Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

Presented by Friends of Ethnic Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Sunday, April 6, 2014: 1-3 PM
Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum
Golden Gate Park , San Francisco

Dr. Anthony F. Aveni
Since their archaeological and artistic remains were first studied by western man about a century and a half ago, we have begun to appreciate that the ancient Maya rulers of Central America were possessed by the study of time, calendar and astronomy. In this lecture we dwell mainly on the evidence that suggests Maya priest-astronomers carefully watched the planet Venus, clocking its motion to an accuracy of better than 2 hours in 5 centuries all without the advantage of a technology like our own.

What drove them to such precision? What was the observational methodology employed to follow the planet? Why was Venus, above all other celestial objects so important to Maya astronomers? What other celestial bodies were given attention? These questions are discussed in some detail along with an understanding and appreciation of Maya calendar documents, hieroglyphic writing and the role of astronomical orientations in standing Maya architecture.
– Anthony Aveni

Dr. Anthony F. Aveni has been a Professor of Astronomy, Anthropology and Native American Studies at Colgate University since 1963. In 1988, he was named the Russell B. Colgate Distinguished University Professor. Notably, he led the development of the field of Archaeoastronomy. As an avid author, he has published research publication, academic articles, and numerous books throughout his career.