A second, more popular introduction to the burgeoning field of archaeoastronomy, and its most recent findings, by the editor...

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ECHOES OF THE ANCIENT SKIES: The Astronomy of Lost Civilizations

A second, more popular introduction to the burgeoning field of archaeoastronomy, and its most recent findings, by the editor of In Search of Ancient Astronomies 1978). Ten years ago, archaeoastronomy meant little more than checking megaliths for possible celestial alignments; today, perception of the sky is seen to permeate all aspects of prehistoric life. Krupp, director of Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory, dubs his sections The Gods We Worship, The Dead We Bury, The Days We Tally, The Cities We Plan, etc. The Days We Tally takes up calendars from prehistoric Britain to dynastic Egypt to ancient Mesoamerica; The Cities We Plan--by celestial or cardinal alignments--are Beijing, Pueblo Bonito, Tenochtitlán, Cuzco, Teotihuacán. The resulting picture is, of necessity, scrappy. The text also bounces between very general, almost meaningless statements (""Agriculture in ancient Peru also followed the pattern of the seasons"") and minute detail (all the architectural peculiarities--possibly of some as yet undeciphered significance--of the gallery of the Hall of columns at the 8th-century site of Alta Vista). Nonetheless there is much here to interest the browser. Old material is reinterpreted: discussing fertility/rebirth ceremonies, for example, Krupp emphasizes links to celestial periodicity (instead of the traditional links to the seasonal renewal of plants). Much material, however, is new or comparatively unhackneyed: Hah dynasty astronomy, the Omaha Indian myth of the sacred pole, a Shinto story of the sun goddess Anaterasu. Boasting photographs and diagrammatic drawings throughout, it's the sort of book to dip into out of curiosity--and, at best, follow-up by making use of the considerable book-and-article bibliography.

Pub Date: June 1, 1983

ISBN: 0486428826

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983