Ancient structures around the world are precisely aligned to the sun and stars. Some are lined up with the cardinal points but most are aligned to other astronomically significant directions.
The precise and sometimes puzzling orientation of the ancient structures can be explained by understanding that their primary function was to serve as observation platforms for priests working with the calendar. The stone structures were perfectly constructed for predicting and sighting a wide variety of astronomical alignments including the solstices and precession of the equinoxes.
Many ancient pyramids and temples were simply oriented with the direction of the rising or setting sun, moon, a planet or a star on a significant day of the year. This type of alignment was the easiest to accomplish provided that the builders of such structure had good knowledge of the calendar (and could identify the day of the year when the orientation line pointing to the rising or setting heavenly body should be drawn). For example, on the Mexican plateau, all ceremonial centers where “Olmec” origins or influence are found demonstrate solsticial alignments.
Positioning of many other ancient structures was based on finding a true north-south meridian as defined by the Earth’s rotational axis and on spherical geometry.
The line on the surface of the earth through the place and both poles is called the meridian of the place: it is a half-circle since the earth is spherical.
Ancient Alignments – Examples
Location: 22° 30′ N
STANDING STONES at Nabta in the Nubian desert predate Stonehenge and other astronomically aligned sites in Europe by 1,000 years.
They are the oldest dated astronomical alignment discovered so far and bear a striking resemblance to Stonehenge and other megalithic sites constructed a millennium later in England, Brittany, and Europe.
In Nabta, there are six megalithic alignments extending across the sediments of the playa, containing a total of 24 megaliths or megalithic scatters. Like the spokes on a wheel, each alignment radiates outward from the complex structure.
Calendar Circle at Nabta.
A line of megalith (ca 4,800 B.C.) which coincides with the rising position of Sirius
in Nabta during the summer solstice (image courtesy of M. Shaltout)
In the Sahara Desert in Egypt lie the oldest known astronomically aligned stones in the world: Nabta. Over one thousand years before the creation of Stonehenge, people built a stone circle and other structures on the shoreline of a lake that has long since dried up. Over 6,000 years ago, stone slabs three meters high were dragged over a kilometer to create the site. Shown above is one of the stones that remains. Little is known about the ultimate purpose of Nabta and the nature of the people who built it.
Photo credit: J. M. Malville (U. Colorado) & F. Wendorf (SMU) et al.
These standing megaliths and ring of stones were erected from 6.700 to 7,000 years ago in the southern Sahara desert. Although more research needs to be done, many scientists, believe that the alignments had an astronomical significance.
Three hundred meters north of these alignments is the stone calendar circle.
Compared to Stonehenge, this circle is very small, measuring roughly 4 m in diameter. The calendar consists of a number of stones, the main ones being four pairs of larger ones.
Fig. 4 & 5
The stone calendar circle near Nabta
Each of these four pairs were set close together to form “gates.” Two of these pairsalign to form a line very close to a true north-south line, and the other two pairs or gates align to form an east-west line. The east-west alignment is calculated to be where the sun would have risen and set from the summer solstice 6,500 years ago (4,500BC).
Alignments of standing stones and megalithic structures (oval clusters of recumbent stones) extend for up to a mile, marking north and east as well as 24 to 28 and 126 degrees east of north, directions whose meanings are still being worked out.
A ten-foot circle composed primarily of stone slabs has four “windows/gates” marked by pairs of standing stones; the four are arranged in two pairs, one forming a north-south line of sight and the other a line stretching from 62 to 298 degrees east of north. The latter coincides approximately with the summer solstice sunrise6,800 years ago (4,800 BC), which would have fallen about 63 degrees east of north.
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The role of Nabta as a regional ceremonial center is also indicated by a north-south alignment of nine large (average, 3 x 2 x 0.5 m) quartzitic sandstone slabs set upright about 100 m apart, and partially imbedded in playa sediments near the gathering area along the northwest margin of the seasonal lake. The blocks were unshaped, and many of them are now broken; however, they can be refitted. Outcrops of similar sandstone occur in the vicinity, some less than a kilometer from the alignment. The alignment cannot be dated precisely, but it is probably Late Neolithic in age, and if so it was erected between 7500 and 5500 years ago. It is similar to the large stone alignments found in Western Europe, where they are dated to the late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, about the same age as the Nabta alignment. There are other alignments known farther south in both East and West Africa, but they are thought to date much later, to the Iron Age.
