Session: #233

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

SEAC 27: Cultural Astronomy and Ontology: How Celestial Objects and Events Have Featured in the Belief Systems and Cosmologies of Different Societies
All cultures have a skyscape but their cultural appropriation of the patterns in the sky is variable. Ontological interpretations of this relation have varied from universal claims of the rise of the astronomy of sky objects to relativistic representations of the sky rooted in culture rather than heavenly entities or events. Over the last five decades Cultural Astronomy has developed an inter-disciplinary methodological and theoretical pluralism to meet the challenges posed by this complex association between sky and culture, skyscape and landscape. The session invites scholarly contributions that address how celestial objects and events have been integrated into belief systems across the world. Contributions addressing the way that sky resources have been appropriated by different cultures can also serve as a basis for reflecting on the various conceptual vocabularies developed within Cultural Astronomy for the analysis of these and other related questions. What ethnographic examples of cosmology allow us to evaluate closely the extant methods and theories utilized in Cultural Astronomy? Are our concepts sufficiently sensitive to capture and respect the details of a local cosmology? Is there any evidence or justification for universal properties in the skyscape attributes of the world’s cosmologies? Or, stated differently, is there evidence for more complex patterns that link the world’s cosmologies? And, finally, how can these debates hone and develop the present approaches and methods available to researchers working in Cultural Astronomy? Scholars are invited to present abstracts for papers which address one or more of these concerns and, in the process, can serve to challenge and move the discipline forward.
Astronomy, Skyscape, Cosmology, Ontology, Cultures
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:
European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC)


Main organiser:
Lionel Sims (United Kingdom) 1
Roslyn Frank (United States) 2
1. European Society for Astonomy in Culture
2. European Society for Astronomy in Culture