Reflecting the Sky in Water
A Phenomenological Exploration of Water-skyscapes
From a phenomenological perspective, the reflective quality of water has a visually dramatic impact, especially when combined with the light of celestial phenomena. However, the possible presence of water as a means for reflecting the sky is often undervalued when interpreting archaeoastronomical sites. From artificial water spaces, such as ditches, huacas and wells to natural ones such as rivers, lakes and puddles, water spaces add a layer of interacting reflections to landscapes. In the cosmological understanding of skyscapes and waterscapes, a cross-cultural metaphorical association between water spaces and the underworld is often revealed. In this research, water-skyscapes are explored through the practice of auto-ethnography and reflexive phenomenology. The mirroring of the sky in water opens up themes such as the continuity, delimitation and manipulation of sky phenomena on land: water spaces act as a continuation of the sky on earth; depending on water spaces’ spatial extension, selected celestial phenomena can be periodically reflected within architectures, so as to make the heavenly dimension easily accessible and a possible object of manipulation. Water-skyscapes appear as specular worlds, where water spaces are assumed to be doorways to the inner reality of the unconscious. The fluid properties of water have the visual effect of dissipating borders, of merging shapes, and, therefore, of dissolving identities; in the inner landscape, this process may represent symbolic death experiences and rituals of initiation, where the annihilation of the individual allows the creative process of a new life cycle. These contextually generalisable results aim to inspire new perspectives on sky-and-water related case studies and give value to the practice of reflexive phenomenology as crucial method of research.
Ashmore, W., 2004. “Ancient Maya Landscapes”. In Continuities and Changes in Maya Archaeology: Perspectives at the Millennium, edited by C. Golden and G. Borgstede, 88–100. New York and London: Routledge.
Bachelard, G., 1983. Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter. Dallas: Dallas Institute Publications.
Blakeslee, D. J., 2012. “Caves and Related Sites in the Great Plains of North America”. In Sacred Darkness: A Global Perspective on the Ritual Use of Caves, edited by H. Moyes, 353–362. Boulder: University Press of Colorado.
Blomberg, M. and G. Henriksson, 2015. “Minoan Astronomy”. In The Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, edited by C. L. N. Ruggles, 2: 1431–1441. New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6141-8_141
Budds, J. and L. Hinojosa, 2012. “Restructuring and Rescaling Water Governance in Mining Contexts: The Co-production of Waterscapes in Peru”. Water Alternatives 5 (1): 119–137.
Cook, F. C., trans., 1878. “Hymn to the Nile”. In Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes, vol. 24: Africa, edited by H. W. Longfellow, 153–156. Boston: J. R. Osgood.
David, B. and J. Thomas, 2016. “Living Landscapes: The Body and the Experience of Place”. In The Handbook of Landscape Archaeology, edited by B. David and J. Thomas, 245. London and New York: Routledge.
Davies, C. A., 1999. Reflexive Ethnography: A Guide to Researching Selves and Others. London and New York: Routledge.
Debord, G., 2006 . “Theory of the Dérive”. In Situationist International Anthology (revised and expanded edition), edited and trans. by K. Knabb, 62–66. Berkeley, CA: Bureau of Public Secrets.
Dee, C., 2001. Form and Fabric in Landscape Architecture: A Visual Introduction. London: Spoon Press.
Eliade, M., 1958. Patterns in Comparative Religion. New York: Sheed & Ward.
Eliade, M. and L. E. Sullivan, 1987. “Center of the World”. In The Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by M. Eliade, vol. 3, 166–171. New York: Macmillan.
Ellis, C., T. E. Adams and A. P. Bochner, 2010. “Autoethnography: An Overview”. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12 (1). [online] Accessed February 2017, http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3096
Ellis, C. and A. P. Bochner, 2000. “Autoethnography, Personal Narrative, Reflexivity: Researcher as Subject”. In The Handbook of Qualitative Research, edited by N. K. Denzin and Y. S. Lincoln, 733–768. London: Sage.
Gage, M. G., 2006. America’s Stonehenge Deciphered. Amesbury, UK: Powwow River Books.
Goodison, L., 2006. “Divination with Water: A Diachronic Perspective”. Paper presented at the 9th International Congress of Cretan Studies, Elounda, 1st–6th October 2001.
Groenfeldt, D., 2006. “Water Development and Spiritual Values in Western and Indigenous Societies”. In Water and Indigenous Peoples, edited by R. Boelens, M. Chiba and D. Nakashima, 108–117. Paris: UNESCO.
