Archaeoastronomy and the Maya

Author: Gerardo Aldana y V.
Publisher: Oxbow Books
ISBN: 9781782976431
Release Date: 2014-05-30
Genre: Social Science

Archaeoastronomy and the Maya illustrates archaeoastronomical approaches to ancient Mayan cultural production. The book is contextualized through a history of archaeoastronomical investigations into Mayan sites, originating in the 19th century discovery of astronomical tables within hieroglyphic books. Early 20th century archaeological excavations revealed inscriptions carved into stone that also preserved astronomical records, along with architecture that was built to reflect astronomical orientations. These materials provided the basis of a growing professionalized archaeoastronomy, blossoming in the 1970s and expanding into recent years. The chapters here exemplify the advances made in the field during the early 21st century as well as the on-going diversity of approaches, presenting new perspectives and discoveries in ancient Mayan astronomy that result from recent studies of architectural alignments, codices, epigraphy, iconography, ethnography, and calendrics. More than just investigations of esoteric ancient sciences, studies of ancient Mayan astronomy have profoundly aided our understanding of Mayan worldviews. Concepts of time and space, meanings encoded in religious art, intentions underlying architectural alignments, and even methods of political legitimization are all illuminated through the study of Mayan astronomy.

Star Gods of the Maya

Author: Susan Milbrath
Publisher: University of Texas Press
ISBN: 9780292778511
Release Date: 2010-01-01
Genre: Social Science

Observations of the sun, moon, planets, and stars played a central role in ancient Maya lifeways, as they do today among contemporary Maya who maintain the traditional ways. This pathfinding book reconstructs ancient Maya astronomy and cosmology through the astronomical information encoded in Precolumbian Maya art and confirmed by the current practices of living Maya peoples. Susan Milbrath opens the book with a discussion of modern Maya beliefs about astronomy, along with essential information on naked-eye observation. She devotes subsequent chapters to Precolumbian astronomical imagery, which she traces back through time, starting from the Colonial and Postclassic eras. She delves into many aspects of the Maya astronomical images, including the major astronomical gods and their associated glyphs, astronomical almanacs in the Maya codices [painted books], and changes in the imagery of the heavens over time. This investigation yields new data and a new synthesis of information about the specific astronomical events and cycles recorded in Maya art and architecture. Indeed, it constitutes the first major study of the relationship between art and astronomy in ancient Maya culture.

Mysteries and Discoveries of Archaeoastronomy

Author: Giulio Magli
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9780387765662
Release Date: 2009-04-09
Genre: Science

The book is divided into two parts. In the first, the reader is taken on an ideal ‘world tour’ of many wonderful and enigmatic places in almost every continent, in search of traces of astronomical knowledge and lore of the sky. In the second part, Giulio Magli uses the elements presented in the tour to show that the fundamental idea which led to the construction of the astronomically-related giant monuments was the foundation of power, a foundation which was exploited by ‘replicating’ the sky. A possible interpretive model then emerges that is founded on the relationship the ancients had with “nature”, in the sense of everything that surrounded them, the cosmos. The numerous monumental astronomically aligned structures of the past then become interpretable as acts of will, expressions of power on the part of those who held it; the will to replicate the heavenly plane here on earth and to build sacred landscapes. Finally, having formulated his hypothesis, Professor Magli returns to visit one specific place in detail, searching for proof. This in-depth examination studies the most compelling, the most intensively studied, the most famous and, until recently, the most misunderstood sacred landscape on the planet - Giza, in Egypt. The archaeoastronomical analysis of the orientation of the Giza pyramids leads to the hypothesis that the pyramids of Cheops and Chephren belong to the same construction project.

