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Archaeoastronomy

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The Antikythera Mechanism

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SCOPE

Many prehistoric and ancient civilizations have left evidence of interest in astronomy but not all have left written records. Some of the archaeological evidence exists in the form of large architectural structures and monuments, some in the form of intricate diagrams and carvings. While historians of astronomy focus on the technical mathematical astronomy texts of the past, the written records, archaeoastronomers emphasize other cultural expressions in tombs, iconography, ritual, ceremony, and agricultural patterns.

Archaeoastronomy is the interdisciplinary study of prehistoric, ancient, and traditional astronomies within their cultural context. Its sources include both written and archaeological remains and it embraces calendrics, practical observation, sky lore, celestial myth, and more. Its true scope establishes it as an “anthropology of astronomy.”

This guide is intended to provide a selection of resources on archaeoastronomy; it is, as the name of the series implies, intended to get the reader “on target.” The online version may be found at: http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/tracer-bullets/tbs.html

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INTRODUCTIONS TO THE TOPIC

The Ancient sky. In Archives of the Universe: a treasury of astronomy’s historic works of discovery. Edited by Marcia Bartusiak. New York, Pantheon Books, c2004. p. 4-43.
   QB15.A75 2004 <SciRR>

Archaeoastronomy. In History of astronomy: an encyclopedia. Edited by John Lankford. New York, Garland Pub., 1997. p. 21-30. (Garland encyclopedias in the history of science, v. 1) (Garland reference library of social science, v. 771)
   QB15.H624 1997 <SciRR>

McCluskey, Stephen C. The heritage of astronomical practice. In Astronomies and cultures in early medieval Europe. Cambridge, Eng., Cambridge University Press, 1997. p.11-28.
   QB23.M43 1997

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SUBJECT HEADINGS

Subject headings used by the Library of Congress, under which books on archaeoastronomy and ancient astronomy can be located in most card, book, and online catalogs, include the following:

HIGHLY RELEVANT

ARCHAEOASTRONOMY

RELEVANT

ASTRONOMY, ARAB
ASTRONOMY, ASSYRO-BABYLONIAN
ASTRONOMY--EARLY WORKS TO 1800
ASTRONOMY, GREEK
ASTRONOMY, MEDIEVAL
ASTRONOMY, PREHISTORIC [Former Heading]
ASTRONOMY, RENAISSANCE
INCA ASTRONOMY
INDIAN ASTRONOMY
MAYA ASTRONOMY

RELATED

ARCHAEOMETRY
ASTROLOGY
ASTRONOMICAL INSTRUMENTS--HISTORY
PLANETARY THEORY--HISTORY
ZODIAC--HISTORY

MORE GENERAL

ARCHAEOLOGY
ASTRONOMY, ANCIENT
ASTRONOMY--HISTORY
CIVILIZATION--HISTORY
COSMOLOGY, ANCIENT
COSMOLOGY--HISTORY

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GENERAL TEXTS

Astronomy across cultures: the history of non-Western astronomy. Editor Helaine Selin; advisory editor Sun Xiaochun. Dordrecht, Boston, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000. 665 p. (Science across cultures, v. 1)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QB16.A75 2000 <SciRR>

Aveni, Anthony F. Ancient astronomers. Montreal, St. Remy Press; Washington, Smithsonian Books, c1993. 176 p.
   Bibliography: p. 168-171.
   GN799.A8A84 1993 <SciRR>

Aveni, Anthony F. People and the sky: our ancestors and the cosmos. London, Thames & Hudson, c2008. 252 p.
   QB44.3.A94 2008

Krupp, E. C. Echoes of the ancient skies: the astronomy of lost civilizations. Mineola, N.Y., Dover Publications, 2003. 386 p.
   Bibliography: p. 351-380.
   Originally published: New York, Harper & Row, c1983.
   QB16.K78 2003 <SciRR>

Lancaster Brown, Peter. Megaliths, myths, and men: an introduction to astro-archaeology. Mineola, N.Y., Dover Publications, 2000. 324 p.
   Bibliography: p. 316.
   Originally published: New York, Taplinger Pub. Co., 1976.
   GN799.A8L36 2000

Thurston, Hugh. Early astronomy. New York, Springer, c1994. 268 p.
   Bibliography: p. 249-258
   QB16.T48 1994

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ADDITIONAL TITLES

Aveni, Anthony F. Stairways to the stars: skywatching in three great ancient cultures. New York, J. Wiley, 1997. 230 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QB16.A88 1997

