The World's Oldest Sky Atlas, Dunhuang 648–683 CE
Douglas Bullis, author
Picture Book; Science, Nature, Technology; (Market)
"The World’s Oldest Sky Atlas" tells the story of the 1903 discovery of the only known example of the first sky atlas ever drawn anywhere in the world. It was found at the end of a long dusty silk scroll devoted to weather divination that had lain hidden for over a thousand years behind a false wall in one of the caves of the Mogao Buddhist Cave Complex in Dunhuang, China. Dunhuang was the Western Gate of the Chinese T'ang Dynasty, where China ended and the Silk Road began. The sky chart was not deciphered into English until the early 1950s. This book describes the astronomical significance of the chart, depicts the ancient Chinese star constellations, and frames the Chart's function as a desert navigational guide in the larger tale of when Buddhist art from India entered via Tibet into Chinese culture. The story takes place in a complex of nearly forgotten Buddhist monks' caves literally in the middle of nowhere, the locale where the Taklamakan Desert ended and the rich cultural and agricultural life of China began.