28 books like Astronomy of the Ancients

By Kenneth Brecher, Michael Feirtag,

Here are 28 books that Astronomy of the Ancients fans have personally recommended if you like Astronomy of the Ancients. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning

John M. Saul Author Of What the Stork Brought: African click-speakers and the spread of humanity's oldest beliefs

From my list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a geologist, I met and shared meals – occasionally under the stars – with individuals with strikingly different backgrounds. In time I realized that, whatever their DNA, they all shared certain beliefs, that the happy dead eventually go upward, for example, even if they start by going down or out to the horizon. Eventually, I concluded that the entire human adventure began in a single moment the day one of our forebears asked another "What shall we do about death?" and was understood. Humans have a single genetic heritage; we also have a single cultural heritage.

John's book list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs

John M. Saul Why did John love this book?

Allen (1838-1906) was described as a "walking encyclopedia" by people who knew him. It was only after acquiring a reprint of his great book, a decade before the internet, that my own research into ancient cosmology took off. Star Names was first published in 1899 and as Wikipedia notes "there is no direct modern equivalent." As is the case with the internet, large sections can also be plucked out and read for pleasure.

By Richard H. Allen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Star Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here is an unusual book for anyone who appreciates the beauty and wonder of the stars. Solidly based upon years of thorough research into astronomical writings and observations of the ancient Chinese, Arabic, Euphrates, Hellenic, and Roman civilizations, it is an informative, non-technical excursion into the vast heritage of folklore and history associated with the heavenly bodies.
From his studies of the writings of scores of ancient astronomers, the author has come up with a fascinating history of the names various cultures have given the constellations, the literary and folkloristic uses that have been made of the stars through the…


Book cover of Hamlet's Mill: An Essay on Myth and the Frame of Time

Felice Vinci Author Of The Baltic Origins of Homer's Epic Tales

From my list on ancient myths and European prehistory.

Why am I passionate about this?

 I've been fond of the Homeric poems since my youth. I followed classical studies in the high here in Rome, so I studied Latin and Greek before graduating in nuclear engineering. Then, in addition to my professional activity, I've devoted myself to the study of The Iliad and the Odyssey, with their huge contradictions between geography and their traditional Mediterranean setting. The book I published on this topic was translated and published into eight foreign languages (as The Baltic Origins of Homer's Epic Tales), and has given rise to many scientific discussions. I also published The Mysteries of the Megalithic Civilization, a Bestseller here in Italy.

Felice's book list on ancient myths and European prehistory

Felice Vinci Why did Felice love this book?

This extraordinary book makes us understand what the ancients saw in the sky. It is one of those rare books that change our ideas about myth and archaic thought once and for all, explaining the myths of the whole world by an astronomical key. In a word, this is certainly an extraordinarily important book, which should definitely be read by anyone who is passionate about these topics.

By Giorgio de Santillana, Hertha von Dechend,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hamlet's Mill as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Very nice, clean and solid copy.


Book cover of The Secret of the Incas: Myth, Astronomy, and the War Against Time

John M. Saul Author Of What the Stork Brought: African click-speakers and the spread of humanity's oldest beliefs

From my list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a geologist, I met and shared meals – occasionally under the stars – with individuals with strikingly different backgrounds. In time I realized that, whatever their DNA, they all shared certain beliefs, that the happy dead eventually go upward, for example, even if they start by going down or out to the horizon. Eventually, I concluded that the entire human adventure began in a single moment the day one of our forebears asked another "What shall we do about death?" and was understood. Humans have a single genetic heritage; we also have a single cultural heritage.

John's book list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs

John M. Saul Why did John love this book?

My personal background and fieldwork have been in North America, Africa, and Europe. Sullivan's book opened the world of ancient South America for me. The Incas lived in a Sacred Kingship, an institution in which Church and State were one, invented in ancient Mesopotamia and diffused as far as the Andes, carrying with it a promise of eternity. In Sacred Kingships, the King was to funnel the essence of the undying Heavens into the ways of Earthbound mortals. Sullivan shows how this all went dreadfully wrong for the Incas when they began to treat mythological notions as literally true, applying the technical language of myth to the real world.

