Gazing into the black skies from the Anasazi observatory at Chimney Rock or the Castillo Pyramid in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, a modern visitor might wonder what ancient stargazers looked for in the skies and what they saw. Once considered unresearchable, these questions now drive cultural astronomers, who draw on written and unwritten records and a constellation of disciplines to reveal the wonders of ancient and contemporary astronomies.
Cultural astronomy, first called archaeoastronomy, has evolved at ferocious speed since its genesis in the 1960s, with seminal essays and powerful rebuttals published in far-flung, specialized journals. Until now, only the most closely involved scholars could follow the intellectual fireworks. In Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, one of cultural astronomy’s founders and top scholars, Anthony Aveni, offers a personal selection of the essays that built the field, from foundational pieces to contemporary scholarship.
Including four decades of research throughout the Americas by linguists, archaeologists, historians, ethnologists, astronomers, and engineers, this reader highlights the evolution of the field through thematic organization and point-counterpoint articles. Aveni—an award-winning author and former National Professor of the Year—serves up incisive commentary, background for the uninitiated, and suggested reading, questions, and essay topics.
Students, readers, and scholars will relish this collection and its tour of a new field in which discoveries about ancient ways of looking at the skies cast light on our contemporary views.
The Russell Colgate Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology at Colgate University, Anthony Aveni is the author of Empires of Time, Behind the Crystal Ball, Conversing with the Planets, Uncommon Sense, and several other books, as well as co-editor of The Madrid Codex.