The Astronomical Background of Abraham Bar Ḥiyya’s Astrological History

  • Julio Samsó
Part of the Mediterranean Perspectives book series (MEPERS)


Early Islam inherited from India and Iran the idea of the existence of astronomical cycles which presided over human history and allowed to predict cyclically recurrent events. This was the origin of collections of astrological histories which appeared in Eastern Islamic lands since the end of the seventh century. This kind of work seems to be unknown in Western Islam, although we have an echo of them in Abraham Bar Ḥiyya’s (ca. 1065–1145) Megillat ha-Megalleh which contains an attempt to interpret the history of mankind and of the Jewish nation and to predict the date of the advent of the Messiah, using both rabbinical texts and astrology. This chapter tries to extract, from Bar Ḥiyya’s horoscopes, some information about the astronomical materials used by him.



A draft of this chapter was revised by Bernard R. Goldstein and Shlomo Sela. Both made useful suggestions and corrected some of my mistakes. My deepest gratitude to them.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julio Samsó
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Barcelona (Emeritus)BarcelonaSpain

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