Hetherington, Norriss S. Planetary motions: a historical perspective. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, c2006. 224 p.
   Bibliography: p. 201-213.
   QB15.H59 2006 <SciRR>

Krupp, Edwin C. Skywatchers, shamans & kings: astronomy and the archaeology of power. New York, Wiley, c1997. 364 p.
   Bibliography: p. 319-346.
   QB16.K83 1997

Skywatching in the ancient world: new perspectives in cultural astronomy studies in honor of Anthony F. Aveni. Edited by Clive Ruggles and Gary Urton. Boulder, University Press of Colorado, c2007. 392 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   GN799.A8S59 2007

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SPECIALIZED TITLES

African cultural astronomy: current archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy research in Africa. Edited by Jarita Holbrook, R. Thebe Medupe, and Johnson O. Urama. New York, Springer, c2008. 260 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Papers from the Ghana Eclipse Conference held March 27-31, 2006 in Cape Coast, Ghana.
   GN476.3.G43 2006

Balachandra Rao, S. Ancient Indian astronomy: planetary positions and eclipses. Delhi, B. R. Pub. Corp., 2000. 288 p.
   Bibliography: p. 272-275.
   QB18.R34 2000

Bauer, Brian S., and David S. P. Dearborn. Astronomy and empire in the ancient Andes: the cultural origins of Inca sky watching. Austin, University of Texas Press, 1995. 220 p.
   Bibliography: p. 199-211.
   F3429.3.C14B38 1995

Broda, Johanna. Astronomical knowledge, calendrics, and sacred geography in ancient Mesoamerica. In Astronomies and cultures: papers derived from the third "Oxford" International Symposium on Archaeoastronomy, St. Andrews, UK, September 1990. Edited by Clive L. N. Ruggles and Nicholas J. Saunders. Niwot, University Press of Colorado, c1993. p. 253-295.
   Bibliography: p. 285-295.
   GN799.A8O96 1990

Brown, David. Mesopotamian planetary astronomy-astrology. Groningen, Styx, 2000. 322 p. (Cuneiform monographs, 18)
   Bibliography: p. 287-303.
   BF1714.A86B76 2000

Chamberlain, Von Del. When stars came down to earth: cosmology of the Skidi Pawnee Indians of North America. Los Altos, CA, Ballena Press; College Park, Center for Archaeoastronomy, University of Maryland, c1982. 270 p. (Ballena Press anthropological papers, no. 26)
   Bibliography: p. 257-261.
   E99.P3C47 1982

Malville, J. McKim. A guide to prehistoric astronomy in the Southwest. Rev. and updated. Boulder, CO, Johnson Books, c2008. 176 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   E78.S7M135 2008

Ruggles, C. L. N. Astronomy in prehistoric Britain and Ireland. New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, c1999. 285 p.
   Bibliography: p. 269-276.
   GN805.R84 1999

Under one sky: astronomy and mathematics in the ancient Near East. Edited by John M. Steele and Annette Imhausen. Münster, Ugarit-Verlag, 2002. 496 p. (Alter Orient und Altes Testament, Bd. 297)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QB19.U52 2002

Zhentao, Xu, David W. Pankenier, and Yaotiao Jiang. East Asian archaeoastronomy: historical records of astronomical observations of China, Japan and Korea. Amsterdam, Published on behalf of the Earth Space Institute by Gordon and Breach Science Publishers, 2000. 304 p. (Earth Space Institute book series, v. 5)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Not yet in LC

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RELATED TITLES

Ancient astronomy and celestial divination. Edited by N. M. Swerdlow. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1999. 378 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QB19.A53 1999

Evans, James. The history and practice of ancient astronomy. New York, Oxford University Press, 1998. 480 p.
   Bibliography: p. 465-472
   QB16.E93 1998

Fraser, Craig G. The cosmos: a historical perspective. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 2006. 179 p.
   Bibliography: p. 167-171.
   QB981.F68 2006

King, David A. In synchrony with the heavens: studies in astronomical timekeeping and instrumentation in medieval Islamic civilization. Leiden, Boston, Brill, 2004-2005. 2 v. (Islamic philosophy, theology, and science, v. 55)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QB23.K53 2004

Lewis, George Cornewall. An historical survey of the astronomy of the ancients. Mansfield Centre, CT, Martino Pub., c2004. 527 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Originally published: London, Parker, Son, and Bourn, 1862.
   QB16.L6 2004

