By Clive L.N. Ruggles

An authoritative advent to the interesting subject of archaeoastronomy―ancient peoples' knowing and use of the skies.

• Over two hundred A–Z entries masking huge definitions and ideas, case reports from 5 continents, topics and concerns, items within the sky because the concentration of delusion, simple techniques, and influential people

• vivid illustrations together with the stone circles at Avebury, comets, novae, and meteors

• basic, jargon-free motives of simple astronomical concepts

• Over forty pictures together with the Stonehenge Heelstone at sunrise; the Cosmic Axis on the Forbidden urban, Beijing; the Temple of the sunlight at Teotihuacan; Ahu Huri at Urenga, Easter Island; the Aboriginal stone configuration at Lake Bolac, Victoria, Australia; and more

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Additional info for Ancient Astronomy: An Encyclopedia of Cosmologies and Myth

Sample text

Two good examples that illustrate this in different ways are the calendar of the Borana of Ethiopia, and the emu “dark cloud constellation” recognized by certain Aboriginal groups in Australia. Nevertheless, people generally try to keep their actions in harmony with the cosmos as they perceive it, which may be the reason many prehistoric monuments were deliberately aligned with objects in the wider landscape, including objects in the sky. Recognizing associations that certain human communities considered important can help us understand something of the worldviews that gave rise to them.

Parker in the 1940s. According to this view, the purpose of the lunar calendar became the regulation of religious observances. Responsibility for determining the correct month and day within this calendar, and with it the timing of religious festivals, became the responsibility of certain priests. At some stage, and possibly as early as Old Kingdom times (c. ), Egyptians started to use the heliacal rise of other stars to help regulate the calendar and to develop the system of decans. These were thirty-six stars or star groups whose heliacal risings occurred in succession, roughly ten days apart—in other words, marking successive decades (ten-day periods) in the civil calendar.

Although it is Angkor Wat’s artistic and architectural splendor that so impresses the modern visitor, many of the temples built there also expressed vital principles of cosmic harmony. Some of these expressions are obvious: the large numbers of towers pointing at heaven; the cardinal orientation of 14 Angkor Angkor Wat, Cambodia. ) the temple precincts and barays; and the westward orientation of Angkor Wat, generally supposed to express a link between death and the setting sun, but possibly symbolizing the direction associated with Vishnu.

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