Astronomy of the Ancients

Edited by Kenneth Brecher and Michael D. Feirtag





The eight articles and dozens of photographs and drawings in this book introduce the reader to the ancient astronomers—their observatories, their instruments, and their explorations of the awesome regularities (and shocking irregularities) that appear in the sky. The authors draw upon a wide range of disciplines—history, archaeology, technology, even mythology in discussing their subjects. This book is one endeavor toward a reconstruction of the past of the human mind, using all available evidence: text, myth, spade; yet, there is a difference. That difference is that in the world of the heavens there are real phenomena, striking or subtle, enduring or transient, which can be invoked today to challenge or to support the inferences of the archeologist, epigrapher, historian, or mythologist. The authors go back to one sole source: real human beings watching the real sky; if we do so reflectively, we can share at every glance the roots of the power of human thought, the thought which once married science and literature, art and number, wonder and insight, when thoughtful people were still rather few under this ceaseless sky.


ISBN: 9780262021371 216 pp. | 9 in x 6 in


Kenneth Brecher

Kenneth is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Physics at Boston University.

Michael D. Feirtag


  • A stirring mix of science, history, and myth illustrating the indomitable urge of our ancestors to understand the world.

    Carl Sagan

  • Erich von Daniken and other purveyors of ancient-astronaut mythology would have us believe that the body of astronomical knowledge among early civilizations...must have resulted from the nobless oblige of extraterrestrial colonists.... 'Astronomy of the Ancients' is a collection of eight articles.... Together they provide ample refutation of the von Daniken fallacy. They also provide, more importantly, a picture of the broad role that astronomy played in most ancient cultures: its application to chronology, meteorology, agriculture, religion, astrology, mythology, and the satisfaction of simple curiosity about nature... The book is full of interesting facts cited, interesting questions raised.

    Christian Science Monitor

  • In my opinion this is the best available anthology in the new field of archaeoastronomy—scholarly yet very readable, worldwide in its scope, ranging from the decoding of Stonehenge to the deciphering of eclipse tables of the ancient Maya.

    Gerald S. Hawkins