The influence of stars on our history and culture is so powerful that there isn’t a society on earth that doesn’t honor them in some way. From prehistoric standing stones to modern observatories, the study of the stars has continued through the millennia. Setting science aside, the more primitive aspect of our collective soul yearns towards the stars for deeper, more spiritual reasons.
The glittering starscape above presents us with meaning and pattern, possibilities, and an unshakable sense of our own connection with the universe in which we live. We know how important the celestial bodies are: sun, moon, and stars loom large in our imaginations, our hearts, and in our jewelry here at Peter Stone Co.
If you feel the influence of the stars and moon, too, you won’t want to miss our beautiful sterling silver sun, moon, and stars jewelry… and you might be surprised at some of the facts we dug up in our quest to understand the stars.
In the dawn of human culture, the heavens represented the best available measurement of time. After years of careful observation, these earliest astronomers (in fact, shepherds and farmers, for the most part) began to grasp the patterns inherent in celestial movement. Some changes were seasonal, some were annual.
The ancient Egyptians noticed that the rising of the brightest star, Sirius, was linked to the annual flooding of the Nile River—this was, in fact, the first culture to recognize and use the 365-day year. Other cultures, such as the Persians, used the cycles of the moon to measure time, as did later Native and Aboriginal cultures across the globe. Centuries later, in the Middle Neolithic Era of 2950 BCE, Stonehenge was built on the Salisbury Plain in England by the Druids (pre-Celtic peoples of the area). Though modern scientists have only scant theories about the purpose of the complex arrangement, it is undeniably clear that the construction was carefully directed to align with astronomical patterns.
The massive pillars of Stonehenge are so meticulously arranged that the first rays of the summer solstice sun rise just above the “heel stone” and illuminate the precise center of the horseshoe shaped complex. Standing stones, stone circles, star wheels, and pyramids (built by widely different cultures all over the globe) were all constructed to map the movement of the stars, or to align with them for religious purposes. Even the mysterious Nazca lines in Peru demonstrate an uncanny correspondence with astronomical positions and paths.
The Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula were particularly attuned to astronomy, peppering their cities with observatories and alignments that astound modern archaeologists. By keeping meticulous documents and passing their knowledge down through the generations, the Mayans amassed what was very likely the most comprehensive body of astronomical knowledge of the time period. By 800 A.D., they had developed a calendar of astonishing accuracy, predicting eclipses and other planetary movements with an error margin of only one day every 6,000 years. The focus on this calendar has recently intensified, as it becomes widespread knowledge that the Mayans, with this remarkable system of timing, predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012.
I guess we can only wait and see how accurate they were. Come back for more! We found so many interesting facts about the stars that we couldn’t fit it all in, so come back to Peter Stone Connections later in the week for our second installment, All the Starry Universe, Part 2: Big Saucepans and Eye Tests