C.A. `Peter’ Newham
Eclipses were often considered to be portents of disaster, however, we are not concerned with such superstitious ideas. However, some records of ancient eclipses have been sufficiently detailed to enable them to be used as chronological anchors. Stavros Papamarinopoulos has used such records to date the Trojan War(d). A 2012 paper by Göran Henriksson also used eclipse data to date that war(e).
>Andis Kaulins has also written an extensive 2004 paper(f) on the Nebra Sky Disk in which he concluded “that the Nebra Sky Disk records the solar eclipse of April 16, 1699, BC for posterity. This interpretation allows not only for a partial explanation of the Nebra Sky Disk but in fact, explains all of the elements found on the disk in an integrated astronomical context which abides by the rules of the burden of proof.”
The biblical story of Joshua and the sun ‘standing still’ has been identified as a description of an eclipse that has now been dated to October 30, 1207 BC(g) in a paper by David Sedley, who notes that the event “also helps pinpoint reigns of Pharaohs Ramesses and Merneptah“<
Encyclopedia Britannica notes(b) that “well over 1,000 individual eclipse records are extant from various parts of the ancient and medieval world. Most known ancient observations of these phenomena originate from only three countries: China, Babylonia, and Greece. No eclipse records appear to have survived from ancient Egypt or India, for example. Whereas virtually all Babylonian accounts are confined to astronomical treatises, those from China and Greece are found in historical and literary works as well. However, the earliest reliable observation is from Ugarit of a total solar eclipse that happened on March 3, 1223, BCE. The first Assyrian record dates from much later, June 15, 763 BCE. From then on, numerous Babylonian and Chinese observations are preserved.”
On the other hand evidence of eclipse prediction does not go back as far, although in the 1960s when the 56 Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge were interpreted as functioning as an eclipse predictor by astronomers Gerald Hawkins and Sir Fred Hoyle, and by amateur enthusiast C.A. `Peter’ Newham, it brought an outcry from the archaeological community.
In 2015, William S. Downey published a paper with the intriguing title of ‘The Cretan middle bronze age ‘Minoan Kernos’ was designed to predict a total solar eclipse and to facilitate a magnetic compass’(a).
The Phaistos Disk, also from Crete has been described as an eclipse predictor as well(c), but this is just one of the many and widely varied theories.
In my opinion, the object we have with the greatest potential as a predictor is the Antikythera Mechanism, dating to around 200 BC. However, nothing so far can be definitively proven as an eclipse predictor.