Archaeoastronomy is a multidisciplinary research area which in later years has received more and more attention all over the world. The concept of archaeoastronomy derives its origin from the two Greek words archaeology and astronomy, dealing with knowledge of the past and celestial bodies respectively.
In most ancient mythologies the gods ruled the heavens, its planets and star constellations were regarded as the most divine of all symbols. Therefore it became natural for the peoples of ancient times to observe and study the annual orbits of the sun and moon. By careful studying of the phenomena in the sky, the foundation for astronomy was set and therefore the knowledge of chronology, using the sunrises and sunsets on the horizon as a yardstick.
In the remains of the old high cultures, archaeoastronomic
research has clearly shown that stone formations, grave monuments,
temples and pyramids often have had advanced astronomic purposes. To
mention a few: the calendaric sun pyramids and sundials of the Maya,
Aztek and Inca cultures, Stonehenge, New Grange, the pyramids of Egypt
and the Babylonian zikkurats (observation towers). In Sweden, archaeoastronomic
studies of the Bronze Age stone settings Ales stenar and Stenhed have
revealed that they have been constructed to mark the vernal and autumnal
equinoxes and the sun calendaric turning points at the winter solstice
and summer solstice, i.e. for the sake of time calculation. In reality
the opposing sun stones of Ales stenar and Stenhed are so carefully
placed that they even today can by used to account for the 365 days
of a solar year and the 24 hours of day and night. Havängsdösen,
situated a couple of miles from Ales stenar and Stenhed, is about 5.000
years old and was also built with the sun as the guiding instrument.
This means that the inhabitants of the North of ancient times (even
in comparison with other culture people of prehistory) had very advanced
knowledge of astronomy and mathematics.
© BG Lind