Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy
New Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy Discoveries made in 2019 will appear below as we encounter them ...
October 18 2019, Astronomy Magazine, USA"Astronomers have watched sunspots come and go on the sun's surface for at least 400 years.
But to learn about the history of the sun's activity before the time of telescopes, they have to turn to historical references to phenomena linked to solar activity, like the northern lights.
Now, a team of scientists have discovered what may be the oldest written records of aurorae to date.
These three Assyrian and Babylonian cuneiform tablets from about 680 to 650 B.C. seem to refer to aurorae lighting up the skies.
Chemical analysis of tree rings also show that there was likely a spike in solar activity around that time.
This extends the known time span of aurora records to about 2,700 years, as the team reported earlier this month in The Astrophysical Journal Letters."
[Read The Full Story]
[Well done Astronomy Magazine for bringing this important discovery about the competance of ancient astronomers to a much wider audience worldwide!
July 01 2019, The New Indian Express, India"The entire Deccan Plateau that consists of a major part of Telangana including Hyderabad is dotted by numerous megalithic sites, etched with prehistoric art.
However, till the long time, the significance of these etchings were not known to the people, but a recent research published in the TRC School of Telangana Studies has found that the prehistoric art that is found on one of these historic structure in Mudumal and at Gachbiowli depict constellations such as Ursa Major, Gemini, Orion, and others.
The research titled, Stars and Stones: The Interpretation of Megalithic Cup-Marks from South India, by K P Rao talks about the knowledge of astronomy in the megalithic community.
While talking about the cup marks at Mudumal, Rao noted that these cup marks depicted a formation, which closely resembled to a constellation called Ursa Major."
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[Another interesting archaeological discovery in India reported by New Indian Express. The megalithic culture in India has much in common with that in other areas around the world - an understanding of astronomy only recently acknowledged. It's well worth a visit to read the full story - Ed]
February 28 2019, Cosmos, Australia"The astronomers at the European Southern Observatory might not have been the first to stand on the spot and look upwards.
The complex astronomical measurements that underpinned many aspects of the Inca civilisation may have an ancient forerunner of 10 centuries earlier and 2000 kilometres distant, a prominent archeoastronomer suggests.
Steven Gullberg, of the University of Oklahoma, US, and chair of the International Astronomical Union Working Group for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture, is the latest scientist to comment on the origin and purpose of some mysterious stones and engravings, known as petroglyphs, at a site known as La Silla, in Chile.
The complex designs etched in rock, together with a set of standing stones, were first studied in depth by researchers in 2012.
It was suggested that the artefacts were set up to mark the positions of two very brilliant stars, Canopus and Hadar, and were the work of the El Molle, a pre-Columbian culture that occupied the region for five centuries from about 300 CE."
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[Nice One Cosmos! This is a very interesting story about the astronomical achievements of ancient peoples in South America, who seems to have been very knowledgeable about the cosmos, and who accurately measured and recorded in stone the heliacal risings of two stars that were of significance to that culture.
January 25 2019, Kashmir Observer, India"Archaeoastronomy is the study of how people in the past have understood the phenomena in the sky, how they used these phenomena and what role the sky played in their cultures.
In Kashmir such examples abound at various archaeological sites, geographically distributed from north to south.
In 2019 if you look at the sky and observe two moons or what is called on scientific parlance as Supernova you will certainly like to share the picture or video with friends on social media.
Likewise this phenomenon has puzzled people from the time immemorial and they have been recording it in different forms.
Similarly the earth has witnessed various meteorite showers through the course of history. Scientists say this is what happened back in 3600BC.
Petroglyph discovered in Burzhom is believed to be that oldest sky chart drawn which was made on a stone slab.
The rock art depicts the two bright objects in the sky with shapes of humans and animals.
In Bomai, Sopore such rock engravings represent the meteorite shower which experts believe has occurred some 40000 to 6000 years back."
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[An excellent story from the Kashmir Observer! That meteoritic impacts can create lakes is well known from other areas around the world, and this is a great example of this in India.
January 17 2019, Daily Express Online, UK"Astronomical knowledge was used by the Incas to identify solstices, seasonal changes, and the best time for sowing and harvesting, resulting in the ancient civilisation becoming the largest empire in the western hemisphere.
The Inca civilisation in Peru placed great importance on astronomy.
They were the only culture in the world to define constellations of both light and darkness.
The Incas not only identified constellations and individual stars, but they also assigned each a purpose.
They believed that everything in and around our world was connected.
It has long been known that astronomy played a central role in the culture, religion, and daily lives of the Inca, who used astronomical events to govern ceremonial occasions and for planning agricultural activities.
Cusco for example lies on a radial plan, mimicking the sky and pointing to specific astronomical events on the horizon."
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[Well Done Daily Express Online for this excellent article! Written succinctly by Matthew Kirkham, a journalist who seems to know what he's talking about regarding advanced knowledge of astronomincal reality in ancient societies, it is a most welcome addition to the body of knowledge about such matters that has developed over the past few decades.
Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy Discoveries that were
November 30 2018, Universe Today, USA"For some time, scholars believed that an understanding of complex astronomical phenomena (like the precession of the equinoxes) did not predate the ancient Greeks.
However, researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Kent recently revealed findings that show how ancient cave paintings that date back to 40,000 years ago may in fact be astronomical calendars that monitored the equinoxes and kept track of major events.
The study team included Martin B. Sweatman (an associate professor at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering) and Alistair Coombs – a researcher and PhD candidate with the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent.
Together, Sweatman and Coombs studied the details of Paleolithic and Neolithic art featuring animal symbols at sites located in Turkey, Spain, France and Germany.
What they found was that all of these sites used the same method of date-keeping, even though the artwork was created by people living tens of thousands of kilometers and years apart.
According to the team’s analysis, the cave paintings were not simply depictions of wild animals (as previously thought) but instead represented star constellations in the night sky.
These paintings were apparently used to represent dates and mark major astronomical events like comet strikes.
In this sense, they demonstrate that ancient humans kept track of time by monitoring the precession of the equinoxes."
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[A really brilliant story in Universe Today!! The more we discover about the abilities of ancient peoples to accurately observe and record live-sky events many millennia ago, the more we begin to understand that temporary celestial phenomena, events such as comet and asteroid strikes, are the likeliest of celestial encounters they would have recorded.
November 13 2018, Inquisitr, USA"Researchers have determined that ancient Egyptians were well aware of the variability of the Algol triple star system thousands of years before modern astronomers after studying the Cairo Calendar, which documents this star system's brightness.
As Phys.org reports, the Cairo Calendar has also been called the Calendar of Lucky or Unlucky Days and was determined to have been written between the years 1244 and 1163 BC.
This special calendar would have allowed Egyptians to learn what days were either favourable or unfavourable for them by assigning particular days, and even certain times during these days, as either good days or bad days.
But besides allowing ancient Egyptians the opportunity to decide whether certain days would be good or not, the Cairo Calendar was also found to have had an astronomical function, which included ascertaining the changing brightness of Algol."
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[An excellent story from Inquisitr! The more we discover about the abilities of ancient peoples in general, and the ancient Egyptians in particular. to accurately observe and record live-sky events many millennia ago, the more we begin to understand that mainstream archaeology has concocted a very inadequste picture of the ancient peoples of Africa. It's well worth a visit to read the full story and see the images and video - Ed]
August 03 2018, Stuff, New Zealand"The sediment under a lake in Mexico contains some of the long-sought answers to the mystery of the Mayans' demise.
Ancient Mayans, primarily concentrated in what is now Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, were among the most advanced civilisations of their time.
Mayans were some of the first to build cities.
They used astronomy to advance agricultural production, and they created calendars and used advanced mathematics.
But despite all of their progress, the Mayan empire, built over thousands of years, may have crumbled in just a few hundred." [Read The Full Story]
[A really great story from Stuff! Why such a great ancient civilisation went into decline and crashed so quickly is the subject of great controversy and debate. It's well worth a visit to read the full story and see the many images, diagrams and video - Ed]
March 20 2018, Heritage Daily, UK"Ever since humans could look up to see the sky, we have been amazed by its beauty and untold mysteries. Naturally then, astronomy is often described as the oldest of the sciences, inspiring people for thousands of years.
Celestial phenomena are featured in prehistoric cave paintings.
And monuments such as the Great Pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge seem to be aligned with precision to cardinal points or the positions where the moon, sun or stars rise and set on the horizon.
Today, we seem to struggle to imagine how ancient people could build and orient such structures. This has led to many assumptions.
Some suggest prehistoric people must have had some knowledge of mathematics and sciences to do this, whereas others go so far as to speculate that alien visitors showed them how to do it.
But what do we actually know about how people of the past understood the sky and developed a cosmology?" [Read The Full Story]
[A really fascinating article from Heritage Daily! One of the main focal points of The Morien Institute research has been the obvious fascination ancient peoples worldwide had with events observed in the skies, and this article is a welcome addition to the growing corpus of research about ancient astronomy as reflected in all aspects of the monuments they left behind.
February 19 2018, Live Science, USA"Though it's slightly lopsided, the towering Great Pyramid of Giza is an ancient feat of engineering, and now an archaeologist has figured out how the Egyptians may have aligned the monument almost perfectly along the cardinal points, north-south-east-west - they may have used the fall equinox.
The fall equinox occurs halfway between the summer and winter solstices, when Earth's tilt is such that the length of the day and night are almost the same.
About 4,500 years ago, Egyptian pharaoh Khufu had the Great Pyramid of Giza constructed; it is the largest of the three pyramids - now standing about 455 feet (138 meters) tall - on the Giza Plateau and was considered a 'wonder of the world' by ancient writers.
Turns out, the pyramid builders somehow designed this ancient wonder with extreme precision.
