Apocalyptic Anxiety traces the sources of American culture’s obsession with predicting and preparing for the apocalypse. Author Anthony Aveni explores why Americans take millennial claims seriously, where and how end-of-the-world predictions emerge, how they develop within a broader historical framework, and what we can learn from doomsday predictions of the past.
The book begins with the Millerites, the nineteenth-century religious sect of Pastor William Miller, who used biblical calculations to predict October 22, 1844 as the date for the Second Advent of Christ. Aveni also examines several other religious and philosophical movements that have centered on apocalyptic themes—Christian millennialism, the New Age movement and the Age of Aquarius, and various other nineteenth- and early twentieth-century religious sects, concluding with a focus on the Maya mystery of 2012 and the contemporary prophets who connected the end of the world as we know it with the overturning of the Maya calendar.
Apocalyptic Anxiety places these seemingly never-ending stories of the world’s end in the context of American history. This fascinating exploration of the deep historical and cultural roots of America’s voracious appetite for apocalypse will appeal to students of American history and the histories of religion and science, as well as lay readers interested in American culture and doomsday prophecies.
Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests examines evidence for cultural interchange among the intellectual powerbrokers in Postclassic Mesoamerica, specifically those centered in the northern Maya lowlands and the central Mexican highlands. Contributors to the volume’s thirteen chapters bring an interdisciplinary perspective to understanding the interactions that led to shared content in hieroglyphic codices and mural art. The authors address similarities in artifacts, architectural styles, and building alignments—often produced in regions separated by hundreds of miles—based on their analyses of iconographic, archaeological, linguistic, and epigraphic material. The volume includes a wealth of new data and interpretive frameworks in this comprehensive discussion of a critical time period in the Mesoamerican past.
The Nasca Lines are one of the world's great enigmas. Who etched the more than 1,000 animal, human, and geometric figures that cover 400 square miles of barren pampa in southern Peru? How did the makers create lifelike images of monkeys, birds, and spiders without an aerial vantage point from which to view these giant figures that stretch across thousands of square yards? Most puzzling of all, why did the ancient Nasca lay out these lines and images in the desert? These are the questions that pioneering archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni seeks to answer in this book.
Writing for a wide public audience, Aveni begins by establishing the Nasca Lines as a true wonder of the ancient world. He describes how viewers across the centuries have tried to interpret the lines and debunks the wilder theories. Then he vividly recounts his own years of exploration at Nasca in collaboration with other investigators and the discoveries that have answered many of the riddles about who made the Nasca Lines, when, and for what purposes. This fascinating overview of what the leading expert and his colleagues currently understand about the lines is required reading for everyone intrigued by ancient mysteries.
In Class Not Dismissed, award-winning professor Anthony Aveni tells the personal story of his six decades in college classrooms and some of the 10,000 students who have filled them. Through anecdotes of his own triumphs and tribulations—some amusing, others heartrending—Aveni reveals his teaching story and thoughts on the future of higher education.
Although in recent years the lecture has come under fire as a pedagogical method, Aveni ardently defends lecturing to students. He shares his secrets on crafting an engaging lecture and creating productive dialogue in class discussions. He lays out his rules on classroom discipline and tells how he promotes the lost art of listening. He is a passionate proponent of the liberal arts and core course requirements as well as a believer in sound teaching promoted by active scholarship.
Aveni is known to his students as a consummate storyteller. In Class Not Dismissed he shares real stories about everyday college life that shed light on serious educational issues. The result is a humorous, reflective, inviting, and powerful inquiry into higher education that will be of interest to anyone invested in the current and future state of college and university education.
December 21, 2012. The Internet, bookshelves, and movie theaters are full of prophecies, theories, and predictions that this date marks the end of the world, or at least the end of the world as we know it. Whether the end will result from the magnentic realignment of the north and south poles, bringing floods, earthquakes, death, and destruction; or from the return of alien caretakers to enlighten or enslave us; or from a global awakening, a sudden evolution of Homo sapiens into non-corporeal beings—theories of great, impending changes abound. In The End of Time, award-winning astronomer and Maya researcher Anthony Aveni explores these theories, explains their origins, and measures them objectively against evidence unearthed by Maya archaeologists, iconographers, and epigraphers. He probes the latest information astronomers and earth scientists have gathered on the likelihood of Armageddon and the oft-proposed link between the Maya Long Count cycle and the precession of the equinoxes. He then expands on these prophecies to include the broader context of how other cultures, ancient and modern, thought about the “end of things” and speculates on why cataclysmic events in human history have such a strong appeal within American pop culture.
Gazing into the black skies from the Anasazi observatory at Chimney Rock or the Castillo Pyramid in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, a modern visitor might wonder what ancient stargazers looked for in the skies and what they saw. Once considered unresearchable, these questions now drive cultural astronomers who draw on written and unwritten records and a constellation of disciplines to reveal the wonders of ancient and contemporary astronomies.
Cultural astronomy, first called archaeoastronomy, has evolved at ferocious speed since its genesis in the 1960s, with seminal essays and powerful rebuttals published in far-flung, specialized journals. Until now, only the most closely involved scholars could follow the intellectual fireworks. In Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, Anthony Aveni, one of cultural astronomy's founders and top scholars, offers a selection of the essays that built the field, from foundational works to contemporary scholarship.
