ARCHAEOASTRONOMY

ARCHAEOASTRONOMY BELMONT- 1From time immemorial humans have looked heavenward attempting to decipher the meaning of the steady yet changing course of the sun, the wandering stars, and the slower moving twinkling starry background of the night sky. We are learning more and more how these movements were tracked and often echoed, coded, and marked on the earthly landscape.

Dix and Mavor

HELIOLITHIC RITUAL SITES IN  NEW ENDGLAND: RESULTS OF A SEVEN YEAR STUDY

Among the earliest to persue the devolving discipline of archaeoastronmy were Byron Dix and James Mavor. This is a synopsis of some of their early work in chart the ground for future researchers. Enjoy this reprint from the 1998 Summer issue of the NEARA Journal.

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HELIOLITHIC RITUAL SITES IN NEW ENGLAND
by Byron E. Dix and James W. Mavor, Neara Journal, vol. 42  No. 2, Winter 2008

Archaeoastronomy Resources

Articles:

Books:

Mavor, James W. Jr. and Byron E. Dix. MANATOU,the Sacred Landscape of New England's Native Civilizations,

 Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont, 1989 

Links:

ARCHAEOASTRONOMY Journal
General Information and Journal Contents

Since 1978, the Center for Archaeoastronomy has produced a peer-reviewed science journal called ARCHAEOASTRONOMY. That journal is now called ARCHAEOASTRONOMY: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture (ISSN 0190-9940) and is published by the University of Texas Press for The Center for Archaeoastronomy in cooperation with ISAAC, the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture.

This journal is a unique medium of exchange for archaeoastronomy professionals and amateurs alike, providing articles by scholars around the globe, conference reports, and book and film reviews. Please view the contents listing to see the variety and quality of published material.

EDITORS: John B. Carlson, Juan Antonio Belmonte, Stanislaw Iwaniszewski, Stephen C. McCluskey

Archaeoastronomy

From time immemorial humans have looked heavenward attempting to decipher the meaning of the steady yet changing course of the sun, the wandering stars and the slower moving twinkling starry background of the night sky. We are learning more and more how these movements were tracked and often echoed, coded and marked on the earthly landscape.

 Here in the American west, the calendrical value of native “medicine wheels has long been recognized. Yet even after 19th century diffusionist scholars noted the resemblance of many New England stone ruins to counter parts in Europe, little thought was given to indigenous ways of the charting the sky and marking time.

That changed in New England with the publication of a definitive study titled Manitou, the Sacred Landscape of New England’s Native Civilization by Byron Dix and James Mavor where astronomy and archaeology merge. Ever since, the subjecthas slowly gained acceptance by a larger and increasingly academic audience.

  EB 08

The rising sun creeps into a Vermont chamber on the  winter solstice 

EB 09photos by Edward Bochnak  

Looking back at the sunrise from the back of the chamber.

 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Archaeoastronomy (also spelled archeoastronomy) is the study of how people in the past "have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they used phenomena in the sky and what role the sky played in their cultures."[ Clive Ruggles argues it is misleading to consider archaeoastronomy to be the study of ancient astronomy, as modern astronomy is a scientific discipline, while archaeoastronomy considers other cultures' symbolically rich cultural interpretations of phenomena in the sky. It is often twinned with ethnoastronomy, the anthropological study of skywatching in contemporary societies. Archaeoastronomy is also closely associated with historical astronomy, the use of historical records of heavenly events to answer astronomical problems and the history of astronomy, which uses written records to evaluate past astronomical practice.

Archaeoastronomy uses a variety of methods to uncover evidence of past practices including archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, statistics and probability, and history. Because these methods are diverse and use data from such different sources, the problem of integrating them into a coherent argument has been a long-term issue for archaeoastronomers.

Archaeoastronomy fills complementary niches in landscape archaeology and cognitive archaeology. Material evidence and its connection to the sky can reveal how a wider landscape can be integrated into beliefs about the cycles of nature, such as Mayan astronomy and its relationship with agriculture. Other examples which have brought together ideas of cognition and landscape include studies of the cosmic order embedded in the roads of settlements.

Archaeoastronomy can be applied to all cultures and all time periods. The meanings of the sky vary from culture to culture; nevertheless there are scientific methods which can be applied across cultures when examining ancient beliefs. It is perhaps the need to balance the social and scientific aspects of archaeoastronomy which led Clive Ruggles to describe it as: "...[A] field with academic work of high quality at one end but uncontrolled speculation bordering on lunacy at the other."

Full Wikipedia article here