archaeoastronomical research on the mother of gods' temple mount vermion, central macedonia, greece

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How the archaeological evidence along with archaeoastronomical research on this temple can cotribute to the general discussion of expanding ancient greek architectures' resources and cosmic interest.


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Word Count: 4149 For Antony Aveni, archaeoastronomy consists not only in finding astronomically significant artefacts but also about highlighting the possibilities that the sites investigated might not have any astronomical and astrological significance as well. 1 Regarding the methodology to pursue such a research Aveni notes the problem of the semi-hard facts of archaeology in need for illumination from the hard facts of the phenomenal world. 2 Nevertheless, Aveni concludes that in the process of interdisciplinary admixture of astronomical and anthropological observations, there is always the possibility one discipline to overtop the delicate balance and he particularly mentions how ethnological data cannot be treated so rigorously in a quantitative mode.3 It seems then quite natural for him to question any careful measurement to extreme arc minute accompanied by a rather sloppy and negligent historical precision. 4 In this respect Clive Ruggles work, was an example of combining the benefit of rigid data in order to secure certain patterns within archaeological evidence in relevance with ethno-historical information. 5 Efrosyni Boutsikas is a scholar that adds in this enquiry on methodology, the element of profound knowledge of mythological narratives of the investigated cultures and cultic ritual but under the thorough examination of the reliability of the sources.6

Regarding the current topic of archaeoastronomical research of the Leyphkopetra sanctuary of the Mother of Gods in Greece, this can be located within a general debate running for over two centuries among scholars. In this argument, modern scholars tend to question old established ideas over the astronomical features of ancient temples and architecture in general such as Boutsikas thesis versus Heinrich Nissens (1839-1912) and Francis Cranmer Penroses (1817-1903), among others. 7 Or of Michael E. Smith versus the definite astronomical hypothesis over Maya city plans advocated by Wendy Ashmore and Jeremy Sabloff . 8 Finally another such debatable topic of argument was Ruggles questioning of1

Antony Aveni (ed), Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, (Boulder CO: University Press of Colorado, pp. 826, 2008), p. 7, [Hereafter Aveni, Foundations of New World Cultural Astrology]. 2 Aveni, Foundations of New World Cultural Astrology, p. 158. 3 Aveni, Foundations of New World Cultural Astrology, p. 159. 4 Aveni, Foundations of New World Cultural Astrology, p. 159. 5 Clive Ruggles, Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland, (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, pp.285, 1999), p. 78, [Hereafter Ruggles, Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland]. 6 Efrosyni Boutsikas, Astronomy and Ancient Greek Cult: An application of archaeoastronomy to Greek religious architecture, cosmologies and landscape, PhD thesis for the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, university of Leicester, February, 2007, 223 pp, p. 33, eek_Cult_An_Application_of_Archaeoastronomy_to_Greek_Religious_Architecture_Co smologies_and_Landscapes, [Accessed on 18 February 2012], [Hereafter Boutsikas, Astronomy and Ancient Greek Cult].7

Boutsikas, Astronomy and Ancient Greek Cult, p. 12.


Michael E. Smith, Can We Read Cosmology in Ancient Maya City Plans? Comment on Ashmore and Sabloff, Latin American Antiquity, Vol. 14, No. 2 (June, 2003), 221-228,, [Accessed on 14 February 2012]

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Word Count: 4149 Alexander Thoms (1894-1985) paradigm which, tended to close peoples eyes, to other possible astronomical features besides the already examined by older research. 9 Nevertheless, Aveni argues that on the research of cultures, quite or totally unknown to investigators, a method of inclusive approach is preferred more than focusing on deficiencyoriented systems of belief; this may also be useful in the way approach to the work of other scholars in archaeoastronomy is attempted. 10 Lionel Sims is another scholar that has engaged in such an attempt to complement past views with his theory on Stonehenge and the possibility of having been the place of merging or political manipulation of two contradicting cosmo-visions the lunar and solar religions; thus questioning past theories of solstitial-only orientation.11 In such a mode, this paper will proceed as well, since Aveni too refers to such a mental exercise of synthesizing already published data as helpful in organizing and redirecting questions for future study, of course under the light of recent and certain measurements on the site under discussion. 12 The underlying pattern of this current study is possibly more elaborately evident in Avenis question whether the scientific community has underplayed the role of the use of environment, architecture and hierophany in propagating knowledge of the social order. 13 Nevertheless Smith notes that for some scholars research for astronomical features in archaeological sites reveals more probably about the minds of modern researchers than about the minds of the ancients and thus he suggests more rigorous and explicit methods of archaeology as well. 14 In this mode, Smith adds that the inverse situation may be possibly helpful besides focusing on intended astronomical alignments on sites, which is that apparently meaningful patterns may have arisen from random factors unrelated to any cosmological ideas of the builders. 15 Boutsikas notes that due to Penrose and Nissens work researchers do not engage in discussions on the significance of a potential astronomical orientation of ancient Greek religious structures while recent studies presuppose such orientation without justification. 16 Instead, Boutsikas suggests that an improved methodology would combine archaeological evidence, historical and literary sources, and archaeoastronomical data collection and analysis. 17



