Peter Mcloughlin's Reviews > Exploring Ancient Skies: An Encyclopedic Survey of Archaeoastronomy

Exploring Ancient Skies by David H. Kelley
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This book is a textbook probably meant to be read by a Graduate student in the specialized field of Archeo-Astronomy. It contains the lighter stuff on ancient cosmologies and stories of the stars by ancient cultures around the world. It also contains some serious Astronomy and Mathematics. It covers in depth most of the Astronomical and Mathematical knowledge needed to practice Astronomy up to about 1650 C.E. and this is a lot of technical material (the ancients didn't have a telescope but they had sophisticated naked eye astronomy). This book could make one as technically competent (if they mastered the material) as say Ptolemy who ruled western astronomy up to the time of Copernicus. It is not a light read but if you love astronomy and love the ingenuity of the ancients marvel at the great accomplishment of early civilizations which had so little to work with, then this is the book for you.

2/24/2017

This is an encyclopedic work. One doesn't usually read straight through. I skimmed this morning. It has just about everything on Archeoastronomy. As good as source on ancient astronomy as any.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 18, 2012 – Finished Reading
January 8, 2013 – Shelved
April 28, 2013 – Shelved as: favorites
May 3, 2013 – Shelved as: astronomy
May 6, 2013 – Shelved as: general-history
May 10, 2013 – Shelved as: intellectual-history
August 1, 2013 –
page 49
8.01% "Chapter one and two were technical introductions to naked eye observation. Naming stars and constellations. Definitions of meridians, azimuths, nadirs, ascension, declination, equations for calculating orbits and star positions and the ecliptic. If your really into astronomy it is meaty stuff."
August 1, 2013 –
page 85
13.89% "Chapter 3 was the optics of naked eye astronomy and uses of sextants and astrolabes. It also covered spherical geometry and atmospheric effects. It had some stuff from astrophysics like OBFGKM system of temperature and color."
August 1, 2013 –
page 109
17.81% "Chapter four was on ancient and modern calendars, sundials, clocks and a bit about calculating our lengthening day due to tidal pulls from the moon."
August 1, 2013 –
page 157
25.65% "Transient sky phenomenon. Rainbows, Aurora, Halos, comets, Zodiacal light, Novae and Supernovae. There was a novae recorded in 5 BCE by Chinese astronomers (star of Bethlehem perhaps). There was another in 29 CE about the time Jesus was supposed to have been crucified and another around 70 CE about the time of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Who knows what signs these portended to the ancients."
August 1, 2013 –
page 211
34.48% "Paleolithic and Neolithic astronomical artifacts from the British Isles and Northern Europe. The first evidence of early astronomical observation is notched stick as evidence of lunar counting. Then in the Neolithic huge stone structures to track the Sun and moon at equinoxes and solstices like Newgrange and Stonehenge."
August 1, 2013 –
page 259
42.32% "Babylonian, Greek, Arabic, Medieval and Renaissance astronomy. This is a big chapter with a lot of brief highlights and it was long but covered so much that it only played the hits."
August 1, 2013 –
page 279
45.59% "Egyptian, Ethiopian and Dogon Celestial systems and cosmologies."
August 2, 2013 –
page 313
51.14% "Just read about cosmology and astronomy of ancient Persia, India, and southeast Asia. Both are heavily influenced by Zoroastrianism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Buddhist had colors for the planets and Hindus had gods for 16 compass directions assigned to a sky object and related to a god."
August 2, 2013 –
page 337
55.07% "Chinese, Korean, and Japanese astronomy. Chinas forbidden city's borders are related to two constellations and the Pleiades. The Constellations are The big dipper (technically an asterism) and Sagittarius. The borders of the city of the emperor was aligned with the stars and this relates to the mandate of heaven. Confucianism has a supernatural force overlooking the world but not a personal god. Kind of like the Jedi"
August 2, 2013 –
page 353
57.68% "Oceania: Australia and Polynesia. The aborigines had a complex cosmology where the Pleiades loomed large. I also like the idea of Dreamtime a parallel world reached by our minds in sleep from which the real world emerged (reminds me of the Cartesian cogito). The Polynesian navigators who conquered the Pacific had extensive astronomical knowledge. The also had many underworlds and heavens (like Dante)."
August 2, 2013 –
page 353
57.68% "The Aborigine Dream time reminds me of a line from Shakespeare "We are the stuff that dreams are made of and our lives are rounded by a sleep"."
August 3, 2013 –
page 411
67.16% "Meso-America. The Mayans had a Calendar and system of Astronomy at least as complex as anything the Europeans of the time of contact were doing. The calendar was based on two cycles intermeshed like gears of 260 days (about the length of time Venus appears as morning and evening star) and 365 that made a longer count of 52 years. Venus was very important and related to the main staple of the Mayans corn and fertility"
August 3, 2013 –
page 431
70.42% "Native Americans north of Mexico. Native Americans who have been separated from northwestern Europeans like the ancient Celts since we left Africa tens of thousands of years ago like the Celts carved spirals into rock to be illuminated by the Sun on Solstices like the ancient Celts. Another weird coincidence between Irish people like myself and Native Americans is both groups have a gene for alcoholism."
August 3, 2013 –
page 473
77.29% "South America. The Andean civilizations had three important sky objects in their calendar and cosmology. The Pleiades, The Solstices and the cycles of the Moon. Interestingly enough one of the objects important to the Incans is a dark nebula in the milky way a dark patch if you will that is the shape of a Llama the only beast of burden in Ancient Andean civilization."
August 3, 2013 –
page 502
82.03% "A concluding chapter on the relation between astronomy, Cosmology, Ancient religion and Political power. All three worked together in ancient societies to bolster the social order and explain how the world, the god's and the political order came to be."
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: nonfiction
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: african-history
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: american-history
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: asian-history
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: european-history
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: general-science
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: mathematics
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: 0500-to-1500-ce
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: middle-east
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: nature
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: classical-world
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: technology
August 3, 2013 – Shelved as: world-history
August 21, 2013 – Shelved as: 10000-bce-to-500-ce
August 21, 2013 – Shelved as: pre-history
February 11, 2014 – Shelved as: owned-books
June 18, 2014 – Shelved as: fringes-of-science
June 11, 2016 – Shelved as: 00000good-things
February 15, 2017 – Started Reading
February 23, 2017 –
page 40
6.54%
February 24, 2017 –
page 85
13.89% "Mapping the sky and instruments of astronomy like the sextant and the astrolabe."
February 24, 2017 –
page 109
17.81% "Clocks and Calendars."
February 24, 2017 –
page 157
25.65% "Transient meteorological phenomena. Things like Auroras, meteors, zodiacal light, sun dogs etc."
February 24, 2017 –
page 211
34.48% "Megaliths and stone circles of the upper paleolithic. Including famous ones like New Grange and Stone Henge. These cermonial centers are all over Europe and Native Americans had similar sites."
February 24, 2017 –
page 259
42.32% "Western Astronomy from Mesopotamia, Greco-Roman, Medieval and finally post-Renaissance developments up to the scientific revolution in the 17th century."
February 24, 2017 –
page 279
45.59% "Egyptian and Dogon astronomy and cosmology"
February 24, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim I appreciate that you took notes and reviewed this book. I may tackle it.


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