Cover of Skywatchers: A Revised and Updated Version of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico, by Anthony Aveni
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Since their archaeological and artistic remains were first studied by Western scholars about a century and a half ago, we have begun to appreciate that the ancient Maya rulers of Central America were possessed by the study of time, the calendar, and astronomy. This lecture mainly examines the evidence that suggests Maya priest-astronomers carefully watched the planet Venus, clocking its motion to an accuracy of better than two hours in five centuries, all without the advantage of the technologies we have today.
What drove them to such precision? What was the observational methodology employed to follow the planet? Why was Venus, above all other celestial objects, so important to Maya astronomers? What other celestial bodies were given attention? These questions will be discussed in some detail along with Maya calendar documents, hieroglyphic writing, and the role of astronomical orientations in standing Maya architecture.
Dr. Anthony F. Aveni has been a professor of Astronomy, Anthropology, and Native American Studies at Colgate University since 1963. In 1988, he was named the Russell B. Colgate Distinguished University Professor. Notably, he led the development of the field of archaeoastronomy. As an author, he has published research publications, academic articles, and numerous books throughout his career.