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Semester 2 - Dual-Delivery
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Ancient and Indigenous cultures of the world developed knowledge systems and constructed monuments that reflect ancient understandings of the Sun, Moon, and stars. The Sun and night sky played an important role in ritual, ceremony, power structures, architecture, and social development. Today, much of this knowledge is restricted to the material record in the form of artefacts, rock art, stone arrangements, and monuments, paying particular reference to the local landscape and skyscape. This subject will introduce students to the inter-discipline of archaeoastronomy (a branch of cultural astronomy) with respect to the astronomical knowledge and material culture of ancient Indigenous cultures around the world, focusing on the ancient cultures, such as Mesoamerica, the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, east Asia, and Africa. The subject will provide a rigorous study of the ancient developments of astronomy while offering reflections on cross-cultural studies of science.
Central questions are Why did ancient peoples develop monuments and stone arrangements to link to important celestial events? What are some of the earliest recorded accounts of astronomical knowledge and what does this tell us about ancient uses of astronomy? What role did astronomy play in the power and politics of large civilisations, such as those of the ancient Egyptians, Maya, Aztecs, and Inca? How were buildings constructed to observe important celestial markers? What are the theoretical frameworks of archaeoastronomy? What tools can we use to rigorously critique fringe claims and challenge pseudoscience operating under the guise of archaeoastronomy?
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- Develop a foundational theoretical understanding and knowledge of current research, debates, and practices in archaeoastronomy with respect to ancient cultures from a multidisciplinary perspective
- Critically analyse theories in archaeoastronomy through debate and evidence-based research
- Evaluate the methodological approaches and techniques informing archaeoastronomy, drawing from cultural, political, archaeological, and statistical frameworks and practices
- Evaluate and critique fringe ideas and pseudoscientific claims in archaeoastronomy
On completion of this subject students should have developed the following generic skills:
- Apply problem-solving skills to analyse and critique ideas in interdisciplinary scholarship
- Develop analytical skills to conduct independent research including the appropriate use of primary and secondary sources in mounting an argument
- Demonstrate ethical integrity in written work and classroom activities
- Develop effective communication and presentation skills (written and oral), and the ability to collaborate constructively within the classroom
Last updated: 12 November 2022