Friends of RAS (only) Lecture: Astronomy in Ancient Egypt

Detail from an astronomical ceiling in the temple of Dendera, depicting stars in the area of Orion (a male figure) and Sirius (a cow) sailing the sky in barques.
Dr Robert Cockcroft in 2013
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*** This event will take place online, Friends of the RAS will be sent a link to register via Eventbrite ***


This talk will describe some of the archaeological evidence for astronomical knowledge in ancient Egypt and discuss the challenges of understanding (up to) 4500-year-old texts, objects, and monuments. What did the ancient Egyptians actually know about astronomy? To what use did they put this knowledge? And how much can we learn from a fragmentary archaeological record? The talk will be in three sections, each giving an introduction to one aspect of ancient activity: 1) star maps, 2) written descriptions of stellar motion, and 3) astronomical timekeeping. We will break for questions after each segment.

Sarah Symons is an Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Science at McMaster University. She is also Director of the William J. McCallion Planetarium in Hamilton, Ontario. Her research area is ancient Egyptian timekeeping and astronomy, and she has recently co-edited a book on the subject of the hour in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East.


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