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Calendars and cellestial observations

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AyKurt View Drop Down
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    Posted: 12 Aug 2009 at 17:48
The skies played an important role in the lifeways of the ancient nomads.  Tengri, for example, encompassed the whole sky so it would be natural to assume that in the sky they saw the body of God.  The moon and the sun were the subject of cult worship to the ancient nomads.

I want to list all the marked days of the year as much as we know.  If anyone can add any information on Turkic and nomadic calendars and celestial events it would be appreciated.

The Kazakhs would pray for prosperity on a new moon.

The Altaians had days of restrictions on certain taboos at the end of a lunar month.

Chinese chronicles say the Xiongnu had lunar calendars and had beliefs connected with the phases of the moon.

Hundreds of monuments and barrows from the Volga lowlands and the Urals to the Altay and Tien Shan mountains exist that mark the sunrise and sunset at the solstices and equinoxes.  These momuments are believed to be associated with sun worship.  They date to the early Iron Age to the ancient Turkic era and are a form of horizon solar calendars.  Ridges along the monuments trace teh sunrise and sunset and divide the year into 2, 4 and 8 parts, 180, 90 and 45 days each.

Kazakhs divide the year into 4 toksans of 90 days each forming a season.

The nomads of central asia developed an animal calendar of 12 year cycles connected with the motion of Jupiter along the zodiac circle.  (Some think the calendar was adopted from the Chinese but theres no evidence for it and probably the other way about)

When the new moon meets the pleiades it marks the start of the summer period. (24 of may this year, 14th of May in 2010.  An excellent program to use to check these events is called Stellarium, its open source)
The summer quarter begins at the summer soltice.

The autumn quarter begins at the vernal equinox and marks the beginning of the hunting season.  A specially selected horse was sacrificed to Ulgen near the tribal mountain.  The mountain delivers the gift to Ulgen.  This sacrifice also took place at the spring equinox and Summer solstice.

When the full moon meets the pleiades it marks the beginning of the winter period.  This is when the nature spirits are falling asleep and starting to stock up meat for the winter.  It will take place on the night of tuesday 3rd of November this year.  (Again you can mark this path of the moon using Stellarium).  Traditionally horseriding, wrestling and archery are played on this day or the autumn equinox.

Most of the information here is from "ASTRONOMICAL PRACTICES AND RITUAL CALENDAR OF EURO-ASIAN NOMADS" Nyssanbay M. Bekbassar

This is of course far from complete and i will add more as i come across them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 13:26
The sky played a major role in the lifeways of all ancient men. One of the banes and curses of modern urban life is that the night sky has vanished and few experience the mysteries of the night sky that so fascinated the ancestors. Celestial phenomena and their observation as socio-cultural markers is a commonality of all Man.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AyKurt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Aug 2009 at 18:09
Oh, ok thanks for that information but i wasn't claiming it was exclusive to or originating with Inner Eurasian nomads.  However the focus of this thread is intended primarily to deal with examples within Eurasian nomadic societies which is why i opened it in the North and Central Asia forum.

But, of course, if their are examples outside this area that relate to or are similar to Eurasian nomad examples that would be interesting too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Aug 2009 at 04:04

Well, the astronomy and astrology in the Americas was as old and complex as the one of the New World. The astronomy of the Pacific (Polynesians) was even superior, and allowed that people to become the greatests sailors ever, up to the Age of Discovery.

However, the line that goes directly to modern science is from the Old World, indeed, rooted in Summer and Babilon.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Aug 2009 at 04:35
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Well, the astronomy and astrology in the Americas was as old and complex as the one of the New World. The astronomy of the Pacific (Polynesians) was even superior, and allowed that people to become the greatests sailors ever, up to the Age of Discovery.