Powell, Robert. History of the zodiac. San Rafael, CA, Sophia Academic Press, c2007. 214 p.
   Bibliography: p. 208-214.
   BF1726.P677 2007

Steele, John M. Observations and predictions of eclipse times by early astronomers. Dordrecht, Boston, Kluwer Academic Publishers, c2000. 321 p. (Archimedes, v. 4)
   Bibliography: p. 293-314.
   QB175.S83 2000

Whitehouse, David. The moon: a biography. London, Headline, 2001. 312 p.
   QB581.W54 2001

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REFERENCE WORKS

Kelley, David H., and and Eugene F. Milone. Exploring ancient skies: an encyclopedic survey of archaeoastronomy. New York, Springer, c2005. 612 p.
   Bibliography: p. 525-575.
   QB16.K45 2005 <SciRR>

History of astronomy: an encyclopedia. Edited by John Lankford. New York, Garland Pub., 1997. 594 p. (Garland encyclopedias in the history of science, v. 1) (Garland reference library of social science, v. 771)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   QB15.H624 1997 <SciRR>

Ruggles, Clive L. N. Ancient astronomy: an encyclopedia of cosmologies and myth. Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-CLIO, c2005. 518 p.
   Bibliography: p. 449-481.
   QB16.R84 2005 <SciRR>

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CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS

CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS may provide more up-to-date information than is available in other published sources. In particular the conferences listed below are significant as publications of professional organizations (see also the section Additional Sources of Information).

Southern European Conference in Archaeometry (2nd,1991, Delphoi, Greece). Archaeometry in South-Eastern Europe: Second Conference in Delphi, 19th-21st April, 1991. Edited by I. Liritzis and G. Tsokas. Strasbourg, France, Council of Europe; Rixensart, Edited by PACT Belgium, 1995. 543 p. (PACT, 45)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   See particularly Archaeoastronomical researches in the sacred precinct at Sarmizegetusa-Regia, Romania / F.C. Stanescu.
   CC75.7.S67 1991

European Society for Astronomy in Culture. Meeting (12th, 2004, Kecskemét, Hungary). Archaeoastronomy in archaeology and ethnography: papers from the annual meeting of SEAC (European Society for Astronomy in Culture), held in Kecskemét in Hungary in 2004. Edited by Emília Pásztor. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2007. 179 p. (BAR international series, v. 1647)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   GN799.A8E975 2007

Oxford International Symposium on Archaeoastronomy (5th, 1996, Santa Fe, N.M.). Current studies in archaeoastronomy: conversations across time and space: selected papers from the fifth Oxford International Conference at Santa Fe, 1996. Edited by John W. Fountain and Rolf M. Sinclair. Durham, NC, Carolina Academic Press, c2005. 579 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   GN799.A8O94 1996

Oxford International Conference on Archaeoastronomy (7th, 2004, Flagstaff, Ariz.). Viewing the sky through past and present cultures : selected papers from the Oxford VII International Conference on Archaeoastronomy. Edited by Todd W. Bostwick, Bryan Bates. Phoenix, AZ, City of Phoenix, Parks, and Recreation Dept., c2006. 470 p. (Pueblo Grande Museum anthropological papers, no. 15)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   GN799.A8O94 2004

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DISSERTATIONS

Dissertations may be identified by using online resources or the following indexes located in the Main Reading Room. Consult any reference librarian about options. Some dissertations may be available in full text through electronic resources on public terminals at the Library of Congress.

Comprehensive Dissertation Index (1861-1972)
   Z5053.X47 1973

Comprehensive Dissertation Index. Supplement (1973- annual)
   Z5053.X47a

Dissertation Abstracts International (1938- monthly)
   Z5053.D57 and Electronic format

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SELECTED DISSERTATIONS

Everson, George Dicken. The celestial Dresden: archaeoastronomy in late post-classic Yucatan. Ann Arbor, MI, University Microfilms, 1995.
   Collation of the original: 544 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--University of California, Riverside, 1995.
   UMI Publication Number AAT 9541044

Gonzalez, Marty Elizabeth. The archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy of Easter Island. Ann Arbor, MI, University Microfilms, 1984.
   Collation of the original: 104 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--California State University, Long Beach, 1984
   UMI Publication Number AAT 1323345

