OSHR 1603 - Archaeoastronomy in the Americas: Sky Phenomena, Life, and Culture

  • Noncredit
  • Fort Collins

This course is offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Colorado State University. You must be a member of Osher to enroll in this course.

Archaeoastronomy is the study of how people in the past understood the phenomena of the sky and used this knowledge to guide their daily lives. Examples from cultures of North America (i.e., Ancestral Puebloan, Mississippian), Central American (e.g., Aztec, Maya) and South America (i.e., Nazca, Inca) explore how ancient structures align to geographical features and to key events in the movement of the sun, moon, planets, and stars.

We will discuss how this knowledge was put to use to time seasonal changes, planting and harvesting. Also, we will examine how specialized monuments pecked into stone, written on animal skins, and preserved on carved stone monuments highlight the roles that sky phenomena played in the development of calendars, the timing of rituals, and in displays of social control. In addition, you will be provided with information about apps that will help you reconnect to sky phenomena in your own lives.

Readings: (Students may choose to read these books depending on their interests): 1) Taylor, Ken; Celestial Geometry: Understanding the Astronomical Meanings of Ancient Sites, 2012; ISBN 978-1780283869; 2) Aveni, Anthony F. Skywatchers: A Revised and Updated Version of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, 2001; ISBN 978-0292705029; and 3) Aveni, Anthony F., Between the Lines: The Mystery of the Giant Ground Drawings of Ancient Nasca, Peru, 2000. ISBN 978-0292704961.

Noncredit courses do not produce academic credit nor appear on a Colorado State University academic transcript.