The best books on archaeoastronomy

Giulio Magli Author Of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones
By Giulio Magli

The Books I Picked & Why

Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland

By Clive Ruggles

Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland

Why this book?

Modern Archaeoastronomy was born with the pioneering (and controversial) studies of Gerald Hawkins at Stonehenge and Alexander Thom on the megalithic monuments in Britain and Brittany. This book – although a bit dated with respect to recent research on some sites – remains a milestone to settle the point on debated issues. The technical points are treated in boxes so that the book is readable by the general public. 


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Skywatchers: Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

By Anthony F. Aveni

Skywatchers: Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

Why this book?

Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, although a bit dated on some arguments, is a must-read book on the Archaeoastronomy of the Meso-American people. It includes a fascinating description of the role of astronomical alignments in places like Teotihuacan and the Aztec capital (modern Mexico City), as well as an in-depth exploration of Maya astronomy and of the Maya astronomically-driven architecture.


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Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings: Astronomy and the Archaeology of Power

By E. C. Krupp

Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings: Astronomy and the Archaeology of Power

Why this book?

Monumental architecture was thought up as an explicit manifestation of religious power, and for this reason, it was in uncountable many cases connected with the sky. The key to understanding Archaeoastronomy is therefore to understand the connections between astronomy, power, religion, and architecture. This is exactly the aim of this inspiring book, written by an outstanding astronomer and archaeoastronomer. The author describes from this viewpoint many fascinating places - from Giza in Egypt to Palenque in Mexico - using a narrative that is richly enhanced by more than 150 photographs and illustrations.


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The Cosmos in Ancient Greek Religious Experience: Sacred Space, Memory, and Cognition

By Efrosyni Boutsikas

The Cosmos in Ancient Greek Religious Experience: Sacred Space, Memory, and Cognition

Why this book?

The last two books I suggest are of fresh press and testify to the modern approach to archaeoastronomy as a multi-disciplinary science. In this book, the aim is to approach Greek religion as a complex mix of rituals, cults, and architecture, identifying the connections with the sky and, more generally, with the “cosmos”. Relevant examples are discussed in detail. 


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An Archaeology of the Sacred: Adena-Hopewell Astronomy and Landscape Archaeology

By William F. Romain

An Archaeology of the Sacred: Adena-Hopewell Astronomy and Landscape Archaeology

Why this book?

Two thousand years ago, Native Americans created thousands of mounds and geometrically shaped earthworks across the Eastern Woodlands. In many cases, these structures are connected with the celestial cycles. This book presents a comprehensive study of the Ohio sites, framing them into Adena-Hopewell's religious beliefs and practices and showing how, for these ancient people, the entire landscape – including the sky – was a sacred space.


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