Halliday, W. R., 1913. Greek Divination: A Study of its Methods and Principles. London: Macmillan.
Harris, L., 2011. “The Milky Way: Path to the Empyrean?”. In Proceedings of the Sixth Conference on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena, edited by E. Corsini, 387–391. Provo, UT: Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
Hauck, D. W., 1999. The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy of Personal Transformation. New York: Penguin.
Heidegger, M., 1996 . Being and Time. J. Stambaugh, trans. New York: State University of New York Press.
Hennink, M., I. Hutter and A. Bailey, 2011. Qualitative Research Methods. London: SAGE.
Horowitz, W., 1998. Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.
Husserl, E., 1962 . Ideas: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology. W. R. Boyce Gibson, trans. New York: Macmillan.
Husserl, E., 1970 . The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
Ingold, T., 1993. “The Temporality of the Landscape”. World Archaeology 25 (2): 152–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.1993.9980235
Ingold, T., 2000. The Perception of the Environment: Essay on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. London and New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203466025
Jung, C. G., 1953. Psychology and Alchemy. R. F. C. Hull, trans. The Collected works of C. G. Jung 12. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Kant, I., 1968 . Critique of Pure Reason. N. Kemp Smith, trans. London: Macmillan.
Koestler, A., 1978. Janus: A Summing up. London: Hutchinson.
Lebeuf, A., 2015. “Cave of the Astronomers at Xochicalco”. In The Handbook of Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, edited by C. L. N. Ruggles, 1: 749–758. New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6141-8_58
Lévy-Bruhl, L., 1903. Primitive Mentality. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Loftus, A., 2007. “Working the Socio-natural Relations of the Urban Waterscape in South Africa”. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 31 (1): 41–59. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2007.00708.x
Malville, J. M., 2010. “Cosmology in the Inca Empire: Huaca Sanctuaries, State-Supported Pilgrimage, and Astronomy”. Journal of Cosmology 9: 2106–2120.
Malville, J. M., 2016. “Animism, Reciprocity and Entanglement”. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 16 (4): 51–58.
Maxia, C. and E. Proverbio, 1973. “Orientamenti astronomici di monumenti nuragici”. Estratto dai Rendiconti dell’ Istituto Lombardo, Accademia di Scienze e Lettere, 107 (28): 298–311.
Merleau-Ponty, M., 1962 . Phenomenology of Perception. C. Smith, trans. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Merleau-Ponty, M., 1968 . The Visible and the Invisible. A. Lingis, trans. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.
McCabe, S., 1994. Elizabeth Bishop: Her Poetics of Loss. Philadelphia: Pennsylvania State University Press.
Oestigaard, T., 2005. Water and World Religions: An Introduction. Bergen, Norway: SFU and SMR.
Oestigaard, T., 2011. “Water”. In The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion, edited by T. Insoll, 39–49. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199232444.013.0004
Piene, O., E. Goldring and L. Burgess, 1987. “Statement”. In “Desert Sun, Desert Moon and the SKY ART manifesto”, by E. Goldring. Leonardo 20 (4): 339–348. https://doi.org/10.2307/1578529
Piranomonte, M., 2015. The Discovery of the Fountain of Anna Perenna and its Influence on the Study of Ancient Magic. Oxford: Archaeopress Archaeology.
Rattue, J, 1995. The Living Stream: Holy Wells in Historical Context. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press.
Richards, C., 1996. “Henges and Water: Towards an Elemental Understanding of Monumentality and Landscape in late Neolithic Britain”. Journal of Material Culture, 1 (3): 313–336. https://doi.org/10.1177/135918359600100303
Silva, F., 2015. “The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology: An Introduction”. Skyscapes: The Role and Importance of the Sky in Archaeology, edited by F. Silva and N. Campion. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Sprang, V., 2004. Meaning of Water. London: Bloomsbury.
Spry, T, 2001. “Performing Autoethnography: An Embodied Methodological Praxis”. Qualitative Inquiry 7 (6): 706–732. https://doi.org/10.1177/107780040100700605
Thatcher, O. J., 1907. “The Ancient World”. The Library of Original Sources, vol. 1. Milwaukee: University Research Extension Co.
Tilley, C. Y., 1994. A Phenomenology of Landscape: Places, Paths, and Monuments. Oxford: Berg.
Turner, V. W., 1969. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Washburn, M., 1988. The Ego and the Dynamic Ground: A Transpersonal Theory of Human Development. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Webster, M., 2014. Water-temples in Sardinia: Identification, Inventory and Interpretation. Masters diss., Uppsala University.
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.