A Curious Astrological Confluence

Antiochus I had the temple site at Nemrut Dag constructed on the anniversary of his coronation as king. But what else did he have in mind besides a celebration of his greatness? Perhaps there is a deeper mystery here – one handed down through the ages, hidden in plain sight, and one to which most of mankind is not privy.

Commagene – A Confluence of Persian, Babylonian and Macedonian Traditions

The Kingdom of Commagene was a Greco-Persian state which resided along the headwaters of the Euphrates River in modern-day Turkey, both during and before the times of the early Roman Empire. By 60 BCE Commagene had been a Greek vassal state since the collapse of The Neo-Assyrian Empire about 609 BCE and the rise of the Seleucid Empire around 312 BCE.1 2 Although the Seleuicid Empire was regarded as a Hellenistic State, it ruled under its own authority and controlled much of the former lands spanning Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, and Indus River region.3 After the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE, Commagene transferred authority to reside under the Roman Empire.4 Nonetheless, the Kingdom maintained its autonomy as a culture descended from the Uartu (Ararat) peoples of the Old Assyrian Empire (2600 BCE – 609 BCE), which included Sumer, Persia (Parthian Empire in the lower right quadrant of the map above), the Akkadian Empire, and Babylon. Its most ancient roots formed from the city-state of Ur, circa 3800 BCE. Commagene was situated in a sub-region of modern Turkey called Anatolia, a name which is derived from the Greek term ἀνατολῇ (anatolē), meaning ‘the East’.5 6

Nemrut Dağ

Located inside the eastern extent of the ancient state of Commagene is a tall mountain called by various names, including Nemrut Dag (which I will use herein). ‘Nemrut Dağ’ (Mount Nemrut/Nemrud), at 7000 ft is one of the highest peaks in the east of the Taurus Mountains (which range east through Cilicia on the map above). It maintains one of the best views of the eastern sky in the entire region. The mountain is located in modern day Turkey (see Exhibit 1 below), about 85 km directly north of another UNESCO World Heritage Site and site of the World’s first temple, Göbekli Tepe.7 8

Exhibit 1 – The Four Rivers Region – Nemrut Dag shown in relation to other geographic features of the ancient lore of the Levant and Fertile Crescent (the cradle of civilization as well as farming/animal domestication). As well, the image shows the birthplace of the Aramaic-speaking peoples called the Arameans. Paddan Aram – Field of (Aram) the Arameans (Aramaic-speaking common people of Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel). This group included the Biblical Abraham, his wife Sarah, and his nephew Lot.

Antiochus I Theos Epiphanes of Commagene

Basileus Megas was the title of the great king and inheritor of the sole rule handed down from the Seleucid Empire. Antiochus of Commagene (full title Theos Dikaios Epiphanes Philoromaios Philhellen, with ‘Theos’ signifying his divinity), was a Seleucid ruler and Basileus Megas from 69 (or, less probably, 64) to ca. 31 BCE, the son of Mithradates Callinicos and Laodice, the daughter of the Seleucid king Antiochus VIII Grypos. He reigned from the seat of the fomer Empire in Commagene.9 Antiochus, as ‘Theos Epiphanes’ was the ruling keeper of the ancient wisdom of the Magicians (Persian, Babylonian and Macedonian tradition ‘Magi’). Accordingly, Antiochus I had the Hierothesion (temple-observatory) site at Nemrut Dag constructed on the anniversary of his coronation as king (see Exhibit 2 below – click on image to enlarge in a separate window).

Specially designated days are the birthday of “the king’s body” and his coronation. Antiochus dedicated these two days, to the revelations of demons (daimones), which led him during the successful reign over the kingdom. At this point it is worth noting that in ancient times the term “demon” was ambivalent and defined both positive and negative superhuman beings – in this sense, demons often served as guardian spirits, to which role Antiochus clearly referred.

~ Turkish Archaeological News, Mount Nemrut, 5 Feb 201810
Exhibit 2 – The Nomos – Antiochus I explains the purpose of the temple and stellar observatory (Hierothesion) set up at Nemrut Dag. This was not simply a place to honor himself and act as a burial site, rather it was to house an ancient priesthood who made observations in accordance with the ancient Magi traditions.

Antiochus I Observatory at Mount Nimrut (Nimrod)

The Hierothesion at Nemrut, also called in various languages ‘Nimrud/Nimrut/Nemrud/Nemrut Dag/Dagh’ or ‘Nemrut Dağ/Daği’ as an historical site (distinct from the Turkish dormant volcano named Mount Nemrut) comes replete with its own mountain of crushed stone (the Tumulus), backing the observatory itself. The reader should note that the observatory is built to observe the morning eastern sky in the late summer (August) time frame of each year, and is as a result, aligned at 65° to 70° azimuth from true north (as outlined in Figure B later in this article).11 This is the average azimuth of the rising celestial ecliptic (the average path of the sun moon and planets across the sky) during that time of the year. The persons who built this observatory, apparently knew a little something about what they were looking for. It is also constructed so as to observe the western sky as that same yearly time frame’s ecliptic sets below the horizon.12 (The reader should note that the ecliptic, is the pathway which the Sun takes through our sky. All the planets and our Moon loosely follow this line as they make their journey from east to west each day and night. Throughout this article, you will notice the ecliptic as a thin line placed below Leo’s paws.)

