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Archaeoastronomy & Ethnoastronomy News


Number 4, June Solstice 1992

I'm Out of Here
by David Dearborn

That's right! BBy the time you get this, I'll be drinking Pisco and lime juice in a bar at 12,000 feet, talking to Brian about the day's work. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take this from the beginning.

For the last three years, BRian Bauer, a research associate with the Gield Museum in Chicago, has been conducting a survey to identify and locate as many of the huacas (shrines) of the Inca ceque system as possible. The ceques were straight line connections or sight lines between the huacas. Ethnohistoric accounts of the 328 huacas that comprosed the system leavce little doubt that it plated an important part in the "spatio-temporal" organization of Cuzco, the Inca capital. Given the importance of this topic to Inca studies, and the elaborate theoretical models that have been proposed for its use, it is surprising that those basic data have not been systematically collected and published before. As we mentioned in A&E News #3, the survey is now sufficiently complete for Brian to begin publishing the results.

In Peru, archaeological interest in astronomy stems from the paramount position of the Sun, Moon, and stars in the Inca pantheon, as well as the Inca's claim of direct descent from the Sun. There are ethnohistoric accounts of astronomical/ritual observations of the Sun using huacas of the ceque system. These accounts are incompelte, and often flawed. Brian and I are investigating the astronomical utility of this system of shrines in the hope of obtaining firmer insights into the use of the ceque system and astronomy in Inca society. Our field season will add data to the debate that began with the paper "Here Comes the Sun..." (Dearborn and Schreiber, ARCHAEOASTRONOMY, Vol IX), and will be aired in the forthcoming volume X of our journal. The ceque system is also the subject of a (closed) round table session to be held later this year at COlgate University (only conventional weapons permitted).

The research is coupled to an announcement we made in A&E News #2, regarding the annual Herbert Pollock Award. This award is provided to encourage and support research in the history of astronomy, with special consideration given to projects using the Dudley Observatory collection of rare books. Applicants for a Pollock Award may also be considered for a Dudley Award. To do the work described above, Brian and I submitted a proposal entitled "Astronomy and Empire in the Andes," and received a Dudley Award to support our studies. Persons interested in submitting proposals for next year should request apllication materials from the Pollock Award Committee, Dudley Observatory, 69 Union Avenue, Schenectady, New York, 12308.

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