Skywatchers: A Revised and Updated Version of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico / Edition 1

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Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico helped establish the field of archaeoastronomy, and it remains the standard introduction to this subject. Combining basic astronomy with archaeological and ethnological data, it presented a readable and entertaining synthesis of all that was known of ancient astronomy in the western hemisphere as of 1980.

In this revised edition, Anthony Aveni draws on his own and others' discoveries of the past twenty years to bring the Skywatchers story up to the present. He offers new data and interpretations in many areas, including:

  • The study of Mesoamerican time and calendrical systems and their unprecedented continuity in contemporary Mesoamerican culture
  • The connections between Precolumbian religion, astrology, and scientific, quantitative astronomy
  • The relationship between Highland Mexico and the world of the Maya and the state of Pan-American scientific practices
  • The use of personal computer software for computing astronomical data

With this updated information, Skywatchers will serve a new generation of general and scholarly readers and will be useful in courses on archaeoastronomy, astronomy, history of astronomy, history of science, anthropology, archaeology, and world religions.

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Editorial Reviews

. . . a clear, well-written introduction to archaeoastronomy [that] should be on the shelf of anyone interested in the subject.
Sky and Telescope
. . . a splendid book, interesting both as science and as history.
. . . a well-written, stimulating, and excellently illustrated book. Buy it or borrow it!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292705029
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2001
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REVISED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 423
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

I. Introduction: Archaeoastronomy and Its Components
Archaeoastronomy: Twenty Years of Hindsight
Additional Selected Readings
II. The Historical, Ethnographic, and Ethnological Background for Native American Astronomy
The Civilizations of Ancient Mesoamerica
Chroniclers and Codices
Aztec Constellations
Astronomy and the Ethnological Record: The Importance of the Zenith Solar Passage
Additional Selected Readings
III. Astronomy with the Naked Eye
The Celestial Sphere: Coordinate Reference Frames
Charting the Sun's Movement
The Moon, Eclipses, and Eclipse Cycles
Cycles of the Planets
Miscellaneous Observable Sky Phenomena
A. Glossary of Astronomical Terms of Importance in Archaeoastronomy
B. Factors Affecting the Precise Determination of Astronomical Orientations
C. Heliacal Rise and Set Phenomena
D. Determining the Approximate Date of Sunrise or Sunset for a Given Azimuth
E. Change of Direction of the Magnetic Compass with Time in Mesoamerica
F. Some Basic Formulas Useful for Fieldwork in Archaeoastronomy
G. How to Determine Alignments with the Surveyor's Transit
Additional Selected Readings, Electronic Resources, and Star Maps
IV. The Mathematical and Astronomical Content of the Mesoamerican Inscriptions
A Brief History of Calendrical Decipherment
The Mesoamerican Philosophy of Numbers
The Long Count
The Calendar Round
The Union of Time and Space in Mesoamerican Cosmology
How the Calendar Works
The Supplementary Series and the Lunar Synodic Month
Tropical Year Calculations
Planetary Events in the Monumental Inscriptions
Astronomy in the Maya Codices, I: General Content of the Codices
Astronomy in the Maya Codices, II: Eclipses and Eclipse Tables
Astronomy in the Maya Codices, III: Venus
Astronomy in the Maya Codices, IV: A Mars Table
Was There a Mesoamerican Zodiac?
A. The Problem of the Correlation of Maya and Christian Dates
B. A Scheme for the Conversion of Maya Dates
Additional Selected Readings
V. Astronomy and Architecture in the Ancient Americas and Mediterranean Basin
The Orientation Motive
City and Cosmos: Urban Planning in Highland Mexico
Cosmic Order in the Aztec Capital
Maya Cities: Architecture and Sacred Landscape
Specialized Architectural Assemblages
North America
The Andean World
Summary: Astronomy in Ancient American Cultures
Circum-Mediterranean Archaeoastronomy
Appendix A. An Analysis of the Pecked Cross Petroglyphs
Additional Selected Readings
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