Exhibit 3 – An artificial mound of crushed rock (The Tumulus) backs the observatory’s East Terrace and set of five kings statues.
Exhibit 4 – Shows the East and West Terraces of the complex and their alignment to true north.13 See Figure B below for further elaboration on the significance of the match between the East Terrace layout and the rising celestial ecliptic.
Exhibit 5 – The south horizon view from the West Terrace of Nemrut Dag towards Göbekli Tepe and the Field of (Aram) the Arameans (Aramaic-speaking common people of Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel). (Source: Google Earth)
Exhibit 6 – The east horizon view from the observation platform. Nemrut Dag’s elevation is around 7000 ft. The temple site was the go-to location for stellar observations at sunrise and sunset. The three priests (Persian, Babylonian, and Macedonian) would have likely taken 8-hour watches each, in order to maintain the observatory each day, keep the time, and wake the others for their watch rotation. They might have even ‘dogged’ (shortened) a watch, to ensure that each received an even rotation in daily duties, as well as the monitoring of both a sunrise and a sunset on a regular basis. These Magi would have been rich from the ‘gifts of herbs and spices’ (see Exhibit 2) which were custom in the day – and more importantly, were mandated by Antiochus I. (Source: Google Earth)

The Horoscope of the Lion (Leo)

During my investigation into the site and the features of the Hierothesion it became clear to me that, while Nemrut Dag was a relatively new religious construction during this time of Roman ascendancy, the wisdoms upon which it was founded, were not new at all. They were ancient Uruk-Bablylonian in their heritage. Whether boast, shell game, or reality, nonetheless Antiochus I had set his mind and resources to the task of preserving, or acting upon those mystery school teachings. Thus, by means of mostly Exhibit 2 (and other resources which are not the focus of this article), we were able established four things regarding the very straightforward history of this relatively noteworthy UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  1. The site was commissioned to celebrate the anniversary of the crowning of Antiochus I,
  2. The site was to be used to monitor and commission festivals and celestial events,
  3. The site was declared to be the burial site for Antiochus I, and finally
  4. The site was observing a tradition which called for the attending (and wealthy) Magi Priests to monitor for a future event.

But what future event was that? The problem with most of the statues and engravings at the site, is that they celebrate the crowning of Antiochus I and Antiochus’s relationship with the Gods (although he appeared to be heavily hedging his bets as to which God was indeed a true God). It was an opportunity for him to boast of his success and honoring of the Gods. But there is one object which stands out among all the others, which is included in the observatory inventory without commentary by Antiochus I. That is the carving into a limestone slab of the constellation Leo adorned with 19 stars and 3 planets. This stela (upright carved limestone slab) was unearthed from the encroaching of the stone hill by Karl Humann and Otto Puchstein in 1882.14

This Leo stone slab depiction was not completed until after Antiochus I’s death, because it survives as a set of works completed after the destruction of the East Terrace.15 Thus it was not part of the inventory at the celebrations commemorated by Antiochus I in Exhibit 2 above.

Exhibit 7 – Nineteen stars and three planets adorn the constellation Leo, in a horoscope stela chiseled at Nemrut Dag sometime between 110 BCE and 10 CE.
Exhibit 8 – Today the Leo limestone frieze has been removed from its pedestal for safekeeping and repair of iconclast damage to its nose (a ubiquitous damage technique throughout Anatolia, Egypt, and the Levant – see The Sphinx), as well as from being tumbled over ‘by snow’.

Ancient historians are comfortable in associating the crafting of this Leo stela, with the 62 BCE 2nd anniversary of Antiochus I’s ascendancy to the throne of Commogene. In fact, the date of 6/7 July 62 BCE features a celestial alignment which is pretty darn close to the one depicted upon the Leo frieze slab shown in more detail in Exhibit 7 above.16 17 The reader can see the celestial alignment of 6/7 July 62 BCE as it rose in the morning sky in Exhibit 9 below. Each of the skycharts presented in this article were developed from Starry Night Pro Plus 8. The writer found that other stellar sky mapping products did not keep alignments correct for dates of medium to extreme antiquity. Starry Night has done a good job of keeping this type of data accurate for decades now.

Exhibit 9 – The accepted date of the Leo Horoscope of Nemrut Dag, 7 July 62 BCE. This is what the Magi priests would have seen in the eastern sky that morning (nothing).

But is this Assumed Horoscope Indeed Correct?

Since the orbit of Jupiter takes around 12 years to accomplish (and this is the regulating feature of viability inside the horoscope), there exist therefore, about a dozen other candidate dates upon which this horoscope, or one similar, would have manifested over the period immediately prior to, and after the construction of the temple observatory at Nemrut Dag. Namely, the period (for purposes of this article) from 110 BCE to 10 CE. This constitutes a 120 year period through which to search for alternative dates which might also have been commemorated by the Leo limestone frieze – encompassing fully both the reign and life of Antiochus I, as well as the four ensuing decades after his passing. Three of these dates, which includes the two most popular, suggested by authors Neugebauer and Crijns, are outlined in depth inside this article.

Maurice Crijns at the International Nemrud Foundation has suggested a very savvy alternative to the traditionally accepted date of 6/7 July 62 BCE. He and several associate authors have suggested that the date of 14 July 109 BCE fits the horoscope specifics better.18 19 In fact, this date is not a bad a fit. Even though the moon is somewhat out of the picture in this horoscope, and as well the scene could not be seen in the east morning sky (observable upon sunset however), the planets fit the putative horoscope juxtaposition probably better than any particular alignment in the 120-year survey timeframe.

However, this ‘better’ alternative left me unsatisfied, just as had the official 7 July 62 BCE narrative, as there was no crescent Moon showing in the morning sky. Set aside the fact that 109 BCE resided well outside the timeframe of Antiochus’ rule, but as well this was critical in that no Moon was indeed visible at all in either alternative (Exhibits 9 and 10).

Note for later, that any ‘novel star’ would also not be observable in both the 62 BCE and 109 BCE scenarios – as daylight would have obscured its visibility in the eastern morning sky.

The stark potential (null hypothesis) therefore existed that the crescent Moon was essential to the message contained in the Leo stela iconography.

A further problem then presented itself as well with regard to the Leo stela. Why did the Magi priests carve the three planets of the alignment on the back of Leo, and not at his feet? The Moon was positioned correctly relative to the ecliptic, so why would the planets be purposely placed in a location which could never possibly show as correct? This matter bugged me for a long time.

Exhibit 10 – Crijns’ excellent alternative (14 July 109 BCE) to the accepted Leo horoscope, with a better planetary sequential alignment fit than 6/7 July 62 BCE. The issue here is attributing this horoscope to a period which ostensibly predated construction of the Nemrut Dag observatory or much to do with Antoichus I. The authors address this issue in their materials.

