Giulio Magli

Giulio Magli
Politecnico di Milano | Polimi · Department of Mathematics "Francesco Brioschi"

PhD

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196
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Publications

Publications (196)
Article
Full-text available
The Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, is famous worldwide due to the magnificent temple of Heliopolitan Jupiter at Baalbek. In recent years, new research revived the interest in the unsolved problems posed by the Baalbek monuments, including original dating and construction phases, relationships with the landscape, and nature of the cult practiced. In a preli...
Chapter
Today we explore the sky with powerful instruments and we know that there are millions of galaxies in the universe, each containing billions of stars. We are accustomed to thinking about the universe from an “unprivileged” point of view. We know, moreover, that the Sun is only one among billions of stars, and a pretty bog standard one at that, and...
Chapter
The classical world, or classical antiquity, is a traditional all-embracing definition describing the cultures of the Mediterranean area from the Ancient Greek civilisation (eighth century BC) to the end of the Roman Empire. It thus includes Classical Greece, Hellenism, and Rome. This chapter is devoted to this broad historical period, and will pre...
Chapter
An introduction to Archaeoastronomy in Asia, with a detailed discussion of the Chinese Qin and Han mausoleums, of the temples of Angkor, and of the Borobodur temple complex.
Chapter
Egypt is a unique place: a short strip of fertile terrain, surrounded by desert, and refreshed only by the River Nile. The climate is consequently arid, but the land is fertile due to the nutritious soil brought by the river during its annual flooding. This land attracted an increasing number of people up until the formation of a unified kingdom ab...
Chapter
Nowadays most of us do not look at the sky. Nevertheless, most people know “what star sign they belong to”. And yet the vast majority of people do not know what “belonging to a zodiac sign” actually means and have never seen their “sign” in the night sky. Indeed, hardly anyone ever glances at more than a few stars at night– for most people the issu...
Chapter
Since all the objects in the sky obey to the deterministic laws of physics, their past and future movements are in principle predictable with the use of mathematical equations, especially for the exceedingly short (as compared to the life of the universe or even of the solar system) periods that are the focus of archaeoastronomy, let us say—to embr...
Chapter
The Maya culture flourished in the area which extends from the Yucatan peninsula to south-east Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras (Coe in The Maya. Thames and Hudson, New York, 2001). Between the third and the ninth centuries AD—the so called Classic period—hundreds of Maya city states developed here; most of them then rapidly collapsed, for un...
Chapter
In this chapter we shall investigate the place of archaeoastronomy within archaeological research, aiming to assess its methodological affinity with other scientific and humanities disciplines. Our objective is also to understand what the most desirable compromise between a rigorous scientific approach to data and the peculiar, human-dependent natu...
Chapter
Ancient peoples’ attitudes towards, and relationships with, the natural environment and the landscape were often completely at odds from ours. Two fundamental concepts must be borne in mind, in particular. The first is that ancient man was a religious man, and the second is that religion was bound up with the natural cycles, and these natural cycle...
Chapter
The connection between astronomy and daily life in ancient times—at least after the definitive establishment of sedentarian life—was far more complex than a simple understanding of natural cycles. We can be sure of this because the sky was linked to a fundamental mechanism of social dynamics: the management of power. To grasp the connection between...
Chapter
Astronomy and Stonehenge: almost everyone has heard of this connection, so that Stonehenge has to be the almost obligatory starting point for our archaeoastronomical quest.
Article
In recent archaeological investigations of Pompeii’s Regio V Houses, a series of new, rather enigmatic images on the floors of the entrance and of the tablinum of the House of Orion have been unearthed. The aim of the present paper is to analyze their placement in the context of the house plan, give a description of the images, and provide a hypoth...
Chapter
A detailed visit to the most famous of the places where Feng Shui was applied as the main canon governing the landscape and the architectural projects. It is the valley of the Thirteen tombs of the Emperors of the Ming dynasty in Shisanling, not far from Beijing. The relationship of the tomb’s projects with the landscape are highlighted, as well as...
