Lunar Standstills or Lunistices, Reality or Myth?


  • A. César González-García Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio, Incipit – CSIC
  • Juan A. Belmonte Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, La Laguna



Great Ziggurat of Ur, lunar extremes, lunistice, Men Askaenos, Moon, Ptolemy, standstill


There is an intense debate in cultural astronomy on the importance of lunar standstills in prehistory or antiquity, and even on whether this elusive and difficult-to-understand phenomenon actually was then recognised. In the present paper, we seek to address those who advocate no longer using the terms "lunar standstill" or the related "lunistice". We begin by clarifying what the concept actually involves, before highlighting some case studies where proposed orientations to lunar standstills have explanatory value and a strong likelihood, connected to the lunar nature of the deities worshipped at particular sites. Finally, we present some relevant ancient texts that indicate awareness of lunar extremes.

Author Biographies

A. César González-García, Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio, Incipit – CSIC

A. César González-García, PhD in Astrophysics (Groningen, The Netherlands) has held postdoctoral fellowships at the IAC (2003-2006 & 2010-2011) and the Theoretical Physics Department - UAM (2006-2010). He is now based at the Instituto de Ciencias del Patrimonio (Incipit-CSIC) at Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain). He is President of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture since 2017. His main research lines are centred in three issues: (i) modelling of the possible astronomical orientation of classical cultures, (ii) possible astronomical and landscape relations of classic religions and (iii) the study of the orientation of ancient Roman cities.

Juan A. Belmonte, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, La Laguna

Juan A. Belmonte, Research Professor at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Tenerife, Spain) where he has lectured history of astronomy and archaeoastronomy and investigates in exoplanets, stellar physics and cultural astronomy. He has published or edited more than a dozen books and authored more than 200 publications on those subjects. He recently co-edited Handbook of Exoplanet and Archaeoastronomy in the Roman World, both published by Springer. He has been President of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC) from 2005 to 2011 and the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture (ISAAC) from 2017 to 2020. He is advisory editor of the Journal for the History of Astronomy. In the last years he has been performing extensive research on the astronomical traditions of ancient civilizations, concentrating in the ancient Mediterranean cultures. Born in Murcia (Spain) in 1962, he studied physics and got his master-thesis in 1986 at Barcelona University and obtained his PhD on Astrophysics at La Laguna University in 1989.


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How to Cite

González-García, A. C., & Belmonte, J. A. (2020). Lunar Standstills or Lunistices, Reality or Myth?. Journal of Skyscape Archaeology, 5(2), 177-190.



Theory & Method