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Pushing back the frontiers or still running around the same circles? ‘Interpretative archaeoastronomy’ thirty years on

  • Clive L. N. Ruggles (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This personal perspective on the development of archaeoastronomy over the last thirty years focuses on interpretative and methodological issues, picking up for example from the debate between Schaefer and Aveni at Oxford VII. How far we have actually progressed in the last three decades? Are we at last starting to achieve the correct fusion between the social science questions that our discipline addresses and the ‘hard science’ methods that are often involved in tackling them? In this paper I argue that the need for our hypotheses to be solidly grounded in social theory, which has rightly been recognised by most archaeoastronomers in recent years, is not an excuse for avoiding the need to be scientifically rigorous in assessing them against the actual evidence. I conclude that identifying robust methodologies for weighing together the different types of data with which the cultural astronomer is faced in different sitations, so as to infer the ‘best’ interpretation, remains at once the most challenging and the most pressing issue facing our ‘interdiscipline’ in the future.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. A. Belmonte , M. Shaltout , & M. Fekri 2008, On the orientation of ancient Egyptian temples: (4) Epilogue in Serabit el Khadim and overview. Journal for the History of Astronomy 39, 148211.

E. Boutsikas & C. L. N. Ruggles 2011, Temples, stars, and ritual landscapes: the potential for archaeoastronomy in ancient Greece. American Journal of Archaeology, 115 (1), 5568.

N. Campion 2008, Teaching cultural astronomy: on the development and evolution of the syllabus at Bath Spa University and the University of Wales, Lampeter. In J. C. Holbrook , R. T. Medupe & J. O. Urama (eds), African Cultural Astronomy. Current Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy Research in Africa, Springer, New York, pp. 109119.

I. Ghezzi & C. L. N. Ruggles 2007, Chankillo: a 2300-year-old solar observatory in coastal Peru. Science 315, 12391243.

T. Ingold 2000, The Perception of the Environment. Essays in Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, Routledge, London & New York.

E. W. MacKie 2009, The prehistoric solar calendar: an out-of-fashion idea revisited with new evidence. Time and Mind 2 (1), 946.

C. L. N. Ruggles 1984, Megalithic astronomy: the last five years. Vistas in Astronomy 27, 231289.

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Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
  • ISSN: 1743-9213
  • EISSN: 1743-9221
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-international-astronomical-union
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