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Astronomy | Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy

Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy

Ruggles, Clive L.N. (Ed.)

2015, XXXVI, 2297 p. 969 illus., 372 illus. in color. In 3 volumes, not available separately.

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  • Explains the study of cultural perceptions and understandings of astronomical phenomena across various disciplines
  • Collates theory, method, interpretation and best practices in Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy
  • Illuminates broad issues through thematic articles and both geographic and historical case studies
  • Includes studies of contemporary practices related to astronomy, particularly among modern indigenous societies
How human communities interpret what they perceive in the sky is vital in fulfilling humankind’s most basic need to comprehend the universe it inhabits, both from a modern scientific perspective and from countless other cultural standpoints, extending right back to early prehistory. Archaeoastronomy, which is concerned with cultural perceptions and understandings of astronomical phenomena, is a rich cross-disciplinary field.

The central aim of “Handbook of Archaeoastronomy” is to provide a reliable source for theory, method, interpretation and best practices that will give a definitive picture of the state of the art research in this field for serious scholars regardless of the discipline(s) in which they are qualified. It will be equally suitable for those already contributing to the field and those interested in entering it. Also included are studies in ethnoastronomy, which is concerned with contemporary practices related to astronomy, particularly among modern indigenous societies.

A major part of this MRW is comprised of a set of wide-ranging archaeoastronomical case studies both geographically and through time, stretching right back to Palaeolithic days, and also in terms of the types of human society and nature of their astronomical ideas and practices. However, these are chosen in order to best illuminate broader issues and themes, rather than to attempt, for example, to provide systematic coverage of recent ‘discoveries.’

Thematic articles cover general themes such as cosmologies, calendars, navigation, orientations and alignments, and ancient perceptions of space and time. They also highlight various aspects of the social context of astronomy (its relationship to social power, warfare, etc) and how we interpret astronomical practices within the framework of conceptual approaches. There are also discussions of broad issues such as ethnocentrism, nationalism, and astronomical dating. The “methods and practices” articles cover topics from field methodology and survey procedures to social theory, as well as providing broad definitions and explanations of key concepts. We are also including a number of “disciplinary perspectives” on approaches to archaeoastronomy written by leading figures in the constituent fields. These articles cover material that, generally speaking, would be familiar to graduates in the relevant discipline but, critically, not so to those with different backgrounds.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Archaeoastronomical sites - Archaeoastronomy studies - Astronomical phenomena - Astronomical practices - Cultural anthropology - Cultural astronomy - History of science - Human history - Prehistoric astronomy - Social context of astronomy

Related subjects » Anthropology & Archaeology - Astronomy - History & Philosophical Foundations of Physics - Population Studies

