INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ASTROARCHAEOLOGY - 
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A NOTE ABOUT THE INSTITUTE'S NAME

We chose the name International Institute of Astroarchaeology because:

  • Astroarchaeology is a branch of science which deals with the astronomical aspects of archaeology. We feel the name has an intriguing ring to it, something about connecting the future with the past. The long term view is important now.

  • The primary motive for founding this Institute is to effect a paradigm-shift in the theory and practice of megalithic archaeology in Ireland, which currently tends to undervalue the astronomical design of megalithic monuments dating from the fifth and fourth millennia BCE. This has led to important astronomical alignments being ignored or vandalised, as in the case of the concrete slab which now prevents the beam of sunlight from entering Europe's largest surviving Neolithic chambered passage-mound at Knowth at dawn around the Spring Equinox. See What's the story? and the Context sections for details.

  • The Institute's goal is to protect this global heritage of megalithic monuments by fostering a discovery-oriented trans-disciplinary paradigm which integrates astronomical, anthropological and art-historical research and knowledge into its interpretation, and into the policy decisions that are made by the government body (Dúchas / The Heritage Service) and other groups entrusted with the restoration and conservation of megalithic sites in the Republic of Ireland. Like any science, Archaeology is not only an academic exercise; the policies and actions which arise from the paradigm of its theoretical foundations can both damage and destroy as well as preserve and reveal. Policy decisions about the reconstruction of megalithic sites are generally made by archaeologists, not astronomers or mythologists. For these reasons, we feel it particularly important to include the suffix -archaeology with the prefix astro- in the title of the Institute so as to define its proper field of interest and signal its position as a significant player in the future of archaeology in Ireland.

  • We have received proposals to use the terms "archaeoastronomy" or "archaeocosmology" in the Institute's name. While the principal academic field of the Insitute's concerns is conventionally known as "archaeoastronomy", we prefer the term "astroarchaeology" because of its emphasis on archaeololgy which is the discipline that ultimately damages or conserves the astronomical features of the monuments undergoing restoration. Moreover, following the ordinary rules of semantic logic which define "astrophysics" as a branch of physics or "ethnobotany" as a branch of botany, it is clear that "archaeoastronomy" is a branch of astronomy and "archaeocosmology" is a branch of cosmology (within the fields of comparative mythology and anthropology). So while archaeoastronomy and archaeocosmology shall indeed inform the Institute's work, the use of either term in its title would unnecessarily limit its perceived remit and thus diminish its political effectiveness. Again, it's the archaeology that matters.

  • The adjective "International" seem preferable to "Irish" because: (A) the culture which built the megalithic monuments in Ireland was also active along the Atlantic coast of Europe from Southern Sweden, Scotland, Wales, England, Brittany, Denmark, the Northern Holland, Northern Germany, Northern Poland, Portugal, Spain, and some of the Mediterranean Islands; (B) the Celtic peoples who used these megalithic sites for one or two millennia later on (and whose cultural and mythological legacy may thus help illuminate their meaning) were also established in what is now Portugal, Northern Spain, France, Belgium, Southern Germany, Southern Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Romania, the Balkans – and beyond the Bosphorus to Asiatic Turkey), with Indo-European roots and connections that may extend as far as the Black Sea, the Near East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and Northern India; (C) insights may be gained from other astronomically-designed archaeological sites in Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Americas; and (D) because we intend the Institute to be a world leader in its field – which would give it extra clout in shaping archaeological policy in Ireland.


  • Please email your comments to Michael O'Callaghan at moc@global-vision.org or contact him at this address.

     
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    The URL of this page is: www.astroarchaeology.org/name.html
    Updated 22 April 2001
    For more information contact Michael O'Callaghan at moc@global-vision.org

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