Kidinnu

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Kidinnu (also Kidunnu) (fl. 4th century BC? possibly died 14 August 330 BC) was a Chaldean astronomer and mathematician. Strabo of Amaseia called him Kidenas, Pliny the Elder Cidenas, and Vettius Valens Kidynas.

Some cuneiform and classical Greek and Latin texts mention an astronomer with this name, but it is not clear if they all refer to the same individual:

  • The Greek geographer Strabo of Amaseia, in Geography 16.1–.6, writes: "In Babylon a settlement is set apart for the local philosophers, the Chaldaeans, as they are called, who are concerned mostly with astronomy; but some of these, who are not approved of by the others, profess to be writers of horoscopes. (There is also a tribe of the Chaldaeans, and a territory inhabited by them, in the neighborhood of the Arabs and of the Persian Gulf, as it is called.) There are also several tribes of the Chaldaean astronomers. For example, some are called Orcheni [those from Uruk], others Borsippeni [those from Borsippa], and several others by different names, as though divided into different sects which hold to various different dogmas about the same subjects. And the mathematicians make mention of some of these men; as, for example, Kidenas, Nabourianos and Soudines".
  • The Hellenistic astronomer Ptolemy, in Almagest IV 2, discusses the duration and ratios of several periods related to the Moon, as known to "ancient astronomers" and "the Chaldeans" and improved by Hipparchus. He mentions the equality of 251 (synodic) months to 269 returns in anomaly. In a preserved classical manuscript of the excerpt known as Handy Tables, an anonymous reader in the third century wrote the comment (a scholium) that Kidenas discovered this relation.
  • The colophon of two Babylonian System B lunar ephemerides from Babylon (see ACT 122 for 104–101 BC, and ACT 123a for an unknown year) say that they are the tersitu of Kidinnu.
  • A damaged cuneiform astronomical diary tablet from Babylon (Babylonian Chronicle 8: the Alexander Chronicle, BM 36304) mentions that "ki-di-nu was killed by the sword" on day 15 of probably the 5th month of that year, which has been dated as 14 August 330 BC, less than a year after Alexander the Great conquered Babylon.

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