East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Stars & Stones

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I’ve just enrolled in an Archaeoastronomy MOOC for the late-winter/early spring term.
I have a number of other MOOCs coming (the first starts tomorrow), but these are strictly professionally-oriented courses1.
The Archaeoastronomy thing is purely leisure oriented – but with an eye to my writing, and one to future Karavansara posts.

The fun thing is, the course is based in Milan, 80 kms from where I am sitting, and I am accessing its contents in English, through an international platform, from my home2.


Archaeoastronomy, for the uninitiated, is that branch of archaeology that studies the astronomical relations of ancient structures, like Stonehenge, Cheops’ Pyramid or the Nazca lines.

The subject has fascinated me ever since I was a kid – I did a project about Stonehenge and Carcac when I was in middle grade, and then I kept reading and collecting books on megaliths and ancient structures.

9780855001810-uk-300Certainly, the earlier instigators were authors such as Peter Kolosimo, standard-bearers of what was called mysterious archaeology, with their books about ancient civilisations and spacemen. Later, I moved on to more serious stuff – such as Alfred Watkins’ seminal work about ley lines. I still have his 1927 book The Ley Hunter’s Manual here on my shelf.
From there, I took a more serious interest in archaeology proper, which I studied as a self-taught amateur and a museum lounge lizard. But a fascination for stars & stones remained.

Indeed, considering I started in 1978 or thereabouts following this subject, I witnessed its transition from crackpot territory to serious academia – and following now a course from the Polytechnic od Milan about a subject that my art history teacher dismissed as “rubbish” in 1978 does feel weird, but nice too.

Now all I need is time and a stable connection – two items that are really scarce hereabouts at the moment.

  1. every year in January, online course platform flood me with their emails and I am like a kid in a candy store – now I’ve settled for “no more than one course per day of the week”, but damn, it requires a lot of self-discipline not to add more stuff to my calendar!
    And discovering MOOCList didn’t help. 
  2. quite a change from my doctorate, when I had to do 20-odd hours by train and one night in a hotel for 2 hours of lesson, at the end of which I was often told “next lesson is in ten days…” 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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