Archaeoastronomy is a relatively new scientific discipline, which as the name implies combines archaeology and astronomy, particularly in the study of ancient megalithic monuments and their possible alignment with various celestial bodies.
Arguably the most famous example is Stonehenge, but our globe is littered with ancient monuments incorporating solar, lunar or astral alignments. Not all are as impressive or accessible as Stonehenge, Callanish or Newgrange but in remote places such as Nabta Playa or Fajada Butte (see Hadingham[1308.152]).
The subject was initially considered by some to be a ‘fringe’ topic, but in 1999 Clive Ruggles was appointed Professor of Archaeoastronomy at the University of Leicester(a) and is the author of the encyclopedic Ancient Astronomy.
The University of Maryland has had a Center for Archaeoastronomy since 1978(c).
The subject has never been central to Atlantis studies, but has hovered in the background, with writers such a Egerton Sykes(b) and Graham Hancock who employed aspects of the discipline in their publications.
Giulio Magli (1964- ) is an Italian archaeaostronomer with a website in English(e) dedicated to the application of the discipline in Egypt. In 2013, Magli proposed that aspects of the Göbleki Tepe site are related to the recent appearance of Sirius in the night sky around 9300 BC(f) . Andrew Collins and Rodney Hale argue against this interpretation(g) , which is perhaps understandable as they support a linkage with the Cygnus constellation. A 2004 paper by Magli, on precessional effects in ancient astronomy(h) , has recently been applied by Lenie Reedijk to her contention that the Maltese temples were oriented to Sirius.
A further application of the discipline was employed by Martin Sweatman and Dimitrios Tsikritsis who used it to interpret the carved symbols at Göbekli Tepe. In a 2017 paper(d) they concluded that the pillars there were used to record meteor showers and cometary encounters. They believe that one such encounter involved the explosion or impact of part of Encke’s Comet around 13,000 years ago, which triggered the Younger Dryas Event that kick-started the Neolithic Revolution.*Scientists who have worked on the site responded critically (i), which in turn evoked further comments from Sweatman and Tsikritsis(j).*
Sweatman later expanded their theory in his book Prehistory Decoded .
Archaeoastronomy is one of only a few dozen words with four consecutive vowels.
(j) https://www.academia.edu/33931844/MORE_THAN_A_VULTURE_A_RESPONSE_TO_SWEATMAN_AND_TSIKRITSIS (See end of paper)*
Harald A.T. Reiche, (1922-1994) was born in Germany and studied in Switzerland before arriving in the United States. He received a BA degree in classics from Harvard in 1943, an MA in 1944 and a PhD in 1955. He was a professor of classics and philosophy at M.I.T from 1955 to 1991. His principal interest was Greek cosmology and astronomy, subjects on which he lectured and wrote extensively. Reiche offered an astronomical interpretation of the Atlantis story, based on precession*; a concept discussed at length in Hamlet’s Mill by Santillana and Dechend who were colleagues of Reiche at M.I.T. Their view is that “myths were vehicles for memorising and transmitting certain kinds of astronomical and cosmological information”. A comparable suggestion has been proposed by Kenneth Wood and his wife Florence, built on the research of his mother-in-law, the late Edna Leigh, which they outlined in Homer’s Secret Iliad, a book that attempts to prove that the Iliad was written as an aide memoire for a wide range of astronomical data. Guy Gervis has adopted some of their work and specifies a date of around 2300 BC for the events described in the Iliad and Odyssey, based on an analysis of this astronomical data(b). Hamlet’s Mill has received widespread critical acclaim but perhaps it might be no harm to also consider a more sober view presented by Jason Colavito(a).
In a paper, some years ago, Reiche suggested that Plato’s description of the city of Atlantis mirrors “features of the southern circumpolar sky”. Understandably, this quote has been gratefully seized upon by the Flem-Aths to bolster their Atlantis in Antarctica theory.
*Precession is the name given to the astronomical feature whereby the gradual change in the direction of the Earth’s axis of rotation, producing a shifting of constellations around the celestial sphere.
(b) See: Archive 3606