Archaeoastronomy in Greece: Data, Problems and Perspectives

Here we present the ‘Abstract‘ of the corresponding paper by Maria K. Papathanassiou.



Archaeoastronomy, as its name suggests, is the meeting point of astronomy and archaeology through the introduction of astronomical methods into the study of architectural remains. The history of archaeoastronomy in Greece begins in the last two decades of last century with the works of Heinrich Nissen, Sir Norman Lockyer and Sir Francis C. Penrose, who measured and studied the orientation of a number of Greek temples on the Greek mainland, the islands, the Ionian coast and South Italy. This theory dates from 1890 when Lockyer visited Greece and observed the difference in orientation between the old and the new Parthenon as well as the change in direction of the axes of other temples. He then went to Egypt and in the months ending March 1891 he measured the orientation of Egyptian temples. Knowing that some churches were orientated towards sunrise on the feast day of their patron saint, he thought the same might be true for ancient temples. According to his measurements and calculations there are six solsticial Egyptian temples, i.e. temples whose long axis was directed towards the point of the rising Sun at the winter solstice (four temples) or at the summer solstice (two temples)


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