Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

African Cultures Astronomical Studies

African Cultures Astronomical Studies

Astronomical studies have played an important role in African culture, especially in the context of calendars and celestial observations. Cultural astronomy has been used to better understand different communities across Africa1. For example, the  presence or absence of the moon in the night sky was important for planning economic tasks, planning seasonal festivals, and organizing markets.

The archaeological record reveals the earliest evidence of cultural astronomy in Africa. The megaliths at Nabta Playa in southern Egypt, dating from the Middle Neolithic period, were probably used to mark the summer solstice and the beginning of the rainy season. Similarly, the Namoratunga dancing stones  near Lake Turkana in Kenya, originally dating from 300 BC, have 19 columns pointing towards the seven  constellations. These stones can be used as star observatories or to help align constellations according to the  12-month lunar calendar.

More recently, cultural astronomy in Africa has developed as different cultural groups adopted and integrated Arab cultural astronomy through increased contact with the Maghreb. This integration occurred through interactions with Muslim missionaries, clerics, scholars, matriarchs, and traders. The synchrony between the Islamic ritual calendar and local agricultural and ceremonial calendars has shaped the contemporary character of Islam in West Africa.  African cultural astronomy has deep roots in oral traditions passed down from generation to generation. Celestial knowledge was used to chart the seasons, regulate agricultural cycles, and determine ceremonial calendars. The importance of observing the first rising moon after the new moon is evident in African cultures.

Although I could not find specific details about the African calendar based on astronomical studies, it is clear that celestial observations  played an important role in the formation of African culture as well as the their understanding of the weather, seasons and cycles.

Please note that this information is based on available sources and may not cover all aspects of astronomical research related to the African calendar.



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