Friday, June 11, 2010

History in the Stars

Iroquois, 1914

Modern historians have matched Iroquois oral history with astronomy.
Iroquois history records a solar eclipse over what is now central New York, when the first Grand Council of the Confederacy met to set up a league, rather like the United Nations.
Along with other corroborating evidence, this places the founding council in 1142. [1]

It's a potent mix when stories meet hard physical realities, like the movement of the stars.
Or a glimpse of a girl on film.

Here's the only existing film of Anne Frank, from July 22, 1941.

This is from the the Anne Frank House youTube channel, who writes:

"The girl next door is getting married. Anne Frank is leaning out of the window of her house in Amsterdam to get a good look at the bride and groom. It is the only time Anne Frank has ever been captured on film. At the time of her wedding, the bride lived on the second floor at Merwedeplein 39. The Frank family lived at number 37, also on the second floor. The Anne Frank House can offer you this film footage thanks to the cooperation of the couple."
[1] From Iroquois Culture and Commentary, by Doug George-Kanenetiio, 2000, p. 27-28.


Clowncar said...

There's also Anasazi petroglyphs in Chaco Canyon depicting a supernova in 1054. Pretty cool.

That Anne Frank video is eerie. I'm not sure why.

Margaret said...

I thought it was eerie, too; we know what happens next.

I wonder how Herstory will be taught in THE DISTANT FUTURE; everything's being caught in these inter-webs we've woven; Come to think of it, internet browsers literally have a "history."

Fresca said...

C & M: Historical astronomy--how cool.

Eerie, definitely, to see Anne Frank--so free and happy and public... when, as M says, we know so well what happens next.

History now has so MUCH junk to wade through--all those home videos!
I too wonder how it'll be handled in the future. There'll no longer be the excitement of uncovering a stash of personal letters, that's for sure.

Annika said...

Archaeoastronomy is actually an established field of archaeology, even if it's sometimes sneered at. In my archaeology days, I specialised in bronze age (in southern Scandinavia, about 1700-500 BC) rock carvings, which are quite similar to rock carvings/rock paintings in other parts of the world. I remember reading one article by a guy who had made a computer program that could simulate the night sky at any point in history, interpreted rock carvings as representations of the positions of the moon, stars and planets, and thus dated the images very precisely. I also remember being sceptical, for several reasons.
Normally, archeoastronomy refers to any kind of theory that involves the assumption that our ancestors had some knowledge about the night sky and the movements of the sun. I think it'd be stranger if they didn't, but some archaeologists consider such theories as outrageous as the one about the pyramids being constructed by aliens. Which makes one wonder if they have any clue what humans are actually like.

Fresca said...

ANNIKA: "Archaeoastronomy"-- I had no idea!

I'm sure our ancestors knew a ton more about the night sky than I do!