Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy News Archive 2016

With satellite imagery increasingly being used for archaeological investigations

The Morien Institute has decided to report discoveries in our

Astro-Archaeology news archive

Likewise, many ancient legends that have previously been dismissed as

purely “mythological” are now proving to be based on fact, and so

The Morien Institute has decided to also report these new

discoveries in our Astro-Archaeology news archive

Discoveries of meteorites in ancient ruins are showing that ancient peoples held

these to be “sacred”, and The Morien Institute has always believed that

ancient societies built megalithic “early-warning systems” that were

designed to monitor comets and their debris streams. Therefore

new reports of their discoveries will also feature below

Alongside these will be material about archaic astrological beliefs which were

inextricably inter-linked with ancient astronomical science

New Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy Discoveries made in 2016 will appear below
as we encounter them …

“Naupa Iglesia: An Egyptian Portal in the Andes?”

December 07 2016, Ancient Origins, Australia

“Halfway up a near-vertical ravine in the Andes, someone carved an inverted V-shaped entrance into the mountainside.

Then they sliced the bedrock with great precision to create a shallow door that goes nowhere; the same design appears in ancient Persia and Egypt.

Then for good measure, they carved an additional altar with three alcoves into an outcrop of bluestone.

This sacred site is named Naupa Iglesia, or more accurately, Naupa Huaca.

The measurements of the main portal of Naupa Huaca are not random, they conform to musical notation.

The length to height ratio is 3:1, making a perfect fifth in the second octave; the ratio of the alcove is 5:6, a minor third.

The 5:6 ratio is both unusual and filled with specialist information.

It perfectly describes the movement of the Earth, whose pole completes one full rotation of its axis every 25,920 years, while the plane of the equator tilts four degrees every 21,000 years – a ratio of 5:6.

This accurate calculation of the motion of the planet is also encoded in another unusual temple, the Bent Pyramid of Egypt, whose slope angles encode the same ratio”

[Read The Full Story]

[WOW! What an amazing discovery! The ability of ancient peoples to calculate the musical ratios and appreciate the link to the long-term movements of our planet through the galaxy is greatly under-appreciated by modern science. It’s about time the old Euro-centric view of prehistory was put out in the trash where it belongs, and more respect for the high science of the peoples they conquered around the world be given a fairer hearing – Ed]

“Ancient eclipse records revise modern calculations

of Earth’s spin”

December 07 2016, ABC Science News, Australia

“The observations of ancient astronomers from the time of the Babylonians onwards have revealed our modern days are not getting quite as long as they should be.

Scientists have long known the Earth’s spin is slowing down – and thus the days are getting longer – because of the dragging effect of the oceans as they are pulled on by the Sun and Moon, called tidal friction.

But a study of astronomical records from 720 BC to AD 2015, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, has uncovered a small but significant discrepancy between modern calculations and ancient observations.

It seems the Earth isn’t slowing down as much as the calculations based on tidal friction would suggest.

The study – the most comprehensive analysis of ancient eclipse records gathered to date – brought together astronomers, geophysicists, historians and archaeologists.

‘We use the gravitational theories of the motion of the Earth about the Sun and the Moon around the Earth, so we can compute where and when eclipses should have occurred on the Earth’, astronomer and co-author Dr Leslie Morrison said.”

[Read The Full Story]

[Great story from ABC Science News yet again! It has been known for some time that ancient eclipse records have been used to ‘correct’ computer software calculations, and this newest study adds to our understanding about just how capable ancient peoples were in observerving and accurately recording matters relating to the Earth, Moon and Sun – Ed]

“Earliest astronomical observatory dating back to 5000 BC found in Telangana village”

October 24 2016, Bangalore Mirror, India

“In a very significant discovery, historians and archaeologists have claimed to have discovered ‘undoubtedly the earliest astronomical observatory from India or even south Asia’ dating back to 5000 BC.

The site in Mudumal village in Telangana’s backward Mahbubnagar district is being described as the only megalithic site from India, where a depiction of star constellation has been identified.

A team of archaeologists from Korea, involving professors from a university, will be visiting the site in December to ascertain the veracity of the discovery, according to officials of Telangana Archaeology Department.

A cup-mark depiction of Ursa Major was noticed on a vertically planted squarish stone with a slanting face.

An imaginary line drawn through the top two stars – Merak and Dubhe – point to pole star or the North Star.

The two cup-marks representing Merak and Dubhe are aligned almost exactly on north-south axis.

Just on the eastern periphery of this concentration, there is a stone circle arranged with menhirs alternating with three or four circle stones.”

[Read The Full Story]

[We have included this story from the Bangalore Mirror as it has extra information not seen in The Times of India story about this discovery – Ed]

“Megalith from 5000 BC found in Telangana”

October 24 2016, The Times of India, India

“In a significant discovery, historians and archeologists have found what they describe as the only megalithic site in India, where a depiction of star constellation has been identified.

The site was discovered in Mudumal village in Telangana and is estimated to date back to 5000 BC.

No other site in India has so many menhirs concentrated at one place, claim the historians and archeologists who also believe that this is ‘undoubtedly the earliest astronomical observatory found in India or even south Asia’.