King, Timothy David. The constellation system of the ancient Maya. Ann Arbor, MI, University Microfilms, 2005.
   Collation of the original: 189 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--Stanford University, 2005.
   UMI Publication Number AAT 3197454

Zawaski, Mike J. Archaeoastronomical survey of Inca sites in Peru. Ann Arbor, MI, University Microfilms, 2007.
   Collation of the original: 168 p.
   Thesis (masters)--University of Northern Colorado, 2007.
   UMI Publication Number AAT 1445097

Aldana, Gerardo Villalobos. Oracular science: uncertainty in the history of Maya astronomy, 500-1600. Ann Arbor, MI, University Microfilms, 2001.
   Collation of the original: 443 p.
   Thesis (doctoral)--Harvard University, 2001.
   UMI Publication Number AAT 3011305

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ABSTRACTING AND INDEXING SERVICES

Abstracting and Indexing Services that that index relevant journal articles and other literature in the field are listed below. Many of these have moved to electronic-only formats. For open-access indexes see the section titled “Selected Internet Resources.” Consult a reference librarian for assistance in identifying indexes in both print and electronic formats.

Anthropological Index to Current Periodicals in the Museum of Mankind Library (incorporating the former Royal Anthropological Institute Library) (1977-1996)
   Z5111.R67

Anthropological Literature (1989-present)
   Z5112.A57

Anthropology Plus (19th Century-present)
   Electronic format

eHRAF World Cultures (The Human Relations Area Files Collection of Ethnography) (1994- present)
   Electronic format

FRANCIS (International Humanities and Social Sciences) (1984-present)
   Electronic format

History of Science, Technology & Medicine (1975-present)
   Electronic format

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JOURNALS

Journals that often contain relevant articles include the following:

Annual Review of Anthropology GN1.A623
Archaeoastronomy
   In 2003 absorbed by the Journal for the History of Astronomy
GN799.A8A72
Archaeoastronomy: the Journal of Astronomy in Culture
   URL: http://www.utexas.edu/utpress/journals/jarch.html
E59.A8A68
Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society QB1.A255
Journal of Archaeological Research CC1.J67
Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage
   URL: http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/mathphys/astronomy/jah2/about.shtml
 
Journal of Navigation VK1.I5545
Journal for the History of Astronomy
   URL: http://www.shpltd.co.uk/jha.html
QB15.J68
Mercury
   Beginning in Jan. 2008 issued online only:
   URL: http://www.astrosociety.org/pubs/mercury/mercury.html
QB1.M43
The Observatory QB1.O2

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REPRESENTATIVE JOURNAL ARTICLES

Aveni, Anthony F. Archaeoastronomy in the ancient Americas. Journal of archaeological research, v. 11, June 2003: 149-191.
   CC1.J67

Belmonte, Juan Antonio, and Mosalam Shaltout. On the orientation of ancient Egyptian temples: new experiments at the oases of the Western desert. Journal for the history of astronomy, v. 37, May 2006: 173-192.
   QB15.J68

Belmonte, Juan Antonio, and others. Archaeoastronomy in the Sahara: the tombs of the Garamantes at Wadi el Agial, Fezzan, Libya. Archaeoastronomy, v. 33, no. 27, 2002: S1-S19.
   GN799.A8A72

Crowe, Michael J., and Matthew F. Dowd. Archaeoastronomy and the history of science. Archaeoastronomy: the journal of astronomy in culture, v. 14, spring/summer 1999:22-38.
   E59.A8A68

Esteban, César, and others. Orientations of pre-islamic temples of Northwest Africa. Archaeoastronomy, no. 26, 2001: S65-S84.
    GN799.A8A72

Farhi, B. and A. F. Aveni. Solar eclipses and the temple of the plumed serpents, Xochicalco, Mexico. Archaeoastronomy, no. 22, 1997: S83-S85.
   GN799.A8A72

Li, Yong. Observational accuracy of sunrise and sunset times in the sixth century China. Chinese journal of astronomy and astrophysics. v. 6, no 5, 2006: 629-634.
   QB461.T54

Peck, Douglas T. Development of celestial navigation by the ancient Maya. Journal of navigation, v. 54, Jan. 2001: 145-149.
   VK1.I5545

Schaefer, Bradley E. New methods and techniques for historical astronomy and archaeoastronomy. Archaeoastronomy: the journal of astronomy in culture, v. 15, 2000: 121-135.
   E59.A8A68

