The Ancient Egyptian papyrus Cairo 86637 calendar is the oldest preserved historical document of naked eye observations of a variable star, the eclipsing binary Algol – a manifestation of Horus, a god and a king. This calendar contains lucky or unlucky prognoses for each day of one year. Researchers have performed a statistical analysis of the Cairo Calendar mythological texts.
Their analysis revealed that the periods of Algol (2.85 days) and the Moon (29.6 days) strongly regulate the actions of deities in this calendar.
This research confirms that the first variable star, as well as its period, were discovered much earlier than was previously thought. These two classical milestones in the history of natural sciences need to be shifted three millennia backwards in time to 1244-1163 BCE.
This also confirms the two modern astrophysical results reported by the Helsinki group in the year 2013: The first direct observation ever of the expected increase of Algol’s period and the accurate long-term estimate for the mass transfer in this binary system.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki were able to show that Algol is linked with the mythological figure Horus. They also found direct correlations between the actions of Horus in mythological texts and changes in the brightness of Algol. These changes are reflected in periods of improving and worsening luck on the Calendar.
“These descriptions support our claim that Cairo Calendar is the oldest preserved historical document of the discovery of a variable star,” researchers concluded.
Horus’ birth was both violent and beautiful. His father, the god Osiris, was murdered by his brother Set. The latter cut his brother’s body into pieces and scattered them across the land. Their sister, the goddess Isis, gathered together the pieces of Osiris’ body. Isis reassembled Osiris and gracefully spread her wings. Hovering atop her brother, Isis copulated with Osiris. Thus, Horus, the falcon-headed god, was magically conceived.
Horus became among the most important gods of Egypt, particularly because the Pharaoh was supposed to be his earthly embodiment.
A passage from the Coffin Texts (passage 148) sums up Horus in his own words:
“I am Horus, the great Falcon upon the ramparts of the house of him of the hidden name. My flight has reached the horizon. I have passed by the gods of Nut. I have gone further than the gods of old. Even the most ancient bird could not equal my very first flight. I have removed my place beyond the powers of Set, the foe of my father Osiris. No other god could do what I have done. I have brought the ways of eternity to the twilight of the morning. I am unique in my flight. My wrath will be turned against the enemy of my father Osiris and I will put him beneath my feet in my name of ‘Red Cloak.'”
Sources in part:
University of Helsinki. Lauri Jetsu, Sebastian Porceddu. Shifting Milestones of Natural Sciences: The Ancient Egyptian Discovery of Algol’s Period Confirmed. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (12): e0144140 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0144140.