Then one day two decades ago, a back part of my brain pondered this celestial issue in a long meeting while our team argued types of letters of credit – and suddenly it hit me. What if the three planets (Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter) were placed on the back of Leo, not in suggestion that this was the location of the celestial ecliptic (the path of the planets, which is always below Leo’s feet), which would be a ridiculous intimation, but rather because the artist Magician was attempting to communicate a conjunction of those three planets and not a literal alignment along the ecliptic (as they did in contrast correctly with the Moon)? I immediately set about testing this notion later that same evening.

Then it hit me: The three planets were not in a linear-ecliptic juxtaposition, they were a conjunction! This is why the Magician carved the planets well off the true ecliptic (which is below Leo’s paws) in apparent ‘error’. He had purposed a message in this.

Figure A – Actually viewable in the east.

I therefore locked my celestial software upon the planet Jupiter and recorded every date between 120 BCE and 10 CE upon which a the moon (not simply a crescent one) was resident in Leo at the same time as Jupiter, being careful to not miss the retrograde periods (where Jupiter appears to travel backwards in the sky and might dart into Virgo, only to return to Leo weeks or a month later).20 As a result, I found 14 total dates during the survey timeframe which matched the Leo horoscope to varying degrees (including the two generally accepted dates outlined in Exhibits 9 and 10 above). These fourteen candidates can be seen in Exhibit 15 later in this article.

To my surprise, only one of those 14 dates upon which this relationship between Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and a crescent Moon existed – also happened to feature a conjunction of all three of the planets from the Leo horoscope as well! While this was not conclusive, it was deductive, and highly compelling.

However, this was not simply a three planet conjunction, but rather a four planet conjunction – a much more rare and compelling event. Venus was also in the conjunction with Mars Mercury and Jupiter, but was not observable (to the credit of the literal approach to interpreting the Leo horoscope) as it was showing its dark side to Earth on 27 August 2 BCE. The resulting star chart is shown in Figure A to the right. Was this conjunction, part of the exception which the Magi were highlighting in the frieze?

Thus, this was indeed now a four planet conjunction within a single degree of ecliptic – with a Mars-Jupiter apparent occultation (to the naked eye) to boot. This was a big celestial event, one which occurs once every 1,563 years itself (not even factoring in the chance of an occultation), and only every 18,755 years specifically in Leo (see calculation here).

The reason they had chosen the tallest mountain in the region for the Hierothesion was because in a lower position of observation, by the time they could see the horoscope rising in the east, the daylight (even if the Sun was not directly visible) would have already illuminated the atmosphere (risen) and obviated their ability to see the rising stars or even three planets in full phase. The mountain therefore, was essential to the anticipated observation – and the Magi knew this in advance. The platform looking east therefore, was also essential. This full set of realization hit me like a locomotive, and had me hooked.

The Journey Commences – Following a Superfluous Star

However, before we get to the exciting conclusion of this article, please forgive dear reader my wont to bury the lede a bit more. I want to offer more solid depth to my theory than simply the matter of a conjunction of three planets. The following constitutes my journey of logical prosecution around this argument.

I decided therefore to pull down better older imagery of the Leo Horoscope for which to use in my analysis. As it turned out, there were very few resources available on the matter. Just a couple old photos. Nonetheless, I found a sketch from the time period during which the limestone horoscope had been unearthed. What I found was that the Leo Horoscope originally depicted a total of 3 planets and 19 stars, many of which cannot be seen any longer as a result of the damage to the limestone slab over the decades since its discovery.

Exhibit 11 – The first hand drawn depiction of the Leo Horoscope soon after it was unearthed in 1882. Note that I have added one star inside the tail which exists on the plaster cast copy of the stela and was apparently missed by Neugebauer.

I then took the stars comprised by the Leo constellation in this drawing and compared them to the 19 star and 3 planet iconography depicted in the best photo of the horoscope stela I could muster. I then compared this composite to the actual array of stars in the constellation Leo. There was only one star for which I could not find a match. I highlighted this star in green (see Exhibits 12 and 13) so that I could keep track of it as my analysis progressed (an exception placeholder). I found it curious as well that my ‘placeholder’ star just happened to also be embedded inside the crescent Moon. Moreover, I could not shake the feeling that I had seen this icon before.

I carried along doing regular activity for weeks, realizing that I was acutely aware that I had seen this ‘Moon and green star’ symbol somewhere before, but for the life of me could not put my finger upon just where.

Exhibit 12 – Star candidates of sufficient magnitude (apparent magnitude 6.0 and higher) to stand in the role of an easily observed and differentiated part of the constellation Leo. Accompanying this, the artist Magician gave us the answers to the planetary symbols, thankfully. Please note that Mercury is set higher than an ecliptic line drawn directly between Mars and Jupiter.21

One afternoon as I was walking through my home office, my eye caught sight of a plaque on one of my bookshelves. A plaque which had been given to my command by Admiral Saeed Mohammad Khan, Chief of Pakistan’s Navy, as a ‘thank you’ after a series of joint operational exercises we had executed with the Pakistani Navy. On that plaque, was this star and crescent symbol. This ‘Star #12’ was no mere accidental nor superfluous symbol. This interloper into Leo, was a big deal. Perhaps even what the Magi had been commissioned to look for – given that it rose exactly on the azimuth to which the East Terrace observation platform was pointing. (Please note that one can click on any image to obtain an enlargement in a separate window.)

This interloper into Leo, this placeholder, this Star #12 – was a big deal. This superfluous star, was exactly what the Magi was attempting to point out.

Exhibit 13 – The only logical matchup of iconography versus celestial body which results in a clean match. If the stars 7, 8, 9, and 10 are moved either to the left or right in the horoscope assignment matrix, the entire solution devolves into in unresolvable incoherence. There is only one solution to this assignment problem, and that solution also results in a single extraneous star (#12 in green). Indeed, I believe that this is what the Magi Priest who commissioned the horoscope wanted us to see.

