The inquiry focuses on two Diaries checked in depth, No. -567 and No. -197, and on observations randomly chosen from several other Diaries. The results show that the ancient sky pictured by modern astronomers conforms to the observations recorded in the Diaries. The match is so clear-cut that there can be little doubt the dates attributed to the Diaries are astronomically correct.
The astronomy of Diary No. -567 was looked at carefully because it is dated early and it records many observations. Moreover, it bears the name Nebuchadnezzar, a name famously cited in the Old Hebrew Testament. Scholars regard the tablet as a chronological link between the Bible and archeology. The endorsement of biblical history, however, rests on identifying the cuneiform name on the tablet - a philological issue outside the scope of astronomy.
The other Diary examined closely was No. -197 (198 BC). The date inscribed on the tablet is Seleucus 114, i.e., the observations on the tablet are from year 114 of the Seleucid Era. Diaries from the era (inaugurated -311/310) are numbered according to their Seleucid Era year. Hence, the data of these later tablets - thousands of observations - act as a single unit to validate that their dates are consistent with modern computations.
Another set of data was selected randomly, but with the added purpose of illustrating certain celestial events that Babylonian astronomers watched for in mapping the sky. These events, known as characteristic phenomena, are addressed in subsequent sections.
The good match between modern astronomy and the astronomy of the Diaries does not guarantee that all pertinent chronological issues are settled. The tablets may be bogus, or the data of the Diaries may have been used to fine-tune the computations, in which case the resulting matches would entail a "circular" reckoning.
Concerns over the soundness of Babylonian chronology are welcome. They will be posted in the Chronology Forum along with appropriate comments.