Ancient Astronomy: An Encyclopedia of Cosmologies and Myth by Clive L.N. Ruggles

By Clive L.N. Ruggles

An authoritative creation to the attention-grabbing subject of archaeoastronomy―ancient peoples' figuring out and use of the skies.

• Over 2 hundred A–Z entries overlaying extensive definitions and ideas, case reviews from 5 continents, subject matters and matters, gadgets within the sky because the concentration of fable, simple options, and influential people

• shiny illustrations together with the stone circles at Avebury, comets, novae, and meteors

• basic, jargon-free reasons of easy astronomical concepts

• Over forty photos together with the Stonehenge Heelstone at sunrise; the Cosmic Axis on the Forbidden urban, Beijing; the Temple of the solar at Teotihuacan; Ahu Huri at Urenga, Easter Island; the Aboriginal stone configuration at Lake Bolac, Victoria, Australia; and more

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And there is the question of what exactly we mean by “new moon”: there is a one- or two-day period each month when the moon is not visible at all (astronomical new moon occurs in the middle of this), but it is the first reappearance of the crescent moon in the evening sky (the popular concept of “new moon”) that is the most significant event in visual terms, widely recognized even in the today’s world, from small indigenous groups to major religious calendars. Finally, although some of the marks appear round and others crescent-shaped, there is no apparent correlation between the shape of the marks themselves and the lunar phases.

Local communities often regard themselves as the descendents of mountain deities; consequently mountain peaks—and especially volcanoes—occupy a prominent place in their cosmic beliefs and communal rituals. Mountains and mountain gods are seen as the controllers of rain, and their summits sometimes remain an important focus of ceremonial activity today. These metaphysical convictions do have a foundation in the physical world, in that prominent mountains have a strong effect on local meteorological phenomena.

Recording and regulating the movement of perishable commodities, for example, demanded absolute agreement about the date. Yet the beginning of each month, and the insertion of intercalary months, was determined 10 Ancient Egyptian Calendars by observation, and observations could differ; as a result, it was often difficult to be certain either about the month or the day in the month. The result was the development of a quite independent civil calendar used for administration purposes. This comprised twelve “months” of exactly thirty days each, divided into ten-day periods known (rather confusingly, given that the word is commonly taken to mean “ten years”) as decades, followed by a five-day period known as the additional or epagomenal days, making a total of 365.

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