About 300 m beyond the north end of the Nabta alignment is a “calendar circle” consisting of a series of small sandstone slabs arranged in a circle about 4 m in diameter. Among the ring of stones are four pairs of larger stones, each pair set close together and separated by a narrow space, or gate. The gates on two of these pairs align generally north-south; the gates on the other two pairs form a line at 700 east of north, which aligns with the calculated position of sunrise at the summer solstice 6000 years ago. In the center of the circle are six upright slabs arranged in two lines , whose astronomical function, if any, is not evident. Charcoal from one of the numerous hearths around the “calendar” dated around 6800 years ago (6000 bp +- 60 years, CAMS – 17287).
External Links and References:
- STANDING STONES at Nabta
Location: 51° 11′ N 1° 49′ W
Many Stonehenge alignments exist which undoubtedly indicate the astronomical significance of Stonehenge’s construction. The axis of Stonehenge aligns approximately to the midsummer rising sun azimuth.
Stonehenge is a megalithic monument on the Salisbury Plain in Southern England, composed mainly of thirty upright stones (sarsens, each over ten feet tall and weighing 26 tons), aligned in a circle, with thirty lintels (6 tons each) perched horizontally atop the sarsens in a continuous circle. There is also an inner circle composed of similar stones, also constructed in post-and-lintel fashion.
Fig. 1 Fig.1b
Fig. 1c The axis of Stonehenge aligns approximately
to the midsummer rising sun azimuth.
Fig. 3 Aerial View of Stonehenge
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In the foregoing picture a line (blue) originating at Stonehenge’s centre, dissects the centre of the Heel stone. The azimuth angle of this line, off North, is 51.18333333-degrees, which equates to 51 degrees, 11 minutes. This is the official latitude designation for Stonehenge (51 deg. 11 minutes).
Note how the line relates to the Avenue set of circles (magenta) and brushes the northern side of the large post marker adjacent to the Avenue circles. A nearby line of posts extends toward the Heel Stone, as if to indicate this “latitude” line.
It is normal carpentry or surveying practice to have “sighting-lines” run to the “side” of pegs or posts, rather than to the centres, as far greater accuracy is achieved and the surveyor is able to visually verify the accuracy of the full alignment. When a line runs to the centre of a stone, the stone itself will generally have a peaked or pointed top to finitely indicate the refined intended position of the alignment.
Another circle of immense importance, which links Stonehenge to the Lunar codes of the Khafre Pyramid of Egypt. It will be noted that this circle (2nd inward red) brushes two component positions on the Avenue, one of which has the official designation “B”. The diameter of this circle is 472.5 feet, which is exactly the intended vertical height of the Khafre Pyramid of Egypt. The base measurement of Khafre was 15/16ths that of the Great Pyramid or 708.75 feet. It was also built to a 3,4,5 triangulation code, with 1/2 the base length acting as the adjacent (354.375 feet), the vertical height acting as the opposite (472.5 feet) and the diagonal face acting as the hypotenuse (590.625 feet).
Each of these values was in deference to the lunar month and lunar year (based upon 29.53125 days per lunar month or 345.375 days per lunar year).
The diameter of this Stonehenge circle is, therefore, coding the height of the Khafre Pyramid in increments of 16 X 29.53125-days/ feet. This value of 472.5 days was also integral to the ancient method of measuring the 18.613-year lunar nutation cycle, which was calibrated to endure for 6804-days (230.4 lunar months of 29.53125-days or 14.4 time periods of 472.5-days duration). Note also that 230.4 is an expression of the very important ancient number 11.52.
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The Stonehenge Observatory
http://www.stonehengeobservatory.com/ this site compliments new book
The Stonehenge Observatory to be published in June 2008. The site includes fully interactive 3D models for viewing Stonehenge as it is and as it would have appeared as an observatory, as well as an animated 3D reconstruction of its destruction where users can view the impact on individual stones.
This completely new insight explodes the present archeological interpretation of a monument built by the inhabitants of Neolithic Britain. Through state-of-the-art software The Stonehenge Observatory brings the site to life, exploring every feature of the design to challenge the perceived dates and methods of construction, and original purpose as a ritual place of worship or temple aligned on the midsummer sunrise. The conclusion is stunning in its simplicity.