Archaeoastronomy in Practice: Methods and Techniques used in Archaeoastronomy
Tools of the Trade for Archaeoastronomy—a review of selected field survey techniques and data processing methods
Frank Prendergast
Archaeoastronomical research utilises a variety of approaches to detect and interpret cultural meaning in spatial data associated with the material record of past civilisations. Typically, but not exclusively, such information consists of the axial orientations of built structures, site intervisibility, or landscape settings. For those considering undertaking such enquiry, the learning curve in selecting appropriate instrumentation for data collection, and the processing of such information, can be daunting. The ultimate goal of such endeavours is to move beyond the fieldwork and analysis phase to providing archaeologically relevant interpretations for knowledge purposes. Crucially, this is reliant on the evidence derived from the measurement processes as outlined.

Over the course of the presentation and a linked workshop, the presenter will review field methods for defining and measuring the orientation of a prehistoric monument's architecture. These will include theodolite use for astronomical azimuth determination to appropriate levels of accuracy using any identifiable celestial body visible in the day or night sky. The Multiyear Interactive Computer Almanac (MICA) will be the software system of choice used to demonstrate processing techniques. Alternative methods of deriving azimuth such as from map projection coordinates, geodetic coordinates obtained by GPS and DGPS tools, Gyro-stations (used for meridian determination in underground environments), and compass bearings, will be described. Astronomical orientations will be contextualised within a framework of culturally meaningful celestial targets, and alternative horizon-based events and factors.
13:30 - 15:00