Ancient cultures and a heliocentric universe?
This is something I have always wondered about. Are there any known ancient cultures that believed that the Earth orbited the sun? Commonly the belief of heliocentrism is characterized as taking off with Copernicus, although in ancient Greece Aristarchus proposed the idea, but was largely ignored. Given that many ancient cultures identified the sun as being God, or some manifestation of God, it seems odd to me that none would have thought of Earth going around the sun. After all, isn't it theologically aesthetic to imagine God as the center of the universe, and everything revolves around God? Why should God move around his creation? Plus ancient cultures were well aware of the motion of the planets. Mercury and Venus clearly appear to orbit the sun, and not Earth. And a heliocentric model elegantly explains that odd retrograde motion of the outer planets.
Although, Aristarchus wasn't able to sell his idea, and the ancient Greeks *did* in fact consider the sun to be a manifestation of the most powerful of the gods. Thus the same may have happened in other cultures. That Judaism, Christianity and Islam rejected the idea of heliocentrism until science made it evident is easy to understand. To these faiths, the sun was just some hot thing that God created that kept this world warm. Given that this planet would be seen as God's most important creation, it would make sense they'd think that it was the center of the universe.
(At least the ancient Greek's proof the Earth was a sphere caught on amongst the intelligent rather quick. Heck, one of the ancient Greeks calculated the diameter of the Earth within a few percent. I've always thought it amusing when people claim anyone of significance at the time of Columbus thought he'd sail off the edge of a flat Earth. Competent mariners, and the educated elite, knew better. The question with Columbus was whether he and his ships could survive the long trip to the Orient travelling west to it?)