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Book cover Buried Beneath Us

Apocalyptic Anxiety Religion, Science, and America's Obsession with the End of the World

Apocalyptic Anxiety traces the sources of American culture’s obsession with predicting and preparing for the apocalypse. Author Anthony Aveni explores why Americans take millennial claims seriously, where and how end-of-the-world predictions emerge, how they develop within a broader historical framework, and what we can learn from doomsday predictions of the past.

The book begins with the Millerites, the nineteenth-century religious sect of Pastor William Miller, who used biblical calculations to predict October 22, 1844, as the date for the Second Advent of Christ. Aveni also examines several other religious and philosophical movements that have centered on apocalyptic themes—Christian millennialism, the New Age movement and the Age of Aquarius, and various other nineteenth- and early twentieth-century religious sects, concluding with a focus on the Maya mystery of 2012 and the contemporary prophets who connected the end of the world as we know it with the overturning of the Maya calendar.

Apocalyptic Anxiety places these seemingly never-ending stories of the world’s end in the context of American history. This fascinating exploration of the deep historical and cultural roots of America’s voracious appetite for apocalypse will appeal to students of American history and the histories of religion and science, as well as lay readers interested in American culture and doomsday prophecies.

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Book cover Buried Beneath Us

The Measure and Meaning of Time in Mesoamerica and the Andes (Edited)
Westerners think of time as a measure of duration, a metric quantity that is continuous, homogeneous, unchangeable, and never ending—a reality that lies outside of human existence. How did the people of Mesoamerica and the Andes, isolated as they were from the rest of the world, conceive of their histories? How and why did they time their rituals? What knowledge can we acquire about their time from studying the material record they have left behind?

This volume brings together specialists in anthropology, archaeology, art history, astronomy, and the history of science to contemplate concrete and abstract temporal concepts gleaned from the Central Mexicans, Mayans, and Andeans. Contributors first address how people reckon and register time; they compare the western linear, progressive way of knowing time with the largely cyclic notions of temporality derived from the Americas, and they dissect, explain, and explore the origins of the complex dynastic and ritual calendars of the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs. They subsequently consider how people sense time and its moral dimensions. Time becomes an inescapable feature of the process of perception, an entity that occupies a succession of moments rather than the knife-edge present ingrained in our Western minds.

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(available May 11, 2015. )

Book cover Buried Beneath Us

Class Not Dismissed: Reflections on Undergraduate Education and Teaching the Liberal Arts
In Class Not Dismissed, award-winning professor Anthony Aveni tells the personal story of his six decades in college classrooms and some of the 10,000 students who have filled them. Through anecdotes of his own triumphs and tribulations—some amusing, others heartrending—Aveni reveals his teaching story and thoughts on the future of higher education.

Although in recent years the lecture has come under fire as a pedagogical method, Aveni ardently defends lecturing to students. He shares his secrets on crafting an engaging lecture and creating productive dialogue in class discussions. He lays out his rules on classroom discipline and tells how he promotes the lost art of listening. He is a passionate proponent of the liberal arts and core course requirements as well as a believer in sound teaching promoted by active scholarship.

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(available October 14, 2014. )

Book cover Buried Beneath Us

Buried Beneath Us: Discovering the Ancient Cities of the Americas
A beautifully illustrated look at the forces that help cities grow—and eventually cause their destruction—told through the stories of the great civilizations of ancient America.

You may think you know all of the American cities. But did you know that long before New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, or Boston ever appeared on the map—thousands of years before Europeans first colonized North America—other cities were here? They grew up, fourished, and eventually disappeared in the same places that modern cities like St. Louis and Mexico City would later appear. In the pages of this book, you'll find the astonishing story of how they grew from small settlements to booming city centers—and then crumbled into ruins.

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(available November 19, 2013. )

Book cover Buried Beneath Us

The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012
December 21, 2012. The Internet, bookshelves, and movie theaters are full of prophecies, theories, and predictions that this date marks the end of the world, or at least the end of the world as we know it. Whether the end will result from the magnetic realignment of the north and south poles, bringing floods, earthquakes, death, and destruction; or from the return of alien caretakers to enlighten or enslave us; or from a global awakening, a sudden evolution of Homo sapiens into non-corporeal beings—theories of great, impending changes abound.

In The End of Time, award-winning astronomer and Maya researcher Anthony Aveni explores these theories, explains their origins, and measures them objectively against evidence unearthed by Maya archaeologists, iconographers, and epigraphers. He probes the latest information astronomers and earth scientists have gathered on the likelihood of Armageddon and the oft-proposed link between the Maya Long Count cycle and the precession of the equinoxes. He then expands on these prophecies to include the broader context of how other cultures, ancient and modern, thought about the “end of things” and speculates on why cataclysmic events in human history have such a strong appeal within American pop culture.

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(available October 15, 2009. )


People and The Sky: Our Ancestors and The Cosmos
Few people today can accurately identify the stars and constellations or the phases of the moon, but our forebears had an intimate relationship with the heavens. People and The Sky explores how ancient hunters farmers, sailors rulers and storytellers were all cosmically grounded.

Anthony Aveni reveals how !Kung and Mursi hunter-gatherers depended on signals in the sky for their survival and sustenance; how Polynesian sailors navigated a seemingly limitless watery world by star bearings; how social cohesion in cultures as diverse as the Pawnee and the Inca was mirrored in celestial imagery; and how the cosmic connection between the arrangement of Chinese and Aztec cities and the constellations served as an expression of political authority.

