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This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds. The book is divided into three sections, the first of which explores the past relations between astronomy and people, power, the afterworld, architecture, and landscape. The fundamentals of archaeoastronomy are then addressed in detail, with coverage of the celestial coordinates; the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets; observation of celestial bodies at the horizon; the use of astronomical software in archaeoastronomy; and current methods for making and analyzing measurements. The final section reviews what archaeoastronomy can now tell us about the nature and purpose of such sites and structures as Stonehenge, the Pyramids of Giza, Chichen Itza, the Campus Martius, and the Valley of the Temples of Agrigento. In addition, a set of exercises is provided that can be performed using non-commercial free software, e.g., Google Earth or Stellarium, and will equip readers to conduct their own research. Readers will find the book an ideal introduction to what has become a wide-ranging multidisciplinary science.
The book is divided into two parts. In the first, the reader is taken on an ideal ‘world tour’ of many wonderful and enigmatic places in almost every continent, in search of traces of astronomical knowledge and lore of the sky. In the second part, Giulio Magli uses the elements presented in the tour to show that the fundamental idea which led to the construction of the astronomically-related giant monuments was the foundation of power, a foundation which was exploited by ‘replicating’ the sky. A possible interpretive model then emerges that is founded on the relationship the ancients had with “nature”, in the sense of everything that surrounded them, the cosmos. The numerous monumental astronomically aligned structures of the past then become interpretable as acts of will, expressions of power on the part of those who held it; the will to replicate the heavenly plane here on earth and to build sacred landscapes. Finally, having formulated his hypothesis, Professor Magli returns to visit one specific place in detail, searching for proof. This in-depth examination studies the most compelling, the most intensively studied, the most famous and, until recently, the most misunderstood sacred landscape on the planet - Giza, in Egypt. The archaeoastronomical analysis of the orientation of the Giza pyramids leads to the hypothesis that the pyramids of Cheops and Chephren belong to the same construction project.
Explores the achievements of ancient astronomers at sites, from European stone circles like Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt and Central America, to the medicine wheels of North America and the carved monoliths of Easter Island.
Discusses England's Stonehenge, the Mayan Code, and the Incan city of Cuzco.
Archaeoastronomy and the Maya illustrates archaeoastronomical approaches to ancient Mayan cultural production. The book is contextualized through a history of archaeoastronomical investigations into Mayan sites, originating in the 19th century discovery of astronomical tables within hieroglyphic books. Early 20th century archaeological excavations revealed inscriptions carved into stone that also preserved astronomical records, along with architecture that was built to reflect astronomical orientations. These materials provided the basis of a growing professionalized archaeoastronomy, blossoming in the 1970s and expanding into recent years. The chapters here exemplify the advances made in the field during the early 21st century as well as the on-going diversity of approaches, presenting new perspectives and discoveries in ancient Mayan astronomy that result from recent studies of architectural alignments, codices, epigraphy, iconography, ethnography, and calendrics. More than just investigations of esoteric ancient sciences, studies of ancient Mayan astronomy have profoundly aided our understanding of Mayan worldviews. Concepts of time and space, meanings encoded in religious art, intentions underlying architectural alignments, and even methods of political legitimization are all illuminated through the study of Mayan astronomy.
Explores the intimate relationship between historical civilizations and the cosmos, describing how people from ancient and pre-industrial times often relied on the skies for their survival, political decisions, and understanding of life.

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