Archaeo-astronomy in Society: Supporting Citizenship in Schools across Europe

By Daniel Brown and Lina Canas.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The interdisciplinary topic of archaeo-astronomy links science subjects such as astronomy with archaeology and sociology to explore how ancient societies perceived the heavens above. This is achieved by analysing ancient sites such as megalithic monuments (e.g. Stonehenge), since they are the most common remains of these societies and are wide spread in Europe.
We discuss how archaeo-astronomy and ancient sites can be transversal to many topics in school. The links to the science curricula in different countries are highlighted. However, especially the subject of citizenship can be supported by exploring the diversity of culture, ideas, and identities including the changing nature of society in the past millennia.
We conclude that archaeo-astronomy offers many opportunities for citizenship. Learning more about megalithic monuments in different countries (e.g. England, Portugal, and Germany) supports tolerance and understanding. Furthermore, the distribution of these sites lends itself to exploring beyond borders, introducing international networking, and truly developing students into global citizens.

Keywords: Archaeo-astronomy, Citizenship, Enrichment, Outdoor-classroom

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.153-164. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.169MB).

Dr. Daniel Brown

Astronomy Outreach and Development Officer, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University / Centre of Effective Learning in Science, Nottingham, England, UK

Daniel Brown is a professional astronomer who graduated in Germany and carried out his PhD in the UK. He is now working at the Nottingham Trent University and its on-site observatory, where he supports astronomy teaching and outreach work with the general public and schools. This also includes working with creative practitioners and theatre groups. The main focus of his outreach work is based on archaeo-astronomy and the use of the outdoor-classroom in schools, further, and higher education. Furthermore, he is a founding member of the ‘Horizontastronomie im Ruhrgebiet e.V.’, a German private initiative promoting astronomy outreach based on an EU funded Science Park located within the ruhr area.

Lina Canas

Producer / Monitor, Planetarium and Observatory, Centro Multimeios de Espinho, Navegar Foundation, Espinho, Espinho, Portugal

Lina Canas graduated in Astronomy at the Faculty of Science of the University of Porto, and in 2008 completed a Masters in Geophysics at the same university. She works at the Planetarium and Observatory at Centro Multimeios de Espinho, being part of the team responsible for the production, development and implementation of activities related to science communication. Of his most recent projects, we can highlight the executive production of the planetary show Journey to a Black Hole; Dinner on Mars, a project that won the international first prize for the “Most Innovative Event” during the ”Galilean Nights ” of the International Year of Astronomy 2009; Camping at the Planetarium which got an international honorable mention for the” Most Innovative Event “during the” 100 Hours of Astronomy ” of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. She is also part of the Science Office team.