Under an Ancient Sky


In a new series of academic travelogues from various corners of the globe, The Difference Engine brings you highlights of our 2005 Field School in Anthropology and Astronomy, written by Kath Williams

The 2005 School travelled through the Four Corners of the American Southwest ; home to some of the most dramatic archaeological sites in the world. The students looked at the role of astronomy in ancient rural life on several sites including Chaco Canyon, where there is considerable evidence of ancient astronomical activities. Kitt Peak National Observatory was also featured in the School itinerary; home to the largest collection of astronomical telescopes anywhere, and one of a group of observatories that form The National Optical Astronomy Observatory programme; students participated in the facility’s Advanced Observation Program.

Day 1 Santa Monica Everyone up and ready for a 06.30 departure on the first leg of our journey through California and into the Four Corners Area of the American Southwest. Traffic in and around LA was already busy, but the early start meant that we got through most of it with ease. By the time we stopped for breakfast, the San Bernadino Mountain Range was in our sights. Back into the car and on to the Tucson area where we spent our first night nestled under Picacho Peak, in a camp ground run by the State Parks Authority.



    April 18, 2005


    (enter Picacho, “AZ 85241” as search term)

    Click on “Satellite” (in upper right hand corner)

    I love the new google satellite maps. Zoom in & out, drag the picture around, try spotting the camping students or the UFO landing site that Sam was looking for…

    The resolution in major cities is amazing. In the countryside, it’s a bit less fantastic, but still great fun.

    Teri Brewer

    April 18, 2005

    Thanks to Kath Williams for her hard work as assistant director and to the great SAPS students for all they contributed on this fieldschool. The combination of anthropology and astronomy interests was dynamic and added a dimension to the experience of all participants that everyone found very rewarding.

    Images from the CCD photography done at Kitt Peak are now available and we are moving ahead on putting up the fieldschool website and I will list the address here in a few days when there is something to see! There is another blog thread on the fieldschool running over in Media and Culture which you might like to look at:

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