Empires of Time: Calendars, Clocks, and Cultures

Anthony F. Aveni, Author Basic Books $24.95 (371p) ISBN 978-0-465-01950-2
A linear sense of time may be well suited to our hectic, clock-watching society, but the timekeeping systems of ancient or ``primitive'' peoples are no less valid, suggests Aveni. Writing as both an astronomer and an anthropologist, he finds parallels between Einstein's concept of space-time and an Aztec ``world diagram'' which charts a 52-year calendar-round pegged to the passage of the constellation Pleiades overhead. For the semi-nomadic Nuer tribe of Sudan, ``eco-time'' connects people to their environment. In this wide-ranging, intriguing journey across centuries, Aveni traces the modern calendar's roots back to Greek pastoral poetry and prehistoric African bone markings, then compares Western, Chinese, Maya, Inca and tribal time systems. He also fathoms our division of time into days, weeks, months, seasons and years for clues to our psychology and worldview. He notes that scientists who believe that previous universes existed before the Big Bang echo the Maya and Aztec view of time as cyclical. Illustrations. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-56836-073-7
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-87081-672-7
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-465-01951-9
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