Keftiu Astronomy Research for the just-released Kitane, Bull Jumper: Courting and Catastrophe in the Bronze Age (https://amzn.to/2wuLMk8)
Over the course of a year, the nighttime stars appear to rotate around the earth. Different star configurations, called constellations, become associated with the seasons. For a contemporary example, the astrology signs of Cancer, Leo, and Virgo are the summer constellations.
An exception to this rule is the North Star, Polaris. In recent history, Polaris was fixed. It was believed to be always in the north.
Ancient civilization observed several cycles, from the daily cycle of the Sun to the monthly cycle of the Moon, and the annual cycle of the constellations. The objects that failed to follow these cycles were the planets (named for the Greek word wanderers).
In the last century, science has identified several longer cycles, now collectively called Milankovitch cycles. These cycles include orbital eccentricity, obliquity, and precession, with time periods of approximately 100,000 years, 41,000 years, and 25,771.5 years respectively.
For the purposes of formulating astrology for the Keftiu (3,500 years ago), the authors only considered precession.
The star directly above the rotational axis is the North Star. In the current era, we are fortunate that axis points to Polaris. However, this is not always true. In general, the axis points to empty space. There is no North Star.
Let’s just review the current situation. The North Star is located by finding the Big Dipper, aka Big Bear, aka Ursa Major. A couple of stars in this constellation point to Polaris. Polaris is a star at handle-end of the Little Dipper, aka Little Bear, aka Ursa Minor.
During the time of our story, there was no ideal North Star, like Polaris. However, the star closest to the north would have been the chosen North Star of the time.
For the purposes of the Keftiu, the authors renamed these two constellations with Keftiu-appropriate names: Big Double Axe and the Little Double Axe (Labrys). The North Star is on the handle end of the Little Double Axe and is called the Bull Star.
Keftiu sailors would have located the Big Double Axe and followed two stars to locate the Bull Star within the Little Double Axe. This is like the process used in the current era, except that different stars are employed, even though the polar constellations are the same.
The other effect of precession is the movement of the constellations with respect to the seasons. 3,500-years-ago represents a change of one zodiac sign. Thus, while Cancer, Leo, Virgo are summer constellations now, Leo, Virgo, and Libra would have been summer constellations in the past.
Of course, the Keftiu would have had their own names for the constellations. The authors renamed the constellations for the Keftiu as follows:
Spring: Spring Flowers, Initiates, Triton
Summer: Dolphin, Snake Goddess, Swallow
Autumn: Three Women, Octopus, Trading Ship
Winter: Bull Jumper, Papyrus, Bee