'The builders of the Great Pyramid of Khufu aligned the great monument to the cardinal points with an accuracy of better than four minutes of arc, or one-fifteenth of one degree', Glen Dash, an engineer who studies the Giza pyramids, wrote in a paper published recently in The Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture." [Read The Full Story]
[An interesting story, but the use of sticks and stone gnonoms to determine solar positions has been known about for some time. They also used distance hills and mountain peaks to determine the exact times and days of the equinoxes and solstices as viewed from appropriate backsites. It's worth a visit to read the full story and see the diagram - Ed]
January 10 2018, The Guardian, UK"For decades, stone carvings unearthed in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir were thought to depict a hunting scene.
But the presence of two celestial objects in the drawings has piqued the interest of a group of Indian astronomers.
According to a study published in the Indian Journal of History of Science, the Kashmir rock drawings may be the oldest depiction of a supernova, the final explosion of a dying star, ever discovered.
Archaeologists found the carvings nearly half a century ago in Kashmir's Burzahama site, where the oldest settlements have been dated to about 4,300BC.
It showed two hunters, a bull, and two beaming disks in the sky initially speculated to be two suns.
That explanation did not satisfy Mayank Vahia and a team of astrophysicists in India and Germany.
They settled on Supernova HB9, a star that exploded around 4,600BC.
Viewed from Kashmir, the supernova would have occurred somewhere near the Orion constellation, 'Which is known as the scene of a hunter', said Vahia
'The supernova also went off just above the constellation of Taurus, the bull, which is also seen in the drawing', Vahia added." [Read The Full Story]
[What an amazing story from The Guardian! Well Done! The many ways and symbols used by ancient peoples to depict events they observed in the skies continue to again surprise us.
January 04 2018, IB Times, UK"A team of archaeologists in Mexico have discovered a stone shrine in a pond that depicts the design of the universe, as imagined by ancient Aztec civilisations.
The stone "tetzacualco" or sanctuary was found at Nahualac, a site at the foothills of the Iztaccihuatl volcano.
According to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), along with the stone shrine, ceramic fragments, lithic materials, lapidaries and organic remains were found nearby, which have been associated with the Aztec rain god Tlaloc.
The researchers have surmised that the placement of the stones is meant to portray a miniature model of the mythical universe.
The placement itself creates the effect of making it seem like the stones are 'floating' on the water's surface rather than lying on the pond bed."
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[A great story from IB Times! The ingenuity of ancient peoples when portraying the cosmos never ceases to amaze as new discoveries uncover very, very different ways of perceiving the universe that do modern peoples. It's well worth a visit to read the full story and see the images - Ed]
January 03 2018, Netral News, Indonesia"An 1,800-year-old temple in northern England that is dedicated to the god Mithras was built to align with the rising sun on Dec. 25, a physics professor has found.
The temple is located beside a Roman fort in Carrawburgh, near Hadrian's Wall, which served as the most northerly frontier to the Roman Empire, beginning around AD 122.
Some modern-day scholars believe that the Romans celebrated Mithras' birthday on Dec. 25 - the same day eventually chosen by Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ.
Using satellite imagery and astronomical software that shows the direction of the sunrises and sunsets, 'we can easily see that the building is in good alignment along the sunrise on December 25', wrote Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a physics professor at the Politecnico di Torino in Italy, in a paper published online recently in the journal Philica. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
There is also an alignment between the Mithras temple and the rising sun on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, Sparavigna said.
Roger Beck, an emeritus professor of Classics at the University of Toronto, who has written extensively on the cult of Mithras, said that he hypothesized that such an alignment existed in a paper published in 1984 in the journal Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen.
In that 1984 paper, he speculated that the rays of the sun might have illuminated a statue and altar within the Mithras temple on the winter solstice.
In his 1984 paper, Beck did not propose that the reason for such an alignment was to celebrate the birthday of the god Mithras on Dec. 25, and he's skeptical that the Romans celebrated the god's birth on that day." [Read The Full Story]
[A great story from Netral News to open the new year with, and all the more so because of the Decmber 21 Winter Solstice confusion with December 25th - the supposed birth of Jesus. The solsticial sunrise itself was not what they were observing ritually but scientifically.
"The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project"
2000-year-old analog computer recreated
2000-year-old analog computer recreated
interesting books from our
"Emu Dreaming: An Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Astronomy"
"The Circulation of Astronomical Knowledge in the Ancient World"
"Megalithic Sites in Britain"
"Megalithic Lunar Observatories"
"Astronomy & Measurement in Megalithic Architecture"
"The Power of Stars:
"Machu Picchu's Sacred Sisters: Choquequirao and Llactapata:
"The 2300 BC Event - Vol. 1:
"The 2300 BC Event takes a new look at an old puzzle: what happened
"The 2300 BC Event Vol. 2:
"Some time around 2300 BC the Eath encountered a dense clustering of space debris, the early Southern & Northern Taurid meteoroid stream. The result was an intense fall of meteoroids, some of them sufficiently large to cause surface destruction.
"The 2300 BC Event Vol. 3:
"The Northern/Southern Taurid meteoroid stream is identified as the specific meteoroid stream that the Earth encountered at 2300 BC.
read Owen Morien Morgan's classics
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