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Title: The astronomy of Andean myth : the history of a cosmology
Authors: Sullivan, William F.
Supervisors: Gifford, Douglas
Issue Date: 1986
Abstract: The paper aims to show that Andean myth, on one level, represents a technical language recording astronomical observations of precession and, at the same time, an historical record of simultaneous social and celestial transformations. Topographic and architectural terms of Andean myth are interpreted as a metaphor for the organisation of and locations on the celestial sphere. Via ethnoastronmical data, mythical animals are identified as stars and placed on the celestial sphere according to their "topographical " location. Tested in the planetarium, these "arrays" generate clusters of dates - 200 B.C. and 650. A. D. Analysis of the names of Wiraqocha and Manco Capac indicates they represent Saturn and Jupiter and that their mythical meeting represents their conjunction in 650 A.D. The astronomy of Andean myth is then used as an historical tool to examine how the Andean priest-astronomers recorded the simultaneous creation of the ayllu and of this distinctive astronomical system about 200 B.C. The idea that the agricultural ayllu, with its double descent system stressing the importance of paternity, represents a transformation of society from an earlier matrilineal/horticultural era is examined in light of the sexual imagery employed in myth. Wiraqocha’s androgyny and the division of the celestial sphere into male (ecliptic) and -female(celestial equator = “earth” ) are interpreted as cosmological validations of the new social structure.
Type: Thesis
Publisher: University of St Andrews
Appears in Collections:Centre for Amerindian, Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CAS) Theses
Social Anthropology Theses

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