Cosmological & Astronomical Chart

Cosmological and astronomical chart • The British Library

This fascinating treasure is a cosmological and astronomical chart from The British Library’s Hebrew Collection. It is a fifteenth-century didactic tool to impart knowledge on how the world works, and comes from Southern France or Spain.

Jews placed high value on astronomical knowledge, in and of itself and as a way of keeping calendars. The importance of such knowledge can be seen in the astronomical section of the Book of Enoch (ca 72-80 BC), as well as by such sayings as those of Eleazar Hisma (about 100), a Jewish mathematician who could “count the drops in the ocean” and who declared that the “ability to compute the solstice and the calendar is the ‘dessert’ of wisdom.”

The British Library’s Hebrew Collection is currently forms the basis of their Hebrew Manuscripts: Journeys of the Written Word exhibition, the first exhibition since the library reopened after Covid-19 lockdown. It showcases rarely-seen manuscripts, some dating back to the 10th century and displayed for the first time. Watch a short introduction to the exhibition here:


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