A cup-mark depiction of Ursa Major was noticed on a squarish stone planted vertically.

About 30 cup-marks were arranged in a pattern similar to the appearance of Ursa Major in the sky.

Not only the prominent seven stars, but also the peripheral groups of stars are depicted on the menhirs

Mudumal contains about 80 big menhirs as tall as 12 to 14 feet, and about 2000 alignment stones of about 1-2 feet high.”

[Read The Full Story]

[An excellent discovery in south India. Now that archaeologists are considering the siting of ancient sites and their possible relationship with phenomena visible in the skies, astro-archaeology is progressing at an incredible pace. Their new understanding that ancient megalith builders on every continent were not just avid skywatchers but more than capable of recording various astronomical phenomena perhaps the old Euro-centric misinterpretation of prehistory will die its well-deserved death – Ed]

“The world’s oldest observatory? How Aboriginal astronomy provides clues to ancient life”

October 12 2016, ABC News, Australia

“Scientists studying the Wurdi Yuang stone arrangement say it could date back more than 11,000 years and provide clues into the origins of agriculture.

Dr Duane Hamacher is a leader in the study of Indigenous astronomy and has been working with Aboriginal elders at the site to reconstruct their knowledge of the stars and planets.

‘Some academics have referred to this stone arrangement here as Australia’s version of Stonehenge’, he said.

‘I think the question we might have to ask is: is Stonehenge Britain’s version of Wurdi Yuang? Because this could be much, much older.’

If the site is more than 7,000-years old, it will rewrite history and further disprove the notion that first Australians were uniformly nomadic, hunter-gatherers.

Scientists believe the arrangement of stones was able to map out the movements of the sun throughout the year.”

[Read The Full Story]

[Another really good story from ABC News that shows how previous notions of Australian aboriginals was jus so wrong. The Euro-centric misinterpretations of prehistory which have dominated the past few hundred years were simply racist, and it’s about time credit is given where it is due for the much greater understanding of the cosmos that ancient peoples undoubtedly had but which has been played down by past racist academics – Ed]

“An ancient Mayan Copernicus”

August 18 2016, Space Daily, USA

“For more than 120 years the Venus Table of the Dresden Codex – an ancient Mayan book containing astronomical data – has been of great interest to scholars around the world.

The accuracy of its observations, especially the calculation of a kind of ‘leap year’ in the Mayan Calendar, was deemed an impressive curiosity used primarily for astrology.

But UC Santa Barbara’s Gerardo Aldana, a professor of anthropology and of Chicana and Chicano studies, believes the Venus Table has been misunderstood and vastly under-appreciated.

In a new journal article, Aldana makes the case that the Venus Table represents a remarkable innovation in mathematics and astronomy – and a distinctly Mayan accomplishment.

‘That’s why I’m calling it discovering discovery’, he explained, ‘because it’s not just their discovery, it’s all the blinders that we have, that we’ve constructed and put in place that prevent us from seeing that this was their own actual scientific discovery made by Mayan people at a Mayan city.'”

[Read The Full Story]

[A great story from Space Daily. The ancient Mayan people were competent astronomers and avid skywatchers who recoded their observations in monuments that academic scientist are starting to really appreciate. And about time too – Ed]

“Astronomy shown to be set in standing stone”

August 17 2016, University of Adelaide, Australia

“University of Adelaide research has for the first time statistically proven that the earliest standing stone monuments of Britain, the great circles, were constructed specifically in line with the movements of the Sun and Moon, 5000 years ago.

The research, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, details the use of innovative 2D and 3D technology to construct quantitative tests of the patterns of alignment of the standing stones.

‘Nobody before this has ever statistically determined that a single stone circle was constructed with astronomical phenomena in mind – it was all supposition’, says project leader and University of Adelaide Visiting Research Fellow Dr Gail Higginbottom, who is also a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian National University.

Examining the oldest great stone circles built in Scotland (Callanish, on the Isle of Lewis, and Stenness, Isle of Orkney – both predating Stonehenge’s standing stones by about 500 years), the researchers found a great concentration of alignments towards the Sun and Moon at different times of their cycles.”

[Read The Full Story]

[Look at this arrogant statement: ‘Nobody before this has ever statistically determined that a single stone circle was constructed with astronomical phenomena in mind.’ Oh Really!!!

Have these people never heard of Professor Alexander Thom or any of the many others who’ve followed in his footsteps? – Ed]

“Ancient Earthwork at Winchester, Indiana Shows

Stellar Alignments to Cygnus & Orion”

August 02 2016, Digital Journal, USA

“Hopewell earthworks and mounds are some of the most intriguing and mysterious geometric formations created in the ancient world.

‘Hopewell’ refers to a Native American mound-building era that developed from the earlier Adena culture, with both names derived from excavated mound sites on historic plantations.

Adena and Hopewell spanned the approximate time frame of 1500 BC to AD 900 and were gradually replaced by another mound culture called ‘Mississippian’.

Archaeological research the past few years has shown that many ancient Native American mound/earthwork sites were constructed in a way that facilitated a death ritual that would lead deceased souls to the stars.

