The World of Archaeoastronomy with Adriano Gaspani
"Across the whole face of the Earth are found mysterious ruins of ancient monuments,
monuments with astronomical significance... they mark the same kind of commitment
that transported us to the moon and our spacecraft to Mars."
Edwin C. Krupp
American astronomer and author
Welcome! Thank you for visiting this section of the Historia Vivens web portal! Here you will find the pages devoted to Archaeoastronomy, the "science of stars and stones", featuring several articles and contributions kindly provided us by Professor Adriano Gaspani, a well-known Italian physicist and archaeoastronomer with decades of studies and researches in the field. The deep cultural and scientific background of the Author, along with his high communication and dissemination skills make the reading experience quite compelling, enjoyable, clear and accessible also to the very beginners, though always scientifically rigorous and comprehensive.
Please note that the articles, all free to download in PDF format, are mostly written in Italian. Excerpts, abstracts and translations in English will be published whenever available. This section is being continuously updated, and new articles will be online soon. Please check back often for the latest updates. Thank you!
Featured image: "Stonehenge's ring of standing stones" (England), 1611, map by cartographers Jocodus Hondius and John Speed (public domain, source: Cambridge University via Wikimedia Commons).
Archaeoastronomy, a definition...
Since the night of time humankind has been looking at the sky above both for practical and speculative reasons. The observation and interpretation of the astronomical phenomena met not only basic needs, such as shelter, food (hunting, harvesting, and, later, farming), timekeeping and orienteering, but also higher ones linked to the spiritual and social spheres, including religious ceremonies and rites, life guidance and meaning, community organization, urban layouts etc. Therefore, the heavens and their phenomena have become an important part of the lives of the human beings worldwide over millennia, and gradually incorporated in their myths and folklore, literature and artworks, as well as in other cultural expressions. Archaeoastronomy can be defined as the science studying the astronomical practices, celestial lore, religious and non-religious worldviews of ancient civilizations on Earth with the aim to investigate how people in the past observed, studied and understood the celestial phenomena, how they eventually made use of such knowledge in their daily life, or, in a few words, what role did the night sky play in their own culture and development.
Image: view of the Callanish Stones, Isle of Lewis, Scotland, detail (copyright: Massima Bianchi, source: Architecture Wallpapers).
Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy...
Along with Ethnoastronomy (the study of skywatching practices in contemporary cultures), Historical Astronomy (the analysis of the historic astronomical data), History of Astronomy (the advancement of the scientific study of celestial objects), and History of Astrology (the evolution of the beliefs and practices of relating the motions and positions of the heavenly bodies to earthily lives and events), also Archaeoastronomy is a branch of Cultural Astronomy, the set of interdisciplinary fields studying the astronomical systems of the various cultures of the past and present time and the application of the celestial lore to religion, science, arts and literature and other cultural expressions, thus providing a meaningful insight into the key interaction of the humankind with the night sky through the ages. Archaeoastronomy is characterized as well by a great inter-, multi- and transdisciplinarity, combining a variety of disciplines, such as archaeology, anthropology, astronomy, geology, statistics, probability, sociology and history among the others, while relying also on deep synergies between professionals and amateurs from different scientific and cultural backgrounds.
Image: "Astronomers Studying an Eclipse", ca. 1571, painting by Antoine Caron (1521–1599), French glassmaker, illustrator and painter (public domain; source: Wikimedia Commons).
Archaeoastronomy and Astronomical Heritage...
Astronomical heritage is evidence relating to the practice of astronomy, to social uses and representations of astronomy. It exists in the form of the tangible remains of monuments, sites and landscapes with a link to the skies that constitute a well-defined physical property. It can also involve movable objects such as instruments and archives, intangible knowledge, including indigenous knowledge still preserved in the world today, and natural environments that support human interest in astronomy...
Please click om the image to find out more.
Adriano Gaspani on HV: articles, books, lectures & more...
Adriano Gaspani, Ph.D. in Physics with over 30 years experience in Archaeoastronomy, is staff member of the Brera Astronomical Observatory in Milan (today part of INAF, the National Institute of Astrophysics), Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the Cardinal Colombo University of Milan, and an active member of the Italian Society of Archaeoastronomy (SIA) and the Groupe Europeen d'Observations Stellaires (GEOS). Adriano Gaspani has conducted many field researches, authored and co-authored hundreds of scientific publications, and collaborated in several museum exhibitions. He regularly holds lectures and seminars in Italy and abroad, and has took part also at some experimental archaeology projects, supervising the reconstruction of 1:1 scale replicas of archaeological finds with astronomical significance, such as the Nebra sky disk, the disk of Chevroches, and the Coligny calendar.
Image: Adriano Gaspani lecturing at a Celtic Reenactment event (copyright and source: Historia Vivens Web).
The Archaeoastronomy science: a brief introduction...
Adriano Gaspani introduces us to the marvellous world of the Archaeoastronomy science, defining this special and quite unique discipline, presenting its objects, methodology and aims, while providing us also with a quick historical overview...
The Forecast of the “Future” in the “Past”...
Over 30,000 years ago, a number of notches, phased according to the number of days of the synodic lunar month, were engraved on animal bones in order to plan the hunting, thus making the Moon the most ancient astronomical “target” to be taken in account in order to forecast the (short term) future...
Adriano Gaspani, the biography
Biographical information (in Italian) about the Author. Graduated in Physics, academic, and staff member of the Brera Astronomical Observatory in Milan, Adriano Gaspani was born in 1952 in Bergamo, Lombardy region, and is today one of the leading figures in the field of Archaeoastronomy in Italy and abroad...
Please click on the image to read more (in Italian language).
Adriano Gaspani, the publications
Adriano Gaspani: Elements of Archaeoastronomy
Adriano Gaspani: the Astronomy of the Ancient Celts
Adriano Gaspani: Archaeoastronomy in Ireland
Adriano Gaspani: the Astronomy of the Ancient Civilizations
Adriano Gaspani: Archaeoastronomy in Italy
Adriano Gaspani in videos...
Credits & Navigation
Featured image on the top: detail of a 1611 map depicting the Neolithic site of Stonehenge (Wiltshire county, England) by Jocodus Hondius the Elder (1563-1612, a Dutch engraver and cartographer), and John Speed (ca. 1552-1629, an English mapmaker and historian). Source: By Hondius & Speed (Cambridge University) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
All images on this webpage are public domain or provided by the Author himself unless otherwise stated.