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Archaeoastronomy is a scientific discipline, which combines methodological tools and analysis of astronomy and archeology, studying the archaeological and historical evidence of various human cultures in search of reconstructing the ancient astronomies and its various cultural aspects. In practice, it seeks to establish the astronomical orientation of an archaeological structure through measurements in the field and in plans or maps. It also studies calendars, cosmologies and cosmogonies, cosmological symbols and all evidence of cultural activity related to astronomy. This evidence can be seen in archaeological objects, in historical documents or in architectural structures or archaeological vestiges.
Positional astronomy is the basic tool for archaeoastronomical analysis of archaeological sites or structures. The astronomical and topographic data are interpreted in the light of archeology, anthropology and history. Therefore the field of archaeoastronomy is multidisciplinary and receives the contributions of various professionals: archaeologists, anthropologists and astronomers, in the first place; and also historians, geographers, engineers, architects, surveyors.
Archaeoastronomy as a field of scientific research seeks to provide evidence in the understanding of astronomical practice in civilizations and ancient cultures. For this purpose it not only collects in alignments and astronomical orientations, it also seeks to understand the reciprocal influence between functional and symbolic astronomy, which is, in the final analysis, the cultural interpretation of astronomy. In this way, archaeoastronomy is supported by complementary research fields, in an effort to provide a more complete picture of the relationship between astronomy and culture. These scientific disciplines are mainly: Ethnoastronomy, the History of Astronomy and the study of calendars.
Ethnoastronomy is a field of cultural anthropology that collects and analyzes information from the astronomical systems of living cultures. Take methodological elements of ethnology and ethnography. He is also concerned with the study of the ethnohistoric record in search of astronomical elements. Its main objective is the collection and analysis of elements of the astronomical practice of other cultures and ethnic groups whose astronomies are different from the astronomy of Western tradition.
The history of Astronomy is a discipline contained within the broader field of the history of science. Mostly it works with the written historical records of cultures like the Euro-Mediterranean, the Egyptian, the Arab or the Chinese. The study of Calendars of ancient civilizations has traditionally been based on the study of sources and historical records that document the form and use of these calendars. Archaeoastronomy studies the correspondence of calendars with real astronomical events and mathematically analyzes the presence of astronomical periods and the possible incidence of particular phenomena such as eclipses.