This ‘Path of Souls’ ritual took place on the Winter Solstice and involved Orion’s Nebula and the Cygnus Constellation.

The key alignments for the death ritual on the Winter Solstice were the sunset, the setting point of Cygnus (specifically the star Deneb), and the rising and setting points of Orion’s Nebula.

On the night of the Winter Solstice a series of star alignments were viewed.

These alignments were typically made from the top of a prominent mound directly across another important mound or an important earthwork point such as an opening or corner of the formation.

On the distant horizon and directly above the aligned mound, observers would see the setting and rising of the stars involved.”

[Read The Full Story]

[An incredible article from Digital Journal published as a press release from AP Magazine. The achievements of Native American astronomners and shaman skywatchers never fails to impress us, and this analysis by Dr. Greg Little is typical of what is increasingly being discovered in ancient sites all over the Americas.

The Digital Journal article is well worth a visit to read the full story, and the original article by Dr. Greg Little published in the August 2016 issue of Alternate Perceptions magazine is also a Must Read to see the diagrams with which Dr. Little illustrates his discoveries – Ed]

“The prehistoric tombs that may have been

used as ‘telescopes'”

June 30 2016, The Guardian,UK

“Researchers think that the entrance passages to 6,000 year-old tombs could have been used to enhance visibility for ancient stargazers.

Ancient passages to stone tombs could have been used by prehistoric humans to boost their view of the night skies as part of an ancient ritual, archaeologists have proposed.

Researchers say that the dark entrances to 6,000 year-old tombs in Portugal could have been an early form of astronomical tool that enhanced the visibility of the stars.

In particular, they say, the orientation of the entrances to the passage graves suggests that they are aligned to offer a view of Aldebaran, the red star that is the brightest body in the constellation of Taurus.

The star might have been important to ancient communities who moved their herds and flocks to summer grazing grounds in the mountains each year.”

[Read The Full Story]

[A great story from The Guardian. But the speculation that observations of Aldebaran, the brightest star in the Taurus constellation, ‘might’ have been used ritually, and marked the times to move flocks to higher ground, is just specualtion. No-one knows when the fragmenting comet (known as proto-Encke) first became visible, but all astronomers and astrophysicists agree that when the fragments began bombarding the Earth they appeared to come from Taurus. It is more likely that observations oriented to Taurus would have been to monitor the fragmenting comet and the resultant meteor showers/storms. Well worth a visit to read the full story – Ed]

“Scientists decipher purpose of mysterious astronomy tool made by ancient Greeks”

June 10 2016, CBC News, Canada

“When you’re trying to fathom a mangled relic of very old hi-tech, it helps to have the manufacturer’s instructions.

For over a century since its discovery in an ancient shipwreck, the exact function of the Antikythera Mechanism – named after the southern Greek island off which it was found – was a tantalizing puzzle.

From a few words deciphered on the twisted, corroded fragments of bronze gears and plates, experts guessed it was an astronomical instrument. But much more remained hidden out of sight.

After more than a decade’s efforts using cutting-edge scanning equipment, an international team of scientists has now read about 3,500 characters of explanatory text – a quarter of the original – in the innards of the 2,100-year-old remains.

They say it was a kind of philosopher’s guide to the galaxy, and perhaps the world’s oldest mechanical computer.”

[Read The Full Story]

[What an excellent story from CBC! The ongoing research is showing just how sophisticated the makers of the ‘Antikythera Mechanism’ were, and the images are also superb. Whether or not it was the ancient Greeks who made it remains uncertain, as there were other older cultures whose remains indicate a much more advanced astronomy than that possessed by the Greeks at the time scientists believe it was ‘probably’ made. It’s well worth a visit to read the full story – Ed]

“King Tut’s dagger was actually ‘made from a meteorite’”

June 04 2016, Daily Times, Pakistan

“New research shows that an iron dagger buried with King Tutankhamun was made from a meteorite.

It even suggests the Egyptians knew what they were working with.

Archaeologists and historians have been fascinated by King Tut’s mummified remains and the mysterious objects found in his tomb since their discovery in the 1920s.

In the past, scientists have claimed that an iron dagger, found along with a gold blade in King Tut’s tomb, may have come from meteorites.

Other ancient Egyptian iron artefacts have also been suspected to be meteoritic, since smelted iron was rarely used.”

[Read The Full Story]

[This is really great research. Meteoritic iron seems to have been universally ‘worshipped’ in many ancient cultures, and regarded as some form of ‘heaven’s mandate’ for the governance of societies by the incumbent ruler. Well worth a visit to read the full story – Ed]

“Ancient Mayan observatory was used to track sun and Venus, researchers find”

June 02 2016, Fox News Latino, Mexico

“Researchers in Mexico have discovered that an ancient Mayan observatory isn’t only aligned to the sun, it’s also designed to track the movement of the planet Venus across the sky, confirming that the ancient Central American civilization had extensive knowledge of astronomy and the solar system.

First unearthed at Acanceh in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula in 2002, the observatory is thought to have been used in the Mayan’s early Classic period, between 300 and 600 AD, a millennia or more before the arrival of the Spanish in the Americas.

