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The Astronomy of Many Cultures: A Resource Guide


3. Astronomy of Central American (Maya and Aztec) Cultures

Aveni, Anthony "Emissaries to the Stars: The Astronomers of Ancient Maya" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 1995, p. 15. (See the books by Aveni in the first section.)

Barnhart, Edwin "Reconstructing the Heavens: Archaeoastronomy and the Ancient Maya World" in Mercury, Jan/Feb. 2004, p. 20. The Mayan calendar, sky observations, and monuments.

Kurtz, P. "An Astronomer Reads Archeology's Message" in Astronomy, Oct. 2002, p. 48. Profile of Anthony Aveni, with a focus on his work on Mayan structures.

Milbrath, Susan Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars. 2000, University of Texas Press. Scholarly monograph.

Activity from NOVA to figure out your birthday in the Maya calendar (if you were born 1980 or after):

Mayan Astronomy Page (Leslie Welser):

The Maya Astronomy Page (Dawn Jenkins):

Maya Exploration Center (Dr. Edwin Barnhart):
Includes tours of sites, resources, interviews, etc.

Mesoamerican Archaeoastronomy (James Jacobs):

Venus and the Maya (David Rosenthal):

table of contents

4. Astronomy of South American Cultures (Inca, Nasca, etc.)

Aveni, Anthony Between the Lines: The Mystery of the Giant Ground Drawings of Ancient Nasca, Peru. 2000, U. of Texas Press.

Aveni, Anthony Nasca: Eighth Wonder of the World? 2000, British Museum. (Available on line from several sources).

See many of the books in section A above

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5. Astronomy of African Cultures

DeVries, Dan "Teaching Across Cultures" in Mercury, Jul/Aug. 2005, p. 12. A physicist recounts his experience teaching science in Botswana.

Doyle, Laurence and Frank, Edward "Astronomy of Africa" in Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Edited by H. Selin (2008, Springer)

Holbrook, Jarita, et al., eds. African Cultural Astronomy. 2008, Springer. A variety of papers with much useful information.

Schilling, G. "The Star-Pyramid Connection" in Mercury, Jul/Aug. 2001, p. 28. On the Egyptian pyramids and their astronomical orientation.

Snedegar, Keith "Ikhwezi is the Morning Star" in Mercury, Nov/Dec. 1997, p. 12. On African myths related to the sky.

The Dogon Tribe and the so-called "Sirius Mystery":

Holbrook, Jarita "African Astronomy":
A brief overview of astronomical ideas in African tradition. (Jarita Holbrook specializes in this area and keeps the field updated at: )

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6. Astronomy of India

Vowahsen, Andreas Cosmic Architecture in India. 2001, Prestel. On the astronomical and ceremonial observatories built by Jai Singh in the 17th & 18th centuries.

Astronomy of India (Leslie Welser):

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7. Astronomy of Ancient European Cultures

Burl, Aubrey The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland, and Brittany. 2000, Yale University Press. Detailed guide to Stonehenge and other ancient stone monuments.

Cunningham, Clifford "The Scottish Moon" in Mercury, Jul/Aug. 2006, p. 10. On the Callanish stones off the coast of Scotland their alignments with the motion of the Moon in the sky.

Gingerich, Owen "The Basic Astronomy of Stonehenge" in The Great Copernicus Chase. 1992, Cambridge U. Press. Uses a wonderful Coca-Cola can model to explain how the builders thought of the sky.

Krupp, E.C. "Inner Glow" in Sky & Telescope, Dec. 2004, p. 50. About the underground shrine at Newgrange, Ireland.

Maranto, G. "Stonehenge: Can It Be Saved?" in Discover, Dec. 1985, p. 60. On what tourism is doing to the ancient monument.

Zimmermann, L. "Heads and Tales of Celestial Coins" in Sky & Telescope, Mar. 1995, p. 28. On astronomical events depicted on Roman coins.

Archaeoastronomy at Stonehenge:
(an art historian examines Stonehenge from many perspectives, including the astronomical)

Stone Pages:
(Mammoth web catalog about European stone circles and monuments, including Stonehenge and others with astronomy connections.)

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