The best archaeoastronomy books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about archaeoastronomy and why they recommend each book.

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Skywatchers

By Anthony F. Aveni,

Book cover of Skywatchers: Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

By Giulio Magli,

Book cover of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

What is my book about?

This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds.

The book is divided into three sections, the first of which explores the past relations between astronomy and people, power, the afterworld, architecture, and landscape. The fundamentals of archaeoastronomy are then addressed in detail, with coverage of the celestial coordinates; the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets; observation of celestial bodies at the horizon; the use of astronomical software in archaeoastronomy; and current methods for making and analyzing measurements. The final section reviews what archaeoastronomy can now tell us about the nature and purpose of sites and structures. The book can be enjoyed in augmented reality through the use of a free app.

Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings

By E.C. Krupp,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

By Giulio Magli,

Book cover of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

What is my book about?

This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds.

The book is divided into three sections, the first of which explores the past relations between astronomy and people, power, the afterworld, architecture, and landscape. The fundamentals of archaeoastronomy are then addressed in detail, with coverage of the celestial coordinates; the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets; observation of celestial bodies at the horizon; the use of astronomical software in archaeoastronomy; and current methods for making and analyzing measurements. The final section reviews what archaeoastronomy can now tell us about the nature and purpose of sites and structures. The book can be enjoyed in augmented reality through the use of a free app.

Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland

By Clive Ruggles,

Book cover of Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland

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. 


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

By Giulio Magli,

Book cover of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

What is my book about?

This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds.

The book is divided into three sections, the first of which explores the past relations between astronomy and people, power, the afterworld, architecture, and landscape. The fundamentals of archaeoastronomy are then addressed in detail, with coverage of the celestial coordinates; the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets; observation of celestial bodies at the horizon; the use of astronomical software in archaeoastronomy; and current methods for making and analyzing measurements. The final section reviews what archaeoastronomy can now tell us about the nature and purpose of sites and structures. The book can be enjoyed in augmented reality through the use of a free app.

The Cosmos in Ancient Greek Religious Experience

By Efrosyni Boutsikas,

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

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. 


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

By Giulio Magli,

Book cover of Archaeoastronomy: Introduction to the Science of Stars and Stones

What is my book about?

This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds.

The book is divided into three sections, the first of which explores the past relations between astronomy and people, power, the afterworld, architecture, and landscape. The fundamentals of archaeoastronomy are then addressed in detail, with coverage of the celestial coordinates; the apparent motion of the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets; observation of celestial bodies at the horizon; the use of astronomical software in archaeoastronomy; and current methods for making and analyzing measurements. The final section reviews what archaeoastronomy can now tell us about the nature and purpose of sites and structures. The book can be enjoyed in augmented reality through the use of a free app.

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