Join the Draper Natural History Museum for a free Lunchtime Expedition lecture, April 4 at 12:15 p.m. The speaker, Ivy Merriot holds a BA in philosophy, MA in history of science, and a PhD with an American Studies major and Native Studies minor. She now spends her time as an archaeoastronomy researcher and writer, but has had a diverse career and life experiences, including: professional musician, mother of four, ski host, immunology researcher, high school science teacher, solar physics researcher, outreach astronomy educator, and director of an astronomy-based online school.
Merriot’s special interest is in ancient stone circles and their connection to cosmic cycles. Her first book is a copy of her dissertation, describing the cultural and scientific history of the Bighorn Medicine Wheel that examines the wheel’s use as an indigenous pedagogical instrument for learning about the sky. Her second book, Star Circle, is written for the general public, based on her dissertation research with added sections on “how to see the Sky at the Wheel” plus some fun personal stories. Merriot is currently researching stone wheels around the world for their astronomical commonalities due to latitude, elevation, and sky conditions. Her next book will include a global perspective on stone wheels created circa 3,000 BC.
Of the Medicine Wheel, Merriot says, “A night cloak of piercing stars lashed by frigid wind isolates a circle set in stone high in the Bighorn Mountains. Quiet to the night yet loud to the spirit, this ancient wheel holds the stories of those now gone from these mountains. Not just a stone circle but a star circle, it has held knowledge of Earth-Sky relationships for millenia while those who travel to visit it, have changed in form and culture.”
It has been forty-five years since John Eddy’s research confirmed the solstice alignment at the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, launching this stone circle to global status as an archaeoastronomical site. In the 1980s, Jack Robinson refined Eddy’s work. Astronomy research then went silent for more than thirty years until 2008 when Merriot began an odyssey that transcended science and culture. She discovered this high-altitude stone circle can act as a mnemonic device capable of transmitting ancient sky knowledge by mirroring the sky itself as the language of translation.
The Lunchtime Expedition lecture series organized by the Draper Natural History Museum and supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch and the Nancy-Carroll Draper Foundation.
To learn more about the Draper Museum’s natural science programs, visit centerofthewest.org/explore/greater-yellowstone-natural-history. Explore the Center’s full calendar of events at centerofthewest.org/calendar.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s pages on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact: Gretchen Henrich at [email protected] or 307-578-4061.