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Exaltation (green) and depression (red) points of the seven planets

Hypsoma ( Babylonian ašar-nisirti or bit-nisirti "hidden place"; ancient Greek ύ̓ψωμα "increase"; plural Hypsomata ) is the Greek - astronomical name for the highest level or the turning point of a celestial body from the point of view of an observer on earth .

In Babylonian astronomy , the highest turning point was referred to as "secret place" or "hidden place". In astronomical and historical documents from Babylonia and Assyria , many stars and planets have their hypsoma.

Astrologically , the hypsoma or the exaltation of a planet is the sign of the zodiac or the point on the zodiac at which the planet develops its greatest effect. In the records of Egyptian astronomy , the sun, as the embodiment of Re , attains its greatest power in the constellation Aries . In Babylonian astrology, which was even further back in time, the position of a planet in the "hidden place", unlike the Greek, was associated with the fact that this planetary position represented a favorable omen. Furthermore, no zodiac degrees are given for the Babylonian "hidden places" and in some cases the position of planets is given as "in the hidden place", although their concrete position does not even match the corresponding zodiac sign of the "hidden place".

As depression ( ταπείνωμα Tapeinoma ) the point is known, the exact opposite of exaltation.

In his Tetrabiblos, Claudius Ptolemy gave an explanation for the assignment of the signs, which may seem somewhat constructed, but is at least an explanation. He does not mention the planetary positions of the Exaltation.

planet Point of exaltation Depression point Declaration of Ptolemy
Sun 19 rams 19 scales After entering Aries the days (i.e. the duration of the sun's effectiveness) are longer than the nights, when entering Libra it is the other way round.
moon 3 bull 3 scorpion In Taurus, the crescent moon becomes visible after the new moon in the exaltation of the sun. In addition, the Taurus is the first sign in the triangle of the moon, which is formed by Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.
Mercury 15 virgin 15 fish Mercury is of a dry nature, and that also applies to Virgo, who usually brings a dry period at the end of August.
Venus 27 fish 27 virgin Venus has its exaltation in Pisces because it is humid and when the sun enters Pisces at the end of February, early spring, which is also wet, begins. That the Depression of Venus is in Virgo certainly seems fitting.
Mars 28 Capricorn 28 cancer Since Mars is of a fiery nature, the southernmost constellation is appropriate for it. A celestial body in Capricorn has the minimum upper culmination height , i.e. it is closest to the south point and in this respect Capricorn is the southernmost constellation. Of course, it is winter when the sun is in Capricorn.
Jupiter 15 cancer 15 capricorn The opposite of Mars: A celestial body in Cancer reaches the highest possible culmination height, is therefore as far as possible from the south point and therefore furthest to the north, so Cancer is the northernmost sign of the zodiac and Jupiter is exalted in Cancer because it is linked to the fruitful north winds.
Saturn 21 scales 21 Aries Saturn is considered to be the opposite of the Sun because of its cold nature and is therefore assigned the reverse of its exaltation / depression.

The hypsoma of the planets in the twelve-part zodiac with 30 ° sections are probably not before the 5th century BC. BC originated because the twelve-part zodiac first appeared in the 5th century BC. Can be proven in Babylon. The explanation given by Ptolemy of the elevation of a planet in certain signs is in places quite tortuous, but the meaning of the ecliptic lengths (i.e. the given degrees) of the hypsoma remains completely puzzling, unless one follows the theory of the astrologer Cyril Fagan that the hypsoma correspond to certain positions of the planets, all in the year 786 BC. Occurred. In that year a temple of the god Nabu was dedicated in Nimrud , and the positions of the sun, moon and Venus on Nissan 1 coincide with the traditional exaltations according to Fagan. Fagan's theory, however, contradicts the fact that the zodiac did not exist until the 5th century BC. Is demonstrable. Furthermore, no zodiac degrees were given for the Babylonian "hidden places", sometimes the positions for planets were given as "in the hidden place", although their concrete position does not even match the corresponding zodiac sign of the "hidden place".


  • Dietz-Otto Edzard and a .: Real Lexicon of Assyriology and Near Eastern Archeology . Vol. 2 '. de Gruyter, Berlin 1978, ISBN 3-11-004450-1 , pp. 380-381.
  • Hermann Hunger, David Pingree: Astral sciences in Mesopotamia. Brill, Leiden 1999, ISBN 90-04-10127-6 , p. 28.
  • Johannes Koch: The planet hypsomata in a Babylonian star catalog. In: Journal of Near Eastern Studies Vol. 58, No. 1, Jan. 1999, pp. 19-31.
  • Alexandra von Lieven : The sky over Esna - A case study on religious astronomy in Egypt using the example of the cosmological ceiling and architrave inscriptions in the temple of Esna. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2000, ISBN 3-447-04324-5 .
  • Francesca Rochberg: Babylonian horoscopes. In: Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. Vol. 88, Iss. 1, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1998, pp. 46-50.
  • E. Weidner: Contributions to the explanation of the astronomical cuneiform texts. In: Orientalist literary newspaper. 1913, pp. 208-210.
  • E. Weidner: Babylonian Hypsoma pictures. In: Orientalist literary newspaper. 1919, pp. 10-16.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Francesca Rochberg : Babylonian Horoscopes . American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1998. pp. 46ff.
  2. Ptolemy : Tetrabiblos I.19
  3. Stephan Heilen : 'Hadriani Genitura' - The astrological fragments of Antigonus of Nikaia . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 2015. P. 566f.
  4. ^ Cyril Fagan: Zodiacs, Old and New. 1950. See also Rupert Gleadow: The Origin of the Zodiac. Dover Publications, Mineola, NY 2001, pp. 210f