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Space Archaeology: Definitions

I’m beginning the wonderful Handbook of Space Engineering, Archaeology and Heritage and thinking about the definition of space archaeology. In the introduction to the book, Ann Darrin and Beth O’Leary define it as: …the archaeological study of material culture relevant to space exploration that is found on earth and in outer space (i.e., exoatmospheric material) and that is clearly the result of human behavior. This is problematic in the use of the term ‘exoatmospheric’ to encompass the entirety of human material culture off-planet (I would have used extraterrestrial, or extra-terrestrial). The second concern is that it limits the purview of the field to human behaviours when in fact the book itself contains articles dedicated to nonhuman archaeology. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Theory

Space Archaeology turns 400!

Astronomy recently celebrated the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first observations with a telescope.  His discoveries, including four moons of Jupiter, were published in a sensational treatise, Sidereus Nuncius (The Sidereal Messenger), in 1610. German astronomer Johannes Kepler received a copy of the Sidereal Messenger in early April that year.  His response, the ‘Conversation with the Sidereal Messenger’, was completed and sent to Galileo on 19th – 400 years ago next month. A slightly revised version was published on May 3. In it, Kepler made the first observation of extraterrestrial artificial structures – circular fortresses on the moon!  Galileo had remarked upon these features, but it was left to Kepler to argue that because of their geometrical perfection, they must be artificial. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Theory