African Cultural Astronomy: Current Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy research in Africa (Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings)

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9781402066382: African Cultural Astronomy: Current Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy research in Africa (Astrophysics and Space Science Proceedings)

This is the first scholarly collection of articles focused on the cultural astronomy of the African continent. It weaves together astronomy, anthropology, and Africa and it includes African myths and legends about the sky, alignments to celestial bodies found at archaeological sites and at places of worship, rock art with celestial imagery, and scientific thinking revealed in local astronomy traditions including ethnomathematics and the creation of calendars.

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Astronomy is the science of studying the sky using telescopes and light collectors such as photographic plates or CCD detectors. However, people have always studied the sky and continue to study the sky without the aid of instruments this is the realm of cultural astronomy. This is the first scholarly collection of articles focused on the cultural astronomy of Africans. It weaves together astronomy, anthropology, and Africa. The volume includes African myths and legends about the sky, alignments to celestial bodies found at archaeological sites and at places of worship, rock art with celestial imagery, and scientific thinking revealed in local astronomy traditions including ethnomathematics and the creation of calendars. Authors include astronomers Kim Malville, Johnson Urama, and Thebe Medupe; archaeologist Felix Chami, and geographer Michael Bonine, and many new authors. As an emerging subfield of cultural astronomy, African cultural astronomy researchers are focused on training students specifically for doing research in Africa. The first part of the volume contains lessons and exercises to help the beginning student of African cultural astronomy. Included are exercises in archaeoastronomy, cultural anthropology, and naked-eye astronomy penned by authors who use these regularly use these methods for their research. This collection of lessons and research papers provides a foundation for the cultural astronomy researcher interested in doing work in Africa.

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"The 17 readable, stimulating papers deal with multiple topics: simple principles of looking at the heavens and what a person can get out of it as an anthropologist and a general observer ... and finally how cultural astronomy is expressed today in African cultures. ... Clearly a book for universities, this volume will also find interested readers in eclectic libraries, and amateur astronomers will be especially attracted by the contents. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries." (R. B. Clay, Choice, Vol. 46 (07), March, 2009)

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