Britton’s theory of the creation of Column Φ in Babylonian System A lunar theory

Steven Shnider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The following article has two parts. The first part recounts the history of a series of discoveries by Otto Neugebauer, Bartel van der Waerden, and Asger Aaboe which step by step uncovered the meaning of Column Φ, the mysterious leading column in Babylonian System A lunar tables. Their research revealed that Column Φ gives the length in days of the 223-month Saros eclipse cycle and explained the remarkable algebraic relations connecting Column Φ to other columns of the lunar tables describing the duration of 1, 6, or 12 synodic months. Part two presents John Britton’s theory of the genesis of Column Φ and the System A lunar theory starting from a fundamental equation relating the columns discovered by Asger Aaboe. This article is intended to explain and, hopefully, to clarify Britton’s original articles which many readers found difficult to follow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-318
Number of pages40
JournalArchive for History of Exact Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


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