The first astronomers

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by arfa brane, May 29, 2020.

  1. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    If you observe the sunrise carefully enough you notice where it appears changes, with respect to a fixed background of stars, over the course of a year.

    The first astronomers noted the groups of stars associated with sunrises and sunsets and started naming them; for some reason there are twelve such named groups of stars. Many stars also have a name, which I suppose gives a finer gauge than which of the twelve constellations the sun rises in.

    So there is a way to tell the time of year by observing the sunrise; the sun rises and sets (so follows) along the ecliptic and the position of the earth in its orbit is determined by the fixed celestial background of stars the sun appears to be in.

    The celestial sphere also moves across the sky from a fixed earth perspective; there wasn't any need early on to question the assumption of a fixed earth, it just made sense. But here's these 12 groups of bright stars also moving along the ecliptic, and there are other star groups or clusters up there.
     
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  3. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    When did we start to notice, and why was it important to know the time of year?

    Ahem; to the first, my conjecture is it makes sense we started to notice once we started living in the wide open, where an uninterrupted view of the horizon might have inspired our inquisitiveness. The second makes sense if we wanted to track animal migrations, say. Usually a science appears because we develop a need for better tools, and ways to organise ourselves.
     
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  5. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    Why didn't the really early observers record what they saw, in carvings or paintings? Why isn't there anything like a paleolithic record of this knowledge? it must have been something early humans noticed, so had to have an explanation for. This is under the assumption that the need for useful explanations is a driving factor in the evolution of human ideas, about themselves and the world.

    Perhaps no clues were left as intentional historical records, for the same reason no depictions of the use or making of fire were left. They didn't need a permanent reminder; the oral traditions were sufficient. The permanent rock carvings and paintings were permanent for different reasons as objects of early worship and ceremony. Quite likely.
     
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  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Probably the early ancient beginnings of astronomy were also related to the need to explain the universe and the beginnings of religion [deities] and astrology.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_astronomy
    Early cultures identified celestial objects with gods and spirits.[2] They related these objects (and their movements) to phenomena such as rain, drought, seasons, and tides. It is generally believed that the first astronomers were priests, and that they understood celestial objects and events to be manifestations of the divine, hence early astronomy's connection to what is now called astrology. Ancient structures with possibly astronomical alignments (such as Stonehenge) probably fulfilled astronomical, religious, and social functions.

    Calendars of the world have often been set by observations of the Sun and Moon (marking the day, month and year), and were important to agricultural societies, in which the harvest depended on planting at the correct time of year, and for which the nearly full moon was the only lighting for night-time travel into city markets.

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  8. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    I think it's fairly obvious that the advent of agriculture provided new pressures to organise, and develop a closer understanding of celestial objects. Notice how it didn't matter that everything appeared to revolve around the earth, so that was the accepted wisdom. But they must have realised there was a problem with the moon; we know today the moon is the only celestial body that does orbit the earth, but they had to explain the moon's behaviour, so it was given a personality. Why not, if it works?

    And what about before agriculture? Was there any need for mammoth hunters to have a calendar, even a rough one? Why wouldn't they have noticed what the builders of Stonehenge also noticed much later?
     
  9. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    I'd say it's quite likely we identified the sun's warmth with the warmth from fire, quite early. So we saw the sun as a fire-spirit, say.

    Fire-stealing is a widespread myth, so must have been a fairly early one. Fire is stolen from the sun in some mythologies, in others animals steal fire, or a mythical ancestor steals it from animals. The animals become gods, in general.
     
  10. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Even the "Flat Earth" model has very limited applications,eg: Surveying, building houses etc

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  11. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Try this.


    The chap in this video suggests indeed "believes" the zodiac can by traced back to cave paintings...
    Alex
     
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  12. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    gobekli tepe
     
  13. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    I do wonder if whoever built it were into agriculture simply as one must wonder how it could be done without the spare time that agriculture would give...maybe such news would be just too inconvenient.
    Alex
     
  14. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    It is believed that hunter-gatherers spent less time securing food and had healthier diets than did early farmers.
    The benefits of the "agricultural revolution" seem largely to have been quantity over quality.----more births/ more population with shorter lifespans--- and a more sedentary existence
    or
    the agricultural revolution actually happened during the last glaciation
    the evidence of which is hidden beneath the ocean's waves
    and
    gobekli tepe was then, a remembrance of a civilized agricultural past lost to the pulses of rising sea levels(the "flood"s)
    or....................................................................
     
