Advertisement

Astronomical Correlates of Architecture and Landscape in Mesoamerica

Reference work entry

Abstract

Mesoamerican civic and ceremonial buildings were largely oriented to astronomical phenomena on the horizon, mostly to sunrises and sunsets on particular dates; some orientations were probably intended to mark major lunar standstills and Venus extremes. Solar orientations must have had a practical function, allowing the use of observational calendars that facilitated a proper scheduling of agricultural activities. Moreover, some important buildings seem to have been erected on carefully selected places, with the purpose of employing prominent peaks on the local horizon as natural markers of sunrises and sunsets on relevant dates. However, the characteristics of buildings incorporating deliberate alignments, their predominant clockwise skew from cardinal directions, and their relations to the surrounding natural and cultural landscape reveal that the architectural and urban planning in Mesoamerica was dictated by a complex set of rules, in which astronomical considerations were embedded in a broader framework of cosmological concepts substantiated by political ideology.

Keywords

West Wall Local Horizon December Solstice Evening Star Canonize Moment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Aveni AF (2001) Skywatchers: a revised and updated version of Skywatchers of ancient Mexico. University of Texas Press, AustinGoogle Scholar
  2. Aveni A, Hartung H (1986) Maya city planning and the calendar. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, vol 76, part 7. The American Philosophical Society, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  3. Aveni A, Hartung H (2000) Water, mountain, sky: the evolution of site orientations in southeastern Mesoamerica. In: Quiñones Keber E (ed) In chalchihuitl in quetzalli: Mesoamerican studies in honor of Doris Heyden. Labyrinthos, Lancaster, pp 55–65Google Scholar
  4. Aveni AF, Dowd AS, Vining B (2003) Maya calendar reform? Evidence from orientations of specialized architectural assemblages. Latin American Antiquity 14:159–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aveni AF, Milbrath S, Peraza Lope C (2004) Chichén Itzá’s legacy in the astronomically oriented architecture of Mayapán. Res Anthropol Aesthet 45:123–143Google Scholar
  6. Broda J (1991) Cosmovisión y observación de la naturaleza: el ejemplo del culto de los cerros en Mesoamérica. In: Broda J, Iwaniszewski S, Maupomé L (eds) Arqueoastronomía y etnoastronomía en Mesoamérica. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF, pp 461–500Google Scholar
  7. Carlson JB (1999) Pilgrimage and the equinox “serpent of light and shadow” phenomenon at the Castillo, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán. Archaeoastronomy: Journal of Astronomy in Culture 14:136–152ADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Flores Gutiérrez D (1998) Aspectos astronómicos del inframundo en Bonampak. In: Staines Cicero L (ed) La pintura mural prehispánica en México II: Área maya, Bonampak, tomo II: Estudios. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF, pp 159–175Google Scholar
  9. Galindo Trejo J (1994) Arqueoastronomía en la América antigua. CONACYT – Ed. Equipo Sirius, México DFGoogle Scholar
  10. Galindo Trejo J (2009) Mesoamerican cosmology: recent finds. In: Rubiño-Martín JA, Belmonte JA, Prada F, Alberdi A (eds) Cosmology across cultures. Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series 409, San Francisco, pp 253–260Google Scholar
  11. Milbrath S (1999) Star gods of the Maya: astronomy in art, folklore, and calendars. University of Texas Press, AustinGoogle Scholar
  12. Šprajc I (1995) El Satunsat de Oxkintok y la Estructura 1-sub de Dzibilchaltún: unos apuntes arqueoastronómicos. In: Memorias del Segundo Congreso Internacional de Mayistas. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF, pp 585–600Google Scholar
  13. Šprajc I (1996) Venus, lluvia y maíz: Simbolismo y astronomía en la cosmovisión mesoamericana. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México DFGoogle Scholar
  14. Šprajc I (2000) Astronomical alignments at the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan, Mexico. Archaeoastronomy (25) (Supplement to the Journal for the History for Astronomy 31):S11–S40Google Scholar
  15. Šprajc I (2001) Orientaciones astronómicas en la arquitectura prehispánica del centro de México. Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México DFGoogle Scholar
  16. Šprajc I (2004) The south-of-east skew of Mesoamerican architectural orientations: astronomy and directional symbolism. In: Boccas M, Broda J, Pereira G (eds) Etno y arqueo-astronomía en las Américas: Memorias del Simposio ARQ-13 del 51° Congreso Internacional de Americanistas, Santiago de Chile, pp 161–176Google Scholar
  17. Šprajc I (2008) Alineamientos astronómicos en la arquitectura. In: Šprajc I (ed) Reconocimiento arqueológico en el sureste del estado de Campeche, México: 1996–2005. BAR International Series 1742. Archaeopress, Oxford, pp 233–242Google Scholar
  18. Šprajc I, Sánchez Nava PF (2012) Orientaciones astronómicas en la arquitectura maya de las tierras bajas: nuevos datos e interpretaciones. In: Arroyo B, Paiz L, Mejía H (eds) XXV Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, vol 2. Instituto de Antropología e Historia – Asociación Tikal, Guatemala, pp 977–996Google Scholar
  19. Šprajc I, Sánchez Nava PF (2013) Astronomía en la arquitectura de Chichén Itzá: una reevaluación. Estudios de Cultura Maya 41:31–60Google Scholar
  20. Šprajc I, Morales-Aguilar C, Hansen RD (2009) Early Maya astronomy and urban planning at El Mirador, Peten, Guatemala. Anthropol Noteb 15(3):79–101Google Scholar
  21. Tichy F (1991) Die geordnete Welt indianischer Völker: Ein Beispiel von Raumordnung und Zeitordnung im vorkolumbischen Mexiko. F. Steiner, StuttgartGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Anthropological and Spatial StudiesResearch Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and ArtsLjubljanaSlovenia

Personalised recommendations