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Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland Hardcover – 5 May 1999

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Slp edition (5 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300078145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300078145
  • Product Dimensions: 29.4 x 2.7 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 881,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Ruggles is senior lecturer in archaeological studies at Leicester University.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book has been 20 years in the making, and is an epic read. As well as the main text there are background boxes interspersed to cleverly and briefly cover important aspects of archaeology, astronomy and statistics. These serve to refresh your arsenal ready to take an onslaught of sometimes complex cross-disciplinary information. The text is also backed up with a dozen or so site data tables, a humungous number of references and a large bibliography. The boxes cover such processes as probability and hypothesis testing, declination and parallax of the moon, and modern approaches to archaeology. This is appreciated by those of us not inclined to read academic textbooks and makes for a self-contained work.
Back to the main text, (getting sidelined like this happens when reading as well; the difficulty of staying on track is as a disadvantage of the approach taken, and anyway my concentration is addled from being able to follow hyperlinks in hypertext documents from the computer publisher O'Reilly. Oh for a copy of the text on disk to accompany the book!). Anyway, the first chapter is a frank appraisal of how British archaeoastronomy languished on the fringe with the ley hunters, buried in argument for much of the 1970s. Then lo!, along came Dr Ruggles and contemporaries to sweep away the legacy of Hawkins and look again at Thom's precision alignment. Chapter Two re-appraises the latter's work, questioning his methodology, but not his integrity. Ruggles' cumulative plots agree that certain directions show up as significant, with a bunching of alignments, but only at low precision.
To cut a long story short, Ruggles and colleagues decided that the only way to get to the bottom of the problem was to conduct a large-scale survey of sites and their possible alignments.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a very good book. Ruggles is one of the few people qualified to speak authoritatively on both archaeology and astronomy and so avoids the usual pit-falls of authors on this subject of mastery of one and ignorance of the other. He gives an over-view of the history of archaeoastronomy which is very enlightening and in separate text boxes introduces astronomical and archaeological ideas clearly and concisely so that those ignorant of either are not left floundering (I know, as my knowledge of practical astronomy is rather deficient). Much of what he considers derives from his own research which concentrates in the north of the UK and involves stone rows and recumbent stone circles (a particularly good chapter). Stonehenge is inevitably mentioned but mostly to show how difficult it is to actually prove (as opposed to suggest) anything there. The footnotes are detailed and relevant. I enjoyed reading this book immensely. It is full of interesting facts and ideas, relates to much that is current in archaeological thought and on top of that is very readable. The book is very well produced with some top-notch photographs. A pleasure to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A classic and well worth reading for anyone interested in archaeoastronomy, covers all the basics with some interesting case studies.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would recommend this text to all students of archeoasronomy. Its author is an expert in the required field of study
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c4d6a38) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c41a4c8) out of 5 stars Excellent summary of recent evidence 22 Aug. 2010
By Bradford Needham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this book. It takes a skeptical, but positive approach to evidence that ancient monuments in Britain and Ireland were deliberately aligned to astronomical events. It presents very recent academic work with the point of view that astronomers and archeologists need to be more familiar with each other's work. To be clear: this is a textbook rather than a pop archeoastronomy book, but since it is written for astronomers who know nothing of archeology and archeologists who know nothing about astronomy, it provides all the background you need to understand the material presented.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c42b1ec) out of 5 stars Excellent text but from a cloistered viewpoint. 11 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Ruggles presents excellent arguments against prior texts by Alexander Thom and others who claimed that many stone rings and alignments demonstrated a highly sophisticated technology in prehistoric times. While Ruggles' approach is quite good, it lacks an understanding of common sense that dictates humanoid activity. In essence, he would be one who takes the viewpoint of many academics who have never lived in the real world outside of a university environment. For example, such academics could find a drinking glass, but state that we can never prove it was used as such because there are no lip imprints on it. Common sense says you don't create a drinking glass, unless it is for that purpose. He takes this same approach to the orientation of stone rings, recumbent stone rings, etc. While, he does demonstrate that Thom's accuracy claims are not valid, he doesn't give credence to rough alignments where if a declination of 29 degrees is ideal, a scattering a couple of degrees off this number is not indicative of 29 being sought. The builders of these rings did the best they could and if they were off by a couple of degrees, they still intended to hit close to the 29, 19, etc. Also, there were many traders moving goods in the regions of interest during the millenia of interest. To keep each other "honest", they would have to agree on some standards, such as "how much leather for how many stone axes"; hence a moderately standard "megalithic yard" as demonstrated by Thom is certainly valid. If Ruggles had assumed a "real world" view, the book would certainly rate 5 rather than the 4 stars.
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