Ruggles, Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland, p. 149. Aveni, Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, p. 254.

Lionel Sims, The Solarization of the Moon: Manipulated Knowledge at Stonehenge, Cambridge Archaeological Journal (June 2006), 16 : pp 191-207,11, accessed on 5 July 2012]. 12 Aveni, Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, p. 270. 13 Aveni, Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, p. 270. 14 Michael E. Smith, Can We Read Cosmology in Ancient Maya City Plans? Comment on Ashmore and Sabloff, Latin American Antiquity, Vol. 14, No. 2 (June, 2003), pp. 221-228,, [Accessed on 14 February 2012], p. 221, [Hereafter Smith, Cosmology in Ancient Maya City Plans]. 15 Smith, Cosmology in Ancient Maya City Plans, p. 223. 16 Boutsikas, Astronomy and Ancient Greek Cult, p. 33. 17 Boutsikas, Astronomy and Ancient Greek Cult, p. 47.

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Word Count: 4149 It is known that a substantial surviving written record of astronomical and astrological observation and naming regarding female celestial figures has been the tablet from Akkadian ruler Sargon around 2334-2279 BCE with reference to planet Venus. 18 Venus was the visible representative of Inanna or Ishtar the Queen of Heavens whose myth was that she descended through seven gates to the underworld following her consort the shepherd king Dulmuzi or Tammuz.19 This Venus tablet may have been, according to Nickolas Campion, the first written evidence of subjection of divine power to natural mathematical or cosmic laws since the cyclic appearance and disappearance of celestial deities was something observable, predictable and in a certain way ruling over deities.20 This Mesopotamian culture was not so unfamiliar to the Greek world since due to the Hittite Empire and its interaction with the Egyptian culture evidence of astrological and astronomical interest has been abundant in the wider Asia minor region around and after the fifteenth century BCE, whilst Indian influences cannot be excluded as well.21 Campion recognizes the Greek world as, on a crossroads in the trade roots of ideas where not only the Mesopotamian literary tradition but also the northern astronomical oral lore was probably accessible. 22 This knowledge, object of ideological trading along the wider region, must have been for the inhabitants, unusual, unique, innovative and perfect or monstrous according to the circumstances, as Mircae Eliade notes.23 Eliade locates such beliefs within the larger and higher religious forms and systems where elementary hierophanies fit in; also present there, are whole traditional theories, not reducible to elementary theories, as for example myths about human condition or underlying various rites and moral notions. 24 For Michael Hoskin there is a false dichotomy between ritual and folk practice on one hand and high-level predictive astronomy on the other since he recognizes in Hesiods account on farmers use of a constellations heliacal rising to tell the season favorable to planting, a predictive nature.25 Aveni notes in this respect that setting up the ritual of the agricultural calendars can be one of the principal motives for cultures to practice sky watching. 26 For Boutsikas stars had been pivotal in the formation of Greek philosophical and cosmological thought such as Anaximanders (c.610c.546 BCE) reference to them as cycles of fire. 27 Boutsikas argues that Greek astronomy was expressed both by pre-scientific and scientific trends and that the Platonic Socrates stressed its purpose within the research aspect and in pursue of truth and not in its common


Nicholas Campion, A History of Western Astrology: The Ancient World, 2 Vols, (London: Continuum, pp.388, 2008), I, p. 51, [Hereafter C


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