Chapter
The advent of the Ming dynasty marks a new period of splendor, in which imperial architecture becomes fully inspired by Feng Shui. This is already evident in the architectural project of the first imperial tomb of the dynasty in Nanjing, Xiaoling, which is accurately described together with its companion, unfinished project: the (little known) huge...
Chapter
An introduction to the Chinese worldview, which formed over the course of the millennia preceding the Qin unification and later crystallized in that peculiar and complex mixture of natural philosophy, knowledge and beliefs known under the name of Feng Shui.
Chapter
The Western Han dynasty is the Chinese “Age of the Pyramids”: The Emperors were indeed buried under huge, squared mounds of rammed earth. These mausoleums form a fascinating sacred landscape along the course of the river Wei, not far from modern Xian. The astronomical orientations of these monuments as well as their relationships within each other...
Chapter
Feng Shui—literally “Wind and Water “- is a geomantic doctrine, that is, a divination practice which surveys the characteristics of a place—morphology, orientation, distribution of waters and vegetation, climate and winds, and so on—to establish whether and to what extent a site under consideration is “auspicious” for the locating of graves, but al...
Chapter
The Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty of China, left us magnificent architectural projects, which are sacred landscapes on their own and are thoroughly analysed here. Among them, the Summer palace in Beijing, the mountain resort of Chengde’, and most of all the two magnificent Necropolises usually called the Eastern and the Western Qing tombs...
Chapter
The Tang and the Song periods are the “golden age” of imperial China under many respects, including art, architecture, and science. The sacred landscape of the Tang mausoleums, based on natural mountains but endowed with spectacular Sacred Ways, and that of the—less spectacular, but fascinating—Northern Song mausoleums are analysed. The curious, pe...
Chapter
The first sacred landscape of imperial China, the gigantic Mausoleum of the first Emperor Shihuang, is described with a particular attention to the cognitive aspects. In particular, the Terracotta Warriors are framed within the general, symbolic significance of the complex.
Book
This book analyses the magnificent imperial necropolises of ancient China from the perspective of Archaeoastronomy, a science which takes into account the landscape in which ancient monuments are placed, focusing especially but not exclusively on the celestial aspects. The power of the Chinese emperors was based on the so-called Mandate of Heaven:...
Preprint
Full-text available
In recent archaeological investigations of Pompeii Regio V houses, a series of new, rather enigmatic images on the floors of the entrance and of the Tablinium of the so called House of Orion have been unearthed. These images are presented here together with a tentative interpretation, which is based on a clear analogy of their content with the illu...
Presentation
Full-text available
Mixing and integrating approaches, resources and tools for an Augmented Book-MOOC on Archaeoastronomy Archaeoastronomy is the relatively new science which deals with the con-nection between astronomical phenomena and the project of many ancient monuments. The initiative presented here is based on the idea that it is nec-essary to integrate differe...
Chapter
The chain of late Roman fortified settlements built in the Kharga Oasis, in Egypt’s Western Desert, represents an interesting case-study to analyse how the ancient Roman town planners interacted with the landscape. A peculiar feature of the site is the existence of a prevailing, north-westerly wind, and it is possible to identify the average azimut...
Chapter
The temple of Jupiter at Baalbek in Lebanon is one of the most complex architectural projects ever conceived. Several issues remain unsolved about this site; in particular, the relative chronology and the dates of construction of the two ‘podia’ of the temple are unsure, as well as the true nature of the cult of Jupiter practiced there. We present...
Article
Full-text available
The so-called “Chinese pyramids” are huge burial mounds covering the tombs of the Emperors of the Western Han dynasty. If we include also the mounds of the members of the royal families, these monuments sum up to more than 40, scattered throughout the western and the southern outskirts of modern Xi’an. They are mostly unexcavated and poorly known,...
Preprint
The so-called “Chinese pyramids” are huge burial mounds covering the tombs of the Emperors of the Western Han dynasty. If we include also the mounds of the members of the royal families, these monuments sum up to more than 40, scattered throughout the western and the southern outskirts of modern Xi'an. They are mostly unexcavated and poorly known a...
