Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

Archeoastronomy - Windows to the Universe

Shop Windows to the Universe

Science, Evolution, and Creationism, by the National Academies, focuses on teaching evolution in today's classrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store.
A beautiful photo of Stonehenge, the birthplace of archeoastronomy
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Corel Photography.


"The movements of the heavenly bodies are an admirable thing, well known and manifest to all peoples. There are no people, no matter how barbaric and primitive, that do not raise up their eyes, take note, and observe with some care and admiration the continuous and uniform course of the heavenly bodies." - Bernabe Cobo (1653)

From the beginning, man has observed the heavens. Early man observed the heavens because the Sun, Moon and stars gave indication of coming seasons to farmers and hunters. The sky aided in navigation especially for nomads and sailors. And many ancient civilizations thought the sky gave signs of life, war, earthquakes, the fate of kingdoms...and more.

The new field of archeoastronomy started in the 1960s with discoveries at Stonehenge, the world's most famous megalithic structure. Archeoastronomy has been called the 'anthropology of astronomy' to distinguish it from the history of astronomy. This means that archeoastronomy pays attention to the astronomical practices, mythologies, and religions of ancient cultures. It sets to find out just how astronomy fit into a certain culture's life.

And so it touches on ancient calendar systems, concepts of time and space, mathematics (especially counting systems and geometry), navigation, and architecture. Archeoastronomers will look at imagery and writing left by a civilization. They will look at architecture, especially to see if the buildings or megaliths have any orientations towards the Sun or Moon or even Venus. The most common orientation is to look for alignment with sun rise on the date of a solstice.

Journey through many topics in archeoastronomy by choosing which way to start your journey:

Journey through Time
Journey by Region
Meet the People Involved
Just Look at Megaliths!

Last modified September 11, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

The Summer 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist, available in our online store, includes articles on rivers and snow, classroom planetariums, satellites and oceanography, hands-on astronomy, and global warming.

Windows to the Universe Community



You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

What Causes the Seasons?

Let's get rid of some common misconceptions about the seasons. The Earth's orbit is in the shape of an ellipse, so that sometimes the Earth is a little bit closer to the Sun than at other times. Is this...more

The Stonehenge Monument

There are over 900 rings of stone located in the British Isles. The most famous of these stone rings is of course, Stonehenge. Stonehenge lies in Wiltshire, England. Stonehenge is so mysterious that it...more

Megaliths Revealed

Many people are interested in the mysterious megalithic structures that can be found around the world. A megalithic structure is a ancient monument made of large stones. Megalith comes from Greek; "mega"...more

Pentre Ifan Dolmen Tomb

The stone structures of England and France are very famous. But, there are also stone structures in Wales, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Russia. The most popular site in Wales is Pentre Ifan. Pentre...more

Native American Astronomy

People from Asia crossed the Bering Strait into North America. These people were first in this new land and so they are known as Native Americans. Over time, these people broke into tribes (as seen on...more


"The movements of the heavenly bodies are an admirable thing, well known and manifest to all peoples. There are no people, no matter how barbaric and primitive, that do not raise up their eyes, take note,...more

The Stones of Carnac

The stones of Carnac, France, are probably the most famous stones markings outside of those found at Stonehenge in England. There are many, many stones at Carnac. And these stones are very old too, the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF