- 文化人類学 (ISSN:13490648)
- vol.79, no.2, pp.164-178, 2014-09-30
While the human interest in astronomical phenomena has a long history, the academic study of cultural phenomena with astronomical significance has only begun in the middle of the 20_<th> century: e.g., studies of Stonehenge and Megalithic structures in Europe pioneered by astronomers and archaeologists. That trend stimulated similar studies in the New World, with many studies of ancient civilizations, such as the Aztec, Maya and Inka, first appearing in the 1970's. In contrast to Old World studies, which are mainly based on archaeological methods, the studies in the New World tend to integrate archaeological and ethnographic information. One reason for that seems to stem from the difference of disciplines, since archaeology in the United States was long treated as part of anthropology. It also used to be possible to research ethnographic information concerning astronomical phenomena in the New World based on archival study and fieldwork. In that context, several excellent pieces of literature of ethnoastronomy have been written that explicate a different way of viewing the sky and universe [e.g. Hudson and Underhay 1978; Urton 1981; Chamberlain 1982]. In addition, the concept of cosmovision proposed by J. Broda [1982, 1993] has been found to be a useful device to approach an integrated view of cosmology and cosmogony [Fairer 1992]. A similar trend is found in other parts of the world, such as Oceania and Africa [e.g. Sharp 1993]. Under those circumstances, the author argues that archaeological and ethnological studies are to be integrated as an anthropology of astronomical phenomena, or "astronomical anthropology." Through that integration, anthropology will serve an important role in the interdisciplinary field of "astronomy in culture" or "cultural astronomy" [Ruggles and Saunders 1993; Valls-Gabaud and Boksenberg 2011]. Recently, the positioning of astronomy in culture and society has become an important topic, with serious discussions of the reevaluation of indigenous astronomy and its teaching to the younger generation [Holbrook et al. 2009; Ruggles 2011]. The author argues that the anthropologists interested in astronomy should not restrict their role to recording past and endangered customs, but instead should participate actively in revitalizing indigenous astronomy as a form of practical knowledge (e.g., the education of modern star navigation in the context of the Oceanic canoe renaissance). In that sense, astronomical anthropology will be able to contribute to reconstructing "neo-science," meaning the refraining of indigenous knowledge as another system of science. Its reutilization should be directed not only toward the construction of symbols of cultural revival activities, but also such practical educational purposes as weather and seasonal reckoning.