By William Sullivan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret of the Incas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Step by step, Sullivan pieces together the hidden esoteric tradition of the Andes to uncover the tragic secret of the Incas, a tribe who believed that, if events in the heavens could influence those on earth, perhaps the reverse could be true. Anyone who reads this book will never look at the ruins of the Incas, or at the night sky, the same way again. Illustrations.


Book cover of Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks: Astrological Symbolism in Art, Architecture, and Landscape

John M. Saul Author Of What the Stork Brought: African click-speakers and the spread of humanity's oldest beliefs

From my list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a geologist, I met and shared meals – occasionally under the stars – with individuals with strikingly different backgrounds. In time I realized that, whatever their DNA, they all shared certain beliefs, that the happy dead eventually go upward, for example, even if they start by going down or out to the horizon. Eventually, I concluded that the entire human adventure began in a single moment the day one of our forebears asked another "What shall we do about death?" and was understood. Humans have a single genetic heritage; we also have a single cultural heritage.

John's book list on the origins of humanity's earliest beliefs

John M. Saul Why did John love this book?

Professor Richer, author of a half-dozen books, commonly commented on intellectual matters for French radio. My recommendation of his only book translated into English requires an explanation because the book contains multiple errors and is seriously flawed. In places, Richer neglects the effects of the Precession and elsewhere uses maps on which unrelated points are forced to fall along straight lines. But I once spoke with Richer and have read his other books knowing that the man had a secret. Indeed, more than one. Richer had access to papyrus texts indicating that the Ancient Greeks had set out temples, cities, and colonies across the Mediterranean in ways that reflected the zodiac. Another reason for his secrecy, which I discuss in my own book, is that the papyruses, discovered during Bonaparte's Egyptian Campaign (1798-1801), also included materials that ultimately gave rise to The Da Vinci Code.

By Jean Richer, Christine Rhone (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides proof of the existence and explains the significance of planned alignments between classical temples and oracle sites over a wide range of territory, pointing to an astrological system of planning in the ancient world. This system of symbolism may be used predictively and is supported by all relevant artifacts. Here is a unifying approach to the study of geomancy in the ancient world as a whole.

Richer has found a network of significant geographic alignments, associated with the pathways of various legendary figures and gods, that are geomantic keys to many legends and texts. One of these…


Book cover of Heaven's Mirror: Quest for the Lost Civilization

Harry Whitewolf Author Of The Road to Purification: Hustlers, Hassles & Hash

From my list on rethinking ancient Egypt.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in ancient Egypt ever since I read Asterix and Cleopatra when I was a boy. The hilarious moment of Obelix accidentally knocking off the Sphinx’s nose has always stayed with me in particular. By my early twenties, I was reading authors like Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, and Colin Wilson, who showed me that what we think we know about ancient Egypt is not wholly correct. For instance, there’s little evidence that the Great Pyramid’s purpose was to be a tomb and the Sphinx seems to be much older than Egyptologists believe. In 2010, at thirty-four years old, I finally got to visit the wonders of Egypt myself.

Harry's book list on rethinking ancient Egypt

Harry Whitewolf Why did Harry love this book?

Much of the key stuff that’s mentioned in the books above are contained in Heaven’s Mirror by the great Graham Hancock and his wife Santha Faiia. So, the book’s a great place to start if you’re new to all this rethinking ancient Egypt malarkey. Heaven’s Mirror also covers other civilizations like the Mayans and Incas. For me, this book is so special because it contains some absolutely glorious and spellbinding photos of key ancient sites in Egypt, such as Karnak, Dendera, Abydos, and the pyramids of Giza, Dashur, and Saqqara, which I was lucky enough to visit myself and which I wrote about in The Road To Purification.