‘We believe this building used to be a multifunctional facility that was used exclusively by the Mayan elite, specifically for priests-astronomers’, Beatriz Quintal Suaste, a researcher at the Yucatán National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), told the Mexico City newspaper Excelsior.

Doors in the structure align with the rising and setting of the sun during the spring and fall equinoxes, and the semicircular building is set up so that it casts no shadow in the midday sun.

That Venus, the brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon, was important to the priests-astronomers of Acanceh shows in how the southern edge of the observatory, which aligns with the planet’s northernmost position in the night sky.”

[Read The Full Story]

[This is an excellent story from Fox News Latino. The ancient Maya were very accomplished astronomers, and this new research shows that, as with ancient skywatchers in Britain and elsewhere, the movements of Venus were carefully tracked in Central America also. Well worth a visit to read the full story – Ed]

“Forgotten Mayan city ‘discovered’ in Central America

by 15-year-old”

May 10 2016, The Independent, UK

“A 15-year-old boy believes he has discovered a forgotten Mayan city using satellite photos and Mayan astronomy.

William Gadoury, from Quebec, came up with the theory that the Maya civilization chose the location of its towns and cities according to its star constellations.

He found Mayan cities lined up exactly with stars in the civilization’s major constellations.

Studying the star map further, he discovered one city was missing from a constellation of three stars.

Using satellite images provided by the Canadian Space Agency and then mapped on to Google Earth, he discovered the city where the third star of the constellation suggested it would be.”

[Read The Full Story]

[What a great piece of research! Building structures sited so as to mirror the constellations is something that seems to have been a common practice throughout the ancient world, and this is an excelent example of this practice. Amazing satellite images. Well done William! – Ed]

“Cuneiform: The World’s Oldest Writing”

April 05 2016, Archaeology Magazine, USA

“In early 2016, hundreds of media outlets around the world reported that a set of recently deciphered ancient clay tablets revealed that Babylonian astronomers were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The wedge-shaped writing on the tablets, known as cuneiform, demonstrated that these ancient stargazers used geometric calculations to predict the motion of Jupiter.

Scholars had assumed it wasn’t until almost A.D. 1400 that these techniques were first employed-by English and French mathematicians.

But here was proof that nearly 2,000 years earlier, ancient people were every bit as advanced as Renaissance-era scholars.

Judging by the story’s enthusiastic reception on social media, this discovery captured the public imagination.

It implicitly challenged the perception that cuneiform tablets were used merely for basic accounting, such as tallying grain, rather than for complex astronomical calculations.”

[Read The Full Story]

[To reiterate the points made before – the abilities of ancient peoples to observe the movements of various celestial bodies, and accurately record their observations and calculate their movements, seem to have been more accurate the further back in time they are traced. A seriously radical rethink of ancient people’s scientific abilities is long overdue – Ed]

“Math whizzes of ancient Babylon figured out

forerunner of calculus”

January 28 2016, Science Magazine, USA

“Tracking and recording the motion of the sun, the moon, and the planets as they paraded across the desert sky, ancient Babylonian astronomers used simple arithmetic to predict the positions of celestial bodies.

Now, new evidence reveals that these astronomers, working several centuries B.C.E., also employed sophisticated geometric methods that foreshadow the development of calculus.

Historians had thought such techniques did not emerge until more than 1400 years later, in 14th century Europe.

Astroarchaeologist Mathieu Ossendrijver of Humboldt University in Berlin bases his findings on a re-examination of clay tablets, one of them unknown until recently, dating from 350 B.C.E. to 50 B.C.E.

One week each year for the past 14 years, Ossendrijver has made a pilgrimage to the British Museum’s vast collection of tablets inscribed in the Babylonian cuneiform script.

Between 2002 and 2008, Ossendrijver, an astrophysicist turned historian, studied two other tablets that also prescribed the drawing of a trapezoid, and in these he thought he could make out a reference to Jupiter.”

[Read The Full Story]

[The abilities of ancient peoples to observe the movements of various celestial bodies, and accurately record their observations and calculate their movements, seem to have been more accurate the further back in time they are traced. This very important discovery demonstrates their mathematical genius, and we can only hope that more tablets such as these are still safely left to be discovered given the recent destruction by Daesh radicals – Ed]

“New proposal for a common megalithic measure”

January 25 2016, Stone Pages/RILKO Magazine, Italy/UK

“Following nearly 40 years of research, Norman Stockdale and Peter Harris conclude that a standard unit of length was used in the construction of megalithic monuments, but not the same unit proposed long ago by Professor Thom.

Thom had been Professor Emeritus of Engineering at Oxford, and an expert in astro-navigation and surveying, and drew plans for hundreds of ancient monuments prior to publishing his book, ‘Megalithic Sites in Britain’, in 1967.

[Also available from Amazon UK – Ed.]

Middle to late-Neolithic stone circles date from about 3,400 to 2,700 BCE, and mainly found in the northern half of the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Late Neolithic to early Bronze Age circles, from 2,700 BCE to about 2,000 BCE, are scattered throughout the United Kingdom, with concentrations in Cornwall and Brittany.

