The Reconciliation of Solar and Lunar Calendars

In this section, we deal with the attempts in Europe and the Near East to reconcile the motions of the Sun and Moon. The Mayan Calendar and its Mesoamerican variants, which dealt with the problem in an entirely different way, will be discussed in 12. The basic calendar problem in this context is the fact that the tropical year17 is not an integral multiple of the synodic month 365.24219878 29.530589 12.36826664. The remainder, 0d368266, , is not easily dealt with. If we approximate the length...

Other South American Cultures

With a few exceptions, our increasing knowledge of the astronomy of tropical forest tribes is largely restricted to constellation names, to the relationship of stellar patterns and social organization, and to a series of explicitly stellar myths. The Bororo Indians of the Brazilian and Bolivian tropical savannahs occupied an area between 14 and 19 S and 51-59 W (see Fabian 1982 for a full discussion). Formerly, they were reported to be one of the largest and most powerful groups in South...

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Correspondences in tropical sidereal year Sept. Dry season equinox Oct. Sun crosses zenith Nov. Pleiades culmination Apr. Disappearance of Pleiades (Heliacal set of Pleiades) May June Heliacal rise of Pleiades, winter solstice July number of years. If all of Mochica art is astronomical-ceremonial-mythical, it should be possible eventually to put astronomical constraints on the depictions and perhaps even obtain precise dates for some of them. Although our interpretations have sometimes been...

Caribbean Archaeoastronomy

The study of Caribbean archaeoastronomy is still in its initial phases. Much of the work has been done by Robiou Lamarche (1985), whose summary is followed here. The Caribbean Islands were peopled by groups from South America, principally Arawakan and Cariban speakers. Robiou has attempted a synthesis of the mythology with local ecology, astronomically marked seasonal events, and with astronomical alignments, especially of plazas and ballcourts among the Taino. Taino mythology was recorded by...

Constellations Calendars and Cosmology in Southeast Asia

The people of Bali are closely related to those of Java, and their Brahmanic ideas include many early doctrines, which were completely eliminated in Java by Islamic conquerors. Their astronomy and calendar contain many elements that may have roots as early as the 1st century a.d. and are, in some aspects, apparently more archaic than are most of the surviving astronomical texts from India. The major components of the Balinese calendar are the solar year, the lunar year, a 32-month lunar cycle,...

Astrology and the Purposes of Archaeoastronomy

In the early period of Mesopotamian history, various deities were identified with celestial objects, particularly the planets, or wanderers as the Greeks called them, moving against the pattern of the fixed stars in ways that seemed strange and unpredictable. The assumption that these erratic movements were due to the self-determination of the bodies seems to have been made at an early date. It was likewise assumed that Sun, Moon, Venus, and others were interested in human affairs and...

Rainbows and Mists

Rainbows are produced by the collective effect of the refractive properties of molecules of water vapor in the atmosphere. Sunlight entering a water vapor droplet is refracted by differing angles depending on the wavelength. Consequently, the refraction produces a dispersive effect within the droplet, and after an internal reflection, the light leaves the droplet in that dispersed state. In principal, any luminous white light source can produce a rainbow, but the brightness, contrast, and scale...

Effects of Refraction Dip and Parallax

The atmosphere not only affects the amount of light transmitted to the eye, but it also changes the position in the sky at which objects can be seen. The bending of light in an optical medium like air is known as refraction. The phenomenon has been known for centuries. It is mentioned by the Greek astronomer Cleomedes (1st century a.d.), and Ptolemy ( 150 a.d.) independently describes the effect of refraction on starlight in his book Optics. Augustine ( 340 a.d.) mentions the apparent bending...

Records of Lunar Eclipses

Our recorded knowledge of astronomical events in Mesopotamia begins with records of lunar eclipses. These eclipses are known mostly from their use (as models for predicting disasters) in the collection called Enuma Anu Enlil from the 7th century b.c. We know of seven references to lunar eclipses and two to solar eclipses prior to the 8th century b.c. These eclipses are important both to our understanding of Mesopotamian astrology and for determining the chronology of the area. They need to be...

