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  • The night sky of the Indo-Europeans

    Michael Janda

    Chapter from the book: Larsson, J et al. 2024. Indo-European Interfaces: Integrating Linguistics, Mythology and Archaeology.

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    It is not easy to talk about the stars, which are strewn across the night sky in immense abundance and seemingly at random. But this communication was of the utmost importance to farmers and sailors of ancient times. To be able to name the stars, they used metaphors – similarities to earthly phenomena – and perceived relations among the stars, and justified their existence through aitia. This study presents the names of stars and constellations that can be reconstructed for the Neolithic culture of the Indo-Europeans – known ones and some newly discovered ones – and tries to determine their respective naming motives. As in ancient and modern cultures, there existed among the Indo-Europeans a plurality of competing names for stars, constellations and their variously defined subdivisions, which led to conceptual overlaps and to the formation of those stories that constitute the core stock of ancient myths and conceptions of gods.

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    Janda, M. 2024. The night sky of the Indo-Europeans. In: Larsson, J et al (eds.), Indo-European Interfaces. Stockholm: Stockholm University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16993/bcn.h

    This chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial 4.0 license. Copyright is retained by the author(s)

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    Published on June 11, 2024


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