The most prolific period for stone circle building was in the middle Bronze Age, from 2,000 BCE to 1,200 BCE, and chiefly concentrated in Scotland.

Few circles were erected after that, and none are known from later than 1,000 BCE.

Despite this separation in time, the complex geometries of some of the flattened circles, egg-shaped rings and ellipses built throughout the entire period were identical and occur in all regions.

Alignments to the key stations of the moon through its 18.6-year cycle are commonly met alongside those to the solar and equinoctial sunrises and sunsets.

Harris says that while we cannot think of all the structures solely as ‘observatories’, the measures incorporate key astronomical data into monument design.”

[Read The Full Story]

[A great story showing how ancient peoples could not only observe the movements of various celestial bodies, accurately record their observations and calculate their movements, but also incorporated that knowledge into the architechture of megalithic monuments. You can get the book by Norman Stockdale & Peter Harris “Astronomy & Measurement in Megalithic Architecture” if you want to read more about this very important astro-archaeological research – Ed]

Astro-Archaeology & Archaeoastronomy Discoveries that were
made in 2015 are listed below …

“Ancient Egyptians described Algol’s eclipses”

December 17 2015, Science Daily, USA

“The Ancient Egyptian papyrus Cairo 86637 calendar is the oldest preserved historical document of naked eye observations of a variable star, the eclipsing binary Algol – a manifestation of Horus, a god and a king.

This calendar contains lucky or unlucky prognoses for each day of one year. Researchers have performed a statistical analysis of the Cairo Calendar mythological texts.

Their analysis revealed that the periods of Algol (2.85 days) and the Moon (29.6 days) strongly regulate the actions of deities in this calendar.

‘Until now, there were only conjectures that many of the mythological texts of the Cairo Calendar describe astronomical phenomena.

We can now unambiguously ascertain that throughout the whole year the actions of many deities in the Cairo Calendar are connected to the regular changes of Algol and the Moon’, says Master of Science Sebastian Porceddu.”

[Read The Full Story]

[The source of this really interesting story is the University of Helsinki, and the paper published in the journal PloS ONE: “Shifting Milestones of Natural Sciences: The Ancient Egyptian Discovery of Algol’s Period Confirmed” It’s well worth reading both – Ed.]

“Ancient Greek Temple Aligned to Full Moon”

November 30 2015, Discovery News, USA

“An ancient Greek temple was built to face the setting full moon near the winter solstice, according to new research that sheds new light on the orientation of sacred monuments.

A new survey of the Valley of the Temples just outside Agrigento, Italy, reveals the 2,500-year-old temples were not deliberately aligned to the rising sun, as generally believed.

A variety of factors, not all of them being astronomical, inspired the ancient architects.

‘Alignment was widely determined by urban layout and morphological aspects of the terrain as well as religious connections’, Giulio Magli, professor of archaeoastronomy at Milan’s Polytechnic University, told Discovery News.

Known as the temple of Demeter and Persephone, the shrine is among a World Heritage-listed collection of temples that once stood in full glory in Akragas, later to be called Agrigento.

‘One can only imagine the spectacle at the temple. The full moon near the winter solstice – the longest night of the year – culminates very high in the sky and remains in the sky the longest’, Magli said.”

[Read The Full Story]

[Another really interesting new story about the excellent research conducted by the renowned archaeoastronomer, Giulio Magli. It’s available in the original paper published by Cornell University Library: “Understanding the meaning of Greek temples’ orientations. Akragas Valley of the Temples as a case study” As ever, it’s well worth reading both – Ed.]

“Event highlights the mystery of the moon

and Newark mounds”

October 11 2015, The Columbus Dispatch, USA

“The mystery of the Newark Earthworks – massive mounds built by ancient people who lived here thousands of years ago – lies in the movements of the moon.

One piece of the Earthworks is a giant octagon, large enough to fit four Roman Colosseums. Each of the octagon’s points lines up perfectly with specific times in the lunar cycle, pointing to the northernmost and southernmost places where the moon rises and sets.

‘The moon goes through an elaborate cycle, sort of like the sun, in that there’s a solstice and an equinox – it’s the rhythm of the year’, said Bradley T. Lepper, curator of archaeology at the Ohio History Connection.

The Newark Earthworks are the largest known complex of geometric earthworks on the planet, according to archaeologists. Radiocarbon dating puts construction at around A.D. 1 to A.D. 400, Lepper said.

They cover about 4.5 square miles, and about 7 million cubic feet of earth was used to construct them.

‘And keep in mind that they were building it by hand, with pointed sticks, clamshell hoes and baskets’, Lepper said.

‘And then, carrying those baskets on their backs, one at a time, to create this amazingly precise geometry and astronomy.'”

[Read The Full Story]

[The abilities of ancient peoples to observe the movements of various celestial phenomena and accurately incorporate them into their structures shows how advanced their thinking was. The “Newark Earthworks Center” does excellent work in detecting and sharing this knowledge – Ed]

“Archimedes’ legendary sphere brought to life”

September 25 2015, Nature News, UK

“A mechanical model of the Universe attributed to the ancient Greek mathematician and polymath Archimedes has been reconstructed after more than two millennia.

