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The team input what they knew about Sappho’s time and space into star-mapping software and found that the poem was indeed likely written in winter or early spring—January 25 at the earliest.

“This research helps to break down the traditional silos between science and the liberal arts, by using high-precision technology to accurately date ancient poetry,” Khaledi said.

Next came the question of “setting.” What does it mean for stars to “set? The brightest star in the Pleiades is called Alcyone.

The astronomers calculated that Alcyone would have become too dim to see when it reached 3 degrees above the horizon.

However, a related consideration is the interpretation of ‘midnight.’ The modern time zone of Lesbos is UT 2h, but in 570 BC times zones did not exist.” “For that reason, we also identified the latest date on which the Pleiades would have been visible to Sappho from that location on different dates some time during the evening,” Cuntz explained in a press statement.