Including four decades of research throughout the Americas by linguists, archaeologists, historians, ethnologists, astronomers, and engineers, this reader highlights the evolution of the field through thematic organization and point-counterpoint articles. Aveni - an award-winning author and former National Professor of the Year - serves up incisive commentary, background for the uninitiated, and suggested reading, questions, and essay topics. Students, readers, and scholars will relish this collection and its tour of a new field in which discoveries about ancient ways of looking at the skies cast light on our contemporary views.
This accessible, state-of-the-art review of Mayan hieroglyphics and cosmology also serves as a tribute to one of the field's most noted pioneers.
The core of this book focuses on the current study of Mayan hieroglyphics as inspired by the recently deceased Mayanist Linda Schele. As author or coauthor of more than 200 books or articles on the Maya, Schele served as the chief disseminator of knowledge to the general public about this ancient Mesoamerican culture, similar to the way in which Margaret Mead introduced anthropology and the people of Borneo to the English-speaking world.
Twenty-five contributors offer scholarly writings on subjects ranging from the ritual function of public space at the Olmec site and the gardens of the Great Goddess at Teotihuacan to the understanding of Jupiter in Maya astronomy and the meaning of the water throne of Quirigua Zoomorph P. The workshops on Maya history and writing that Schele conducted in Guatemala and Mexico for the highland people, modern descendants of the Mayan civilization, are thoroughly addressed as is the phenomenon termed "Maya mania"—the explosive growth of interest in Maya epigraphy, iconography, astronomy, and cosmology that Schele stimulated. An appendix provides a bibliography of Schele's publications and a collection of Scheleana, written memories of "the Rabbit Woman" by some of her colleagues and students.
Of interest to professionals as well as generalists, this collection will stand as a marker of the state of Mayan studies at the turn of the 21st century and as a tribute to the remarkable personality who guided a large part of that archaeological research for more than two decades.
This volume offers new calendrical models and methodologies for reading, dating, and interpreting the general significance of the Madrid Codex. The longest of the surviving Maya codices, this manuscript includes texts and images painted by scribes conversant in Maya hieroglyphic writing, a written means of communication practiced by Maya elites from the second to the fifteenth centuries A.D. Some scholars have recently argued that the Madrid Codex originated in the Petén region of Guatemala and postdates European contact. The contributors to this volume challenge that view by demonstrating convincingly that it originated in northern Yucatán and was painted in the Pre-Columbian era. In addition, several contributors reveal provocative connections among the Madrid and Borgia group of codices from Central Mexico.
Contributors include: Harvey M. Bricker, Victoria R. Bricker, John F. Chuchiak IV, Christine L. Hernández, Bryan R. Just, Merideth Paxton, and John Pohl. Additional support for this publication was generously provided by the Eugene M. Kayden Fund at the University of Colorado.
Westerners think of time as a measure of duration, a metric quantity that is continuous, homogeneous, unchangeable, and never ending—a reality that lies outside of human existence. How did the people of Mesoamerica and the Andes, isolated as they were from the rest of the world, conceive of their histories? How and why did they time their rituals? What knowledge can we acquire about their time from studying the material record they have left behind?
This volume brings together specialists in anthropology, archaeology, art history, astronomy, and the history of science to contemplate concrete and abstract temporal concepts gleaned from the Central Mexicans, Mayans, and Andeans. Contributors first address how people reckon and register time; they compare the western linear, progressive way of knowing time with the largely cyclic notions of temporality derived from the Americas, and they dissect, explain, and explore the origins of the complex dynastic and ritual calendars of the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs. They subsequently consider how people sense time and its moral dimensions. Time becomes an inescapable feature of the process of perception, an entity that occupies a succession of moments rather than the knife-edge present ingrained in our Western minds.
Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico helped establish the field of archaeoastronomy, and it remains the standard introduction to this subject. Combining basic astronomy with archaeological and ethnological data, it presented a readable and entertaining synthesis of all that was known of ancient astronomy in the western hemisphere as of 1980.
In this revised edition, Anthony Aveni draws on his own and others' discoveries of the past twenty years to bring the Skywatchers story up to the present. He offers new data and interpretations in many areas, including:
The study of Mesoamerican time and calendrical systems and their unprecedented continuity in contemporary Mesoamerican culture
The connections between Precolumbian religion, astrology, and scientific, quantitative astronomy
The relationship between Highland Mexico and the world of the Maya and the state of Pan-American scientific practices
The use of personal computer software for computing astronomical data
With this updated information, Skywatchers will serve a new generation of general and scholarly readers and will be useful in courses on archaeoastronomy, astronomy, history of astronomy, history of science, anthropology, archaeology, and world religions.
The divide between teaching “intelligent design” and evolution in U.S. schools has brought to the public eye a struggle that archaeoastronomer Anthony Aveni argues is as old as culture itself. All societies seek to understand the natural world, but their search is shaped by culturally distinct views and experiences. In Uncommon Sense, Aveni explores the common and conflicting ways that ancient and contemporary societies have searched for the literal truth about the natural world’s mysteries, from dinosaur bones to the Star of Bethlehem. Aveni demonstrates that a society’s approach to making sense of the natural world can serve as a working definition of its culture, so strongly does it resonate with fundamental values and assumptions.
In ten fascinating essays, Aveni examines topics that have absorbed scientists, religious figures, and ordinary citizens over the centuries. He traces the tug of war between astronomy and astrology, reveals the underpinnings of our notions of cartography and the representation of space and time, and much more.
Readers interested in science, history, and world cultures will revel in this celebration of different cultures’ common and uncommon questions and conclusions about the natural world.