Article
The royal Chinese mausoleums of the Tang, Ming and Qing Chinese dynasties are astounding ensables of monuments, conceived and built to assure to the Emperors immortality in the afterlife and perennial fame on earth. To this aim, a series of cognitive elements were embodied in the funerary landscapes selected for such monuments, including astronomy,...
Chapter
At Thebes, today’ Luxor, two among the most magnificent temples of humanity were built: Karnak, which was the “house” of Amun-Ra, and Luxor. Luxor was dedicated to Amun as well, but the God was worshipped there in a other “form”, Amenenope, the God of renewal. The two temples were connected by a processional avenue, the so-called Avenue of the Sphi...
Article
The world famous Javanese temple of Borobudur is located at the westernmost end of a straight line which includes two satellite temples, Mendut and Pawon. Originally, the three buildings were probably connected by a processional path running along this line. It is shown here that the alignment points, at the horizon, where the sun sets in the days...
Article
Full-text available
A recent exploration has shown the presence of a significant void in the Khufu pyramid. A possible explanation of this space, interpreted as a chamber aimed to contain a specific funerary equipment, is tentatively proposed on the basis of the Pyramid Texts.
Article
The mausoleums of the Emperors and of some members of the royal family of the Western Han Chinese Dynasty are a spectacular ensemble of tombs, covered by huge earth mounds and scattered throughout the outskirts of modern Xi'an. Their inspiration comes from the world-famous mausoleum of the first Emperor of the Qin, who reigned immediately before th...
Article
The chain of late Roman fortified settlements built in the Kharga Oasis, in Egypt Western Desert, represents an interesting case study to analyse how the ancient Roman town planners interacted with the landscape. A peculiar feature of the site is the existence of a prevailing, north westerly wind, and it is possible to identify the average azimuth...
Chapter
We present here in details the results obtained—within a campaign held in August 2015, aimed at a complete re-evaluation of the temples of Akragas—on the Temple of Demeter and Persephone. This temple, built on the eastern slopes of the Athena Rock, belongs to the final phase of the Archaic period (480–470 BC) and is traditionally attributed to the...
Article
The issue of the orientation of Greek Temples has been the subject of much debate since the end of the 19th century. In fact, although a general tendency to orientation within the arc of the rising sun is undeniable, specific patterns and the true meaning remain obscure. With the aim of shedding light on this problem we present here a new, complete...
Article
Full-text available
The burial mounds of the emperors and of some members of the royal family of the Western Han Chinese dynasty, popularly known as Chinese pyramids, are a spectacular ensemble of tombs covered by a huge earth mound, spread in the outskirts of modern Xian. Their inspiring model is the world famous tomb of the first emperor Qin, who reigned immediately...
Chapter
Today we explore the sky with powerful instruments and we know that there are millions of galaxies in the universe, each containing billions of stars. We are accustomed to thinking about the universe from an “unprivileged” point of view. We know, moreover, that the Sun is only one among billions of stars, and a pretty bog standard one at that, and...
Chapter
Astronomy and Stonehenge: almost everyone has heard of this connection, so that Stonehenge has to be the almost obligatory starting point for our archaeoastronomical quest.
Chapter
Egypt is a unique place: a short strip of fertile terrain, surrounded by desert, and refreshed only by the River Nile. The climate is consequently arid, but the land is fertile due to the nutritious soil brought by the river during its annual flooding. This land attracted an increasing number of people up until the formation of a unified kingdom ab...
Chapter
Nowadays most of us do not look at the sky. Nevertheless, most people know “what star sign they belong to”. And yet the vast majority of people do not know what “belonging to a zodiac sign” actually means and have never seen their “sign” in the night sky. Indeed, hardly anyone ever glances at more than a few stars at night– for most people the issu...
Chapter
In this chapter we shall investigate the place of archaeoastronomy within archaeological research, aiming to assess its methodological affinity with other scientific and humanities disciplines. Our objective is also to understand what the most desirable compromise between a rigorous scientific approach to data and the peculiar, human-dependent natu...