By Graham Hancock, Santha Faiia,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Heaven's Mirror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the sequel to the international bestseller, "Fingerprints of the Gods". In very different parts of the world, evidence exists of a common legacy - shared by cultures separated by hundreds, sometimes thousands of years. From Mexico to Iceland, Cambodia to Easter Island, China to Egypt, we are finding a common astronomical wisdom handed down from a time before history, a time perhaps before the 'Great Flood'. This book addresses a common wisdom from a lost civilisation which might hold the key to our own identity on earth. "Heaven's Mirror" is a personal quest for the answer - the…


Book cover of Saints and Sinners in the Sky: Astronomy, Religion and Art in Western Culture

Chary Rangacharyulu Author Of From Atoms to Higgs Boson: Voyages in Quasi-Spacetime

From my list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been pursuing nuclear and particle physics as a career for nearly half a century, mostly in Western countries and Japan. As a professor of physics and engineering physics, I always strive to bring conceptual clarity to what I teach for application-oriented and abstract physics, even when I cannot bring the same level of connection to physical reality in my research. I am deeply concerned that physicists have gone astray in their mathematical quest to develop a glamorous picture of the building blocks of matter and the basic interactions among them. This book is an outgrowth of my search to understand the limits of human knowledge to unravel nature’s mysteries. 

Chary's book list on stargazers' strife and joy since antiquity

Chary Rangacharyulu Why did Chary love this book?

Science meets Religion and Art is an apt summary of this delightful work of Mendillo, an astronomy professor. In a couple of hundred pages, the author shares his knowledge accumulated over a few decades of his studies by analyzing the centuries of work by astronomers, artists, and theologians. This book would be of interest to practicing astronomers as well as casual stargazers.

Having lived on three continents, I am always fascinated by the way religion and the art that goes with it have influenced societies’ thinking and narratives of stellar objects and cosmology. This influence is reflected in the art and images artists create to express their faith. Professor Mendillo has summarized his decades-long exploration of these connections as found in cathedrals, museums, etc., in this book.

By Michael Mendillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Saints and Sinners in the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this book, Boston University Professor of Astronomy Michael Mendillo takes readers deep into the annals of history, showing how visual depictions of the heavens evolved in tandem with science and religion throughout much of Western culture.

With unprecedented scope and scale, Professor Mendillo explores how cave art, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, paintings and architecture reflected some of the great religious and secular battles taking place over the course of centuries. Enter a world of biblical proportions, where constellations of ancient heroes and pagans were thoroughly recast as Christian saints and the Twelve Apostles.

This nontechnical narrative brings vitality and accessibility…


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

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

From my list on archaeoastronomy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my scientific career as an Astrophysicist. However, I have always been interested in Archaeology. This finally led me to conjugate the two passions when I started working in Archaeoastronomy, in 2003. Working in Archaeoastronomy first means having a direct experience of the sites (preferably, of every single stone, although in places like Giza they count in the millions…). So I have made fieldworks in Italy, Egypt, Cambodia, and, recently, on Chinese imperial necropolises. I currently teach Archaeoastronomy as a professor at the Politecnico of Milan. I have always been interested also in scientific communication on TV and social media, and my introductive Archaeoastronomy course is available for free on the Coursera platform.

Giulio's book list on archaeoastronomy

Giulio Magli Why did Giulio love 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.

By E.C. Krupp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover the celestial myths and cosmic rituals of ancient priests and kings . . .
Drawing on intimate knowledge of the more than 1,300 ancient sites he has visited, E. C. Krupp, acclaimed writer and preeminent researcher, takes you to the world's essential sacred places and celestial shrines. Join him on a rich narrative journey to see where the rulers of old communed with the gods of the sky.
""Highly recommended to everyone interested in the culture of astronomy and those peoples who practiced it in their own ways.""-Sky & Telescope
""A lively account of the ways in which our…


Book cover of Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation

Sandra A. Miller Author Of Trove: A Woman's Search for Truth and Buried Treasure

From my list on for people on a spiritual search.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2010, Sandra A. Miller began hunting for a chest of gold coins buried in New York City soil. In her late forties at the time, she was mired in the process of helping her ailing mother to die, her teenage children to fly, and her writing career to survive the beating it had taken in the Great Recession and beyond. Soon enough, Sandra realized she was not just hunting for a treasure chest full of gold, but rather a different kind of riches. She had lost herself and needed to find a spiritual path that would lead her back home.

Sandra's book list on for people on a spiritual search

Sandra A. Miller Why did Sandra love this book?

