Venus and Sothis by Wilbur Devereux Jones

Cover Image of Venus and Sothis by Wilbur Devereux Jones

This book is designed to show how the ancient Near East was rediscovered and to describe some of the methods and theories which have gone into the reconstruction of its history.

About half of human history exists as a well-structured body of facts. The other half, that of the ancient Near East, is still in the process of becooming. Large numbers of its rulers are faceless people about whom only a fact or two may be known. The chronologies of the great states are often confusing and their relationship to each cother are sometimes determined not by factual inscription but by conclusions arising from examining sherds of pottery. Modern histpry rests on facts; in ancient history, theory reigns.

Book Details

  • Title: Venus and Sothis: How the Ancient Near East Was Rediscovered
  • Author: Wilbur Devereux Jones
  • Published: Nelson-Hall, Chicago, 1982
  • ISBN: 0-88229-691-4

Book Contents

  • Near Eastern Chronolog
  • Preface
  • 1. Nations Buried and Forgotten
  • 2. The Treasure Hunters
  • 3. The Progress of Acrheology
  • 4. Breaking the Ciphers
  • 5. Sothis, Venus and Chronology
  • 6. The Progress of Chronology
  • 7. Progress in Remte Periods
  • Appendix: Maps
  • Annotated Bibliography: Books for Ancient Near Eastern History Buffs
  • Index


When it comes down to dating the events and reigning periods of prominent historical figures throughout Near Eastern history many difficulties arise. Indeed, trying to place historical developments into some sort of timeframe leaves so much to be desired that conflicts arise from the differing conclusions of many historians and researchers.

One of the challenegs in regards to Ancient Egyptian history in particular is that the calendars’ used at the time were complex and very often involved not just time-keeping per se but that they also revolved around the motions of the heavens and the planets that inhabit the night sky.

Whilst the annual cycles of the Sun and the cycles of 13 lunar periods of Moon motions formed an essential element to the Ancient Egyptian calendar there was one very important timing mechanism used during the period that was stellar stellar and not planetary in its source.

The Sothic Period was a calendar established by the Ancient Egyptians based on the heliacal rising of the star Sirius. Each year, usually sometime around the 19th July by our reckoning, the brightest star in the heavens appeared over the horizon. This important event was deemed significant enough at the time to establish the first day of the New Year.

Sothic Dating

Because of the exactitude regarding the establishment of the annual Sothic cycle knowledge of the widespeard use, and even existence of this time-keeping process, it becomes easier to establish events in the Near Eastern regions.

This is exactly what author Wilbur Devereux Jones has sought to do in his book ‘Venus and Sothis’. Sadly there is only one chapter in the publication that actually details the dating of events through usage of the Sothic Calendar for I would really have loved to have had this topic the central thesis of the whole book, This is not meant as a criticism for clearly it is this subject that attracts me the most in a book that has these aspects only as a sub-division of its historical remit.

The book also covers the use of the Babylonian calendar which encompases the use of the planet Venus in making its calculations. The motion of Venus through the heavens is fascinating subject in its own right and from an esoteric point of view this planet above all others is the most intriguing. More recently the subject of Venus calendars has come to prominance with the renewed interest in the Mayan calendars and its ‘prediction’ regarding the ending of the world in late 2012.

Summing Up

Venus and Sothis by Wilbur Devereux Jones is a small book at just 155 pages that deals with a large subject. However, it is a fascinating exploration of a potentially effective way of reconciling the concept of the marking of events through time which is so loved by Western academics with the actual process of events and the development of circumstances taking place in the Near East many thousands of years ago. As a starting point for further detailed research I think that the book proposes some fascinating ideas and some very practical solutions to historical problems.

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