The metallic globe, which reproduces the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets through the night sky, will be displayed for the first time at an exhibition in Basel, Switzerland, starting on 27 September.

The model, built by Michael Wright, a mechanician and a former curator at the Science Museum in London, is largely the product of erudite guesswork.

But astrophysicist Mike Edmunds of Cardiff University, UK, says that it demonstrates that ancients could have been capable of building such a device.

Modern scholars have generally assumed that Archimedes’ sphere — if it existed — displayed astronomical positions on a flat dial.

But Wright thinks that it was a 3D globe, and has built the model to demonstrate how it could have worked.”

[Read The Full Story]

“Building the sphere of Archimedes”

Michael Wright reconstructed a fabled machine that Archimedes invented to model the heavens

[The exhibition displaying Archimedes’s device built by Michael Wright at the Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection in Switzerland, “The Sunken Treasure: The Antikythera Shipwreck”, starts on 27 September 2015 and runs until March 27 2016 – Ed]

“Polish archaeologists on Bornholm”

July 16 2015, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan

“Relics that are evidence of beliefs and rituals performed by inhabitants of the island of Bornholm before 5.5 thousand years have been discovered by the archaeologists from Warsaw during the ongoing excavations in Vasagard.

The research project is the result of several years of collaboration between the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw and Bornholms Museum.

As part of the agreement, archaeology students of IA UW come each year to the Danish island for excavations and practice their skills.

The study site – Vasagard – puzzles archaeologists to this day.

It was probably the site of a sun worship temple, surrounded by palisades.

This is evidenced by the entrance to the complex, located in the direction of the sunrise during the solstice or equinox.”

[Read The Full Story]

[The picture emerging from sites around the world suggests ancient peoples were expert skywatchers who had far more than so-called ‘ritual’ interest in the cosmos. See also “Incised stone sun discs found during Danish island excavations” – Ed]

“Star chart in Kitora Tomb likely depicts the heavens

observed in ancient China”

July 16 2015, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan

The star chart painting on the ceiling of the Kitora Tomb, Asuka, Japan

an image showing The star chart painting on the ceiling of the Kitora Tomb, Asuka, Japan, which is also a clickable link directly to The Asahi Shimbun story

Copyright © 2015, Wikimedia Commons

“A star chart found on the ceiling of an ancient tomb here was apparently based on celestial observations made centuries earlier in China, the Agency for Cultural Affairs said July 15.

The star chart in the stone chamber of the Kitora Tomb, a government-designated special historic site in Asuka village, was discovered in 1998.

The tomb was believed to have been constructed between the late seventh century to early eighth century, and is renowned for its richly colored murals.

The star chart features 68 constellations depicted with gold discs.

Three concentric circles, along with one representing the apparent path of the sun, portray the movement of celestial objects with the Polar Star at the center.”

[Read The Full Story]

[An excellent article with some great images, and well worth a visit to read the full story – Ed]

“Nabta Playa and the Ancient Astronomers

of the Nubian Desert”

April 26 2015, Ancient Origins, Australia

Nabta Playa megalithic calendar in Aswan Nubia museum

an image showing Nabta Playa megalithic calendar in Aswan Nubia museum, which is also a clickable link directly to the Ancient Origins story

Rawmbetz, Wikimedia Commons

“Nabta Playa is a remarkable site composed of hundreds of prehistoric tumuli, stelae, and megalithic structures located in the Nubian Desert, approximately 100 kilometers west of Abu Simbel in southern Egypt.

They are the result of an advanced urban community that arose approximately 11,000 years ago, and left behind a huge assembly of stones, which have been labelled by scientists as the oldest known astronomical alignments of megaliths in the world.

Some archaeologists believe that the people of Nabta Playa were the precursor civilization for the first Nile cities that arose in Egypt thousands of years later.

The ancient remains of Nabta Playa were first discovered in 1974 by a group of scientists led by Fred Wendorf, an Anthropology Professor from the Southern Methodist University in Texas, when they noticed potsherds and other artifacts sticking out of the desert sand.

Wendorf made several more visits to the site during the 1970s and 1980s, each time discovering something new.

But it was to be several decades before researchers discovered the dozens of stone structures that are known today, and began to realize the role and importance of these great megaliths.”

[Read The Full Story]

[This is an excellent, well-resourced, story about one of the most enigmatic ancient astronomically-oriented megalithic sties in the world to be discovered so far, and well worth a visit to read the full story – Ed]

“Stonehenge’s tallest stone ‘points at winter sunrise'”

April 22 2015, BBC News, UK

“The tallest stone at Stonehenge points towards the sunrise on the midwinter solstice, according to a new theory from a steward at the site.

Historians have long known the circle of stones is aligned with the midsummer sunrise but Tim Daw says the tallest one is lined up with the midwinter sun.

It was previously thought the stone had been put back at the wrong angle when it was re-erected in 1901.

But Mr Daw, who works there, says his research shows its angle is deliberate.

‘The stones point to the midwinter solstice sunrise and midsummer sunset’, he said

‘This isn’t some nebulous sighting line on a distant star; this is 100 tonnes of stone deliberately pointing to the major event at the other end of the day the rest of the monument celebrates’.”

