Making Friends with the Night Sky: Women and the Moon

Our earliest calendar - linking the lunar cycle with the menstruation cycle

Maui astronomer Harriet Witt describes the connection between women and the Moon.

Listen here [2:41m]:

Download here [2.5 Mb]: ftp://space.mit.edu/pub/ajb/radiopio/astrofacts_090804_mfns-womenandmoon.mp3

What’s the facts:

The earliest astronomers may have been women, who discovered that the cycle of the Moon was synchronized with their menstrual cycle.  Having an external cue for this internal cycle would have allowed women to time the birth of their children and perhaps help regulate the population of their tribe or clan in an environment with limited resources.

Our earliest evidence of the connection between the Moon cycle and menstruation cycle – indeed, our earliest evidence of the practice of astronomy – is found on a reindeer bone over 20,000 years old, called the Ishango Bone.  This bone is also believed to be early evidence of the beginning of mathematical thought.  The Ishango bone is one of our first calendars (other ancient calendars also traced the cycles of the Moon).

Original air date 4 August 2009.

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One response to “Making Friends with the Night Sky: Women and the Moon

  1. I’m really enjoying your blog especially everything to do with the moon. Thanks! I noticed that the Ishango bone is a baboon bone which makes sense since it comes from what was Zaire(now the democratic republic of Congo), in Africa. I bet there were similar carved bones in Northern countries that were reindeer.
    Thanks again.

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