WTF is 'Archaeoastronomy'?!


When I think about what I’ve learned throughout my anthropological education, if I heard the word ‘space,’ what was typically being discussed was location, area, events that related to a position. I rarely thought about astronomical space. In culture, we tend to think of space in terms of where culture is located, observed, practiced. However, as I prepare for my trip to the NASA space center, I’m thinking of space in a realm that is pretty foreign to me.

However, the comforting thing about anthropology is that if it involves humans, there is probably an anthropological angle that is worth exploring. As I set out on my mission to understand astronomy, space and physics as anthropologist might, I stumbled onto the Center for Archaeoastronomy.

As I read about the mission of archaeoastronomy, it began to make sense pretty quickly. Consider all the great monuments and civilizations that were based around the desire to understand the magical twinkles in the sky. Have you ever stood outside under a clear dark sky, free from artificial light and sound? It’s overwhelming and awesome (in the truest sense of the world). It’s not surprising that as we developed into our modern human bodies and our complex brains, we looked to the skies for answers, peace, and reasons for existence.
Woodhenge- Cahokia, US
Image via NASA

Archaeoastronomy studies and considers how early civilizations engaged with the cosmos. The interactions are significant because however crudely they were once understood, the relationships gave way to very powerful number systems, calendars, concepts of time, complex beliefs and philosophies, and laid the foundation for the scientific development that pushed modern humans from star gazer to moonwalkers.

Over the next week, my goal is to highlight not just the science and technology that is associated with space, but to also be a bit of a archaeoastronomer or ethnoastronomer. I will share articles, videos, and thoughts that help to illustrate the ways in which culture and space dance together.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @RockstarAnthro and on Facebook:

Also, use #SpaceX3 and #NASAsocial to share your thoughts, questions and comments over the next week!

You won’t want to miss a thing!

Love and Rockets!

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