Exploring 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 Historia Vivens Web! Here you will find the pages devoted to Archaeoastronomy, the "science of stars and stones", featuring several articles and contributions kindly provided 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 compelling and 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 for personal use only and not for public or commercial use, 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: a Winter view of the Stonehenge megalithic site located near Salisbury (Wiltshire county), in England (public domain, source: XMWallpapers).
Archaeoastronomy, a definition
Since the night of time, the 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), as well as timekeeping and orienteering, but also higher demands linked to the spiritual and social spheres, including religious ceremonies and rites, life guidance and meaning, community organization, urban layouts etc. The heavens and their phenomena have become an important part of the human lives worldwide over millennia, thus being gradually incorporated in their myths and folklore, literature and artworks, and in many other cultural expressions. Archaeoastronomy can be defined as the science studying the astronomical practices, celestial lore, religious and non-religious worldviews of the ancient civilizations 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: detail of the Callanish Stones located near the village of Callanish on the Lewis Isle (Outer Hebrides), Scotland (copyright: Massima Bianchi, source: Architecture Wallpapers).
Archaeoastronomy and Cultural Astronomy
Along with Ethnoastronomy (the study of sky-watching 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 the broader category of Cultural Astronomy. This is the set of interdisciplinary studies of the astronomical systems elaborated by various cultures of the past (Archaeoastronomy) and present time (Ethnoastronomy), and how the celestial lore has been applied to religion, science, arts and literature, and, generally speaking, culture, thus providing a meaningful insight into the key interaction of the humankind with the sky through the ages. Archaeoastronomy is characterized by a great inter-, multi- and transdisciplinarity, as it combines several disciplines, such as Archaeology, Anthropology, Astronomy, Geology, Statistics, Probability, Sociology and History of course, while relying also on deep synergies between professionals and amateurs from different backgrounds and fields.
Image: "Astronomers Studying an Eclipse", ca. 1571, by Antoine Caron (1521–1599), French glassmaker, illustrator and painter (public domain; source: Wikimedia Commons).
Archaeoastronomy and Astronomical Heritage
Astronomy represents a rich and significant aspect of cultural and natural heritage. The legacy of Astronomy is rarely isolated but forms part of a broader cultural legacy. Cultural heritage related to the sky is a vital component of the cultural heritage in general...
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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, who regularly holds lectures and seminars in Italy and abroad, has conducted many field researches, authored and co-authored hundreds of scientific publications, collaborated in several museum exhibitions, and taken part also at some experimental archaeology projects, supervising 1:1 scale replicas of archaeological finds with astronomical significance, such as the Nebra sky disk, the astral curved-disk of Chevroches, and the Coligny lunisolar calendar.
Image: Adriano Gaspani lecturing at a Reenactment event in Italy (copyright and source: Historia Vivens Web).
Adriano Gaspani, the biography
Biographical information about Adriano Gaspani, graduated in Physics, academic, and staff member of the Brera Astronomical Observatory in Milan (Italy). 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...
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Adriano Gaspani, the publications
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