The comparative mythologist, Joseph Campbell is probably best known for A Hero with a Thousand Faces, but it’s another book—Pathways to Bliss—that I turn to like a travel guide to my own spiritual journey. In prompting readers to explore archetypes to help them create their personal mythology, Campbell believes that life should be a journey to finding our bliss. This is a book about personal growth for people who want to self-discovery in a larger—mythical—context.

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pathways to Bliss as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell famously defined myth as “other people's religion.” But he also said that one of the basic functions of myth is to help each individual through the journey of life, providing a sort of travel guide or map to reach fulfillment — or, as he called it, bliss. For Campbell, many of the world's most powerful myths support the individual's heroic path toward bliss.

In Pathways to Bliss, Campbell examines this personal, psychological side of myth. Like his classic best-selling books Myths to Live By and The Power of Myth, Pathways to Bliss draws from Campbell's popular lectures and…


Book cover of Primitive Mythology

Thomas T. Lawson Author Of Carl Jung, Darwin of the Mind

From my list on C.J. Jung and the evolution of culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

A certain idea kept cropping up in my reading, triggered perhaps by Richard Dawkins's conception in The Selfish Gene, of the “meme.” It seemed that the meme had a life of its own. Then I came across Richerson’s and Boyd’s Not by Genes Alone, and they laid it out: cultures evolve. And they evolve independently of the genes—free of genetic constraints in an idea or thought to contribute to its own survival. That is up to the multitude of people who happen to come across it. I now have a new book readying for publication: How Cognition, Language, Myth, and Culture Came Together To Make Us What We Are.

Thomas' book list on C.J. Jung and the evolution of culture

Thomas T. Lawson Why did Thomas love this book?

Campbell, to me, is the dean of writers on myth. I met him once, through a professor at Hollins University who, at her graduation, had awarded Anna, my wife-to-be, the first three volumes of The Hero of a Thousand Faces, as a prize in English Literature (the fourth, Creative Mythology, was yet to be published).

After we met, I learned that Campbell had edited the Penguin Portable Jung – and it is that book that set me on a course of study and writing on myth and literature that I have pursued ever since.

As a final note, Campbell also co-authored A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake, a book that many years later led me into James Joyce’s masterwork, Finnegans Wake – to me, the apotheosis of mythic literature.

By Joseph Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Primitive Mythology as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The author of such acclaimed books as Hero With a Thousand Faces and The Power of Myth discusses the primitive roots of mythology, examining them in light of the most recent discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, and psychology


Book cover of The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

Tyler Nordgren Author Of Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets

From my list on astronomy books that will rock your world and alter your cosmos.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was of that generation of children turned on to science by reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos - plus watching the Voyager spacecraft at Jupiter on TV, seeing the 1979 total solar eclipse over my house, and having Mt St Helens erupt outside my childhood window. So, one guess what I wanted to be when I grew up? Since then, I’ve earned a PhD, used the largest telescopes on Earth, designed something driving around on Mars, written popular books, and had my science art collected by the Smithsonian. But all of that started with a single book I read as a kid. Thanks Carl.

Tyler's book list on astronomy books that will rock your world and alter your cosmos

Tyler Nordgren Why did Tyler love this book?

Have you ever wondered where all the stars went? When was the last time you saw the Milky Way? We have national parks to preserve beautiful places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone geysers. But somehow, the Milky Way, a billion glowing stars all blended together in a band everyone could see every moonless night everywhere on Earth, has just faded away to invisibility for 80% of Americans. How did that happen and why we should care is what Bogard writes about in this lovely book written not for scientists or amateur astronomers, but for everyone who’s ever thought about simply “sleeping under the stars.”

By Paul Bogard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The End of Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Streetlamps, neon signs - an ever-present glow that has changed the natural world and adversely affected our health; Paul Bogard illuminates the problems caused by a lack of darkness. We live awash in artificial light. But night's natural darkness has always been invaluable for our spiritual health and the health of the natural world, and every living creature suffers from its loss. Paul Bogard investigates what we mean when we talk about darkness. He travels between the intensely lit cities - from glittering Las Vegas to the gas-lit streets of Westminster - and the sites where real darkness still remains,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Atlantis, presidential biography, and astronomy?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Atlantis, presidential biography, and astronomy.

Atlantis Explore 15 books about Atlantis
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography
Astronomy Explore 75 books about astronomy