The Sky in Mayan Literature

Author: Anthony F. Aveni
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN: 0195068440
Release Date: 1992
Genre: Astronomie - Histoire - Amérique centrale

This unique collection of essays investigates both ancient and modern Mayan texts and describes concepts of timekeeping and their role in Mayan culture. Including contributions from anthropologists, a mathematician, an art historian, and a linguist, the interdisciplinary approach in this innovative book offers a synthesis of past and present-day dialogue between people and the world of nature around, and especially above them. The celestial sphere is the place where ancient Mayan rulers derived their source of power and yet, it is the very same realm to which the modern peasant still prays for rain. Current research brought together in this volume attempts to portray skywatching and celestial worship as one aspect of Mayan cultural behavior that possessed an evolutionary history. It depicts the ever-changing function of the sky as revealed in the sacred books of the Classic period, intended for priestly eyes only, through to the documents, written in the foreign tongue of a conquering oppressor, that tell of a transformed world view in which time's calendar was nevertheless still celebrated.

Cosmology Calendars and Horizon Based Astronomy in Ancient Mesoamerica

Author: Anne S. Dowd
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
ISBN: 9781457193750
Release Date: 2015-05-01
Genre: Social Science

Cosmology, Calendars, and Horizon-Based Astronomy in Ancient Mesoamerica is an interdisciplinary tour de force that establishes the critical role astronomy played in the religious and civic lives of the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica. Providing extraordinary examples of how Precolumbian peoples merged ideas about the cosmos with those concerning calendar and astronomy, the volume showcases the value of detailed examinations of astronomical data for understanding ancient cultures. The volume is divided into three sections: investigations into Mesoamerican horizon-based astronomy, the cosmological principles expressed in Mesoamerican religious imagery and rituals related to astronomy, and the aspects of Mesoamerican calendars related to archaeoastronomy. It also provides cutting-edge research on diverse topics such as records of calendar and horizon-based astronomical observation (like the Dresden and Borgia codices), iconography of burial assemblages, architectural alignment studies, urban planning, and counting or measuring devices. Contributors—who are among the most respected in their fields— explore new dimensions in Mesoamerican timekeeping and skywatching in the Olmec, Maya, Teotihuacano, Zapotec, and Aztec cultures. It will be of great interest to students and scholars of anthropology, archaeology, art history, and astronomy.

Archaeoastronomy in the New World

Author: Anthony F. Aveni
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521247313
Release Date: 1982-08-05
Genre: Science

This volume summarises the proceedings of a conference which took place at the University of Oxford in September 1981.

Archaeoastronomy

Author: Giulio Magli
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 9783319228822
Release Date: 2015-10-30
Genre: Science

This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds. The book is divided into three sections, the first of which explores the past relations between astronomy and people, power, the afterworld, architecture, and landscape. The fundamentals of archaeoastronomy are then addressed in detail, with coverage of the celestial coordinates; the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets; observation of celestial bodies at the horizon; the use of astronomical software in archaeoastronomy; and current methods for making and analyzing measurements. The final section reviews what archaeoastronomy can now tell us about the nature and purpose of such sites and structures as Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza, Chichen Itza, the Campus Martius, and the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento. In addition, a set of exercises is provided that can be performed using non-commercial free software, e.g., Google Earth or Stellarium, and will equip readers to conduct their own research. Readers will find the book an ideal introduction to what has become a wide-ranging multidisciplinary science.

Exploring Ancient Skies

Author: David H. Kelley
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 1441976248
Release Date: 2011-02-16
Genre: Science

Exploring Ancient Skies brings together the methods of archaeology and the insights of modern astronomy to explore the science of astronomy as it was practiced in various cultures prior to the invention of the telescope. The book reviews an enormous and growing body of literature on the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, the Far East, and the New World (particularly Mesoamerica), putting the ancient astronomical materials into their archaeological and cultural contexts. The authors begin with an overview of the field and proceed to essential aspects of naked-eye astronomy, followed by an examination of specific cultures. The book concludes by taking into account the purposes of ancient astronomy: astrology, navigation, calendar regulation, and (not least) the understanding of our place and role in the universe. Skies are recreated to display critical events as they would have appeared to ancient observers--events such as the supernova of 1054 A.D., the "lion horoscope," and the Star of Bethlehem. Exploring Ancient Skies provides a comprehensive overview of the relationships between astronomy and other areas of human investigation. It will be useful as a reference for scholars and as a text for students in both astronomy and archaeology, and will be of compelling interest to readers who seek a broad understanding of our collective intellectual history.