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“Aboriginal legends an untapped record of

natural history written in the stars”

March 03 2015, PhysOrg, USA

“Aboriginal legends could offer a vast untapped record of natural history, including meteorite strikes, stretching back thousands of years, according to new UNSW research.

Dr Duane Hamacher from the UNSW Indigenous Astronomy Group has uncovered evidence linking Aboriginal stories about meteor events with impact craters dating back some 4,700 years.

Dr Hamacher, an astrophysicist studying Indigenous astronomy, examined meteorite accounts from Aboriginal communities across Australia to determine if they were linked to known meteoritic events.

His study, published in the latest edition of peer-reviewed journal Archaeoastronomy, found ‘definitive links’ between known meteorite craters and local Aboriginal traditions.

One of the meteorite strikes, at a place called Henbury in the Northern Territory, occurred around 4,700 years ago.

Dr Hamacher said the level of detail contained in the local oral traditions suggested the Henbury event had been witnessed and its legend passed down through generations over thousands of years – a remarkable record.”

[Read The Full Story]

[Here’s another excellent example of oral traditions recording the accurate observations of ancient skywatchers. You can get more information from the original abstract HERE but we also recommend the book “Emu Dreaming: An Introduction to Australian Aboriginal Astronomy” – Ed]

“The Taulas of Menorca

Mysterious Megaliths of the Talaiotic People”

February 22 2015, Ancient Origins, Australia

“Located in the Mediterranean Sea are a set of Spanish islands known as the Balearic Islands. One of those islands, Menorca, is home to an impressive collection of megalithic stone monuments called the taulas.

The origin and purpose of the taulas is unknown, although they are the works of prehistoric humans.

There have been several theories surrounding the mystery of the taulas, generally focused on religious or astronomical purposes. Some believe they are a religious symbol.

Others believe the taulas served as a temple of healing.

Finally, there is a theory that the taulas were aligned with the movements of the moon.”

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“Taj Mahal Gardens Found to Align with the Solstice Sun”

February 02 2015, Live Science, USA

“If you arrived at the Taj Mahal in India before the sun rises on the day of the summer solstice (which usually occurs June 21), and walked up to the north-central portion of the garden where two pathways intersect with the waterway, and if you could step into that waterway and turn your gaze toward a pavilion to the northeast – you would see the sun rise directly over it.

If you could stay in that spot, in the waterway, for the entire day, the sun would appear to move behind you and then set in alignment with another pavilion, to the northwest.

The mausoleum and minarets of the Taj Mahal are located between those two pavilions, and the rising and setting sun would appear to frame them.

Although standing in the waterway is impractical (and not allowed), the dawn and dusk would be sights to behold, and these alignments are just two among several that a physics researcher recently discovered between the solstice sun and the waterways, pavilions and pathways in the gardens of the Taj Mahal.

The summer solstice has more hours of daylight than any other day of the year, and is when the sun appears at its highest point in the sky.

The winter solstice (which usually occurs Dec. 21) is the shortest day of the year, and is when the sun appears at its lowest point in the sky.

Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a physics professor at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy, reported the alignments in an article published recently in the journal Philica.”

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“Astronomical alignment of geoglyph in Republic of Macedonia may point to Royal connection”

January 18 2015, Ancient Origins, Australia

“A multidisciplinary study of a geoglyph located atop a hill in Kanda in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), has unravelled a series of incredible features of the ancient structure, including the artificial construction of the hill an astronomical alignment with the constellation of Cassiopeia, which may point to a connection with Macedonian royalty.

The research was carried out by the SB Research Group (SBRG), an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers (from Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Finland and United Kingdom) that combines astronomy, philosophy, mythology, mathematics and physics in the study of ancient sites and temples in Europe.

The SBRG combined multiple methods, including infra-/ultrasound research, AMT measurements, binary algorithm synthesis from audio waves, data sonification, and dowsing, to study the ancient geoglyph and hill, which is located in the vicinity of the town of Sveti Nikole in Kanda.

The hill is an egg-shaped mound, perfectly oriented North-South, measuring approximately 85 meters (280ft) by 45 meters (148ft).

On top of the hill is a geoglyph of a giant symbol sitting within an oval ditch.

‘The whole structure, with its shape and symbolism, resembles a cosmic egg – the source of primordial creation’, reports the research team in a paper titled “Archaeoacoustic analysis of the ancient site of Kanda (Macedonia)”.

Intriguingly, the constellation of Cassiopeia lies directly to the north and stands vertically above the geoglyph in the skies zenith at sunrise on 21/22 July (the birth date of Alexander the Great).”

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“Newgrange: Celebrating the New Year Pagan-Style”

January 08 2015, Palatinate, England

“The Winter Solstice, which takes place on 21st December in the Northern Hemisphere, is celebrated in various forms all over the world.

In astronomical terms, this is the shortest day of the year, when the sun is at its lowest in the sky.

After the solstice, the days begin to get longer again, and it is for this reason that it was celebrated as the beginning of a new year by pagan cultures.

