Prehistoric Astronomy: Magic, Religion, Science ?

Prehistoric Astronomy: Magic, Religion, Science ?

The sky was magical and incomprehensible to primitive men. They contemplated the firmament with admiration and, convinced of their influence on human life, formed the basis of the first mystical or religious beliefs.
They soon noticed the difference between the simple stars (which they thought were fixed) and the stars in movement visible to the naked eye, such as the Moon, the Sun, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They grouped the stars in constellations to which they imposed names: Gemini, Cancer, etc.

The periodicity in the succession of the phases of the Moon led to the institution of the lunar month, which is the basis on which we still use; the regularity of the sunrise and sunset, as well as its path of rising to the west, led to the notion of the solar day and led to the establishment of a schedule.

The observation of the solar movements in relation to the fixed stars revealed that the Sun crosses the twelve constellations of the Zodiac (the celestial sphere was divided into twelve sectors of 30ยบ each) in a long period of time, with which the notion was obtained of year and its distribution in twelve months. From these observations derive the current sexagesimal divisions of the angles and time.

In this chapter, we review the first astronomical knowledge. What we know is scarce, but here it goes:

In this chapter...
  • Astronomy in ancient times
  • Astronomy in Ancient Europe
  • Astronomy in Ancient Egypt
  • Astronomy in Babylon

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