Horoscopes, star signs and zodiac signs, all of this comprises what is known as astrology. However, when did the zodiac signs first appear in history and who were the ones that first starting giving these signs any importance?
Some of the most earliest of times probably about 7,000 years ago the priests of Mesopotamia who lived in the Sumer valley tracked the movements of the moon, sun and Venus in relation to the stars in the sky that appeared during the year. At this time the moon, sun and Venus were all considered gods and the path they took through the sky would indicate the changing of the seasons as well as both the summer and the winter solstices. At this time the pattern of the stars were not considered very important but events like shooting stars were they believed either signs of good luck or of impending doom. It all depended upon the priest at the time.
The Indian astronomers in the Vedic time would use the passage of the sun to understand the changes of the seasons and would identify the sun with Vishnu who was suppose to have three aspects, the lion, the bull and the ram, and all of these symbols are now part of the twelve zodiac signs.
The ancient Egyptians were probably the very first people to actually identify portents that related to the different individual stars and the passage of the sun, moon and other celestial objects in the sky. There are records that indicate it was as early as 2750 BC their astrologers were actually writing horoscopes for all the important people in Egyptian society but were not yet based on the different zodiac signs.
About 1300 BC or maybe a bit earlier the Assyrian people in the Near East began to gain power and influence in the area and they conquered or absorbed most of their neighbors of the area. They realized while traveling that the further away they got from home that the stars were always in the same position, maybe a bit higher or lower in the sky but basically in the same position and this led them to creating constellations and this made it easier to make more accurate calendars. They had 18 constellations in the beginning however, by the time Alexander the Great was in control these were reduced down to twelve. Then the Greek warriors brought knowledge of the Babylonian constellations back to Greece where their priests found them to be a great addition to their already existing knowledge of the gods. The twelve constellations of the Babylonian zodiac were Aries, Pleiades, Gemini, Praesepe, Leo, Spica, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius and Pisces. The Greek astrologers then took the names Pleiades, Praesepe, Spica, and Capricornus and changed them to Cancer, Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn and they have stayed the same to present time.
The ancient Greeks put a lot of importance on a persons birth and with these new constellations it made it possible for them to be able to determine the strengths of the person at the time of their birth and maybe even help the parents prepare for the challenges their child would have. They believed that it might help the child growing up to better handle their challenges if they knew who was their god or hero that would be their protector through life.
When the fall of the Roman Empire came about the medieval society reverted back to their local folklore and astrology was then lost to the western society until the Arab world rediscovered it during the turn of the first millennium. Astrology remained about the same from the Greek times to the Renaissance period but it did again disappear from daily use for a few hundred years because the Protestant and puritan Christians rejected astrology and said it was UN-Christian, however in Catholic parts of Europe the zodiac signs and horoscopes were often associated with the holy power of the saints.