This monument is an astounding feat of engineering: dating from around 3,200 B.C. (that’s older than the Pyramids!) it is aligned exactly with the rising of the midwinter sun.

Above the entrance to the tomb there is an opening called the roof-box.

On 21st December, the light of the rising sun passes through the roof-box and travels up the narrow passage, illuminating the inner chamber.”

[Read The Full Story]

“Scientist tackles mystery of ancient astronomical device”

January 06 2015, PhysOrg, USA

“The shoebox-size chunk of bronze didn’t attract much attention when divers retrieved it from an ancient shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera in 1901.

Archaeologists on the expedition had their hands full with far more impressive finds, including life-size statues of warriors and horses, delicate glass bowls and scores of ceramic vessels called amphorae.

Decades would pass before scientists realized that the nondescript bronze – now called the Antikythera Mechanism – was the biggest treasure of all.

The device consisted of a series of intricate, interlocking gears designed to predict eclipses and calculate the positions of the sun, moon and planets as they swept across the of the sky.

The machine exhibited a level of technological sophistication no one dreamed was possible when it was built, at least 2,000 years ago.

Europe produced nothing to equal it until the geared clocks of the Medieval period, more than a thousand years later.

Some scholars describe the Antikythera Mechanism as the world’s first analog computer.”

[Read The Full Story]

“Let in the Light

Ancient Roman Fort Designed for Celestial Show”

January 05 2015, Live Science, USA

“The gateways of an ancient Roman fort in Britain are roughly aligned with the light from the sun during the summer and winter solstices – a design that would have resulted in a striking scene on the shortest and longest days of the year, a researcher says.

The fort had four gateways facing one another.

During the summer solstice, the sun would rise in alignment with the fort’s northeastern and southwestern gates, and set in alignment with its northwestern and southeastern gates, the researcher reported in the new study.

During the winter solstice, the sun would rise in line with the fort’s southeastern and northwestern gates, and set in line with the fort’s southwestern and northeastern gates.

‘Moreover, the four towers of the garrison seem aligned to cardinal directions’, Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a physics professor at the Politecnico di Torino (Polytechnic University of Turin) in Italy, wrote in the study, published Dec. 17 in the journal Philica.”

[Read The Full Story]

[Excellent graphics. Well worth a visit to the Live Science website, but I recommend that you also take a look at the original paper in the journal Philica which has many more images and diagrams along with a full list of references – Ed]

“The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project”

Cardiff/Athens Universites (Cymru/Greece)

[In October 1900, Captain Dimitrious Kondos was leading a team of sponge divers near the the island of Antikythera off the coast of Greece. They noticed a shipwreck about 180 feet below the surface and began to investigate. Amongst the artifacts that they brought up was a coral-encrusted piece of metal that later archaeologists found was some sort of gear wheel.

The rest of the artifacts, along with the shape of the boat, suggested a date around 2000 years ago, which made the find one of the most anomalous that had ever been recovered from the Greek seas. It became known as The Antikythera Mechanism.

In 2006 the journal “Nature” published a letter, and another paper about the mechanism was published in 2008, detailing the findings of Prof. Mike G. Edmunds of Cardiff University. Using high-resolution X-ray tomography to study the fragments of the anomalous Antikythera Mechanism, they found that it was in fact a bronze mechanical analog computer that could be used to calculate the astronomical positions and various cycles of the Moon – as seen from the Earth: – Ed]

More Antikythera Mechanism Information & Commentary:

“Human Skeleton Found on Famed Antikythera Shipwreck”

Scientific American (USA)

“Scientists decipher purpose of mysterious astronomy tool made by ancient Greeks”

CBC News (Canada)

“Beyond the Antikythera mechanism”

Nature Blogs (UK)

“Archimedes’ legendary sphere brought to life”

Nature News (UK)

“Discovery about the Antikythera Mechanism reveals surprising advances in early Greek science”

University of Puget Sound (USA)

“World’s oldest computer is more ancient than first thought… “

The Daily Mail Online (UK)

“New international mission ready to explore Antikythera shipwreck”

eKathimerini (Greece)

“Return to Antikythera: Divers revisit wreck where ancient computer found”

The Guardian Science Blog (UK)

“In search of lost time”

Nature (UK)

“World’s First Computer Displayed Olympic Calendar”

Wired Gadget Lab (USA)

“Antikythera Mechanism – World’s earliest existing analogue computer”

HotnHit News (India)

“In search of lost time”

Nature (UK)

“Imaging the Antikythera Computer”

Wired Gadget Lab (USA)

“Decoding an Ancient Computer: Greek Technology Tracked the Heavens”

Scientific American (USA)

“2,000 Year Old Computer Yields Her Secrets”

Wired Gadget Lab (USA)

“Watch a video explaining the Antikythera mechanism”

Nature (UK)

“Antikythera mechanism”

Wikipedia (USA)

“World’s First Computer Rebuilt, Rebooted After 2,000 Years”

Wired Gadget Lab (USA)

“Antikythera: A 2,000-year-old Greek computer comes back to life”

The Guardian Science Blog (UK)

Google image search results for The Antikythera mechanism

Google (USA)


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