Skywatchers

Author: Anthony F. Aveni
Publisher: University of Texas Press
ISBN: 0292705026
Release Date: 2001-08-15
Genre: Science

Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico helped establish the field of archaeoastronomy, and it remains the standard introduction to this subject. Combining basic astronomy with archaeological and ethnological data, it presented a readable and entertaining synthesis of all that was known of ancient astronomy in the western hemisphere as of 1980. In this revised edition, Anthony Aveni draws on his own and others' discoveries of the past twenty years to bring the Skywatchers story up to the present. He offers new data and interpretations in many areas, including: The study of Mesoamerican time and calendrical systems and their unprecedented continuity in contemporary Mesoamerican culture The connections between Precolumbian religion, astrology, and scientific, quantitative astronomy The relationship between Highland Mexico and the world of the Maya and the state of Pan-American scientific practices The use of personal computer software for computing astronomical data With this updated information, Skywatchers will serve a new generation of general and scholarly readers and will be useful in courses on archaeoastronomy, astronomy, history of astronomy, history of science, anthropology, archaeology, and world religions.

Maya City Planning and the Calendar Transactions American Philosophical Society vol 76 Part 7

Author: A. Aveni
Publisher: American Philosophical Society
ISBN: 1422374513
Release Date: 2007-12-01
Genre:

Why do people orient buildings the way they do? That the depiction of the cardinal directions of space had something to do with events taking place in the sky is suggested by cosmological diagrams derived from the civilizations of ancient Mexico. Contents: The Orientation Problem & Categories of Explan.; The Orientation of Ceremonial Architecture in Ancient Mesoamerica; Alignment of Maya Sites; Puuc Building Alignments; Discussion of Individual Site Plans: Uxmal, Sayil, Kabah, Labna & Outliers, Oxkintok & Outliers, Chacmultun, Kiuic, & Xcalumkin, Xculoc, & the Puuc Sites in Campeche; The Question of Site Chronology; Calendrical Implications of Astronomical Orientation Hypotheses; & The Orientation Calendar in a Cultural Context. Tables. Illus.

Heaven and Earth in Ancient Mexico

Author: Susan Milbrath
Publisher: University of Texas Press
ISBN: 9780292743731
Release Date: 2013-02-22
Genre: Social Science

The Codex Borgia, a masterpiece that predates the Spanish conquest of central Mexico, records almanacs used in divination and astronomy. Within its beautifully painted screenfold pages is a section (pages 29–46) that shows a sequence of enigmatic pictures that have been the subject of debate for more than a century. Bringing insights from ethnohistory, anthropology, art history, and archaeoastronomy to bear on this passage, Susan Milbrath presents a convincing new interpretation of Borgia 29–46 as a narrative of noteworthy astronomical events that occurred over the course of the year AD 1495–1496, set in the context of the central Mexican festival calendar. In contrast to scholars who have interpreted Borgia 29–46 as a mythic history of the heavens and the earth, Milbrath demonstrates that the narrative documents ancient Mesoamericans' understanding of real-time astronomy and natural history. Interpreting the screenfold's complex symbols in light of known astronomical events, she finds that Borgia 29–46 records such phenomena as a total solar eclipse in August 1496, a November meteor shower, a comet first sighted in February 1496, and the changing phases of Venus and Mercury. She also shows how the narrative is organized according to the eighteen-month festival calendar and how seasonal cycles in nature are represented in its imagery. This new understanding of the content and purpose of the Codex Borgia reveals this long-misunderstood narrative as the most important historical record of central Mexican astronomy on the eve of the Spanish conquest.

Early Astronomy

Author: Hugh Thurston
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 0387948228
Release Date: 1996-08-29
Genre: Science

Many civilizations produced astronomical texts, and many cultures that left no written records, left monuments ranging from rock paintings to Stonehenge, that show a clear interest in astronomy. This text is the history of such cultures along with the disc