Archaeology of the Holy Lands
Science and computing in archaeology
Introduction to Archaeology

Archaeoastronomy - where archaeology and astronomy converge

Archaeoastronomy is emerging as a productive interdisciplinary subject, encompassing widely ranging fields such as archaeology, astronomy, anthropology, history and mythology to name but a few. The investigation of this subject throughout the course will involve the interpretation of evidence of many of these fields, thus raising some interesting methodological issues.

The course itself will mainly concentrate upon the aims, methods and objectives of archaeoastronomy, demonstrating its place in modern archaeology.


The initial part of the course will look at the interpretation of astronomical symbolism in monuments, where basic astronomical concepts will be introduced, and where no previous knowledge is necessary. Sites of the Neolithic and Bronze Age will be studied in detail.

The remainder of the course will look at the many examples of world archaeoastronomy in order to develop a critical understanding of the subject within archaeology itself. In addition, the course is intended to develop an appreciation and awareness of the value and problems of studying such an interdisciplinary subject

Session 1


Introduction to and the development of archaeoastronomy.

The historical background and its position relative to mainstream archaeology.

Explanation of the importance of an interdisciplinary approach


Session 2

Introduction to some of the basic astronomical concepts;

By examining a number of selected sites in Europe and beyond.

Session 3

The Neolithic and Bronze age in Britain.

Introduction of available evidence from groups of monuments, such as tombs and circles, in order to assess validity and provide a basis for other sites.

Session 4

Introduction to computer techniques and applications related to archaeoastronomy.

Utilising the latest developments and applications such as ‘Skyglobe’, effects such as precession may be studied. Assignment advice at this session.

Session 5

World  Archaeoastronomy.

Selected sites from Egypt, Americas, Greece, China and the Asian Continent, to examine the religious and social importance – ethnoastronomy.

Session 6

Prehistoric astronomy.

Science or symbolism? Interpretation of astronomical symbolism in monumental architecture.

Session 7

Case History.

Selecting one or two important sites, make an investigative study into the historical perspective and reasoning, or purpose, for the construction of the site itself.

Session 8

Megalithic astronomy

Introduction to mainly sites in Britain and Ireland and their alignments.

Session 9

Latest theories and developments.

This thriving subject is continually expanding, and so it is important to keep abreast of the latest developments and ideas to help the student develop a critical understanding of the role of archaeastronomy


Session 10

Overview of course and final discussion of the selected projects/assignments as given out in the first session.                                                                       



Archaeology and ancient history modules