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Archaeoastronomy - how do you rate it
[h=5]FROM LIZ HENTY: Here's something to do when rain stops play!
I'm a PhD student conducting research into the comparative history of archaeoastronomy and archaeology which will include an assessment of archaeologists' attitudes to archaeoastronomy. To help me with my research I would be really grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete my online questionnaire which can be accessed by clicking the link below:

No druids need apply Smile[/h]
My only direct experience is a letter from a very well known, and generally highly respected, practitioner of the art, telling us what star a curving line of Neolithic postholes, which we never saw either end of, was pointing towards...kid u not, still have the letter here, its going in the archive for posterity }Smile
a bit like divining really - you can see what you want
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
I will hold my hands up and tell you I have been doing a project that involved archaeo-astronomy- what convinces me - is the practitioner that advised us reminded me to stop using absolutes... as using a total station is different from a stick... and string as is the reality of standing there and waiting for the sun to do something or moon... it may rain, it may be cloudy ( often ) and so the accuracy needs a few days either side. in addition to beware using far points to sight on. and try and have three things in a row. what I liked was following these rules the team found not 1 not 2 but 5 alignments to major events... and that was just the sun...

Keep it simple and remember that the people of the past were looking for a rough idea of what was happening when...

ie... "when the sun rises about ther... its time for plantin' ! "

even things like house orientation...

If you think about it... do you even think twice about churches being east west? ah... archaeo-astronomy.... or that teh sunbox at Newgrange is real? er.....

So actually we already do use it... but are fearful of being branded druids...

Collect teh data... and then see what happens
too right BAJR !!! - next they will claim the giza pyramids and sphinx were randomly oriented.....(i am a YouTubeDruid)

to quote the questionaire: "Archaeoastronomy seeks to discover the impact of astronomy on culture, whether this is incorporated in sites of archaeological interest by precision alignment, orientation, or in symbolism derived from the sky."

Stars and other 'sky-objects' are very deep in oral tradition - this is both practical knowledge and deep metaphysical narrative.

My grandfather was a RAF Navigator (ie before onboard computers) and learnt to navigate by the stars alone.
I also talked once with indgenous australians about the sky >>> there is a plethora of fascinating and convincing material on the subject worldwide
>>> it is indeed possible to be intimatley and practically familiar with what looks to most of us as a random pin-pricks in the sky.

It is difficult/special knowledge, and hence it is no surprise to find it convyed and represented in monumental, artistic, or other physical forms.

ArchaeoAstronomy is not 'alternative archaeology' > it is real, and just as 'probable/proveable' as many other archaeological interpretations.
Some alternative archaeology uses archaeoastronomy - judge each case by its merits, BUT DO NOT FORGET HOW SMART PEOPLE IN THE PAST WERE, NOR HOW LONG OUR ANCESTORS HAVE OBSERVED THE SKY.

Absolutely and how many of us who investigate and interprete the past have any idea how a typical farming community runs and organises its self let alone how people understood and viewed the landscape in which they were imersed? Environment was important in ways most of us cannot imagine living in industrial societies divorced from the landSad
In my experience (which is actually pretty extensive when it comes to Neolithic monuments) they could occasionally manage a pretty good circle but they were s**te at anything involving a straight line -couldn't even get the 3 Thornborough henges in a line (unless you subscribe to the 'belt of Orion' school of thought (which always gets brought up wherever someone's failed to get 3 things in a straight line). I've got a (majorr monument) site where they made a total dogs of what was clearly meant to be a straight ditch in Phase 1, then they just carried on blindly following all the wiggles in subsequent phases. Must have looked s**t when it was up. Don't think in reality they actually cared, and we're reading far too much into 'prehistoric geometry'
Intersting about the straight line thing as in reality - if you want to do that./... it is the easiest to do. three sticks and you are away... so it must not have been important.
There is no problem building things in straight lines over long distance if you want to. So those henges are not meant to be aligned. And it may be that kink in the ditch is meant to be there (though it might be the work party had too much fermented grain). I am with BAJR don't look for spot on accuracy but look for the more general alignment. Don't even look for geometry but think if I stood here on Mid summers eve what would I see? In a world without clocks the sun moon and stars measure time over long periods and in predictable ways.
At least their approach to 'straight lines' makes planning hundreds of metres of ditch (cursus) less boring. Dunno how long they beligerently stuck to their wiggles but poss centuries/millenia, not got any dating yet

Someone must eventually have got embarrased cos they added an achingly well-surveyed timber circle next to the thing (no obvious orientation, its just round) - so am prepared to believe at least one piece of string happened by the later Neolithic Cool

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