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Multicultural Astronomy:
The Astronomy of Non-western Cultures: A Resource Guide

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by Andrew Fraknoi
(Foothill College)

Version 1.3; May 2008

©2008 Andrew Fraknoi. All rights reserved. E-mail: fraknoiandrew {at}

This brief list is only an introduction to the study of astronomy in various cultures and is designed to help teachers, students, and members of the public learn more about non-traditional astronomies. Archaeoastronomy is the branch of archaeology that looks at the astronomical ideas and monuments of ancient cultures, and we include many resources from this field, as well as references to folklore and a few current issues. We cite only some resources that are of interest to non-specialists and educators. We welcome suggestions from our readers for additions to this guide, but note that technical monographs and journal articles will not be included.

Acknowledgements: I am very grateful to David Dearborn, Phil Sakimoto, Keivan Stassun, Cary Sneider, and Jarita Holbrook for suggesting and composing several entries for this list.

Table of Contents

A. General Books and Articles

B. General Web Sites

C. Resources about Specific Cultures

1. Astronomy and People of Color in the U.S.
2. Astronomy of Native North American Cultures
3. Astronomy of Central America (Maya and Aztec) Cultures
4. Astronomy of South American Cultures (Inca, Nasca, etc.)
5. Astronomy of African Cultures
6. Astronomy of India
7. Astronomy of Ancient European Cultures
8. Astronomy of Islamic Cultures
9. Astronomy of Hawaiian, Polynesian, and Native Australian Cultures
10. Astronomy of Asian Cultures

D. Some Technical Volumes

A. General Books and Articles

Aveni, A. "Archaeoastronomy: Past, Present and Future" in Sky & Telescope, Nov. 1986, p. 456.

Aveni, Anothony Conversing with the Planets. 1992, Times Books. Celebrates the myths of many cultures; emphasizes the importance of seeing them in their own context.

Aveni, Anthony Empires of Time. 1989, Basic Books. A discussion of calendars, clocks, and cultures, with chapters on the Maya, Aztecs, Incas, Ancient Chinese, and several other early civilizations.

Aveni, Anthony Stairways to the Stars: Skywatching in Three Great Ancient Cultures. 1997, John Wiley. Focuses of the monuments and astronomy of the people who built Stonehenge, plus the Maya and the Inca.

Gleiser, Marcelo The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang. 1997, Dutton/Penguin. An exploration by a physicist of ideas from many cultures of how the universe came to be, including ancient legends and modern science.

Hadingham, Evan Early Man and the Cosmos. 1984, Walker & Co. A clear primer on the subject of ancient sites and the astronomical thinking of ancient cultures around the world.

Krupp, Edwin Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets. 1991, HarperCollins. Superb collection of astronomical tales from many cultures. Best book to start with.

Krupp, Edwin Skywatchers, Shamans, & Kings: Astronomy and the Archaeology of Power. 1997, J. Wiley. Fine guide to sites around the world, written for beginners with humor and verve.

Krupp, Edwin Echoes of the Ancient Skies: The Astronomy of Lost Civilizations. 1983, Harper & Row. An excellent introduction on the thoughts and monuments of earlier cultures.

Percy, John & Batten, Alan "Chasing the Dream: Astronomy in Developing Countries" in Mercury (the magazine of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific), Mar/Apr. 1995, p. 14. What is happening in the study of astronomy in third-world countries and how others can help.

Ruggles, Clive Ancient Astronomy: An Encyclopedia of Cosmologies and Myth. 2005, ABC-Clio. Mammoth A-Z compilation of the ancient knowledge of a wide range of cultures.

Sakimoto, Phil & Rosendhal, Jeff "Obliterating Myths About Minority Institutions" in Physics Today, vol. 98, #9, pp. 49-53 (September 2005). The authors, formerly the heads of NASA's space science education and public outreach program, offer some frank comments about the task of developing space science programs at minority colleges and universities.

Walker, Christopher, ed. Astronomy Before the Telescope. 1996, St. Martin's Press. 17 essays on how people observed and interpreted the sky before modern instruments.

Zeitlin, Steve The Four Corners of the Sky: Creation Stories and Cosmologies from Around the World. 2000, Henry Holt. Short book introducing and retelling the stories.

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