Table of contents 

Concepts of Space, Time, and the Cosmos.- Calendars and Astronomy.- Astronomy and Chronology - Babylonia, Assyria, and Egypt.- Astronomy and Navigation.- Astronomy and Power.- Astronomy and Politics.- Astrology as Cultural Astronomy.- Astronomy, Astrology, and Medicine.- Ancient “Observatories” - A Relevant Concept? .-Origins of the “Western” Constellations.-Astronomy in the Service of Christianity.- Astronomy in the Service of Islam.- Interactions Between “Indigenous” and “Colonial” Astronomies: Adaptation of Indigenous Astronomies in the Modern World.- Development of Archaeoastronomy in the English-Speaking World.- Disciplinary Perspectives on Archaeoastronomy.- Astronomy and Rock Art Studies.- Presentation of Archaeoastronomy in Introductions to Archaeology.- Archaeoastronomical Concepts in Popular Culture.- Astrotourism and Archaeoastronomy.- Archaeoastronomical Heritage and the World Heritage Convention.- Cultural Interpretation of Archaeological Evidence Relating to Astronomy.- Cultural Interpretation of Historical Evidence Relating to Astronomy.- Cultural Interpretation of Ethnographic Evidence Relating to Astronomy.- Nature and Analysis of Material Evidence Relevant to Archaeoastronomy.- Best Practice for Evaluating the Astronomical Significance of Archaeological Sites.- Techniques of Field Survey.- Analyzing Orientations.- Analyzing Light-and-Shadow Interactions.- Visualization Tools and Techniques.- Basic Concepts of Positional Astronomy.- Long-Term Changes in the Appearance of the Sky.- Solar Alignments - Identification and Analysis.- Lunar Alignments - Identification and Analysis.- Alignments upon Venus (and Other Planets) – Identification and Analysis.- Stellar Alignments - Identification and Analysis.- Inuit Astronomy.- Medicine Wheels of the Great Plains.- Hohokam Archaeoastronomy.- Mesa Verde Archaeoastronomy.- Great Houses and the Sun - Astronomy of Canyon.- Rock Art of the Greater Southwest.- Hopi and Anasazi Alignments and Rock Art.- Sun-Dagger Sites.- Dine´ (Navajo) Ethno- and Archaeoastronomy.- Pueblo Ethnoastronomy.- Hopi and Puebloan Ethnoastronomy and Ethnoscience.- Astronomy and Rock Art in Mexico.- Boca de Potrerillos.- Astronomical Deities in Ancient Mesoamerica.- Astronomy in the Dresden Codex.- Counting Lunar Phase Cycles in Mesoamerica.- Astronomical Correlates of Architecture and Landscape in Mesoamerica.- Astronomy at Teotihuacan.- Pecked Cross-Circles.- Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan - Calendar and Astronomy.- Cave of the Astronomers at Xochicalco.- Colonial Zapotec Calendars and Calendrical Astronomy.- Layout of Ancient Maya Cities.- Governor’s Palace at Uxmal.- E-Group Arrangements.- Pre-Inca Astronomy in Peru.- Chankillo.- Geoglyphs of the Peruvian Coast.- Inca Astronomy and Calendrics.- Inca Calendar.- Ceque System of Cuzco: A Yearly Calendar-Almanac in Space and Time.- Inca Royal Estates in the Sacred Valley.- Machu Picchu.- Island of the Sun: Elite and Non-Elite Observations of the June Solstice.- Inca Moon: Some Evidence of Lunar Observations in Tahuantinsuyu.- Observations of Comets and Eclipses in the Andes.- Landscape, Mountain Worship and Astronomy in Socaire.- Skyscape of an Amazonian Diaspora: Arawak Astronomy in Historical Comparative Perspective.- Astronomy in Brazilian Ethnohistory.- Ticuna Astronomy, Mythology and Cosmovision.- Moxos’ Lagoons.- “Chiriguano” Astronomy - Venus and a Guarani New Year.- Astronomy and Cosmology of the Guarani of Southern Brazil.- The Sky Among the Toba of Western Formosa (Gran Chaco, Argentina).- Astronomy in the Chaco Region, Argentina.- Ethnoastronomy in the Multicultural Context of the Agricultural Colonies in Northern Santa Fe Province, Argentina.- Selkᛌnam Astronomy.- Cultural Astronomy in Africa South of the Sahara.- Indigenous Astronomy in Southern Africa.- “Reading” Central African Skies - A Case Study from Southeastern DRCMursi and Borana Calendars.- Yoruba Ethnoastronomy - “Orisha/Vodun” or How People’s Conceptions of the Sky Constructed Science.- Pre-Islamic Dry-Stone Monuments of the Central and Western Sahara.- Astronomy at Nabta Playa, Southern Egypt.- Pre-Islamic Religious Monuments in North Africa.- Astronomy as Practiced in the West African City of Timbuktu.- Calendar Pluralism and the Cultural Heritage of Domination and Resistance (Tuareg and Other Saharans).- Pre-Hispanic Sanctuaries in the Canary Islands.- A Modern Myth - The “Pyramids” of Guimar.- Patterns of Orientation in the Megalithic Tombs of the Western Mediterranean.- Seven-Stone Antas.- Megalithic Cromlechs of Iberia.- Iberian Sanctuaries.- Taula Sanctuaries of Menorca.