Article
Full-text available
This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds. The book is divided i...
Article
Full-text available
The heartland of the Khmer empire is literally crowded by magnificent monuments built in the course of many centuries. These monuments include the world-famous state-temples, such as Angkor Wat, but also many other temples and huge water reservoirs. Using Google Earth data as well as GIS data and reconstructing the ancient sky with Stellarium, we i...
Article
The final state of spherical gravitational collapse can be analyzed applying to the geodesic equations governing the behavior of light rays near the singularity relatively simple but powerful techniques of nonlinear ordinary differential equations. In this way, explicit use of exact solutions of Einstein's field equations is not necessary, and resu...
Article
Full-text available
The placement of the Middle Bronze Age settlement Villaggio dei Faraglioni on the Ustica island is analyzed from a cognitive point of view, taking into account archaeoastronomy and landscape archaeology aspects. It turns out that the place might have been selected because of its privileged position with respect to the landscape, better than conform...
Article
Full-text available
Among the magnificent temple complexes built during the Khmer empire, two single out both for their distance from the Angkor heartland as well as for their anomalous, not cardinal, orientation: Koh Ker and Preah Khan of Kompong Svay. Their orientations are shown here to be connected with two relevant astronomical phenomena, namely the zenith passag...
Chapter
The connection between astronomy and daily life in ancient times—at least after the definitive establishment of sedentarian life—was far more complex than a simple understanding of natural cycles. We can be sure of this because the sky was linked to a fundamental mechanism of social dynamics: the management of power. To grasp the connection between...
Chapter
The classical world, or classical antiquity, is a traditional all-embracing definition describing the cultures of the Mediterranean area from the Ancient Greek civilisation (eighth century BC) to the end of the Roman Empire. It thus includes Classical Greece, Hellenism, and Rome. This chapter is devoted to this broad historical period, and will pre...
Chapter
Ancient peoples’ attitudes towards, and relationships with, the natural environment and the landscape were often completely at odds from ours. Two fundamental concepts must be borne in mind, in particular. The first is that ancient man was a religious man, and the second is that religion was bound up with the natural cycles, and these natural cycle...
Chapter
Since all the objects in the sky obey to the deterministic laws of physics, their past and future movements are in principle predictable with the use of mathematical equations, especially for the exceedingly short (as compared to the life of the universe or even of the solar system) periods that are the focus of archaeoastronomy, let us say—to embr...
Chapter
The Maya culture flourished in the area which extends from the Yucatan peninsula to south-east Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras (Coe in The Maya. Thames and Hudson, New York, 2001). Between the third and the ninth centuries AD—the so called Classic period—hundreds of Maya city states developed here; most of them then rapidly collapsed, for un...
Book
This book provides the first complete, easy to read, up-to-date account of the fascinating discipline of archaeoastronomy, in which the relationship between ancient constructions and the sky is studied in order to gain a better understanding of the ideas of the architects of the past and of their religious and symbolic worlds. The book is divided i...
Article
Full-text available
The issue of the orientation of Greek Temples has been the subject of several debates since the end of the 19 century. In fact, although a general tendency to orientation within the arc of the rising sun is undeniable, specific patterns and true meaning remain obscure. With the aim of shedding light on this problem we present here a new complete, h...
Chapter
The Pantheon is the best preserved ancient monument in Rome. Originally built under Augustus, its present form is due to Hadrian. In the almost complete absence of written sources, the design and the meaning of the Pantheon remain obscure. However, there is no doubt about the fundamental role of the sun in the project of the building, as well as ab...
Chapter
The Etruscan religion was characterized by divination methods, aimed at interpreting the will of the gods. These methods were revealed by the gods themselves and written in the books of the Etrusca Disciplina. The books are lost, but parts of them are preserved in the accounts of later Latin sources. According to such traditions divination was tigh...
Article
The two pyramids built during the Old Kingdom by the Fourth Dynasty King Sneferu at Dahshur are usually considered as two consecutive projects, the second - that of the Red Pyramid - being generated by a presumably failure of the first, the Bent Pyramid. In the present paper, we show that the archaeological proofs of such a scenario are far from ob...
