Whether or not you name our planet the Earth, the world or a terrestrial physique, all of those names have an origin story deep in historical past.
Like many names of photo voltaic system objects, Earth’s authentic namer is lengthy misplaced to historical past. However linguistics present a couple of clues. Ertha is an approximate spelling for “the bottom” (that means, the bottom upon which we stand) in Anglo-Saxon, one in every of many ancestor languages to English.
“Anglo-Saxon” is a contemporary time period to consult with a cultural group who lived inside modern-day England and Wales shortly after the Roman Empire collapsed, between the fifth century and the Norman Conquest of 1066.
The identities of individuals had been advanced, and totally different people probably had totally different associations relying on their household, their historical past and the land upon which they lived, scientists say. Ertha, like the opposite names to symbolize our planet and different ones, have to be understood on this context.
Ertha in Anglo-Saxon “means the bottom on which you stroll, the bottom by which you sow your crops,” stated freelance archaeologist and historian Gillian Hovell, who is named “The Muddy Archaeologist.”
Ertha additionally hyperlinks to a spot by which life emerges and maybe even to the ancestors who’re buried within the floor, Hovell stated. However generally the identify can change its that means relying on the tradition.
Different trendy standard phrases for “Earth” come from Latin. Terra means land — once more, the land on which you might be standing, farming or in any other case interacting with, Hovell stated. That’s the place we get the modern-day English phrases “terrestrial,” “subterranean,” “extraterrestrial” and so forth.
Orbis was used when authors needed to speak about Earth as a globe. “They knew it was a globe,” Hovell stated of the historical Romans, who carefully adopted Greek science; the Greek Eratosthenes measured our planet’s circumference in 240 B.C.
“It was a globe of lands,” Hovell stated of the orbis that means; orbis is the basis phrase of the modern-day “orbit.” There was yet one more time period, mundus, which was meant to explain the entire of the universe.
“The world is every part that incorporates us [humans], however it was fairly clearly separate from the planets,” Hovell stated of mundus. Mundus is mirrored within the modern-day French time period monde (world), the Italian mondo, the Spanish mundo and the Portuguese mundo, amongst different “Romance language” ancestors of Latin.
The Roman creator Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus), who wrote a big set of volumes on pure historical past within the first century, used mundus fairly a bit in his observations, Hovell stated. Additionally it is from Pliny that we get a number of the terminology used to call planets by means of the Worldwide Astronomical Union, though every tradition has its personal traditions and monikers.
The custom of planet naming utilized by the Romans dates way back to the Babylonians not less than. Babylonia was a fancy state in elements of modern-day Iraq and Syria greatest remembered for its king, Hammurabi, who at present is carefully related to a legislation code created underneath his reign.
Babylonia endured from about 1900 by means of 539 B.C.; the area was then taken over by the Persians (then the Achaemenid Empire). The Persians turned the good enemy of the Greeks, however the two empires additionally shared a number of intercultural information. That is how the Greeks integrated among the gods from Persia, Hovell defined.
Then when the Romans got here to the fore, they built-in traditions from the areas they touched — together with Greece — into their very own pantheon of gods. This allowed for a goddess of affection from Babylonia, Ishtar, to turn into Aphrodite underneath the Greeks and Venus underneath the Romans, for instance. (This can be a very simplified chronology, nonetheless, as Roman gods and goddesses had attributes primarily based on their location, celestial timings and different components, and the identical is probably going true of different traditions they built-in, historians say.)
The Greek time period for planets means one thing like “wandering ones” or “wanderer,” in response to the Smithsonian Nationwide Air and House Museum(opens in new tab). The Romans gave these planets names primarily based on how they appeared to the bare eye within the sky, centuries earlier than telescopes had been obtainable. However these names aren’t at all times common, both.
Pliny the Elder generally referred to as Mercury by one other god’s identify, Apollo, as a result of Apollo was carefully related to the solar, Hovell stated. Mercury himself was a messenger of the gods and related to vacationers, amongst many different connotations.
The planet named after Venus — whose associations embody the goddess of affection — was generally referred to as Lucifer, the “light-bringer” (gentle is lux in Latin). This was the identify the planet would possibly take within the morning, when it rises at daybreak. The Romans, Hovell stated, understood Venus rises within the morning or the night, however the planet’s identify might change relying on the attributes on show.
Mars, Pliny as soon as wrote, is “burning with fireplace.” Pliny thought that Mars was very near the solar, as he and different Romans of the day had been following Ptolemy’s geocentric mannequin that put Earth on the heart of the universe.
Jupiter’s vibrant look was related to the king of the gods, and Saturn (who got here after Jupiter within the geocentric mannequin) is Jupiter’s father underneath Roman mythology, which once more borrows from older traditions, Hovell stated.
By the way, the individuals who named Uranus, Neptune and Pluto centuries later, within the early telescopic age, tried to hold on this custom of godly associations to be according to how the Romans did it. However even this observe was not common. For instance: Uranus was nearly named after George III when its discoverer, German-born British astronomer William Herschel, sought a method to thank his monetary backer, in response to NASA.
The article initially revealed on Reside Science.