Middle East

Star Lore in the Middle East

From the early Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Greek stories, the star lore of many middle eastern cultures evolved into a colorful folklore that today accounts for half of the star names in the Northern Hemisphere.
For 800 years - from the sixth to the 13th century, the Islamic world was the center of Astronomy. After the slow collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe descended into the Dark Ages, a time during which intellectual thought and scholarship were severely suppressed.

While Europe suffered from what Shannon Stirone in astronomy.com called an intellectual coma, the Islamic world enjoyed a period called the Islamic Golden Age. Many of the most important astronomic discoveries prior to the invention of thee telescope were made during that time.
House of Wisdom, Baghdad, ca. 800
Source: 1001inventions.com
But even before the rise if Islam, people of the area enjoyed a diverse astronomical folklore and navigated the sky, creating constellations like Lam, Ostriches and Vulture.
Constantinople Observatory, 1577
Source: Humboldt State University
While ancient Greek astronomy and mythology focused on constellations, Islamic astronomy in the Middle east and later in the Islamic world concentrated on stars, especially on the heliacal rising of certain stars. This is the reason why today most constellations in the Northern Hemisphere bear Greek names while more than 800 stars in these constellations carry Arabic names.

My internet research yielded a vast number of colorful stories - too many for just one site. I therefor split the Middle Eastern star lore into three parts, sorted alphabetically by the names of the modern constellations.

Part 1: A-D

Part 2: E-N

Part 2: O-P

Part 3: Q-Z




Argo Navis



Canes Venatici

Canis Major

Canis Minor





Leo Minor


Milky Way





Ursa Major

Ursa Minor


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