Images in the Heavens

A Cultural Landscape


  • Bernadette Brady The University of Wales Trinity Saint David



Cosmology, culture, constellational imagery, sky, history of astronomy, cultural astronomy, celestial cartography


The constellation images with their historically persistent nature and adaptability fulfil many contemporary definitions of culture. From the earliest Elamite seals of the fourth millennium to the list-maps in the first century C.E. through Ptolemy’s Almagest, the constellation images became established in western cultures. With the invention of printing and the age of the great star atlases from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries the constellation images continued to display cultural resistance by cartographers to Gothicize, Christianize, politicise or simply remove them. This resilience has shown that the constellation images are in fact a living gallery of human history with images ranging from the Palaeolithic to the modern world. Furthermore with their acceptance across a diversity of people and nations, the constellation images today represents a form of world culture, in that it constitutes a culture of humanity which is not linked by a culture of tribes, clans, nations, religions or languages.


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How to Cite

Brady, B. (2014). Images in the Heavens: A Cultural Landscape. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 7(4), 461–484.