Development of Indian Astronomy

A massive amount has been written about Indian astronomy several thousand manuscripts (Pingree 1970 1981 13 An entrance or vestibule to a temple or group of buildings. Sarma 1990a,b,c,d). The best way for a western scholar to approach Indian astronomy at present is through the compilation and translation of selected sources by Subbrayappa and Sarma (1985) with guidance from Pingree (1978 1981). In particular, Pingree (1978) summarizes the major features of Indian astronomy and its evolution....

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A Elongation from the Sun or relative separation between planets. a Elongation from the Sun or relative separation between planets. Morning and evening stars are only aspects of a more general class of observed events collectively known as planetary phenomena. The configurations that the planets achieve with the Sun, stars, or with each other, enabled early observers to keep track of the planets' motions and, from these, to discover periodicities. The phenomena were summarized in terms of...

Astronomy and Boundary Stone Markers

Vladimir Tuman (1983, 1987, Tuman and Hoffman 1987 1988 Cullens and Tuman 1986) has proposed that a substantial number of ancient monuments, especially of Assyria and Babylonia, can be dated through their astronomical iconography. He holds that symbols on these monuments that correspond to later symbols of constellations represent those same constellations and that the symbols associated in later periods with planetary gods also had the same associations on earlier monuments. Most of the...

Visibility of Planetary Phenomena

In addition to the limitations of the eye, the observability of phenomena is determined to some degree by the longitude and latitude of the observer, time of night, time of month, and time of year. Most astronomical phenomena cannot be observed when the Sun is in the sky, eclipses and most lunar phenomena excepted. There are occasions when the brighter planets and even the brightest stars can be seen, even in competition with the full light of the Sun. The daytime visibility of objects is best...

Astronomy of Medieval Europe

Astronomical work in the Middle Ages centered mainly on its utility in setting the feast days of the Church, that is, the construction of church calenders, but the continuing interest in astrology also caused a demand for improved astronomical accuracy for horoscopes and astrological forecasts of a wider nature such practices were officially condemned but frequently and sometimes widely practiced. In fact, Tertullian 150 220 a.d. , one of the early Fathers of the Church, made use of an...

Ballochroy and Kintraw Controversial Sites

The site of Ballochroy in Argyll (western Scotland) now consists of a row of three stones with the flat faces, most unusually, across the row. A small cist is the only surviving remnant of a former large cairn or burial mound. There were once two small cairns and another standing stone in the same alignment (Burl 1993, p. 176). The alignment to the southeast (A 226 ) passes over the islet of Cara and would have marked the sunset at the winter solstice 8 -23.06 Ruggles (1984, p. 279) finds...

Caracol Stela

At the site of Caracol,18 Belize, the Mayas erected a monument known to us as Caracol Stela 3 (see Figure 12.18). It contains a great deal of information about Mayan astronomy, integrated into the dynastic history of the site. Previous discussions of the astronomy of the monument are given in Kelley and Kerr (1973) and Kelley (1975, 1976, 1977a, 1983, 1990), but much remains to be learned, and more is now known of the glyphic context. The monument refers to two Caracol rulers, both of whose...

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Centralized grain storage citadel towns water supply, drainage systems mother-goddess worship Sanskrit texts Rig-Veda Sama-, Yajur-, Atharva-Vedas Brahmanas rise of Buddhism and Jainism (Buddha 563-483 Mahavira 540-468) Foreign invasions Achaemenid (Cyrus) Alexander (2 years) Ashoka ( 269-232) (decree of nonviolence) Bilingual coinage Greco-Babylonian astronomy Brahmin states visit of Suan Sung to obtain Buddhist ms. (405-411) Sultanates Varahamihira (6th century) Moslem conquests last Hindu...

The Purposes of Chinese Astronomy

The Han dynasty was the 1st to establish imperial rule over a political entity roughly comparable to modern China. It is only from this time that we can discern the establishment of the main outlines of Chinese astronomical and cosmological thinking. According to Sivin (1969), the success of Chinese astronomy as a predictive science owes much to its divorce from traditionalist cosmologies, which, as in the west, tended to restrict experimentation and rethinking. The predictive science in itself...

