different nature.
I repeat, we see very clearly what is passing on the
surface of the continents in their present state; we have
very fairly ascertained the uniform march and regular
succession of the primitive formations, but the study
of secondary formations has scarcely yet commenced;
that wonderful series of unknown zoophytes, and
marine mollusca, followed by reptiles and fresh-water
fish equally unknown, and these in their turn replaced
by zoophytes and mollusca, more

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