Archaeoastronomy: The study of stones and stars

Archaeoastronomy is the study of what ancient people knew about objects in sky, and how they used that knowledge in their calendars, religions, buildings, and other structures they left behind. It’s a relatively new field, with term “archaeoastronomy” first showing up in 1973. There is still a lot of discussion amongst practitioners around exactly what is and what isn’t included in this umbrella term. In this exhibit, we’re going to look at several examples of ancient structures and how those structures relate to the stars (most specifically, our own star, the sun).

You can also access any of the individual pages through the following text links.

Goseck Circle, Germany

Alignments of Carnac, France

Newgrange, Republic of Ireland

Rujm el-Hiri, Syria

Stonehenge, England

Avebury, England

Pyramids at Giza, Egypt

Sardinian Nuraghe, Italy

Abu Simbel Temples, Egypt

Solar Disk at Sarmizegetusa Regia, Romania

Want to know more about archaeoastronomy in general? A great place to start is the free Archaeoastronomy class over at Coursera, taught by Professor Giulio Magli from the Politecnico di Milano. There’s a fascinating list of sites from all over the world – and all different time periods – at the United Nations UNESCO World Heritage site called “Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy”. Or you can see the page of references on this site for a list of related books and articles.

Site by Brenda Huettner, created for History 101 “Introduction to Western Civilization”, Pima Community College