Moche Mochica

On the north coast of Peru in the Moche valley and surrounding areas, flourished a rich culture that has been called both Mochica and Moche. There were large settlements, including some of the biggest temple mounds of the Americas. These also contained elaborate burials. Major irrigation works stretched for miles. Metal-working was well developed, and treasures in gold were buried with rulers, frequently dressed in costumes that identify them as personifications of deities. Murals showing...

List of Illustrations

D rer, The Northern and Southern Celestial Hemispheres 4 Figure 2.1. Diurnal arcs near the North Celestial Pole 14 Figure 2.2. The horizon system of spherical astronomical coordinates 15 Figure 2.3. The equatorial (Chinese) system of spherical astronomical 16 Figure 2.4. A variant of the equatorial system, in which the hour angle Figure 2.5. The equatorial and horizon systems and the astronomical 19 Figure 2.6. The classic cosmological frameworks 20 Figure 2.7. Sky views of diurnal...

Chinese Records of Guest Stars and Comets

There are many Chinese records of transient events, as we noted in 5. Kho-hsing (Wade-Giles Romanization of Guest stars) are usually not visible, but like certain human guests, they suddenly appear, stay for a while, and then leave. In general, the term refers to novae or supernovae, which are bright enough to command attention and were completely invisible both before and after their appearance in the sky. However, there was a type of comet, the po-hsing (sparkling comet) that was not easily...

Eclipse Prediction and Tamil Astronomy

Probably the best-known story about Indian (actually Tamil21) astronomy is that told by Warren (1825), recounted in Neugebauer (1952 1983a, p. 435) about a kalendar maker in Pondicherry, who demonstrated to Warren a technique to predict a lunar eclipse by means of memorized tables and the movement of shells on the ground. Neugebauer cites this as an example of a continuous tradition stemming from the 6th century (with Varahamihira) in India, back through the 3rd-century Roman empire, and...

Eclipse References on Maya Pottery

A combination of the postulated 12 Lamat 1 Pop base with dates of mythicoastronomical events depicted on Maya pottery has allowed the recognition of a number of additional iconographic features associated with eclipses and has supported the postulated placement of the 12 Lamat 1 Pop base. Dates from these pots are shown in Table 12.11. The most clearcut example of these dates is given on the Princeton 16 vase (Coe 1978, p. 108). Here, we see a pair of gods, one of whom is one of the monkey...

Nazca9 and the Geoglyphs

On the southern coast of Peru, there are a series of geometric and representational figures depicted on the desert Figure 14.26. A pre-Columbian instrument, possibly used for surveying and astronomical observation. Drawing by Sharon Hanna. Figure 14.26. A pre-Columbian instrument, possibly used for surveying and astronomical observation. Drawing by Sharon Hanna. 9 Rowe (cf. Aveni 1990a, p. 3, fn. 2) has expressed a historically valid preference for Nasca, but Nazca is solidly entrenched in the...

Cosmogonies and Cosmologies 1531 Indian Cosmology

Buddhist Sumeru cosmology derived from 5th-century b.c. Jain cosmology. In this construction, Mt. Sumeru rose from the center of a disk-shaped Earth. It was situated somewhere in the Himalayas and had nine levels, the first eight of which successively rose from craters containing seas. The planets were propelled by a wind to revolve around Mt. Sumeru in concentric paths. One of these planets was the Sun, which rose in the Himalayas, passed over India in the day, and returned in the evening....

The Dresden Codex Venus Table

The most fully discussed and best known of all the literary material on astronomy from Mesoamerica is probably the Venus table of the Dresden codex. This is a table of mean motion covering 104 years. An introduction gives a calculation involving 12.19.13.16.0 1 Ahau 18 Kayab (a Ring Number) and a later date 9.9.9.16.0 1 Ahau 18 Kayab. In the interval of 1,366,560 days (72 CRs) represented by the difference between these dates, there is about a half-year shift, both of the tropical year and of...

The Pacific Northwest

Although in a Canadian context this region might better be called the Pacific Southwest, we discuss the region from a North American viewpoint. There is ample evidence in the rich folklore and traditions of this area to indicate the inte-gretation of astronomy into the lives of the people. This is clear from the work of Miller (1992) and L vi-Strauss (tr. Modelski 1982). Among the Kwakiutl of northeastern Vancouver Island and adjacent mainland of b.c., the year was divided into two parts bakus...

