The idea that certain peoples in the past had sophisticated astronomical knowledge has sometimes been conflated with issues of national identity and invoked in support of nationalist agendas. This happened most notoriously when the Nazis used ancient astronomical achievements as part of their demonstration of supposed Aryan superiority. Apart from the fact that political motivations as strong as this are almost certain to compromise scientific objectivity in assessing the actual evidence, the whole agenda stems from a misguided belief that the achievements of past communities can be rightly judged against our own—a clear manifestation of ethnocentrism. It is quite different from the proper agenda of archaeoastronomy, which, in common with many aspects of anthropology and other social sciences, strives to highlight human diversity in order to promote wider understanding of the breadth of human achievements and tolerance of humanity in general.

See also:

Ethnocentrism; Methodology.

References and further reading

Michell, John. A Little History of Astro-Archaeology, 58-65. London: Thames and Hudson, 1989.

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