Chapter
Most of the “wonders” of our ancient past have come down to us without written information as to their scope, significance or design. This is obviously the case with monuments built by cultures deprived of written language, like the Incas, yet it is also true of many magnificent monuments which were built by fully literate cultures (such as the Egy...
Article
Augustus' propaganda founded the ruler's power on a series of references to the sky: Caesar's comet, which helped to establish the divine nature of kingship, the completion of the calendar's reform celebrated in the Campus Martius' meridian, and Augustus' association with Capricorn, the zodiacal sign of the winter solstice. Various forms of proof d...
Chapter
The towns founded by the Romans over the course of some eight centuries of history were always inspired by rigid principles of spatial organization, followed by the Roman military camps as well. The symbolism embodied in such rules was tightly and undubitably connected with the power of Rome. According to a variety of ancient sources, city planning...
Article
Full-text available
Via Appia was built by the Romans around 312 BC to connect Rome with Capua during the Samnite wars. The road is an astonishing engineering masterpiece. In particular, the segment which runs from Collepardo to Terracina – 61 km long – is renowned for being virtually straight; however such a “straightness” was never investigated quantitatively. As a...
Article
The role of the Luxor-Karnak relationship within the sacred space of eastern Thebes during the New Kingdom is analyzed taking into account cognitive aspects. In particular, the orientation of the so-called Avenue of the Sphinxes and the successive bends effected in the enlargements of the Luxor temple are shown to be related to already ancient, fam...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, different scientific disciplines, from Physics to Egyptology, from Geology to Archaeoastronomy, evidenced a series of clues pointing to the possibility that the original project of the pyramid complex of Khufu at Giza included also the project of the second pyramid complex at the same site, that of Khafra. The aim of the present pa...
Article
The Domus Aurea, Nero's last "palace" constructed in the very heart of ancient Rome, is a true masterpiece of Roman architecture. We explore here symbolic aspects of the emperor's project, analysing the archaeoastronomy of the best preserved part of the Domus, the Esquiline Wing. In particular, we study the so-called Octagonal Room, the huge vaulte...
Article
Full-text available
The structure of the Einstein field equations describing the gravitational collapse of spherically symmetric isotropic fluids is analyzed here for general equations of state. A suitable system of coordinates is constructed which allows us, under a hypothesis of Taylor-expandability with respect to one of the coordinates, to approach the problem of...
Article
Full-text available
Via Appia, built around 312 BC, is an engineering masterpiece, its most striking feature being the segment between Colle Pardo and Terracina, which goes “straight” for about 61 km. We investigate this segment by GPS techniques: results lead to uncover that the original project of the road was based on a complex interplay between geometry and astron...
Article
Full-text available
The ancient town of Tarquinia is the key place of the Etruscan system of beliefs, since its foundations were credited to Tarchon, descendant of the Greek hero Herakles, founder of the Etruscan League, and discloser of the sacred texts of the Etrusca Disciplina. These were said to come from the infant oracle Tages, who sprang out from the terrain in...
Article
NNJ guest editor Giulio Magli introduces the papers on archaeoastronomy in NNJ vol. 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2013).
Article
Full-text available
Augusta Praetoria Salassorum, modern Aosta, was founded around 25 BC to celebrate the victory of Augustus army on the Salassi. Aosta is a city of the founder under many respects; for instance, one of the two twin temples of the forum was devoted to Augustus, and a huge triumphal arc to the ruler still welcomes the town visitors. Recently, a sculpte...
Article
The topography of the pyramids of the twelfth dynasty is explored here in its full historical and chronological context, with the aim of highlighting connections between the architectural choices, religious ideas, and traditions inspiring the reigns of the Pharaohs of that period. There emerges a clear and close connection between the conceptual la...
Article
Full-text available
The megalithic enclosures of Gobekli Tepe (Urfa, Turkey) are the most ancient sacred structures of stone known so far, dating back to the 10 millennium BC. The possible presence of astronomical targets for these structures is analysed, and it turns out that they may have been oriented, or even originally constructed, to celebrate and successively f...
