Information about Morgan Sterling Saletta
I am currently a PhD candidate in the School of Historical Studies (History and Philosophy of Science) at the University of Melbourne in Australia and a Graduate Student Instructor in subjects such as "The Universe in World History", "From Plato to Einstein", and "The Ecological History of Humanity". I also hold two Master's degrees from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris) and the Doctoral School of the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle of France.
I am also currently the president of the History and Philosophy of Science Graduate Student Organization- we recently organized "The Melbourne University Research Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science" which I co-chaired.
The pages here are very much works in progress whose purpose is to (briefly) present my ongoing research and research interests, as well as to let me collect and collate curricular materials for a range of courses that I am currently involved in and/or would like to be involved in in the near future.
My doctoral research focuses on Neolithic astronomy and cosmology as manifested in monumental architecture. My field research focuses on a group of megalithic monuments in the South of France- the Arles/Fontvieille monuments. I have shown three of these monuments to have orientations to the equinoxes while the fourth, the famous Grotte de Cordes - faces winter solstice. The purpose of these seasonal alignments seems to be such that on and for a period around these astronomically important solar events a ray of sunlight penetrates to the rear wall of these stone hewn monuments, beautifully illuminating them in a manner that must have had great ritual and symbolic importance to the builders and users of the enigmatic monuments of the European Neolithic. My field research (initially begun as 'hobby' research in 1997/98) reveals a hitherto unsuspected astronomical and cosmological purpose to these important sites, one that is supported by the inestimable field research of Michael Hoskin and his colleagues (Hoskin 2001). I have presented my research at a number of international conferences in cultural and archaeoastronomy as well as at the History of Astronomy workshop at Notre Dame and the research has been well received by such imminent archaeoastronomers as Clive Ruggles and others.
While cosmology and astronomy in the Neolithic may seem as far removed from the modern world of urbanization, world wide communications networks, environmental transformations and climate change, nothing could be further from the truth. What V. Gordon Childe called the Neolithic Revolution began in the Near East and then moved into Europe. Thus (together with similar 'agricultural revolutions' elsewhere/when) began a process of environmental, social and demographic change which has produced the world of today. Indeed, the Near Eastern Neolithic package which transformed Europe was exported (in the form of plant and animal) to North and South America, New Zealand, and Australia in what Alfred Crosby termed the process of ecological colonialism in his work Ecological Colonialism (1986). But of course the process was not entirely one-sided, the Atlantic Exchange, which brought new food crops such as the potato and peppers to Europe and to the rest of the world is one example, and one which completely transformed the way people all around the world eat.
The Neolithic was a time of major environmental, economic and social transition in Europe and short and long distance networks: of trade, communication, migration played and important role in the diffusion of genes, knowledge, and techniques. Researchers such as Ian Hodder (1990, 1995), Richard Bradley (1998), Alisdair Whittle (1996) and others have argued for complex cosmological belief systems and ways of seeing the world at work in this economic, social and ecological transformation. Hodder and Bradley have also argued for complex symbolic and evolutionary links between domestic and ritualistic/funerary architecture (Hodder 1990, 1995; Bradley 1998).
Thus, while my research focuses on what we can learn of astronomy and cosmology in the European Neolithic from the architecture of megalithic monuments, the research is framed within a much broader perspective and range of scholarly interests.
Other Research interests
As my academic cursus shows (I hold degrees in geography, anthropology, and am working on one in the history of science) I'm interested a lot of things- which is how I ended up in the history of science.
Some of my research interests are:
Human Ecological/Environmental History, History of Science, History of Astronomy, Neolithic archaeology, Cultural and Physical Anthropology, Human Evolution and Philosophy of Biology, Cybernetics and Mechanical and Informational Models of Life and Mind, Science and Philosophy in Science Fiction, Traditional technologies and resource management, Environmental History of the English-speaking Pacific Rim, Vernacular and Green Architecture, Sustainable development, Resilience.
"Human Evolution in the Age of Digital Special Effects: Beyond Naive Anthropology and Prehistoric Morality Plays" A virtual paper/video for the 4th Annual Conference on Science in Society at UC Berkeley, Common Ground Publishing Nov 2012.
"The archaeoastronomy of the megalithic monuments of Arles–Fontvieille: the equinox, the Pleiades and Orion". In Ruggles, C ed. 2011, Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy: Building Bridges Between Cultures, Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Volume 7, Issue S278, January 2011, pp 364-373. Published online by Cambridge University Press, 26 Jul 2011.
"Science Fiction Through The Looking Glass: the Ape, the Alien and the Android", (Illustrated by Timothy Booth) in StarShipSofa Stories vol. 3, Tony C. Smith ed. 2011.
I author and narrate a monthly fact article titled "Life, the Universe, and Everything: philosophy, science and science fiction" which appears in the Hugo Award winning podcast StarshipSofa hosted by Tony C. Smith. Topics have included the role of science fictional others (the ape, the android and the alien) as reflections of human nature, environmental futures in science fiction,the possibility of life on other worlds, airships, and megacities.
I have also done ebook narration for the non-profit site librivox.
(Very) Short Bibliography
Bradley, R 1998,The Significance of Monuments: On the Shaping of Human Experience in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe, Taylor & Francis.
Hodder, I 1990, The Domestication of Europe, Blackwell.
Hodder, I 1995, Theory and Practice in Archaeology, Routledge.
Hoskin, M 2001, Tombs, Temples and Their Orientations: A New Perspective on Mediterranean Prehistory. Ocarina Books.
Whittle, A W R 1996, Europe in the Neolithic: The Creation of New Worlds, Cambridge UP.
Contact me: email@example.com