Predidting the past

  • Giulio Magli

In the first part of this book I invited you to join me on an informal trip around the world to look at some of the monuments that best represent the astronomical knowledge that people have had over the course of history. I also tried whenever possible to present only factual information and, when it was impossible to avoid interpreting those facts, to at least do so in a light-handed, even skeptical way The reason was explained in the previous chapter: I think we are too laden with schemas, too accustomed to attributing meaning to words that are a priori empty and filling them with content that comes exclusively from our way of thinking.

However, the moment has come to try to understand a little more about the motivations that drove so many peoples of the past to build such splendid astronomically anchored structures, even to plan entire cities on the basis of “cosmographic” principles.

In talking about humans, and therefore about human thought and knowledge—religious, astronomical, technological—we are faced with two apparently irreconcilable approaches (Murray 2000) that we can call the rigorous method (or etic approach) and the humanistic method (emic approach ).


Altered State Astronomical Observation Summer Solstice Winter Solstice Precessional Cycle 


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© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giulio Magli

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