Ancient Astronomy

  The earliest indications of the use of a symbolic notation to represent or visualize an astronomical cycle come from the Upper Palaeolithic period. At this time, in addition to striking cave art, engravings were made on small portable objects such as stones and pieces of bone and antler. Thousands of examples are known. A […]

Aboriginal Astronomy

  When Captain James Cook first sailed up the east coast of New Holland (what is now Australia) in 1770, he encountered native people who had little interest in their strange visitors and none whatsoever in trading—people who surprised him by being generally unclothed, constructing little in the way of shelter around their camp fires, […]

Ancient Egyptian Calendars

  The kingdom of Ancient Egypt existed for over three millennia and for much of this time was remarkable in having two different calendars in simultaneous operation. Each arose in response to different social needs and developed a distinct function. At least, this is the standard interpretation of the evidence. The oldest Egyptian calendar was […]


  Altitude is the vertical angle between a given direction—such as the direction toward a particular point on the horizon from a given place—and the horizontal plane through the observer. A positive altitude indicates that the point being observed is above the observer; if it is below, then the altitude will be negative. Thus the […]

Alignment Studies

  Archaeoastronomy owes its emergence in the 1970s largely to the furor caused by the controversial and often spectacular claims made by Alexander Thom and others about astronomical alignments at British megalithic monuments. Although archaeoastronomy itself soon grew to encompass a much wider range of evidence, “alignment studies” remain at the heart of a great […]


  Antas are a distinctive type of dolmen concentrated in the Alentejo region of central Portugal and the bordering provinces of western Spain. Anta in Portuguese simply means “dolmen,” but the word has been appropriated to signify a particular method of construction. A large, flattish stone was set in the ground on its side to […]


  The ancient Khmer civilization flowered in southeastern Asia for over five centuries. A number of interacting and competing kingdoms had existed in the area since the early centuries c.e., and both the Buddhist and Hindu religions had been widely adopted. But in c.e. 802, several of these kingdoms joined together to form a powerful […]

Andean Mountain Shrines

  Traditional belief systems that still persist in a number of remote Andean villages link mountains, ancestor worship, ritual pilgrimage, and the sea as the ultimate source of water and fertility. The landscape is “animated” in the sense that unusual or prominent features are perceived to have a supernatural aspect. Local communities often regard themselves […]


  This confusing term has sometimes been used as an alternative to ar-chaeoastronomy and sometimes to mean the study of astronomical alignments at ancient monuments—in other words, to represent only a segment of the wider endeavor of archaeoastronomy. It has now largely fallen into disuse, at least among academics working in this area.


  One of the criticisms of archaeoastronomy is that archaeoastronomers who investigate the reasons why ancient buildings and monuments were situated and oriented as they are often seem concerned only with the possibility that the main influencing factors were astronomical. But many different considerations, some quite unrelated to astronomy, can determine the orientation of a […]