Ancient Astronomy

Bush Barrow Gold Lozenge

  The Bush Barrow is one of a number of spectacular burial mounds in the vicinity of Stonehenge in southern England, many of them clustering along the low ridges that surround the famous site itself. These round barrows, the burial places of prominent Bronze Age chieftains in the Wessex region, were built around 2000 b.c.e., […]

Caracol at Chichen Itza

  An extraordinary feature of Mesoamerican astronomy, given the complexity and sophistication evident from the ethnohistory and written sources such as the Dresden Codex, is the apparent lack of any observatories or observing instruments apart from the cross-sticks depicted in various codices, widely interpreted as a naked-eye sighting device. One of the very few serious […]

Callanish

  In one of the most remote corners of Britain stands one of the country’s most impressive megalithic monuments. The standing stones of Callanish (an an-glicization of the Gaelic name, Calanais) can be found on the western shores of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off western Scotland. They occupy a commanding situation […]

Cardinal Directions

  If we find monumental alignments pointing due north, east, south, or west, it is tempting to interpret them simply as “cardinally oriented,” but we must be cautious in doing so. Why would such alignments arise? Where architecture is intentionally aligned toward due north or south, disregarding the exceptional circumstance where this is because some […]

Carahunge

  In a mountainous region of southern Armenia, near the town of Sisian, is an impressive stone setting consisting of over 150 standing stones varying from about one meter (three feet) to 2.8 meters (nine feet) in height. Approximately fifty more stones have now fallen. Of Neolithic date, probably built no later than the third […]

Celtic Calendar

  The concept of a Celtic calendar that divided the year into eight precisely equal parts, marked by festivals on the solstices, equinoxes, and mid-quarter days, has influenced archaeoastronomy for decades and does so still, in that many people continue to perceive monumental alignments upon sunrise or sunset on the equinoxes or mid-quarter days as […]

Celestial Sphere

  The earth is surrounded by stars at various distances, but when the night sky is viewed on a clear night from anywhere on the earth, it appears that all the stars (and other celestial objects) are fixed onto a huge sphere surrounding the observer. From any given place at any given time, roughly half […]

Catastrophic Events

  Unexpected events in past skies, such as eclipses or the appearance of comets and meteors, could cause fear and even social disruption. In particular, they could threaten the power of elites, which was often predicated on being able to control the celestial bodies and keep them regular and predictable. It has been suggested by […]

Casa Rinconada

  Casa Rinconada was the largest of the great kivas in Chaco Canyon. Kivas were subterranean circular buildings used as meeting places or for sacred ceremonies. In Chaco they were generally built with their roofs at ground level, within the central plazas of Great Houses such as Pueblo Bonito, where over thirty-five examples, great and […]

Chaco Canyon

  The sight of the Great Houses of Chaco Canyon—vast multistory constructions containing scores, and in a few cases hundreds, of rooms built in a dry and inhospitable valley—is nothing short of extraordinary. These and other architectural edifices were built by the ancient Puebloan peoples who occupied the canyon and the surrounding area between about […]