Armed with this solved assignment match-up, I then conversely took the reverse approach of attempting to recreate the Leo horoscope in terms of an actual celestial chart. I was successful in matching each planet and star to its assigned role inside the Magician’s sculpture. Of course, the superfluous Star #12 still remained. Every solution I devised to eliminate the superfluous presence of this star, ended up displacing the rest of the assignment grid into incoherence. As one may notice in the celestial mock up below, there are really no other choices available to the analyst.

Exhibit 14 – A Leo Horoscope crafted celestial chart. The reverse problem of assigning star to iconography, run after assigning iconography to star. Only one solution works, out of around 3 differing approaches to icon-star assignment (please note that the ‘hollow crescent’ moon image is of course used only for depiction purposes). One should note that Mercury (The Shining One of Apollo) is raised relative to the Mars Jupiter ecliptic line.

This being completed, the sole step which remained was to compare all fourteen horoscope candidate dates that we had previously identified, in order to find the most successful one in terms of its conformance to the celestial chart shown in Exhibit 14. How did each candidate date perform against key features of the horoscope, and which one bore the greatest explanatory power in terms of celestial and iconographic matchup? I felt this to constitute a more rigorous process than was used by either Neugebauer or Crijns in Exhibits 8 or 9 respectively, above (no sleight on either of them as, were it not for their sapient work, I would not even be doing this).

Therefore, I assembled an argument table and compared the 14 candidate horoscope dates to the 14 key requisite features shown in Exhibit 14. One date alone, became the clear champion across all key requisites – that date was 27 August 2 BCE.

Exhibit 15 – Only one of the 14 possible dates matched all 14 requisite criteria of the Leo Horoscope iconography. This one date as well, was the only date which featured a very rare conjunction of the three planets. That date was 27 August 2 BCE. Every other date fell woefully short of fulfilling the terms of the horoscope. Take note that in both the 6/7 July 62 BCE and 14 July 109 BCE events, even if they had elected to observe the horoscope in the western sky as it settled (in order to actually see its extraneous Star #12) – the crescent moon would have been pointing in exactly the wrong direction versus the Leo stela. This is fatal to both conventional alternatives.

Therefore, I inserted that date 27 August 2 BCE into my Starry Night Pro Plus 8 software, and derived a picture which likely has not been seen by human eyes since that very day. The morning sky, in the east, the morning of 27 August 2 BCE. Of course dear reader remember, this depiction in Exhibit 16 below includes a proposed, superfluous and interloping ‘Star #12’. A key differentiator here is that, because the sun is under the horizon, two things happen: 1) the moon takes a waning crescent (which is indeed part of the horoscope-snapshot), and 2) one can actually see the constellation and sky, as opposed to the other popular dates in which the Magi could not ‘see the star in the east’, and instead had to wait for the western view. The presence of the West Terrace indeed confirming that the Magi used the occulting of the sun by the horizon, as part of their observation discipline.

The problem introduced by the superfluous Star #12 is that it forces the horoscope to be observed with the Sun below the horizon. Otherwise one cannot ‘observe the star rising in the east’ at all (or really anything for that matter). And since Mercury is in Leo, the Sun by rule, must be close above or below. The only viable date which satisfied this constraint of having the Sun below the horizon, was 27 August 2 BCE.

Exhibit 16 – Starry Night depiction of the eastern sky at 5:03 am on 27 August 2 BCE. The Magi attending to the watches during that time, made sure to highlight the superfluous and interloping Star #12 into their commemoration of that moment. While this star is celebrated in ancient iconography, what indeed was this star? Was this a large tail-less comet? Was it a super nova? Given its approach, it could have been a smaller body in full phase as well. Why did it fall right on our ecliptic? From where did it arrive, and for what purpose?

In Figure B below, one should notice that both the direct of gaze of the 5 statues of the East Terrace, as well as the observation platform at the east ledge of the terrace, bound the actual position upon which Regulus rose on 27 August 2 BCE (shown in Exhibit 16 above). The star name Regulus (cuneiform 𒀯𒌨𒄖𒆷) in Sumerian means ‘The constellation of the Great King who is to come’ (see end of article for recitations). I think there is no doubt that these Magicians knew in advance what they were looking for.

Figure B – Both the orientation of the 5 statues on the East Terrace (as if they were gazing toward what they were looking for), as well as the orientation of the ‘observation platform’ of the East Terrace – together bound the actual azimuth upon which Regulus appeared over the horizon on 27 Aug 2 BCE. This is inside an annual azimuth variation which ranges from 64° to 122° from true north each year. An astounding match, despite the fact that Jupiter bore a higher occurrence of conjunction with the Moon in Leo in July to September of such arrival years (see Exhibit 15).

Below in Exhibit 17, one can observe the fully resolved Leo Horoscope, replete with Mercury residing above a line intersecting Mars and Jupiter (as we observe in Exhibits 12 and 14), along with its mysterious interloping ‘Star #12’. This stellar alignment surpasses by far, every stipulation entailed inside the Leo Horoscope assembled by the ancient Magi at the Nemrut Dag observatory.

While the Magicians who saw this knew generally what they were looking for in the 27 August 2 BCE eastern morning sky, the Leo stela was not a prediction in stone, nor a commemoration of the past.

This was a snapshot – and what was left out was as critically important as what was left in.

Given that the Magi did not include Venus (which was invisible) and included a slightly higher offset of Mercury above Mars and Jupiter – that means that this stela was made to depict an observed celestial state, and not merely one of a calculated horoscope, as is popularly thought. Hence all the mystery in trying to interpret this frieze – we maintained an incorrect assumption (as is the usual case).

Exhibit 17 – A three (four including Venus not on image and showing dark side only) planet conjunction, accompanies a crescent Moon and a superfluous star. An event compelling enough to inspire a priestly Magi, to meticulously document its occurrence, in stone. This was what rose before the Sun, in the eastern sky, the morning of 27 August 2 BCE.22
Figure C – The inner planets align axially to the ecliptic approach of interloping Star #12. A one in 18,755 year alignment, in direct axial harmony along the the very same axis upon which the interloping star also arrived.

