BPAA Lecture Series 2003

Lecture 5 and 6
Astronomy in Mayan and The Chacoan Cultures



The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings, David Drew, University of California Press, 1999

This is a comprehensive and readable account of our current understanding of the Maya and some of the history of the rediscovery of the ancient Maya by the archeological world. There is not much archeoastronomy in this book.

Conversing with Planets How Science and Myth Invented the Cosmos, Anthony Aveni, 1992, Kodansha.

Aveni is one of the most respected American authorities on archeoastronomy. He has also written Skywatchers, now available in paperback, which I have not seen but comes highly recommended as the most comprehensive and authoritative book on ancient astronomy in the Western Hemisphere.

How the Shaman Stole the Moon, William H. Calvin, University of Washington Press, 1992

This is a very readable account which available on-line at no charge for personal use:


Native American Astronomy, Editied by Anthony Aveni, University of Texas, 1975

This is a collection of papers given at the second conference which included  ever held which included a broad range of academic disciplines, devoted to astronomy in ancient American cultures. Many of the papers are still of fundamental importance while others have been superceded.

Echoes of the Ancient Skies the Astronomy of Lost Civilizations, Dr. E.C. Krupp, 1983.

Somewhat dated but still very valuable summary of archeoastronomical indications in many parts of the world. Krupp is the well respected director of Griffith Observatory and frequent contributor to Sky & Telescope on the history of astronomy.

Skywatchers, Shamans and Kings, Astronomy and the Archeology of Power, E.C. Krupp, Wiley 1997

This is a wide ranging look at the role of astronomy in the cosmology and politics of ancient cultures.

Thanks to Paul Below for bringing this reference to my attention.

Cycles of the Sun, Mysteries of the Moon The Calendar in Mesoamerican Civilization, Vincent H. Malmstrom, University of Texas Press, 1997.

Malmstrom presents an original and provocative thesis linking the Mayan 260 day calendar to the much earlier Olmec civilization which flourished along the Yucatan Pacific coast around 1000 BC. He uses very well informed archeoastronomical arguments.   This is a link to his web page which gives a good overview of his thesis:

Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest, J. McKim Malville and Claudia Putnam, Johnson Books Boulder, 1993

This a good summary of Chaco related archeoastronomy. Malville is a professor of astroastronomy at the University of Colorado. He is a well respect expert on archeoastronomy. This is a link to his homepage which provides a good feel for his interests and contributions to the field:

J. McKim Malville

The Chaco Meridian, Centers of Political Power in the Ancient Southwest, Stephen H. Lekson, Alta Mira Press, 1999.

This is a wide ranging and very provocative look at the Chaco culture. Lekson is an archeologist who has been at the forefront of linking the Chaco culture to sites well beyond Chaco Canyon. His thesis is controversial as evidenced by this very skeptical critique and his response:

I personally think Lekson is on the right track.

In this link William Calvin, author of How the Shaman Stole the Moon, shows how the almost 700 kilometer north south meridian proposed by Lexson might have been surveyed using methods available to the Chacoans:


This link is an outstanding web site established by Lekson and Malville to support the development of a model for the Chaco culture:

Chaco Models

Chaco Canyon, A Center and it's World, A collection of superb black and white photographs by Mary Peck with essays on the Chaco culture by Lekson, Stein and Ortiz., Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fe, 1989

This is available from Powell's in Portland for only $9.95 and highly recommended even though it contains little directly related to archeoastronomy.

The Chaco Canyon Community, Lekson, Windes, Stein, Judge, Scientific American, July 1988 pp 100- 109.


Other Web links:

Mayan Astronomy is a site by MICHAEL FINLEY SASKATOON CANADA, an armature astronomer with an intense interest in the Mayans. I found it comprehensive, authoritative and extremely valuable in understanding what the Maya really accomplished.
Lost King of the Maya Nova program
The Solstice Project Anna Soafer is an excellent site for Southwestern archeoastronomy. Anna Soafer is the discover of the Fajada Butte sun dagger (1977). This was a seminal event in the archeoastronomy of North America.
Pueblo Bonito Petroglyph is one of Soafer's most interesting papers linking a glyph ath Fajada to the floor plan of the greatest of the Chaco great houses.

Chaco Roads satellite images is a link to a NASA site.

Chimney Rock has some good images of this site which supplement those on Malville's web page.

We will be meeting at Bainbridge High March 13 and March 20 at 7 PM.

BPAA Lecture Series 2003

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