Archaeoastronomy

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  • Week 1
    • In this week we shall learn the basic tools which are needed for studying Archaeoastronomy. Essentially, this means learning Astronomy with the naked eye, since the ancients did not have telescopes, and becoming acquainted with a simple instrument - the magnetic compass - and amazing softwares: virtual globes and digital planetariums.
  • Week 2
    • The core of the course: understanding how astronomy, religion, and the management of power were connected in ancient cultures, and the way in which these connections are reflected in architecture and landscape since the Neolithic. At the end of the week we shall thus visit the places where Archaeoastronomy was born: Stonehenge and Newgrange.
  • Week 3
    • An archaeoastronomical tour in a wonderful land: Egypt of the Pharaohs. We shall visit Khufu's (Cheops) Great Pyramid and assist to the spectacular hierophany which occurs every year at Giza at the summer solstice. Then, we shall move to the huge temple of Karnak at the winter solstice, to finally encounter the "heretic" king Akhenaten and the astronomy-related project of his new capital.
  • Week 4
    • An introduction to pre-Columbian Archaeoastronomy, with key topics such as the Maya Calendar, the role of astronomy in Maya architecture, and the sacred space of the Incas at Cusco and Macchu Picchu.
  • Week 5
    • An archaeo-astronomical visit to fascinating places of ancient Asia: the Xian area, with the Terracotta Warriors and the pyramids of the Chinese Emperors of the Han Dynasty, and Angkor (Cambodia) with Angkor Wat and the other state-temples of the Khmer Kings.
  • Week 6
    • A fascinating travel in Greek and Roman Italy, in search of astronomy in the project of some of the masterpieces of the classical age, from the Greek temples of Sicily to the Pantheon in Rome.
  • Astronomy insights
    • Archaeoastronomy is not only "speaking about the Sun and the other stars". Interest in the cumbersome, apparent motion of the Moon and in the alternating behaviour of Venus as morning star/evening star is also present in ancient architecture, for instance in the Americas. This section provides the tools needed to investigate in such cases, as well as insights on the physical effects affecting measures in Archaeoastronomy.

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