At the completion of my analysis it became manifestly clear that the Magi at Nemrut Dag were not looking for a mere ‘horoscope’. Such a thing could be easily calculated and confirmed back in the palace city, at much less expense, and in a setting where the glory of Antiochus I’s monuments to himself would be on display for all to see, not just a few sturdy 7,000 ft mountain scrambling pilgrims.

No, Antiochus and his Wise Men were looking for a specific observation which could not be calculated nor seen from the capitol itself – the appearance of a foretold event of enormous importance to them, in the eastern morning sky – an anomalous star.

Space Delta 18 Logo – United States Space Force – National Space Intelligence Center – headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Activated on 24 June 2022.

Such was not the outcome which I had come into the analysis expecting to see at all. However, the fact that something could be (purposely) hidden in plain sight, and through flawed assumption, is of course of no surprise to an ethical skeptic.

So Many Questions – So Little Time – The King of the Arameans?

Intelligence in some regards may be defined as, a disciplined tolerance for conjecture. As fate would have it, Antiochus’ celestial observatory was never completely finished, while the Magician priests apparently departed and abandoned the site sometime during the decade following the 2 BCE date. As is typical of any complex issue, an analysis of this type leaves many questions unanswered, and serves to introduce so many more. Aside from convention, which might suggest there is nothing meaningful inside any of this (this must be considered), skepticism raises questions – and does not seek to prematurely squelch them (cynicism).

  • What were the Magicians looking for?
  • Why did they cease their devotion to duty? Was their job done?
  • What happened to this superfluous star?
  • Why did Star #12 make its appearance already tightly affixed to our Sun’s ecliptic?
  • Why did the gravity of ‘Star #12’ not disrupt the entire solar system in terms of planetary orbit eccentricity, inclination, and obliquity? Does this suggest it may have been a distant super nova? or a smaller object in full phase (which it would have been)? or that it was fabricated to begin with?
  • Why did Star #12 come through right when the five inner planets (Earth-(Moon)-Mars-Mercury-Jupiter-Venus) all just happened to be in a 1 in 18,755 year alignment, in direct axial harmony along the the very same axis upon which the interloper also arrived? How would one even calculate the odds of that?
  • Why did Star #12 appear right where the Leonid meteors radiate from, under the chin of Leo?
  • Why was this Star #12 placed in the frieze directly over the body of the Moon itself? Astrologers of the time would have known well that star and planetary fields lay behind the Moon at all times. Perhaps it was not then a ‘star’ per se?
Figure D – The star and crescent motif inhabits the flags of at least 24 nations.

Moreover and more subjectively,

Regarding Regulus 𒌨𒄖𒆷 the star (or 𒀯 MUL ‘star group’),

  • Why are the alchemical symbols for Regulus, the star which the Moon occulted in this horoscope, a star and crescent (🜳) and crown (🜲)?
  • Why did the Babylonian MUL.APIN (1000 BCE) call Regulus, Lugal (The Great One)? – despite its being only the 21st brightest star in the sky?23
  • Why did the ancient Sumerian teachings (3500+ BCE) call Regulus (cuneiform) 𒀯𒌨𒄖𒆷 or MULUR.GU.LA? Which translated means,
    – MUL (MZL-247) ‘constellation of’24
    – UR (MZL-828) ‘the Great One/Lion of’25
    – GU (MZL-891) ‘by thread/chord’26
    – LA (Adverb of lā, MZL-89) ‘is absently’.27
  • The cuneiform character 𒆷 (LA, or U+121B7) is also a combination of
    – 𒃲 GAL or ‘King/Highest/Chief/A Full Cup/Gallon’28,
    whereas the left side of the cuneiform block
    𒆷 LA, ŠIKA means ‘without’ or ‘left remaining’ (shy one part of four – a ‘GAL’)29
  • Thus, no matter what combination, idiom, or even if one chooses the Babylonian LUGAL, this translates to ‘The constellation of the Great One (or Final King) who is to come’.

And finally,

  • The wise men of the Bible had seen their star ‘when it rose’30, and while in ‘the East’ (Greek ἀνατολῇ (anatolē) Anatolia, Turkey).
  • Is this ancient mystery why the Great Spinx of Giza’s original Leo monument (arguably 12,500 years old) gazes patiently in wait towards the eastern morning sky?
  • Was it a mere coincidence that Star #12 appeared less than two years (1 year and 4 months – but in reality probably more like a year or less) before the traditionally celebrated birth of Christ? and 8 to 24 months before the various reputed dates for the death of Herod the Great (see timeline below)?
  • Is it merely coincidence that this Leo Stela Horoscope falls right into line as the right conjunction to feature an anomalous star, inside the prophecy of Daniel as to when the Messiah was to be born?
Figure E – The 27 Aug 2 BCE Conjunction (in red) – the 6th conjunction in the Chaldean Prophecy – falls elegantly in line with the complete timeline and set of events outlined by Daniel’s prophecy, history, and scripture, pertaining to the birth of the Messiah.
  • Was this connected at all with Herod’s purported slaying of all male children in Bethlehem, 2 years old and younger, after inquiring of the visiting Magi as to the timing of a new star they saw rise in the eastern sky?31
  • Is this entailed eschatology, along with the Leonid meteors originating as if ‘bees’ from Leo, now finally the answer to Samson’s Riddle posed in Judges 14:14?:32

Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along.

“Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them.

“Out of the eater, something to eat;
out of the strong, something sweet.”

Perhaps indicating a more sinister attempt at hijacking the symbology for use in a counterfeit Priestly role – a kind of Anti-Magi if you will – Why does the World Economic Forum now entertain the symbol inside their branding? As the WEF crescent Moon drifts into station in this horoscope, a kind of cypher if you will, an iconic and perhaps even fanciful yet ominous message comes into focus. The iconography of The Party residing simply one step shy of pirating His official trademark – paid in homage and deference to The Party’s coming false King and ‘savoir of Mankind’. The Son of Man would not surrender His authority at the Third Temptation, so now it must be stolen through counterfeit. At least, that’s the plan.