Book
This book examines the interplay between astronomy and dynastic power in the course of ancient Egyptian history, focusing on the fundamental role of astronomy in the creation of the pyramids and the monumental temple and burial complexes. Bringing to bear the analytical tools of archaeoastronomy, a set of techniques and methods that enable modern s...
Article
Full-text available
Many ancient cultures planned and constructed long, straight roads, sometimes taking an uttermost care of their "going straight". In many cases, interesting geometrical and astronomical methods were applied to gain an astonishing accuracy. As it turns out, this "desire of going straight" was not always due to practical purposes but rather to symbol...
Article
Full-text available
Proceedings of the second edition of the international Workshop "Dynamics and Thermodynamics of Blackholes and Naked Singularities" (Department of Mathematics of the Politecnico of Milano from May 10-12, 2007.
Article
The study of spherically symmetric spacetimes modeling collapsing isotropic fluids is a recurrent topic in relativistic literature. What makes it one of the most intriguing problems in gravitational collapse is that perfect fluids are a direct, physically interesting generalization of the so-called Tolman–Bondi–Lemaitre (TBL) solution, which is one...
Article
Full-text available
The imposing megalithic complex located on the Monte Baranta plateau, near the town of Olmedo in North-west Sardinia is one of the best preserved monuments of the pre-nuragic period, and pertains to the cultural horizon called Monte Claro (2500-2200 BC circa). The complex is particularly interesting in the context of late-Neolithic architecture sin...
Article
Full-text available
Conceptual landscapes in Egypt show a remarkable continuity - for as long as 2000 years - in the use of symbols and in the interplay between natural and man-built features. Directionality, both in the sense of succession of elements and of orientation of single buildings and tombs, plays a key role in governing the landscape in accordance with the...
Article
Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in 331 BC. The newly founded town was conceived as an orthogonal grid based on a main longitudinal axis, later called Canopic Road. We analyse here the astronomical orientation of the project and propose that the main axis was deliberately oriented towards the rising sun on the day of birth of Alexander the Gr...
Article
Full-text available
The imposing megalithic complex located on the Monte Baranta plateau, near the town of Olmedo in North-west Sardinia is one of the best preserved monuments of the pre-nuragic period, and pertains to the cultural horizon called Monte Claro (2500-2200 BC circa). The complex is particularly interesting in the context of late-Neolithic architecture sin...
Article
Royal funerary landscapes in Egypt show a remarkable continuity in the use of symbols and in the interplay between natural and man-built features. In such a context directionality, both in the sense of succession of elements and of orientation of single buildings and tombs, plays a relevant role in governing the landscape in accordance with the ide...
Article
Full-text available
The topography of the royal pyramids of the 12th dynasty is investigated in its historical and chronological context, in order to highlight connections between the architectural choices, the religious ideas and the traditions inspiring the reign of the corresponding pharaohs. A close, explicit connection with the double building projects carried ou...
Article
Full-text available
Hamiltonian function describing a system composed of n gravitating shells in gen-eral relativity is derived from general considerations and its dynamics is presented. The results appear to be promising for the description of colliding system of astro-physical and cosmological interest. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.
Article
Full-text available
Magli, Giulio. 2010. Archaeoastronomy and archaeo-topography as tools in the search for a missing Egyptian pyramid – Palarch's Journal of Archaeol-ogy of Egypt/Egyptology 7(5) (2010), 1-9. ISSN 1567-214X. 9 pages + 4 fi gures. ABSTRACT Among the royal pyramids of the 6th Egyptian Dynasty, that of the second king, Userkare, is missing. This Pharaoh,...
Chapter
The extent and validity of mathematical astronomy among the ancient Egyptians has been repeatedly neglected in the past, mainly due to the nearly complete absence of written documents. In recent years however the development of archaeoastronomical analysis of the existing monuments of this wonderful civilization is slowly but definitively changing...
