There is a very interesting article in this week’s Nature magazine about a greek calculating machine, the Antikythera mechanism, which modeled the movements of the heavens. Although you can’t get to the article unless you’re a subscriber, some information is available on the wikipedia. Pretty cool. I’ve been studying Mayan astronomy for the novel I’m currently working on, and it’s quite interesting how there are still a lot of people (not generally the scientists and archeologists, BTW), claiming that Mayans couldn’t possibly have developed thier level of astronomy on thier own and arguing for everything from divine intervention to alien intervention (hmmm…how different are those?).
Both cultures provide reminders of how sophisticated the ancients were. And if you think about it even on the surface, they could, after all, see the stars. I can barely pick out five or ten at night from my suburban backyard.