From Stone Age to Space Age: Discussing Common Grounds in Archaeology and Astronomy

A seed grant has been awarded to Dr. Till Sonnemann (Archaeology) and Dr. Pedro Russo (Leiden Observatory) for their workshop: "From Stone Age to Space Age: Discussing Common Grounds in Archaeology and Astronomy." The workshop’s main goal is to start an open discourse on cooperation between researchers from Archaeology and Astronomy. Granted: €4000 (September 2015).

Project Coordinators:
Dr. Till Sonnemann (Archaeology)
Dr. Pedro Russo (Leiden Observatory)

Archaeology and Astronomy have fascinated societies through the ages; fundamental research questions about human life are connected. In recent studies on science and society, space sciences and archaeology rank as some of the most popular topics; represented only by a fraction of all research, both subjects punch way above their weight in the field of public awareness.

Of the many interdisciplinary research projects, Archaeology and Astronomy connect the philosophical questions we ask in Humanities with physical studies that the Natural Sciences provide. Researchers in both fields use similar research techniques - e.g. image processing or pattern recognition, and data techniques - to answer the big questions, which can be reduced to where are we from? where are we going?

The workshop’s main goal is to start an open discussion on cooperation between researchers of the two institutes. We therefore choose to keep the topics broad, covering the whole range of potential interaction. Evidently, the two disciplines can differ substantially, and we are aware that not every participant will have equal interest and knowledge in every aspect. The topics are Science and Technology, Education and Public Outreach, Astronomical Heritage, as well as Academic Teaching; we will also discuss and explore the Common Areas within subjects taught at both departments.

Particular research techniques, such as remote sensing, image analysis, data mining, are cross-disciplinary in approach and methodology. Moreover, some topics forge closer ties to other disciplines rather than their own discipline. For instance, the physics and engineering backgrounds of many space scientists can spike new ideas on how to target problems in archaeology. In comparison, Archaeologists’ study of past cultures and their astronomical heritage provides a more historicized view of astronomy and different understandings of the universe. In outreach and public education the two departments could work closer together on comprehensive philosophical questions probing origins and global citizenship, drawing upon both disciplines to provide novel theories and answers.

Event webpage: 24-26 February 2016

Last Modified: 03-03-2016