Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy - the Astronomy of Skyscapes
Skyscape Archaeology: “Pushing back the frontiers”?
Fabio Silvia
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
This paper looks at how skyscape archaeology is pushing back the frontiers which have limited archaeoastronomy. Ruggles (2011) expressed concern that archaeoastronomers were “running round in the same circles” rather than pushing back the frontiers of the ‘interdiscipline’. In referring to the inclusion of archaeoastronomy in Renfrew and Bahn’s Archaeology: the Key Concepts (2005) he suggested archaeoastronomy had entered mainstream archaeology.

This prompted me to ask two important questions: firstly has archaeoastronomy really entered the archaeological mainstream? To answer this I conducted a survey to assess the attitudes of archaeologists using questionnaires handed out at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conferences and those from an online version using Google Drive. My results will be examined to see if the attitudes of archaeologists have softened since the acrimonious debates of the 1970’s and 1980’s about megalithic astronomy.

Secondly, are we still running around the same circles or are we branching out? This paper will look at the UK initiatives of the Skyscapes sessions at both the Theoretical Archaeology Group conferences and the National Astronomy meetings. Additionally there is the Sophia Centre’s ‘Skyscape, Cosmology and Archaeology’ module at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and a new optional skyscapes module in their archaeology degree. Another development is the launch of the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology aimed to progress a methodological approach to archaeoastronomy which thoroughly incorporates archaeology. Elsewhere, a new initiative in Scotland to teach astronomy using stone circles as a template was launched for primary schools last year.


13:30 - 15:00
EX - C3 (150)