3.1: CALENDARS, MATHEMATICS, AGRICULTURE, RELIGION,
SCIENCE (ASTRONOMY), AND NAVIGATION:
In “The Triple Triumph of the Moon,” Isaac Asimov’s second triumph spoke about how Neolithic man might have come up with calendars and how this necessitated the gradual increase in mathematical and intellectual ability. The following is a point-by-point argument based primarily, though not entirely on his work.
Fig 22: Worshipping the Moon
1) The Moon is the only clearly visible object in the sky that changes noticeably over a relatively short period of time. This is more likely to attract curiosity and attention than the Sun and the stars. It is thus, more likely to be studied and worshipped
2) It does not take much to realise that the phases of the Moon change in a regular pattern. This is not so with any other cycle of changes such as the differences in the positions of the Sun over the course of a year.
3) One only needs to know how to count to thirty to be able to understand the cycle of Moon phases. However, the fact that the changes are a little irregular, sometimes occurring over twenty-nine days and sometimes thirty, could have led to further observations to determine if there was another cycle outside this one. This led to a slow process of advancement in arithmetic.
4) Having grasped the concept of the lunar month, it is easy to see that twelve months roughly correspond to one cycle of seasonal changes. This is a lot easier than counting 365 days. Such knowledge is important in calculating the time one has till winter or a dry/rainy season. Such knowledge is essential to the development of agriculture.
5) Realising that this system of time keeping becomes less accurate over time, more complicated methods are developed e.g. leap-months. A connection between the study of such celestial patterns and the fortunes of mankind is established. Hence, the rise of New Moon and Harvest Moon religious festivals followed in time by the flowering of astronomy and astrology.
6) Navigation, particularly on a featureless sea, became possible.
7) In time, advanced understanding of astronomy allowed men to learn all the major truths about the world we live on: That the Earth is round and not flat.
That there are other worlds that are not made of luminous ether.
That the Earth and the planets revolve around the Sun.
Next (SPACE TRAVEL)