For most of human history, people found meaning in the dance of the cosmic denizens. Today, many aspects of this intimate contact between daily life and what happens in the sky have disappeared. Did our ancestors have an understanding of the cosmos that we ourselves lack? How and why did it all happen? These are the questions addressed in this engaging and erudite book

With 66 illustrations, 9 in color

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Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy (Scholastic, 2005)
Gazing into the black skies from the Anasazi observatory at Chimney Rock or the Castillo Pyramid in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, a modern visitor might wonder what ancient stargazers looked for in the skies and what they saw. Once considered unresearchable, these questions now drive cultural astronomers, who draw on written and unwritten records and a constellation of disciplines to reveal the wonders of ancient and contemporary astronomies.

Cultural astronomy, first called archaeoastronomy, has evolved at ferocious speed since its genesis in the 1960s, with seminal essays and powerful rebuttals published in far-flung, specialized journals. Until now, only the most closely involved scholars could follow the intellectual fireworks. In Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, one of cultural astronomy’s founders and top scholars, Anthony Aveni, offers a personal selection of the essays that built the field, from foundational pieces to contemporary scholarship.

Including four decades of research throughout the Americas by linguists, archaeologists, historians, ethnologists, astronomers, and engineers, this reader highlights the evolution of the field through thematic organization and point-counterpoint articles. Aveni—an award-winning author and former National Professor of the Year—serves up incisive commentary, background for the uninitiated, and suggested reading, questions, and essay topics.

Students, readers, and scholars will relish this collection and its tour of a new field in which discoveries about ancient ways of looking at the skies cast light on our contemporary views.

The Russell Colgate Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology at Colgate University, Anthony Aveni is the author of Empires of Time, Behind the Crystal Ball, Conversing with the Planets, Uncommon Sense, and several other books, as well as co-editor of The Madrid Codex.

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The First Americans: Where They Came From and Who They Became (Scholastic, 2005)
Tony was awarded the 2006 Spur Award for Juvenile Nonfiction by the Western Writers of America, an award given annually for distinguished writing about the American West.

Named to the International Readers Association Teachers' Choice List for 2006.

For thousands of years nomadic people from east Asia followed caribou walking east. Sometime around 20,000 BCE, they crossed the land bridge into North America. These waves of people are the ancestors to every culture on the continent. Tony Aveni, whose expertise is the scientific, mathematical, and cultural accomplishments of the first Americans, celebrates the disparate cultures by highlighting one or two from each region of the country: the Taino, the Iroquois, the Adena, the Anasazi, the Kwakiutl, and the Timucua.

Order at (available October, 2005)


The Madrid Codex: New Approaches to Understanding an Ancient Maya Manuscript (edited with Gabrielle Vail)

Winner, The Colorado Endowment for the Humanities Publication Prize & the Eugene M. Kayden U Press of Colorado Award

This volume offers new calendrical models and methodologies for reading, dating, and interpreting the general significance of the Madrid Codex. The longest of the surviving Maya codices, this manuscript includes texts and images painted by scribes conversant in Maya hieroglyphic writing, a written means of communication practiced by Maya elites from the second to the fifteenth centuries A.D. Some scholars have recently argued that the Madrid Codex originated in the Petén region of Guatemala and postdates European contact. The contributors to this volume challenge that view by demonstrating convincingly that it originated in northern Yucatán and was painted in the Pre-Columbian era. In addition, several contributors reveal provocative connections among the Madrid and Borgia group of codices from Central Mexico.

“I cannot think of another interdisciplinary study in Mesoamerican cultures that has produced such innovative results.”—Davíd Carrasco, Harvard University

“The exciting new approaches to interpreting the codices will make this a volume essential for those studying the Postclassic Maya.” —Susan Milbrath, University of Florida

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Uncommon Sense: Understanding Nature's Truth Across Time and Culture

Humans are pattern seekers; or maybe we’re pattern creators. Whether our sense of reality—that is to say, our sense of the way the universe, our backyard, or our kinship circle is ordered—is self-created or imposed upon us, as humans operating in a world of uncertainty and chaos, we require patterns.

Archaeo-astronomer Anthony Aveni’s latest book, called Uncommon Sense: Understanding Nature's Truths Across Time and Culture and published in 2006 by the University Press of Colorado, explores the patterns created by humans of many cultures and time periods—the maps we make, the star charts we follow, the ordering of the universe and our place in it. Along the way, he opens the reader’s mind a little bit to the renderings of the possible universes beyond our Western philosophies.

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The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays

Why do we celebrate Easter by telling children that a rabbit will bring them eggs and candy? Why do we make New Year's resolutions? Why do we engage in rituals like bobbing for apples on Halloween, watching football on Thanksgiving, and giving chocolate on Valentine's Day? Anthony Aveni, a professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate, provides answers to these and many other questions in this delightful little book about the origins and modern development of our holidays.

-- Publisher's Weekly

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The Book of the Year: Apocalyptic Anxiety Religion, Science, and America's Obsession with the End of the World

Apocalyptic Anxiety traces the sources of American culture’s obsession with predicting and preparing for the apocalypse. Author Anthony Aveni explores why Americans take millennial claims seriously, where and how end-of-the-world predictions emerge, how they develop within a broader historical framework, and what we can learn from doomsday predictions of the past.

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Behind The Crystal Ball

Conversing With the Planets

Empires of Time
About this book About this book About this book
Listen to "Morning Star Rising" for Orchestra, inspired by "Conversing With the Planets"

Skywatchers: A Revised and Updated Version of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

Between The Lines The Mystery of the Giant Ground Drawings of Ancient Nasca, Peru

Nasca: Eighth Wonder of the World?

Other Books by Anthony Aveni

Ancient Astronomers

Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico

Stairways to the Stars

Edited by Anthony Aveni

The Sky in Mayan Literature