AAC Monthly Meeting

  • 11 Apr 2023
  • 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Kika Silva Pla Planetarium & Zoom


Registration is closed


7:00 - 7:15 General Meeting & Announcements
7:15 - 7:30 Short topic presentation by a club member

7:30 - 7:45 Refreshment break

7:45 - Public Presentation

Speaker: Christopher Layser

Independent Researcher/Lecturer

Society for Cultural Astronomy of the American Southwest

International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture

Pre-Columbian Society of the Penn Museum


Archaeoastronomy: A brief history of the discipline and four cultural examples of “Architectural Orientation Families”


Archaeoastronomy is the multi-disciplinary study of the beliefs and practices concerning the sky held by people of pre-historic cultures. It focuses on how people of the past put their astronomical knowledge to practical and ritual use. Its aim then, is to ask pertinent social questions about the human past. This lecture will briefly explore the history of the field, including its early missteps at Stonehenge, and the intervening years in search of a rigorous methodology. The second half of this discussion will focus on the concept of “orientation families”, groups of ceremonial architecture for a given culture which share a common orientation to a horizon declination marking a specific solar event. Examples presented will include ancient Egyptian and Hawaiian temples, Maya E-Group complexes, and the Great Houses of Chaco Canyon in the American Southwest. How and why these particular orientations to astronomical events were important to the people of each culture will be stressed.

About the Speaker:

Christopher Layser earned his MA in Cultural Astronomy from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David where he was awarded the “Dyfernir Gwobr MA Seryddiaeth ac Astroleg Ddiwylliannol” (Alumni Association Dissertation Award) for outstanding dissertation of 2019 which was titled “Maya Skyscape Iconology: Can an Iconological Analysis of a Classic Period Vase (K1485) Further our Understanding of Ancient Maya Skyscapes?”. He was also one of the few to obtain the Post-Graduate Certificate in Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture from the short-lived program at the University of Oklahoma. Christopher is an assistant editor for the newly revived Journal of Astronomy in Culture, the official journal for the International Society of Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC) and organizes a monthly journal club for the Society for Cultural Astronomy in the American Southwest (SCAAS).

Research Interests

Christopher’s primary research interest and academic focus is the skyscape archaeology of the ancient Maya. He regularly participates in the excavation, digital mapping, and 3D imaging of ancient Maya ruins in northwestern Belize with the Maya Research Program (MRP) at such archaeological sites as Tz’unun, Xnoha, Tulix Mul, and Blue Creek. He will be returning to the field in 2023 to complete the mapping and archaeoastronomical analysis of the E-Group complex at Tz’unun. As a board member of the Penn Museum Pre-Columbian Society he books speakers, organizes workshops, and co-runs a monthly Maya Glyph Group. A secondary focus in the archaeoastronomy in the American Southwest will take him to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, in summer of 2023 as part of a small research team sanctioned by the National Parks Services to continue the orientation studies of the Chacoan Great Houses.

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