School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Lecture 7: Integrating evidence from art and ethnohistory

Photograph of the modern Inti Raymi pageant held near Cuzco Copyright © Clive Ruggles, University of Leicester.


To give an understanding of the context within which American archaeoastronomy developed in the 1980s and beyond. Today's lecture continues the discussion of different ways in which evidence from other sources can be integrated with evidence from the archaeological record, identifying some of the fundamental methodological issues that arise.

There are two cases studies, which introduce evidence from art and ethnohistory. The first concerns sacred geography in the valley of Mexico in Aztec and pre-Aztec times. The second, more extensive, case study concerns continuity of tradition in southern Peru from pre-Inca to Inca and through to modern times.

Further information and supporting materials

Tenochtitlan and sacred geography in the valley of Mexico

On the Templo Mayor, Tenochtitlan see Davíd Carrasco (ed.), To Change Place: Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes (University Press of Colorado, 1991). On Aztec and pre-Aztec sacred geography see Johanna Broda's "Astronomical Knowledge, Calendrics, and Sacred Geography in Ancient Mesoamerica", chapter 9 of Astronomies and Cultures. See also Stanislaw Iwaniszewski’s article "Archaeology and Archaeoastronomy of Mount Tlaloc, Mexico: a Reconsideration", Latin American Antiquity, 5(2), 1994, 158—76. John Carlson's ideas relating to Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl, presented at the Oxford 5 conference in summer 1996, are to be published in the conference proceedings, but for his ideas on Venus-regulated warfare and ritual sacrifice in ancient Mesoamerica see chapter 8 of Astronomies and Cultures.

Photos of Cacaxtla, Xochitecatl, and La Malinche

Nazca, Cuzco, and the enduring concept of radiality

On the general archaeological background to South America there are several books in the library, such as Ancient South America by Karen Olsen Bruhns, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge World Archaeology series), 1994.

The best general source on the issue at hand, and a good read to boot, is Anthony Aveni's Nasca: Eighth Wonder of the World? (British Museum Press, 2000). For a briefer introduction see ch. 9 of Ancient Astronomies, ed. A.F.Aveni (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, 1993).

For the definitive academic account and most thorough overview on the Nazca lines and their intepretation see The Lines of Nazca, ed. A.F.Aveni (American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1990), which contains articles from many points of view (archaeological, ethnographic, astronomical/statistical) focussing on the different types of data relevant to the interpretation of the Nazca lines.

Ground markings on the Nazca pampa
Building a line: a modern exercise

On Incaic astronomy see Astronomy and Empire in the Ancient Andes by Brian Bauer and David Dearborn (University of Texas Press, 1995). Aveni's Stairways to the Stars: Skywatching in Three Great Ancient Cultures (Wiley, 1997) contains a good section on the Cusco ceques, but see also The Sacred Landscape of the Inca by Brian Bauer (University of Texas Press, 1998).

Modern Cuzco

On Misminay, see Gary Urton's At the Crossroads of the Earth and Sky (University of Texas Press 1981).

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Last updated: 10 May 2002 12:59
Prof C.L.N. Ruggles
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