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History[ edit ] In his short history of 'Astro-archaeology' John Michell argued that the status of research into ancient astronomy had improved over the past two centuries, going 'from lunacy to heresy to interesting notion and finally to the gates of orthodoxy. Is archaeoastronomy still waiting at the gates of orthodoxy or has it gotten inside the gates?
Some of their works are considered precursors of archaeoastronomy; antiquarians interpreted the astronomical orientation of the ruins that dotted the English countryside as William Stukeley did of Stonehenge in while John Aubrey in  and Henry Chauncy in sought similar astronomical principles underlying the orientation of churches.
Clive Ruggles  says that Heinrich Nissenworking in the mid-nineteenth century was arguably the first archaeoastronomer. Rolf Sinclair  says that Norman Lockyerworking in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, could be called the 'father of archaeoastronomy'.
Euan MacKie  would place the origin even later, stating: Early archaeoastronomers surveyed Megalithic constructs in the British Isles, at sites like Auglish in County Londonderryin an attempt to find statistical patterns. In the s the work of the engineer Alexander Thom and that of the astronomer Gerald Hawkinswho proposed that Stonehenge was a Neolithic computer,  inspired new interest in the astronomical features of ancient sites.
The claims of Hawkins were largely dismissed,  but this was not the case for Alexander Thom's work, whose survey results of megalithic sites hypothesized widespread practice of accurate astronomy in the British Isles. There was an artificial platform there and this apparent verification of Thom's long alignment hypothesis Kintraw was diagnosed as an accurate winter solstice site led him to check Thom's geometrical theories at the Cultoon stone circle in Islay, also with a positive result.
MacKie therefore broadly accepted Thom's conclusions and published new prehistories of Britain. The approach in the New Worldwhere anthropologists began to consider more fully the role of astronomy in Amerindian civilizations, was markedly different.
They had access to sources that the prehistory of Europe lacks such as ethnographies   and the historical records of the early colonizers.
Following the pioneering example of Anthony Aveni,   this allowed New World archaeoastronomers to make claims for motives which in the Old World would have been mere speculation.
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The concentration on historical data led to some claims of high accuracy that were comparatively weak when compared to the statistically led investigations in Europe.
The subsequent conferences have resulted in a move to more interdisciplinary approaches with researchers aiming to combine the contextuality of archaeological research,  which broadly describes the state of archaeoastronomy today, rather than merely establishing the existence of ancient astronomies, archaeoastronomers seek to explain why people would have an interest in the night sky.
Relations to other disciplines[ edit ] As such, it can be seen as connecting other disciplinary approaches for investigating ancient astronomy: Authors of recent doctoral dissertations have described their work as concerned with the fields of archaeology and cultural anthropology; with various fields of history including the history of specific regions and periods, the history of science and the history of religion; and with the relation of astronomy to art, literature and religion.
Only rarely did they describe their work as astronomical, and then only as a secondary category. George Gummerman and Miranda Warburton view archaeoastronomy as part of an archaeology informed by cultural anthropology and aimed at understanding a "group's conception of themselves in relation to the heavens', in a word, its cosmology.
Some expressed incomprehension or even hostility, varying from a rejection by the archaeological mainstream of what they saw as an archaeoastronomical fringe to an incomprehension between the cultural focus of archaeologists and the quantitative focus of early archaeoastronomers.
Since archaeoastronomers disagree so widely on the characterization of the discipline, they even dispute its name. All three major international scholarly associations relate archaeoastronomy to the study of culture, using the term Astronomy in Culture or a translation.
Michael Hoskin sees an important part of the discipline as fact-collecting, rather than theorizing, and proposed to label this aspect of the discipline Archaeotopography.The Romanovs: - Kindle edition by Simon Sebag Montefiore. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets.
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