Astronomy, Academic


The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology

Edited by Fabio Silva and Nicholas Campion
ISBN: 978-1782978404
12 March 2015
£12.95 – £38.00
Paperback; 210 pages

Eleven papers extend discussion of the role and importance of the landscape and the wider environment to past societies, and to the understanding and interpretation of their material remains, into consideration of the significance of the celestial environment: the skyscape. The role of the sky for past societies has been relegated to the fringes of archaeological discourse. Nevertheless archaeoastronomy has developed a new rigour in the last few decades and the evidence suggests that it can provide insights into the beliefs, practices and cosmologies of past societies. Skyscapes explores the current role of archaeoastronomical knowledge in archaeological discourse and how to integrate the two. It shows how it is not only possible but even desirable to look at the skyscape to shed further light on human societies. This is achieved by first exploring the historical relationship between archaeoastronomy and academia in general, and with archaeology in particular. The volume continues by presenting case-studies that either demonstrate how archaeoastronomical methodologies can add to our current understanding of past societies, their structures and beliefs, or how integrated approaches can raise new questions and even revolutionise current views of the past.


Table of Contents

  • Preface: Meaning and Intent in Ancient Skyscapes – An Andean Perspective
    ~ J. McKim Malville
  • The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology: an introduction
    ~ Fabio Silva
  • Skyscapes: Locating Archaeoastronomy within Academia
    ~ Nicholas Campion
  • An examination of the divide between archaeoastronomy and archaeology
    ~ Liz Henty
  • Skyscapes: Present and Past – From Sustainability to Interpreting Ancient Remains
    ~ Daniel Brown
  • 30b – the West Kennet Avenue stone that never was: interpretation by multidisciplinary triangulation and emergence through four field anthropology
    ~ Lionel Sims
  • Can archaeoastronomy inform archaeology on the building chronology of the Mnajdra Neolithic Temple in Malta?
    ~ Tore Lomsdalen
  • Star phases: the naked-eye astronomy of the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts
    ~ Bernadette Brady
  • An architectural perspective on structured sacred space – recent evidence from Iron Age Ireland
    ~ Frank Prendergast
  • The Circumpolar Skyscape of a Pembrokeshire Dolmen
    ~ Olwyn Pritchard
  • The View from Within: a ‘time-space-action’ approach to Megalithism in Central Portugal
    ~ Fabio Silva
  • Afterword: Dances beneath a diamond sky
    ~ Timothy Darvill


“Skyscapes seems to foresee new ways for development in the field that ought to be useful to any potential readers, notably archaeologists.”
~ Juan Antonio Belmonte, Journal for the History of Astronomy (09/01/2017)


Fabio Silva is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Modelling at Bournemouth University and co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology. His primary research interest is how societies have perceived and conceived their world(s) and used that to time and adjust social, productive and magico-religious behaviours. This steered him to focus his research along two distinct yet complementary strands: archaeological modelling and skyscape archaeology.


Dr Nicholas Campion is Principal Lecturer, Institute of Education and Humanities, and Associate Professor in Cosmology and Culture. He is the director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, the only academic Centre in the world to deal with cultural relationships with the sky and the cosmos. He is responsible for taking forward the Centre’s research and teaching activities, through supervising PhD students, sponsoring research projects, organising conferences and other events, and publishing research via the peer-reviewed journal Culture and Cosmos. He also serves as Programme Director of the MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology.

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