Archaeotopography

One of the criticisms of archaeoastronomy is that archaeoastronomers who investigate the reasons why ancient buildings and monuments were situated and oriented as they are often seem concerned only with the possibility that the main influencing factors were astronomical. But many different considerations, some quite unrelated to astronomy, can determine the orientation of a monument. One possibility is alignment based on prominent topographic features in the surrounding landscape. Accordingly, the term ar-chaeotopography was coined by Michael Hoskin in 1997 to describe the collection of orientation data, as opposed to its (exclusively astronomical) interpretation. However, since the term would seem, similarly, to imply a necessarily topographical interpretation, and since topographical and astronomical motivations are only two among numerous possible reasons for orienting a structure in a particular direction, the term is rather misleading and has not been adopted widely.

See also:

Archaeoastronomy; Cosmology; Orientation.

References and further reading

Belmonte, Juan, and Michael Hoskin. Reflejo del Cosmos, 21-24. Madrid: Equipo Sirius, 2002. [In Spanish.]

Hoskin, Michael. Tombs, Temples and their Orientations, 13-15. Bognor Regis, UK: Ocarina Books, 2001.

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