Archaeology Odyssey 2:4, September/October 1999


Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings: Astronomy and the Archaeology of Power

E.C. Krupp (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997) 364 pp., $27.95

One of the benefits of walking erect is the ability to look up. Most of us don’t appreciate how much time our ancestors spent looking at the stars—even more time than we spend watching TV—and we seldom consider how seriously they took their star-gazing. For ancient societies, the cosmos was a living mirror of our terrestrial realm, an ideal domain where godly players acted out every conceivable behavior pattern of the world below.

E.C. Krupp’s Skywatchers, Shamans & Kings invites readers to explore how and why the human condition has been influenced by heavenly images cast upon a celestial screen. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory and Planetarium in Los Angeles, has impressive credentials as a tour guide: For more than a generation he has been a leader in the interdisciplinary field of archaeoastronomy (the study of ancient astronomy). He has visited more than 1,300 ancient sites, and his text offers readers a lively, well-informed personal tour of many of these places.

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