Bishop Gregory (hgr) wrote,
Bishop Gregory

архаичное заимствование из аккадского в греческий

Ethiopic kekros < Gr. *κέκρος < Akk. kakkaru

The problem of kekros. I would add that some others notions of the traditional Ethiopian astronomy are likely candidates to have a Babylonian ancestry, especially kekros and kentros. The basic meaning o f the corresponding terms is, correspondingly, 1/60 and 1/30 of some interval of time. Both terms, even if known from exclusively late Ethiopian astronomic treatises could be traced in the earlier sources. Taking aside the discussion of kentros,[1] let us concentrate on kekros. The notion of kekros is used for designating of either, “in computus of the sun and the moon,” 1/60 of the equinoctial 12-hour day (thus, 1 kekros = 12 minutes, 1 hour = 5 kekroses) or, “in computus of the stars,” 1/360 of the 24-hour nychthemeron (thus, 1 kekros = 4 minutes).[2] In the latter sense, kekros is the same as the Babylonian which is the unit of both time and space, a time degree, corresponding to 1° of the movement of the celestial sphere, and thus, to about 4 minutes.[3]xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

Neugebauer in 1979, when reporting one case of frapping identity between the Ethiopian notion of gize (“time” = double hour, 2 hours) and the Babylonian notion of bēru (2 hours), wrote: “I do not know where the concept of ‘double hour’ originated. A relationship to the Babylonian

1 uš = 0;4h    1 bēru = 2h

seems to me unlikely.”[4]

It seems not so unlikely now, when we know better some Jewish links between the Babylonian and the Ethiopian astronomies. In the passage just referred to, Neugebauer quotes from a manuscript the relationship 1 gize = 10 kekroses (according to the “computus of the sun and the moon,” as we now know) but does not take into account the “computus of the stars” where kekros becomes an equivalent of , that is, very peculiar element of the Babylonian astronomy connecting the measurement of time with the daily motion of the sun.[5]

This supposition opens a way to reconsider the etymology of the term kekros (sometime written as kikros). Although the existence of some Greek prototype is here out of doubts, it is not obvious. August Dillmann’s early attempt of etymology (1865) was severely rejected by Neugebauer (“The naïve etymology kēkros = circus [i.e., through κίρκος] is not worth discussion beyond remarking that nowhere in ancient astronomy does circus appear as a technical term”[6]), while without any alternative. Given that the Greek texts which were mediators between the Enochic astronomy and Ethiopia are lost almost completely, no wonder that some terms are lost in Greek. Most often, the corresponding words are known in Greek, but not in the terminological sense (such is the situation of kentros). If a term was a loanword used in the terminological sense only, it had to disappear completely, with no trace on the Greek ground. Thus, it is allowable to ask whether Ethiopic kekros goes back to a lost loanword in Greek *κέκρος. In this case, the most natural source language is Akkadian. Indeed, in Akkadian, we have the word kakkaru that has a terminological meaning of “metal disk[7] (weighing one talent),” the latter being a weight unit equal to 60 minas or 6000 shekels.[8] Mina (manû) is the sixtieth part of talent (biltu) as a weight unit or, as a time unit, the weight of water running through a water-clock during 1/6 of the nychthemeron (= 4 hours). Another meaning of manû is a time-space unit is 6 (biltu is unknown in the time-space meaning at all).[9] The latter meaning of manû is the most interesting to us. 6 = 24 minutes = 1/60 of nychthemeron. We see here the same principle of the sexagesimal subdivision of the day as in the Ethiopic kekros (with the only distinction that its application to the whole nychthemeron is unknown in Ethiopia).

Both biltu and kakkaru are unattested in the spatiotemporal meaning but, unlike biltu, kakkaru has always a meaning of round or circle, even if it is a unit of weight. Thus, manû as one sixtieth of kakkaru is one sixtieth of a circle, while manû as one sixtieth of biltu is simply one sixtieth of a mass unit. On the other hand, there is an attested meaning of manû where it is one sixtieth of the nychthemeron which is one of the cycles (circles) of time. This is why I consider the existence of a spatiotemporal meaning of kakkaru very likely. As a spatiotemporal unit, kakkaru would mean the sum of sixty fractions, especially nychthemeron when considered for the sexagesimal partition. This meaning is already very close to that of the Ethiopic kekros (the main difference is that kekros is itself a sexagesimal part and not the sum of all such parts). In the word kekros, there is the Greek ending –os replacing its original Akkadian ending. Otherwise, the Akkadian term is preserved quite well: kakkaru > *κέκρος > kekros. Greek μνέα > μνᾶ “mina” is also an early loanword from Akkadian borrowed together with its sexagesimal relationship to the talent.[10] “Talent” is an Indo-European word that replaced, in Greek, the original Akkadian term for a unit equal to 60 minas, that is, either biltu or kakkaru. It is likely that one of the latter words or even both were borrowed, too, while later became out of use. At least, one of them, kakkaru, could be recognised in a strange Ethiopic word of Greek origin, kekros... Thus, it seems to me that, in Greek, μνᾶ and *κέκρος were sometime connected to each other in the same manner as, in Akkadian, manû and kakkaru.