- Celtic Sites of Central Iberia.- Basque Saroiak.- Possible Calendrical Inscriptions on Paleolithic Artifacts.- Possible Astronomical Depictions in Franco-Cantabrian Paleolithic Rock Art.- Astronomical Symbolism in Bronze-Age and Iron-Age Rock Art.- Stonehenge and its Landscape.- The Neolithic and Bronze Age Monument Complex of Thornborough, North Yorkshire, UK.- Irish Neolithic Tombs in their Landscape.- Boyne Valley Tombs.- Recumbent Stone Circles.- Scottish Short Stone Rows.- TRB Megalithic Tombs and Long Barrows in Central Europe.- Neolithic Longhouses and Bronze Age Houses in Central Europe.- Neolithic Circular Ditch Systems (“Rondels”) in Central Europe.- Celestial Symbolism of the Vucedol Culture.- Celestial Symbolism in Central European Later Prehistory - Case Studies from the Bronze Age Carpathian Basin.- Nebra Disk.- Lessons of Odry.- Astronomical Orientation in the Ancient Dacian Sanctuaries of Romania.- Astronomy in the Bulgarian Neolithic.- Thracian Sanctuaries.- Thracian Dolmens.- Sardinian Nuraghes.- Nuraghic Well of Santa Cristina, Paulilatino, Oristano, Sardinia.- Temples of Malta.- Minoan Astronomy.- Astronomy in the Ancient Caucasus.- Carahunge - A Critical Assessment.- Observational and Cult Sites in Pre-Christian Georgia.- Egyptian Cosmology and Cosmogony.- Egyptian Constellations.- Ancient Egyptian Calendars.- Egyptian “Star Clocks” .- Orientation of Egyptian Temples: An Overview.- Monuments of the Giza Plateau.- Karnak.- Kingdom of Kush.- Greek Cosmology and Cosmogony.- Greek Constellations.- Ancient Greek Calendars.- Greek Temples and Rituals.- Greek Mathematical Astronomy.- Material Culture of Greek and Roman Astronomy.- Reconstructing the Antikythera Mechanism.- Greco-Roman Astrometeorology.- Greco-Roman Astrology.- Etruscan Divination and Architecture.- Roman City Planning and Spatial Organization.- Light at the Pantheon.- Nemrud Dag.- Mithraism.- Skylore of the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Eurasia.- Qibla in the Mediterranean.- Interactions Between Islamic and Christian Traditions in the Iberian Peninsula.- Orientation of Christian Churches.- Orientation of English Medieval Parish Churches.- Church Orientations in Slovenia.- Church Orientations in Central and Eastern Europe.- Role of Light–Shadow Hierophanies in Early Medieval Art.- Light–Shadow Interactions in Italian Medieval Churches.- Lost Skies of Italian Folk Astronomy.- Folk Calendars in the Balkan Region.- Calendar Sticks in Eastern Europe.- Orientation of Hittite Monuments.- Orientation of Phoenician Temples.- Astronomy in the Levant During the Bronze Age and Iron Age.- Petra and the Nabataeans.- Mesopotamian Cosmogony and Cosmology.- Mesopotamian Star Lists.- Mesopotamian Celestial Divination.- Mesopotamian Calendars.- Astronomy, Divination, and Politics in the Neo-Assyrian Empire.- Babylonian Observational and Predictive Astronomy.- Babylonian Mathematical Astronomy.- Late Babylonian Astrology.- Transmission of Babylonian Astronomy to Other Cultures.- Ancient and Medieval Jewish Calendars.- Astronomy in the Book of Enoch.- Astronomy and Calendars at Qumran.- Ancient Persian Skywatching and Calendars.- Islamic Mathematical Astronomy.- Islamic Astronomical Instruments and Observatories.- Islamic Folk Astronomy.- Folk Astronomy and Calendars in Yemen.- Star Clocks and Water Management in Oman.- Astronomy of the Vedic Age.- Use of Astronomical Principles in Indian Temple Architecture.- Astronomy of Indian Cities, Temples, and Pilgrimage Centers.- Mathematical Astronomy in India.- Vakya System of Astronomy.- Kerala School of Astronomy.- Astronomical Instruments in India.- Observatories of Sawai Jai Singh II.- Ancient Chinese Astronomy - An Overview.- Observation of Celestial Phenomena in Ancient China.- Chinese Constellations and Star Maps.- Chinese Calendar and Mathematical Astronomy.- Shang Oracle Bones.- Excavated Documents Dealing with Chinese Astronomy.- Astronomy and City Planning in China.- Gnomons in Ancient China.- Taosi Observatory.- Dengfeng Large Gnomon.- Ancient Chinese Sundials.- Chinese Armillary Spheres.- Water-Powered Astronomical Clock Tower.- Beijing Ancient Observatory.- Astronomical Aspects of Korean Dolmens.- Korean Astronomical Calendar, Chiljeongsan.- Striking Clepsydras.- Song I-Yeong’s Armillary Clock.- Cultural Astronomy in Japan.- Cultural Production of Skylore in Indonesia.- Australian Aboriginal Astronomy - An Overview.- Australian Aboriginal Astronomy and Cosmology.- Archaeoastronomy in Polynesia.- Ancient Hawaiian Astronomy.- Archaeoastronomy of Easter Island

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