School of Archaeology and Ancient History

Seminar session 2

Photograph of La Malinche from Xochitecatl Copyright © Clive Ruggles, University of Leicester.


Aims of the session

The main aim, as with the first session, is to have a broad-based discussion focussing on issues of interpretation and explanation. The central question is: how best do we go about formulating sensible theories about the social context of astronomy in various social contexts around the world? The four groups of people will lead the discussion with short presentations in a format of their choosing, but there will be plenty of time for a debate to lead on from there. I hope to be feeding in and clarifying issues, but primarily I want to get you all thinking, so the floor is yours rather than mine and I aim to be doing as little talking as possible!

Groups and topics

Groups and topics for this session are as follows:

Group 1

Jenny, Vicky P, Daliah

Astronomy and conceptions of space and time

Group 2

Ellie, Nicky, Morwenna

Astronomy and calendrical development

Group 3

Charlotte, Adam

Astronomy and sacred landscapes

Group 4

Ben, Kieran, Kris

Astronomy and power

Words of advice

All the topics are broad and thematic, and you could tackle them in a number of ways in order to raise key issues. Chapter 9 from Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland should provide an adequate starting point for further reading in each case, and chapter 1 of Astronomies and Cultures should also be helpful. The following are some initial suggestions for suitable case studies, mainly from the Oxford 3 books (note the overlaps):

  1. Stephen McCluskey, "Space, time and the calendar in the traditional cultures of America", chapter 3 in Archaeoastronomy in the 1990s
    Joanna Broda, "Astronomical knowledge, calendrics and sacred geography in ancient Mesoamerica", chapter 9 in Astronomies and Cultures
  2. David Turton and Clive Ruggles, "Agreeing to disagree: the measurement of duration in a southwestern Ethiopian community", Current Anthropology, 19 (1978), 585–600.
    Stephen McCluskey, Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe, Cambridge University Press, 1998 (see also chapter 4 in Astronomies and Cultures)
  3. Joanna Broda, "Astronomical knowledge, calendrics and sacred geography in ancient Mesoamerica", chapter 9 in Astronomies and Cultures
    Malville and Fritz, "Cosmos and Kings at Vijayanagara", chapter 6 in Astronomies and Cultures
  4. Malville and Fritz, "Cosmos and Kings at Vijayanagara", chapter 6 in Astronomies and Cultures
    Brian Bauer and David Dearborn, Astronomy and Empire in the Ancient Andes, University of Texas Press, 1995
    Colin Ronan, "Astronomy in China, Korea and Japan", pp 245 ff. in Astronomy Before the Telescope, ed. Christopher Walker, British Museum Press, London, 1996.


Click here to return to the Timetable and Lecture List

Click here to return to Clive Ruggles's home page.

[University Home][School of Archaeology and Ancient History Home][Index A-Z][Search][Help]

Last updated: 10 May 2002 13:42
Prof C.L.N. Ruggles
The views expressed in this document are those of the document owner.
If you are an authorised user you may edit this document through your Web browser.