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Prehistoric astronomy: magic, religion, science?

Prehistoric astronomy: magic, religion, science?


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Heaven was magical and incomprehensible to primitive men. They looked at the sky with admiration and, convinced of its influence on human life, formed the basis of the first mystical or religious beliefs.

Soon they noticed the difference between the simple stars (which they thought were fixed) and the moving stars 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 of which we still use; the regularity in the sunrise and sunset, as well as its path from east to 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 travels through the twelve constellations of the Zodiac (the celestial sphere was divided into twelve sectors of 30º each) in a long period of time, with which the notion was obtained year and its distribution in twelve months. From these observations derive the current sexagesimal divisions of angles and time.

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

In this chapter:

Astronomy in ancient times: Human curiosity regarding day and night, the Sun, the Moon and the stars, led to the… Read Page Astronomy in Ancient Europe: Ancient peoples who inhabited Europe had advanced knowledge of the movements of … Read page Astronomy in ancient Egypt: The Egyptians observed that the stars make a complete turn in just over 365 days… Read page Astronomy in Babylon: The Assyrians, Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians and, in general, all civilizations that occupied the East … Read page



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