[1] Neugebauer (Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus, 169), supported by Albani, thought that the kentros (here 1/30 of a “part”) are meant in an Aramaic AB fragment 4Q211. Ben-Dov quotes both of them favourably adding that this fragment “...clearly forms part of the Mul.Apin-type astronomical teaching” (p.195). However, Ben-Dov mistakenly names here kentroskekros.” The notion of kentros occurs in different contexts (where it means 1/30 of different unites of time) but, in general, its origin remains obscure (cf. Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus, 177–178). Nevertheless, its origin within a MUL.APIN-type astronomical context seems now demonstrated with a high probability. Its etymology from Greek κέντρος is as obvious as obscure, too, because we do not know any corresponding terminological meaning in Greek (s. Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus, 175).

[2] Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus, 176–177.

[3] Here my formulation is a bit anachronistic. It fits completely the avatar of in Ptolemy’s Almagest where it is the so-called “time degree” (χρόνος ἰσημερινός “equatorial time” = 4 minutes) but the very notion of the celestial sphere is much later than the notion of , and even the existence of such concept in the Babylonian cosmology is an open question. Babylonian emerged from those water-clock measurements where the water amount used was not depending on the season. See F. R. Stephenson, L. J. Fatoohi, The Babylonian Unit of Time, Journal for the History of Astronomy 25 (1994) 99–110.  

[4] Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus, 168. Here 0;4 is a sexagesimal fraction, 4/60 of hour = 4 minutes.

[5] A possible Babylonian origin of kekros waives one Ben-Dov’s objection to Neugebauer’s explanation of the apparent contradiction between 1En 79:10–11 (operating with the 360DY, while with a mention of the number 364 in 79:10b as a probably secondary correction) and 79:13–16 (operating with the 364DY). According to Neugebauer, vv. 10–11 mean “days” as 1/360 of the sidereal year where these sexagesimal “days” are analogous to the kekroses according to the “computus of the stars” (Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus, 231). Ben-Dov’s objection to this that “...the concept of kekros... originates from significantly later literature” (p. 126, n. 18) does not hold. Nevertheless, I accept Ben-Dov’s explanation of the contradiction (that it is due to the difficult redaction story of AB) as simply the most natural. Both AB and MUL.APIN were not consistent in dealing with the 364DY astronomy.

[6] Neugebauer, Ethiopic Astronomy and Computus, 175. Leslau adds nothing to this reference to Neugebauer except his erroneous statement that kekros means “interval of twenty-four minutes” [W. Leslau, Comparative Dictionary of Gecez (Classical Ethiopic) (Wiesbaden, 1987) 280–281, s. v.]. Siegbert Uhlig repeats Dillmann’s etymology in the same place where he quotes Neugebauer but failing to mention Neugebauer’s criticism [S. Uhlig, Chronography, in: S. Uhlig (ed.), Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. Vol. I (Wiesbaden, 2003) 733–737, here 737].

[7] Other meanings of kakkaru as well as its root meaning are also connected with “disc” or “circle.” In this way, probably, Dillmann was right in his etymology of kekros from circus, while only on the remote level of the Afrasian and Indo-European linguistic unity.

[8] The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Vol. 8: K (Chicago/Glückstadt, 1971) [thereafter: CAD with the title (letter) of volume and page numbers] 49–50, s. v.

[9] CAD M, 220–221. Cf. CAD B, 229–236,  s. v. biltu.

[10] The corresponding Semitic root is attested in different Semitic languages, cf. Hebrew mānē, Ugaritic mn, Phoenician (Szemerényi’s reconstruction) *mǝnē [see P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque. Histoire des mots (Paris, 1968–1980) 707; H. Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Bd. II (Heidelberg, 1970) 247]. However, for Akkadian or Sumerian as the source language, see É. Masson, Recherches sur les plus anciens emprunts sémitiques en grec (Paris, 1967) (Études et commentaires, 47) 32–34 </span>[cf. Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Bd. </span>III (1972) 153]; W. Burkert, Orientalizing Revolution. Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age (Cambridge, MA/London, 1992) (Revealing antiquity, 5) 37, 175. Borrowing is dated to the post-Mycenaean period (after ca 1100 b.c.e.) because, in the Mycenaean epoch, whose system of measures and weights is well known, there are no traces of neither mina or sexagesimal fractions of the talent.


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