The astronomical prowess of the Incan Empire has fascinated professional and amateur astronomers for decades. A new book by OU Extended Campus associate professor Dr. Steven Gullberg will show how modern archaeoastronomy can help to recover and interpret elements of Incan civilization through their understanding of the heavens.
Astronomy of the Inca Empire: Use and Significance of the Sun and the Night Sky takes a holistic approach to examining how the Inca viewed and used astronomy in their everyday lives, from the beginning of their empire to the empire’s fall to Spain.
“My goal for this book is to illustrate the light and shadow effects of the Incas that I found during my field research,” Gullberg said. “I share my experiences with Inca effects of light and shadow and use images to take readers to the world that I encountered. I hope that I have ‘painted’ a great image that all can use to better appreciate these aspects of the Inca Empire.
"The time that I spent in the Peruvian Andes has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Not only was I able to examine extant Inca astronomy firsthand, but I also had the great pleasure of meeting and interacting with many of the wonderful people of Peru.”
The book will feature astronomical and cultural analyses of the many huacas—natural locations sacred to Incan religious practices—found in the heart of the empire, as well as more than 300 pieces of original artwork and photos captured during Gullberg's extensive field research in Inca capitol of Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Saihuite and Tipon.
“My wife is a gifted artist and did 31 paintings, drawings and maps for the book,” he said. “One of the night sky at Machu Picchu is the Frontispiece that immediately follows the cover image of sunrise at Machu Picchu.”
Gullberg is the lead faculty member for the OU Extended Campus School of Integrative and Cultural Studies and is the university’s director for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture. He also serves as chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture. His work includes extensive field research into the astronomy of the Incas in the Peruvian Andes and significant analysis of the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Skyscape Archaeology and is a member of numerous astronomical, archaeological and anthropological organizations, in addition to working for UNESCO regarding its World Heritage List.
Astronomy of the Inca Empire: Use and Significance of the Sun and the Night Sky will be released on August 27 by Springer Nature, with a Foreword written by E.C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and one of two early pioneers in archaeoastronomy literature.