Home > Areas of Specialisation > Archaeology And The Study Of Archaeoastronomy

Archaeology And The Study Of Archaeoastronomy

By: Grahame Johnston - Updated: 7 Jan 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Archaeology Astronomy Archaeoastronomy

Throughout ancient history humanity has looked heavenward in awe of the sparkling jewels in the cosmic creation. Ancient cultures formed world-views about astronomy practices, myths and legends, religious beliefs, and celestial lore.

A Scientific Investigation Of Archaeoastronomy

The archaeology study of these ancient astronomy beliefs and practices is called archaeoastronomy. In short, archaeoastronomy is the scientific investigation of the processes and practices of ancient peoples relative to their knowledge of the heavenly cosmos and how they acted as a result of their beliefs. It involves researching their astronomical practices by investigating the archaeology remains that they have left behind.

Archaeoastronomy, although dealing with old human cultures, differs from historical astronomy in that it is not a history of ancient astronomy but an anthropology of astronomy with emphasis on human interaction with the ancient cosmos.

Archaeoastromy As An Archaeology Specialisation

The foundations of archaeoastronomy are rooted in the Stonehenge archaeology investigations of the 1960's and since then the study has developed into active interdisciplinary fields between archaeology and anthropology that provide new perspectives on how ancient cultures interacted with their upper environment.

The archaeoastronomist is more than a field archaeologist. The specialisation of archaeoastronomy involves archaeologists, geographers, cartographers, ethnographers, anthropologists and astronomers who attempt to interpret the discoveries of information, such as written texts, pictorial images, and astronomical structures, to determine their relevance in the eyes of those that made them.

What Do Astronomical Alignments Mean?

Many of the famous monuments and ceremonial buildings of ancient civilizations were astronomically aligned. Archaeology has revealed that the cardinal orientation of Egypt's Great Giza Pyramid and the Venus alignment of the wonderful Maya Palace are outstanding examples of highly accurate cosmic alignments.

The astronomy alignments at prominent locations, like Stonehenge or the Mayan tables of eclipses, have aroused the co-operation of professionals in archaeoastronomy and amateurs from a variety of scientific backgrounds, to combine their interrelated interests in developing better understandings of ancient calendar systems, mathematical formulae including geometry and trigonometry, navigational techniques, surveying methods, scientific concepts of time and space, as well as the genesis of urban planning.

Science has learned much about the anthropology and development of philosophical cosmology from the study of the ancient alignments and the surviving traditions of the indigenous peoples.

The Archaeology Of Early Archaeoastronomy

The first scientific archaeology studies of particular orientations of various structures in the Middle East and Europe occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries. The intensity and interest slowly increased throughout the 19th century finally establishing itself as a recognised scientific discipline as archaeoastronomy in the late 20th century.

An old Hebrew text, E'yov (in English: Job) written more than 3,000 years ago, has the author referring to the 'circular horizon on the face of the waters' and 'the earth hangs on nothing but empty space'. These ancient astronomy observations are insightful as to their understanding of earth as a sphere suspended in space, especially when compared to those of the medieval period, 2000 years later, who believed in a flat earth.

Deriving Conclusions Using Archaeoastronomy

Primary sources of anthropology and archaeology information such as oral traditions, written and pictorial artefacts, and all other pertinent objects from the site, are taken into account for study and research. Archaeologists on location are especially interested in discovering the architecture of the site. Ancient archaeological structures usually involve significant astronomical alignments and orientations that co-ordinate with the direction of the solstice sunset and sunrise. In the past, archaeologists have not been particularly interested in architectural relationship cosmologically, see it, if they considered it at all, as an anthropology feature.

People have been observing and pondering the planets and stars for as long as we know. The heavenly alignments have been important in the past as a way of predicting seasonal events for planting and harvesting of food supplies and as a tool for spiritual guidance and explanation. Two thousand years ago three astronomers from the Far East travelled across the Arabian Desert following a bright star. They were searching for a King. They found him in the Judean hills in a tiny town called Bethlehem. Maybe they were the first archaeoastrologists.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi, Great article! excellent work!, i was wondering if would you be able to advice me in the following matter please? this stone was found in a place where used to be ancient civilization and also other phenomenons where was NASA involved years ago and today is a public place for people to visit in South America, i would like your opinion in this stone please? If it has coincidences with the stars or not, also how could it be natural created like this, how old could it be and where can it be analyzed. Kind Regards, Thanks https://youtu.be/B7xiF_xN5sI
StarStone - 7-Jan-19 @ 11:19 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Chad
    Re: Stone Tool Experts
    Hello, I found what looks like a hatchet type tool slightly in the ground near an old Walnut Grove. Is there a way I can send picture or show it?
    26 October 2020
  • OliRobbo
    Re: Pottery Experts
    Hello there, My grandad found an old piece of pottery sticking out of a molehill near the site of a Middle Age church which is no longer standing…
    14 October 2020
  • Gill
    Re: Stone Tool Experts
    Hello, I come across a stone on a beech on the NE coat of Scotland, Caithness (beside a castle - I forget the name but can look it up if you…
    18 September 2020
  • lil boy
    Re: Pottery Experts
    i found old pottery it is several different colors. it was 4ft in the ground
    23 August 2020
  • Marg
    Re: Pottery Experts
    I have been left this dish which I think is very old but probably worthless and would like very much to know more about it It is 13 x 10 inches…
    22 August 2020
  • Abulbarakat
    Re: Tools of the Archaeologist
    I an an archeologist from Kano state Nigeria, and I have located several archaeological sites that are yet to be studied as the…
    19 August 2020
  • Pete
    Re: Pottery Experts
    Can I send a photo of a pot I picked up. It looks Aztec or Mexican to me,but would like to know. Thanx
    18 August 2020
  • Rando A boy from Rom
    Re: Types of Archaeology
    very helpfull website on finding reading materials
    29 July 2020
  • KANU Z
    Re: Nabodinus, Last Great King of Babylon
    This is great and and helpful. But in addition I would request that when ever such information is published include…
    18 July 2020
  • Skid
    Re: Pottery Experts
    Hi, I found a small piece of pottery in a filed in Staffordshire, to me it looks old , how can I identify it? Thanks
    8 July 2020