North Africa

We know little of the astronomy of North Africa. Native populations of the Berber group, Moors, Mycenaean Greeks, Phoenicians who settled Carthage, and Romans all had a role in developing the ideas of the area. Libya had intimate relationships with Egypt, sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile. In the Roman period, the culture was typically Mediterranean in many ways, but the trade routes down to the Niger brought a constant influx of people, products, and ideas from the Niger and Lake Tchad...

Conjunctions of Planetary Gods and Deified Kings

Associations between stellar entities and rulers have been widespread in both time and space. The 1st century b.c. kingdom of Commagene (in what is now a region in south-central Turkey) provides fine examples of such associations in its hierothesia or cult-monuments.3 Commagene was strategically placed It was at the crossroads of Hellenistic and Persian cultures and kingdoms. Cappadocia lay to the north and west Cilicia and the Mediterranean, to the southwest Armenia and Parthia, to the east,...

Transient Phenomena

By transient phenomena, we mean impermanent effects or variable events in the sky. They range from atmospheric effects like the green flash to guest stars, the ancient Chinese expression for novae or supernovae. Many ancient astronomers did not distinguish between astronomical and meteorological phenomena. For the Greeks, the distinction between the lunar sphere, and the atmosphere (sublunar) did not prevent Aristotle from assigning comets to the latter realm. They were, after all, transient...

Basic Motions of the Sun and Moon

The Sun, the Year, and the Seasons Now we must separate the diurnal motion shared by all objects in the sky from the additional motions of seven distinctive objects known in antiquity the Sun, Moon, and naked-eye planets. We take for granted that the diurnal motion of everything in the sky is due to the rotation of the earth on which we stand. In the ancient world, this was a radical view, and few astronomers held it. Diurnal motion is perceived moment by moment, whereas the effects of...

Origin of the Constellations

It is no surprise that most of the depictions of the familiar northern sky constellations come to us from Southern Eurasia. The astronomer M.W. Ovenden (1966) argued that the constellations as we have inherited them originated in the Mediterranean region ca. 2800 400 b.c. Corresponding zodiacal constellations between Mesopotamians and Greeks (van der Waerden 1974, pp. 287-288) are Taurus, the Bull of Heaven the Twins the Lion (or Lioness) Spica, the ear of corn held by the grain goddess...

The Cosmographic Role of the Temple 9121 The Hindu Temple

Williams The Great Figure

The temple10 is the architectural expression of its creators' aspirations to transcendance above the illusions of the present world to the state of pure knowledge and truth. The cyclicity of time and of the movement of the soul toward a higher truth is played out in the architecture and ritual of the believer who traverses the perimeter, and enters into ever more holy spaces, passing ultimately into the center of the sanctuary. The temple is also a temporary abode of the gods, made attractive...

Iconographic Representations on Cylinder Seals

Kathleen Adamson's Ph.D. dissertation was an extensive examination of Inanna, Ishtar, and cognate deities that provides a basis for examining iconographic representations in a reasonably clear chronological and geographical framework. The representations can be shown to cluster in ways that are easily understandable in terms of their later astronomical meanings but difficult to understand otherwise. Scenes from cylinder seals of the Neo-Assyrian period, when no one doubts that the gods were...

Tibet

Tibet lies in the highest mountainous region of the world between the Indian subcontinent and the deserts of central Asia. Although the dominant cultural relationships have been with India, there have been frequent Chinese intrusions. Christopher Beckwith (1987 1993) is the first western scholar to treat central Asian politics during the time of the great Turkish and Mongol empires from a Tibetan viewpoint. Tibetan historical sources have been little known to western scholars and frequently...

Effects of Precession

The westward shift of the equinoxes among the stars due to the wobbling of the Earth's axis is known as precession. This top-like motion is caused by several factors, the main one being the pull of the Sun and Moon on the equatorial bulge around the Earth's equator,14 and we discuss its effects first. There are three main results of this luni-solar precession. 14 The equatorial bulge is caused by the rotation of the Earth, which results in a slightly weaker gravitational pull on objects at the...

