Letters of Intent received in 2022

LoI 2024-2188
African Wealth: A focus view on the African astronomical heritage

Date: 8 August 2024 to 9 August 2024
Category: Focus meetings (GA)
Location: Cape town, South Africa
Contact: Somaya Saad (saadmhsaad@gmail.com)
Coordinating division: Division C Education, Outreach and Heritage
Other divisions: Division A Fundamental Astronomy
Co-Chairs of SOC: Somaya (National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics)
Auke Slotegraaf,(M) (Centre for Astronomical Heritage (CfAH))
Paul Baki (Technical University of Kenya)
Johnson O. Urama (Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka Enugu State,)
Jarita Holbrook (University of Edinburgh)
Co-Chairs of LOC: Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane (F) (Université Hassan II Casablanca)
Abd E lFady Morcos (M) (National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics)
Magda Moheb (F) (National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics)
Sivuyile Manxoyi (South Africa Astronomical observatory)



1) African astronomical heritage and its effect on human culture
2) Towards build the African Network for Astronomical Heritage (AfNAH)
3) Astronomical heritage end bridges towards modern science
4) The African Meteorites as natural, scientific and Cultural heritage
5) Astronomical Heritage collection, preservation and documentation
6) Global efforts to discover new astronomical heritage
7) Outreach awareness of African astronomical heritage
8) Historical astronomy (ancient, Arabic and Islamic heritage)



Astronomical heritage is an integral part of global human cultural heritage, extending deeply into human conscience.
In ancient times, all civilizations were interested in observing the heavens. The rising and setting of the twinkling stars were recorded for good reason: they gave reliable knowledge of time and direction.
The Sun and its daily movement across the sky, beyond representing safety and the daily renewal of life, helped determine how we measure time. By observing its rising and setting, years, months, days, and hours were conceived. As our technology developed, we crafted tools such as the sundial, the water clock, and the hourglass, to more finely measure the flow of time.
The development of writing allowed observations to be recorded as lists, maps, and manuscripts. These have accumulated over time and today have great heritage value.
In this focus meeting, we will discuss the vision, challenges and prospects of African astronomical heritage. We will consider how to identify, collect, document and preserve suitable materials, using modern digital methods. [Does this include things like places, objects, oral histories?]We will also discuss the creation of a unified African astronomical heritage center.
Since time immemorial, the Black Continent has been buzzing with many civilizations, which, along with cultural and human heritage, have left us a deep astronomical tradition. Among the most famous of those civilizations could be counted the ancient Egyptian civilization (the oldest of them all), the civilization of the Carthaginian empire along the coast of North Africa, the Nok civilization in Nigeria, the civilization of the Songhai Empire in West Africa, the civilization of Mali, and the civilization of the Kingdom of Aksum in southern Egypt, eastern Africa and the Gulf of Aden.
Certainly, those civilizations that have settled in the heart of the continent for thousands of years all share in using their observation and knowledge of the sky, day and night, to predict rainfall and predict periodic phenomena such as floods and droughts. We will seek, with the participants in this meeting, to identify some of the traditional tools used by these societies in Africa to interpret astronomical phenomena for the purposes of forecasting weather and climate, and to know the most appropriate seasons for cultivation and harvest.
Worldwide efforts
Worldwide astronomical heritage has been discussed at several international meetings and recently through the focus and international meetings on “Astronomical Heritage: Progressing the UNESCO–IAU Initiative” and “Hawaiian, Oceanic and Global Cultural Astronomy: Tangible and Intangible Heritage” held at the IAU General Assembly, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, USA, August 2015.
The Portal to the Heritage of Astronomy has been developed in partnership with the World Heritage Centre to support UNESCO's Thematic Initiative “Astronomy and World Heritage”. It exists to raise awareness of the importance of astronomical heritage worldwide and to facilitate efforts to identify, protect and preserve such heritage for the benefit of humankind, both now and in the future. The public launch of this portal took place at the 28th IAU General Assembly in Beijing, China, on 24 August 2012.
Also among the international efforts are those undertaken by the International Astronomical Union during the XXXth General Assembly. Resolution B3 on the preservation, digitization and scientific exploration of historical astronomical data (proposed by the Inter-Sections B-E IAU) concluded with the recommendation that concerted efforts be made to ensure the preservation of all historical data for astronomy, including analogue and primitive digital and associated records.
Through this meeting we invite all Africans to search for, collect and document their vast astronomical heritage, conducting a wide survey to find these items and make the data available to the world of modern astronomy and space science.
Working together will create new and unprecedented opportunities to develop the field and will highlight the contributions of African astronomical heritage.