Astrology has been around for thousands of years, predating both astronomy and psychology, and has its routes and influences in many different cultures.
The word Astrology is derived from the Greek word Astrologia, which means star study, however the science was around long before Ancient Greece came to prominence. It was probably practiced in various forms before the first documented records but we do know quite a lot about astrology, including that it has been used by man in some form or another for over 5000 years.There is documented evidence from prehistoric caves with maps of the heavens painted on the walls, even though people would not have had the necessary tools to see distant planets.
In Egypt, astrology was first used to foretell the character of a person based on their date of birth and star charts have been discovered in the country dating back to around 4300 BC.
Astrology appeared in ancient Mesopotamia, a cradle of civilisation occupying what is now part of Iraq, the north-eastern section of Syria and a small part of south east Turkey and south western Iran, where comprehensive astrological charts have been discovered.
Astrology was important in Babylonia, a Semitic nation state and cultural region based in central-southern Mesopotamia, by around the 19th century BCE, where people tried to make sense of life by observing the skies.
Whilst there is evidence that astrology developed quite independently in some regions, Babylonian ideas about astrology are believed to have had a significant influence on its development in areas like India and China.
It is believed that astrology spread from country to country through trade routes.
The Chinese system of astrology dates back to around 2800 BC and evolved very differently to the western version.
In Greece it flourished to become part of daily life and was followed by Rome and its empire. Many of the most learned men in Rome, including two emperors, were astrologers. The sun, moon, planets and the constellations signs were all named after Roman deities or had other Roman influences. In other cultures astrologers were often religious preachers.
During the Renaissance in Western Europe, zodiac astrology became more of a form of art and was studied by many great minds. When the age of enlightenment came to an end astrology did become less prominent in society for a while. However, by the late nineteenth century, the study of astrology grew again and spread throughout Western Europe and on to the Americas in the early 20th where it was embraced.
It is now popular in many countries around the globe and has developed a mass media following through newspaper astrology horoscopes and online coverage and it remains hugely popular and important in modern day life.