Article
Full-text available
The general exact solution to the Einstein matter field equations describing spherically symmetric shells satisfying an equation of state in closed form is discussed under general assumptions of physical reasonableness. The solutions split into two classes: one describes the behavior of "ordinary" matter satisfying the weak energy condition, while...
Article
Full-text available
A series of peculiar, visual alignments between the pyramids of the pharaohs of the 4, 5 and 6 Egyptian dynasties exists. These alignments governed from the very beginning the planning of the funerary monuments of successive kings and, in some cases, led to establish building sites in quite inconvenient locations from the technical viewpoint. Expla...
Article
Full-text available
We present the results of the investigation of a wide class of self-interacting, self-gravitating homogeneous scalar fields models, characterized by quite general conditions on the scalar field potential, and including both asymptotically polynomial and exponential behaviors. We show that the generic evolution is always divergent in a finite time,...
Article
Despite being one of the most recognisable buildings from ancient Rome, the Pantheon is poorly understood. While its architecture has been well studied, its function remains uncertain. This paper argues that both the design and the meaning of the Pantheon are in fact dependent upon an understanding of the role of the sun in the building, and of the...
Article
The Lagrangian function of self-gravitating spherically symmetric matter shells composed of an elastic fluid is derived from variational principles in the General Relativistic context. The natural Hamiltonian of the system, representing the total energy for a distant observer, is then calculated in terms of canonical variables. Known results for th...
Article
The Terni lowland, about 80~km north of Rome, was inhabited before the Roman conquest (IV century BC) by the Italic people called Umbrians. To the north, the landscape of the Terni valley is dominated by the mountains called Monti Martani, with their rounded top of Monte Torre Maggiore (1170 m), under which the ancient town of Cesi is located. The...
Article
Full-text available
The dynamics of homogeneous Robertson–Walker cosmological models with a self-interacting scalar field source is examined here in full generality, requiring only the scalar field potential to be bounded from below and divergent when the field diverges. In this way we are able to give a unified treatment of all the already studied cases—such as posit...
Article
Full-text available
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is usually interpreted as a “royal estate” of the Inca ruler Pachacuti. This idea is challenged here by a critical reappraisal of existing sources and a re-analysis of existing evidence. It is shown that such evidence actually point at a quite different interpretation suggested, on one hand, by several clues coming...
Article
Full-text available
One of the most enigmatic megalithic buildings of Italy is the structure which lies on the S. Erasmo hill near Cesi, in Umbria, a huge complex encompassing an area of around 8000 square meters and enclosed by refined cyclopean walls. Although its date is uncertain, suggested dates comprise the Iron Age and archaic period, down to the third century...
Article
Full-text available
It is known since the 19 century that in the layout of the pyramid field of the pharaohs of the 4 th Egyptian dynasty at Giza, a main axis exists. Indeed, the south-east corners of these monuments align towards the site of the temple of Heliopolis, which was plainly visible in ancient times. It was later discovered that a similar situation occurs i...
Article
On some unknown date in the first half of the first millennium AD, a flotilla of Polynesian pirogues, probably coming from the Marquese Islands, landed on a very small island lost in the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, formed a million years earlier by volcanic eruptions and never before inhabited. According to a legend the discoverers called the i...
Article
This chapter discusses four Asian civilizations corresponding to four geographical areas: Mesopotamia, the Indo-Sarasvati valley, China, and Japan. The reason for giving such a brief account is that, In contrast to the history of astronomy studies based on written documents, field archae-oastronomy in Asia is less developed. For instance, various t...
Article
The date on which the Americas were first populated by humans is still the subject of heated debate. Once it was not put any earlier than 12000 BC, but today the date is increasingly being pushed back in time. Whatever the truth, agriculture seems to have been firmly established in the valley of central Mexico around 5000 BC, and the production of...
Article
The novel Roadside Picnic by Arkadi and Boris Strugatsky is, in my opinion, one of the best works of science fiction ever written. The story (which inspired the movie Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky) is simple: extraterrestrials with technology much more advanced than ours pay a visit to Earth, take not the slightest notice of us, and then leave. The p...

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