Tedlock, Dennis, and Barbara Tedlock. The Sun, Moon, and Venus among the stars: methods for mapping Mayan sidereal space. Archaeoastronomy: the journal of astronomy in culture, v. 17, 2002/2003: 5-22.
   E59.A8A68

Vail, Gabrielle. The Maya codices. Annual review of anthropology, v. 35, 2006: 497-519.
   GN1.A623

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SELECTED MATERIALS

Selected Materials available in the Science Reading Room pamphlet box include

Aveni, Anthony. What was that star? In his Uncommon sense: understanding nature’s truths across time and culture. Boulder, CO, University Press of Colorado, c2006. p. 3-24.
Bibliography: (p. 237-242).

Berg, Tom. 2 men discover what may be hemisphere's oldest seasonal calendar. Washington, Knight Ridder/Tribune news service, May 2, 2006: 1.

Berg, Tom. Western version of Stonehenge discovered. Charleston, WV, Sunday gazette - mail, May 7, 2006: 7E.

Carlson, John B. America’s ancient skywatchers. National geographic magazine, v. 177, Mar. 1990: 76-107.

Krupp, E. C. Down to Earth: do the enigmatic Nazca Lines point to the stars? Sky and telescope, v. 114, Oct. 2007: 52-53.

Maugh, Thomas H. Celestial find at ancient Andes site; the discovery in Peru of a 4,200-year-old temple and observatory pushes back estimates of the rise of an advanced culture in the Americas. Los Angeles times, May 14, 2006: A1 (home edition).

Ruggles, Clive. Astronomy and Stonehenge. In Science and Stonehenge. Edited by Barry Cunliffe and Colin Renfrew. Oxford, New York, published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 1997. p. 203-229. (Proceedings of the British Academy, 92)

Tuohey, Patrick. Exploring space and time; students learn how ancients viewed the nighttime sky. Bergen County, N.J., The Record, Feb 7, 2007: L2 (all editions).

Robin Turner, and Paul Carey. The secrets of the space computer that used technology a thousand years ahead of its time. Cardiff, UK, Western mail, Nov. 30, 2006: 5 (first edition).

Wilford, John Noble. Workings of ancient ‘computer’ deciphered. New York times, July 31, 2008: A12.

World's oldest observatory discovered in Shanxi. New York, China daily, (North American ed.), Nov, 1, 2005: 1.

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ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

Astronomical Society of the Pacific
390 Ashton Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112
Tel: 415.337.1100
Fax: 415.337.5205
URL: http://www.astrosociety.org/index.html

The Center for Archaeoastronomy
URL: http://www.wam.umd.edu/~tlaloc/archastro/index.html
   Official website of the International Center for Archaeoastronomy founded at the University of Maryland. Publishers of Archaeoastronomy: the journal of astronomy in culture.

European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC)
URL: http://www.archeoastronomy.org
   A Professional association of scientists working in the field of astronomy in culture or anthropological astronomy, including the interdisciplinary disciplines of archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy. Researchers in related fields of science such as history of astronomy, mythology, spatial archaeology or cosmology are also welcomed in the SEAC.

Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society
URL: http://www.aas.org/had/
   See especially the page Some History of Astronomy Online Resources.

International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC)
URL: http://www.archaeoastronomy.org
   A professional organization established in 1996 to promote the academic development of archaeoastronomy, including ethnoastronomy. It is responsible for the "Oxford" series of international symposia on archaeoastronomy (see entries under Conference Proceedings). These are held at approximately four-year intervals and are the principal conferences in the field of archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy. "Oxford VIII" was recently held in Lithuania and "Oxford IX" is due to be held in Peru in 2011. ISAAC also published The Archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy news, and its archive is at this site.

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SELECTED INTERNET RESOURCES

Anthropological Index Online
URL: http://aio.anthropology.org.uk/aiosearch/
   The Index is based on the journal holdings of The Anthropology Library at The British Museum (formerly Museum of Mankind) which receives periodicals in all branches of anthropology, from academic institutions and publishers around the world.

Clive Ruggles
URL: http://www.cliveruggles.net
   Emeritus Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester, England.

Historical Division of the American Astronomical Society Publications
URL: http://www.aas.org/had/bibliographies/

SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
URL: http://www.adsabs.harvard.edu
   A digital library portal for researchers in astronomy and physics, operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under a NASA grant. The ADS maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 6.7 million records: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and arXiv e-prints.

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