It's a well known fact that since the earliest recorded times, our species, homo sapiens, has watched the luminaries of the night sky and the steady seasonal procession of the sun with keen interest. Archaeological evidence can be found among ancient cultures as diverse as the inhabitants of China, Egypt, Mexico, and Britain. A clear line can be traced from ancient Sumer through the Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans, to our modern western sky lore.

Evidence of these early people's fascination can be found in monuments, written records, calendar systems, art, architecture, etc. Many monuments or ceremonial constructions, for example, were astronomically aligned. Out of the modern discoveries of the solar alignments of the British Stonehenge and the acurate cardinal orientations of the Egyptian Great Pyramid at Giza in the 1960s grew archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy.

Archaeoastronomy is the study of astronomical practices, celestial lore, mythologies, religions, and cosmologies of all ancient cultures. Ethnoastronomy is the related study of astronomy or cosmology of surviving indigenous or contemporary native cultures.

Both archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy provide new perspectives about our species interaction and perception of the cosmos. These two disciplines basically represent an anthropological look at astronomy.

According to the web page for the International Center for Archaeoastronomy:

One hallmark of the new research is active cooperation between professionals and amateurs from many backgrounds and cultures. The benefit of this cooperation has been that archaeoastronomy has expanded to include the interrelated interests in ancient and native calendar systems, concepts of time and space, mathematics, counting systems and geometry, surveying and navigational techniques as well as geomancy and the origins of urban planning.
Archaeologists, anthropologists, art historians, etc., may form partnerships with astronomers to examine data to draw conclusions about how cosmological thought and science evolved within human cultures.

Modern moonwatchers may be interested in archaeoastronomy, particularly relating to observable lunar phenomenon as connected to ancient lunar lore and mythology. If you are interested in learning more about archaeoastronomy, you may want to contact the International Center for Archaeoastronomy. Address below.

Founded in 1978 at the University of Maryland, the Center is designed to advance research, education, and public awareness of these studies. The journal of the Center, Archaeastronomy: the Journal of Astronomy in Culture, was started in 1977 and it is the only publication in the USA devoted exclusively to archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy.

Designed as a medium of information exchange for professional and amateur alike, the journal contains articles, field reports, book reviews, etc. The journal's publication was taken over by the University of Texas Press for the Center in 1998. Please see the International Center for Archaeoastronomy web page for subscription costs.

Since 1985, the Center has become an independent, tax-exempt, non-profit organization which sponsors conferences, lecture series and tours as well as publishing the journal, newsletters, and other special studies. Their website was launched in 1995.

Archaeoastonomy: The Journal of Astronomy in Culture
University of Texas Press
Austin, TX 78713-7819

Center for Archaeoastronomy web page:

The Center for Archaeoastronomy
P.O. Box "X"
College Park, MD 20741-3022

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