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  • Series: Studies in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology, Vol. 8
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-907767-09-8
  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.7 inches


From the earliest times, human beings have been driven by the basic needs to procure food and water, shelter and defence, and communication with other members of the group. The skyscape was different from these, as it was beyond the reach of people and could not be manipulated. Yet, the innate imagination of human beings could not be unmoved by the sun and the moon, which dominate the day and night and apparently move in a well-ordered fashion, and the stars, which provide a splendid canopy on clear dark nights. Although celestial objects could not be handled and exploited in a tangible manner, people’s creativity sought to understand them, to find some use for them in relation to one’s needs and activities and to generate ideas about their nature and their meaning for humanity. In addition, concepts, patterns, myths and other creations of this intangible culture could be transformed into material culture, including iconography, calendars, structural orientations and other human creations. These manifestations constitute the materiality of the sky and bear witness to human beings’ interest in the sky. The chapters in this volume illustrate the variety of research activity generated in this field of study across a broad spectrum of ages, cultures, and geographical regions. 

The Materiality of the Sky

Proceedings of the 22nd Annual SEAC Conference 2014, Malta

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

Introduction: The Materiality of the Sky
Frank Ventura



Reading Messages from the Past: Interpreting Symbols Possible Archaeoastronmical Significance in Malta
Frank Ventura

The ‘Oracle Holes’ of the Maltese Prehistoric Temples: An Investigation of their Astronomical/Solar Alignments
Tore Lomsdalen

Inclusion and Exclusion of Sunlight and Moonlight From Temples of the Ġgantija and Tarxien Phases
John Cox


Cosmovisions Put Upon a Disk: Another View of the Nebra Disk
Michael A. Rappenglück

Astronomy and Landscape in Carthago Nova
Juan Antonio Belmonte, José Miguel Noguera Celdrán, A. César González-García & Andrea Rodríguez-Antón

A Status Report: A Review of Research on the Origins and Diffusion of the Belief in a Sky Bear
Roslyn M. Frank

In Search of Päivätär, the Finnish Solar Goddess
Marianna Ridderstad

The Nordic Calendar and the Great Midwinter Sacrifice at Old Uppsala
Göran Henriksson

Fire from the Heavens: The Idea of Cosmic Fire across Archaic Cultures
Michael A. Rappenglück


On the Orientation of the Historic Churches of Lanzarote: When Human Necessity Dominates over Canonical Prescriptions
Alejandro Gangui, A. César González García, Ma Antonia Perera Betancort & Juan Antonio Belmonte

Orientation of Roman Camps and Forts in Britannia: Reconsidering Alan Richardson’s Work
Andrea Rodríguez-Antón, Antonio César González-García & Juan Antonio Belmonte

Evidence for the Existence of Solar and Lunar Alignments in Western Scotland: The Contrasting Nature of Backsights, Foresights and Alignments
Thomas Gough

Architecture, Illumination and Cosmology: the Arles-Fontvieille Monuments, Archaeoastronomy and Megalithic Studies 
Morgan Saletta

An Ethnoastronomy Study on the Astronomical Orientation and Astral Decoration of the Stone Granaries (Hórreos) of Vilaboa (Galicia, Spain) 
Fátima Braña Rey & Ana Ulla Miguel

Connections: The Relationships between Neolithic and Bronze Age Megalithic Astronomy in Britain 
Gail Higginbottom & Roger Clay

Winter Solstice at the Iberian Cave-Sanctuary of La Nariz 
César Esteban & José Ángel Ocharan Ibarra

Raising Awareness of Light Pollution by Simulation of Nocturnal Light of Astronomical Cultural Heritage Sites 
Georg Zotti & Günther Wuchterl

New Findings at the ‘Petre De La Mola’ Megaliths 
L. Lozito, F. Maurici, V. F. Polcaro, and A. Scuderi


Sirius (al-‘Abūr) Proper Motion as Recorded in the Arabic Star Mythology
Flora Vafea

The Stones of Penas de Rodas: Can the ‘Spell of Archaeo-astronomy’ Create a Contemporary Sacred Place?
Benito Vilas Estevez

The Sphere in Antiquity
Ma Pilar Burillo-Cuadrado


Houses of the Sun and the Collapse of Chacoan Culture
J. McKim Malville & Andrew Munro

Astronomy and the Ceque System of Cusco
Steven R. Gullberg

The Temple of the Inscriptions in the Spiritual Landscape at Palenque
Stanisław Iwaniszewski


A Comparative Study of Megalithic Monuments in Sardinia and Beyond
A. César González-García, Mauro P. Zedda & Juan A. Belmonte

Archaeoastronomy In Sicily: Megaliths And Rocky Sites
Andrea Orlando

The Tall Gnomon Of Guo Shoujing: An Astro-Archaeological Analysis
Vance Tiede

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