  15. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Funny I have been outside working and I thought now if you were a decent hunter and could preserve meat and fish you could get away with not too much effort.

    I wonder why they buried it.

    Alex
     
  16. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    Uh yeah. So there's a theory that tries to connect cave painting and other rock art to celestial events; Sweatman and others would have us believe early astronomers tried to chart the precession of the equinox over the millennia.

    But again, it's something they might have noticed if they had a record or history, the equinoctal precession isn't something a human would notice in their lifetime. They would have had to be able to compare a known record with contemporary observations. The whole idea hinges on the art being a representation of this precession.
     
  17. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181127111025.htm
    From what I've learned so far about Sweatman and his school of thought is that it doesn't find much consensus. The precession of both the orbital ellipsoid and the rotational axis, to be noticeable, need a fixed record for future observers. So Sweatman has to assume the Palaeolithic astronomers knew how to do this in a way that the information wasn't lost, so that means a fixed notation of sorts, that survives for longer than a few centuries say. Animal images do this, though.

    Ok, the images of animals survive on cave walls or relief carvings in stone; how do the new generations know what they say about the equinoxes changing? It all seems a bit improbable despite the analysis.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
  18. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    People were crossing large bodies of water and navigating over long distances of desert, prairie, tundra, and taiga long before they invented agriculture.

    Being a coastal, ocean-going, almost amphibious, but nevertheless frequently nomadic species, humans had need of navigational capability. Stories about constellations and planets and stars go back thousands of years among people who were not and never did become agricultural.

    The Australian aborigines knew the stars and the planets - their settling of Australia across an ocean and knowledge of the sky afterward predates agriculture by tens of thousands of years. So does the settling of the Americas, which was almost certainly too rapid to have been accomplished by walking alone.
     
  19. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    I think it's reasonable to assume that humans could hunt by moonlight, and this offers an advantage if you can ambush animals at night. A reasonable assumption doesn't make it real, but I imagine the Palaeolithic people could have figured out how to.
    So knowing how to predict when the moon would allow hunting was probably important.

    But you need some nice, obvious looking paintings or carvings that have lasted and that represent a lunar calendar. Maybe they didn't need a record so much, because someone in the tribe knew how to tell by observing sunrises.
     
  20. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Under a dark sky ( where I am right now) you can see with no Moon by Starlight alone...I can read the head line on a newspaper...I can see a kangaroo at night after it has moved but if it is still you won't see it...if you were hunting kangaroos dusk night and dawn as they, like me, take it easy during the day.
    I always know when the Moon is and constellations because I am outside every night it is clear, you end up being tuned in.
    It is just so different...I can imagine the humans of old would notice things we would not believe...when did the "great year" first get mentioned...
    Alex
     
  21. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    and then, on to nevali cori?

    Yeh, i wonder the same thing
    My sculpting mentor once admonished me that the art was process-not product
    maybe
    burying the previous generations structure was an important part of the process?
     
  22. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently Sweatman sees a link between the Taurid meteors and representations of animals, which he claims is a record of the catastrophic beginning of the Younger Dryas.

    And let's recall that the stars are not fixed, they're all moving; there's software that calculates what the night sky looked like, say 15kya.
    I think that if the cave paintings and carvings in stone pillars of animals, are connected to what early astronomers thought they saw in the sky, that certain groups of stars followed the sun through the sky each day, and that the sun rose in a different group as the year progressed and seasons changed, then a tentative conclusion is that they saw the night sky as a kind of cave wall, animals marched across the sky and they migrated across human territory, humans needed a coherent explanation.

    Also a known fixed location, if you want to observe precession of the equinoxes, such as on a hill above a cave where you can leave a record of some kind, whose meaning is then passed down, suggests astronomical observatories were earlier than believed. That depends on how scientific Sweatman's analysis turns out to be, but it is hard to argue with ice cores.
     
  23. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    Thanks I had not heard of it..I will research it.
    You know about the underground cities?
    Alex
     

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