The Chibchan Groups of Colombia

A great deal of the most important ethnoastronomy familiar to us comes from what is now called Colombia. This area linked Mesoamerica, the Amazonian tropical forests, and the Andean civilizations. The area spans a considerable range of types of geography. Colombia had corn agriculture probably earlier than is known in Mesoamerica and certainly earlier than anywhere else in the Americas. The earliest known pottery in the New World also comes from northern Colombia ( 4000 b.c., Oyuela-Caycedo...

A3 Computational and Sky Simulation Software

We include a selected number of software packages with which we are familiar and have used to varying degrees in this work. For up-to-date and more complete lists, we recommend the software review pages linked to the Sky & Tele scope website as well as recent reviews in that magazine before any purchase is made. (1) Standish, E.M. JPL Planetary and Lunar Ephemerides on CD-ROM. Available on-line and from Willmann-Bell, Richmond, VA. (2) Bretagnon, P., and Simon, J.-L. 1986. Planetary Programs...

Brugh na Boinne

The remarkable complex at Brugh na Boinne (Figure 6.7) provides the best evidence of a contextual (rather than a statistical) nature for extensive and precise interest in astronomy. The three great mounds of Newgrange, Knowth, and Dowth and associated monuments are for the most part intervisible, and together, they form a kind of massive record, which we may only now be starting to understand. Eogan's (1986) work at Knowth has revealed two massive passage graves, one aligned to the east (and so...

The Pyramids and the Myth of Osiris

The concerns of Egyptian religion with the resurrection of Osiris, and the funeral texts involving the glorification of the pharaohs after death, raise the possibility that the burial places of some of these kings may demonstrate alignments. Popular literature on alleged mysteries of the pyramids abounds, and one of the more recent pyramid books Table 8.2. Named days of the Egyptian lunar month. 2. (Tp) 5bd, New crescent day 3. Mspr, Arrival day 4. Prt sm, Day of the going-forth of the...

The Calendar

Middle Kingdom Star Clock Coffins

We discussed some of the instruments used in Egypt and their use in calendrical operations in 3.3. Aside from shadow clocks and sundials (cf. Figure 4.4a), and from the vague suggestions of funerary texts, however, we do not understand fully what was observed or how it was done. What we do know is that observations must have been made to determine the time and the seasons. According to van der Waerden (1974, pp. 8-10) and other usually reliable sources, astronomical references from the Old...

Islander Mythology and Astronomy12

There is broad evidence from Polynesia that the relationship of movements of Sun, Moon, and stars to meteorology, seasonal changes, tidal effects on fishing and agriculture, and other natural phenomena was carefullly studied. Some of these associations are entirely acceptable in our society, whereas we regard others as unsupported allegations, or perhaps mere superstitions. Presumably, the Polynesians made no such distinctions. Some of the specifics of such associations were present in widely...

Melanesia Micronesia and Polynesia

Dotted on islands, large and small, throughout the Pacific live groups of farmer-fishermen of the cultures identified as Micronesian, Melanesian, and Polynesian. The Micronesian languages are very diverse. The Melanesian and Polynesian language families are grouped together within the great Austronesian linguistic stock, but there is much more homogeneity within the Polynesian subgroup. The archaeological history of Micronesia apparently starts earlier and is both more complex and less related...

Egyptian Asterisms

Outlines The Constellations

Serious attempts to identify the asterisms of the Egyptians are few, despite an abundance of star maps firmly tied in Ptolemaic times to the signs of the Zodiac. Sopdet, also identified as Satet, the Archer goddess, is Sirius. The Boatman includes Orion's Belt and some other stars, and the Foreleg of the Bull is the Big Dipper. Neugebauer and Parker, who provide massive documentation of relevant material, are 7 Some scholars assert that this occurred in Ramses's 33rd year, which would bring the...

Megalithic Mensuration

From a study of the dimensions of megalithic monuments throughout the British Isles, Alexander Thom 1967 1971 1973 1978 concluded that standard units of scale were employed. Some practitioners call this the quantum hypothesis. Among the units were what Thom called the Megalithic Inch MI equal to 0.82 in or 21mm, and the Megalithic Yard MY equal to 2.720 0.003 ft or 0.829 m the precision cited is Thom's . The data, methods, and results have all come under careful scrutiny with the result that...