Tracing Lanna Heritages: Age Determination Using Archaeoastronomy Methods

Under an un-polluted sky, our ancestors watched the sky, searching for answers of the motion, created various beliefs about the cosmos in each culture. This originates the traditions, ways, and festivals of each area and transmitted to various related communities.

From Stonehenge to Great Pyramid of Giza, from the Great Stupa of Sanchi to Doi Suthep Temple, monuments are aligned with their heavens, providing the reference for time and direction. Many were not built all at once on a single plan and there is no record on the date of construction. Using the reverse calculation of the sky map together with scriptures that related to the concept of the monuments, one can determine the date of these monuments and fill out the missing jigsaw of our history.

In this talk, we will present the work that has been conducted in Chiang Mai at Doi Suthep Temple. Archaeoastronomical methodology was applied to the alignment of this temple, together with the study of Lanna’s records and other scriptures, i.e. Purana Samhita and the idea that this sacred temple was established on an auspicious date in the Lanna Calendar. It is found that the temple orientation might relate to the acronychal rising of the constellation Corona Borealis during 15th century, a time when King Mueangketklao reconstructed the present temple. This constellation is related to the Lunar Mansion, Vishakha Nakshatra. At present, there still a tradition of walking up to Doi Suthep Temple on Visakha Bucha Eve to worship Lord Buddha’s relics enshrined at the top of the Chedi.

Siramas Komonjinda

Assistant Professor Siramas Komonjinda is the Director of the Astronomy Program at Chiang Mai University, Thailand. She earned a BS (Physics) from Mahidol University, an MS (Physics) from Chiang Mai University and PhD (Astronomy) from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Her research interests are in variable stars, binary stars evolution, and exoplanets using both photometric and spectroscopic methods. She initiated research on astrobiology in Thailand. Siramas is also interested in archaeoastronomy, history of astronomy and calendars, especially those that relate to Thai culture and history. She is a member of Divisions C, F and G of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), and was on the Organising Committee of IAU Commission C4 (World Heritage and Astronomy) from 2015 to 2021. Besides research, she is also very active in education and outreach activities in Thailand. She is the secretary of Thailand Astronomical Olympiad since 2010 and the Organising Committee of IAU Commission C1 (Astronomy Education and Development) from 2021 until 2024. She was the Deputy Head of Doi Suthep Nature Center at Chiang Mai University between 2014 and 2021.