As is frequently the case, which of course the experienced ethical skeptic recognizes, successfully answered questions inevitably give rise to even more pertinent critical path questions. One can only hope to be faithful of heart, and pursue them as best they can. This is wisdom.

The Ethical Skeptic, “A Curious Astrological Confluence”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 24 Feb 2022; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/?p=49624

  1. Wikipedia: Assyria; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyria
  2. Wikipedia: Neo-Assyrian Empire; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Assyrian_Empire
  3. Wikipedia: Seleucid Empire; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seleucid_Empire
  4. Wikipedia: Battle of Actium; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Actium
  5. Wiktionary: ἀνατολή; https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E1%BC%80%CE%BD%CE%B1%CF%84%CE%BF%CE%BB%CE%AE
  6. Bible Hub: Greek Lexicon, Strong’s 395; https://www.biblehub.com/matthew/2-9.htm#lexicon
  7. Wikipedia: Göbekli Tepe; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6bekli_Tepe
  8. Andrew Curry; Smithsonian Magazine: Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?; Nov 2008; https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gobekli-tepe-the-worlds-first-temple-83613665/
  9. Encyclodpaedia Iranica; ANTIOCHUS OF COMMAGENE; https://iranicaonline.org/articles/antiochus-of-commagene
  10. Turkish Archaeological News, Mount Nemrut, 5 Feb 2018; https://turkisharchaeonews.net/site/mount-nemrut
  11. Juan Antonio Belmonte and A. César González García; ANTIOCHOS’S HIEROTHESION AT NEMRUD DAG REVISITED: ADJUSTING THE DATE IN THE LIGHT OF ASTRONOMICAL EVIDENCE; Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and Universidad de La Laguna; JHA, xli 2010; 0021-8286/10/4101-0000/$10.00 © 2010 Science History Publications Ltd
  12. Şahin Güçhan, Neriman. (2011). The Commagene Nemrut Conservation and Development Program. An Approach to the Conservation Problem of Nemrut DaĞ Tumulus.
  13. from Humann, Carl i Puchstein, Otto, “Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien: ausgeführt im Auftrage der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften”, Public Domain.
  14. International Nemrud Foundation: News: The Lion Horoscope; 22 Oct 2004; http://nemrud.nl/index.php/lion-horoscope/
  15. Juan Antonio Belmonte and A. César González García; ANTIOCHOS’S HIEROTHESION AT NEMRUD DAG REVISITED: ADJUSTING THE DATE IN THE LIGHT OF ASTRONOMICAL EVIDENCE; Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and Universidad de La Laguna; JHA, xli 2010; 0021-8286/10/4101-0000/$10.00 © 2010 Science History Publications Ltd
  16. Starry Night Pro Plus 8 (full license); Simulation Curriculum, 24 Feb 2022; https://support.simulationcurriculum.com/hc/en-us : Note: Starry Night uses the older Julian calendar for all dates prior to 15 Oct 1582, and the Gregorian calendar for all dates more recent than this. The dates Oct 5 – Oct 14, 1582 do not exist in Starry Night, to account for the ten days which were skipped when the new calendar was introduced.
  17. O. Neugebauer, H.B. Van Hoesen; Greek Horoscopes, The American Philosophical Society, 1987; ISBN 0-87169-048-9
  18. Maurice Crijns; Lion Horoscope, International Nemrud Foundation; Sep 1999; http://nemrud.nl/index.php/tourist-information/lion-horoscope/
  19. Eric M. Moormann and Miguel John Versluys; The Nemrud Dag Project; Vol 7, 2002; http://www.babesch.org/77moormann.html
  20. Starry Night Pro Plus 8 (full license); Simulation Curriculum, 24 Feb 2022; https://support.simulationcurriculum.com/hc/en-us : Note: Starry Night uses the older Julian calendar for all dates prior to 15 Oct 1582, and the Gregorian calendar for all dates more recent than this. The dates Oct 5 – Oct 14, 1582 do not exist in Starry Night, to account for the ten days which were skipped when the new calendar was introduced.
  21. from Humann, Carl i Puchstein, Otto, “Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien: ausgeführt im Auftrage der Königlichen Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften”, Public Domain.
  22. Please note that the ecliptic actually runs below Sigma Leonis, the lowest left star (unnumbered), but is approximated in order to fit inside the photo boundaries. The photo was chosen for its match to the actual iconography as opposed to an entire depiction of that region of the sky. We are balancing one method of clarity against another here. However, the Moon is both angled and positioned according to the correct ecliptic.
  23. Wikipedia: Babylonian star catalogues, Zodiacal MUL 8.,1.; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_star_catalogues
  24. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%F0%92%80%AF
  25. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%F0%92%8C%A8
  26. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%F0%92%84%96
  27. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/l%C4%81#Akkadian
  28. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%F0%92%83%B2
  29. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%F0%92%86%B7
  30. Matthew 2:9 (NIV): After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
  31. The Bible: Matthew 2, English Standard Version; https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%202&version=ESV
  32. Full credit to TES reader Richard Tofield (see comments below)
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Edward Hamilton

I think I’ve found independent confirmation that this representation of the Leo “three planets” arrangement was also known in the early church. The “Dogmatic Sarcophagus” is an elaborate 4th Century frontal that shows (in the lower left corner) the magi adoring the Christ. The first of the magi points at something that doesn’t look much like a representation of a conventional “star” — as the caption below notes in confusion — but you’ll find it’s something else that looks very familiar to readers of this article. https://www.christianiconography.info/sicily/sarcDogmatic.magi.html I have much interest in this “triple conjunction plus Regulus occultation” hypothesis, and… Read more »

richard tofield

is the answer to the riddle of samson the leonid meteor shower?.looks like bees coming out of a lion


is it connected that the serpent in the hebrew bible is nachash- the shining one, similar to phaeton-the radiating one


is the vatican looking for asteroids/meteorites with its observatories in castel gandolfo and arizona?


Great stuff. Now I see it everywhere. See this mosaic of the twelve tribes of Isreal. Issachar is the one with the moon and the stars.

