Origin Stories (03:27)
Technology has allowed modern humans to view the universe better than our ancient ancestors, who believed deities responsible for the creating the earth and sky. Worldwide, civilizations used mythology to explain the cosmos.
Enuma Elis (04:40)
Babylonians formed the earliest creation mythologies; the battle between Tiamut and the unfathomably powerful Marduk divided the universe into seas, earth, and sky. Their world map featured a flat Earth floating in ocean with cosmic objects revolving around it.
Ancient Celestial Art (02:55)
Astrophysicist Jesus Gallego studies stone aged paintings in the caves of El Castillo; depictions of hands and animals don walls. A section is dedicated to cosmic bodies and lunar events; he believes artists recorded things most important to them.
Keeping Track (04:35)
Ancient humans used celestial poles, and sun and moon positions to orient themselves and organize time. They established 24 hour days and lunar months over 34,000 years ago; the oldest monuments worldwide course the solar year.
Salisbury Plain (02:31)
Stonehenge was built 5,000 years ago with 30 foot long stones, weighing up to 50 pounds, and transported from 150 miles away. It was the site of feasts, gatherings and sun worshiping rituals for Britain; it is aligned to mark sunrise on summer solstice and sunset for winters.
Solar Science and Religion (04:51)
The Great Pyramids of Giza were aligned to four cardinal points; Astronomer Philip Plait illustrates how they determined precise directions with shadow stick and plumb bomb. Four thousand years ago, Egyptians described pharaohs as Ra's sons; their Sun God was believed to die nightly and be reborn at dawn.
Evolving Astronomy (03:50)
Ancient civilizations worldwide created celestially aligned religious monuments, along with objects that kept time and aided navigation. The Nebra Sky Disc illustrated the night sky and was used as a solar calendar depicting the course of a Bronze Age Sun God.
Ancient Mesopotamian Writing (04:50)
Babylonians were first to systematically record celestial observations and coordinate their lives with them; surviving writings confirm astronomical knowledge built over centuries enabling accurate prediction of events. They believed the gods left messages within stars and attempted translation.
Dresden Codex (05:43)
Mayans created sophisticated writings depicting how celestial observations influenced daily decisions. They were polytheistic, and had gods assigned to cosmic bodies. Their astronomy was exact; they created a table of Venus cycles, lunar and solar eclipses.
Mapping the Skies (06:21)
Ancient civilizations worldwide observed and recorded stars staying in fixed patterns; they formed constellations from them. Babylonian astronomers created the Zodiac, based on the ecliptic line and enabling mathematically accurate interpretations of the cosmos.
Dawn of Science (08:10)
Ancient Greeks believed that deities controlled the skies; the myth of Daedalus embodied their fears of encroaching on gods. Thales of Miletus changed perceptions, questioning mythology and insisting everything had a rational explanation.
Credits: Gods and Monsters (00:30)
Credits: Gods and Monsters
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