I wouldn't say that the Polynesians and Pacific Islanders were the greatest sailors ever (til the Age of Discovery, as you term it). Nevertheless, they displayed incredible skill and a rare savvyness when it came to naval navigation, celestial interpretation and sailing knowledge.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Aug 2009 at 04:41
They were the best. They colonized by themselves a half of the planet! That's that is size of the Pacific! Polynesians were high sea sailors like no others, with the exception of theirs cousins, the Austronesians. In comparison, Mediterranean and coastal navigation was child play.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Aug 2009 at 04:50
Pinguin, the pacific ocean does not cover half of the planet, let along the islands on which the Pacific islanders lived. They account for less than 0.01% of the total area of the Pacific ocean. I was not denying their seafaring achievements in any way (quite the opposite actually), I was just saying that the claim that they were the best sailors ever is not one that I agree with.

And I hope your statement "Mediterranean...was child's play" doesn't imply that think the Mediterranean is some calm, tranquil bay.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Aug 2009 at 09:18
Well, you are counting only the emerged land, yes. It is a tinny little zone. But if you consider the size of the Pacific Ocean, you will realize the extraordinary achievement of the Polynesians.
 
The Mediterranean sea could be quite nasty, no doubt. However, land is not far away, and ancient sailors like phoenicians usually picked the ships ashore at nights. Most ancient people navigated along the sea coast, so in a very real sense they were mediocre navigators. That's a sort of minor scale navigation that it can't be compared at all with the conquest of the Pacific.
 
The best sailors up to the Age of Discovery were the sailors that made the trips from India to Arabia and Africa, crossing the Indian Ocean, but above all the Polynesians. Those were sailors of high seas, unlike Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Vikings, who usually sailed in a small pool at the backyard.
 
 
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Aug 2009 at 12:06
The sailing skills of the ancient is an interesting topic. How dificult it is to sail a water is not only dependant of how much area that water covers. More important can be local factors like currents, rough seas, winds, sunken rocks and similar. Some inland lakes can be harder and more dangerous to sail than the big oceans.
 
It also is somewhat of a myth that the ancients of the Mediterranean mostly hugged the coasts. Many times they took the risk to cross right over the sea just to shorten the voyage.
 
And some of the waters the Vikings travelled on is far more treacherous than many of the waters the polynesian traversed.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Aug 2009 at 14:04
If you spray out migrants in all directions, it's no surprise that many or most of them manage to find islands to settle on.  So the size of the area colonised by the Polynesians isn't proof of any great navigational skills, though it is evidence of their ability to carry supplies for long voyages.
 
But being able to dail long distances is a very different thing from being able to hit a specific target over long distances.
 
What's needed is evidence of the establishment of permanent trading routes across the area. Which may or may not exist as far as I know.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Aug 2009 at 16:36
Polynesians had established routes among several of theirs islands, with the exception of Easter. That last may have been reached by chance only once, but not the rest.
Polynesian navigation skills is something known among sailors of the Pacific. Actually, even the early European explorers of the Pacific usually have the help of Polynesian pilots. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Aug 2009 at 11:17
I'd be interested n references.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Aug 2009 at 16:11
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Polynesians had established routes among several of theirs islands, with the exception of Easter. That last may have been reached by chance only once, but not the rest.
Polynesian navigation skills is something known among sailors of the Pacific. Actually, even the early European explorers of the Pacific usually have the help of Polynesian pilots. 
 
To put it kindly, the above is tommy-rot. The Spanish had pretty well adapted to following the prevailing currents relatively early on--one of the principal reasons why the Sandwich Islands never received consideration from the Spanish--and the notion of "established" routes for the Polynesians are more than a bit of a stretch, particularly if you know anything about the various atolls and the yes-and-nos of the Pacific currents.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Sep 2009 at 12:42
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

...
To put it kindly, the above is tommy-rot. The Spanish had pretty well adapted to following the prevailing currents relatively early on--one of the principal reasons why the Sandwich Islands never received consideration from the Spanish--and the notion of "established" routes for the Polynesians are more than a bit of a stretch, particularly if you know anything about the various atolls and the yes-and-nos of the Pacific currents.
 
Spanish came late. We are talking here about the sailors before the Age of Discovery.
And with respect to Spanish, they copied theirs technology to Portuguese, so please, don't compare.
 
Anyways, I can smell Eurocentric pride in here LOL
 
 
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