Also for that matter, the coat of arms for Balthazar of Tarsus (one of three magi) is a crescent moon and star.

comment image


there is another stone relief with a lion and 4 stars in turkey. Found in old city of Sma’al /Zincirli…and the lion gate in mycenae has a pillar with 4 circles on top…and the lions gate in jerusalem has circular reliefs that could possibly represent planets..and the symbolism of the ball under the lions paw is found in many places in china…i’m going to see if i can find the constellation involved with this alignment at each 1563 year interval


what constellation would this alignment have appeared in in 1565BC?

Les Funk

I found your magi from “the east” (Anatolia) very compelling. Also that they saw “His star” in the east. Matthew (and archaeology) tells us exactly where they came from. I can’t believe I never knew this before. Thank-you.


could your #12 be the planet which disintegrated to become the asteroid belt?


what if the planet phaeton became the asteroid belt in 1500bc or even 3000bc and the magi were waiting for the same alignment…and the astronomer who named the ex-planet 200 years ago knew more about ancient history than he let on


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1561_celestial_phenomenon_over_Nuremberg and nuremburg has a chariot sculpture.is this the chariot of zeus which phaeton went joyriding in?..horses arent red but one of the four horses in revelation is red like the planet mars,perhaps this refers to this planetary alignment as well


what if the pyramids at giza do not represent the belt stars of orion(surely you would add betelgueuse and rigel), but really represent mars and mercury and jupiter?and it is another representation of this curious confluence.could amun(the hidden one) be phaeton


Hello TES, thank you for this most intriguing essay (and all the others – your writing is so very interesting). I had no idea what the topic was when I started reading, but by the end my heart was in full song.

I’ve noted previously in your “Our Story” section that you refer to yourself as an ‘ignostic atheist’. If I may I ask a personal question — has what you’ve learned in this particular investigation shifted that stance at all?

Kindest regards,



Very interesting and we see again occult symbology being used just as it was used during WWII. Interesting that they are associating their rise with the coming of the ‘Final King’ while their logo also contains the 666 symbol. ‘The constellation of the Great One (or Final King) who is to come’. The priesthood described here, could the Nazi leadership or the Khazarian elite be descended from them? If it took so long to deduce this that it must have been a part of someone’s heritage to use it. Could Star 12 be a person and this be a birth… Read more »


Excellent piece but…. there’s always a but: The detailed analysis appears to take no account of the biblical narrative, except at the end where it mentions the ‘wise men’ almost as an afterthought. Those imbued with biblical understanding will know the following Facts: The Prophet Daniel, one of the chosen people captured when King Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem, was taken to Babylon (587BC), and became immensely wealthy. He gained the King’s trust and was given a position of power, second only to the king, in the greatest Empire of it’s time (homework for you – read the Book of Daniel). He… Read more »


The WEF’s O’s with the lines also look suspicious like 3 numbers. 👀


It all sounds crazy, but now I can’t unsee the 666. To complete the wild theory , is it possible that the WEF logo is also a date?


Fascinating! Could this also be why the lion pops up so much in medieval European stories and art? Is it why it’s the symbol of England (and why he was Richard the “lionheart”)? For a continent that has no lions, they came up so much in European Christian art. Arthurian stories have lions randomly walking around in the nebulous forest outside of Camelot.


Relatedly, have you watched the Ancient Apocalypse series and/or are familiar with Graham Hancock’s work and, if so, what did you think of its assertions: 1) plausible / reasonable chance of prehistoric civilization; 2) cosmic hellfire reset; 3) legendary personages restart civilizations; 4) orthodox historians / archeologists contemptuously dismiss all the above. I didn’t find the claims to be preposterous and the couple of articles I read on the interwebs warning people off from the show were so thin on content but so loud on headline that it only lent credence to the show. A couple of overlapping ideas from… Read more »


Interesting, found on the internet: Dr. Ernest Martin on page 66 of his book “The Star That Astonished the World” Planetary conjunctions of May 19, 3 B.C. to December 25, 2 B.C. Date Conjunction May 19, 3 BC Mercury-Saturn June 12, 3 BC Venus-Saturn August 12, 3 BC Venus-Jupiter August 31, 3 BC Mercury-Venus September 14, 3 BC Jupiter Regulus February 17, 2 BC Jupiter Regulus May 8, 2 BC Jupiter Regulus June 17, 2 BC Jupiter-Venus August 26, 2 BC Mars-Jupiter December 25, 2 BC Jupiter over Bethlehem, seen from Jerusalem In this table of planetary conjunctions we see… Read more »

Mark Boulton

According to Stellarium, the Daytime Sextantids appear at pretty close to this location. Does it seem possible that a related meteor might have appeared particularly bright here?


There was certainly a unique phenomenon that appeared that morning. I suppose conjecture about necessarily transient occurrences is pointless. At some point this is just the sort of thing you have to take on faith and every possibility just because an entertaining but unprovable hypothesis.

Thanks for the objectively verifiable work you’ve done. We may never know exactly what those ancient observers saw but the math certainly pans out in favor of a staggering but believable co-incidence. God bless you.


Fun fact the Hindu swastik (not to be confused with Hitlers Hakencruz) is based on the position of the big dipper


The moon crescent star thing is probably linked to Islam as “Allah” was the name of the moon god pre-Islam.

David Wales

This was a fascinating read. I offer some more speculations. In Daniel 5:11-12, Daniel is described as follows:”There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods. In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel…”So, we have an exile from Judah in Israel, who has… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by David Wales
Kevin Quinn

What if the star wasn’t an actual star, but was a veiled way to track the anticipated arrival of a visitor or visitors? That unique alignment serves as a type of clock – a clock offering a predictable schedule around which events over centuries could be planned for and known about. And that amazing alignment itself begs questions about its original “creation” (is it random?) or at the very least identification (how/why was it identified in the first place?).


In Vedic astrology, Rahu & Ketu are termed “planets” despite being notional forces, points in space, and are described and represented in the same ways as existing real planets, even with anthropomorphic bronze murtis which people can make offerings to in order to propitiate them, similar to statues of Brihaspati (Jupiter) and Shani (Saturn). A notional Lordly star which exists only when that specific alignment exists, placed carefully in the only point in space in which no star can be seen (assuming they also discounted short-lived comets) seems similar. Thank you for this fascinating essay.

Last edited 8 months ago by Kerys

After making an earlier reply about notional points in space, and with something nagging me about “green stars,” I searched green light Moon and may have found the origin of the star: Fox News, “Mysterious light flashes on the Moon have been baffling researchers for decades” These “transient lunar phenomena” are not the same as the green flash on the edge of a setting Sun or full Moon, they’re squarely on the surface, and range from green through to red and white. These have been observed for centuries, for example, quoting the Wikipedia page for Transient Lunar Phenomena: On June… Read more »


Just today I came across the Nebra Sky Disc (see image) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebra_sky_disc and it made me think of that sculpture of the lion. Don’t know if it is helpful at all, but the disk is said to depict the stars as they were during the 16th century BC. Was wondering if you knew of the disc and if it may have any relevance to the work you’re doing (which admittedly I hardly understand but am fascinated by nonetheless).

nebra sky disc.jpg

[…] Sie jetzt denken, das hätte was mit dem Islam zu tun: Ja, auch. Aber nicht nur. Es geht irgendwie auch indirekt um die alte Geschichte von dem Weihnachtsstern über Betlehem. Ich […]

Tobias Förster

On the same note: Yeshuah = Iah saves?! Food for thought…

Tobias Förster

Dear Ethical Skeptic, thank you for this mindblowing article (and for the other mindblowing articles of yours, by the way). It was a most stimulating read! Now, I have read the article just yesterday and to be honest, I have not fully absorbed it yet. But I have noticed that in exhibit 14, you put star #12 inside the crescent moon, whereas in exhibits 16 and 17, you put it outside the crescent moon. Was there a reason for this? Because if star #12 was fully INSIDE the crescent moon, how could we even be able to see it? In… Read more »

Code Jinn

I think maybe something is being overlooked here about a large structure on a mountain where observers make observations. It seems likely to me that this wasn’t just an attempt to honor gods, but to communicate a message to them, then wait and watch for a response. It resembles a signal post, something which in human terms would be placed high up so that signal fires could be seen from another high place at a distance. Observers would also be watching for signals from other signal posts in the mundane human case. An astonishing astronomical event would appear as clearly… Read more »


That WEF slogan is just troll level evil. I had seen the three 6s but I have not made the connection with the crescent moon. I am not sure how to interpret all the things you are writing but I am happy that you present them to us like this – without tying them up yourself. It is like a puzzle with 10% of the pieces left out. As good messages should always be… OFFTOPIC: but from crescent moon i remembered the masterpiece of Kubrik S.Odyssey… and then on something else that I had read that you may find entertaining… Read more »


I hesitate to pose an obvious question: Regulus being the heart of the Lion (Leo), and also being occulted by the moon, makes it a seemingly perfect choice for the position of ‘star #12’ on the horoscope itself – i.e. Regulus is bright, prominent, and in that position would seem to be aligned with the literal heart of the lion depicted, and also in a position to be occulted by the crescent moon. Would you indulge why Regulus in the position of ‘star #12’ specifically devolves the rest into incoherence? Could an alternative assignment matrix be resolved by swapping ‘star… Read more »

Scott S Manzel

sorry… tried to attatch image to comment but pushed post accidentally, then in frustration, pushed post a second time b4 i got it attached the 3rd time… rrrr

Scott S Manzel

Milky Quest.

Small Milky Burton-.jpg
Scott S Manzel


Scott S Manzel

Chasing the Milky Way. We six lay huddled close on the old wooden dock, well before dawns light. Murmurs, whispers, gasps, and laughter. Frogs singing, owls calling. Our milky quest adorned by four shooting stars.. Aaaaahhh.

Scott S Manzel

Wars, and rumors of wars. Brilliant sleuthing from ancient Magi to the WEF. Only 1 day before Russia, Ukraine. The King star will return. We will own nothing, and be happy… because he will allow us to buy and sell… if only we take the mark.


I recently stumbled across this podcast by a couple of Orthodox priests. This one on the Star of the Nativity is relevant to your post here. Lots of good history on views of astrology held by the ancients and in depth review of the magi. https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/lordofspirits/taught_by_a_star


Is it possible that the Magi were capturing the last light of a dead star? IOW, somehow they had a prophesy of a “star” (i.e. object in the sky) going dark? So the commemoration was to let people know about Star #12’s existence and death? Maybe it’s winking out presaged some other event? Or could that be why they stopped their task? (Just spitballing, TES, in the event it might spark something sensical in you.) Cheers – and thanks for sharing.


Have you put any thought into the predicted date of the next such confluence (absent star #12)?


So do i read this write ? it happened 2 bc then on 1565 ad we had the big conjuction but no Leo, so… the next one still without Leo is 1565+1563 = 3128 AD and then finally the other big one is way in the future ??


Where were Saturn, Uranus and Neptune on that date? I know that these are not normally visible to the naked eye but perhaps that particular configuration of planets, light, angles etc, caused one of them to become visible for a brief moment just at the edge of the moon disc, and to the magi this glimpse seemed to be of a star/planet which arrived and then left. And perhaps the observatory had been built facing that direction because it had been previously noticed that it was a particularly fruitful direction in terms of angles of light of sun, moon, etc… Read more »


What about the Comet Swift-Tuttle? Regular August passage, 133 year orbit, Jupiter aligned, probably first observed in 322 BC, observed by the Chinese in 188BC and 69BC, causes the Persian Meteor Shower.




Isn’t it generally thought that the magi visited Jesus long after he was born? i.e., Herod killed male babies age 2 and under. So your finding would put the birth day in the range of 4 B.C., if this mystery object is the star recorded in the NT story.


Are you an atheist?

John Day

It’s not even quite when the historical Jesus was likely born, is it. Just close(ish)…